In theory, one might be partial to a politician bright enough to be “first in his class.” But, as we learned from the politician who spawned a biography of that title, this pedigree has its downside. For one thing, sometimes students become first in the class by learning to spout the pet theories of multiple professors. These politicians tend to impress a range of voters and commentators without really standing for, or even saying, much of anything.
The latest first-in-his-class politician is Barack Obama, and he appears to suffer from the eager-to-please student syndrome to an even greater degree than Bill Clinton did. His prescription for dealing with Iraq reads like a compendium of pet phrases from every “professor” in the foreign policy “department.” As reported by the Washington Times, Obama told the Chicago Council on Global Affairs that he
envisioned a flexible timetable for withdrawal linked to conditions on the ground in Iraq and based on the advice of U.S. commanders. He also called for intensified efforts to train Iraqi security forces, U.S. aid packages tied to Iraqi progress in reducing sectarian violence and new diplomacy with Syria and Iran.
Wow, someone has been taking good notes. “Flexible timetable” “withdrawal” “linked to conditions on the ground” “advice of commanders,” “training,” “aid tied to progress” and “diplomacy with Syrian and Iran.” Straight A’s to the promising youngster. And straight A’s to anyone who can figure out what this amalgam would likely mean in practice.