During the run-up to the primaries, Senator Obama did not appear in the Senate to vote on the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment calling on the government to designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist entity. On the day of the vote on the amendment, however, Obama issued a statement announcing that he would have voted against it. In the statement, the closest he came to addressing the merits of the amendment was his assertion that “he does not think that now is the time for saber-rattling towards Iran.” The amendment passed the Senate 76-22 on September 26 with many Democrats including Hillary Clinton voting in its favor.
Obama subsequently advanced three explanations for his opposition to the amendment. The McCain campaign has usefully compiled them here. Obama specifically condemned Hillary Clinton for her vote in favor of the amendment. At a Democratic candidates’ debate in December before the Iowa caucus, for example, Obama returned to the theme of his September 26 statement. The New York Daily News reported:
Monday’s revelation that the Iranian nuke threat was hugely overblown gave Clinton’s rivals new zeal to criticize her vote to brand Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization.
Obama likened it to her 2002 vote authorizing the Iraq war. “This saber-rattling was a repetition of Iraq,” he said.
We can infer from his statements that Obama is opposed to “saber-rattling,” and that designating the IRGC a terrorist organization is rattling the dread saber. On Wednesday, however, the time for Obama to rattle the saber arrived. Or at least the time had come to support the designation of the IRGC as a terrorist organization, eight months after the Senate vote on the subject. The time coincided with end of the primary season, and with Obama’s appearance at the AIPAC policy conference. At his speech to the AIPAC policy conference in Washington on Wednesday, Obama called for “boycotting firms associated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, whose Quds force has rightly been labeled a terrorist organization.”
By the standards of presidential politics, Obama may not be an unusually cynical politician. But he is extraordinarily cynical, and he must believe that included among his mystical powers is the power to make voters believe whatever he says, even when what he says today contradicts what he said yesterday.
UPDATE: The National Review editors dig a little more deeply into the contradictions between Obama on Iran then and now in an editorial posted this morning.
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