On the heels of Chris Cillizza’s pro-Obama testimonial, Washington Post writers Karen DeYoung and Jonathan Weisman have produced their own puff-piece. The two announce that Obama “has shifted the foreign policy debate” to “broader issues” than Iraq. Indeed, “Obama has declared the war in Iraq all but over” and thus “remade the campaign’s foreign policy playing field, neatly sidestepping Republican charges that he has been naive and wrong on Iraq.” Not a bad week’s work.
But DeYoung and Weisman present no evidence that Obama has shifted the debate away from Iraq. And their premise that Obama can effectively “declare the war in Iraq all but over” seems like Obama-worship; no mortal presidential candidate has that power.
One can debate whether Obama had a good week on Iraq — Prime Minister Maliki’s comments almost certainly helped him — or a bad week — his own comments on the surge may prove damaging. But the Post’s claim that he has shifted the debate away from Iraq is contradicted by today’s issue of that paper. The front page story is called “After Visit, Obama Defends Iraq Plan.” The lead editorial (and a splendid one) is called “Mr. Obama in Iraq.” Obama’s visit to Iraq probably has produced enough material to fuel a few extra weeks of debate. If the visit has changed the foreign policy debate at all, it has probably narrowed it.
Increasingly, the Post’s reporting on Obama smacks of wish-fulfillment fantasy. Obama supporters would like their inexperienced, gaffe prone candidate to have “gravitas,” so Cillizza attempts to confer it on him. Some Obama supporters would like the foreign policy debate to shift away from Iraq, now that U.S. policy is succeeding and Obama is struggling to deal with our success, so DeYoung and Weisman declare the debate shifted.
This isn’t reporting; it’s cheerleading.
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