The AP Is Beginning to Notice

You know Barack Obama’s campaign is getting into trouble when even the Associated Press notices that it has become something of a joke. Following up on the blogosphere, the AP noted today that Obama’s web site has airbrushed his former opposition to the “surge” in Iraq:

Barack Obama’s aides have removed criticism of President Bush’s increase of troops to Iraq from the campaign Web site, part of an effort to update the Democrat’s written war plan to reflect changing conditions.

One could put that differently, of course: now that Obama’s position has definitively been proved wrong, he is trying to slink away without anyone noticing. But the AP does a decent job of putting Obama’s about-face in context:

After Bush delivered a nationally televised address on Jan. 10, 2007, announcing his plan, Obama argued it could make the situation worse by taking pressure off Iraqis to find a political solution to the fighting.

“I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there,” the Illinois senator said that night, a month before announcing his presidential bid. “In fact, I think it will do the reverse.”

Obama continued to argue throughout 2007 that the troop increase was a mistake. By the early part of this year, he was acknowledging that it had improved security and reduced violence, but he has stuck by his opposition to the move.

It’s fun to read the AP’s account of how Obama has trimmed his sails to take account of the obvious success which, despite his doleful predictions, has emerged in Iraq:

As first reported Tuesday by the New York Daily News, Obama’s campaign removed a reference to the surge as part of “The Problem” section on the part of his Web site devoted to laying out his plan for Iraq.

An Obama spokeswoman explained that the changes in Obama’s web site “were made to reflect current conditions.” Which is to say, Obama fought reality, and reality won. The AP gives us chapter and verse:

The changes stress that Obama’s plan to end the war is responsible and designed to improve national security. They include:

• An updated Obama quote at the top of the page. The previous quote stressed how Obama had the judgment to oppose the “rash war” from the start. This was a popular message among Democratic voters and was meant to draw distinctions with primary rival Hillary Rodham Clinton, who initially supported the war. The new quote focuses on how ending the war will make Americans safer — a message aimed at general election voters who are more likely to trust McCain on issues of national security, according to polling.

• A description of Obama’s plan as “a responsible, phased withdrawal” that will be directed by military commanders and done in consultation with the Iraqis. Previously, the site had a sentence that has since been removed that flatly said, “Obama will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq.” Morigi said that his plan hasn’t changed, but they wanted to expand the description. “There’s not an intent to shift language,” she said.

• A new sentence that says Obama “would reserve the right to intervene militarily, with our international partners, to suppress potential genocidal violence within Iraq.”

The AP closes with what appears to be an unprecedented outburst of snark directed at a Democrat:

Only one of his plan’s subheads remains unchanged, the first one — “Judgment You Can Trust.” That’s a message the campaign wants Americans to embrace.

It’s fair to say that Obama has now admitted that he was wrong about the most important national security issue that has arisen during his brief time in public life.

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