novatownhall blog

Where you are held accountable for your convictions and record

I’m not going to critique the Israel, Jordan, and Europe legs of Obama’s trip, simply because I don’t have the intimate knowledge of those areas that I have of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Once again, I’ll give the Senator credit for his conduct these past few days.  He did his listening without trying to impose his plans on foreign governments or military leaders.  In 2000, I was in a military audience for an Al Gore appearance.  He spent most of his time telling us how he wanted to give us a pay raise, better housing, etc.  A campaign speech, basically.  Senator Obama didn’t do this either.  I didn’t hear him speak, but according to the first-hand accounts I’ve heard, he kept his comments to thanking the military and giving us credit for all the progress that’s been made.

While I have no complaints about his trip, I do have some issues with his conduct leading up to and right after it.

First, why did it take him almost 3 years to visit again?  Why only the second time?  I would think such an outspoken critic of our involvement in Iraq would be doing this more often.  Especially since he claims to support the troops so much.  When was the last time he spoke with General Petraeus?  When was the last time he discussed the progress over here with any military leader at all?  His opposition to what’s left of this war has been strictly for political leverage.  He can say he’s always opposed it, while Senator Clinton and Senator McCain can’t.  Beyond that he doesn’t care.  I doubt he would have made this trip had not Senator McCain called him on his perceived lack of interest.

Second, as I said before, his past comments criticizing the Afghan and Iraqi governments were not constructive.  He is not the State Department.  He is a legislator.  His comments risk souring the relationship we have with these countries, who are already fragile allies in the War on Terror.

Third, I appreciate the Senator’s willingness to slightly back off his “16 months” timeline.  A “residual force” is a step up from a complete withdrawal.  However, I would have gained a lot more respect for the man if he had been big enough to admit he had been wrong about the surge.  I caught the clip on the TV where he admitted to Katie Couric that the surge had worked, and then proceeded to say he still wouldn’t have supported it if he had known then what he knows now.  What?  What did he want?  More of what we had here before the surge?  More chaos?  More sectarian violence?  More terrorism?  More dead Americans?  More dead Iraqis?  Straight up defeat?

I’m looking over his press release now and I have some thoughts I will share.  My comments are in italics. continue reading…

Imagine if a year ago, the dimwit in the Whitehouse had listened to Obama and the Democrats and had not conducted the surge? What if Petraeus had not been allowed to conduct his brand of counter-insurgency-warfare? Obama in his own words …

I am not persuaded that Twenty Thousand addition troops in Iraq is gonna solve the sectarian violence there, in fact I think it will do the reverse.

Obama said the above on January 10, 2007. So much for Obama’s vaunted ‘judgement’. Today 15 of 18 of the benchmarks regarding progress in Iraq have been met. When was the last time Congress managed to meet 3 of 18 let alone 15 of 18 benchmarks with respect to anything? Today Iraq is a far safer place; Obama would not be in Iraq shooting hoops with the troops. It would not be ‘nothing but net‘, the guy would be in a bunker expounding on how the situation was all George Bush’s fault and how he (Obama) has better judgment.

Considering how the Obama has spent ~150 days in the U.S. senate, it is easy to say that he has not made any mistakes. That is because he has also not done anything worthy of note either. It appears that Obama was wrong with respect to the surge and what is worse, he is dishonest about it. His campaign has removed all the negative text from its website regarding the surge. How about a confession of his mistakes. It was OK to ask Bush about his mistakes back in 2004. Can the press corps stop fawning long enough to ask, “Why did you get this so wrong?” Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander and the press’s credibility is quickly approaching that of the Democrat led congress.

The following is an artist’s illustration what an Obama trip to Iraq would look like today if Bush had listened to the great Messiah of Chicago and his sycophants in Congress.

obamairaq.jpg

Now granted we cannot blame Obama completely for missing the boat on this one. He was not alone, and it appears that the poor dear has just been keeping bad company, again. Take the entire leadership of the Democrat party for instance; Pelosi and Reid are on record:

“House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) stated that she, along with the Majority leader, Harry Reid (D-Nev.), “informed the president that they were opposed to increasing troop levels.” Both Pelosi and Reid expressed their disapproval in a letter to Bush on January 5, 2007″

Then there is Murtha, Biden and the rest of the Democrat Congressional leadership on record trying to torpedo the effort. Politics no longer ends at the waters edge in this country. That extra-national politicking is the essence of incredible pride that goes before the fall.

So now Obama, being mobbed by reporters, safe in a country that was written off by the very party he represents and the press corps that carries its water. Are the American people noticing this comical theater, or is this all a ‘willful suspension of disbelief‘?

I decided that I would not go to Senator Obama’s meet and greet here where I live, in the International Zone.  I wanted to go to bed early, and I had a feeling it would be crowded.  I was right.

One soldier described it to me, “I’ve been to rock concerts that weren’t that pushy.”  He then informed me he actually had to have security help him through the crowd once he was done meeting the Senator.  Another member of my crew told me he waited 3 or 4 hours to meet him, including the hour he got there early.  A third soldier I work with got lucky, running into him in passing and getting a quick photo in.

Senator Obama had his meet and greet yesterday evening (Monday).  According to all accounts I’ve heard, he spoke briefly to a large crowd, but did not appear to have a speech prepared.  His normally polished words were filled of “uh” and “um”.  Poor guy must have been jet-lagged or exhausted or something.  He then proceeded to meet with and pose for pictures with anyone who wanted one.  There was no organization to this part of it, you just had to work your way up if you wanted to talk to him.  Seems he was a decent enough fellow to hang around for quite a while due to the large number of people.  He (or his security team) was also decent enough not to pull a Bill Clinton and disarm all the troops around him in the middle of a war-torn country.

Most evenings, I eat dinner in the same chow hall, then I go outside and have a cigarette and coke in the MWR area, near some outdoor pool tables in a shady gazebo.  Yesterday as soon as I left the smoking area, I noticed the largest motorcade I’ve seen here parked on the road.  I asked around and found out he had just walked into the chow hall I had left 10 minutes prior.  I went back to my room thinking I had missed my chance.   I was informed that after his dinner, he stopped to shoot pool with some Joes in the same spot I sit and smoke every night.  This morning, I was out for my regular PT run, and there went the motorcade right by me again, I’m assuming on his way out since the news says he’s already gone.

Oh well.  Would have been nice to have gotten a picture for the site.

I have to give the Senator credit, he “stayed in his lane,” as the Army expression goes.

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama met Iraq’s prime minister in Baghdad on Monday but did not raise his plan to remove combat troops within 16 months if he wins the election, an Iraqi official said.

-From a National Post report

It sounds like he did as he said he would.  He listened, rather than talked.  I hope his visit with the Iraqi PM was enlightening to him.  I also wish the Senator had been paying us more attention over here prior to this point in time.

Other than my previous objection to Senator Obama’s past comments, I think he did pretty well on this part of the trip.

Here and here are two different accounts.

I don’t have a problem with US Senators meeting with foreign leaders, so long as they are doing so with the approval of the State Department (hear that, Nancy Pelosi?).  Senator Obama’s meeting with President Karzai was good for America overall.  I think it is appropriate for a sitting US senator to act as an ambassador and help strengthen our alliances.

The only complaint I might have is this:

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama pledged steadfast aid to Afghanistan in talks Sunday with its Western-backed leader and vowed to pursue the war on terror “with vigor” if elected, an Afghan official said.

-From the above linked AP article

My opinion is that Presidential candidates should not be making “if elected” commitments to foreigners (hear that, John Kerry?).  The only people any US Presidential candidate should be making “if elected” promises to are the American people.  Like Senator Obama has said himself, he is travelling as a US Senator, not as a presidential candidate.

However, based on the way the AP article is written, he may have been quoted out of context.  If anyone knows where to find the full quote or a transcript of the meeting, fill us in.

This recently came across via e-mail; Loudoun Community Association:

Important government functions meant to protect our quality of life, such as zoning enforcement, are not being implemented even to the degree permitted by existing laws…

Please consider this forum an ongoing “open letter” to our local government officials.

That reminds me, tomorrow night (Tuesday, July 22, 6:30 pm) there will be a follow up public hearing in which the Loudoun County staff and entire Board of Supervisors will be at Park View High School to deliver the findings of the previous series of public hearings held in Sterling and Potomac Districts, and also to hear public opinions. I believe people get to speak for three minutes. It is an important chance to have the whole Board hear what you have to say – say, about zoning enforcement in eastern Loudoun – and not have to drive out to Leesburg to get it done.

So be at Park View tomorrow evening if you can.

The preliminary findings of the county staff are linked at the Loudoun Community Association Web site, go check them out. I won’t have a chance to read them for a while because of work but plan to eventually give my opinion. It will be interesting to see which public comments at the previous seven hearings the county staff heard.

This is way too cool.

More Here.

Someone let me know if you can find where to order the CD.