First published at Blogcritics.org
Barack Obama advocates engaging the Iranians diplomatically as a more useful strategy than saber-rattling and refusing to talk to them. Obama is called an appeaser and (much) worse with great disdain by both the administration and the McCain camp for daring to even suggest it. This week, the US sent a diplomatic envoy to the Iran-Europe talks as “an observer” for the very first time. Hmmm. You say coincidence?
Barack Obama insists that our troops in Iraq may be better utilized in Afghanistan, where the gains we made in 2002 have very nearly been erased while thousands of our troops have died in a war we never should have started. Americans are now beginning to die in greater numbers as Afghanistan falls apart, beating a hasty retreat to its pre-2002 political landscape. The Taliban are growing ever more powerful; al Qaeda is steadily regrouping there. Obama is labeled as inexperienced and naïve. But this week, the Bush administration said much the same thing (except not the part about the wasted American deaths for an unnecessary war.)
Barack Obama has suggested a 16-month timetable for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. Bush and McCain labeled timetables as irresponsible, and labeled Obama as inexperienced and naïve (and much worse). This week, the Bush Administration announced agreement with the Iraqi government for setting a “withdrawal horizon.” So, tell me. Who’s leading this dance?
So enamored is the Bush administration of Obama’s great leadership, vision and calm wisdom about the Middle East that, this morning, the White House Press office emailed a story in which Iraq’s Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki calls Obama’s 16-month strategy “the right time frame for a withdrawal” to its entire distribution list. The Reuters news report details an interview in the German magazine Der Spiegel.
Full disclosure: OK, so actually only part of this is true. Yes, believe it or not, the White House did send an email to its press distribution list, but it wasn’t intentional! Just when you thought the White House could not get more incompetent, it shoots itself in the foot. “Iraq PM backs Obama troop exit plan,” read the title on an email sent out to thousands of subscribers to the clipping service, including major media outlets and anyone else who would listen. The White House often sends out emails to this distribution list, with titles like: “News You Can Use,” “In Case You Missed It,” and “Setting the Record Straight.” Clearly, the intention is usually to bolster administration talking points, not promote endorsements (well, al-Maliki backed away from calling it an endorsement) given to the opposition.
The White House SNAFU has been attributed to someone pushing the wrong button. (Given the predilection of the White House rewarding stupidity and incompetence, he or she might be up for a big promotion. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the next White House press secretary!)
Of course the story has become rampantly virulent on the internet, spreading like a California wildfire. And how could such a mistake happen? Some have speculated that the email was intended for an internal group, sent to assemble talking points that might counter it.
Instead, an article that might have received scant attention has gotten wide distribution in the mainstream media, having been reported in the New York Times, on ABC News and other outlets, as well as in the Blogosphere. Doubtless that, on the Sunday morning talk shows tomorrow, McCain and Bush spokespeople might be asked not only about al-Maliki’s statements, but about the SNAFU and its potential impact on the two presidential candidates’ campaigns, as well. Stay tuned!