Thursday, February 21, 2008

Round 9: "The willing suspension of disbelief"

Is Iraq better off today because of the surge?

Clinton doesn't answer directly; she says it was meant to give Iraq's government the time and space necessary to make tough decisions about its future. "The purpose of it has not been fulfilled," she says. "It hasn't taken advantage of the sacrifice ..." made during the surge. This is why she would begin withdrawing troops within 60 days -- no, wait, she said she would ask the Joint Chiefs for a plan to withdraw troops within 60 days, which is actually something quite different. (Has anyone talked about that? That it isn't a hard commitment?)

Obama says it is indisputable that violence has been reduced in Iraq, and he notes the contribution of Fort Hood's soldiers but says the surge is a "tactical victory imposed upon a strategic blunder." Again he hits Clinton on the Iraq war authorization, saying a debate with McCain will be easier if it is done with someone who had a different position on the war from the start. He ends with a barrage of points about how veterans are not being properly served, from troop pay to post-traumatic stress disorder screening; these things are all true, and he should score big points with military families here.

Round 9 to Obama.