The Note: Luck and Load

Was Sen. John McCain right about the surge yet not getting credit for it?

Was Sen. Barack Obama wrong about it and getting credit for it anyway?

Does anyone in the history of presidential politics have Obama-like luck?

Does McCain have to make his own luck -- or can he count on The New York Times or Obama himself to make it for him?

OK -- let's back up. Here's an easier question to answer: Who had the better day -- the guy in the golf cart, or or the guy in the chopper?

As for who will have the better week -- that may have been determined before Obama, D-Ill., touched down in Iraq.

Now that Obama is on to Jordan, Israel, and the rest of his trip (Tuesday brings his first press availability since leaving US soil) it's just possible that perceptions are set: Obama went to Afghanistan and Iraq, and the world followed him -- not McCain's.

(That includes Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and maybe even President Bush.)

The trip so far: "Better than they could have imagined," ABC's George Stephanopoulos reported on "Good Morning America" Monday. "Events are really conspiring to help Sen. Obama here."

But might this be the opening McCain needs to get back in the conversation -- to make the central question one of judgment on the surge, not the war?

"Attacks across the country are down more than 80 percent. Still, when asked if knowing what he knows now, he would support the surge, the senator said no," per ABC's Terry Moran, Melinda Arons, and Katie Escherich.

"These kinds of hypotheticals are very difficult," Obama told Moran in Baghdad, in an exclusive interview Monday. "Hindsight is 20/20. But I think that what I am absolutely convinced of is, at that time, we had to change the political debate because the view of the Bush administration at that time was one that I just disagreed with, and one that I continue to disagree with -- is to look narrowly at Iraq and not focus on these broader issues."

And this raised GOP interest, on his disagreements with military commanders: "My job is to think about the national security interests as a whole and to weigh and balance risks in Afghanistan and Iraq," Obama said. "Their job is just to get the job done here, and I completely understand that." (Just?)

McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds: "Barack Obama admitted tonight that he would rather see failure in Iraq than concede that he was wrong about the surge."

Yet the trip's shorthand may already be written.

"By Monday, the White House and rival Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign were at pains to explain why the Iraqi prime minister had seemingly all but endorsed Obama's relatively rapid timeline for getting out," Dan Balz writes in The Washington Post. "The curious turn of events made for an unexpected opening act for the Democrat's week-long tour of seven countries, demonstrating anew the combination of agility and good fortune that has marked his campaign."

"After a day spent meeting Iraqi leaders and American military commanders, Mr. Obama seemed to have navigated one of the riskiest parts of a weeklong international trip without a noticeable hitch and to have gained a new opportunity to blunt attacks on his national security credentials," Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Jeff Zeleny write in The New York Times. "The central tenet of Mr. Obama's foreign policy is suddenly aligned with what the Iraqis themselves now increasingly seem to want."

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...