by Austin Bay
July 9, 2008
We've now seen enough of Barack Obama's campaign to get an idea of his
remarkably agile strategic plan. Obama bills himself as the candidate of "change
and hope" -- and change is a key component in his plan, if by change we mean
radical political flexibility characterized by dramatic shifts in fundamental
policy, or quickly substituting today's iron-clad principles for last week's
rusting certainties, or adroitly morphing his eternal verity of Old Testament
May into a revised piety befitting New Age July.
Obama's change isn't simply the expedient replacement of once-upon-a-time
principle, exemplified by his rejection of public election financing. When the
winds shift, Obama's strategic plan changes people. Since the end of March,
Obama's "campaign of change" has used his grandmother and booted the Rev.
Jeremiah Wright. Convicted Chicago grifter and Obama buddy Tony Rezko? He's so
changed he's vanished.
Fair bet Obama holds firm with one personality, however: bomb-wielding
terrorist, connected elite and hard-left political radical Bill Ayers. Call it a
suspicion, based on years of watching wealthy white radicals in California and
Texas move from dashikis to Under Armour, but I don't think a money-ed up Maoist
like Ayers is a candidate for Obama's "people change."
Spoiled rich kids with glitzy left-wing credentials get the breaks. Dad's
cash or the divorce settlement pays for the house and help. It's why they sport
job titles like "artist and activist." Ayers will operate behind Obama's
oratorical screen for the duration.
Obama's biggest looming change involves war, specifically Iraq. Oh, I
know Obama has set the stage for "change" on that issue. Foreign policy adviser
Samantha Power got "changed" for calling Hillary Clinton "a monster," but what
she told BBC interview ace Steve Sackur in March about Obama's Iraq policy was
far more interesting.
When Sackur asked: "So what the American public thinks is a commitment to
get combat forces out in 16 months isn't a commitment, isn't it?" Power, from a
cocoon spun of Ivy League presumption that everyone in the press is in the tank
for Obama, answered: "You can't make a commitment in March 2008 about what
circumstances will be like in January of 2009. He will, of course, not rely on
some plan that he's crafted as a presidential candidate or a U.S. senator."
Hey, I believe her. Obama is a creature of political prestidigitation,
and last week in Fargo, N.D., he began his "war flip-flop" by suggesting he
might "refine" his Iraq policy. Obama, like his pal Ayers, thinks most people
are just too dumb to notice his shiftiness or, like MSNBC's Chris Matthews, are
too knee-tingling awed by his rhetorical pomp to care.
Real-world trials and triumph trump Obama's Oz of words, however. Though
antique media have reduced coverage of Iraq -- fewer bombs means fewer
sensational thrills -- the people of Iraq and their coalition allies are well on
their way to a democratic win over terror. Arguably the win was obtained as of
November 2007, though its seeds were sown in August 2004 and the stage set when
Saddam toppled in April 2003. The dates are fodder for another column -- the
point is Obama faces a reality that questions the theology of defeat Democratic
Sen. Harry Reid enunciated in 2007.
I see a situation I call "strategic overwatch" emerging in Iraq in 2009,
becoming full-fledged by 2011. "Strategic overwatch" is a limited U.S. and
coalition victory -- but a major victory for Iraqis. Iraqis already consider the
destruction of Saddam Hussein's regime to be a victory. Iraq's Operation Charge
of the Knights (March-April 2008) foreshadowed strategic overwatch: coalition
air, intelligence and logistics assets support Iraqi planned, led and manned
security operations. Iraqi gross domestic product increases, neighborhoods
revive, Baghdad's business community revs. The "Update" video at
austinbay.thearenausa.com has a full description of strategic overwatch.
A President Obama isn't foolish enough to abandon Iraqis who've earned
their democracy, or to hang the accusation of self-defeat on his legacy. Obama
will "change" on Iraq, then claim his leadership -- not the "Bush's
maladministration" -- assured victory.
The real rubes in this election won't be the rural Pennsylvanians Obama
slandered, the folks who cling to their guns and religion. It will be the
gray-haired profs with ponytails, clinging to their cannabis and liturgy of