Barack Obama on Iraq.--

The McCain campaign has a long, nearly 8-minute ad up on its website, which is mostly just video clips of Barack Obama's statements on Iraq, interspersed with derogatory slides expressing negative conclusions about Obama. Personally, I could do without the ominous music and most of the slides (which are sometimes fair and sometimes not). Yet I like actually hearing Obama's views on what is for me the main issue. Although there might possibly be a clip taken out of context, my sense is that the clips shown are quite representative of his views on Iraq over time.

Indeed, I was happy to see that the political ad included a brief example of his view before he started running for President that we should NOT pull out of Iraq because of the destruction that would result from our leaving. This is the position he took in "The Audacity of Hope." Most people think that Obama always opposed continuing the war and always favored pulling out fairly quickly.

Personally, I would prefer that, should Obama clearly pivot on what to do in Iraq, he not be attacked by either the left or the right for flip-flopping, but rather commended for responding to new realities. After all, he is likely to be President, and the earlier he takes a more mature position on the war, the likelier he is to stick with it. Indeed, that Obama has been so slow even to begin changing his position is a worrisome sign. Even if Obama does change his views and decide to stay in Iraq and win a war that is now probably winnable, I wonder whether when he takes office he has the courage to disappoint his supporters, especially when he has to deal with, not only his extravagant promises, but the families of dead soldiers.

One thing I find disturbing about the Obama clips and some recent public comments is the degree to which he is trying to rewrite the history of what his positions were, particularly on the surge. Obama was wrong on the main foreign policy issue of his brief time in the US Senate, the surge, and he should correct his position as quickly and as forthrightly as is politically possible, not pretend that he always thought that the surge would work to reduce violence.

I would love to see a similar long, detailed ad on the Obama website on John McCain's shifting views on immigration (for amnesty/against amnesty; border control first/border control as part of a general solution). (Perhaps one is already there.)

My own immigration views are for tighter borders AND increased immigration through greatly increased legal immigration. I have long entertained the possibility that some portion of slots should be sold or auctioned off to screened, otherwise qualified immigrants, a proposal explored by Dick Posner and Gary Becker.