Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Tour de France and Obama's Tour de Force

The shift of the D.C. establishment away from John McCain and towards Barack Obama is now official. A day after I compared Obama's trip to the Tour de France, David Broder refered to it as "Obama's Tour de Force." Broder opens by attributing some of Obama's new found foreign affairs luster to advance hype and luck before detailing how his outlook on the world is being confirmed by events:
Acknowledging all that, it is still the case that Obama is pulling off this trip in great style and thereby has enhanced his Oval Office credentials.
What he could not have counted on is the role that luck has played in the events that have surrounded the tour and in the actions of a cast of supporting players.
When, on the first day of the trip, Obama stepped onto a basketball court at the air base in Kuwait and sent his first three-point shot cleanly through the basket, you knew that the gods had decided to favor him.
He could not have known in advance that on the very day he left Chicago, President Bush would suddenly reverse six years of policy and send a high-ranking State Department official off to a meeting with Iranian and European nuclear negotiators.
He could not have guessed that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, eager to promise his constituents that the American occupation would not be endless, would persuade Bush to declare agreement to "a time horizon" for the departure of U.S. troops.
And he could not have assumed that a Maliki spokesman, briefing reporters on the prime minister's meeting with Obama, would volunteer the comment that "the end of 2010 is the appropriate time for the withdrawal" of U.S. troops.
Suddenly, long-standing Obama policies -- direct talks with Iran and a 16-month timetable for withdrawal -- seemed to be ratified by events.
Broder can't help but nit-pick one or two of Obama's answers to reporters' questions, before turning to the way events have turned against McCain:
But his troubles are minimal compared with those of John McCain, who looks like the odd man out in the ongoing foreign policy debate. Having given steadfast support to the policies of both Maliki and George Bush, he has a legitimate complaint: They owed him more consideration in the way they announced their shifts. As it is, McCain appears isolated from trends in both Baghdad and Washington.
Things are getting tough for John McCain when David Broder has to point out that his stature on the world stage has been superceded by the upstart senator from Illinois.


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