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Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Matt Yglesias points out a trend by former Iraq hawks like Peter Beinart and David Brooks to say that Iraq is losing salience as an issue, voters therefore are not looking for someone "tough" on foreign policy (i.e., hawkish), and this explains Obama's rise in the polls.

This is a classic example of wishful thinking by hawks. In fact, there is a more obvious alternate explanation. The Democratic base is just as ticked off about Iraq as it was 3 or 6 months ago. (Nobody in the Democratic base believes the alleged military success of the "surge" justifies us continuing to stay in Iraq indefinitely.) Obama happens to be the one candidate, among the three leading Democrats, who opposed the war. As voters find that out (because he tells them), he's surging in the polls.

Really, you would be surprised how many Hillary Clinton supporters assume she is anti-war. They just have no idea. (This is part of a more general phenomenon that people do not know how conservative she is.)

One of the overlooked issues in the campaign coverage is the potential for an Obama nomination and election to cause a seismic shift in Democratic Party orthodoxy on foreign policy, which has not changed much in 30 years ever since the party leadership decided that it must never under any circumstances look dovish because that will lead to McGovern-like losses. (Of course, in truth, the reason the Democratic Party had no credibility on Vietnam is because John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson were so deeply responsible for that war.) If Obama wins the primary and wins the general (a very distinct possibility), suddenly there will be a lot of Democrats who are going to become very fearful that the base won't let them have mindlessly hawkish positions anymore.


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