Concerning the recent vote on funding for the war in Iraq, Giuliani has lobbed the dreaded f-word over in Obama’s direction. Giuliani contends that Obama made, in his words, “quite a significant flip flop” when it came to Obama’s stance on the Iraq funding bill. With Giuliani’s flip-flop accusation, the other Republican candidates have taken the opportunity join in the Obama criticism:
McCain calls Obama’s stance “the policy of surrender”
Romney has called Obama’s actions “abandon[ing] principle in favor of political positioning”
And Giuliani continued about Obama and his fellow Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, “They’ve gone from an anti-war position to an anti-military, anti-troops position”
So it’s worth examining: is this vote by Obama a flip flop? Was a vote against the funding bill incompatible with a position in favor of supporting the troops and his previous votes for war appropriations bills? That’s the allegation that the Republican candidates have laid down. Let’s see if it’s a valid and legitimate point or a baseless and partisan attack.
Obama said about the bill,
“let’s put aside the fear mongering and let’s put aside the rhetoric and let’s put aside the politics and let’s come together and…all of us support the troops.”
“enough is enough…we should not give the President a blank check to continue down this same, disastrous path.” He said of the Republicans: they “clearly believe the course we are on in Iraq is working, but I do not.”
Obama, like every other candidate with a semblance of sanity (that’s all of them, believe it or not), has taken the position that he is in favor of supporting our troops. But, he says, he is against “Bush’s war” (the new label collectively given by the democrats in their last debate). Is this a viable policy or a flip flop, as the Republicans counter, especially since he previously voted four times for war appropriations bills together adding up to more than $300 billion in war funding. A more careful examination of his stated reasoning, though, provided a look into a more nuanced position than being merely for or against funding the war. Obama said about the reasoning behind his voting decision:
“With my vote today, I am saying to the President that enough is enough. We must negotiate a better plan that funds our troops, signals to the Iraqis that it is time for them to act and that begins to bring our brave servicemen and women home safely and responsibly.”
That sounds pretty reasonable and certainly not like the flip flop Giuliani has painted it out to be. A look back to 2003 actually shows the very same reasoning applied to a vote before the Congress concerning $87 billion in war appropriations:
“Obama suggested the Congress delay the $87 billion in funding ‘until the president provides a specific plan and timetable for ending the U.S. occupation, justifies each and every dollar to ensure it is not going to reward Bush political friends and contributors, and provides investment in our own schools, health care, economic development and job creation that is at least comparable’ to what is going to Iraq.’”
Obama has, actually, remained consistent in his stated beliefs on funding for the war in Iraq. His more nuanced position provides an easy opening for interpreting his words and actions differently than they were intended – hence the flip flop accusation from his Republican counterparts. Here’s to hoping the American people take a closer look at where all the candidates actually stand when they go to the polls, rather than the soundbites their opponents provide.