Petraeus went before a series of presidential hopefuls yesterday. If you were a senator and running for president, you were asking questions. I heard the highlights on NPR, and it made me sick. I had more of a problem with the democrats (yes I'm a dem), but I think that's partly because there were more of them there.
There was so much stumping going on, it was clear that their ears and minds were shut, and were just thinking about A:how to use information the event to further their campaign, and B: Use the event itself to further their campaign. Now I'm against the war as much as the next guy (actually in Colorado, it would be MORE than the next guy), but this was just mindless antiwar platitudes. I think the lowest point of what I heard was Obama sniping at Biden for taking up too much time on the mic. Since Biden was heading up the committee, I think he's entitled to more time. he also has a longer term vested interest, since he's been working on a solution to this situation since way before he threw his pres hat in the ring. Hillary was using some fancy footwork, but in the end it sounded more like the closing statement of a litigator.
i feel like campaigning presents a conflict of interest, and these guys should be recused from this type of high profile shenanigans. The other thing I'm noticing, is the more I hear of Obama, the less I like the guy. He puts on a good show, and says the right stuff when it comes to platitudes, but i remember a republican governor of Texas who had a similar skill set. Obama is pushing back on criticisms to his pro-hope rhetoric. The problem isn't an upbeat message (I like John Edwards who uses a lot of hope in his messaging); my problem is that its rhetoric.
The scary and useful thing about this stumping around the war is that its an important issue, and one that seems to bring out everybody's true colors. IMO, we have a responsibility to stop the hemorrhaging we caused, while weaning the Iraqi government of our collective teat. Few candidates are talking about a phased withdrawal aim at meeting both goals - its just one or the other. It also shifts incrementally, almost directly proportional to the latest SitRep and corresponding public opinion. Opinion dips, speak more harshly. Opinion rises, tame the rhetoric. I know you guys are running for president, but it's a war - how nuanced and changing does your opinion have to be on it? Pick a stance and stick with it.