When the media finally shook themselves from their Obama stupor in the second term, they went after the president for his promise that “you can keep your doctor” and his falsehood that he actually never made such a promise. Now, everyone from former congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) to Polifact admits that President Obama misled the public (and implicitly accused him, therefore, of lying when he denied saying so). Having caught him egregiously dissembling to the voters on his primary domestic “achievement,” the question now is whether the media will be as tough on his equally dishonest statements on Iraq.
It’s generally seen by commentators and many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle that failing to keep troops in Iraq contributed to the disastrous rise of the Islamic State and the near-destruction of Iraq. That’s a problem, of course, because Obama pulled them out. The president and his former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, have now come up with their version of the Obamacare canard: If you like our troops, you can keep them in Iraq.
Unbelievably, Obama now claims he didn’t make the decision to pull them all out. Only the commander in chief could pull them out, of course, and he did, just as he had promised throughout his 2008 campaign. In 2011 in a speech to the nation entitled “Ending the War in Iraq,” he declared: “As a candidate for president, I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end — for the sake of our national security and to strengthen American leadership around the world. After taking office, I announced a new strategy that would end our combat mission in Iraq and remove all of our troops by the end of 2011. As commander in chief, ensuring the success of this strategy has been one of my highest national security priorities. Last year, I announced the end to our combat mission in Iraq. And to date, we’ve removed more than 100,000 troops. Iraqis have taken full responsibility for their country’s security.”
He continued into his second term, bragging in State of the Union addresses that he had brought all the troops home. He touted his full withdrawal in his presidential debate with Mitt Romney. Not until Iraq came apart at the seams did he indicate that he had wanted to leave troops behind.
On “Fox News Sunday,”Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) was asked what he’d say about Obama’s insistence that it wasn’t his decision to pull out troops:
I’m telling the president, you’re rewriting history at your own convenience. You got the answer you wanted. You promised to get us out of Iraq and you were hell-bent to get out of Iraq. When everybody told you, you need to leave a force behind, you made it impossible for the Iraqis to say yes.
Mr. President, you authored us getting out of Iraq, and during a debate with Governor Romney, Romney suggested I could support 10,000 troops like the president intends to leave behind, and the president said in the debate, I’m not leaving any troops behind. I’m not going to get entangled in Iraq yet again.
Mr. President, you’re rewriting history.
What we know from multiple sources, including the then-ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Croker, is that the George W. Bush administration had hoped and planned to leave a stay-behind force. The military commanders recommended that 10,000 troops be left in place. However, Obama knocked that number down to 3,000. Meanwhile, Iraqi officials willing to have a U.S. presence in Iraq told the Americans that a guarantee of legal immunity for U.S. troops couldn’t be gotten from parliament but could be given by the Iraqi prime minister. (Recently, the Iraqi government did precisely that, allowing about 800 U.S. advisers to return to the country.) That was not good enough for the Obama-Clinton team — or, if you prefer, provided the pretext for doing what Obama had wanted to do all along. All troops were removed, and Obama was able to brag about it for three years.
There is something truly jaw-dropping about the president’s attempt to deny his responsibility for what was the subject of his 2008 campaign and of his ongoing boasts for years. Surely, he is not so disconnected from reality to know that this was his aim to bring all the troops home and that he thought this was a great accomplishment. Does he really expect the public to buy the notion that someone else made the call or that he was helpless to take the steps that his critics insisted were necessary to retain hard-fought gains? It no doubt is a bitter pill for him to swallow — namely, that Romney, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and the entire Bush team were right that a stay-behind force was essential — but it’s no justification for rewriting his presidency. In any honest fact-checking or questioning of the president, the media have the obligation to make clear that Obama is now running from a central tenet of his presidency and of leftist dogma for a decade.
The question is then whether the media will hold him to account for misrepresenting what he told the public on Iraq, as they did on his Obamacare excuse. His repeated promise about keeping your doctor was rated the “lie of the year” in some quarters. Surely his latest Iraq whopper rates as high.