Obama and Iraq.

Marc Ambinder reminds us of something in advance of President Obama's Oval Office speech:

We forget how integral Sen. Barack Obama's decision to oppose the Iraq war was to his own political awakening, and how many contortions Hillary Clinton had to untwist in order to justify her own support for the war authority, and how, by the day of the general election, given the success of the surge (or the success of JSOC's counterterrorism efforts), Iraq was no longer a central voting issue. Voters seemed to exorcise that demon in 2006, when they voted Democrats into Congress.

After the recession, and the election, and the health-care battle, and the rise of the Tea Party, the days when we spent all our time arguing about Iraq seem like they were decades ago. And it's safe to say that Iraq wasn't just central to Obama's political awakening, it was one of the half-dozen or so factors he couldn't have been elected without. You may recall that he was alone among the top candidates in having opposed the war from the beginning, which was no small thing at the time.

And when he got elected, I argued that he could become the next FDR if he could do four things: fix the economy, do something about climate change, pass health-care reform, and get us out of Iraq. Two out of four is obviously not enough -- and now, he'll be judged infinitely more on Afghanistan than he will on Iraq, which will always be George W. Bush's war.

-- Paul Waldman

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