It caps troops in Iraq at their Jan. 10 levels, requires the re-deployment of combat troops out of Iraq starting on May 1 and ending on March 31, 2008 (though “a residual U.S. presence may remain in Iraq for force protection, training of Iraqi security forces, and pursuit of international terrorists”), allows Congress to suspend these deadlines if certain benchmarks have been met, requires Congressional oversight, recommends diplomacy, and “mandates that the President submit a plan to prevent the war in Iraq from becoming a wider regional conflict.”
What I like about this is that it’s smart. If the President and the Iraqis want our troops to stay, they’d have to meet the various benchmarks, or else go to Congress and make a case for keeping them there.
In general, I agree with the take I’ve seen many places that Obama is trying to create a new sort of politics. I’ve seen it at MyDD, I’ve seen it at DailyKos, and I think hilzoy expresses it nicely:
I have always had the sense that Obama is up to something very interesting — a political experiment whose exact nature I’m not completely clear on, but that certainly includes an attempt to enlarge our national debate while consistently appealing to the better angels of our nature, and to do so not by talking about e.g. our need for values, but by enacting them. It has also always seemed to me that he is quite clear on the difficulty of what he’s doing, but thinks it’s worth the attempt. These articles clarified it, and him.
It isn’t that Obama has always succeeded at this, there has been justified criticism when he has called on other politicians to be more like this or like that, to express this value or to be bipartisan like that – times when he should have shown the way rather than pointed to it.
At some point I should transcribe the talk he gave at last year’s Washington Days, the event where I took the photograph above. It was an excellent speech, not just because Obama is a wordsmith of the highest caliber (and he is) and not just because he has more charisma than the other 99 Senators combined (though again, he does). It was a great speech because it expressed what everyone in his audience was feeling, had been feeling for years, maybe a lifetime. It’s no surprise that he and that speech were in demand in every tight race last year.
Will Barack Obama be the next President? Maybe. Not only could we do worse, we already have. He has the rare ability to do the right thing in the right way, and to show people that there is a better path on many issues. I’m not yet sold on his energy plan, which I think lacks the zest that this Iraq plan shows. But the Obama-McCain plan seems to be the front-runner in the Senate, leaving open the possibility that the two Presidential nominees will be working to advance their co-sponsored legislation even as they fight each other on the campaign trail. It should be interesting.
None of this should be taken as an exclusive endorsement of Obama. I obviously like him, and I’ve liked Edwards since he hung out with us in Lawrence during the 2004 campaign, and I’ve already expressed my admiration for Bill Richardson. Any of them would be great nominees.