The hot-spot, Central Command phase of Barack Obama’s foreign-policy tour is winding down, and so far he seems to have hit all the right political notes. Hooping it up was a particularly swift move, but even more fortunate was the fact that Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki came right out and supported a timetable for withdrawal nearly in line with Obama’s 16-month plan. There’s plenty to the argument against a timetable and the realpolitik strategic importance of Iraq over Afghanistan, particularly the fact that the Iraqi Sunnis don’t support a timetable, but from a political point-scoring perspective that’s a little irrelevant. Arguments from McCain or Bush against an American-favored Iraqi leader’s statements about what’s best for his own country are now going to face criticisms of tone-deafness and arrogance.
I don’t envy anyone making the Israel / Palestinian political trip, but I think the best Obama can hope for is to play perhaps the only role that America can play towards Israel to improve the situation: that of the friend who takes the keys when someone’s too wasted to realize he’s going to mess himself up if he keeps going.
But to bring things back to the title: it’s still summertime, the public and the media have long since put the blinders on for Iraq and Afghanistan, and most voters are on a break until the real campaign starts with the fall. Obama managed to score himself plenty of presidential-looking video filler for newscasts about his foreign-policy experience this fall, and that likely counts for more with the TV-influenced voting public than anything else on this trip.