Is this video of Sen. Barack Obama from 2004. The context isn't entirely clear, but it appears as if he wants to reassure the host that he has no intention to rapidly withdraw troops and certainly wouldn't set an artificial deadline.
I sent the clip to the Obama campaign and asked his national security senior adviser, Susan Rice, about it. "One year into the war is very different from five years into the war. Those who opposed the war thought it was a massive strategic blunder, but that doesn't mean we didn't want the U.S. to succeed," she said. "It was, in my personal estimation, and I imagine that Sen. Obama had this in his mind too, that it was way too soon [to conclude] that there was no way that a bad situation couldn't be ameliorated, at least partially."
At the time, Rice said, there was no way to know whether a political resolution could be tendered; by 2007, when Obama unveiled his plans for a post-war Iraq, it was clear to Obama that the U.S. strategy was overreaching and underperforming.
A point about consistency: Obama has acknowledged that his policy on Iraq withdrawal has evolved as the conditions on the ground have changed, and so this video doesn't strike me as a smoking gun; it just reminds me that Iraq is an extremely complex issue, and that "stay the course" versus "withdrawal" has never been a good way to think about it. And that Obama's position has not been entirely consistent -- although it's hard to value consistency about a messy, bloody, convoluted war and its equally messy, convoluted, messy aftermath. On this point, during the campaign, Sen. Clinton was not wrong when she pointed out Obama's different directions. (See my National Journal article on the subject from 2007.)
So I guess what I'm getting to... is that Obama hasn't been consistent... but that consistency is not the coin of this realm. The Obama campaign claims that Obama has made an evidenced-based assessment of what to do and will continue to do as president; as the facts on the ground change, he won't stubbornly stick to preconceptions about what to do.
What do you think? Will voters laud Obama for his dexterity? Or do they prefer resilience?
Marc Ambinder is a contributing editor at The Atlantic. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.