So, where is the angry and unhinged right poised to mount their next attack on Obama? Obviously, it won't be on an economic issue - Obama is running strongest on the domestic economy and the likelihood of John McCain, who's been trying to sell "I don't know much about the economy" as folksy and the "psychological effects" of offshore drilling as a real-world solution, getting back in the race on the economy just isn't in the cards.
No, the next big offensive against Obama is going to come on the Iraq war front. Obama has recently announced his intent to visit Iraq to take stock in the conditions on the ground, and the GOP has already come up with a plan: when Obama returns from Iraq, the position he has taken on withdrawal for these many months of the Democratic primary - in which we extricate ourselves gradually and carefully in a sixteen month process - will be sold as a new idea, a tack toward the Bush/McCain policy of eternal war and a flip-flop on his current stand.
On this morning's Fox News Sunday, Bill Kristol set the stage for this bit of subterfuge, saying:
KRISTOL: The voters tend not to punish political leaders for adjusting their views especially if they come towards the voters. The next big flip for Obama, this will make Brit even more astonished, will be on Iraq. He's going to go to Iraq, meet with General Petraeus, decide the "Surge" is working and walk back from his immediate, unconditional withdrawal. Suddenly it's going to be, well...we're going to be very careful...gradual, honorable withdrawal - Obama said the other day, an honorable conclusion to the Iraq war.
See what's going on there? Kristol is setting up this long con, in which the candidate who rather masterfully questioned Petraeus the last time the two met in hearings, goes to Iraq, gets seduced by the general and becomes a fan of the Surge, and suddenly starts waffling on his promises to end the war, substituting an "immediate" withdrawal with a "gradual" one...an "unconditional" withdrawal with one that's "honorable." Of course, Obama has never said the withdrawal would be anything but gradual and honorable, but the GOP is counting on voters falling for this ruse and believing it to be another chapter in their flip-flop fable.
And if you are looking for a pattern of incidence, look no further. Kristol's set-up on Fox was echoed on ABC's This Week - though less artfully - by Hugh Hewitt, who tells an outright lie about Obama's previous withdrawal plan so that it can later appear that his consistently-stated position is a flip-flop. As you watch this clip, look for the moment that Hewitt attempts to establish Obama's withdrawal plan as a "six-month" plan, instead of the sixteen-month plan he's been advocating for months. Fortunately, Arianna and Katrina VandenHeuvel were in the room, and they immediately put the hammer down on Hewitt's prevarications.
The tendency of the desperate right to attempt to capture Obama's consistently held positions as sudden flip-flops has been seen outside the Iraq War issue as well. In a recent preview for Fortune's interview with Obama, writer Nina Easton attempted the same piece of trickery, presenting Obama's well-known stance on NAFTA as a sudden and pandering change of heart, even though the record demonstrated no change in position. Watch for similar attempts to be made in the run up to and the conclusion of Obama's trip to Iraq.