So Barack Obama met with a range of foreign policy experts in Virgina today, convening a "working group" that included longtime Obama confidantes like Susan Rice, Clintonites like Amb. Richard Holbrooke and Madeline Albright, seasoned Democratic policy figures such as former Senators Sam Nunn and Gary Hart, and several military leaders.
After the meeting, Obama responded to a reporter's question by explaining that he asked his staff to arrange the gathering about "about two weeks ago." The goal, he said, was to ensure that his team was not "so focused on the economy" that he stopped "keeping pace" with challenges pertaining to Afghanistan, Al Qaeda and Iraq. That announcement did not prevent A.P. journalist Jennifer Loven, however, from casting the entire meeting as a hurried, "nervous" response to Sen. Joe Biden's controversial statement that a President Obama would be quickly tested on the world stage.
Cue the narrative -- and note the brazen absence of any facts or quotes supporting Loven's storyline, even though it contradicts Obama's own statement about how long the meeting had been in the works:
Democrat Barack Obama convened a panel of foreign policy and military luminaries Wednesday ... an attempt to inoculate himself against the renewed charge that he is too untested for the White House.
[Republicans have criticized Biden's statement] that Obama would face a "generated crisis" within six months of becoming president because adversaries across the world would want to test his mettle.... the Obama campaign showed enough nervousness about the power of the topic to alter the race that it scheduled the meeting at a grand, historic Richmond hotel, and made sure Biden himself participated by phone from Colorado (emphasis added).
That sounds pretty off.
If the meeting was planned weeks ago, then it was not designed as an attempt to address future charges against Biden. Obama said it was planned weeks ago, of course, but even if the A.P. thinks he's lying, reporters know it'd be quite hard to get all those luminaries in person on short notice. "It'd be pretty hard to gather this group in two days," Obama added in response to a question after the meeting. "They have pretty busy schedules." Then again, if a fancy hotel is evidence of "nervousness," maybe anything goes.
Anyway, another reporter asked Obama directly about Biden's remark, which is even more interesting than scheduling. Obama took the opportunity to respond:
Look, as I said before, you know, I think that Joe sometimes engages in rhetorical flourishes -- but I think that his core point was that the next administration is going to be tested regardless of who it is, because of the fact that we have -- the next administration is going to be inheriting a whole host of really big problems, and so the president is going to be tested, and the question is, will the next president meet that test by moving America in a new direction, by sending a clear signal to the rest of the world that we are no longer about bluster and unilateralism and ideology, but we're about creating partnerships around the world to solve practical problems. That's going to be the best way to meet that test, and I have confidence that we will be able to do so.
Good answer. But who knows, maybe that sounded nervous, too.