“I think that the surge has succeeded in ways that nobody anticipated,” Obama said while refusing to retract his initial opposition to the surge. “I’ve already said it’s succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.” (Note to Obama campaign: stick with friendly interviews or he'll be opposing unions and calling for more free trade.)
Of course, thereafter Obama retreats to the old trope about how Iraq hasn't achieved political reconciliation. More on Iraq in a minute, but for reference, let's consider our own struggles with implementing "political reconciliation". As Curt and I recently discussed, after Britain surrendered in 1781, the U.S. entered one of its most unstable and politically acrimonious eras. Here are the highlights: 62,000 loyalists were exiled. Massachussets' farmers staged the armed Shays' Rebellion in 1786. Washington dispatched 13,000 men, roughly the size of the revolutionary army, in 1794 to suppress the Whiskey Rebellion, which threatened secession of some western states. In 1804, Vice President Aaron Burr killed former Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton in a duel. (Some may also remember, that half the country seceded in the mid-1800s, launching the bloodiest war in American history.) Political reconciliation, indeed.
Regarding Iraq's reconciliation, consider: The May 2008 report card assessed that Iraq has made "satisfactory" progress on 15 of the 18 benchmarks, more than double the assessment from the previous year. The non-partisan Brookings Institute, gives Iraq a 5.5 out of 11 (up 1/2 point from the spring) on its index of political progress (see pages 13 and 14, here).
Democrats argue that progress has been too slow. I do not doubt that this is a fair critique. It's one I've frequently leveled against Washington.
P.S. What does it say about Obama that he's suddenly willing to appear on Bill O'Reilly (I wouldn't even appear on his show) and how are the netroots reacting?