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Required Reading

3:31 PM, Jul 18, 2008 • By DEAN BARNETT
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You'll want to watch the whole thing, but here's a brief nugget from the conversation:

ANDREA MITCHELL: Is 16 months a reasonable time to get U.S. troops out and turn it over to Iraqis? Here's what he said.

GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS: It depends on the conditions, depends on the missions set, depends on the enemy. The enemy does get a vote and is sometimes an independent variable. Lots of different factors I think that would be tied up in that. The dialogue on that and the amount of risk, because it eventually comes down to how much risk various options entail. That's the kind of discussion I think that is very important as we look to the future.

So what's the Democrats' next move? Is it "Betray Us" time again? Or does Barack Obama posit that he knows more about the independent variables in question than David Petraeus does?

The most likely scenario is that Obama continues his clumsy and inelegant straddle in which he tries to please the left's anti-war base while keeping at least a big toe dipped in reality. I would wager that Obama's position on Iraq will keep evolving throughout the campaign. I'd also wager that every time he discusses the subject, he won't be able to resist wedging in a little homage to his own magnificent judgment.