Does Obama have an Iraq problem?

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images For months, the rough consensus of the pundit class has been that Iraq is an albatross around the neck of John McCain. Surge or no surge, the U.S. public had largely made up its collective mind about the war — the toll on the military, the massive expenditures, and everything else — ...

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594817_080602_obama2.jpg
MITCHELL, SD - JUNE 01: Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) addresses a rally on the street in front of the Corn Palace June 1, 2008 in Mitchell, South Dakota. Obama and his rival for the nomination, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), are moving into the final days of the primary season before Democratic contests in South Dakota and Montana on Tuesday. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

For months, the rough consensus of the pundit class has been that Iraq is an albatross around the neck of John McCain. Surge or no surge, the U.S. public had largely made up its collective mind about the war -- the toll on the military, the massive expenditures, and everything else -- and decided it wanted to get out. (As über-pollster Andrew Kohut observers, however voters are divided on how fast to get out, and they overwhelmingly prefer McCain to Barack Obama on national security.)

But what happens when the facts change? May saw the lowest number of U.S. combat deaths of any month in the war's five-year history, and Iraqis are increasingly taking the lead. Iraqi military operations in Basra, Sadr City, and Mosul have all gone better than many outside observers expected. Although it's easy to imagine the violence picking back up again, it's also conceivable that, by November, Iraq could be very calm indeed.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

For months, the rough consensus of the pundit class has been that Iraq is an albatross around the neck of John McCain. Surge or no surge, the U.S. public had largely made up its collective mind about the war — the toll on the military, the massive expenditures, and everything else — and decided it wanted to get out. (As über-pollster Andrew Kohut observers, however voters are divided on how fast to get out, and they overwhelmingly prefer McCain to Barack Obama on national security.)

But what happens when the facts change? May saw the lowest number of U.S. combat deaths of any month in the war’s five-year history, and Iraqis are increasingly taking the lead. Iraqi military operations in Basra, Sadr City, and Mosul have all gone better than many outside observers expected. Although it’s easy to imagine the violence picking back up again, it’s also conceivable that, by November, Iraq could be very calm indeed.

The Washington Post editorial board seems convinced that this will present trouble for Obama. I’m not so sure. It’s possible the war staying out of the news will only help focus the race on the economy, where the Democrats have an advantage. But I can see it cutting both ways. At the very least, it will be awkward for Obama to pivot from saying, “the war is lost, let’s get out” to “the war is won, let’s go home.” Readers, what do you think?

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