NRO column repeated debunked claim that Obama attempted to delay troop withdrawals

››› ››› LAUREN AUERBACH & MEREDITH ADAMS

In a National Review Online column, Lisa Schiffren claimed that "[i]n personal conversations," Sen. Barack Obama "asked that the Iraqi leadership wait for the next administration (his) to begin serious troop withdrawals -- as Amir Taheri has documented." In fact, a Bush administration official has reportedly said that Taheri's assertion was not true. Schiffren also repeated other false and baseless claims in her column providing "suggestions" to the McCain campaign.

In an October 6 National Review Online column headlined "Take This and Run: Ten things the McCain campaign needs to do to win," Lisa Schiffren claimed that "[i]n personal conversations," Sen. Barack Obama "asked that the Iraqi leadership wait for the next administration (his) to begin serious troop withdrawals -- as Amir Taheri has documented. Apparently, he wanted to make it look as if the troops were coming home due to him." But a Bush administration official has reportedly said that Taheri's assertion, made in a September 15 New York Post column, that Obama "tried in private to persuade Iraqi leaders to delay an agreement on a draw-down of the American military presence" was not true. The Obama campaign has also reportedly denied Taheri's allegation.

In a September 19 post on his Political Punch blog, ABC News senior national correspondent Jake Tapper reported that "[t]he Obama campaign said that the Post report consisted of 'outright distortions,' " and that contrary to Taheri's claim, "[a] Bush administration official with knowledge of the meeting says that during the meeting, Obama stressed to [Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-] Maliki that he would not interfere with President Bush's negotiations concerning the U.S. troop presence in Iraq, and that he supports the Bush administration's position on the need to negotiate, as soon as possible, the Status of Forces Agreement, which deals with, among other matters, U.S. troops having immunity from local prosecution." Tapper further reported:

Two officials of the Bush administration say that if Obama had done what the Post story asserted -- which they believe to be untrue -- U.S. Ambassador Crocker and embassy officials attending the meeting would have ensured that the Bush administration heard about it immediately. If such an incident occurred in front of officials of the Bush administration, it would have constituted a foreign policy breach and would have been front-page huge news; it would not have leaked out two months later in an op-ed column.

Schiffren also repeated other false and baseless claims in her column providing "suggestions" to the McCain campaign. For example:

  • Schiffren falsely described Obama's health care proposal as "state health care," writing: "Ask why Barack Obama wants to make us all wards of the state, with state health care. Is this a good moment to embrace 20th Century Socialism Lite, even if we are facing a year or two of belt tightening? Shouldn't the future be freer, with less state interference in our lives?" In fact, as Media Matters has noted, Obama's health care plan does not mandate that the government take over health care; rather, Obama's plan allows individuals to keep their private health insurance if they so choose, while he says it also "addresses the large gaps in coverage that leave 47 million Americans uninsured." A Q&A released by the Obama campaign says: "His plan will not tell you which doctors to see or what treatments to get. Under the Obama health care plan, you will be able to keep your doctor and your health insurance if you want. No government bureaucrat will second-guess decisions about your care."
  • Schiffren baselessly suggested that the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) is to blame for the current financial crisis, by writing: "For a real fight, mention the Community Reinvestment Act. Ask what happens in the near future when the 'A team' -- Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Charles Rangel, Barney Frank, and Barack Obama -- are in charge of the economy, during the coming recession." But, as Media Matters has noted, the suggestion that the financial crisis was caused by banks lending irresponsibly to comply with the CRA has been debunked. The CRA applies only to depository institutions -- such as banks and savings and loan associations -- which have been estimated to have issued approximately 20 percent of subprime mortgages. Further, a study released earlier this year by a law firm specializing in CRA compliance estimated that in the 15 most populous metropolitan areas, 84.3 percent of high-cost loans in 2006 were made by financial institutions not governed by the CRA. In fact, Janet Yellen, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, stated in a March speech that "studies have shown that the CRA has increased the volume of responsible lending to low- and moderate-income households" [emphasis added].
  • In a section headed "Bill Ayers and other close friends," Schiffren claimed that Obama has had a "long-term" relationship with "domestic terrorist Bill Ayers." Schiffren also wrote: "Ayers served with the candidate on the Woods Fund board, and Obama was handsomely paid for that work. Who introduced them, and when?" In fact, as Media Matters has noted, contrary to Schiffren's assertion that Obama and Ayers are "close friends," an October 4 New York Times article reported that Obama and Ayers "do not appear to have been close. Nor has Mr. Obama ever expressed sympathy for the radical views and actions of Mr. Ayers, whom he has called 'somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8.' " The Times also reported that in 1969, Ayers helped found the Weather Underground and "[t]wenty-six years later, at a lunchtime meeting about school reform in a Chicago skyscraper, Barack Obama met Mr. Ayers, by then an education professor. Their paths have crossed sporadically since then, at a coffee Mr. Ayers hosted for Mr. Obama's first run for office, on the schools project and a charitable board, and in casual encounters as Hyde Park neighbors."

From Schiffren's October 6 National Review Online column:

At this point, the McCain campaign's goal should be to raise doubts about Obama's trustworthiness, and thus ability to lead. This will require a strategy and a tactic.

The campaign's strategy should be to attack from all directions: character, past associations, political practice in Chicago, "present" votes, lack of a record of accomplishment. It should question what it means for a law professor to leave no academic paper trail, yet produce two well-written autobiographies.

[...]

Here are ten suggestions for the campaign:

1: The economy. Democrats are blaming the current crisis -- the one requiring the now-$800 billion bailout -- on McCain's aversion to regulation. Explain the difference between more regulations and useful regulations. Explain that all the regulations in the world, applied to financial institutions, won't help if government policy mandates that banks issue mortgages to people who can't repay them. Explain who wanted so badly to expand homeownership, and why, and who benefitted from the work of Freddie and Fannie. List the top three recipients of Freddie and Fannie's campaign donations.

That's the history. Here is the abstract point to move to: Obama and his allies truly, deeply believe that markets are bad, and a small group of smart, good-hearted people -- them -- should be running things. The smart people had the good intentions of having the poor own homes. So they overrode traditional banking norms, which they called racist. Now we are all paying for their leftist ideology. For a real fight, mention the Community Reinvestment Act. Ask what happens in the near future when the "A team" -- Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Charles Rangel, Barney Frank, and Barack Obama -- are in charge of the economy, during the coming recession.

Don't sugar-coat the economic situation. If McCain wins, he presides over tough times.

2: Taxes. Contrast McCain's tax policies with Obama's by explaining the difference between letting people (and businesses) keep their own money, and giving them benefits at taxpayer expense. The former is what it means to have economic freedom. The latter is a real cost to taxpayers. McCain would not "spend" $300 million dollars, as Obama alleges, by failing to confiscate $300 million from businesses or individuals.

Also explain that Barack Obama's tax "cuts" for the poor consist of straightforward, massive redistribution of taxpayer dollars to people who already are not required to pay taxes. Hammer the point that only about 60 percent of American earners even pay taxes. Taxes for the working poor are called the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is the opposite of a tax. Cite statistics indicating that decided "tax recipients" are pro-Obama, support higher taxes for those who pay, and want bigger checks.

Ask why Barack Obama wants to make us all wards of the state, with state health care. Is this a good moment to embrace 20th Century Socialism Lite, even if we are facing a year or two of belt tightening? Shouldn't the future be freer, with less state interference in our lives? And on the matter of the recession we are facing -- explain in language a 10-year-old can understand that we will get through it faster if we don't gum up the job-creating process with new taxes.

[...]

6: Bill Ayers and other close friends. Discuss the details of domestic terrorist Bill Ayers' long-term relationship with Obama. Ayers served with the candidate on the Woods Fund board, and Obama was handsomely paid for that work. Who introduced them, and when? Make Obama explain why the Woods Fund gave grants to racial programs ("Juneteenth education") rather than basic education for deprived minority kids.

Speaking of terrorist buds, Barack and Michelle were close with Rashid and Mona Khalidi, convicted terrorism supporters. What was that about? Make the analogy to the Reverend Wright. Hit the larger point that there are so many of these long-term social relationships with people who hate this country and find it mean-spirited and racist. What does Barack enjoy about hanging with these types?

7: Arrogance bordering on treason. On his listening tour last summer, Senator Obama attempted to undermine Bush administration policy in Iraq. In personal conversations he asked that the Iraqi leadership wait for the next administration (his) to begin serious troop withdrawals -- as Amir Taheri has documented. Apparently, he wanted to make it look as if the troops were coming home due to him.

Posted In
Elections, National Security & Foreign Policy
Network/Outlet
National Review
Stories/Interests
2008 Elections
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