This is damn near embarrassing:
Obama will apparently take credit for withdrawing U.S. troops — “We are completing a drawdown of almost 100,000 troops that…many did not think was possible,” Gibbs said — but is unlikely to acknowledge any special role played by George W. Bush’s troop surge. Gibbs said Obama plans to call Bush before the speech, but through repeated questioning would not admit that the surge played any especially important role in the war’s progress.
“Does he believe that President Bush deserves any credit for the surge, laying the groundwork for troop withdrawal?” a reporter asked Gibbs.
“I’d point you to the many comments that the president has made throughout a number of years about the role that increasing the number of our troops has played, just as a Sunni Awakening has played, just as a better political environment has played,” Gibbs said. “I think that the president will get a chance to talk about a lot of that.”
Later, another reporter tried again. “Does the president believe the surge worked?”
“The president always believed that you would change part of the security situation by vastly increasing the number of troops,” Gibbs said. “But again I think it was important — and the president was criticized for this throughout the campaign — and that is saying that we were not going to accomplish all of what needed to be done in Iraq simply militarily, that there had to be a political accommodation. We understand, again, that if you look at what happened with the Sunni Awakening, there were a whole host of factors that led us to a point in which the president can make good on his commitment to take almost 100,000 combat troops out of Iraq, to fundamentally change our mission in Iraq, to put the Iraqis in the lead for not just their security but their politics and their future. And I think that’s what’s ultimately tremendously important.”
Later, another question: “Why not give President Bush credit for ordering the surge?”
“Again…I’d be happy to circulate the president’s comments that go back to 2007 and go back to 2008 on this,” Gibbs said.
The piece does not end well for Obama.