Vice President Biden, appearing on Larry King earlier this week, stated, “I am very optimistic about Iraq. I think it’s going to be one of the great achievements of this administration.” This statement has been widely distorted, with claims from conservatives that the Obama administration is trying to take credit for the surge.
Biden’s comments do no such thing; instead they note that the withdrawal of American troops — something that conservatives for years have said would be a disaster — has gone very well. In February, President Obama announced a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq — an issue that he campaigned on and was vigorously opposed by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who advocated keeping U.S. troops in Iraq indefinitely. Biden was pointing out that conservatives were wrong that withdrawal would, as Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol argued, “likely lead to carnage on a scale that would dwarf what is now occurring in Iraq.”
On ABC’s This Week today, former Vice President Cheney further distorted Biden’s comments and took credit for a withdrawal plan he opposed, saying that Biden should be “thanking George Bush.” Biden, however, pushed back against Cheney’s distortions on Meet the Press and Face the Nation, maintaining that the Iraq war “wasn’t worth it.” Biden argued that the Obama administration has managed the drawdown “very very well,” noting that the administration has acted as a “catalyst” for political reconciliation, which was the source of violence and the primary obstacle to a successful withdrawal. He also pointed out that in January 2009, the Bush administration had no political plan for Iraq. Watch Cheney and Biden:
Cheney’s attempt to take credit for the withdrawal represents a total turnaround. Just last summer, Cheney worried that Iraq withdrawal will “waste all the tremendous sacrifice” of US troops. Cheney has long fear-mongered on the implication of U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. During the 2008 campaign, he even called the demands from Democrats in Congress for a timetable for withdrawal an act of “betrayal.”