What part of “out in sixteen months” don’t you understand?

That’s what Obama should ask the next reporter who pretends to be unsure about Obama’s position on ending the war in Iraq.

It seems as if no matter how often Barack Obama repeats his position that we need to get our combat troops out of Iraq as quickly as we safely can the press is committed to making him seem unsure about his position. And of course it’s always possible to put him in a fork: Are you wishy-washy, or are you such a fanatic that you’re impervious to new facts and to expert opinion?”

I think it may be time for him to start poking fun at the press, as in:

Guys, what’s your problem?

My plan is to have all combat brigades out of Iraq in sixteen months.

I assume you guys know what a combat brigade is, where Iraq is, and how long sixteen months is. “All,” the last time I checked, means “each and every.” And “out” means “out.” So what is it that you need me to explain more slowly? All. Combat brigades. Out. Of Iraq. In sixteen momths.

Of course we’ll take advice from commanders and be sensitive to conditions on the ground. But that’s the plan, and it hasn’t changed since I first announced it a year ago. No permanent bases, no oil contracts for George Bush’s friends, no hundred years. Our care in getting out needs to match our carelessness in getting in, but we’re heading for the door, and we’re not going to let the Iraqi politicians slow us down for their own domestic political purposes.

I’m sorry if my standing firm on this inconveniences you when you’re trying to tell the story of Barack Obama the flip-flopper, but I guess you’ll just have to deal with it.

Footnote The voters seem to be ignoring the whole foofaraw, according to the two big tracking polls. Rasmussen has Obama up 7 without leaners, up 5 with leaners, a position that has been holding astoundingly steady. Gallup, which had shown the race tighter, now has Obama +6, his largest lead so far in that poll.

As the Gallup analyst puts it:

News organizations over the last several days have given extensive play to the precise wording of various Obama statements concerning what he would do regarding withdrawal of troops from Iraq were he to be elected president. So far, there is little sign in the Gallup Poll Daily tracking that this has made a difference in the preferences of registered voters.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com