What is being overlooked is the context. It was in the cards that Obama was going to be "left" on the war. For one thing, it matches his liberal world view. Second, he was coming off a thumping by Bobby Rush for Congress in 2000 and heading into a U.S. Senate race where his likely major opponent was going to be a conservative-leaning Democrat, state Comptroller Dan Hynes.
If Obama had any misgivings about declaring his anti-war position, the politics would have cinched it. It was imperative that Obama not lose the base like he did against Rush and he had to stay left of Hynes. Some have suggested that it was an unpopular position at the time to be against the war. That was not true among Democratic primary voters in Illinois. I believe all the Dem candidates in the primary ultimately opposed the war.
At the October 2002 rally at Federal Plaza in Chicago, Obama was pushing the left-wing buttons. He wasn't very prescient about the economy, was he?
What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income â€“ to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression.And, of course, Big Oil.
You want a fight, President Bush? Let's fight to wean ourselves off Middle East oil, through an energy policy that doesn't simply serve the interests of Exxon and Mobil.Then, Obama repeated his opposition to the war on Jeff Berkowitz's Public Affairs the following month. Berkowitz interviewed him again early the next summer and Obama stood firm against the war.
I don't regard Obama's vote against the war as courageous. It was consistent with his philosophy and it squared with his political aims at the time. It was a foregone conclusion. Get over it, James Carville.