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From: Bart (129.171.32.13)
Subject:         Is ‘The One’ Cocky or Commander in Chiefy?
Date: July 23, 2008 at 5:10 pm PST

Is ‘The One’ Cocky or Commander in Chiefy?
By MAUREEN DOWD

JERUSALEM

Barack Obama wrinkles.

Just slightly, and just when he has to wear a flak jacket over his blue oxford shirt.

The media behemoth slouching after the senator is scouring his every word, expression, bead of sweat, basketball shot and accessory — are those hiking boots too Bremer? Are the sunglasses too rapper? Will he leave enough time for his glittery groupie, Carla Bruni? — for hints of imperfection that would foretell lacunae in presidential judgment.

The One, as McCain aides sardonically call Obama, glided through Afghanistan, Iraq and Jordan, girding his messianic loins for the inevitable kvetching he would face in Israel as skeptical Jews “try to get a better sense of what’s in Obama’s kishkes.” So said Nathan Diament of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, in The Daily News, defining “kishkes” as Yiddish for gut.

The king of Jordan personally drove the prince of Chicago from the palace to the airport on Tuesday night to catch his flight to Israel, leading a motorcade in his slate Mercedes 600 across the tarmac and right up to O-Force One, as The Chicago Sun Times mockingly calls the candidate’s freshly branded 757, with the captain’s chair embroidered with “Obama-’08/President.” As the senator got out of the passenger seat, King Abdullah jumped out to chat some more, as though the two, who had only met in passing on the Hill, were old pals.

Obama finally found a Muslim with whom he’s willing to be photographed.

At moments, Obama was acting as though he were already “on a coin,” as Jon Stewart would say. But cocky or not, he needs to swoop up to conquer so Americans can picture him in the role.

The One left them swooning in Jordan. A member of the king’s inner circle who attended the chicken-and-rice dinner with King Abdullah and Queen Rania said that Obama had gone a long way toward assuaging their fears that he would be so eager to run away from his paternal family’s Muslim roots and to woo skeptical American Jews that he would not be “the honest broker” they long for after W.’s crazed missionary work in the Middle East.

“The guy gets it,” the Jordanian official said after dinner with Obama. “Sharp, aware and a very good listener. He doesn’t seem stuck in preconceived positions. He said he would get straight to the Palestinian issue as soon as he becomes president.”

That old skill that Obama honed at the Harvard Law Review of listening until everyone at the table felt they had been heard (and agreed with) is coming in handy on his presidential dress rehearsal.

Soon after his sweet parting with King Abdullah, Obama spoke on the Tel Aviv tarmac about the special relationship between Israel and America that he vowed to “actually strengthen in an Obama administration.” Ominous signs showed up in Jerusalem, including a construction vehicle attack near his hotel before he arrived and a dozen Americans holding McCain signs as he walked into the King David Hotel.

The smoother his trip has gone — from sinking a 3-pointer with the troops in Afghanistan to presenting the Obama-Maliki withdrawal plan for Iraq — the more panicky Republicans back in Washington have become.

The image of John McCain in a golf cart with Bush 41 in Kennebunkport — with Poppy charmingly admitting that they were “a little jealous” of all the Obama odyssey coverage — was not a good advertisement for the future, especially contrasted with the shots of Gen. David Petraeus and Obama smiling at each other companionably in a helicopter surveying Iraq. (Asked by a Democratic lawmaker a while back why there weren’t more Democrats in the military, General Petraeus smiled slyly and said “there are more than you think.”)

A foiled and frustrated McCain — trying to get covered when the entire media world has gone fishin’ for Obama stories — took the Hillary tack of mocking the press for having a “love affair,” as his campaign said, with the senator. McCain is hopping mad that the surge that he backed, and Obama resisted, has now set the stage for the Bush puppet Maliki to agree with Obama’s exit strategy. But Obama has a better batting average with his judgment on how we shouldn’t have gotten into Iraq, we should have gone after Osama and we should talk to Iran and other foes, if only to better assess their psychology. Then we might have deduced that Saddam had the “Beware of Dog” sign up without the dog.

It doesn’t work for McCain — and his foreign policy guru Henry Kissinger — to keep insisting that timetables will lead to defeat.

The Angry One can try to paint The One as having bad judgment. But who is being advised by Kissinger, the man who helped keep us in Vietnam and get us into Iraq?

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