Obama on Hand for Round Two on Iraq

Posted April 8, 2008 at 2:15pm

Round two for Army Gen. David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker is under way at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

But attendance is sparser, both in the audience — anti-war protesters CODEPINK are behaving themselves in the back — and on the dais: One Senator who is also on the Armed Services Committee (where the general and ambassador parried with lawmakers earlier Tuesday), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), was not there at the hearing’s start.

But perhaps the hearing’s star figure — presidential candidate and junior Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), who ranks as the seventh of 11 Democrats on the panel — arrived for the opening salvo, though he has yet to speak. All eyes will be on Obama after Democrats failed to pin Petraeus down on an exit date or strategy at the Armed Services hearing this morning. Obama’s rival for the Democratic presidential nod, Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), grilled Petraeus from her perch on that panel, as did the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.).

A former presidential candidate now back in the Senate opened the hearing. “We’ve gone from drowning to treading water in Iraq,” pronounced Foreign Relations Chairman Joseph Biden (D-Del.). Biden has promised to keep politics out of his hearing, so let’s see what happens.

Stay tuned …

— Tim Taylor