He understates the effect of these events.
1- Senator Obama has, so far, demonstrated a sure footedness in dealing with overseas situations that has surely disappointed his opponents. It is true that the US military are taking the pictures and they are doing what they normally do which is to release only those photographs that make their guests look good. That is normal, but he is photogenic and benefits thereby.
2- He looks good with the troops and they look comfortable with him. He is a young man. He looks like them, and the basketball thing is helpful. It is true that there are a disproportionate number of African-American soldiers in these pictures. These meetings may be voluntary and limited in possible numbers of invitees. In that context a greater number of Black soldiers at such meetings would be predictable. It is also true that a lot of these meetings are being held in what passes for a rear base environment. American forces are volunteer forces and Blacks opt for enlisted support jobs in disproportionaltely large numbers since they tend (more than others) to see military service as a path for upward social migration. In short, he does not seem to have a problem with soldiers, as some had predicted he might.
3- His stated positions with regard to timetables for; withdrawal from Iraq, reinforcment in Afghanistan and a generally tightened focus on suppresson of takfiri jihadi groups are such that they are likely to bring him more suppport from the general American public than they are likely to lose him on the left of his party.
4- Most importantly, Prime Minister Maliki has disemboweled McCain’s desire to be seen as the strong, wise, soldierly man who knows far better than the upstart Obama what path should be followed in Iraq. In spite of White House efforts to explain what Maliki would have said if he had not been mistranslated, Maliki has insisted that he really does agree with Obama’s goal of getting US combat units out of Iraq by the end of 2010. This leaves McCain in the untenable position of insisting that he knows better than Maliki what is good for Iraq and implicitly that the US will withdraw when it chooses to. Also implicit in McCain’s position is the assumption that Iraq is (and will remain) a base area for a World War waged against militant Islam. Perrino, at the White House, reinforces this notional framework by saying that in siding with Obama, Maliki is merely building a negotiating position. A negotiating position for negotiating with the US for withdrawal of forces from their country? There is a name for that way of thinking. The name is not "alliance building."
It seems to me that all of this has inflicted what should be fatal wounds on McCain’s chance of becoming president. Am I sure that he will not be elected? No. Why? Look at the polls. Given the disastrous situation of the Republican Party, Obama should be polling ahead of McCain everywhere. He is not. Why is that?
Frankly, there are still a lot of people in the US who are very leery of voting for a Black man whom they do not know. That is a sad thing, but true. Blacks know that it is true. Some readers will assume that I write of the South. No. I think Obama will do a lot better here than the pundits believe.
Barack Obama should be very careful in his choice of running mate. He needs someone who will assure all those who are afraid of a leap into an unknown future. pl