In 2001 Obama told a Chicago public TV host that he did not agree with a missile defense system:
Fast forward to 2008 where Obama pledges to cut investments in ‘unproven’ missile defense systems:
I will cut tens of billions of dollars in wasteful spending. I will cut investments in unproven missile defense systems. I will not weaponize space. I will slow our development of future combat systems.
And fast forward to yesterday where Obama tells Medvedev that he’ll have more flexibility on solving missile defense systems, according to Jake Tapper:
President Obama: On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space.
President Medvedev: Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you…
President Obama: This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.
President Medvedev: I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir.
Fast forward to today, and now Obama is trying to walk back his comments (via The Hill):
“I think everybody understands — if they don’t, they haven’t been listening to my speeches — that I want to reduce nuclear stockpiles,” Obama said Tuesday, on the final day of a nuclear security summit in South Korea. “And one of the barriers to doing that is building trust and cooperation around missile defense issues. And so this is not a matter of hiding the ball.”
Obama added, “[T]he only way I get this stuff done is if I’m consulting with the Pentagon, with Congress, if I’ve got bipartisan support, and frankly, the current environment is not conducive to those kinds of thoughtful consultations.
“I think the stories you guys have been writing over the last 24 hours is pretty good evidence of that,” he told reporters about the contentious political environment.
But the explanation Obama offered on Tuesday didn’t satisfy Republicans.
“Conflating America’s missile defense program and Russia’s nuclear weapons stock is an attempt to confuse, not clarify to the American people and our allies,” said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner. “The president still has not explained what ‘flexibility’ on missile defense the Russians could expect in a second term, and we hope when he returns home we’ll get a better explanation.”
Backtrack to yesterday when Charles Krauthammer weighed in on Obama’s comments, noting the most important phrase he used when talking to Medvedev was ‘last election’. Krauthammer says Obama is signaling to the Russians that his agenda in a 2nd term will be pretty hard left: