Odd, that someone of Obama’s education and political experience is “puzzled” that anything he has to say  would not elicit some reaction. Worse yet, after taking such a strong position on Iraq and providing such a specific plan to withdraw troops (still on his web site today):
Obama will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. He will remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months. Obama will make it clear that we will not build any permanent bases in Iraq. He will keep some troops in Iraq to protect our embassy and diplomats; if al Qaeda attempts to build a base within Iraq, he will keep troops in Iraq or elsewhere in the region to carry out targeted strikes on al Qaeda.
Time and again he has been adamant that troops need to be brought home now, and that we need to be out of Iraq as soon as possible… that, along with plans to pursue multilateral disarmament of nuclear weapons, sets all of us up for a surprise when he said (this from Reuters):
“I’ve always said I would listen to commanders on the ground. I’ve always said the pace of withdrawal would be dictated by the safety and security of our troops and the need to maintain stability,” he told reporters on arrival in North Dakota.
“That assessment has not changed, and when I have a chance to meet with some of the commanders on the ground I’m sure I’ll have more information and will continue to refine my policies.”
The issue is not that any President shouldn’t be open to refining her/his policies, it’s just that Obama always seemed (until now) to give the impression that he had no intention of refining his policies on Iraq.
I think he suspects that he will learn some things about the situation that are not so public nor available to a junior Senator, and is trying to start covering his hind quarters now so if he does get elected, he’s not accused of backpedaling at that time. Actually a smart move overall, but it does make him sound kind of dumb, no, make that condescending, when he said:
“I was a little puzzled by the frenzy that I set off with what I thought was a pretty innocuous statement,” he said on a flight from Montana to St. Louis. “I am absolutely committed to ending the war. I will call my joint chiefs of staff in and give them a new assignment and that is to end the war.”
Condescending to call his comments “innocuous”, as if they were meaningless and the rest of us should just stop bothering him with silly details. And then to act like it’s a easy as ordering the military to just “end the war”.
Perhaps it’s best to just ignore the man behind the curtain.