President Obama has caused quite a stir with a private comment made to Russian President Dimitri Medvedev. In discussing missile defense, Obama suggested he would be prepared to yield to Russian demands after the November election. “This is my last election,” said Obama, not knowing his words were being picked up by an open microphone. “After my election, I have more flexibility.” A pleased Medvedev replied: “I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir [Putin].”

This is a big deal. Obama understands that his longtime stance against U.S. missile defense—while in full accord with Russian leadership—is not popular with Americans. He cannot codify his stance in a formal agreement with Medvedev and Putin until after the November election—assuming he wins. It was a rare moment when Obama was caught on tape expressing his true beliefs.