To invert Joseph Heller’s famous line, for our 44th president and his party, it’s the worst catch there is, Rich Lowry writes:
This Washington Post story captures the stark divide over Afghanistan, with a unified military command on the one side — including McChrystal, Mullen, and Petraeus — and a president who is not sure he wants to follow through on “the counterinsurgency strategy he set in motion six months ago” on the other. There’s this anonymous quote from one observer: “He can send more troops and it will be a disaster and he will destroy the Democratic party. Or he can send no more troops and it will be a disaster and the Republicans will say he lost the war.” Isn’t this extraordinary? Obama will roil the Democratic party by sending more troops to fight the war that Democrats have said for years is the “necessary war” (in Obama’s words), the central war in the fight against terror, etc., etc. It’s hard to imagine a starker demonstration of bad faith on an important issue of national security. I write about this today in my column. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton yesterday said Obama is getting “the exact opposite” advice from McChrystal than from other counterinsurgency experts. She doesn’t say who these people are. The Post story says Obama is also getting “assessments from the State Department, the intelligence community, and his White House advisers.” Are those people — the White House politicos in particular are very down on additional troops — going to trump the commanding general on the ground? We’re going to find out.
Well, at least for the moment, so much for “Country First”, to coin a phrase that was forgotten early last November. And to invert one leftwing meme of the mid-naughts, will liberals claim they were stabbed in the back if Obama loses the Good War in Afghanistan?
Ross Douthat dubs President Bush “The Self-Correcting Presidency” in his latest column in the New York Times. Douthat explores how Bush was able, in the last years of his presidency, to salvage some of the tougher cards fate had dealt his administration. It’s only about eight months into his successor’s term as commander-in-chief, but President Obama might want to give it a read.