Thursday, October 8, 2009

Personal Asides: Will Obama Split the Difference on Afghanistan?...Is Huckabee a One-Trick Pony?


Will Obama Do the Splits?

There’s something far more than incompetence here. It’s native and naïve irresolution…a dangerous thing in the presidency. From the outset, Barack Obama ran (a) against the Iraq War but (b) for winning the war in Afghanistan which he said was “the right war, the real war.” Last March 27 he announced a “new comprehensive strategy” for both wars. He concluded what he called “a serious review.” At the conclusion of that “new strategy,” he named a new general—Stanley McChrystal. Logical conclusion: we’re in this thing to win and to prove it we have two fine generals…McChrystal on counterterrorism and David Patraeus on counterinsurgency. They are reputed to be…and are…the crème de la crème: the best of the best.

Now, all of a sudden Obama’s in the reviewing stage again. Why? The two generals have called for a 40,000 increase in troops for Afghanistan—but the real reason is that Obama’s standing in the polls has declined…not just here but for failure all down the line. So he’s relying on “General Joe Biden” (who has been wrong dozens of time…from calling for a precipitate withdrawal and surrender in Vietnam…to partitioning Iraq into three pieces. And he’s looking to “General Rahm Emanuel” for advice as well as “General David Axelrod” who, not knowing military strategy, will give him unalloyed political advice and tell him if he builds up troops in Afghanistan he’ll end up “owning” the war there, exactly as LBJ did when he built up troops in Vietnam.

Here we have the Hamlet of the White House once again. He hears that the real threat this time is in Pakistan—but let’s be accurate about this: the real people he fears are the Left of his party, the people. It’s a good guess that a Hamlet like he is will be juggling three options:

Option one would be to back General McChrystal and send the 40,000 extra troops.

Option two would be to back Joe Biden and believe that the threat is really in Pakistan because Al Qaeda is centered there and that if he expends all our resources in Afghanistan we won’t have any to eventually go to Pakistan and concentrate on the Taliban where it is based.

Option three: split the difference—send let’s say 10,000 more troops to Afghanistan who will be trainers for the Afghan soldiers

My guess is that he’ll split the difference which will show the Afghans that we can’t be counted on for constancy…verifying the words of Middle East scholar Bernard Lewis: that we “are harmless as an enemy but treacherous as a friend.” If he does this and Afghanistan falls, he will be the goat for it throughout the remainder of his presidency.

A “One Trick Pony”?

After I waxed enthusiastic about Mike Huckabee in yesterday’s blog, I heard from some who said I was swayed by being in the Illinois Family Institute audience where social issues are first and foremost. Huckabee, they say, is a one-trick pony, concerned only with right-to-life, opposing same-sex marriage. Huckabee is, after all, a Baptist minister. What’s needed is more of a secularist ala some former Republican presidents and candidates who would shelve social conservatism for special audiences and concentrate on the so-called “meat and potatoes” of a campaign—the economy, budget, deficit, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan et al.

I took this into consideration last night when I went to bed and came up with this conclusion:

Huckabee a one-trick pony? Well, in 2007-8 he didn’t concentrate just on conservative social issues but on “meat and potatoes.” But, yes, he was not shy about the social issues. In 2008’s primaries he ran stronglyoverall. On Jan. 3 he won the Iowa caucuses receiving 34%. Mitt Romney got second with 25%. Fred Thompson came in third, John McCain took fourth place and Ron Paul fifth. Five days later Huckabee finished third in New Hampshire, behind McCain and Romney. On Jan. 15 he took third place in Michigan, behind McCain and ahead of Ron Paul who took fourth (Mitt Romney took first in his home state, of course).

On Jan. 19 Huckabee took second in South Carolina, behind McCain and ahead of Fred Thompson. On Jan. 29 in Florida he finished fourth, behind Rudy Giuliani (third), Romney (second) and McCain (first). In the first contest of Super Tuesday, Huckabee swept the West Virginia state convention with 52% to Romney’s 47%. On Feb. 9th Huckabee won Kansas with 60% in the caucuses and won the Louisiana primary with 44% to McCain’s 43%.

My point is that due to Obama’s leftism, a new spirit has taken hold in the nation which says that concentration on social issues is all to the good. Reason: last June CNN/Opinion Research showed him as one of a three-way presidential favorite with Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney.

In the 2008 campaign his consultant was Dick Morris whose point was Huckabee had to “broaden” himself beyond the social issues. I don’t think that should be the case now since the country has changed…and frankly Dick Morris has changed his outlook for that matter.

Let’s start a plebiscite. What do you think about Huckabee as the nominee in 2012? Write to me at

1 comment:

  1. Tom--I remember hearing on the radio excerpts of Huckabee imploring legislative leaders to support state tax increases in Arkansas. It's the economy Tom. We need a nominee who can cogently lay out the case for small government, personal responsibility, personal liberty, and secure borders.
    The Republicans will win by focusing their message on these issues.