Monday, August 31, 2009


Eventually, Afghanistan might actually be Barack Obama's Vietnam -- in his latest column, George Will is effectively arguing that it threatens to be -- but, so far, Afghanistan isn't being treated like Barack Obama's Vietnam by the people whose opinions count the most in the Beltway, namely right-wing crazies. What's the reaction to the Will column right now by Matt Drudge? Crickets (click to enlarge):

It's not even on Drudge's front page.

The crazy right has thrown everything at Obama except the kitchen sink, but it still isn't ready to go after him from the pacifist side on Afghanistan -- it can't, because it's too deeply invested in star-spangled war stories. Will is not a bellwether -- he's an old-school conservative who doesn't always march in lockstep with Limbaugh and Murdoch. Drudge is a bellwether -- if he doesn't link Will, or the Politico story previewing the Will column, that tells me the right's going to effectively give Obama a pass on the war for now. (There's much more interest on the right in giving a megaphone to Dick Cheney -- his Obama's-a-traitor message dovetails perfectly with the domestic Obama's-a-commie-usurper message of the teabaggers.)

Maybe outrage from the left will pressure Obama on Afghanistan, but if so, it'll be a first: so far in the Obama years it's been clear that nobody in the Beltway cares what we think, and more and more that seems to include the president.


UPDATE, TUESDAY: I see that William Kristol, blogging for The Washington Post, has now whacked Will's knuckles with the neocon steel ruler, as has Frederick Kagan at National Review Online. Yes, Politico has a story titled "White House Fears Liberal War Pressure," but who do you think is going to be talking about this war on Meet the Press and other Sunday shows over the next year or so -- Kristol and Kagan or the "liberal, anti-war Democrats" cited by Politico? Maybe Fox and other right-wing outlets, in the spirit of "Let's you and him fight," will use lefties as a stick to beat Obama, while giving the back of their hand to right-wing war fans. But I still say the lust for battle is too much a part of the wingnut soul for a U-turn that sharp.


UPDATE, WEDNESDAY: Here's Michael Gerson at The Washington Post taking Will to task:

It should be more difficult to forget 9/11 than it apparently is -- the goodbye calls, the leaps from fire toward death, the continental economic consequences. The Afghan war was undertaken because the Taliban government, under Mullah Omar, sheltered a dozen al-Qaeda terrorist training camps that produced 10,000 to 20,000 fighters, some of whom were human weapons aimed at American citizens....

Will asks: Why Afghanistan but not Somalia or Yemen? The answer is 9/11....

Gerson wrote speeches for George W. Bush, of course. I know Bush got bored with Afghanistan and al-Qaeda, but the myth on the right is that he didn't -- and careful cultivation of the myth of Bush and Cheney's greatness in foreign policy is still vitally important to the right. The true believers actually fall for their own talking points on this subject. They're going to have a hard time shifting gears.

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