Wednesday, September 22, 2010


The carefully orchestrated rollout of yet another Bob Woodward book is under way -- here's the New York Times story on the soon-to-be-published book (the release date is next Tuesday); here's the Washington Post story -- and all I'm seeing is the unshocking news that Obama and his team disagree with one another and bicker and backbite. The guys with the medals and epaulets want more of a commitment to war than Obama does. Gosh, who knew?

Here's one of the startling new revelations, according to the Post:

{Defense Secretary Robert] Gates was tempted to walk out of an Oval Office meeting after being offended by comments made by deputy national security adviser Thomas E. Donilon about a general not named in the book.

Wow, that'll get everyone in America to stop talking about Lindsey Lohan.

The key question to ask of any Woodward book published during a Democratic administration is "How is this book going to screw the president?" It looks as if there's nothing as memorable as the Hillary "seance" bit from the 1996 Woodward book, The Choice, but this soundbite, as described in the Times, is going to work its way into thousands of screeds and diatribes about the evils of Obama:

Mr. Obama's struggle with the decision comes through in a conversation with Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who asked if his deadline to begin withdrawal in July 2011 was firm. "I have to say that," Mr. Obama replied. "I can't let this be a war without end, and I can't lose the whole Democratic Party."

The "I can't let this be a war without end" part, needless to say, will not appear in any of the horrified recountings of this.

Look, if the president is going to fight this damn war, I at least want him to feel this way about it (as recounted in the Post):

"This needs to be a plan about how we're going to hand it off and get out of Afghanistan," Obama is quoted as telling White House aides as he laid out his reasons for adding 30,000 troops in a short-term escalation. "Everything we're doing has to be focused on how we're going to get to the point where we can reduce our footprint. It's in our national security interest. There cannot be any wiggle room."

Obama rejected the military's request for 40,000 troops as part of an expansive mission that had no foreseeable end. "I'm not doing 10 years," he told Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at a meeting on Oct. 26, 2009. "I'm not doing long-term nation-building. I am not spending a trillion dollars."

"It's in our national security interest" "I am not spending a trillion dollars." At least he understand that endless war is bad for America.

And the reason that's important is that, if we're still deeply mired in Afghanistan as of January 20, 2013, we'll still be just as deeply mired four years later, because President Palin/Pence/Daniels/Thune/Huckabee/Barbour/Christie sure as hell ain't gonna withdraw. But this semi-rationality on Obama's part is going to be lost, and the bullet-point version of this entire book is going to be "Obama plans to surrender in Afghanistan to appease the evil traitorous voters in his party."

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