Obama will pull out of Afghanistan in 3 years

It seems appropriate to link to Comedy Central for this bit of news from CNN that Obama plans to conclude the war and withdraw most U.S. service members within three years, senior administration officials told CNN Tuesday.

Barack Obama -- who is nearly one year into his first four-year term -- has supposedly decided to randomly pick a three-year time table for ending his proposed escalation in Afghanistan out of thin air for no reason whatsoever... Jeeze, I sure hope the bringing the troops home in 2012 doesn't get too much in the way of Obama's re-election campaign.*
Ben Smith says "Mark it down as the first promise of his re-election campaign."

Doesn't this seem like the most awful roll-out possible?

Update [2009-12-1 16:2:46 by Jerome Armstrong]:Politico is reporting that "the date for the beginning of withdrawal is July, 2011", and Greg Sargent that says those same WH Sr admins are denying there is an end point of the occupation.

And yet, from McChrystal, that a drawdown will not begin until before 2013:

Rep. Mike Coffman, a Republican congressman from Colorado, said this week that during his visit to Kabul, he asked McChrystal: "If you get these troops that you are requesting, the 40,000, where's the tipping point? At what point will we begin to draw down?" According to Coffman, McChrystal responded: "Sometime before 2013."
(*I guess those fellas at Comedy Central were onto something.)

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2012 & Iowa for Republicans

Would it be surprising, if this trend continues, to see a poll that shows Palin leading Obama in 2012 (Would that jolt Obama even further to the right)? Its not as far off as you'd imagine.

Via Rasmussen, some 2012 numbers:

2012 President
44% Romney, 44% Obama
45% Obama, 41% Huckabee
46% Obama 43% Palin

Favorable / Unfavorable
Barack Obama: 48 / 51
Mitt Romney: 49 / 38
Mike Huckabee: 58 / 30
Sarah Palin: 46 / 49

Its kinda goofy that Huckabee would have that high a favorable and trail Obama by slightly more than the other two. Opinion Dynamics has the Palin favorable numbers higher than the others:

Sarah Palin   47%
Mike Huckabee  45%
Newt Gingrich  38%
Mitt Romney   38%

The Gingrich numbers, if he does get in, will likely be worse than any of the others running. Which brings us to the Iowa caucus-goers poll of favorables/unfavorables.

First, I have to wonder if, given that Obama will not be challenged, a lot (many or some?) of those 2008 caucus-goers that attended the Democratic caucus, 230K or so, might caucus with Republicans in 2012?  It certainly wouldn't be surprising to see the Republican '80's turnout records shattered in '12.

There are three groups in the Iowa poll that cluster in the favorable ratings of "not sure" for the answer (among all Iowans):

Palin- 8%

Gingrich- 22%
Huckabee- 24%
Romney- 28%

Pataki- 70%
Jindal- 74%
Pawlenty- 73%

Palin is in a world of her own, but I continue to believe she will flirt with running, but not actually run in the end.

It looks to me like Huckabee is going to be strongly favored to win Iowa. His overall favorable rating is 54% positive, while Gingrich (42%) and Romney (40%) trail. Among only Republicans/Moderates (those who would attend a GOP caucus) the favorables:

Huckabee- 70/50
Palin- 60/23
Romney- 58/37

Unless I'm totally wrong and Palin does run (they would split the social conservative base in half), the polling shows Huckabee with nearly a lock on the Iowa caucus. I thought ( a few months ago) that Gingrich might have an opening in Iowa, but not with these kind of numbers. What seems more likely at this point is that a longshot might come up (maybe not even on the radar yet being still 25 months away, and be the story with a close 2nd/3rd to Huckabee. My guess is Gary Johnson. I could see a lot of Ron Paul Libertarian Republicans backing him, and a lot of Libertarian Democrats showing up to caucus for him, that boost his numbers (if his campaign does the targeting/organizing).

On Iowa, I just finished David Plouffe's book, and its probably (their voter-targeting in Iowa) my favorite part of the book. I've got a couple of in-depth drafts up for posts on it that I'll do in the next few days.

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President (or Senator) Dobbs?

Speculations as to what Lou Dobbs would do next were abound when the CNN host suddenly announced his resignation from the network. Was he going to Fox News? Was he going to run for office? Well, it looks like Lou is suggesting that he is thinking about running for office. In this Reuters story, Dobbs doesn't say that he is or isn't running for office, but he "ruling nothing out. ... I have come to no conclusions and no decisions,"

From Reuters:

PHOENIX (Reuters) - A week after abruptly quitting his longtime job as a CNN television news host and commentator, Lou Dobbs said on Thursday he is considering career options including possible runs for the White House or U.S. Senate.

"Right now I feel exhilaration at the wide range of choices before me as to what I do next," Dobbs, whose outspoken views on immigration and other topics often angered liberals, told Reuters in a telephone interview from New York on Thursday.

Dobbs, 64, a veteran CNN anchor who had become one of the most divisive figures in U.S. broadcast journalism, announced last Wednesday he was leaving CNN after spending the better part of 30 years at the 24-hour cable news network.

He still hosts a daily radio show.

With all the choices before him, this story does point out some of Dobbs' downside.

A Texas native, Dobbs has drawn fire from Latino leaders and civil rights groups for frequent on-air remarks about U.S. border control and immigration that critics saw as demonizing illegal immigrants.

He was also seen as lending credence to the "birther" conspiracy theory, whose adherents believe President Barack Obama's Hawaiian birth certificate was faked to hide a Kenyan birthplace that would make the first black U.S. president ineligible for his office.

Dobbs acknowledged his commentary also stirred friction with CNN executives.

Discussions with CNN/U.S. President Jonathan Klein made it clear Dobbs' style of combining news and opinion was untenable at the network, Dobbs said.

Then again, he may go back to television or play baseball or become a professional rodeo clown since he has a "wide range of choices before me as to what I do next."

What should Lou do next?

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Need a way out

I've been reading through this national Q poll, and don't really think the Obama numbers (approval below 50%) mean that much statistically, as his numbers are high among Democrats, low among Republicans, and about tied among Independents-- right where I would expect things to be given the times.

Now, the Afghanistan numbers more interesting as its more in-depth than the usual things. In particular, it tells you exactly how the presumed surge there will be framed, and how it will not be framed.

As a reason why we need US soldiers to die over there, and why we need to drive up the already high deficit:

It won't be argued that its to build a stable democratic government in Afghanistan; or that the US would be successful in such a measure.

It will be argued that its necessary to eliminate the threat from terrorists operating from Afghanistan; but not that the US will be successful in such an effort.

Its just time to decide; and since the only options on the table all involve escalation, failure is not an option considered, but instead presumed. The incremental 'win' (if you are scraping the bottom of the loyalty barrel and really need one) is that a vague notion of an 'exit plan' has emerged from the shadows.

Back to the poll. What is electorally interesting, in regards to backing the surge, isn't that Democrats and Republicans line up opposite, and Independents reside in the middle; but whom among the Democrats is most strongly against the escalation in Afghanistan-- and that has big implications for Obama.

Military households are not in majority support of our being involved in Afghanistan; with 48% in support, and 42% of those family members saying no, the US should not even be involved with Afghanistan right now. 64% of the military households don't believe that the US will succeed in nation-building in Afghanistan, and 55% of the military households doubt the US will succeed in rooting out the terrorists in Afghanistan.

Those numbers reflect a serious problem with military morale in regards to our being involved in Afghanistan.

Moving into the matter of escalation is where I see big political problems emerge. When asked if Obama should send the additional combat troops General Stanley McChrystal has requested, the strongest voice of opposition saying "no" is among Black (73%) and Hispanic (60%) respondents.

And further, when asked how long troops should remain in Afghanistan, those responding 'less than 2 years' overall, is 72% for Democrats; with Black (75%) and Hispanic (61%) numbers just as high.

One thing I've noticed with Obama is that he has always recognized when he's about to lose his credibility of what got him where he is today-- his anti-war stand on invading Iraq.  He never once to my knowledge spoke a specific word about sending more troops into Afghanistan until after the nomination was secured, and then only two bridages. But often, and in much detail, he laid out his plan of deescalation from Iraq.

When John Edwards tried to move to the left of Obama over supplemental funding of the war, Senator Obama, who previously always voted in favor, quickly and predictably turned on a dime and found his voice of opposition. And he quickly covered back afterwards, and led the whip for his own subsequent war supplemental. I don't see anyway possible that Obama is going to change paths right now on Afghanistan-- he built the road and leads the surge. However, I believe he's finally sensing the dangerous path he's chosen with owning the Afghanistan war, and is looking for a way out. The numbers above show he has too.

That is, Obama's real '12 base, the one he cannot lose (and which really doesn't factor into '10 measuring) is the Black and Hispanic vote. He has to get equal those '08 numbers to win the '12 election in places like PA, FL, OH, MI, IN, VA, NC, NV, CO, and NM. He can afford to piss off liberal white anti-war voters, the progressive GLBT voters, and feminist single-women voters, but major policy reason for the massive turnout for Obama of Black and Hispanic voters, especially among the youth, was because of his position of getting the troops out of Iraq. And not for deficit or idealistic reasons, but simply to stop the deaths.

I'm already, after seeing the NJ and VA results, pessimistic that we will see those minority change voters participating in '10. Everyone assumes though, that '12 is another matter, and it will be switched on like a light bulb. The worst case scenario for ending 2010 for Democrats is to lose about 3-5 seats in the Senate, 15-20 in the House. Still in power, no momentum, and bogged down in a Democrat war.

I know there are some that believe that if the economy rebounds, all will be well and Afghanistan won't matter as much. Precisely the opposite of the truth though-- that the reason why Democrats aren't making as loud a noise over Obama leading an escalation in Afghanistan is because the economy and jobs situation is so dismal. There's not a way out of the occupation of Afghanistan other than leaving, so at the least, we have Obama now wondering and asking allowed, 'whats the exit plan' here... and make it 1-2 years max...

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Newt Mulls 2012

Blissfully unaware of the obvious, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich on C-Span today expressed an interest in running for President in 2012 if it were to fill a vacuum.

C-SPAN: "If you were to run, what factors would you take into account? What would lead you to think about running?"

GINGRICH: "Callista and I are going to think about this in February 2011. And we are going to reach out to all of our friends around the country. And we'll decide, if there's a requirement as citizens that we run, I suspect we probably will. And if there's not a requirement, if other people have filled the vacuum, I suspect we won't."

Watch it:

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