It's amazing how after four appearances on the Sunday shows and one on Letterman the talk of the town is the central front in the GWoT, Afghanistan. The same CIC who mocked Bush and McCain for not knowing where bin Laden lives is now stuck in a box of his own making with a top general on the verge of quitting. Thing is, the war SHOULD be the number one issue right now, not health care or anything else.
Now, from a political point of view, what can he do? Well, he could always try blaming Bush. He sort of did that on Letterman.
But will the same old lefty complaints work? Obama can say his hands were hopelessly tied upon arrival, not realizing until his first briefing just how bad things were, just like the economy. But this goes against his March speech outlining a new strategy, besides, he campaigned on winning. Americans like winning, especially against clear enemies like the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11, the people Obama vowed he would send to hell. Retreating to the horizon just doesn't have the same feel. No, using his words Obama now 'owns it'. Abandoning the fight against AQ for a fight against domestic teabaggers over health care could be seen by historians as complete insanity.
But there are of course legitimate concerns. Bush's strategy was apparently to deflect attention to Iraq by killing that bird while leaving a small footprint in Afghan in trying, unsuccessfully, to get Pakistan's help via bribes to kill the other birds. He didn't have enough stones. The far left and libertarians (and some conservatives) argue that our 'empire' will surely die if we stay, which could be true if history proves a reliable guide, but the real question is still one of national security--the Brits and Greeks were there on missions of conquest, we are there to stop terrorists.
A retreat gives that very same enemy (and the states that sponsor it) an historic and colossal victory and the ensuing spoils, which cannot be in the long-term interests of America. It's a big decision point and one resting right at his pay grade. And one he seems to be heavily floundering on.
But he's a scrappy tough kid from Chicago, where they know how to deal. Maybe it's time to approach some of the states not officially sponsoring the terrorists wink wink and broker some kind of a deal (not including the Taliban). Or maybe he should just put the requested troops in, ring up the art, music and theater community to go in with him gangbusters on some cool propaganda posters, and try to win the damn thing outright.