In his West Point speech on Tuesday, President Obama announced 30,000 fresh troops would be delivered to Afghanistan early next year. He also said that “after 18 months, our troops will begin to come home.”
“Begin to come home” is a vague term, perhaps purposefully so. In the 2007 surge, three and a half years after he declared the mission accomplished, President Bush sent 20,000 troops to Iraq, and they have only come back in trickles — there are still about 120,000 U.S. service members in that allegedly pacified state. By promising to start bringing troops home ahead of his own surge, Obama may have sought to assure war-weary citizens that he is both serious about the nine-year Afghan mission and committed to ending it. Such, alas, is the traditional behavior of recent American Presidents.
The speech seems to have moved Afghanistan off the negative side of Obama’s balance sheet, at least for the time being. If the deployment doesn’t get the desired result — whatever that may be — he can always follow the example of his predecessor, and send more troops.
You might think rightbloggers, who are in the main very pro-war, would be pleased that the President is surging in Afghanistan. But they are not so much pro-war as anti-Obama, and the escalation merely reinforced their traditional view that Obama wants America to lose foreign wars, consistent with his general treason.
Rightbloggers got a head start on attacking the speech, on the grounds that it would preempt a network showing of “A Charlie Brown Chirstmas.” (“Mr. President, don’t be a blockhead,” said the American Spectator; “complaints about American traditions being bumped to give Obama more screen time, to help further stroke his ego and possibly raise his approval ratings, are valid,” said American Pundit; Obama’s War on the Young,” cried TrogloPundit. Arlington, Tennessee Mayor Russell Wiseman and Glenn Beck also complained, and Weasel Zippers found it proof of Obama’s devotion to Islam.)
Once it was delivered, there were some rare opponents who, while reflexively criticizing the speech, approved the escalation. Ryan Mauro at Pajamas Media even grasped that Obama’s withdrawal “could potentially be adjusted. Of course, ideally no timeline would exist, but winning the political side of this conflict requires putting forth some sort of date.”
But they were vastly outnumbered. Many rightbloggers were enraged that Obama did not use the word “victory” in his speech. “Word Count: ‘I’ – 45, ‘Afghanistan’ – 39, ‘Victory’ – 0,” said Charlie Foxtrot. Michelle Malkin also used command-F: “Self-referential ‘As your Commander-in-Chief’s = 2. References to global jihad = 0.” “The Commander-in-Chief of the United States military refuses to use the words ‘win’ or ‘victory!'” said Right View Wisconsin.
“Obama never did say ‘victory,’ and that is telling,” said Jennifer Rubin at Commentary. “It’s not his thing. As a colleague points out, what Obama believes in is leaving.” (As to Obama’s claim that “America will have to show our strength in the way that we end wars and prevent conflict,” Rubin said, “I’m sure the Taliban are delighted to hear that.”) None of these commentators defined what victory in Afghanistan would look like, though Rubin said, “We show strength in victory,” which suggests the U.S. might redeem itself by holding a bodybuilding contest before evacuating.
“We have a weak, vacilliating President who’s clearly not committed to victory,” lamented Right Wing News. “Obama lectured us continually on how important Afghanistan is and told his commander to defeat the enemy… but didn’t really mean it,” said Flopping Aces.
“And the president asked for no effort from the 99 percent of Americans who are not in our military,” said Kori Schake at National Review. “We are still not a country at war, we are a military at war.” One wonders what Schake expected: an expeditionary community organizing force?
“In the first part of his speech he sounded like Winston Churchill,” said former Presidential candidate Fred Thompson. “In the second part of his speech, he sounded like Lady Churchill.” Lady Churchill was quite a formidable Briton, but Thompson apparently means this as a diss, because, you know, she’s a lady.
National Review’s Andrew McCarthy saw the hand of the late Saul Alinsky in Obama’s speech. “The president is an Alinskyite,” he said, “so steeped in the ideology of the seminal community organizer that he became a top instructor in Alinskyite tactics for other up-and-coming radicals.” Thus, Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, etc. “Their single, animating ambition,” McCarthy went on, “is to overthrow the capitalist social order, which they claim to see as racist, corrupt, exploitative, imperialist, etc. Apart from that goal, everything else — from the public option to Afghanistan — is negotiable…”
What, specifically, does this have to do with Afghanistan? Michael Moore, Van Jones, said McCarthy. Plus, “the Right has given Obama his escape hatch. Conservatives keep talking about ‘victory,’ but they never define it.” McCarthy might be onto something here, were he interested in indicting a system rather than a Democratic President, but this is not his goal: Obama, he said, counts on either “souring the country on the Afghanistan enterprise” or, failing that, choosing to “reprise the West Point two-step: satisfying the Right by staying the course, and satisfying the Left by re-promising a phased withdrawal in about 18 months…” The plan is ingenious, treasonous, and Alinskyite. Plus, Hugo Chavez, “climate change,” etc.
RedState’s Dan Spencer threatened to withdraw his support for the war in protest. “I do not know if I can continue to support a war effort that Obama previously referred to as a ‘necessary war’ and now calls a ‘vital national interest,'” he said, “but is nevertheless only willing to continue for 18 more months.” No response yet from CENTCOM.
Ann Althouse wanted uplift, but was disappointed: “The words were meant to be inspirational,” she divined, “but there was no lift… no lift of a driving dream. Is he tired of being Obama? Or was it the vibe in the room? I don’t think those West Point folk liked him too much.”
She’d better watch that kind of talk: It got Chris Matthews in a lot of trouble. When the TV host referred to West Point as Obama’s enemy territory, PWConservative decreed, “he should be drug through the streets and beaten.” “So this is what liberals in the MSM think our our fine military institutions like United States Military Academy at West Point,” cried Scared Monkeys. “It’s not all that hard to believe since to Matthews and his ilk the military is the enemy,” said Jammie Wearing Fool.
But Professor Althouse probably needn’t worry: there appears to be a general exemption for rightbloggers who found the cadets inattentive, and approved. “Obama faced a room full of scowling faces that seemed filled with a mistrust bordering on animosity,” said The Robalution. “One also need not be a mind reader to determine only from the looks on their faces that they were thinking that they had no faith in this leader that they had to follow into battle,” said Conservative Thinkers. “To say the cadets were underwhelmed by President Obama’s Afghanistan speech is a gross understatement,” said Bluegrass Pundit.
In fact, Foxmuldar asserted that “West point is the enemy camp for Obama and his Socialist, Communist party… I doubt the men and women at West Point were happy to be part of Obama’s Photo op.” Nonetheless he was enraged that Matthews “screwed up once again by shooting off his big fat mouth before ever thinking of what garbage was coming out… but since Matthews works on one of the Obama networks, he doesn’t have to worry about being canned.” If this seems contradictory, bear in mind that for rightbloggers an idea may be right or wrong depending on who expresses it.
Some did find one positive in the speech: “Savoring the Left’s Tear-Stained Tweets Over Obama’s Afghanistan Speech,” said David Horowitz’s NewsReal. NewsReal didn’t approve the speech either, of course (“But as the court-martial of 3 Navy SEALs for giving a brutal terrorist ‘a bloody lip’ goes forward… Will these 30,000 troops be allowed to fight effectively?”), but found consolation in the disapproval of their enemies.
Likewise, Snooper’s Take Out Country Back blasted “William Ayers the Unrepentant Moron” for opposing the Obama surge (“The USA was attacked by terrorists and if these assholes would actually read the Iraq War Resolution that just about everybody signed into law, INCLUDING THE DEMOCRATS, this foolish fool wold just have to shut the fuck up”), while attacking the surge themselves: “Giving General McChrystal HALF of what was required, I suppose, is a fighting chance.” (McChrystal allegedly wanted 50,000 troops.) Also from Snooper: “Obama is an idiot… Obama is clueless. The Taliban does understand Obama and his panty waste cranial disturbances.”
“Feh: Hey, Obamabots, Where’s Your Messiah Now?” asked Infidels Paradise. (Infidels Paradise on the speech: “The Obama Administration and Afghanistan: They Really Don’t Know What The Hell They’re Doing … Not A F*cking Clue.”)
What would have pleased the rightbloggers? 40,000 troops? 50,000? Some swagger, a flight suit, a call to “bring ’em on“? The short answer is nothing. We didn’t hear much from them about Afghanistan this year until Obama mentioned it, and it’s difficult to believe they care. The only victory they think about happens on first Tuesdays in November, far from Afghanistan.