Obama's choice of Petraeus to replace McChrystal means he's all in on Afghanistan


Lots of media types are discussing the fact that the Obama/McChrystal war strategy will be discussed in detail when Petraeus goes before the Senate to be confirmed.


Though it isn't often that this page quotes from the lead editorial in the Wall Street Journal, it's appropriate to do so today, because this is as much Barack Obama's war as Kosovo was Madeline Albright's war and Iraq was George W. Bush's.  But it's hard to figure out how committed Obama is to the struggle.  This is a man whose anti-war stance was truly what won him hearts and minds of Democrats in his epic battle to defeat Hillary Clinton two years ago.  But the Journal writes this today:


Above all, Mr. Obama has to give General Petraeus more political backing and personal attention to the war than he has so far provided. It's remarkable that it took the firing of General McChrystal to hear again from Mr. Obama, for the first time in months, why he is committed to the war. Mr. Obama said yesterday that no one individual is indispensable in war, but if any single person is, it is a President. Mr. Obama too often gives the impression of a leader asking, "Won't someone rid me of this damn war?"


During that Senate hearing, you'll no doubt hear a lot about the plan to begin removing troops from the Afghan theatre in July of 2011, which has been a source of discontentment from Afghan leader Hamid Karzai and some of our troops and politicians, who think that has handcuffed the effort.


But Petraeus and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have said frequently that the date is not set in stone, and with so much commitment invested in blood and treasure, does anybody really believe that were going to pulling out?  Anti-war activists wish it were so, but from the day after President Obama announced his strategy in Afghanistan last December, military officials have said they would watch the proverbial "facts on the ground" dictate the removing of troops.


Bad economy, massive oil spill, two wars ongoing.  There's a lot going on, and a lot that's going wrong right now.  A majority of Americans have said they disagree with the policy in Afghanistan.  With Petraeus' selection, Obama has declared he's committed to seeing it through, whatever that means.

A new poll out today indicates a growing lack of confidence in Barack Obama, as an NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey out shows for the first time more people disapprove of Obama's job performance than approve (45% approve, 48% disapprove).

As it feels like CL has written in this space numerous times in 2010, the poll indicates serious trouble for Congressional Democrats this November.  GOP pollster Bill McInturff said voters' feelings are typically set by June in any election year.  And with huge unemployment numbers and an environmental disaster still ongoing, he says, "It would take an enormous and seismic event to change the drift of these powerful forces in November."

In terms of voter intensity, local Democrats can continue to spin this any way they want, but nationally the numbers are dismal for them.  The poll shows that just 44% of Obama voters are expressing a high interest in this November's election.  That's down 38% from 2008, while 71% of John McCain voters are psyched up for November 2.

Meanwhile, President Obama has definitely (pardon the cliche) "doubled down" in Afghanistan by naming war hero General David Petraeus to take over the struggling situation in Afghanistan from disgraced General Stanley McChrystal.

And fun facts about McChrystal the Day After his sacking.  Marc Ambinder from the Atlantic writes that he's actually a liberal.  Ambinder writes this morning:

Even more about McChrystal: now it can be told. The story about him voting for Obama is not contrived. He is a political liberal. He is a social liberal. He banned Fox News from the television sets in his headquarters. Yes, really. This puts to rest another false rumor: that McChrystal deliberately precipitated his firing because he wants to run for President.

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