There are so many things wrong with this panel discussion on the Chris Matthews Show, it's hard to decide where to begin, but for starters, Andrea Mitchell seems to be the only one that gets it that some happy talk on increasing our troop presence in Afghanistan is not going to satisfy the left. Chris Matthews seems to take absolute glee in the fact that escalating our presence there is going to piss off those of us who are anti-war and thinks that “the center” of this country is pro-war.
Joe Klein thinks that President Obama’s bigger problems are going to be from the screeching right that are not going to support him no matter what he does and that of course the left is going to have to suck it up if the President does something they don’t agree with. As John has said here repeatedly, the Villagers always think it’s a good thing if Obama alienates his base and that we should all sit quietly and STFU when we don't agree with his policies.
I’ll wait to hear what the President has to say on Tuesday rather than second guess him as the media has, but playing the middle and sending more troops rather than getting our military out of Afghanistan is not going to satisfy any of us who don’t think we belonged there in the first place. The people who attacked us on 9-11 were from Saudi Arabia, not Afghanistan, but we didn’t invade and occupy that country.
Matthews: And finally the President said he will say how much it’s going to cost. Anne it’s amazing. I’ve never heard of going to war but saying how much is it going to cost. It’s like that old saying if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.
Kornblut: Well, the White House would say the opposite, that we haven’t asked until now and they have to finally start taking it into account. They’ve actually broken down the numbers to figure out how many per soldier it would be. You know half a million dollars a year to have them there, so at this point they’re taking it into account and they’re measuring it against the other important priorities, like health care, like the other domestic achievements they want to get done.
Matthews: Andrea isn’t it odd we’re talking about the cost of this war and we’re already in it?
Mitchell: Because of the economy, because of health care, all of the other competing demands, I think the problem that we’ve all been addressing here you ask well how are they going to try to sell this and those are the answers. But the problem is the credibility; what David and Joe and Anne are all pointing out is that it doesn’t meet the smell test that they can either train up the Afghan troops, get the allied commitment and afford this.
Matthews: The bottom line we asked the Matthews Meter, 12 of our regulars, who will the President’s decision please more, the left or the center? Unanimous, these are the powerful ones on the meter. Everybody says the center is going to like this a lot more than the left. I am absolutely sure of that Joe. The left is not going to like this. The center might.
Klein: But it’s not going to make all that much difference. I think that the left will give the President the leeway on this.
Klein: I do. I think he’s going to have more problems from the right, from the people who get upset that he doesn’t give Stanley McChrystal everything that he wants.
Matthews: Andrea do you think the left will buy this? The people who got him in office?
Mitchell: I don’t. I think that this is the President who won in Iowa partly because he was perceived as that anti-war—Hillary you remember wouldn’t apologize for voting for the war—and here he is about to sell another war six months after he laid it out… (crosstalk)
Matthews: Even though he said it was the good war. Let’s go about—will this long deliberation Anne Kornblut, you’ve got the tough question here to start with, a whip around here—it took three months to make this decision. Will he look smart and deliberative for having taken all this time or will the dithering shot still being cast in by people like former Vice President Dick Cheney—is that still going to hurt?
Kornblut: The gamble they’re making is that he’ll look smart and he’ll look like the anti-Bush for having thought about it for so long.
Klein: The anti-Bush part is really important because Bush really needed to do a strategy re-evaluation about Iraq six months in there and he never did.
Matthews: Andrea, will it look good if he takes some time?
Mitchell: I agree. I think he would have looked good, it will look good if he takes his time, if taking his time he comes out with something that adds up. If he doesn’t then people will say you took so long and what did you deliver.
Ignatius: The long period of analysis, very deliberative robs this of passion. This is—he is going to be a war time president now and he has to sell the country on the idea that our young men and women are going to go there, fight and get killed and you know this is not the…
Matthews: Too much Chamberlain, not enough Churchill?
Ignatius: Well too much, too much college professor.