Steve Benen: I checked the byline a couple of times this morning, to make sure the column that was ostensibly written by David Broder wasn't, in fa
November 16, 2009


Steve Benen:

I checked the byline a couple of times this morning, to make sure the column that was ostensibly written by David Broder wasn't, in fact, written by Charles Krauthammer. Regrettably, the so-called Dean of the D.C. Media Establishment actually wrote this.

The more President Obama examines our options in Afghanistan, the less he likes the choices he sees. But, as the old saying goes, to govern is to choose -- and he has stretched the internal debate to the breaking point.

It is evident from the length of this deliberative process and from the flood of leaks that have emerged from Kabul and Washington that the perfect course of action does not exist. Given that reality, the urgent necessity is to make a decision -- whether or not it is right.

"Whether or not it is right." The Commander in Chief, in other words, should put expediency over merit. Speed is preferable to accuracy. It's only the longest military conflict in American history, with the future of U.S. foreign policy on the line -- the president should worry less about due diligence and thoughtful analysis, and worry more about picking a course, even if it's wrong. Other than the loss of American servicemen and women, untold billions of dollars, and undermining U.S. interests in a critical region, what's the worst that can happen?

This says so much to me. The "dean" of Beltway journalism and conventional thinking perfectly encapsulates the Republican zeitgeist:

  1. Criticize anything that Obama does. If he acts decisively, complain that he's reckless. If he acts thoughtfully, complain that he's "dithering". If he points out that he's inherited a big fat clusterf&ck, complain that he's pointing fingers. If he tries to move forward in even a slightly progressive way, complain that he's not bipartisan enough and that he should listen to Republicans. In short, make sure that no matter what, Obama is wrong.
  2. There are no consequences to telling Obama he's wrong. So what if 45,000 people die because they don't have healthcare? So what if sending more troops is basically sending them to their deaths? So what if there is no stable government in Afghanistan? So what if we're spending millions of dollars every month and deficit spending is the cause du jour for those suddenly fiscally responsible Republicans?

If Obama acts quickly, and it's the wrong choice, will the decision to act fall back on Broder and the Republicans for the pressure they've placed on Obama? 'Course not. But you can bet your sweet bippy they'll only be too glad to pounce on him if there are more American deaths.

Tell you what, Broder, if you're so eager to see some action in Afghanistan, let's see you do one of your patented "folksy" reports from a coffee shop in Kandahar or Kabul. Otherwise, STFU and let the people in charge actually make a reasoned and thoughtful decision, since it affects so much in American blood and treasure.

We've had eight years of quick rather than right decisions. It's time for the grownups to be in charge now.

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