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John Dickerson on Obama’s Dithering

November 19, 2009 Leave a comment

President Obama is right to take some time — or at least was right to have taken some time; one can argue he’s taking too long — to deliberate what next in Afghanistan.

It’s a profoundly messy, complicated war, and Republicans should remember that President Bush deliberated for about three months before deciding on the Iraq surge. But it’s been a while longer for Obama on Afghanistan — nearly three months if you use McChrystal’s August 30th memo as your starting date, and as long as seven if you go as far back as March, which was when the president announced his new strategy there. His time has to be about up.

Tens of thousands of our young men and women are over there, many suffering from a lack of morale — due in no small part to the fact that many feel they’re being led by a wishy-washy pacifist who himself doesn’t know what America is doing there. (Liberals like to point to low troop morale as evidence that even the troops don’t support this war. That would be a bit like Howard Dean breaking a homeless guy’s leg and then saying, “See? Don’t you see he’s crying because he’s hurt and can’t afford health care?” Well yeah, that might be your interpretation, but would he be worried about a hospital visit if you hadn’t broken his leg?) So, yes — it’s time to make a decision there, bub. Health care, climate change — all of these can wait, as Slate‘s John Dickerson argues, but when you’ve got 70,000 some-odd soldiers in the line of fire, now’s not the time to wax thoughtful.

That was a helluva lead-in to a point that’s really far more inane than the one above: I thought this line from Dickerson’s column was funny for its self-contradiction:

The president has a professor’s fondness for deadlines and a writer’s lack of respect for them.

Where’s the contradiction? A few sentences prior:

As a professor of constitutional law, Barack Obama gave his students eight hours to complete his exam—even though the exam was designed, he wrote in the instructions, “to be completed in three hours.” Now that he’s president, Obama could use that kind of cushion.

So what do you get when you cross a professor who doesn’t much care for deadlines with a writer who doesn’t respect them, John?

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