President Obama’s Afghanistan troop surge had a 96% support score among Republicans in both the House and Senate, but major Democratic leaders are now pulling back from Operation Enduring Freedom. On ABC’s “This Week” yesterday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was repeatedly asked if the Afghanistan mission “was worth it,” and refused to answer the question.
This was the first program conducted by the new host, Christiane Amanpour, and it included this exchange:
Pelosi: “How does this figure into our protecting the American people? Is it worth it?”
Amanpour: “Is it worth it?”
Pelosi: “That is the question.”
Amanpour: “But that’s my question to you.”
Pelosi: “Well we will, as I said, we will see the metrics as they unfold in the next few months.”
Amanpour went on to ask, “But what does your gut tell you?” She then held up the current Time magazine whose cover photo is of a young Afghan woman whose nose and ears were cut off by the Taliban.
Amanpour asked the Speaker, “Is America going to abandon the women of Afghanistan?” The Speaker answered by saying she was not expecting great change when the July 2011 pullout date arrives, but she hoped the troop reductions would be far larger than what is now being promised by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Vice President Joe Biden.
In an interview earlier last week, Gov. Ed Rendell (D-PA), the former Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, also appeared to be abandoning the President. Rendell told MSNBC that liberals were unhappy with the war in Afghanistan, the failure to close Guantanamo, and the abandonment of liberal priorities such as the health care public option. The Governor said dissent was so widespread that the President could face a liberal challenger in the 2012 Democratic primaries.
Last week the House of Representatives voted to approve $37 billion for war funding, but 114 lawmakers voted against the money, and many of them spoke of serious concerns regarding Afghanistan. On a similar bill last year only 32 Democrats voted no. Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) was one of the lawmakers who switched his vote and said, “You have lost me, for whatever it is worth, in terms of the viability of this mission.”
Another lawmaker who switched is Rep. David Obey (D-WI), Chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, who said: “Military experts tell us that it will take us at least 10 more years to achieve any acceptable outcome in Afghanistan. We have already been there nine years. I believe it is too high a price to pay.”
Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), a Co-Chairman of the House Progressive Caucus, said:
I believe this war to be a tragic failure that continues to undermine rather than advance our national security interests. The American people are running out of patience, and with 114 members of the House [of Representatives]voting this week against the war spending supplemental, Congress is beginning to catch up to the public.
Finally, opposition to Obama’s troop levels in Afghanistan was repeatedly heard two weeks ago at the Netroots Nation convention in Las Vegas of 2,100 Democratic Party bloggers.