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There is a diary on the rec list that accuses me of two things to which I am diametrically opposed, based on my diary last week.  1) I support the escalation; and 2) that I believe in stifling complaints about the President's policies.  Neither could be further from the truth.  

However, I am not here (and I do not think it is worth our time) to take up for myself or get into a meta fight with other Kossacks.  I am writing this to clarify a position that I believe many Kossacks share.  It is the basis of the aforementioned diarist's first point on "straw men" in the escalation debate.

"Obama pledged to escalate the war in Afghanistan during his Presidential campaign.  You voted for him, so you can't say you're surprised by his decision when he's just fulfilling a campaign promise."

This is how the argument is framed.  To begin, I think this is a pretty transparent framing.  I think the diarist confuses the point on several levels.

First, no; I don't see how you can say you're surprised.  Well, you can say you're surprised but I'm not sure how you can be surprised by something on which the President campaigned.

Second, just because you stick up for the President does not mean you support escalation of the war in Afghanistan.  Personally, I believe the best option is a complete and immediate withdrawal from that country.  However, I voted for the President and I expected an escalation of this war and a greater focus on it by our military.

Of course that doesn't mean I don't think I can voice my complaints about the policy or try to get the President to change his mind.  In fact, I believe dissent is good and necessary.  The President is accountable to the people, no matter what he campaigned on.

What it does mean, however, is that I voted for the President knowing that he did not share my opinion on this issue.  Still, I trusted his judgment and wisdom on this and every other issue.  I hoped we could change his mind but that was not the final result.

Third, the diarist goes on to ask if the same argument would apply had John McCain been elected or if it applied when George Bush was President.  This is a non-sequitur that doesn't make a lot of sense.  If the argument is that we knew what we were getting when we voted for President Obama, how does it make sense that we would not have spoken out against policies for which we never voted?  That part of the diary is misguided and strange.

Lastly, I simply want to re-state my position on why the consternation surrounding the President on this issue has truly confounded me.  Considering that I (and all of us who voted for him) knew his intentions regarding Afghanistan, how can we begin to support him less?  How can we start talking about not supporting him financially or not voting for him in 2012?  Did something suddenly change that I do not know about?  Did he reverse course on something?  This IS what we voted for.  The diarist in question did not advocate these sorts of things but it is something that has popped up a lot around here lately.  

I believe there are a lot of us here who do not support the escalation.  But even though we may not agree, we support the President we voted for who is doing the things we knew he would do when we voted for him.

Originally posted to aaronedge on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 11:56 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Somewhat of a same mindset here. (6+ / 0-)

      Friend of mine, former Marine, State Department official, and Democratic activist, basically said months ago that we should be out of Iraq yesterday and out of Afghanistan today with clear orders to Karzai as to the consequences should the Taliban reemerge.

      He, like me, probably doesn't like the escalation one bit.  But he, like me, is going to continue to support the President.

      For me, it's the hyperbole.  Those saying Obama is being more like Bush, all the while ignoring timelines, exit strategies, and a position firmly rooted in the premise that we are not to be an occupying force.  

      Which, frankly, is the most un-Bush like thinking I've seen.

    •  Sometimes it DOES matter who is speaking (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      aaronedge, beyondleft

      I sorta outlined this in my diary last night called "Why it's different when President Obama says it".

      In that diary and others this week, some folks suggested that it doesn't matter who is talking/acting/deciding. In this case, since the president appears to be, at least on the surface, to be continuing Bush's intiatives. They say that it doesn't matter if it's him or Bush.

      I say it does.

      If I believe you are a fool with limited intelligence and misplaced priorities/loyalties, I will be VERY skeptical when you tell me your plans to solve some complex problem whether I agree with the immediate overt action or not. That's because I will not be able to trust that you'll handle it well, manage the actions and achieve a successful outcome.

      If I believe you are smart, thoughtful, deliberative and have your priorities straight, I will very likely support your plans to solve that same problem because I believe that I can trust you to handle it well, make good decisions as the acton unfolds and to shepherd the project to a successful conclusion.

      This is where I find myself today. After the first year of his administration, I never trusted George W. Bush and his administration to do the right things. They always seemed to either be doing the wrong things or the right things for the wrong reasons. My distrust was proven out time and time again as they mismanaged both warring efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

      I TRUST Barack Obama. I believe him to be thoughtful, deliberative and smart. I believe he will navigate this tar pit as successfully as anyone could despite the fact that much of who I am screams that escalation is just plain wrong.


      "He's one of these people who doesn't need much, much less much more."

      by Eclectablog on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 12:38:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  This is a fantastic comment. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I wish I had seen your diary last night.  

        Much more well-stated than anything I have said on the issue.

        •  I posted it just after midnight (0+ / 0-)

          I just felt the need to get it off my chest before going to bed.

          Today, I am depressed.

          Thanks for your nice comment. I really appreciate it.

          "He's one of these people who doesn't need much, much less much more."

          by Eclectablog on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 12:51:19 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Good comment - though actions have to inform the (0+ / 0-)

        trust.  When Obama has stuck to the Bush script on Gitmo and FISA - it chipped away at the trust.  What he has done on climate change - or intends - helps the trust.  What he did for gay rights - chips away at it.

        I trust him - but he still has to earn it.  

      •  So you're saying (0+ / 0-)

        That he is a good man who went through a long and thoughtful deliberative process and still came to the wrong conclusion but you're not going to criticize him for it.


        If that were the case for me, I guess my spouse would hear a lot less about spouse's bad decisions.

        •  I didn't say... (0+ / 0-)

          ...that I thought it was the wrong conclusion. That's YOUR assessment. I'm saying that I trust his decision-making process. I think he looked at all of the options he had and chose the least odious one. And, let's face it, they were ALL odious choices unless abandoning Afghanistan to the warlords is cool by you (not saying it is.)

          "He's one of these people who doesn't need much, much less much more."

          by Eclectablog on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 03:17:18 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Problem is (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dancewater, lcarr23

    how many policies do you have to disagree with before you disagree WITH the President?  I still support him, but if, for example, he doesn't change his economic team soon and stop supporting the "too big to fail banks" then I'm going to start turning against him.  

    I see traitors, but they don't know they're traitors....

    by hcc in VA on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 12:05:28 PM PST

    •  You're welcome to disagree with him (0+ / 0-)

      whenever you wish.  My point is if you agreed with the guy when he was running for President and he's doing all the things he said he'd do when he ran, how can you disagree with him now?

      •  RIght. He did not promise to hire Larry Sommers (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        and re-appoint Bernanke and spend my tax dollars to bail out banks while putting NO new regulations on them, did he?  Maybe he did and I didn't notice.  

        I see traitors, but they don't know they're traitors....

        by hcc in VA on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 12:25:01 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  What does this "support" mean? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wildthumb, TomP, bfitzinAR, beyondleft

    You make it sound as if you don't actually support the president on any specific issue; you just really like the guy, so you support him.  In fact, you disagree with him, but you're saying that just because you don't support his decision doesn't mean you don't support him."

    So I don't get what you mean by support.  Are you talking about just a general "you're great, Obama" support?  

    'Cause that's not me.  I agree with him on some things and disagree on others.  I'm glad he's in the White House.  I guess I support his presidency -- you know, I don't think he's a sleeper terrorist from Kenya or whatever.  But is that even at issue here?  Don't we all generally like that he's in the White House, even if we don't support every single thing he's doing there?

    I don't want the liberal elite communists socializing my Nazism.

    by Kaili Joy Gray on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 12:06:39 PM PST

    •  Exactly. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
    •  We're talking about a specific issue here. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Virginia mom, iBlue

      On this specific issue, I disagree with the President.  I agree with him on the large majority of issues.  

      The support I'm talking about is the same rabid support he was given as a candidate.  Nothing has changed since then.  He has done what he promised.  If you liked it then, why do so many here seem to not like it now?

      •  Hmmm. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TomP, beyondleft

        Yeah, see, I think there's a difference between being a rabid supporter of a candidate during an election, and holding a president to account once he actually wins the election.

        And this whole "he did what he promised, so why are you upset about it?" argument is already tired and trite.  It assumes that everyone who voted for him agreed with him on every single position.  That's not the case.  It never was.  

        I don't want the liberal elite communists socializing my Nazism.

        by Kaili Joy Gray on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 12:13:59 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not assuming that. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Especially since I stated that I don't agree with the escalation and never thought it was a good idea.

          I'm happy to hold the President accountable when he reverses course on something.  And I'm happy to let him know, loudly and vociferously, that I disagree with him on things I knew he would do.  But I will not stop supporting his presidency or, eventually, his re-election based on things that disappoint me but that I knew were coming.

          •  Really? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            TomP, beyondleft

            So we're only allowed to criticize him if he does something that isn't consistent with his campaign promises?  

            The fact that he told us he'd escalate the war in Afghanistan means -- what?  We just don't get to say anything, since he warned us?

            I don't buy that.

            And I think your arguments about people abandoning him completely are not well-founded.  A few people have made that case, yes, but you're trying to conflate all those who criticize this decision with those who are giving up on the president completely.  You shouldn't do that.

            I don't want the liberal elite communists socializing my Nazism.

            by Kaili Joy Gray on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 12:21:24 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  well (0+ / 0-)

          It assumes that everyone who voted for him agreed with him on every single position.  That's not the case.  It never was.  

          True that.

          Support = vote.

          I think what aaronedge said is that he agree with him on the large majority of issues and this single issue of troop increase (suppose a part of a strategy to end the war) will not loose his vote, if you mean holding accountable = loose a vote.  

          For some, a single issue of troop increase may loose him a vote.

  •  That about sums it up for me. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I don't support this particular policy, but I won't abandon this president, whose overall policies over time I think will create a successful, and progressive-leaning legacy.

    At any point in time some could argue that a particular policy is anti-progressive, which may be true, but I judge everyone on their total record, including those I once hated, like Richard Nixon.

    Compare Nixon's foreign policies, over time, with the neocons of today. Much more rational, pragmatic, and superior. At the time I called him the devil. That was before Rove, Kristol, Rumsfeld, et. al. came on the scene.

    The point: I'll keep him. I'm a forty-nine issue guy, not a one-issue, or two-issue, or even three-issue guy.

  •  Stop the Obamurge (0+ / 0-)

    we support the President we voted for who is doing the things we knew he would do when we voted for him.

    Obama said he'd send two brigades to Afghanistan.  I didn't think it was possible he'd increase the number of US troops there until it equaled what we now have in Iraq.  And even if you think this is the right thing to do, doesn't intellectual honesty require one to concede that the arguments Obama trotted out last night are basically identical to the ones Bush used in early 2007?  Heck, they're even being pitched by the same people.

    Here is what I think happened.  When faced with a national security establishment which couldn't admit that Afghanistan a no-win situation, or at the very least not worth the cost, Obama climbed on board.  I'll support him for now.  If the US doesn't withdraw from Iraq in 2011, though, and Afghanistan shortly after, Obama will no longer deserve the support of anti-war Dems who supported him in last year's primaries.

    Why?  Because the issue has gotten bigger than Iraq and Afghanistan.  Should the US be engaged in a permanent war?  Should we be spending American blood and treasure to support the likes of Hamid Karzai?  Face it, the answer today is the same as it was two years ago.

    •  I have to wonder if you read the diary. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I said in the diary I don't agree with the policy.  I think we should come home.

      I do not buy into the "it sounds like Bush" junk at all, however.

      •  Sounds a lot more like this speech (0+ / 0-)

        which preceded the dispatch of an additional 60,000 troops to Vietnam.

        "Peace Without Conquest"from President Johnson, April 7, 1965.

        Why must we take this painful road?

        Why must this Nation hazard its ease, and its interest, and its power for the sake of a people so far away?

        We fight because we must fight if we are to live in a world where every country can shape its own destiny. And only in such a world will our own freedom be finally secure.

        This kind of world will never be built by bombs or bullets. Yet the infirmities of man are such that force must often precede reason, and the waste of war, the works of peace.

        We wish that this were not so. But we must deal with the world as it is, if it is ever to be as we wish.

        The world as it is in Asia is not a serene or peaceful place.

        Johnson's delivery was better. He also got a temporary polling bump for his war policy.

        McChrystal Meth makes you ugly.

        by ben masel on Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 01:10:01 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

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