In the race to appeal to the Democratic base, Arlen Specter takes the lead.
For a guy who's received the backing of the White House for re-election, and who's not exactly known as a peacenik, I think this takes a lot of courage. Not only is he defying the president, he's taking --ulp-- the progressive position.
Whenever I have a question about the Middle East or Afghanistan, I visit the blog of Juan Cole, probably the US's foremost expert on the area. And Cole points out a number of problems with the president's strategy, of which I'd like to highlight two:
Obama's plan depends heavily on training 100,000 new soldiers and 100,000 new policemen over the next three years. It has taken 8 years to train the first 100,000 soldiers fairly well, and the same period for the Europeans to train a similar number of police badly. Can the pace really be more than doubled and quality results still obtained?
The biggest threat of derailment comes from an American public facing 17 percent true unemployment and a collapsing economy who are being told we need to spend an extra $30 billion to fight less than 100 al-Qaeda guys in the mountains of Afghanistan, even after the National Security Adviser admitted that they are not a security threat to the US.
I think Cole hits the bullseye with these observations. Lately, Sestak's gotten a lot of mileage out of Specter's idiotic decision to insist that Obama's stimulus be cut down to size, which has directly exacerbated Pennsylvania's budget crisis. But by supporting an expensive escalation in Afghanistan, isn't Sestak undermining his own case against Specter and his own rational for election? Does Sestak really want to tell Pennsylvania's unemployed workers that we need to spend billions of dollars and send our kids into harm's way when we're in desperate need of nation-building right here at home? The president says he'd like to do more to create jobs, but warned “our resources are limited.” Does anyone remember Eisenhower's observation that ""Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed"
Even some of Obama's most ardent supporters are feeling queasy over escalating a war in a country nicknamed the "graveyard of empires."
The $30 billion dollars we intend to spend on Afghanistan could, in my opinion, be spent a lot better at home. It's a damn pity that a warmed-over Republican dressed in a donkey suit gets it, and more so that Joe Sestak's voting to continue a mission only a jackass could embrace.
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