By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Liberals and Afghanistan

Not quite sure what to make of this. But at our extremely liberal suburban Unitarian Universalist church this morning, I heard more support (albeit reluctant) for President Obama’s build-up in Afghanistan than I hear from congressional Democrats. Or, for that matter, from the four Democrats running for Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat.

One possible meaning: Mainstream liberals are not as reflexively antiwar as the interest groups that lobby Democrats on our supposed behalf think we are. Indeed, according to a CNN poll taken after Obama’s speech last week, the build-up of troops is supported by a margin of 62 percent to 36 percent.

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  1. rozzie02131

    Maybe the candidates think the anti-war Dems are more likely to vote on Tuesday than the reluctantly pro-war members of the mainstream.

    Or else they remember what happened to Iraq support compared to the beginning of the war, and they don’t want to be caught a few years from now with outdated statements in favor of the war.

  2. Local Editor

    Or is this a case of mainstream liberals understanding that Obama’s doing pretty much what he said he was going to do, while those in congress seem more disappointed that he’s not doing what they WISHED he would do.

    And are there any conservative UU congregations in America?

  3. Harrybosch

    Unitarian Universalist?

    That the one with the hats?


  4. Dunwich

    Mainstream liberals are not as reflexively antiwar

    What the post-9/11 question should have been was what’s the most effective way to kill the enemy? War and the occupying force in two distant countries shouldn’t have been the answer (for liberals or anyone else).
    I don’t get the continued support. One feels sorry for Afghanistan but what can you do?

  5. Hypocrisy. Pure and simple. When Bush did it, it was a war crime. But when Obama the Messiah does it, it’s justified. Disgraceful.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Tony: Name me a liberal — not a left-winger, but a liberal — who has called the war in Afghanistan a “war crime.” And please remember that Obama got elected promising to expand the war.

  6. Come on Dan, there were millions and millions of them. It reminds me of the Phil Ochs song.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Tony: I couldn’t disagree with you more. And I repeat: Name one.

  7. io saturnalia!

    Who knew the Unitarian Universalists were such a bloodthirsty lot?

  8. Mike F

    I don’t think the poll you cite really proves your assertion, Dan.

    “Who do you have more confidence in when it comes to handling the situation in Afghanistan: President Obama or the Democrats in Congress?”

    President Obama: 44%
    Democrats in Congress: 31%
    Both: 4%
    Neither: 20%
    Unsure: 2%

    That’s not a very dramatic difference when you consider that
    a)the President is almost always seen as the voice of authority when it comes to military matters.
    b) with only 20% responding ‘neither’ it would seem that a good number of conservatives answered the question one way or the other and I don’t think it’s an unfair assumption to say that most conservatives would pick the option that is generally seen as the more hawkish of the two, which in this case is the President.

  9. Harrybosch

    Tony apparently confuses Afghanistan with Iraq.

    Frightening, that.

  10. Quantum Mechanic

    Mainstream liberals are not as reflexively antiwar

    Or they’re reflexively pro-Obama, which is not the same thing as what you conjectured.

    • Dan Kennedy

      The lack of memory here is astounding. From the moment the war in Iraq started to go bad, Democrats criticized the Bush administration for diverting attention and resources from the war in Afghanistan. Kerry ran on that platform in 2004 and nearly won. Obama ran on it in ’08. To argue now that Democrats are somehow being hypocritical by supporting an expanded war in Afghanistan — an expansion Obama talked about repeatedly during his campaign — is to ignore everything that’s happened in the past six-plus years.

  11. Bob Gardner

    Okay, Dan, you’re right. This war is not something that Obama “inherited”. Nobody tricked them into it. It’s the war that Kerry, Obama, Democrats and the rest of the liberals have always wanted, and wanted to escalate.
    The liberals don’t go for lies like “Iraq has weapons of mass destruction.” Instead there’s a new lie: “Afghans need us in their country to teach them how to fight.”
    This escalation will be brutal and counterproductive. If you’re so desperate to have this blood on your hands, be my guest.

  12. TomW

    I agree with you. Even liberals can see that the Taliban (enabled by the Afghan government) enables Al Queada, which trains the bombers — suicide and otherwise — who have caused death and destruction in New York, Madrid, London, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, and other places. This is a serious, long-term problem than can’t be ignored. I don’t think these people will ever be defeated; rather, like diabetes, we may be able to manage the problem, not elimiate it. But we have to keep at it. I have a nephew who just entered the Naval Academy. I’m sure he will be called upon to be part of this when he graduates in 2013.

  13. mike_b1

    TomW, not sure if you’re being sarcastic or not, but that is exactly the position Obama took while running for office. If the war is against al-Qaeda, then we have to fight them where they are. And better to do that offshore than in NYC.

    That no Republican of note today can understand/articulate this is shocking. Obstruction is more important than security, I suppose. The best Republican president of the last 100 years — Eisenhower — warned us about this.

  14. TomW

    I wasn’t being sarcastic. And I may have been stating the obvious AND saying what Obama has been saying. But, like you, I am shocked that Republicans — and frankly, many Democrats — don’t understand this and are not trying to make other Americans see how serious this is.

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