Tag Archives: Afghanistan

Obama vs. Fox News; Limbaugh vs. Sharpton- Important to You?

We interrupt your valid concerns about the Senate Finance Committee vote on healthcare reform, President Obama’s deliberations on Afghanistan, and how to put the country back to work for a couple of stories that got quite a bit of ink over the past 48 hours or so.

On the one hand, it looks like the Obama Administration has taken the gloves off regarding Fox News. White House communications director Anita Dunn was blunt. “As they are undertaking a war against Barack Obama and the White House, we don’t need to pretend that this is the way that legitimate news organizations behave.”

Well, DUH!!!

The administration is just realizing this? Fox had known all along that their bread would be buttered by using their opinion programs to savage this president. In fact, they’ve made hay with Dunn’s remarks, and are just as sure to get a ratings bump as David Letterman was with his sex scandal. The people who watch Fox News expect Obama bashing. That’s a big reason why they watch. An attack by the White House also gives the pouter pigeons (O’Reilly, Beck, et al) at Fox News an inflated sense of their own importance on the public stage. Perhaps it would have been better to deal with them as the enemy in private.

The other story distracting attention from whether we’ll have the public option involves another right wing media blowhard. Rush Limbaugh is part of an ownership group that wants to buy the St. Louis Rams football franchise. Why is anybody’s guess, since the Rams are currently winless. This is the same Limbaugh who disparaged Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb as a product of affirmative action. He also called the NFL, paraphrasing here, like the Crips and Bloods without weapons.

Enter Rev. Al Sharpton, never one to back away from a good public fight. He doesn’t think Limbaugh should own an NFL franchise, and he’s asked for a meeting with commissioner Roger Goodell to express his concerns. He’s been joined by the head of the NFL Players Association, and several current players in asking the league to deny Limbaugh. El Rushbo, in his resp0nse, brings up Sharpton’s involvement in the Tawana Brawley incident of more than 20 years ago, and the media feuding goes back and forth.

al_sharpton2

For some people, who owns an NFL team, and stating the obvious about a right wing cable news network may be just as important as whether healthcare reform will afford more Americans access to quality care. Or whether more American kids will die in a seemingly endless war in Afghanistan. Or whether our unemployment rate will continue to hover around double digits for the foreseeable future. I don’t happen to be one of them. Is it wrong to say I could care less if Rush Limbaugh owns a losing team? Or even whether the Obama Administration views Fox News as the enemy? You tell me.

NB: I know writing about this stuff makes me seem hypocritical. Sorry.

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Too Soon For Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize?

This question should be quite the paradox for opponents of the President. Here they are, nine months into his tenure, demanding their country back and reciting a litany of sins he’s supposedly committed. Now they turn on a dime, and say nine months is entirely too short a time to award him the Nobel Peace Prize.

Maybe this award had something to do with the antipathy so many around the world felt toward his predecessor. Maybe the award is being used as an incentive to get President Obama to back up his words with deeds.

Regardless, he deserves congratulations, and Americans should feel a sense of pride that one of our own has won this prestigious award. Sadly, that won’t be the focus. The media here will give lots of time to Obama haters who will denounce the Norwegian Nobel Committee as a nest of ignorant foreigners who don’t understand what Obama has done to undermine the America they know and love. There is very little Barack Obama can do that won’t infuriate his opposition.

President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the 1984 winner of the prize, got it right when he said, “It’s an award coming near the beginning of the first term of office of a relatively young president that anticipates an even greater contribution towards making our world a safer place for all. It is an award that speaks to the promise of President Obama’s message of hope.” Now his challenge is to make good on that very message. On some levels, he has much work to do. Winning a peace prize while you’re deciding how many more troops to send to Afghanistan is more than a little ironic.

President Obama is only the third sitting US president to win the award, the others being Theodore Roosevelt (1906), and Woodrow Wilson (1919). Both had been in office for much longer than Obama, but this prize ought to be seen as recognition of the change in American attitude his presidency has brought to the international stage. That may not be good enough for some in the blogosphere and on social networking sites. It’s fully half of all trending topics on Twitter. One supposes it’s good news that people are paying attention.

So what does President Obama have to do to convince those doubters that he deserves the Nobel Peace Prize? How about bringing US troops home from Afghanistan with all deliberate speed? How about being the catalyst for worldwide acknowledgement of the threat of global warming, and actually getting something done about it? How about leading the way in an international round of nuclear disarmament?

President Obama’s promise is worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize. Now he must prove that actions speak louder than words. Think he’s up to the task?

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Is Time Running Out in Afghanistan?

President Barack Obama met with about 30 members of Congress Tuesday. The subject was what to do in Afghanistan, something we’ve written about more than once.

In recent weeks, those fighting US troops in remote regions of the country have become more emboldened, and that means more US troops are dying. That in turn ratchets up pressure on the President to do something to turn the tide of this unpopular war. Ironically, Afghanistan was at first the war we were “supposed to fight”. That’s where Osama bin Laden was finding safe haven, and the public found that chase worth pursuing even as support for the war in Iraq waned.

Now, President Obama must decide whether to anger lawmakers in his own party, many of whom don’t want to see an increase in troop deployment, as top NATO and US troop commander Stanley McChrystal favors. For some, there are the twin issues of money and time. Consider this from Sen. John Kerry, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who attended Tuesday’s meeting. “I think a lot of senators and congressmen need to ask themselves how much money they are willing to put on the table for how long and for what strategy”.

Long story short, that means if President Obama follows Gen. McChrystal’s strategy, he will have the backing of Republicans, not a critical mass of Democrats. He’s taken off the table, for now, the idea of reducing troop strength. The question is whether he wants to commit to the kind of mini nation building necessary to stabilize Afghanistan’s government. That component turned out to be a disaster in Iraq, and there are no guarantees it will work any better in Afghanistan.

Make no mistake. This is the most important foreign policy decision President Obama will make during this, the early part of his tenure. Get it wrong, and he’ll be hammered not only by Republicans, but by his base as well. Americans seem to be getting tired of war, in particular wars that seem to be going on forever with little chance of clear cut victory. Without public support, the Congress won’t back an expansion of the war on the ground. If President Obama chooses to follow the recommendations of the military, he’s risking a serious political setback, as serious as not getting healthcare reform done.

I wish there was a way for the US to declare victory and simply leave Afghanistan to its people. American lives are being lost, and that ought to be our primary concern. Sadly, he political will likely trump the moral, and the US will be in Afghanistan for a long time to come.

What do you think? Should President Obama increase troop strength in Afghanistan, keep it at current levels, or start a staged withdrawal?

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