Today's headlines about a U.S. missile strike in Pakistan killing 20 or more -- after a bloody week in Iraq and Afghanistan -- all serve as reminders that our wars continue, now on Obama's watch. Like the economic crisis, I'm sure he would rather not be saddled with all this from the Bush era but now it's on him.
With the stimulus bill passed, attention is bound to turn, at least in part, to our foreign catastrophes. The economy will long remain issue #1 but it is time to include the foreign misadventures near the top of any list of pressure points -- especially since the billions spent in the wars continue to add to our economic disaster, with much more to come as the number of very needy vets increase.
And let's recall that Obama has vowed to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, while seemingly deciding to extend the pullout plan for Iraq.
Yes, it's early, and I'm willing to give the Obama team plenty of space. But I am also wondering, if things go as bad as many of us fear in Afghanistan (and we are still in Iraq), who might emerge as a bold antiwar Democrat to speak out against Obama? Or will anyone?
Remember that LBJ, who I am not really likening to Obama, won a great landslide in 1964 and drew much admiration from liberals, the young and blacks for his stands on civil rights and voting rights. But the war did him in. Now we are in two of them, and our economy is in far worse shape than it was back then. Guns and butter anyone?
Here is a Spencer Ackerman report on a new poll showing Afghans turning against U.S. -- especially in area where we have done airstrikes.
Recall that Obama was not the first choice of many progressives back in 2007 (as my new book shows) but gained backing when he started highlighting his vote against the Iraq invasion. Now we see some liberals sharply criticizing the new president on such issues as the stimulus bill, rendition and torture, appointments and so on. Expect criticism of his war policies once the economy gets more settled. We will never be lockstep like the Republicans. Nor should we be.
Greg Mitchell's new book is "Why Obama Won." He is editor of Editor & Publisher. His previous book on Iraq and the media was called "So Wrong for So Long."