Apparently a little disagreement on how hard that July 2011 date to start withdrawal from Afghanistan is. (Of course, “starting” the withdrawal in July 2011 leaves all sorts of timetables possible.)
I suspect he figures that in 2011, the R’s will control both the House and the Senate, so he won’t be able to start a withdrawal even if he actually wanted to.
This could be right, but there could be even more to it. Here are two possibilities that he might be thinking:
- Dems keep control in 2010 and war goes badly: Obama can bring the boys home and look like a hero. If things don’t improve much by mid-2011, probably not a lot of people will be up for staying the course, anyway. This could win him the 2012 election.
- Dems lose control in 2010 and war goes badly: If GOP is for staying the course [and the troops stay in the fight], Obama can just blame them for breaking his promise to bring the boys home. This could win him the 2012 election and put the Dems back in control of Congress.
Both of these options could pay off big time for him and the Dems in 2012.
The problems begin, though, if the war actually goes well:
- Dems lose control in 2010 and war goes well: Unless the GOP calls for withdrawal (unlikely) he can simply change his mind to stay the course. After all, it was his “surge” that’s winning the war. This may not have a real big impact on the 2012 elections, but if anyone benefits politically it will probably be the pro-victory GOP. They might even be able to say “Since 30,000 more troops have started winning the war, maybe the requested 40,000 would have won it by now.“
- Dems keep control in 2010 and war goes well: This is the nightmare scenario for Obama. What if he wants to bring the boys home to look like a hero, and he has the Congress to do it, but the little people (voters) insist on winning? Does he declare victory prematurely and bring them home anyway? New media won’t make that easy to pull off. Does he stay the course? Dem Congress and voters might have a collective aneurysm. Probably just best to hope that the war goes badly.
Right now, both of the scenarios that involve the Dems keeping control of Congress in 2010 look unlikely. But there’s a lot of time left on the clock. Plus, they have the benefit of being able to run against the Republicans. If Congress was high school football, the GOP Senate would be on everyone’s schedule for Homecoming.
Obviously, there are a lot of factors in play and my simplistic options leave a lot to be desired. But suddenly the simultaneous “surge” and declaration of the war’s end date make a lot more sense to Murdoc the cynical.