Bob Woodward’s new book, Obama’s Wars, offers us a glimpse behind the curtain, and if excerpts leaked to The New York Times are any indication, what Woodward reveals is not pretty.
Not only does the book, according to the Times, depict “an administration deeply torn over the war in Afghanistan,” it seems to suggest that the primary motivation of this president is not victory in Afghanistan but rather holding his political base together. “I can’t lose the whole Democratic Party,” the president is quoted as saying, trying to defend his withdrawal timetable.
That says it all, doesn’t it?
It pays to recall that to win the 2008 election and take the oath as commander-in-chief, this president defeated a man who declared, “I’d rather lose an election than lose a war.” And this president succeeded a commander-in-chief who lost much of the Republican Party, most of the country, and virtually everyone except Joe Lieberman and John McCain—not to mention “the whole Democratic Party”—but won a war because he didn’t care what the polls said or what the press advised.
Given that the White House granted Woodward “extensive access,” including interviews with the president, the administration could be using the book to send a signal to the anti-war left. But that could backfire.
First, with U.S. troops still shooting, fighting and dying in Afghanistan and Iraq, the anti-war Left isn’t going to be energized into voting or mollified into keeping quiet by a wink-and-a-nod promise that the war in Afghanistan will end sometime in July 2011.
Second, the book may confirm what some hinted at after the Rolling Stone fiasco: that the administration is at best divided and at worst halfhearted about the war effort.
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