Congressional Democrats, like the Democrat in the White House, seem a bit uncertain about what course to take in Afghanistan, while on the surface at least Washington Republicans voice almost unanimous support for committing more troops.
Looking at the poll numbers, public support for escalation seems weak. In a Fox News poll conducted Sept. 15-16, 41 percent supported escalation while 50 percent opposed. In other polls, the numbers have been even more lopsided. A CBS poll at the end of August reported that only 25 percent support an increase in US troop levels, while 41 percent support a decrease.
An Ipsos/McClatchy poll in that same time frame — notably, before the massive fraud in the Afghan elections had become news — reported that 56 percent oppose escalation, while only 35 percent supported it.
But what has struck me in the debate is intensity, or the lack of it. Maybe I’m misreading it, and if so please correct me, but it seems to me that even on this blog, those who support escalation lack real fervor. Yes, there’s some understandable amusement and schadenfreude on the right that President Obama should find himself in this position after his campaign rhetoric, but I don’t see a real commitment even among conservatives to putting 40,000 or more additional troops into Afghanistan.
Politically speaking, I think the Republicans in Washington are a little out of touch with the mood even of their fellow conservatives back home. And should Obama decide that escalation is necessary, he’s going to have to do a sales job with the American people to build long-term support for what will be a long-term effort.
So, conservatives, am I wrong? Is there a passionate commitment on the right to escalating the Afghan war, a commitment that I’m just not seeing? Or are you just enjoying the sight of Obama squirming a little bit? Forty thousand more troops, yes or no?