Good news for O, with even a sizable minority of Republicans — 37 percent — backing him.
Is this good news too?
While the spasm of violence that erupted following the incident on a NATO base in Afghanistan does not appear to have significantly altered Americans’ perspective on the war, 66 percent of those polled also said Washington should bring its troops home immediately…
Some 76 percent of Democrats said U.S. troops should be withdrawn immediately, compared with 53 percent of Republicans. Seventy percent of independents favored an immediate withdrawal.
I wrote last week that I was eager to see how Republican opinion on withdrawal might tilt after Koran-apalooza. There you go — a clear majority, and the overall number who support immediate withdrawal also seems to be several points higher than it was last summer. But never mind that. If you really want a sense of how strong the wind is blowing here, read this. The Senate’s hawk of hawks, thisclose to washing his hands of the whole project in exasperation?
[Lindsey] Graham, who has been one of the strongest congressional supporters for continuing the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan beyond 2014, said today that unless Karzai relents on his demands that the United States immediately hand over control of Afghan prisoners and end night raids against insurgents, there is no way the U.S. can achieve its objectives in Afghanistan and therefore should just end its involvement there.
“If the president of the country can’t understand how irrational it is to expect us to turn over prisoners and if he doesn’t understand that the night raids have been the biggest blow to the Taliban … then there is no hope of winning. None,” Graham said in the hallways of the Capitol Building just before entering the GOP caucus lunch.
“So if he insists that all the prisoners have to be turned over by March 9 and that we have to stop night raids, that means we will fail in Afghanistan and that means Lindsey Graham pulls the plug. It means that I no longer believe we can win and we might as well get out of there sooner rather than later.”
Remember, the Ulema Council in Afghanistan has tried to use the Koran riots as leverage to get the U.S. to hand over Bagram prison to the government. At last check this morning, they might be on track: An Afghan government source claims the two sides are discussing a six-month timeline to transfer control of the country’s prisons, with some possibly being transferred immediately. If NATO follows through on that, and if the White House follows through on plans to free certain Gitmo detainees as a goodwill gesture to the Taliban, you may see McCain, Graham, and the last remaining hawkish stalwarts in Congress finally shift towards pulling out. Exit question: Are polls like this helpful or unhelpful to Obama? On the one hand, he now has all the political cover he could need to withdraw. On the other hand, it probably doesn’t strengthen our negotiating position with Karzai, Pakistan, and the Taliban if everyone knows that Americans are more anxious than ever to pull the plug, huh?