If anyone at the White House thought that Barack Obama became the “decider” on military matters on January 20th, Nancy Pelosi just gave them a little bit of education in Democratic politics. Obama needs Congress to appropriate funds for a 30,000-troop increase in Afghanistan, but Pelosi won’t lift a finger to help. Instead, it will be up to Republicans to get the President his money:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday that it’s up to President Barack Obama to persuade reluctant Democrats to fund his Afghanistan troop buildup — his most important foreign policy initiative — because she has no plans to do so herself.
Pelosi’s reluctance to lobby for an Afghan surge appropriation reflects the deep divisions within the Democratic Party over Obama’s decision to send more troops to Afghanistan.
That, coupled with lukewarm public support — in the latest Pew Research Center for the People & the Press survey, only 51 percent of the respondents said they support the surge — suggests that support for the administration’s Afghan policy is brittle, at best.
Facing re-election next year, dozens of Democrats in the House of Representatives already oppose additional war funding, and earlier this year, Pelosi, D-Calif., assured them that they wouldn’t have to vote on another emergency war-spending bill.
Let’s unpack that promise first. Democrats spent 2007 and 2008 excoriating George Bush for under-resourcing the war in Afghanistan. Barack Obama ran on the promise that he would fight more aggressively in Afghanistan. When Obama took office, he officially adopted the COIN strategy that he had backed for two years on the campaign trail, cheered by throngs of adoring Democrats, including every one of them in Congress.
If Pelosi made that kind of a promise, that’s Pelosi’s problem, and her caucus was idiotic to buy it. Unless, of course, they all presumed that Obama was just as deceitful as they were when they were championing a surge for Afghanistan. One particular Democrat made that hypocrisy plain this week:
New Hampshire Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) is changing her position on the Afghanistan war and is now a vocal opponent of President Barack Obama’s plan to send an additional 30,000 troops to that country.
During her 2006 and 2008 campaigns, Shea-Porter argued that Afghanistan, not Iraq, was the central front in the war on terror and that victory there was vital to American national security.
What’s more, Shea-Porter is casting aspersions at anyone who is not following her reversal.
“Anybody who would not change their position based on what has happened in Afghanistan would be irresponsible,” said Shea-Porter in Monday’s Portsmouth Herald.
NowHampshire.com hears that the quote has set off a firestorm of intraparty e-mails among Shea-Porter’s staff and Democratic Rep. (and Senate hopeful) Paul Hodes (NH-02), who has yet to decide where he stands on the Afghanistan escalation.
The condensed Shea-Porter: Now that we won the election, I’m against fighting terrorists in Afghanistan.
In order for Obama to get his funding, he’ll have to work with Republicans, who are eager to put national security above domestic politics in this instance. He will likely get the funding unless Pelosi attempts to keep the bill from a floor vote, which seems unlikely. But perhaps Obama might take a lesson from this and stop outsourcing his Presidency to the woman who wants to be the Retreater in Chief.