The war in Afghanistan is eminently more winnable than was Vietnam. The Taliban is far from universally liked or admired. Still, the war will require more than a significant commitment of troops and, of course, money. It will take presidential leadership, a consistent staying of the course — an implacable confidence that the right choice has been made despite what can be steep costs. I am thinking now of Lyndon Johnson spending nights in the Situation Room, a personal anguish that belied the happy belief of antiwar demonstrators that the president was a war-mongering ogre…

But the ultimate in realism is for the president to gauge himself and who he is: Does he have the stomach and commitment for what is likely to continue to be an unpopular war? Will he send additional troops, but hedge by not sending enough — so that the dying will be in vain? What does he believe, and will he ask Americans to die for it? Only he knows the answers to these questions. But based on his zigzagging so far and the suggestion from the Copenhagen trip that the somber seriousness of the presidency has yet to sink in, we have reason to wonder.