The word on President Obama's widely discussed speech on Afghanistan last week at West Point is that while he may have disappointed the left by calling for 30,000 additional troops, he mollified them by talking about withdrawal:
These additional American and international troops will allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to Afghan forces, and allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011. Just as we have done in Iraq, we will execute this transition responsibly, taking into account conditions on the ground. We'll continue to advise and assist Afghanistan's security forces to ensure that they can succeed over the long haul. But it will be clear to the Afghan government — and, more importantly, to the Afghan people — that they will ultimately be responsible for their own country.
Republicans, of course, would have none of that. A timeline for withdrawal would send the wrong message to al Qaeda and the Taliban, argued John McCain, his party's presidential nominee in 2008.
But that timeline for withdrawal be less than what it first appeared.
Last weekend, both Jim Jones, the Obama national security adviser, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went on the TV talk shows to say no, we're really not talking about a withdrawal timetable. It may be an objective, but it's not necessarily happening in July of 2011.
And that has not pleased progressives.
We will discuss that in the Political Junkie segment today on NPR's Talk of the Nation with Faiz Shakir of American Progress Action.
Massachusetts Senate primary results. State Attorney General Martha Coakley won the Democratic nomination by a larger-than-expected margin and will square off with the Republican nominee, state Sen. Scott Brown, on Jan. 19. Massachusetts has never elected a woman to the Senate, and its last GOP senator won in 1972.
Health care in the Senate. Is the public option dead? The Stupak amendment certainly is. Democrats say they're getting closer to passage.
Max Baucus' judgment. Who needs Tiger Woods when you have Sen. Baucus to talk about? The Montana Democrat is being criticized for having once suggested Melodee Hanes as a possible U.S. Attorney — the same Melodee Hanes who is his girlfriend. But is the focus on this episode being blown out of proportion? Is it sexism? (After all, South Dakota Sen. Tim Johnson's son has been nominated by President Obama as a U.S. Attorney, and no one is focusing on that one.)
Join host Neal Conan and me every Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET for the Junkie segment on TOTN, where you can often, but not always, find interesting conversation, useless trivia questions and sparkling jokes. And you can win a Political Junkie T-shirt!
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