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A poll on Afghanistan, and Michael Moore's open letter to Obama [UPDATED]

November 30, 2009 |  4:59 pm

I suppose you could chalk up to rage the total lack of coherence or structure in Michael Moore's "open letter" to President Obama on sending 34,000 more troops* to Afghanistan. Getting through the letter is difficult enough, so I'll comment only on the part I find most interesting: the opening paragraph (convenient, eh?), which contains the lefty meme that the president's perceived rightward shift on certain policy matters represents some kind of personal betrayal to liberals:

Do you really want to be the new "war president"? If you go to West Point tomorrow night (Tuesday, 8 p.m.) and announce that you are increasing, rather than withdrawing, the troops in Afghanistan, you are the new war president. Pure and simple. And with that you will do the worst possible thing you could do -- destroy the hopes and dreams so many millions have placed in you. With just one speech tomorrow night you will turn a multitude of young people who were the backbone of your campaign into disillusioned cynics.

In other words: Not only is this decision bad for the country, but you've betrayed us, Mr. President, the very people whose work and votes won you your job.

Two things: First, this is a particularly personal (and, in my view, lame) form of umbrage-taking that assumes the election of a Democratic president in a polarized two-party contest represents some kind of validation of a host of liberal positions. This line of thinking isn't confined to war. In a Times Op-Ed article last August, Anne Lammott expressed a similar form of disillusion over the president's perceived lack of progress on healthcare reform. 

Second, I'd sympathize with Moore and liberals who express similar disappointment if there were something about Obama's decision to actually feel betrayed over -- but there isn't. Recall that the buzz surrounding Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal's call in August for more troops was whether the president would fall in line with his campaign rhetoric by sending more Americans to Afghanistan. Even Obama's most ardent supporters should have understood the president would be faced with such an ugly decision if the war in Afghanistan were to take a turn for the worse. It did, and the president's decision shouldn't be terribly surprising.

Anyhow, what are your thoughts on sending more troops to Afghanistan? Take our unscientific poll, leave a comment or do both.

-- Paul Thornton

*UPDATE (9:25 a.m., Tuesday): Today's reports put the number of additional troops to be sent to Afghanistan at 30,000.

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