As the 100-day honeymoon period for the new administration comes to an end, President Obama appears content to emulate his predecessor on matters of secrecy, on the legal treatment of detainees, and on unflappable optimism that escalation is going to ultimately win its wars, Congressional Democrats are expressing growing discontent with his hawkish stances.
The House passed its $96.7 billion war spending bill today by a wide margin, but a lot of that support, particularly on the President’s own side of the aisle, was decidedly tepid. Rep. David Obey (D – WI) voted for the measure, but said that “with respect to Afghanistan and Pakistan, I am extremely dubious that the administration will be able to accomplish what it wants to accomplish.” Obey added that he was following the same approach he did with President Nixon in 1969, and that if Obama has not altered the policy by the end of the year, he would begin to oppose the war. Of the 60 votes against the war funding bill, 51 were Democrats.
The concerns over the open-ended war in Afghanistan seem to be growing, and few seem to believe in the administration’s “new” war plan in the nation. While so far it doesn’t appear to be translating into a significant threat to vote down the administration’s war funding bills, Rep. Murtha predicts that could change rapidly, and that opposition may intensify in the next few weeks as next year’s defense spending bill moves forward.
Right now, Murtha says, “the public is not focused on the war at all.” That could change rapidly if the Afghan war continues to sour, which every high ranking military official seems to treat as a virtual inevitability.