In the Bush years, the hottest, most telegenic politician in Washington was a Republican (or “pro-defense” Democrat) who would oppose President Bush in Iraq. Democratic Rep. John Murtha was red-hot, and so were critical Republicans like Chuck Hagel. But in the Obama years, backing away from Obama’s war policy doesn’t exactly give you the same cachet.
On Friday, on the front page of Politico, reporter David Rogers wrote “Top Dem Becomes War Critic: Obama ally losing faith on Afghanistan.”
Rogers found the top House Democrat on appropriations can’t ignore the growing “war fatigue” in Congress and wants to accelerate withdrawal from Afghanistan:
Washington Rep. Norm Dicks, an early and enthusiastic supporter of Obama’s policy, told POLITICO staying in Afghanistan into 2014, as first outlined by the president, will be difficult now given the budget pressures at home and the erratic performance of the chief U.S. partners in the region: Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistan....
“We need to start seeing if we can do this a little faster,” Dicks said. “I think the American people would overwhelmingly like to see this brought to a conclusion sooner than 2014.”
Rogers, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, insisted the Dicks comments should be eye-opening:
Dicks’s comments are important because of his long record of support for Obama and special standing in Congress as the ranking Democrat on both the House Appropriations Committee and its defense panel overseeing the Pentagon budget. On an issue like the war, his opinions then carry weight with a wide range of Democrats.
“It’s a big indicator. People know him, respect him, know this is his subject area,” Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) told POLITICO. “Clearly, we are at a turning point.”
“The strongest part of his reputation is that he is an evidence-driven member. You can’t predict what he will do on something, and that is a compliment,” said Rep. Rob Andrews (D-N.J.). “He doesn’t fall in an ideological box, and therefore, where he goes will have significant gravity.”
A conservative doesn't have to find any of this impressive. But it ought to be impressive to liberal media elites. The notion that it's not tells you they were never really "anti-war" in the Bush years. They were interested in pounding a consistently negative, approval-rating-destroying narrative against Bush.