Is it possible for a sitting president to ignore a war his own country is waging?
According to the Boston Globe, it depends on who that president is.
The war in Afghanistan has presented a rare look at two different presidents faced with the same situation in the same theatre.
Following initial Allied success, 2003 saw the Taliban regroup for a long-term fight, and by late 2007 Bush had begun to draw up plans for a troop surge. Two years later, generals on the ground say our presence is still not enough.
Now, with President Obama in charge, those in the mainstream media portray his leadership in a starkly different light than that of former President Bush.
The Boston Globe is a prime example of the double standard (continued).
Prior to the intial surge, the paper pounded on President Bush's lack of leadership.
In January 2006, the Globe wrote that the "administration became so distracted with the Iraq war that it cooled in its efforts to diminish the Afghani drug trade." Later, in August of that same year, the Globe printed an op-ed from Rep. Barney Frank accusing the White House of "ignoring" violence in Afghanistan. Readers were continually told that US forces were "stretched thin" and the budget was too great a burden.
January 2007 saw the Globe keep the drumbeat going: the White House had "for years resisted calls by members of both parties" do more in Afghanistan.
Just before Obama's inauguration, the Globe printed a stunningly vicious attack on Bush, accusing him of "serial blunders" in every facet of MidEast policy, from Israel to Iran to Afghanistan. The editorial dated January 11, 2009, pulled no punches:
Obama has an enormous cleanup task ahead of him; he cannot put off for a single day the work of peacemaking and rehabilitation in the Mideast.
Yet, nine months later, the zeal for Obama to clean up the MidEast has cooled.
In August, as General McChrystal submitted a report with dire warnings of failure, the Globe kept playing Blame Bush for Everything and further lamented, "Our peace-promising president inherited a losing hand from his predecessor."
Gone was the need for swift action. In its place: a perpetual whine that Bush had made action impossible.
As August drifted into September and Obama still had no plan, the Globe spun this as the prudence of a master diplomat. They printed a quote from former President Clinton that Obama was "wise" to take it slow; there were elections coming up and important decisions to be made, so it was best for Obama to drag his feet.
Then news began to break that contradicted the election excuse - General Stanley McChrystal, Obama's hand picked leader of the Afghan mission, claimed that Obama wasn't talking to him at all.
Was the Globe worried about this? Not really.
On September 30, the Globe ran interference for Obama by printing an AP article that parroted spin from the White House. Suddenly, it was no longer acceptable for lawmakers to criticize a president's war policy; Congress is now just "game playing" for political points.
Apparently to the Globe, failure is in the eye of the beholder, and with their favorite politician in charge, failure is always someone else's fault.