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Election 2010: Afghanistan Destroys Another Candidate

3:00 pm in Uncategorized by Josh Mull

I am the Afghanistan Blogging Fellow for The Seminal and Brave New Foundation. You can read my work on The Seminal or at Rethink Afghanistan. The views expressed below are my own.

You know about the "horse race" in politics, right? It’s a game the media plays wherein they judge candidates on a series of meaningless garbage, like who has a "Jewish problem" or who "best represents the American dream." Basically, it’s a way for the pundits to look smart by picking a winner, the "right answer" if you will, without getting into the messy business of facts and policy. If they’re wrong about the "security moms," aw shucks, that’s the beauty of democracy, but if you’re wrong about empirical data, well, you’re just an idiot. Really it’s more like political bumper bowling than a horse race, but a horse race sounds sophisticated, so we’ve gone with that.

The problem is that candidates don’t actually run in that "horse race." They campaign on their platform of issues. McCain didn’t run against Obama by saying, "My fellow Americans, I’m running for President of the United States because Senator Obama has a Jewish problem." He campaigned on his platform, and voters decided on that. Today in North Carolina, Elaine Marshall and Cal Cunningham are facing off in the Democratic Senate Primary. So far the media narrative portray the race as some sort of insurgent, underdog candidacy by Marshall against the Beltway moneybags insider, Cunningham. But as always, the horse avoids any real issues, or in this case reality in general, and completely misses the point: It’s all about Afghanistan. Read the rest of this entry →

Feeling The Heat From Afghanistan Part 2: Lame Duck Incumbents

5:00 pm in Uncategorized by Josh Mull

I am the Afghanistan Blogging Fellow for The Seminal and Brave New Foundation. You can read my work on The Seminal or at Rethink Afghanistan. The views expressed below are my own.

Part 1 – 2010 Midterms: Both Parties Feel The Heat From Afghanistan

Last week we talked about politicians on both sides of the aisle suffering for their support of the war. In particular we looked at Democratic staple Jane Harman’s bloody primary battle with a challenger whose position on the war is merely moderate and mainstream. You wouldn’t normally expect a convention fight over a boring centrist compromise like a withdrawal time line and transition to a peace mission, but this is the political climate we’re dealing with right now. Constituents across the country are standing up and demanding to be heard, exactly as our political system is intended to function, and any representative who thinks they can ignore it is in for a terrible year. As I said in part 1, it’s no longer safe to support the war in Afghanistan.

But what about the dreaded lame duck incumbents who won’t be running again, the members of congress who aren’t really under any obligation to listen to their constituents? After all, they don’t have need any more re-election funds, campaign volunteers, none of that. With important votes like the supplemental budget still facing this congress, are these lame ducks able to run out the clock and support the war? Nope. Even the lame ducks are being brutalized by the war in Afghanistan. Read the rest of this entry →

2010 Midterms: Both Parties Feel The Heat From Afghanistan

8:00 am in Uncategorized by Josh Mull

I am the Afghanistan Blogging Fellow for The Seminal and Brave New Foundation. You can read my work on The Seminal or at Rethink Afghanistan. The views expressed below are my own.

Stop the presses, we might have some good news on the war in Afghanistan. Savor it:

Washington, D.C. – In a letter sent to President Barack Obama today, U.S. Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) and U.S. Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Walter Jones (R-NC) urged him to set a flexible timetable for removing U.S. troops from Afghanistan and transition to a sustainable counterterrorism strategy for the region.  The bipartisan group of legislators suggested that “rather than investing a disproportionate amount of our resources in Afghanistan, we need to shift resources to pursuing al Qaeda’s global network."

What, only a letter urging something? It doesn’t seem like much, but it’s a positive sign that both parties are realizing the futility of Afghanistan. And they’re not turning against the war on their own, they’re listening to the American people. At a time when the CIA is writing memos on the best way to subvert democracies, it’s a good sign that at least our democracy is still working.

Last month, the anti-war movement got its 3 hour debate on H.Con.Res 248, and while the resolution itself ultimately failed, it did serve as a shot across the bow of the House leadership. While some may claim the movement is irrelevant, it proved we could still get even our wildest fantasies, like an immediate and complete withdrawal, all the way to the House floor for debate. Have the Repeal Obamacare folks done anything close to that? Nope, but it helps us keep this in perspective when we talk about which movements actually have real momentum and power, and which ones are just shameless partisan pandering. The movement to end the US conflict in Afghanistan does have momentum, and as we’ll see, it’s affecting both parties. Read the rest of this entry →