From NBC's Kelly Paice
After President Obama's primetime speech last night on the way forward in Afghanistan, the conservative blogosphere hit back today saying the president is playing the blame game and that his war strategy is worrisome.
Red State weighs in with what some heavy hitters from the Bush administration are saying about Obama's speech -- especially regarding the number of troops sent to Afghanistan. Red State's Dan McLaughlin writes: "One line in President Obama's orgy of blame-Bush-for-everything speech last night has prompted former Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld, who managed the Afghan war for five years, to call for the President to back up his assertions."
In a statement released by Rumsfeld, the former secretary said, "In his speech to the nation last night, President Obama claimed that 'Commanders in Afghanistan repeatedly asked for support to deal with the reemergence of the Taliban, but these reinforcements did not arrive.' Such a bald misstatement, at least as it pertains to the period I served as Secretary of Defense, deserves a response. ... I am not aware of a single request of that nature between 2001 and 2006. If any such requests occurred, 'repeated' or not, the White House should promptly make them public."
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs responded today, as Red State's McLaughlin points out, clarifying that "Obama had been talking about the post-Rumsfeld era of 2008." Gibbs said, "You go to war with the secretary of Defense that you have," to which McLaughlin adds "Or, in the case of the Obama Administration, you go to war with the very same secretary of Defense -- Robert Gates, the man who held the job in 2008 -- that you just threw under the Obamabus."
Erick Erickson agrees with McLaughlin in that Obama played the blame game last night with the Bush administration: "True to form, Obama spent most of his speech decrying the Bush administration going into Iraq." And Erickson points out that "[i]n 4608 words, [Obama] did not once mention the word 'victory' and the closest he came to using the word 'win' was those three letters appearing in the word 'withdrawing.'"
Jeff Emanuel on Red State pulled an Iraq thread through his analysis too, saying that Obama "laid out a strategy for Afghanistan that embraced every single thing that went wrong in Iraq over the last six years (particularly the bloody 2004-06 period), and that avoided implementing any of the tactics that actually made that western front in the GWOT the rousing success it is today."
On Power Line, Paul Rahe suggests that after the president's speech last night, "President Obama has given his adversaries -- both within his party and outside it -- plenty of rope with which to hang him. It is most unlikely that the US military can accomplish the end that he seeks within the timetable that he lays out. If they fail to do so by 2011, mark my words: everyone will pile on."
And NRO's Robert Costa has some key senators on the Hill weigh in, as well. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said the president's Afghanistan strategy is "three-quarters baked": "He's correct in adopting General McChrystal's counterinsurgency strategy. He's right in saying that we need to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for al-Qaeda and the Taliban. And he's correct in focusing on training the Afghan army and police forces. Those are all fundamental goals. It's that last quarter, his timetable to begin withdrawal in July 2011, which concerns me." And Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) expressed her worries to "NRO that 'a hard deadline of any date is the wrong message to send,' and potentially cause for unrest in the region."
And yet despite his own controversies this week, Huck even weighed in on the president's Afghanistan speech. One particularly revealing quote from Huckabee's statement read: "[Obama's] supporters on the left, who have been calling for an immediate pullout of all troops, must have felt like they'd gotten a hard spanking by their big brother." Huck also showed a little support for the pres: "But, the President correctly pointed out al-Qaeda is a cancer in Afghanistan that threatens us all. You don't deal with cancer by pretending it doesn't exist. It may have taken longer than it should have, but the President deserves credit and our support and respect for coming to the right conclusion."
And GOP12 has the BIG story of the day: The bowling industry (as in the sport) scored a strike in landing Sarah Palin as the keynote speaker at the International Bowl Expo in June 2010.