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The reviews of Obama’s new Afghan troop withdrawal plan are in, and the left is not happy.The president’s plan to withdraw 10,000 U.S. troops by the end of this year and 20,000 more by September 2012 was met with a surprising lack of enthusiasm from members of his own party—and not just from the backbenchers, Jamie Dupree reports.
“We will continue to press for a better outcome,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.
“We need to do much, much more,” said Rep. John Lewis of Georgia. “The American people are sick and tired of war.”
“Tonight’s announcement is a profound disappointment,” said Rep. Lynn Woolsey of California.
Ultimately, the president will not lose sleep over criticisms from his own party of an Afghan exit plan they consider too small and too slow.
What is more concerning for the White House, though, is that the “grumbling” over Obama’s Afghan plan is part of a wider wave of criticism the president is facing from the left. While there is no possibility that dissenting progressives would vote for any Republican alternative in 2012—not even Jon Huntsman—the president risks inviting his deflated base to stay home on election day, which, as was seen in the 2010 midterms, is a recipe for defeat.
The liberal criticism of Obama’s Afghan policy comes just a day after Rolling Stone published an essay by former Vice President Al Gore accusing Obama of failing to lead on the issue of climate change.
“President Obama has never presented to the American people the magnitude of the climate crisis,” Gore wrote. “He has simply not made the case for action.”
The administration is also facing increasing criticism from gay rights advocates, who believe Obama has repaid their 2008 support with tokenism, condescension, and intransigence, the Wall Street Journal reports.
White House communications director Dan Pfieffer faced harsh criticism and some boos at last weekend’s Netroots Nation convention in Minneapolis, where he was asked why progressives should vote for a president who does not support gay marriage.
“The country is evolving on this, and he is evolving on it,” Pfieffer said.
While the Huffington Post today has a story on a supposed thaw in the tense relationship between Obama and the gay rights community, it remains unclear whether he will be able to make similar pre-election amends with those angry at the Afghan policy and apparent inaction on climate change.
The president knows he has a challenge ahead of him.
“It’s not as cool to be an Obama supporter as it was in 2008, with the posters and all that stuff,” he told a half-empty Democratic fundraiser in Florida last week (at which he was heckled by AIDS activists). “But the values that motivated me haven’t changed, and I hope they haven’t changed for you, either.”
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