By Rich Lowry: Hey, Barack. It's me, your heart — it might be all the White House pickup basketball games or the imminent prospect of nationalizing American health insurance, but I'm feeling better than ever.
"Hey, Barack. It's me, your heart. It might be all the White House pickup basketball games or the imminent prospect of nationalizing American health insurance, but I'm feeling better than ever.
"Well, at least since the primaries. Remember those students fainting at your campaign events? They'd stand there for hours to get a glimpse of 'the one they'd been waiting for.' Then, BAM! Down they'd go! That was awesome and HILARIOUS!
"Hey, Barack? Are you listening? Hey, hey — I need you to focus. Every time we're in the Situation Room at one of these Afghan meetings, your head starts to take over entirely. Even though Bob Gates is not that interesting. Yeah, yeah, former head of the CIA and all that. But former president of ... Texas A&M. Are you kidding me? And look at the guy — he's a Republican!
"Does he care about the 47 million uninsured? Not the way we do, Barack. And don't get me started on that nonsense you pulled in your joint address to Congress. You know it's 47 million, not 30 million. You changed the number just so you wouldn't be charged with wanting to provide government insurance to so-called illegal aliens. Lot of good that did you with that bastard Wilson, huh?
"Listen. I don't know how many times I have to say this: Don't sacrifice your presidency to the Afghan War. Not when we're about to get health care, cap-and-trade and who knows what else. You can be FDR for the 21st century, the leader who made America a social democracy. The history books will write about the 'revolution of 2008.' Tell me that doesn't thrill you. But you have to avoid doubling down in a Central Asian war.
"Sure, McChrystal's impressive. He runs for an hour every morning and eats one meal a day. I respect that. But he wants 40,000 troops and can't even guarantee victory. 'Neither success nor failure can be taken for granted.' Thanks for clearing that up, general.
"He wants you to take a huge risk for an uncertain outcome — and for Hamid Karzai. We know him: He's like Blagojevich and Rezko rolled into one and set down amid the Hindu Kush. What do you want, Barack? Karzai, or climate-change legislation? Karzai, or a second term? No wonder you can barely contain your anger at the guy — he risks blowing up everything we hold dear.
"You didn't get in this game to be a wartime president, Barack. You didn't run to be another George W. Bush, fighting a treacherous counterinsurgency campaign with dubious domestic political support in a far-away country that can't attack us. Do I need to remind you that you wouldn't be sitting in this chair if you hadn't given an anti-war speech back in 2002 during the Iraq debate?
"Rahm gets it. I love seeing him and his guys leak all over the place from these Afghan meetings. I don't care if his side is losing the argument on the substance. Sure, it's impossible to do a sustained counterterrorism campaign from afar. Yes, if we pull back from Afghanistan we'd pull the rug out from the Pakistani government, just as it gets more aggressive against the Taliban in the tribal areas. Yes, the Taliban and al-Qaida aren't easily disentangled. So what? Rahm knows that 'the heart has reasons that reason cannot know.'
"Would I ever lead you astray? OK, using a prime-time press conference to denounce Sgt. Crowley for the arrest of Skip Gates might, in retrospect, have been ill-considered. You've got to forgive me for that one, eventually. But would you have gone to Dover, if not for me? Remember the human cost, Barack.
"Will you at least promise me this? Hold a few more meetings, ask for more strategic options, and kick this decision even further down the road. I don't care what your head says. Maybe something will turn up to give us a way out."