There have been a few excellent editorials, including this short piece by Gary Wills, in recent weeks noting that Obama risks becoming the LBJ of his time: a man with an ambitious domestic agenda, whose foreign policy mishaps and inconclusive, persistent prosecution of a counterinsurgency are his undoing.
I think the analogy is apt, but the left and the country in general seem a great deal less interested in the war now that George W Bush is out of office. Casualties are mounting, many of the same problems of corruption exist in Afghanistan as in Iraq, and the war’s results are mediocre at best. Yet Obama has a freedom of movement on this that defied his predecessor. LBJ, by contrast, was seen as “the man” by the New Left and was given no real breaks for his progressive agenda at home or Democratic Party identification. Indeed, the 1968 Democratic Convention was the sight of one of the greatest riots of the far left as part of the anti-Vietnam movement.
Obama, I believe, will muddle through in Afghanistan and not take a significant hit. The main issue that has eclipsed all others is the dreadful state of the economy, which so far seems impervious to the various spending and stimulus measures he has issued.