THE PLANK OCTOBER 29, 2009
Obama wants a study of the country at a micro-level. That seems reasonable enough in the abstract--but it's also coming a bit late. This, too, wasn't done during that January-March review? It also signals something less than a vote of total confidence in the judgment of the top U.S. commander on the ground, Stanley McChrystal.
Moreover, it further indicates that we won't see a decision on troop levels in the next several days. On ABC last night George Stephanopoulos said the White House was hoping to make an announcement on Monday November 8 or Tuesday November 9, before Obama departs on a trip to Asia. But the Afghan runoff election doesn't happen until Sunday the 7th, and as we know the counting can take a while; they don't exactly have electronic voting machines over there. It's possible we're looking at mid-November. You want Obama to make the right call but that feels like an awfully long time. I know firsthand that senior military officials are worried about the effect the appearance of high-level uncertainty may be having on public suppport for the war.
I do find it admirable and even moving that Obama stayed up nearly until dawn for this.