As Obama Stands Down in Iraq, Other Problems Stand Up
By Ben Pershing
President Obama will unveil today his plan to draw down troops in Iraq, allowing the country to reduce its military and financial commitment abroad even as economic circumstances require the administration to redouble its efforts to fix the banking system here at home.
Governing, Obama is learning, is akin to a massively important game of Whac-A-Mole. Just as one problem seems to subside, another one pops up. Iraq is going more smoothly now, but Afghanistan is getting worse. The banking industry got a bailout, then the automakers took their loans, then the U.S. moved to buy a piece of Citigroup, and now the automakers are back for more. On social policy, the budget blueprint the president released yesterday calls for a massive effort to enact health care reform. But even if that's successful, Social Security will be next, and energy will be awaiting action too.
Today, though, will be about the way forward in Iraq. Obama speaks at 11:45 a.m. at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, and will follow that up with interviews on "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" and the Armed Forces Network to further explain his plan. Initial reaction from Capitol Hill has been mixed. Leading Democrats expressed concern yesterday that 50,000 troops is too many to leave behind after the majority of forces leave the country in August 2010. But before the administration tries to reassure that the final number won't really be that high, note that John McCain made a specific point yesterday of saying he "supports the plan to leave 50,000 troops in Iraq." McCain certainly had no qualms about accusing the Bush administration of deploying too few troops to do the job in Iraq, so you can bet McCain will do the same with Obama if he thinks it's necessary.
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