Lindsey Graham: 'Our last, best chance' in Afghanistan; McCain: Obama should 'come to the border' ; Lieberman: Afghan deadline 'a mistake'
By Matt DeLong and Felicia Sonmez
Sunday Rundown: A quick wrap-up of the Sunday talk shows.
CBS: FACE THE NATION - Lindsey Graham: 'Our last, best chance' in Afghanistan
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), appearing from Kabul, said, "This is our last, best chance to get it right in Afghanistan." He said that "we've got the right strategy, with the right team," now headed by Gen. David Petraeus, and that the United States is making progress. Graham called for President Obama to "clarify" the "confusion and uncertainty" resulting from the administration's goal of beginning to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by July, 2011. "If the people in Afghanistan think we're going to begin to leave in July 2011 and the people in the region think we're going to begin to leave, we have no chance of winning a counterinsurgency," Graham said. Still, he added that there is "no doubt in my mind that we'll be able to turn over part of Afghanistan by July 2011, but there will be other parts of the country that will still be fighting and need a firm commitment." Graham said Ambasssador Karl Eikenberry and Petraeus appear to have a good working relationship.
Graham said he was "dismayed, angry, upset" by Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele's recent comments that the war in Afghanistan was of President Obama's choosing and that America can't win. "It was an uninformed, unnecessary, unwise, untimely comment," Graham said. "If you're a student of history, you would know that America cannot afford to allow Afghanistan to go back into Taliban control." Graham stopped short of calling for Steele's resignation, but joked that "the good news is Michael Steele is backtracking so fast he's going to be in Kabul fighting here pretty soon."
On Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, Graham declined to say until next week whether he will vote in favor of her confirmation, but said, "She was more candid than most nominees." He added that he "found her to be a very engaging, personable, highly intelligent person."
ABC: THIS WEEK - McCain: Steele's comments 'wildly inaccurate'
Also appearing from Afghanistan, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said that the war there has been "hard-fought and with great sacrifice" and argued that the U.S. needs a "conditions-based situation, not a date for withdrawal." McCain also said that he hoped that Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassdor Karl Eikenberry could forge the same kind of relationship that Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker had in Iraq. McCain said that he's "a bit disappointed we haven't seen more progress" in Afghanistan, "but I still believe we can succeed." McCain also said that Obama's plan to end combat operations in Iraq at the end of August is "still wise, and thanks to the security situation, it can be met."
McCain said that RNC chairman Michael Steele's comments on the war in Afghanistan were "wildly inaccurate" and there's "no excuse for them." He said that Steele sent him an email, but Steele "is going to have to reassess" whether he can lead the Republican Party. On immigration, McCain invited Obama to "come to the border" so he can "see for himself the absolute necessity of getting our border secure before more violence spills over." McCain also noted that he has not yet made a decision on how he'll vote on Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan's nomination, but intends to decide "this coming week."
During the show's roundtable, Dan Senor, the former spokesperson for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, said that "what's striking about Steele is how fundamentally unserious" his remarks are, adding, "I don't think the Republican Party can seriously engage in foreign policy with credibility if its chairman is engaging in this kind of rhetoric."
FOX NEWS SUNDAY - Lieberman: Afghan deadline 'a mistake'
Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), appearing on the program from Afghanistan, said that he had met with Gen. David Petraeus and that Petraeus told him he was "committed to reviewing the rules of engagement" but did not give a timeline for when such a review will take place. Lieberman said that it was "a mistake" for President Obama to set July 2011 as the date by which troops will begin to return home, because it sent the message that "we're going to leave regardless, and that's not the fact." He added that the U.S. should enter into a "neutral security commitment" with Afghanistan such as the ones the U.S. has with Japan, South Korea and Australia.
Lieberman called RNC chairman Michael Steele's remarks last week on the war in Afghanistan "unfortunate," but stopped short of saying that the comments undermined Steele's ability to lead. The GOP "gives me encouragement to believe that they're going to take the high road and not make a partisan political fight out of the war in Afghanistan," Lieberman added. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) said Steele's comment "careless" and inaccurate." Steele "needs to apologize to our military," DeMint said, but "whether or not he resigns is up to other people than me." DeMint also said that "we've got to get rid of this arbitrary deadline" for withdrawal from Afghanistan. He added that Obama is "playing politics" with immigration "because the Democrats want more votes," and said that Sen. Lindsey Graham's (R-S.C.) assertion that the "tea party" is not going to last is "wrong."
Gulf Coast Claims Facility administrator Kenneth Feinberg asserted that he is "totally independent" of the administration and BP and said that he works "for the people of the Gulf region." Feinberg also confirmed that neither the $130 million that has already been paid out by BP nor the $100 million moratorium payments will be part of the $20 billion escrow fund. "There are going to have to be some tough decisions" made on who is and who is not eligible for funds, he added.
CNN: STATE OF THE UNION - Afghan Ambassador dismisses corruption allegations
Afghan ambassador to the United States Aaid Jawad defended the Afghan government on a number of fronts. Jawad dismissed allegations that Afghan President Hamid Karzai is corrupt and challenged Karzai's critics to produce credible evidence against him or his family. "President Karzai is the most hard-working president in Afghanistan," Jawad said. "He is the most sincere partner the United States has in Afghanistan and the region. He is probably one of the very few presidents in that region of the world that hardly has $50,000 in his bank account." Jawad said problems with the contracting process were to blame for waste and corruption. "There is waste the way contracts are given in Afghanistan," Jawad said. "There is corruption, but a lot of it has nothing to do with the Afghan government. It is the contracting system."
The ambassador denied that politically connected Afghans are avoiding prosecution for corruption and said, "We have prosecuted a number of high-ranking officials in the Afghan government, and that process will continue." Jawad said the Obama administration's July 2011 deadline to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan will embolden the Taliban and other U.S. enemies. "We should give a clear message to the enemy, to the terrorists who are a threat to everyone that the United States, NATO and Afghans are there to finish the job," Jawad said.
Reps. Duncan D. Hunter (R-Calif.), John Boccieri (D-Ohio) and Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) -- all veterans of the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan -- appeared together for a roundtable on the state of Afghanistan. Coffman said there is a gap between the positive notes Gen. David Petraeus struck last week during his confirmation hearings to assume control of the war effort and what is happening on the ground, but said Petraeus is the right man for the job. Boccieri defined success in Afghanistan as "the government standing up and making sure that there is security in those outlying provinces; there is stability, economic stability." Hunter said that he does not think one year will be enough time for the United States to accomplish its objectives before it begins to withdraw its forces.
CSPAN: NEWSMAKERS - Bingaman: Senate must pass climate bill by August
Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), the chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said the Senate needs to pass a climate bill before it leaves for August break, so that it can then be reconciled with the already-passed House bill and signed by President Obama before the November midterm elections. Bingaman said several parts of the bill are finished and ready to be presented to the full Senate, but disagreement remains on the parts of the bill concerning the limitation and reduction of greenhouse gases. "There is a big gap between what the scientists say we should do...and what the politics will allow us to do," Bingaman said. "That's just the reality we live with." The New Mexico Democrat said President Obama is "doing all he's able to do at this point" to help the Senate complete a bill. He also said he could support a scaled-back version of cap-and-trade that targeted a smaller portion of polluters, but "quite a few senators will be resistant to anything that can be labeled as 'cap-and-trade.'"
NBC: MEET THE PRESS
Off this week
Matt DeLong and Felicia Sonmez
July 4, 2010; 2:22 PM ET
Categories: 44 The Obama Presidency
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