By Dan Froomkin
12:25 PM ET, 06/19/2009
Things weren't bad enough in Afghanistan -- former president George W. Bush actually had to make them worse? Rajiv Chandrasekaran's riveting story in today's Washington Post describes how, ignoring advice from experts, Bush adopted an impetuous approach to development that compounded the problems created by his military decision to focus on Iraq instead of Afghanistan. Says Richard C. Holbrooke, Obama's point man for Afghanistan policy, of Bush's $3 billion mistake: "In my experience of 40-plus years -- I started out working for AID in Vietnam -- this was the single most wasteful, most ineffective program that I had ever seen... It wasn't just a waste of money. . . . This was actually a benefit to the enemy. We were recruiting Taliban with our tax dollars."
Perry Bacon Jr. writes in The Washington Post: "A war funding bill passed the Senate overwhelmingly yesterday, but the 91 to 5 vote came after a fractured process that included objections from Republicans and Democrats alike, and required President Obama to intervene repeatedly to lobby members of his own party for his foreign policy vision."
A video montage from Jed Lewison of DailyKosTV demonstrates Karl Rove's extraordinary hypocrisy in assailing ABC News for broadcasting from the White House one night next week. Meanwhile, Rove tells Fox News's Greta Van Susteren that Obama is afraid of coming on Fox: "I mean, here's a man who seems to be willing to go sit down with Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong Il, but he won't sit down with Greta or O'Reilly or Sean Hannity. I mean, it strikes that this guy might be a little fearful of -- of having tough questions asked of him."
Two neocons take to The Washington Post op-ed page this morning urge Obama to confront the Iran situation, well, more confrontationally -- like that worked out so great last time with a neighboring country. Charles Krauthammer writes: "Millions of Iranians take to the streets to defy a theocratic dictatorship that, among its other finer qualities, is a self-declared enemy of America and the tolerance and liberties it represents. The demonstrators are fighting on their own, but they await just a word that America is on their side. And what do they hear from the president of the United States? Silence. Then, worse." Paul Wolfowitz, literally an architect of the Iraq war, writes: "Now is not the time for the president to dig in to a neutral posture. It is time to change course."
Post columnist David Ignatius also calls for Obama "to express his solidarity with the Iranians who are so bravely taking to the streets each day."
By contrast, Les Gelb writes for the National Security Network that "calls for Obama to condemn Iran's election results and speak out for the demonstrators shows no knowledge of Iran whatsoever." Azadeh Moaveni writes that "in conversations with friends and relatives in Tehran this week, I've heard the opposite of what I had expected: a resounding belief that this time the United States should keep out." And Juan Cole blogs: "The regime's attempt to paint the protesters as nothing more than US intelligence agents underlines how wise President Obama has been not to insert himself forcefully into the situation in Iran."
Media Matters suggests: "When considering what kind of platform to offer conservative commentators' criticism of President Obama's reaction to events in Iran, the media should remember these commentators' previous discredited claims, predictions, and analysis about other foreign policy issues, particularly the Iraq war."
Also on the Post op-ed page, Bush administration CIA director Michael V. Hayden warns of danger if former officials continue to be questioned and -- God forbid -- criticized for their embrace of torture as an interrogation technique: "A whole swath of intelligence professionals -- the best we had, the ones we threw at the al-Qaeda challenge when the nation was in extremis -- are suffering for their sacrifice, being held up to recrimination for many decisions that were never wholly theirs and about which there was little protest when we all believed we were in danger." He bemoans the recent withdrawal of a Homeland Security nominee tainted by his association with torture and concludes: "There are other losses less visible. Pray that the safety of the republic is ultimately not among them."
Lois Romano interviews Anita Dunn, interim communications director at the White House. Ellen McCarthy writes about the love affair between White House domestic policy adviser Melody Barnes and her new husband, Marland Buckner.
Barack Obama writes in Parade: "In many ways, I came to understand the importance of fatherhood through its absence—both in my life and in the lives of others. I came to understand that the hole a man leaves when he abandons his responsibility to his children is one that no government can fill.... I know I have been an imperfect father. I know I have made mistakes. I have lost count of all the times, over the years, when the demands of work have taken me from the duties of fatherhood.... On this Father's Day, I think back to the day I drove Michelle and a newborn Malia home from the hospital nearly 11 years ago—crawling along, miles under the speed limit, feeling the weight of my daughter's future resting in my hands. I think about the pledge I made to her that day: that I would give her what I never had—that if I could be anything in life, I would be a good father."