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December 4, 2009
Early Returns: Obama gets a bumpBy Greyhawk
The Nielsen ratings company reported that 40.8 million Americans watched Obama's speech, his highest TV ratings since addressing Congress in February.
The overall 51% positive reaction to the new policy is slightly higher than the 47% who in a November poll (before Obama's new policy was announced) supported the basic concept of increasing troops in Afghanistan.
"More generally," says Gallup, "Obama's new policy has managed to bridge the pre-existing partisan gap on this issue to some degree, bringing the support levels of Democrats and Republicans closer together."
Which means he might have accomplished what I thought he needed to:
So while Democrats may have bailed on the Afghanistan war faster than they did Iraq, at least they still support their president's handling of it. So far. But so far few would acknowledge he's been doing anything other than "considering his options" or "taking a thoughtful approach" to a monumental decision. (What Republicans call "dithering".) So with his speech at West Point Obama needs to keep his hold on that approval from within his party - and perhaps even get some of his fans to transfer their approval of who he is to approval of what he does - while maintaining Republican approval of American efforts in Afghanistan. (Which he can at least hope will lead some to approve of who he is - whether they'll admit it or not.)
The question turns to how long will Democrats sustain any level of support - recent history indicates not very. (And in today's New York Times: Obama's Afghanistan Decision Is Straining Ties With Democrats.)
And in a result that might disappoint White House poll watchers, setting a withdrawal date doesn't help:
Just one in five agree with the timetable to begin withdrawing forces in 2011. Nearly half say it's too soon to set a timetable, and one in four say troops should begin coming home earlier.
But while how that will impact the actual war effort is yet to be determined, as far as short-term marketing strategy goes it might have gotten "just enough" Democrats on board.
Turning to troop levels, the president probably did the best he could have:
Thirty-eight percent call the decision to deploy 30,000 more troops "about the right number." Nearly as many say the number is too high; 18% say it's too low.
The best he could have as far as public support goes - again, how that plays out in the combat zone is to be determined.
But this should surprise no one - less than a quarter of Americans want a new "war tax":
The poll finds little appetite for the "war surtax" proposed by House Appropriations Chairman Dave Obey, D-Wis., and others to pay for the war. By 68%-24%, those surveyed oppose the idea.
No one in Congress believes the "war tax" is passable - even its proponents acknowledge it's not doable. In fact, actually pushing for it would be political suicide - the real purpose of talking about a war tax is to reassure those voters in Democratic congressional districts who might be feeling a bit betrayed (but don't want to pay it either) that their representatives are "anti-war".
USA Today provides a few responses from the troops with their story. "I am currently serving in Afghanistan on my second deployment," says one.
I didn't watch the speech, but since we have been here (three months now) we have been hearing quite a bit about the proposed troop "surge". In all honesty, I think it is an excellent idea. ... I think it was mistake to issue a time table. It sets a precedent for all the naysayers to go by and if the job isn't completely finished in 18 months, then we have failed.
"The President's put a Good General in charge in March then gave a speech," adds another, "and when the person he put in place asked for 40,000-80,000 more troops the President waited."
USA Today calls that "mixed reactions about the president's plan to boost troop levels there."
CAMARADERIE - U.S. soldiers join in to be a part of the circle, some to pray, before every mission in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Nov. 22, 2009. The soldiers are assigned to the 62nd Engineer Company, 4th Engineer Battalion. U.S. Army photo by Pfc. David Hauk
Posted by Greyhawk / December 4, 2009 12:16 PM | Permalink
Ouch: CNN Poll: Obama approval under 50 percent. Looks like maybe the bump wasn't big enough. Support for President Barack Obama's Afghanistan policy is fairly high, but that hasn't stopped his approval rating from dropping below 50 percent for the fi... Read More
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
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