President Obama is apparently at odds with his military leaders onAfghanistan policy, and the liberal chattering class is giving him all the tactical support he could want. Yet George W. Bush was vilified for not listening to his military leaders on certain matters of war and peace.
Two and a half years ago, January 2007, Nation magazine editorKatrina vanden Heuvel declared, as President Bush announced his surge strategy into Iraq:
"It's painfully brutally clear that this is a president who isn't listening...to the people's will, to the people's representatives...he isn't listening to his generals; he isn't listening to those in his party who are beginning to separate themselves from what they see as a disastrous policy...
This was by no means an isolated case. Majority Leader Harry Reidchastised George W. Bush for ignoring "the generals on the ground."
Former Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki became a hero to Democrats as the "martyr" to lack of troop strength in Iraq. Shinseki testified in 2003 that any invasion of Iraq would need several hundred thousand troops. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld disagreed. Shinseki, so the story goes, was nudged into retirement for taking a public position contrary to that of the administration. Candidate Obama dutifully also promised to listen to his generals. (As something of a jab to the Bush team, President Obama named Shinseki secretary of Veteran Affairs).
So, to be clear: the civilian leadership of the Bush administration -- the president, vice-president, defense secretary, etc. -- overruled the military brass on war strategy in Iraq.
And, the left didn't like that.
Well, fast forward to Fall 2009: On ABC's "This Week," the very sameKatrina vanden Heuvel declared: