Brief of the Week December 7, 2009

OBAMA HIT FROM LEFT AND RIGHT AFTER SPEECH: The day after unveiling his long-awaited Afghanistan policy in a speech at West Point last week, President Obama came under fire from both sides of the political aisle. The anti-war, whose left-wing constituency was critical to Obama’s capturing the Democratic nomination last year, promptly denounced his troop surge as “wrong” and called on its five million-plus members to write and e-mail the White House their displeasure. At a closed-door meeting of the House Republican Conference on Wednesday morning, GOP members of Congress were almost unanimously critical of the Afghanistan pronouncement. “It was very difficult to find a single [Republican] member there in favor of Obama’s policy,” Rep. Michele Bachmann (R.-Minn.) told HUMAN EVENTS Political Editor John Gizzi after emerging from the conference. Bachmann, who called Obama’s policy “fairly incoherent,” said that much of the criticism among House Republicans centered on the withdrawal date of July 2011 and talk of a war surtax to underwrite the surge in Afghanistan. The Minnesotan told Gizzi that her colleagues felt Obama’s giving a date “won’t work because when we pull out, al Qaeda comes in.” She also said that Republicans were nervous that a war surtax was a “strong likelihood in the Democratic Congress, but we’re hearing it will be limited to people who make $250,000 and above annually. In other words, people at this income level will be paying for the Afghanistan effort while they are paying for the healthcare reform package. So they are really going to be doing a lot next year.”