The Bush administration had to deal with the same problems in Iraq -- while being blamed for terrorists' misdeeds. In addition, Bush had to navigate around Democrats who impugned not only the morality of a war of choice but also the morality of military tactics and the cost of the war. Obama frequently denounced the $10 billion-per-month cost of the Iraq War.
With Obama in the White House, you don't hear many demands for the closure of the military detention camp at Guantanamo Bay. You don't hear much about the $8 billion monthly cost of the Afghanistan War. You don't see daily debates on cable television about the use of military drones.
As Clifford D. May, president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, put it, there was more outrage during the Bush years over the CIA's waterboarding of three suspected al-Qaida operatives than there is today over the Obama administration's liberal use of drones against al-Qaida operatives abroad. "Would you rather be waterboarded or have a drone fall on your head?" May asked. "I'd rather be waterboarded."
Center for Strategic and International Studies analyst Anthony Cordesman summed up the country's mood when he told The New York Times, "As for American domestic politics, there seems to be a growing, tacit, bipartisan agreement to drift toward an exit strategy without really admitting it."
Yes, America, there is bipartisanship.
The question, May asks, is whether it means "we've learned something" or this tacit agreement is "an expression of a partisan double standard."
I would like to think that everyone has developed a bit of humility in the past few years. Those in Obamaland discovered that Afghanistan isn't as easy as they once suggested; the Bushies learned the same lesson earlier in two theaters of war. Liberals could indulge in demands for a prompt withdrawal of U.S. troops when a Republican held the White House, but they've had to think more cautiously about the consequences of an abrupt withdrawal with a Democrat as commander in chief.
May is not so sure. He doubts that many on the left "who have refrained from criticizing President Obama for such things as the use of drones will extend the same courtesy" to Mitt Romney if he wins.
There is only one way to find out.
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