An imaginary conversation....
Obama: You're back.
Yes indeed. Happy holidays, Mr. President.
Aren't you pushing the season a little?
Not any more than small retailers -- in the darkening economic gloom -- trying to get a jump on the season to save their bacon.
So is it the economy that's on your mind this time?
No, sir. Public sentiment -- polling and how it relates to your initiatives, and how you manipulate it to suggest consensus.
I'm not sure I like 'manipulate'. Manipulating how and on what?
On Afghanistan, for instance. While you dither and twirl, the Taliban are flushing us down the commode. The war has spread to Pakistan. Casualties and deaths mount -- with devastating bombings even the day of Hillary Clinton's Pakistan arrival.
Look, I'm trying to figure out how to proceed so we don't have another Iraq -- in fact, whether to proceed. I have issues with government corruption in Afghanistan. My strategic team, including Vice President Biden and Sen. Kerry, is on the case. Coalition forces in Afghanistan already outnumber the Taliban by 12-1, and Gen. McChrystal wants to switch our strategy from counter-terrorism to counter-insurgency. Little wonder that in Congress and (according to the polls) among the public, sentiment for continuing to prosecute the war is declining.
Point proven. The longer you dither, the more the news drives down support among an historically impatient populace, thus giving more credence to your decision -- later if not sooner -- to pull the plug.
Well, we need to await the outcome of the runoff elections next month.
OTHER issues abound, sir. Take health care.
I'm not manipulating anything. Nancy and Barney and Harry and Chris are quarterbacking the congressional team. Max is doing yeoman work, and Olympia alone -- a magnificent stateswoman -- is making this a truly bipartisan process. A Washington Post-ABC poll shows support for the public option now has clear majority support among the citizenry.
Exactly. Your rhetorical hammering of health insurers is having telling effect, and never mind the stellar examples of federally overseen operations such as Amtrak, the Postal Service, and entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
You're against them?
Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.
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