December 6th, 2009
04:42 PM ET
6 months ago

Matalin: With Afghan surge, Obama resembles George W. Bush

On State of the Union Sunday, Republican strategist Mary Matalin said President Obama's Afghan surge is 'a reassertion of the Bush doctrine.'
On State of the Union Sunday, Republican strategist Mary Matalin said President Obama's Afghan surge is 'a reassertion of the Bush doctrine.'

Washington (CNN) – A leading Republican strategist and one-time aide to former Vice President Cheney said Sunday that President Obama’s recently announced decision to send an additional 30, 000 troops to Afghanistan is “a reassertion of the Bush doctrine.”

“The [Bush] doctrine is no safe havens [for terrorists intent on harming the United States] and we go after those that provide a harbor [for such terrorists]. That’s the doctrine,” Republican strategist Mary Matalin explained Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.

Obama’s decision to surge additional troops into Afghanistan is “solid policy,’ in Matalin’s view and “a reassertion of the Bush doctrine.”

“Every strategic element is from the Bush doctrine. The tactics are from the Bush surge [in Iraq],” she said.

Matalin added that when civilian contractors and forces supplied by NATO allies are considered “there are enough troops” in Afghanistan.

But, Matalin also said Sunday that, by announcing a date to begin to remove some American troops, Obama had sent a mixed message about the United States’ commitment in Afghanistan.

In laying out his new strategy, Obama gave “a discordant speech,” the Republican strategist said of the president’s address last week at West Point.

“It’s hard to reconcile [saying] this is for the security of the whole world, but we’re going to get out in 18 months,” Matalin said.

“The problem for Democrats,” Matalin also said Sunday, “is that they’ve bashed Bush strategy and tactics for so long and now they have to embrace them because they’re the only ones that do work.”


Filed under: Afghanistan • Extra • Mary Matalin • Popular Posts • President Obama • State of the Union
soundoff (244 Responses)
  1. Dean

    What is truly interesting is that Obama said in his campaign that he would focus on Afghanistan, and get us out of Iraq. Seems that the average joe doesn't remember anything from 6 months ago – which is why it is possible for conseratives to claim Obama is like Bush, or that Bush didn't cause the current problems, or Bush was a good president... and actually believe it. People – the 'strategists' know your memory is weak, and they are playing you (both Democrats and Republicans). Divide and conquer!

    December 6, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  2. Peter Vaguely

    Ms. Matalin would be well served to read Peter Beinart's column on TIme.com from last Thursday. He very cogently explains how different President Obama's approach is from "Cowboy W."

    President Bush used the Afghan/al-Qaeda connection to 911 as an excuse for world wide adventurism in the name of a "war on terror" while losing sight of the avowed goal which was stopping al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and getting Bin Laden. Finally we are back on the right track.
    Also, let's not lose sight of the fact that V.P. Cheney had a lot to do with W's blunder.

    December 6, 2009 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  3. Dave

    If he decides to quit Afghanistan and invade say, the Maldives, then he would be like Bush

    December 6, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  4. JMikey54

    If Obama had not given a date when we would "begin" pulling out the neocons would have screamed that he does not have an exit strategy.

    December 6, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  5. Sam of CA

    So wanting to finish Afghanistan and get the hell out resembles Bush? Given the chance Bush/Cheney would have made sure we never left. Actually, in Iraq they tried to push through an agreement to establish permanent bases in the last few months but the Iraqis stalled and the US senate balked.

    If you want to get into semantics, the purpose of the Bush Doctrine is preemptive military action. Since we are already there, this doesnt apply. If Obama decides to invade Venezuela to get rid of Chavez then we'll talk.

    December 6, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  6. HarryB

    Did she criticize Bush while he was starting two unilateral wars? Not likely.

    December 6, 2009 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  7. gord ontario

    i think the only mission acomplished was the destruction of america by bush and cheney was to keeo peoples eyes of what was going on in america bad banks jobs shutting down shipped to china,and last of the class macain if it was.t for his grandfather and father and marrying into money would have been another home less vet and traitor,without health care because of pre sisting conditions

    December 6, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  8. Obama's strategy....

    When the Pres...O does not get his way as he did numerous times
    during the 2008 campeign is turns to INSULTS,,,,He did the same in
    the Afghanistan-strategy ...istead informing Mr Kazai and get him on side...Obama's speech was insulting to Mr Kazai and the Afgan People not
    to mention that he left Pakistan in the dark as well...Partnersips he says.....!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 6, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  9. Tristan

    It goes well beyond that. Obama seems to be bought and paid for by the exact same people that brought us George W.

    December 6, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  10. Four and The Door

    Obama wishes he resembled George Bush. President Bush was in charge and a leader. In this administration, everyone else is in charge and Obama just tries to keep everyone happy. That's not leadership.

    December 6, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  11. JAMEY

    Maitlin much be a little "touched" today. Bush never went after terrorists- EVER.

    December 6, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  12. Dubya's 3rd term as planned

    Before Americans foolishly elected a President based on media hype, Canada's leading newspaper did a policy comparison and found that Obama had more in common with Dubya than McCain, especially on foreign policy (as a bonus, McCain would have actually cut military spending where Jesus is increasing it).

    From allowing everybody the right to argue with insurance companies over what's covered and what's not (universal insurance isn't universal healthcare as some people believe) to half-baked students seeing their tuitions rise instead of fall as promised and then having the deficit more than doubled, Obama has delivered very little besides primetime speeches and feel good townhalls.

    Although I'm generally fond of Americans, you get the President that you deserve.

    December 6, 2009 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  13. Hank

    This woman is on mind altering drugs; just like Cheney is/was. There's no such thing as the Bush doctrine; he was a shoot from the hip and hope you hit something type. Big guns, no plans other than to ensure his friends and cronies profited from the war(s). Bush and Cheney are war criminals and should be prosecuted in the Hague for crimes against humanity; then sentenced to death by hanging. Their illegal war in Iraq has caused the deaths of over 500,000 people(both civilian and military) needlessly. We had Saddam contained, the coalition was working. He was already 66 years old and regime change was gonna happen soon enough. Idiots!

    December 6, 2009 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  14. Donald

    The only reason President Obama is pursuing this path is to give Karzi and the people of his nation a chance to lead themselves out of the wilderness. To portray anything else like the wingnuts are asserting is pure, unaldultered fantasy. Bush and the GOP got our nation into this mess. At this point, I say shoot any of them if they open their mouths because they are a treasonous bunch.

    December 6, 2009 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  15. Doug

    James Carvelle knows they get their money from both parties. As for the comments, the comments against are always the same. Why is thePresident crashing in the polls if these persons against are always right.

    December 6, 2009 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  16. Dave C - NJ

    Obama said from DAY ONE in his campaign that he would shift focus from Iraq to Afganistan.

    What is this obession with FOX and the GOP with tying Obama to Bush with this? FOX has front page that Obama used Bush's strategy.

    LOL. Does the GOP not know the difference between Iraq and Afganistan?

    Obama has always had his eye on Afganistan. He's picking up where Bush dropped the ball.

    December 6, 2009 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  17. Jane

    How would Matalin know that Obama sends mixed messages about our commitment in Afghanistan? Robert Gates, the generals, etc think its a great strategy. May be she knows more by serving as an advisor to MR.DICK CHENEY!!

    December 6, 2009 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  18. Squigman

    Bush had a doctrine alright. Bush's doctrine consisted of leveling the nations economy, while invading the wrong country, while dismantling the constitution, while pandering to the evangelicals. The list is endless. Bush, will be placed in historical records properly as a clueless person who never should have been elected. Also, add to this the Republican majority in the congress and senate during most of his tenure and it's a wonder that the American people are able to put food on the table, or keep a roof over their heads. I hope the people have sense enough to make sure this never happens again.

    December 6, 2009 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  19. Helene

    The major difference is that contrary to Bush who rushed us into an unecessary war, President Obama weighted carefully all issues with his analytical mind. therefore I trust his decision.

    December 6, 2009 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  20. Dave C - NJ

    WOW we are using the same military strategy in two different countries.

    By this logic, Bush was using the "Lydon B. Johnson Doctrine" lol...seriously, no one with an IQ over room temperature cares if Obama is using the same troop deployment tactics. What matters is the end result....and Obama has always said that his plan was to get out of Iraq and back into Afganistan. Duh.

    December 6, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  21. Chad

    I agree that this escalation is very Bush-like. However, the Bush "doctrine" calls for invading other countries if there is any shred of suspicion (real or, most likely, imagined) that they may in some way be helping terrorists or making weapons. It has nothing to say about what to do once we are there. The surge came way after the formulation of this doctrine and is not part of it.

    December 6, 2009 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  22. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Personal to Irish, German American:

    One big exception here – Obama didn't go through generals until he found one to tell him what HE wanted to hear, and Obama has put forth an exit strategy which Bush never did. Funny, too, that when Obama did all this, NATO said they would help by sending troops, which never happened under fearless, Jet-Pilot.

    December 6, 2009 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  23. db

    There once was an American president who used the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the threat of WMDs to justify an unpopular war in the Middle East. He detained enemy combatants indefinitely at a military prison in Guantanamo Bay. He authorized the use of Predator Drones, resulting in the deaths of many civilians. That's right, I'm talking about... Barack H. Obama.

    December 6, 2009 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  24. Michael

    Nice try but no cigar. The "Bush Doctrine" was intimidate, harass, demean, degrade and destroy desenting opinions and people not anything about fighting terrorism. There was no intelligence, no planning, no discussion with Bush. It was strictly his way or the highway. That went for the Generals too. He is gone and we have a big mess to clean up and get out of with the least amount of future repercussions. Something Bush never considered.

    December 6, 2009 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  25. Chris

    Obama is bad. Bush was meh. Who else is next? I can't believe how all of a sudden the Democrats are so sympathetic to President Obama. If this was Bush we wouldn't hear the end of it.

    December 6, 2009 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
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