December 6th, 2009
04:42 PM ET
10 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. vgal

    Perhaps some GOPer will this – but then GOPers rarely question their leaders and dive into the reasoning behind what they say.

    Yes, Obama wants to go after terrorists that have an imminent threat of attacking the US. Yes, those terrorists are in Afghanistan. The difference is that BUSH went to war in Iraq over oil – there was NO evidence of terrorists – esp in relation to 9/11 in Iraq. We did nothing but create a war that we could not leave in Iraq.

    December 6, 2009 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  2. rw

    There will be some continuity from one president to another... there was between Bush no. 1 and Clinton also.

    Obama's strategy now is not so much continuity but a correction to Bush/Cheney's neglect of Afghanistan. The major addition here holding the Afghan government responsible for results and giving them a deadline.

    The essence of most Republican assertions right now is WE WERE RIGHT... whether right or wrong.

    The Republicans offer excuses, self-justifications and spin... nothing from them of a responsible, mature and conservative nature... there's no stepping up and facing things that should have been done better.

    December 6, 2009 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  3. wonderfool Pete

    Since Ms. Matlin is a staunch Republican, I am not sure whether she is complementing Obama as being like Bush or she is thrashing him for being like Bush. Mary, Mary, quite contrary, where your where your elephant goes?

    December 6, 2009 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  4. toby

    The big news today isn't how much Obama is like Bush because he's not. Obama has now admitted that the Bush Surge worked after years of claiming there was no way of success. All you libs can split hair about how much different Obama is to Bush but the fact is, Obama is mimicking Bush and you Libs don't have the guts to go protest Obama the same you did Bush.

    December 6, 2009 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  5. John

    I've never known Mary Matalan to get it right yet. This is no exception.

    Using Bush to defend Obama is not only insulting, it's one more whitewash of the worst President in the history of the United States. Comparing Obama's surge to the criminal invasion and subsequent mess Bush left us in Iraq and Afghanistan simply shows the lengths to which Republicans and their spin doctors will go to prove to the rest of the world evil and corruption still flourish within this party.

    As if they didn't already know.

    December 6, 2009 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  6. FactCheck

    The difference between Obama and Bush is that Obama actually feels guilty about having to send more troops overseas. Bush would've cuddled up with a big bag of potato chips and turned on NASCAR. In both cases, Cheney, of course, continues to count the number of dollars per American casualty that his companies is making.

    December 6, 2009 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  7. jules sand-perkins

    Ms. Matalin, thank you for the flattering compliment to the President of my country. It was very kind of you, and I shall enjoy it every day.
    In fact, the more frequently Obama is compared to President George W. Bush, the more intense will be my pleasure in your beautiful gift.

    December 6, 2009 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  8. LMC

    I don't see how the surge of troops into Afghanistan is like the Bush "doctrine," since they basically dropped the fight in Afghanistan to go and attack Iraq.

    December 6, 2009 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  9. inuk of the north

    This is just like GWB's strategy, except the part where the USA surrenders in 2011. That's the Obama add-on.

    December 6, 2009 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  10. Lori

    If President Obama is so much like Bush than why don't the Republicans like him? Get a life Mary... Unlike your President who got us into 2 wars (One a complete waste of time, lives, and money) our President has an exit strategy.

    P.S. What ever happened to NOT questioning our President during times of war??? We should dixie chick all these Republicans who are insulting our President.

    December 6, 2009 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  11. FactCheck

    Maybe Ms. Matlin can now inform Sarah Palin what the Bush Doctorine is.

    December 6, 2009 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  12. lou

    Comparing Obama to Bush is laughable. Bush pulled troops out of Afghanastan to fight a war in Iraq using trumped up information. Obama said from the beginning he would finish the job Bush should have. I believe Obama's strategy will get us Bin Laden.

    December 6, 2009 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  13. mark austin

    The reality is the General asked for 140,000 troops and only got 30,000

    December 6, 2009 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  14. tim wills

    YAWN. ZZZZzzzzzzzzz. SNORT!!!

    These self-important, know everything, talking head journalists have gotten SO BORING!!!!

    Who cares what they think about ANYTHING!!!!

    They're journalists – THAT'S ALL!!! Nothing more!!!!

    December 6, 2009 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  15. Bill

    There are many problems with Ms. Matalin's statement...some of which have been noted above. I would add that if Bush hadn't taken his eye off the ball to go into Iraq, this escalation probably would not be necessary. And we will not be "getting out in 18 months." If conditions on the ground warrant, we will begin a gradual withdrawal in 18 months–starting in relatively safe areas.

    December 6, 2009 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  16. Dan

    The Bush strategy's central point was that as a nation we could take unilateral action against perceived terrorist havens. This is a bit different than increasing and refocusing troops in an ongoing conflict.

    Comparisons to Iraq can be instructive if the huge differences in these conflicts are taken into account. One common theme is that troop increases alone will not spell the difference in either theatre.

    Many would have reservations about any policy in this troubled region. We can all hope that our path forward works for us and the nations themselves.

    December 6, 2009 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  17. usualone

    Obama inherited the mess called Afghanistan. He is listening to the generals who have experience there. What is interesting is that this is the only thing the Republicans will find to commend him for. Interesting that they continue to be so pro-warand are anti everything else that he may be proposing. Yes, we should have gotten Ben Ladin in Afganistan starting in 2001. It is interesting that so many of the Republicans that speak up "war" were able to get out of service. Suddenly they and their ilk are praising the President, even if most is faint praise. He really doesn't have much choice regarding Afganistan. Shame on those Republicans how rattle the sabre. They don't study history and think that we need to win the war within a country that no one has ever been able to win. Foolish folk.

    December 6, 2009 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  18. Moh

    Obviously. Obama is Bush on steroids. Spending, Inflation, Bailing out Union and Wall Street Buddies, Warmongering, and a continuation of the Bush "legacy".

    December 6, 2009 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  19. Albo58

    Can't believe the sheeple are upset that their Messiah is nothing but a politician and a dishonest one at that! Welcome to reality!

    December 6, 2009 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  20. bob in LA

    Obama promised and stated several times in his run for the presidency that he would send more troops to the region.
    What is not happening as promised is the reurn from Iraq of those troops.
    Mr Pesident- if you want people to trust you and believe in this "surge" then do what you said you would do- bring our troops home or at least begin to show us a drop in troop levels.

    December 6, 2009 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  21. Hendrik

    Well, since the Republicans liked GW so much they must now like Obama so much. So maybe they can shut their mouths and quit criticizing him so much. ALL Republicans are losers and morons, each one of them.

    December 6, 2009 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  22. Drew

    Party Purity will never bring Political Power! wrote:

    "Little missy is so confused. First she states that President Obama's plan resembles the former chump-in-chief, and then states President Obama's exit plan complicates the matter.

    What was the exit of plan of HRH King George the II?

    Seems the shrub and the cons want to make this an endless war for his oil and big business buddies to continue to make a buck off the deaths of young Americans without end"
    --

    This doesn't make a lick of sense. All of the 3rd grade clever namecalling drowns out whatever point you were trying to make. Thank you, come again.

    December 6, 2009 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  23. Matt

    Jon, Not to burst your bubble but Korea was occupied by Japan during WWII. SO your analogy is completely incorrect.

    December 6, 2009 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  24. Michael Fallai

    Mary Matalin is a Cheneyite hack. End of story.

    December 6, 2009 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  25. DingDong

    Obama, Bush, Republican, Democrat, they are all in to screw up this country. Only dumper out there believed and voted for them.

    December 6, 2009 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
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