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. Alan

    This is not a Bush Jr. plan. Bush Jr actually stayed until the battle was won. There is no way Obama will stand up to the complainers until we win if Afghanistan.

    December 6, 2009 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  2. Nea

    If his statergy is so much like G.W. Bush then what is all the fuss thats coming from the Republicans about. that show they have a problem with the man not so much his policies as far as foreign affairs. Come on Republicans can you give the man even a little credit enough with the criticism.

    December 6, 2009 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  3. Right on Mary......

    Obama is also the same as Bush on lack of transparency and the use of executive privilege to stonewall.....we didn't get the change we voted for...
    Obama is ONE and DONE. Start the chant.

    December 6, 2009 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  4. mike

    Unlike Bush, Obama has the support of other nations and they
    are considering adding additional troops. Unlike Bush, Obama
    isn't saying "Mission Accomplished". Unlike Bush, Obama
    isn't saying "Bring it On". If Obama is so much like Bush,
    then why are all the Republicans not supporting him?

    December 6, 2009 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  5. AJ

    Setting a date for withdrawal is showing that we will not have an open ended war that is going to last for 20 years; if it is going to take more than three more years to get Afghanistan under control then it is not worth it.

    December 6, 2009 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  6. Ted

    This is the Bush plan. Nothing has changed at all and for good reason, It works. Just cause you tag it with a "exit plan" doesn't make it different. When the exit time comes along and the job isn't done it will be extended. George learned a lesson from his dads presidency with the NO NEW TAXES statement just to have the democrats undermine him into raising taxes. You don't say something and then if things don't work out change your mind. The job has to get done period. It's important for all of our futures. We can't start something and then run if were not done completely.

    December 6, 2009 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  7. Don in Albuquerque

    Two peas in a pod. Wage war, save the banks, save wall street, save the insurance companies. SOL and Goodnight America.

    December 6, 2009 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  8. martin

    The 'war on terror' will end when the militants stop strapping bombs on their children, or we start strapping them on ours. Until then nothing will change.

    December 6, 2009 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  9. Aspen Professor

    Hmmmm .... lets see -- Bush was dumb as a doorknob and Obama is miles and miles smarter than Bush. Yup, Matilin they are definitely alike. Wishes do not make it so.

    December 6, 2009 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  10. Todd

    So matlin thinks this is a unilateral war based on lies in order to gain some unknown and hidden objective, but an objective that somehow intertwines corporate proiftis and oil revenue?

    If bush had been a tad more like President Obama this Afgahn war would have been over in 2002, and UBL would be rotting in hell. And we never would have started the illegal war in Iraq.

    However, because bush did not behave in the manner of a responsible, or even sane and mediocre, leader, he left a complete mess in our foreign policy. This one aspect requires that the US do what it should have done almost 8 years ago and finish the job against the criminals who attacked our nation in 2001.

    Comparing President Obama to bush is as misguided as when bush used to compare himself to Winston Churchill. The fact that the both had feet and eyes, and had alcohol problems. was about as far as one can go.

    December 6, 2009 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  11. bco

    Yes, you are correct. Announcing a planned pullout date does send a mixed message.

    That is of course what the President intended to do- the message from the US government to the Afghan government is a mixture of "we will support you," and "but you must step up, stop the corruption, and serve and protect your own people, because we cannot and will not do your work and pay your bills forever."

    Does the GOP have a different position on the second half of that message? By all means, please, share it with the voters.

    And BTW- the Bush Doctrine said "we reserve the right to attack anyone whom we decide might someday maybe possibly try to do something to harm us." That's quite a bit different from "we will use military power against those who actually did harm us."

    December 6, 2009 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  12. What's the body bag count since Obama took.....

    over the Afghan war? Let's start seeing those numbers every day and make sure Obama gets the proper credit.

    December 6, 2009 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  13. I am the flacid and powerless wizard of Rush

    the Bush Doctrine, Charlie, is preventive attack to prevent the possibility of a regime obtaining WMDS. It was born of paranoia, nurtured by fear and raised to be a wholly incompetent, amoral and useless foreign policy.
    If "Concern Troll" MM thinks Obama's policy is the same, then she's as idiotic as she is partisan.

    December 6, 2009 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  14. Woonsocket

    Obama is clearly following the Bush Doctrine. You squirrely leftists can tie yourselves in knots all you wish, but Obama is in fact following the Bush Doctrine to the letter.

    December 6, 2009 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  15. Nick

    IF GW Bush has done his job well, he wouldn't have wasted military resources in a useless Iraq war, and would have focused on solving Afghanistan.

    Democrats are in favor of a war against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan from the beginning.

    December 6, 2009 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  16. Patriot

    Comparing Obama to Bush is as stupid as comparing Bush to Hitler. After all, Hitler was elected.

    December 6, 2009 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  17. waltinAZ

    I'm not buying it! It's hard to believe that Mary Matalin, the GOP strategist quoted here, and James Carville (Democratic strategist) are married because they are at such opposite ends of the political ideology spectrum. (I guess it's true: "Opposites Attract". ) Despite the fact that I disagree with Ms. Matalin over just about everytime she speaks, there is something endearing about her. That said, she's simply doing her job as a Republican strategist to try to lay the groundwork to say the GOP and Dems are the same in hopes of making significant gains by the GOP during the upcoming mid-term elections. President Obama took his time to study the options available and went with what determined to be the best option. Policy decisions–both proactive and reactive–will change as related to Afghanistan as are necessary. We, the American people, must unify, respect and support our President as he he is focused on doing what is right for the whole country, for all Americans–not just Democrats. Where would be as country if the destructive messengers of divisiveness had prevailed during previous times that the U.S. was at war? Thank you, Mr. President, for not simply pursuing popularity and doing the right things!

    December 6, 2009 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  18. southern cousin

    Oh come on now Mary, George Bush had integrity and honesty, this president is a lying, hypocriticall gangster.

    December 6, 2009 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  19. Amy, Kazoo

    Hey Mary, Paul Shaffer called, he wants his outfit back. thanks.

    December 6, 2009 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  20. stormer

    There is one major difference between the Obama surge and the Bush surge: Al Qaeda and Bin Laden were and are in Afghanistan. They were never in Iraq. Afghanistan is the actual theatre of operations against the true enemies of America.

    December 6, 2009 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  21. Darth Cheney

    How many of you are familiar with the term, "path dependence?" If Bush hadn't created the horrible situations we are now in, Obama wouldn't have such poor options facing him, particularly in Afghanistan.
    If Bush's agenda had been successful, there would be no call for Obama to do this in the first place. It is precisely because Bush has failed that Obama is in this mess...

    December 6, 2009 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  22. Kevin

    I like Matlin because she's good at spin. This spin though is so bad. It's grabbing at straws to try to justify the failed presidency of one of her modern heroes. I completely disagree with this crap about an exit date. Matlin and other ugly Republicans know that it doesn't matter to a bunch of terrorists if you announce a date or not. What are they going to do – go into hiding for 18 months. How stupid. And of course Obama is going to reassess things and continue if needed. However, he is the only adult in the room (something GW never could be, and Dick Cheney is an adult, but an angry misguided one – more like a wife beater – SNL reference here.) Ugh. So Silly Sara.

    December 6, 2009 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  23. Scott

    This is hilarious. Liberals are realizing that Obama = Bush III, and they can't stand it!

    December 6, 2009 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  24. Michael

    theres plenty of differences between Obama and Bush who started the war on a false pretenx claiming weapons of mas destruction and poorly mismanages the war

    December 6, 2009 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  25. CA Episcopalian

    Matalin forgot one big difference–if our troops are once again within hours of capturing Osama bin Laden, the Obama administration won't pull back, then lose focus by attacking an irrelevant country.

    December 6, 2009 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
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