December 7th, 2009
04:48 AM ET
8 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.”

soundoff (97 Responses)
  1. Mike La Bonne

    The Bush doctrine said, "Let's pretend we're interested in Afghanistan while we pursue a different war in Iraq." Had Bush employed all available resources to the task at hand, instead of diverting to Iraq, we might have captured or killed bin Laden several years ago.

    December 7, 2009 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  2. Jack in Florida

    HARDLY!!! Obama at least took the time to think this strategy through and made decisions with our troops in mind, where George Bush (aka Cheney) used our men and women of the armed services with disregard for their well being.

    December 7, 2009 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  3. Lynne

    Carville and Matalin are opportunists who have more than milked their socalled relevance and are "creatures" of the past. Carville is tied to the Clintons and Matalin, with all of her sarcasm, to Bush/Cheney.

    If Bush would have used the time, sought out opposing views and actually LISTENED to advisors and allies, their wouldn't have been an invasion into Iraq and Afghanistan wouldn't be in the mess it is in.

    December 7, 2009 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  4. Rodney

    "Bush doctrine?" As if he's the one that came up with some fine piece of written work. Bush couldn't even spell doctrine.

    December 7, 2009 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  5. Terry from West Texas

    Matalin is wrong. Bush (1) invaded the wrong country, (2) used a "shoot-from-the-hip, top-gun, cowboy" strategy in both wars for years, (3) wasted American lives in the process, and (4) only after years of fumbling, stumbling, bumbling strategy did he finally listen to his generals and approve the surge – not in Afghanistan but in the country that he invaded by mistake.

    Obama is taking his time, listening to all sides and points of view, and implementing the strategy that seems most likely to work. Bush, like all Conservatives, only needs a second or two to make a decision – no deliberation, no exploration of other approaches, no devil's advocate to argue a contrary point of view.

    The two are not at all alike, to Obama's credit.

    America's Conservative leaders are not exactly the sharpest knives in the drawer.

    December 7, 2009 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  6. A. Goodwin

    I am so sick of people like Matalin telling people that Obama is sending mixed messages. Nomatter what decision he makes – he is not going to make someone happy. And there will be someone out there taking advantage of whatever decision is made. I also COMPLETELY disagree that Obama's speech was "discordant". While he brought up the Bush's lack of strategy in his speech, his tone was that of someone who felt that we are DONE with this war. He was trying to convey, essentially, that we will not be in this war forever. That we need to get in, do our thing, and get out. Republican's like Matalin think we should apparantly be there for the rest of history...the president, however, is listening to the American people who are sick and tired of this war. DONT COMPARE OBAMA TO BUSH – there is no comparison. Bush is a criminal.

    December 7, 2009 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  7. billy123

    That would only be true if he decides more tax cuts for the rich.

    December 7, 2009 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  8. mike

    the difference between Obama and bush is that he did not start this
    war and he needs to finish it with out any feed back that will affect us
    all that is the crap the was left to him buy the so called republicans that
    change there platform from moral values to fiscally responsible what
    a joke

    December 7, 2009 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  9. Kate

    The one main thing about Obama's plan that differs with the Bush doctrine is that our focus now is not on 'Nation Building.' In other words, a nation the United States can exploit. Obama also does have an exit plan, something that the Republicans are opposed to, despite the lessons they should have learned from Vietnam.

    December 7, 2009 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  10. Where are the new jobs?

    It is starting to feel like we have another Bush in the White House.......

    December 7, 2009 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  11. Alex

    The only difference between Bush & Obama is the party they represent. Both are extremists and both do damage to our country. Time for someone to get elected President who cares first about the people of our nation and not themselves.

    December 7, 2009 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  12. Anonymous

    It's not a reassertion of the bush doctrine at all. The bush doctrine is concerned with preemptive strikes to stop attack on America. The United States was already in this war when Obama took office. He's playing cleanup.

    December 7, 2009 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  13. SkiDoc

    The criticism of the Bush Doctrine came from candidate Obama, a guy who didn't have the experience of running a Dairy Queen. My, hasn't his viewpoint changed since he now has the reins! Yes, Bush wasn't as glib as the "messiah" but he ACTED correctlly. Matlin is spot on. The best thing that President Teleprompter can do is stay with the Bush Doctrine until his sad term of office is over.

    December 7, 2009 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  14. Sue

    Good Speech Mary. He bashes Bush and then repeats him anyway. So, maybe Bush wasn't so bad after all, Obie!!1

    December 7, 2009 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  15. Frozone

    Does this mean Limbaugh and Palin will start calling Bush a socialist?

    December 7, 2009 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  16. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Good Morning! Please stop. Bush sent troops into the wrong country for his and his friends financial benefit. Oil, oil, oil, interspersed with the IMAGINARY weapons of mass destruction. I don't appreciate the comparison between an intelligent President and the shrub. But that's just me!!:)

    December 7, 2009 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  17. Steve From NH

    Just like Bush except that Bush attacked a sovereign country (Iraq) for no reason and without a plan for occupation, Bush let the generals decide policy, Bush ignored the threat in Afghanistan (and the economy, and infrastructure, and everything else), Bush believed in shoot-first-ask-questions-later hands off management with no thought other than what the next slogan should be, Bush allowed the mismanagement of the war in Iraq to go on far, far too long, Bush denied the requests for more troops in Afghanistan and lied about it, just for a start. The threat is and always has been from Afghanistan based terrorists, with a very unstable nuclear-weapon-enabled Pakistan next door, which Bush ignored in favor of an unnecessary excursion into a country which in fact did not pose a clear and present danger to the national security of the United States but instead held vast amounts of oil, other than all that Obama is just like Bush. I think most reasonable people realize the difference between Afghanistan and Iraq, even if Disk Cheneys she-puppet doesn't.

    December 7, 2009 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  18. Jake

    If that's the case, why is the right screeching like little children at every move Obama makes?

    It must be like viewing yourself in the looking glass. You don't like what you see in yourselves?

    December 7, 2009 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  19. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Allow me to add, on a more objective note: how can you re-assert something that you never implemented? The Bush Doctrine TALKS about 'no safe haven for terrorists intent on harming the USA'. At what point, and in what country did Bush implement that? Not in Iraq. And what are these rumors I keep hearing about his family assisting the Bin Laden family to leave the USA? I'm hoping that the latter are nothing more than "left-fringe" allegations. So, no, there's no comparison bewteen someone that talked the talk, and one who is actually implementing the walk.

    December 7, 2009 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  20. Dave

    Like the Bush Doctrine, Matalin's outfit's message is "everything old is new again." Just look at what she is wearing. Was it New Wave Theme Night? Is she going clubbing with Laurie Anderson and Grace Jones after the interview?

    December 7, 2009 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  21. www.circleparkforum.com

    Nice try, Matalin, but your effort to drive Obama's base away from him with this comparison won't work.

    Far too many Americans recognize that the problems created in the region by the recklessness and failures of Bush and Cheney will not be easily solved.

    Polls already show that a majority of Americans support his new strategy for Afghanistan, and that support will continue so long as measurable progress is being made toward creating the conditions that will allow Obama to begin withdrawing troops by July 2011 and so long as he reevaluates his decision to launch increasing numbers of unmanned aerial predator drone strikes into Pakistan, which is a means to an end that is immoral and unacceptable.

    The bottom line, Matalin, is that Obama knows what the Republican spin machine has long since forgotten:

    Good policy is good politics.

    December 7, 2009 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  22. Tom C

    Sorry Mary, you have it wrong. The democrats bashed Bush for mainly going into Iraq, which we now know was a huge mistake. There never was any criicism of Bush going into Afgan. We are critical of the wmd theory and nation building strategy of Bush. Yes, some democrats were critical of the surge, but we realized that one of the reasons it worked was the enormous amount of money used to buy off terrorists allies. It's amazing that a republican finally agreed with one of Obama's policies, oh, but there is always a BUT in there.

    December 7, 2009 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  23. J.Crobuzon

    Hmmm, this seems more like the "How did we get into this mess" doctrine to me. When Obama lets his VP attack some random country in order to get more votes, I'll agree he's acting like Bush.

    December 7, 2009 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  24. Spin it like a top

    Republicans are jumping all over the "out by 2011" claim. It's a goal, not a set-in-stone deadline. And we're going to be there a lot longer than that anyway...

    "[Democrats have] bashed Bush strategy and tactics for so long and now they have to embrace them because they’re the only ones that do work.”
    Yup, like going to war under false pretenses with no regard to local conditions or exit strategy. And aren't we now using a lot more drone strikes, protecting civilians in population hubs and rebuilding infrastructure versus increasing Taliban body counts. Sounds like a different strategy to me.

    December 7, 2009 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  25. People are learning......

    there is no "change". It's still war.... there are still body bags every day....
    and let's be sure that Obama gets credit every day for this as he has now adopted the war as his own.

    December 7, 2009 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
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