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Emerging GOP Line: Don’t ‘Rumsfeld’ Afghanistan

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) went on “Face The Nation” and balked at the idea of more troops for Afghanistan, following the lead of Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.). His colleague on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), had a memorable rejoinder:

Graham, who also serves on the Armed Services Committee, said, “My message to my Democratic colleagues is: We made mistakes in Iraq, let’s not Rumsfeld Afghanistan.”

“Let’s not do this thing on the cheap,” he said.

By “Rumsfeld[ing],” Graham explained that he meant in Iraq there were not enough American troops on the ground to control the population. “Don’t resist the fact that we are going to need more [troops].”

Already the seeds of that message have been sown. Fred and Kim Kagan, two advisers for Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s 60-day strategy review, wrote a piece for the Weekly Standard hinging off beleaguered Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell’s attempts last week to tamp down reporter speculation about the review and turning it into an alarmed observation about the potentially Rumsfeldian approach to the war taken by Obama.

The Kagans and Graham all have the bona fides of true Rumsfeld critics after the Iraq war debate of 2006. (Though Graham didn’t suggest a new Iraq strategy as much as he urged an infusion of new troops. But whatever.) Will the rest of the GOP want to make the critique that the trouble with Obama in Afghanistan is that he’s acting too much like the Bush administration? It’s not such a bad line of attack, particularly if McChrystal issues a request for new troops that Obama ultimately rejects.

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