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Obama's Afghanistan policy isn't 'dithering.' It's 'reckless.'

GOP Rep. Tom Price says Obama's Afghanistan policy isn't 'dithering,' as Cheney put it. But it's 'reckless' none the less, he says.

By Dave Cook / October 23, 2009



Rep. Tom Price, chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, disagrees with former Vice President Dick Cheney’s charge earlier this week that President Obama is “dithering” over the path forward in Afghanistan.

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“Dithering is probably not the right description, but I think that the policy they are currently adopting is a reckless policy and that is a policy of wait and see,” Representative Price told a Monitor-sponsored breakfast for reporters on Friday. The Georgia Republican became chairman of the RSC this year. The group bills itself as the largest caucus on Capitol Hill and includes some of the most conservative House members.

Cheney on the attack

In a speech Wednesday evening, Mr. Cheney told a conservative national security group, the Center for Security Policy, that Mr. Obama needs to “do what it takes to win” and that “signals of indecision out of the White House hurt our allies and embolden our adversaries.” Cheney added, “the White House must stop dithering while American armed forces are in danger.”

The dithering comment provoked a strong response from White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. “What Vice President Cheney calls `dithering,’ President Obama calls his solemn responsibility to the men and women in uniform and to the American public,” Mr. Gibbs said. “I think we’ve all seen what happens when somebody doesn’t take that responsibility seriously.”

While Price’s language differs from Cheney’s, his message was clearly critical. Obama is currently weighing a request from Gen. Stanley McChrystal for additional troops for the war in Afghanistan.

“The fact of the matter is that no decision puts our forces at greater risk ... so the president needs to lead, he can't vote present on this,” Price said. The president, he added, “has to decide whether or not he is going to prevail, wants to prevail in the arena as given the definition by his picked general or he wants to extract American forces. And either would be preferable to where he is right now. ”

Bullish on the 2010 election

Price predicted Republicans would regain control of the House of Representatives in the 2010 elections. “I think we will take back control of the House,” Price said. “We need 40 seats, and I think we will be able to gain at least 40 seats. I wouldn’t put a number on it right now.”

He argued that high unemployment, worrisome levels of government spending, healthcare legislation whose costs will appear before benefits do, and the possibility of a polarizing debate in 2010 on immigration all favor Republicans.

“I think the momentum will continue to build again for checks and balances. And it isn’t necessarily that the Republican panacea will be out there. It is that the American people do not want runaway government on either side. And right now they see a runaway government on the side of the left end of the political spectrum,” Price said.

Sobering odds

Independent observers are not as willing to predict that Democrats will lose the House in 2010. But the warning flags are flying for Democrats.

“The odds are very high that the party will fare worse than the average for post-World War II, first-term, midterm elections, where the majority party typically loses 16 House seats and sees a wash in the Senate,” nonpartisan political expert Charlie Cook recently wrote in the Cook Political Report.

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