Double-Take of the Week: “Clear and Hold”

…if you had said to us a year ago that– the least of my problems would be Iraq, which is still a pretty serious problem– I don’t think anybody would have believed it.

(President Barack Obama, Sunday, March 29, 2009, on 60 Minutes)

Is this whiplash, or is this love?

With the economy fixed, and the Obama rally well underway in the equity markets, the President turns his attention full time to “Pahk-eh-stan” and Afghanistan.

This is either political stagecraft of unprecedented genius, or a portent of just how screwed we really are by the sheer volume and diversity of the economic, political and social challenges we face.

Or both.

Maybe “clear and hold” isn’t just the latest strategy in the conflict I assume is now being rebranded the Committed War on Al Qaeda (CWAQ, pronounced “Quack”) from the perpetually ineuphonious GWOT, or Global War on Terror. Clear and hold appears to also be an effective strategy against the permanent Republican insurgency.

Having successfully left the likes of Cornyn, Boehner, Jindhal and Cantor sputtering and slack-jawed, reduced to nattering nabobs of Lafferism — left standing surely outside the mainstream as the Kurds will be left standing outside the new walls of Baghdad — the precincts of the economic bailout, TARP, budget, federal reserve and re-regulation, can be left safely in the hands of Leuitenant Geithner. The President has other fish to fry.

Various theories compete to tell us how long a new President can effectively maintain the political capital necessary to help move difficult or innovative legislation. A hundred days? The first term? Through the second year of a second term? One thing is certain: for every commentator who expresses the clear truth that this administration just took office (mumble it to the man, Mos Def! starting around 4:20), there is a cable news talking head with a countdown clock, telling Americans their heads are going to explode if the President doesn’t deliver world peace by the time their taxes are due.

So put me in the camp that gives the President the benefit of the doubt for this sudden, head-spinning turn to foreign policy matters. If the number of adults who are now taking Ritalin is any indication, the American attention span isn’t getting any longer. Movement on multiple fronts is required, and action, even action for the sake of action, is always a tonic to the American mind.

Still, wow, what IS that sudden pain in my neck?

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