The Corner

Afghanistan and Vietnam, Obama and LBJ

In the NYT, Peter Baker asks, “Could Afghanistan Become Obama’s Vietnam?” A version of this question has been asked of every foreign intervention the U.S. has taken since the Vietnam War. (Remember “El Salvador Is Spanish for Vietnam”? Okay, I don’t either, but I’m told the bumper stickers existed.) But in none of those previous major conflicts have we seen a president lose support for the intervention from his own party. That’s what happened to LBJ. (If LBJ had been able to get through the primaries unscathed, he might well have been able to beat Nixon in ‘68.)

It hasn’t happened to Obama, yet, either, at the level of Democratic officeholders. But recent polls suggest that the preconditions for that scenario are in place.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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