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Frowns All Around: Maddow, Matthews, And Ed Schultz Pan Obama’s Afghanistan Speech

President Obama’s announcement that he would be withdrawing troops from Afghanistan throughout the next year appears to, upon first impression, let most of MSNBC’s hosts down. Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews joined host Ed Schultz on his program to assess the speech last night, and while each took their own issue with the withdrawal plan, all three were united in their disappointment that the withdrawal was not happening quickly enough.

Schultz opened up the program telling his audience that he was “not sold” that President Obama’s plan would be successful or lead to a quick enough withdrawal, noting that even with the full withdrawal announced tonight, the number of Americans in the country would be significantly higher than they were on the day President Obama was inaugurated. In fact, about 68,000 Americans would remain, with only about 50 known Taliban members working in the country. “We can’t have peace everywhere,” Schultz submitted. “It’s wishful thinking.” In addition to the fact that bringing democracy to Afghanistan seemed far-fetched, Schultz added that there were serious financial hurdles to jump in order to continue the war and fix the domestic economy. “There’s a political reality to all of this: nation-building with what money?” Schultz concluded it was, all in all, “not a good night at the office.”

Once joined by Maddow and Matthews, they gave their own objections to the speech. For Maddow, it was pivotal to point out that the withdrawal deadlines proposed in his speech today were not news. “This was the same deadline he was talking about in December 2009,” she noted, “but a really big important thing has happened since then: bin Laden is dead.” Maddow argued that the speech was unsatisfactory because it “did not answer the question that’s on everybody’s mind: now that we killed Osama bin Laden, can we please go home?”

Matthews concurred and added his own personal passion against nation-building. Aside from questions he had pertaining to the status of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan early during the military effort, to Matthews, it was about his own “deep deep prejudice against American occupation of countries overseas,” stemming from his belief that “what we call patriotism in the country is not unique to us,” and that “people don’t like other people in their country with guns.” The occupation, he concluded, makes being a Taliban official “the easiest job in the world,” because America had so squarely positioned itself as the bad guy, resulting the nations America spent trillions to defend telling American leaders to “get the hell out of here.” Maddow added that she could not a difference in the impact American troops would have on Afghanistan if they all left tomorrow as opposed to the current proposed timeline.

All of this coming from liberal commentators does not dilute criticism from the right that the President’s withdrawal plan is too fast, rather than too slow, and Schultz did not omit this question from the segment. Given that General David Petraeus had requested more time for troop withdrawal, Schultz asked whether President Obama had exposed himself to further criticism from the right. Matthews took particular objection to this despite being so vehemently opposed to a further stay in Afghanistan, arguing that anyone who would attack the President for not allowed Gen. Petraeus to dictate policy “does not understand the U.S. Constitution” and the President’s role as commander in chief.

The segment via MSNBC below:

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