Since Gen. Stanley McChrystal submitted his assessment of the war in Afghanistan to the Pentagon in September, President Obama has been weighing it, meeting frequently with his national security team for deliberations on the 40,000-troop request--and, all the while, waiting for Afghanistan to hold its run-off election on November 7. It gave the president more time to make his decision, avoided introducing an element that could affect Afghan politics, and would have given him firmer footing on which to announce his new policy--namely, knowing who Afghanistan's next president would be.
Now that run-off election won't happen: President Hamid Karzai's challenger, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, withdrew over the weekend and Afghanistan's election commission has subsequently declared Karzai the winner. Obama's time frame has been thrown off. Perhaps this means he'll announce his decision soon; perhaps it doesn't.
If the president has been looking for some sort of sign, this weekend's developments were a bad one.
On Saturday, Abdullah voiced concerns of widespread fraud as he withdrew. One million votes had been thrown out after the first round of the election in August--which had given a victory to President Hamid Karzai before they were revoked--and Abdullah had called for Karzai to replace the head of the country's Independent Election Commission. Karzai refused, and, predicting that another election would be no better than the first, Abdullah stepped aside.