1. On Face the Nation with guest host Harry Smith, Sen. Carl Levin, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, spelled out what he wants to hear from President Obama on Tuesday night, when the commander in chief reveals his plans for Afghanistan.
LEVIN: It's very do-able. The Afghans are known to be fighters. And there's not that kind of ethnic division that existed in Iraq. But what is so critically -- the question, it seems to me, is not whether we should send more mentors and trainers. We should. The issue is how would additional combat forces, additional marines, for instance, in Helmand Province, increase the speed of the build-up of the Afghan army? That's what I think the president is going to need to explain because the key to success in Afghanistan is the Afghan army taking on the Taliban.
SMITH: It sounds to me just from the surface or your explanation that at least initially you're not inclined to go along.
LEVIN: I favored additional trainers. I have favored a real surge in equipment. But the key here is an Afghan surge, not an American surge. And if the president lays out the case for why our combat forces that are going particularly to the south will increase the speed-up of the Afghan army, it seems to me that that would be very, very important.
On This Week, Vermont socialist Bernie Sanders was skeptical for a different reason: "I have real concerns with that...If I were to put Afghanistan into the context of what's happening in America today, and what's happening now is not only a $12 trillion national debt; we're in the midst of the worst economic recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The middle class is collapsing. The gap between the rich and the poor is growing wider...I've got a real problem about expanding this war where the rest of the world is sitting around and saying, isn't it a nice thing that the taxpayers of the United States and the U.S. military are doing the work that the rest of the world should be doing? So what I want to see is some real international cooperation, not just from Europe, but from Russia and from China, because what happens in Afghanistan impacts what happens in Pakistan. That is enormously important. The world should be involved. We should not be...I have a real problem supporting 30,000 or 40,000 more troops and $100 billion more a year for that war on top of what we're spending in Iraq."
said he did not think a David Obey-esque "war tax" was politically
feasible, suggesting instead that those making more than $250,000 might
need to pay more. (But what about health care?) On CNN's State of the
Union, Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) acknowledged the need for a "separate"
war-funding account of some sort.
And about another war, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said he stood by his decision to join forces with the United States and invade Iraq.
2. Former RNC chairman, White House adviser and Bob McDonnell campaign chairman Ed Gillespie had this to say about the RNC's "purity" resolution: "The question for me is, you know, in terms of the -- as a former chairman, as I look at it, what if you have a Republican who agrees with seven out of those 10 things running against a Democrat who agrees with zero out of those 10 things and you want to put some money into a race to try to win back the House and you're constrained from doing that? I'm not sure that would be in the best interest of the party at the end of the day."
Dick Armey, appearing on Face opposite New York Republican DeDe Scozzafava, disagreed. "I think it's -- if the Republican Party is going to win any future elections, it has to be presented as an alternative to the Democrat Party's fiscal spending. And -- and in fact, it's a very reasonable thing to say, if you want the support of the Republican Party, demonstrate some allegiance to the primary positions taken by the party. That's not a litmus test. That's just saying, if you want us to give you our money, our support, our -- our troops in the field, our endorsements, then demonstrate that you're someone like us."
3. On Fox News Sunday, Mike Huckabee said it was "less than likely" that he would run for POTUS in 2012. Why? He's having too much fun playing commentator and television host on Fox. Huck: ""Jumping into the pool, you gottta make sure there is some water in it." There's water for Huck, though: he leads the polls right now and has a strong grassroots organization in Iowa. (A prelude to a "Draft Huckabee" movement?)
4. Sen. Evan Bayh is calling for the Secret Service to revise its procedures and significantly tighten entrance protocols at the White House: "These folks could be like the -- what is the name, Richard Reid, who changed the way everybody travels through the airports because of this one guy. This couple may change the way people go to the White House," he said on Fox News Sunday.
The New York Times reports that several state dinner guests were screened with a handheld metal detector and did not have to pass their purses and pouches through a bomb-detection machine.
5. Levin said he was confident that Majority Leader Harry Reid could get to 60 on health care, and Sanders did not rule out voting for a bill with a less-than-robust version of the public option.
Bonus: Jon Meacham on why Dick Cheney should run in 2012. (Tweeps call this Drudgebait...)....the latest on Climategate in Britain.....Thomas Friedman on the Arab mind....and Gretchen Morgenson on the "ferocious deleveraging" that will delay an economic recovery.
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