On one side is a population increasingly uncomfortable with the president's handling of Afghanistan. (Approval for his policies has dropped from 56 percent in April to 44 percent in September.) On the other side are John McCain and other Republican leaders, who want Obama to as much as double the 68,000 American troops already in country. What's a conciliator to do to avoid re-running the Vietnam War? According to The New York Times:
President Obama told Congressional leaders on Tuesday that he would not substantially reduce American forces in Afghanistan or shift the mission to just hunting terrorists there, but he indicated that he remained undecided about the major troop buildup proposed by his commanding general.
Meeting with leaders from both parties at the White House, Mr. Obama seemed to be searching for some sort of middle ground, saying he wanted to “dispense with the straw man argument that this is about either doubling down or leaving Afghanistan,” as White House officials later described his remarks."
Mr. McCain told the president that “time is not on our side.” He added, “This should not be a leisurely process,” according to several people in the room.
A few minutes later, Mr. Obama replied, “John, I can assure you this won’t be leisurely,” according to several attendees. “No one feels more urgency to get this right than I do.”