In most policy debates, the media preference is for a solution in the “center,” whatever they define that to be. A Los Angeles Times headline today on the Beltway debate on Afghanistan reads: “Obama mulls middle ground in Afghanistan war strategy.” Like the healthcare debate, the media’s version of “the middle” usually means something well to the right of actual public opinion.
In this case, it’s even harder to follow than that; as the Times puts it, Obama “suggested he is looking at the middle range of the spectrum, somewhere between a major increase in forces and a large drawdown.”
Well that’s a rather wide spectrum, isn’t it? If you look at polls of the public, there is very little support for sending more troops–and much more support for either keeping troop levels where they are, or decreasing the size of U.S. forces in the country. So the “middle” ground isn’t so hard to locate–it’s somewhere between decreasing U.S. forcesor keeping them at current levels.The fact that the debate in Washington doesn’t seem to reflect that is, of course, telling; perhaps a more open media debate would change that.