"The US has basically already lost the war in Afghanistan," says Jeremy Scahill, just back from two weeks reporting unembedded in that country. The Taliban there are not unlike the Tea Party here, he notes, not popular in themselves but thriving nevertheless as a protest against the failures of the current regime.

The war remains a problem for Obama, says Scahill, because "the White House, the Democrats, are totally off-message when it comes to firing up their base. There are a lot of Democrats, a lot of progressives, for whom this is a major issue and I think they’ve allowed the Tea Party and the right-wing to really set the agenda, largely based on falsehoods about the president’s policies."

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