(CNN) -- Sometimes, even in Washington, there's no way around a central truth: that in governing, there are moments when real, tough decisions must be made. No waffling. None of the usual "on the one hand, on the other hand." No hiding behind the votes cast by others.
There is one vote, and it belongs to the president.
It was that way with George W. Bush in December 2006, when, after conferring for three months with his generals and his Cabinet -- not to mention the advice offered by the pooh-bahs in the Iraq Study Group -- he decided on a surge strategy in Iraq. It was not a plan highly touted by many of his advisers, but by January, Bush told the nation "America will change our strategy ... [and] this will require increasing American force levels."
As it turns out, the surge worked.
On Wednesday, President Obama is having his decision moment -- meeting with his entire team of heavyweights, both civilian and military -- to discuss the future in Afghanistan. Like Bush in Iraq, he's got problems: The counterinsurgency strategy isn't working. The war is becoming less popular. And, like Bush, he's getting lots of conflicting advice.
Outside the room, there's a political problem for Obama, and it's one of his own making. He's the one who told us that he was devoted to the defeat of al Qaeda when he added 21,000 troops, later telling us that Afghanistan is a "war of necessity." So it would be confusing to the public if the president were to say he still wants to defeat al Qaeda but doesn't think more troops will do it.
He could decide, of course, to split the difference: add some troops while pumping up special operations forces. But the danger there, experts say, is that would just reinforce the status quo.
In the end, if the president decides to take a large strategic turn, he's going to have to make the case. If he doesn't, it will be assumed that his decision has more to do with bowing to public opinion that is increasingly against the war than it is to circumstances on the ground.
And no president can afford that. (see full stroy here at CNN)