The distance between President Obama and congressional Democrats on the Afghan war has gotten a little wider, as lawmakers are skeptical of the Pentagon’s reports of progress in the nearly nine-year-old conflict. As Capitol Hill hearings pressed on, Defense Secretary Robert Gates assured senators that the military is making headway in Afghanistan, and he complained about the negatives view of the war in Congress. Senators countered that more and more soldiers were dying to prop up a government that may never be able to control the country’s tribes. Gen. David Petraeus, in another hearing, compared the war to the highs and lows of the Iraq war, saying the road was tough but the trajectory was upward. Democrats are nervous as midterm elections approach, and though President Obama’s troop withdrawal deadline helps hold on to their support, the military has said withdrawal will depend on conditions on the ground. Recent reports of corruption and slower than expected progress in major offensives have made the July 2011 date look more uncertain.