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THURSDAY, MAY 14, 2009
THE DIVIDING LINE - AT 6:52 P.M. ET: We've said before at Urgent Agenda that we may see developing on the Hill a traditional coalition of Republicans and moderate Democrats, the kind of coalition that ran Congress for decades, starting with the 1938 election. Today we may have some stark evidence of that development, as liberal Dems in the House refused to back their own president in a war-funding bill. From The Washington Post:
The House of Representatives passed a bill today that would provide $96.7 billion in funding for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq through Sept. 30, as President Obama had requested, but a bloc of 51 House Democrats opposed it.
Democratic opponents are accusing Obama of pursuing the same policy that united them against his predecessor: escalating a war without a clear exit strategy.
The bill passed by a vote of 368-60, with all but nine Republicans supporting it.
Democratic opponents did not attack Obama by name, but some likened his decisions to increase funding for the war in Afghanistan and send 21,000 additional U.S. troops there to former president George W. Bush's efforts in Iraq.
"When George Bush was president, I was on this floor saying we need an exit strategy," said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.). "The same applies with Afghanistan. I'm tired of wars with no deadlines, no exits and no ends."
COMMENT: A lot of this is the California and Massachusetts crowd. What a shock. But stories like this will increase in number if the Republicans pick up seats in both houses of Congress next year. Then at least the nuttier aspects of the president's agenda will be blocked or modified.
What this proves also is that there are many in the Democratic Party who aren't prepared to commit suicide to accommodate the fringe. That is good, and we should cheer it.
May 14, 2009
NOW HE TELLS US - AT 6:25 P.M. ET:
RIO RANCHO, New Mexico (Reuters) - President Barack Obama raised the prospect on Thursday that China and other nations could stop buying U.S. debt and said the United States needed to tackle its deficit to avoid long-term economic damage.
"The long-term deficit and debt that we have accumulated is unsustainable. We can't keep on just borrowing from China or borrowing from other countries," Obama told a town hall meeting event in New Mexico.
"We have to pay interest on that debt and that means that we're mortgaging our children's future with more and more debt," he said.
COMMENT: Wait a minute. Isn't this what Republicans and moderate Dems have been warning about all along? Did Mr. Obama just discover this? Where's he been?
Is he prepared to go the high-spending types who dominate his party and tell them this to their faces? Why don't I think so?
May 14, 2009
PAKISTANI NUKES - AT 2:32 P.M. ET: Rowan Scarborough, now reporting for Fox News, has a superb story on what the U.S. plans to do if Pakistan falls to Al Qaeda or the Taliban. This is required reading, for the issue is one of the most serious that we face. If you get the sense of wishful thinking here, you're not alone:
The United States has a detailed plan for infiltrating Pakistan and securing its mobile arsenal of nuclear warheads if it appears the country is about to fall under the control of the Taliban, Al Qaeda or other Islamic extremists.
American intelligence sources say the operation would be conducted by Joint Special Operations Command, the super-secret commando unit headquartered at Fort Bragg, N.C.
"Small units could seize them, disable them and then centralize them in a secure location," the source said.
A secret Defense Intelligence Agency document first disclosed in 2004 said Pakistan has a nuclear arsenal of 35 weapons. The document said it plans to more than double the arsenal by 2020.
What makes the Pakistan mission especially difficult is that the military has its missiles on Soviet-style mobile launchers and rail lines. U.S. intelligence agencies, using satellite photos and communication intercepts, is constantly monitoring their whereabouts. Other warheads are kept in storage. U.S. technical experts have visited Pakistan to advise the government on how to maintain and protect its arsenal.
Also, there are rogue elements inside Pakistan's military and intelligence service who could quickly side with the extremists and make JSOC's mission all the more difficult.
COMMENT: It's good, of course, that we're preparing for this. It's good that the Obama administration hasn't, apparently, interfered with the planning, and supports it. But you don't have to be a military genius to realize the risks, and the statistical possibilities of failure. Securing Pakistani nukes means securing all of them - a one hundred percent success rate. If two or three are missed, the potential for catastrophe somewhere in the world, including American cities, is extreme. A nuclear device doesn't have to be put on a missile or a plane. It simply needs to be sailed into an American harbor in the hold of a freighter, and set off by suicidal Islamists who are part of the crew.
We've urged readers before to watch Pakistan closely. It may be the biggest story of the year.
May 14, 2009 Permalink
GETTING UGLY - AT 1:50 P.M. ET: The dispute over what Nancy Pelosi knew about enhanced interrogation techniques, and when she knew it, is getting ugly, and uglier. Today the speaker went to war against the CIA, as Fox reports:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday accused the CIA of misleading Congress about its use of enhanced interrogation techniques on terror detainees.
"Yes I am saying the CIA was misleading the Congress, and at the same time the (Bush) administration was misleading the Congress on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, to which I said that this intelligence doesn't support the imminent threat," Pelosi said at her weekly news conference.
"Every step of the way the administration was misleading the Congress and that is the issue and that's why we need a truth commission," she said.
Under a barrage of questioning, Pelosi adamantly insisted that she was not aware that waterboarding or other enhanced interrogation techniques were being used on terrorism suspects.
"I am telling you they told me they approved these and said they wanted to use them but said they were not using waterboarding," she said.
The CIA, now under Democratic leadership, was having none of it:
The CIA immediately disputed Pelosi's accusation, saying the documents describing the particular enhanced interrogation techniques that had been employed are accurate. CIA spokesman George Little noted that CIA Director Leon Panetta made available to the House Intelligence Committee memos from individuals who led the briefings with House members.
Pelosi is in trouble here. She has not gotten support from anyone briefed by the CIA, including members of her own party. She also repeats the lie that the Bush administration misled Congress on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. It did not. It used exactly the same intelligence that President Clinton used. The intelligence never changed. It simply proved to be inaccurate in some respects. No stockpiles of WMD were found in Iraq, but the WMD development programs, and plans to restart them, certainly were found, but never emphasized by the media.
The fact that the current CIA is snapping back against Speaker Pelosi is not good news for her. On her left she finds the screamers who want a "truth commission," even if it doesn't tell the truth. On her right and in the middle, she finds people who aren't rushing to her defense after she's presented, oh, maybe five or six versions of what happened in those briefings, held as long ago as 2002.
This story is growing. It involves the woman second in line to the presidency, and the highest ranking Dem in Congress. Republicans are licking their lips.
May 14, 2009 Permalink
"WHO LEAKED THIS? - AT 8:40 A.M. ET: From The Wall Street Journal:
WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration and its European allies are setting a target of early October to determine whether engagement with Iran is making progress or should lead to sanctions, said senior officials briefed on the policy.
They also are developing specific benchmarks to gauge Iranian behavior. Those include whether Tehran is willing to let United Nations monitors make snap inspections of Iranian nuclear facilities that are now off-limits, and whether it will agree to a "freeze for freeze" -- halting uranium enrichment in return for holding off on new economic sanctions -- as a precursor to formal negotiations.
The moves are partly driven by concerns in Israel and among Washington's Arab allies that Tehran could drag out negotiations indefinitely while advancing its nuclear program, the officials said.
COMMENT: The Israeli and Arab concerns are entirely justified, and the strategy makes some sense, although I would have hoped for a date earlier than October. However, leaking this information to the press is problematical, as it gives a road map to the Iranians. Now they know what they must do, or appear to do, to keep negotiations going and not compromise their nuclear program.
By the way, IranPressNews reports the following, in an AFP dispatch:
JERUSALEM (AFP) — Iran is very close to acquiring nuclear weapons, the head of Israel's military intelligence was reported as telling a powerful parliamentary committee on Tuesday. "Iran is at the moment very close to getting a military nuclear arsenal," Amos Yadlin told parliament's foreign affairs and defence committee, adding that "Iran can manage to stabilise its military nuclear programme by 2010."
"The Iranian strategy was not to get the international community against it, but to discreetly continue nuclear armament without crossing red lines," he was quoted by Israeli media as saying.
This is not going well for Washington. We should try to accelerate the negotiations process, which will not work to our advantage, and move to something much stronger, if the Obama administration has the guts.
May 14, 2009 Permalink
TROUBLE IN AFGHANISTAN - AT 7:47 A.M. ET: One of the big stories of the week was the public, and somewhat graceless dismissal of the American commander in Afghanistan, and his replacement by another officer. This may not go smoothly. We got this exclusive report from a highly qualified observer traveling in Afghanistan:
The most interesting aspect is how it will be received by NATO/ISAF (International Security Assistance Force). Today, they are the warfighting command on the ground. The US is a force provider, but the operational chain-of-command in ISAF does not run to Washington. It runs to Brussels. How will ISAF receive having its commander suddenly changed and having a new US three-star general thrust upon them? They already have a three-star deputy general.
Obama was supposed to be the leader who would coordinate and consult and cooperate more. This move will be seen as typical American pushiness by our NATO allies.
The outgoing commander...
--has been hampered from the beginning by the realities of coalition warfare. Not all of our allies come with the same goals, the same rules of engagement, the same willingness to take risks in pursuit of objectives, the same willingness to get off their bases and get amongst the people.
--does not have a special forces background; Afghanistan has been
perceived as a special forces fight.
--may have been seen as too close to NATO and too anxious to preserve the coalition at the expense of "bold new moves." For example, the push to make this an Afghanistan-Pakistan theater may be resisted by some of our NATO brethren.
--was a key leader in the very successful initial invasion of Iraq;
may have been tainted as a "Bush guy."
--was unfortunate to enough to be in place when the the mantra of
"change" started being chanted.
That all said, I must say that much of the emerging plan is on target:
appropriately resourced, aggressive, conditions-based, not entirely
dependent on military force (though this will be trickiest to pull
off) and not unrealistic in its goals for the Afghan government.
COMMENT: This is increasingly Obama's war. It's his commander who's now in charge. Obama and his vast political apparatus can no longer blame it on Bush.
May 14, 2009 Permalink
HISTORY, FROM AN ACTUAL HISTORIAN - AT 7:23 A.M. ET: The Wall Street Journal reprints a piece by distinguished British historian Andrew Roberts, spraying a dose of reality on our current, and artificial debate over rough interrogation techniques. Nobody likes this stuff, but there are realities we should understand:
When troops need information about enemy capabilities and intentions -- and they usually need it fast -- moral and ethical conventions (especially the one signed in Geneva in 1929) have repeatedly been ignored in the bid to save lives...
...The very success of the D-Day landings themselves can largely be put down to the enhanced interrogation techniques that were visited upon several of the 19 Nazi agents who were infiltrated into Great Britain and "turned" by the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) between 1939 and 1945.
It seems the Allies wanted the Germans to believe that the landings would take place somewhere other than Normandy, where they did occur. The plot to convince the Germans of this was called Operation Fortitude, and it succeeded.
If anyone believes that SIS persuaded each of these 19 hard-bitten Nazi spies to fall in with Operation Fortitude by merely offering them tea, biscuits, and lectures in democracy, they're being profoundly naïve.
COMMENT: So true. It goes to the horror of war, and what war is about. We fail to understand the nature of war at our peril.
May 14, 2009 Permalink
AND NOW NORTH KOREA - AT 7:16 A.M. ET: It seems we just went through this with Iran. From The New York Times:
SEOUL — Two American journalists who have been detained in North Korea for two months on charges of illegal entry and “hostile acts” will be put on trial June 4, the Communist North announced on Thursday.
The reporters, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, were arrested by the North Korean military on March 17 on the border between China and North Korea. They had been in China reporting on North Korean refugees for Current TV, a San Francisco-based media company founded by Al Gore, the former vice president.
COMMENT: We wonder what Gore is doing to get these people back.
North Korea has been particularly belligerent recently, and we have to speculate that these two are being held as bargaining chips. We did not punish Iran in any way for improperly holding an American journalist (now released), and we're sure North Korea absorbed that message. They have reason to believe that they will not suffer any ill effects either.
May 14, 2009 Permalink
WEDNESDAY, MAY 13, 2009
CORRECTION: In our first post today we reported that Jimmah Carter testified yesterday before the Senate Armed Services Committee, chaired by John Kerry. It was, of course, the Foreign Relations Committee. Urgent Agenda regrets the error as much as it regrets Mr. Carter.
JACOBY ON POWELL - AT 8:53 P.M. ET: Jeff Jacoby, the lone conservative columnist on the financially ailing Boston Globe, eloquently takes on Colin Powell, who has been giving a heap of advice to Republicans recently. Jacoby clearly does not think much of the advice:
Powell's antipathy to the GOP's Reaganite roots has gone beyond the point of reason and reflection. What kind of Republican, after all, preaches that Americans "do want to pay taxes for services" and "are looking for more government in their life, not less"? (The opposite is true: In a nationwide poll last month, 62 percent of respondents said they prefer a government that offers fewer services and lower taxes; only 28 percent preferred more services and higher taxes.) What kind of Republican calls John McCain "my beloved friend" and acknowledges that he "would be a good president" -- then turns around and endorses the most liberal Democrat ever nominated for president?
COMMENT: About time someone said it, and Jacoby says it very well. Powell's military service was apparently admirable, but his civilian service has been less distinguished. He was not an outstanding secretary of state. Nor has Powell ever struck me as a particularly imaginative man.
I recall, after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, that Powell referred to them as the "events of September 11th," as if they were athletic defeats. I don't think he has ever visited Ground Zero in New York, even though New York is his home town. He has about him an aloofness.
Powell has benefited mightily from the affection of Republicans toward him. He has never returned that affection. I believe there is plenty of room in the Republican Party - indeed both parties - for a variety of views. A party, if it is successful, must be a coalition. And no one is throwing Powell out. But he seems detached from, even hostile to, the basic beliefs of the GOP, those fundamental principles that go on decade after decade. One suspects that he no longer, privately, considers himself a Republican.
May 13, 2009 Permalink
NO RECOVERY YET - AT 6:05 P.M. ET:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Retail sales fell in April for a second straight month, dashing hopes that consumer spending was starting to revive and would help end the recession.
Economists said families who are worried about layoffs and unpaid job furloughs are saving more and spending less, delaying the start of a sustained recovery.
The disappointing report helped send stocks down on Wall Street, where the Dow Jones industrial average slid 184 points -- more than 2 percent. Other major indexes fell even more sharply.
Retail sales fell 0.4 percent last month, worse than the flat performance many economists had expected, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.
COMMENT: We're getting many "expert" opinions on the direction of the economy. The numbers, though, are not encouraging. If conditions continue, next year can turn out to be the political reverse of 2008.
May 13, 2009 Permalink
HIGH COURT TALK - AT 5:01 P.M. ET: This must be labeled informed speculation:
WASHINGTON (AP) - A source tells The Associated Press that President Barack Obama is considering California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno and more than five other people as nominees for the Supreme Court.
An official familiar with Obama's decision-making said others include Solicitor General Elena Kagan, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and U.S. Appeals Court judges Sonia Sotomayor and Diane Pamela Wood—people who have been mentioned frequently as potential candidates.
COMMENT: It's almost vulgar, but we discuss these things today almost as ethnic entitlements. I'd rule out Elena Kagan. She just got her new job as solicitor general, and she's a Jewish woman. The Court already has one, Ruth Ginsburg. Also, she's former dean of the Harvard Law School, which the Obamas attended. Looks too inside.
I think Napolitano is a stretch, although she has a legal background. She was Arizona attorney general and was a lawyer for Anita Hill!! She meets the "female" requirement. She is Italian-American, but there are already two Italian-Americans on the Court, Antonin Scalia and Sam Alito. She's gotten off to a rocky start as secretary of homeland security, and why should Obama want to move her, unless he wants to get rid of her? Hmm.
Jennifer Granholm presides over an economic train wreck as governor of Michigan. She was state attorney general. She was born in Canada, which may count against her. She's considered America's second "hottest" governor, behind Sarah Palin. Meets the female test, but no other, except that, as governor, she has "practical" experience as well as a legal record, something Obama mentioned as desirable.
Sonia Sotomayor is a Hispanic female with a great life story. If Oprah were making the choice, Sotomayor would be chosen. There have been suggestions that she isn't as brainy as Obama would like, but, after all, he did pick Joe Biden.
Diane Wood was a distant colleague of Obama's at the University of Chicago Law School. Female and brainy, but doesn't do a thing in the ethnicity department. A sitting federal appeals court judge. Went to the University of Texas Law School, which may give her some "heartland" appeal.
All these potential nominees are generally liberal, but that's what we expect. Of course, the president can go outside this list. None of the candidates here strikes me as an obvious choice.
May 13, 2009 Permalink
BULLETIN - AT 3:22 P.M. ET: President Obama has made a correct decision involving national security that will infuriate the lunatic fringe of his party. From The New York Times:
President Obama is seeking to block the release of photographs that depict American military personnel abusing captives in Iraq and Afghanistan, his spokesman said Wednesday, fearing the images could spark a hostile backlash against United States troops.
“The president reflected on this case and believes they have the potential to pose harm to our troops,” Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, said Wednesday afternoon.
The action reverses Mr. Obama's earlier statement that he agreed with a Pentagon decision to release the photos, with no further legal appeal, following a federal court judgment calling for them to be released. The president's new policy implies that the court order will be appealed, possibly up to the Supreme Court.
The original case demanding release was brought, natch, by the American Civil Liberties Union, a group that is, to civil liberties, what Britney Spears is to virtue.
Releasing these photos now would be an outrage. The behavior depicted was inappropriate and humiliating to prisoners. Everyone, including the American military, agrees on that. But the conditions have been corrected and the offending personnel have been punished. To release these photos would inflame the Muslim world and act as a major recruiting tool for our enemies. It would make it difficult, if not impossible, for some governments, possibly including the government of Pakistan, to work with us. It would, of course, also provide fodder for the leftist fifth column in our own country.
We are at war. Photos like this can safely be released after a war is successfully concluded. But we do not help an enemy in wartime, and that's what a release would do. The court decision was made by a federal appeals judge, so the case can now be appealed directly to the Supreme Court, seeking reversal. Do it.
May 13, 2009 Permalink
LATEST POLLS - AT 8:58 A.M. ET: This comes from the Chinese news agency Xinhua, so we're a little cautious. But they run a fascinating site. Their home page is here.
TEHRAN, May 12 (Xinhua) -- A recent poll shows that Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is leading Iran's presidential election poll by big margin, Iran's satellite Press TV reported on Tuesday.
A recent nationwide poll showed that the Iranian president's popularity has grown among the electorate, while support for his rival, Mir-Hossein Mousavi has remained unchanged, the report said.
"The opinion poll conducted in Tehran as well as 29 other provincial capitals and 32 important cities on May 3-4, indicates that 58.6 percent will cast their ballots in favor of Ahmadinejad, while some 21.9 percent will vote for Mousavi."
COMMENT: From a purely Machiavellian viewpoint, it's probably better for us if Ahmadinejad continues as president. He presents a clear-cut bad-guy picture. If the other guy won, he could be sold to Americans by the foreign-policy establishment as a moderate, which he ain't.
May 13, 2009 Permalink
FROM PAKISTAN - AT 8:25 A.M. ET: We're following events in Pakistan closely. We all have memories of Cuba slipping into the Communist orbit, and South Vietnam going down the drain in 1975, largely as a result of our cutting off aid. Each day in Pakistan seems to bring mixed news. On the one hand, the Pakistani army has launched an offensive against the Taliban. On the other hand, the extremist attacks continue. From AP:
PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- Suspected Taliban militants stormed a depot in northwest Pakistan that handles supplied for NATO troops in neighboring Afghanistan on Wednesday and torched eight trucks, police said.
Elsewhere in the region, the Pakistani army battled militants in an offensive that has sent hundreds of thousands fleeing.
Attacks on terminals and trucks rolling through the Khyber Pass toward Afghanistan have intensified since last year, adding to concern that more regions along the Afghan border are slipping from government control and into the hands of Taliban and al-Qaida.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai warned Wednesday that the threat militants pose to both countries was very real.
"Terrorists and extremists are extending their reach in whole areas of our countries," Karzai told a regional economic conference in the capital, Islamabad.
COMMENT: This is now Obama's war. The new strategies being put in place are his, and he must take responsibility for them. No more "BUSH did it!" We wish the president well. We want to win. There used to be a time when politics stopped at the water's edge. That spirit was destroyed by the left during the Vietnam War, but we still believe in it. If the president succeeds, we will cheer him. If he fails or falters, we will have other things to say. I think most Americans agree with that approach.
May 13, 2009 Permalink
SOME LIBERALS NEVER LEARN - AT 8:12 A.M. ET: Historians tend to remind us that, from 1938 onward for a number of decades, Congress was essentially run by a coalition of Republicans and moderate Democrats. Now the behavior of some liberals is making a similar coalition possible again. This must be regarded as a major political development, and it centers on one of the most significant legislative initiatives this year - the drive for "reform" of the health-care system. Roll Call reports:
The fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition likely holds the key to enacting a universal health care plan this year, but so far the Democratic bloc feels like it’s being cast aside.
Forty-five Blue Dogs, led by Rep. Mike Ross (Ark.), on Monday warned that they need to be part of the writing of health care legislation in a sharply worded letter to Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) and Education and Labor Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.).
The Blue Dogs pronounced themselves “increasingly troubled” at the lack of involvement in the writing of the massive bill and said their limited role is “especially concerning in light of the collaborative approach taken by our Senate colleagues.”
Well, look who the moderates are writing to. These are three of the most liberal members of Congress. George Miller is so far over in left field that he's almost at the foul line.
Ross made clear that the success of the health care overhaul was at risk...
...“We speak with 51 votes, and we expect to be involved in helping draft the legislation. And if we’re not, I see a lot more complications down the road on health care than what the leadership experienced on cap-and-trade,” Ross said in an interview Tuesday.
The power of the blue dogs will only grow if President Obama's popularity erodes, as it may well.
Many of the Democrats elected to the House last year are from moderate districts. They will demand to be heard and listened to. Their reelection chances depend largely on their ability to convince voters of their independence from the liberals who run the Democratic Party. A smart leadership would involve them, and recognize the power in their 51 votes.
Roll Call reports that the Dem leadership is now pledging to involve different factions of the Democratic Party in health-care legislation. We'll see if that promise is kept. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is an ally of the blue dogs, and no great ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi. There is potential for harmony here, but plenty of potential for sparks. The Democratic Party has a history of sparking.
May 13, 2009 Permalink
COMMON SENSE - AT 7:31 A.M. ET: As we leave the world of Jimmy Carter (see story just below) and re-enter the adult world, the Wall Street Journal takes note of an event almost entirely ignored by the mainstream press, but critical to our future:
A bipartisan Congressional commission on U.S. nuclear strategy released its report last week, and it deserved more attention than it got. It delivered a candid message that not many want to hear: We're a long way from a nuclear-free world.
Led by former Defense Secretaries William Perry and James Schlesinger, the commission is blunt on this point: "The conditions that might make possible the global elimination of nuclear weapons are not present today and their creation would require a fundamental transformation of the world political order." Until then, the report says, the U.S. must have a strong and credible nuclear deterrent.
To do so, the U.S. must maintain its triad of nuclear-delivery systems -- bombers, missiles and submarines -- a course of action that will require some "difficult investment choices." It also calls for modernization of the U.S. nuclear stockpile and the "transformation" of the aging physical and intellectual capital of the national nuclear laboratories.
The commission warns that "we may be close to a tipping point" as more countries seek to go nuclear, in part because they may not have confidence in the reliability of U.S. nuclear weapons or that the U.S. would be willing to use them.
COMMENT: What? You mean there are people who can read and write who can actually question the wisdom of Barack Obama on nuclear weapons? Yes they can. Obama speaks of a nuclear-free world, and certainly we must work toward reducing the threat of nuclear war. But we're a long way from that nuclear-free world, and maintaining our deterrence will actually help us reduce the chance of a nuclear tragedy, as a strong deterrence always does.
May 13, 2009 Permalink
VULGAR - AT 7:20 A.M. ET: Is there any end to Jimmy Carter's vulgarity. The former president testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, mostly on energy policy, and Dana Milbank of The Washington Post reports on the greatness of the moment - as Carter reveled in the false praise committee members gave him, and even Code Pink applauded his appearance. When Code Pink approves of you, you're in trouble with rational people, but Carter didn't seem to notice. Major vulgarity alert:
Calling Jimmy Carter to testify about energy security, it might seem, is a bit like calling Michael Vick to testify about pet care.
But John Kerry is a gambler, and the new chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee invited the 39th president to talk to his panel about his cardigan-wearing days in the White House -- and why the nation, 30 years later, still hasn't solved its energy problems.
For a resurgent Democratic Party, the move risked all kinds of unpleasant imagery: gas lines, fuel shortages, the Iran hostage crisis, malaise. Even members of the committee staff joked about whether the former president would show up wearing a sweater, as he did when he appeared on television to urge Americans to lower their thermostats.
John Kerry and Jimmy Carter in the same room. Can you stand it?
Carter's reputation has soared since his star-crossed presidency, and yesterday he tried to settle some (very) old scores.
As they say, depends on who you ask. Carter has conspicuously interfered with American foreign policy, led us astray on North Korea, undercut American efforts against terror masters, become a major-league Israel hater (which is why Code Pink applauded him), and has been unable to control his ego. During his committee appearance he bragged incessantly about his wisdom on energy.
It might be nice if Mr. Carter would finally admit that we are still paying the price for his reckless foreign and defense policies. It might be nice if he would finally acknowledge his successor's (Ronald Reagan's) role in restoring national morale and ending the Cold War essentially on our terms.
It might be nice, but it will never happen.
May 13, 2009 Permalink