I’ve admired the Clintons’ foundation for years for its fine work on AIDS and global poverty, and I’ve moderated many panels at the annual Clinton Global Initiative. Yet with each revelation of failed disclosures or the appearance of a conflict of interest from speaking fees of $500,000 for the former president, I have wondered: What were they thinking?
But the problem is not precisely the Clintons. It’s our entire disgraceful money-based political system.
Now watch this.
For those who do not have access to YouTube, this is of course Otter’s Speech from Animal House:
Ladies and gentlemen, I’ll be brief. The issue here is not whether we broke a few rules, or took a few liberties with our female party guests – we did. But you can’t hold a whole fraternity responsible for the behavior of a few, sick twisted individuals. For if you do, then shouldn’t we blame the whole fraternity system? And if the whole fraternity system is guilty, then isn’t this an indictment of our educational institutions in general? I put it to you, Greg – isn’t this an indictment of our entire American society? Well, you can do whatever you want to us, but we’re not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America.
You know, I didn’t realize when I woke up this morning that’d I would be writing a piece that had to point out that Animal House is not a good rhetorical template for a New York Times author to use. Then again, I imagine that Nicholas Kristof didn’t wake up a few days ago expecting that he’d end up using said template, so I suppose that that’s a wash. Still… really? This is going to be what they’re going to go with? “The way that all that dirty money was prancing around and showing everybody its denominations, it was just asking to be grabbed?” I tremble for the Republic.
No, not because of corrupt politicians. We’ve had to deal with those, right from the start. But we’ve never had a more useless set of political pundits.
The Democrats are 18 points in the hole on foreign policy, 38 on defense. I’m trying to remember the last time I’ve seen the Democrats that far behind on those topics. Admittedly, I’m kind of loopy right now from the various cold remedies, so maybe it’s been like this for a while and I just don’t remember; still… those aren’t great numbers. To put it, as they say, mildly.
I’m going to show my readers this paragraph, than walk them through it. Background: it’s part of Robert Gates’ memoir on his time as SecDef. Specifically, Gates (with the help of the military brass) was trying to keep Afghanistan from sliding off of the beam under the new administration, and running headlong into the Obama administration’s apparent inherent inability to understand that wars are messy and not subject to control.
Oh, and the fact that the Democrats advising the President on military affairs were also, by and large, clueless idiots. But you knew that already.
Anyway, after apparently trying one too many times to make the President understand that warfighters need support staff, Barack Obama threw a tantrum:
[JCS Chairman Admiral Michael] Mullen and I repeatedly discussed with the infuriated president what he regarded as military pressure on him. “Is it a lack of respect for me?” Obama asked us. “Are [Petraeus, McChrystal and Mullen] trying to box me in? I’ve tried to create an environment where all points of view can be expressed and have a robust debate. I’m prepared to devote any amount of time to it—however many hours or days. What is wrong? Is it the process? Are they suspicious of my politics? Do they resent that I never served in the military? Do they think because I’m young that I don’t see what they’re doing?”
Oh, dear. This is rather exquisite narcissism, isn’t it? – And no, not self-reflection, either. The President was ‘infuriated,’ remember? That suggests that the President took the entire thing personally, in precisely the way that one should not. It’s not the military’s fault that Barack Obama was not mentally prepared to be Commander in Chief. Neither is it their fault that Obama apparently does not take constructive criticism well. Or at all. And it certainly isn’t their fault that the man thinks that the military updating their needs is somehow an indication that they dislike President Obama.
It’s actually… pretty simple: Chuck Hagel is a bit of a schlemiel. I’m not actually trying to reference Hagel’s Jewish problem*, here: it’s just that Yiddish has an excellent word to describe a sad-sack bungler, and English wants the useful words. It wants all the useful words.
…Anyway, Hagel is a schlemiel. Now, I know what people are thinking: they’re thinking “But… but… but being a schlemiel has NEVER been a barrier to acquiring a Cabinet post!” And they would be correct. We – read, both parties – have traditionally taken the opportunity given to us by the Cabinet to store inconvenient, superfluous, and/or ineffectual politicians for a while until they can be safely retired**. This is, in fact, a time-honored tradition. The problem here, though, isthat we typically do not nominate schlemiels for Secretary of Defense; a quick review of the list of them reveals a group of sharp-tongued, tough-minded, and generally strong-willed men who would have gone through Thursday’s Armed Services Committee hearings like a hot knife through soft butter. Continue reading The essential problem with the Chuck Hagel nomination.
Not a cock-crowing three times moment, mind you: Chuck Hagel deserves to be left twisting in the wind by an administration suddenly gun-shy about nominating an anti-Israel, anti-gay, anti-war suck-up*. From Buzzfeed:
“The White House was never actually all that close to naming Hagel, and to a degree feels awkward about the dust-up about him, however, they have no real interest in defending him because they don’t plan to pick him and see the issues being raise as hard to defend,” the insider said. “The Hagel dust-up is the best thing that could have happened for the President and the party. It nets out well, giving easy sailing to their real choice when the time comes.”
Via Hot Air Headlines. I have to say: it’s kind of fun to torpedo Obama’s Cabinet picks. Who’s next?
*I wonder when Hagel’s fellow antiwar loons will finally get tired of supporting a President who is just like George W. Bush on foreign policy, only without the competence and ability to play well with others. Probably never.