Thursday, March 22, 2007

Who is More Cowardly?

I can’t help but flash back on John Kerry’s monumental gaffe—that dismal attempt to have it both ways on the war in Iraq; “I voted for it before I voted against it.” It epitomizes the modern politician, seeking to be all things to all people all of the time. Maybe Lincoln could have worked the paraphrase into fooling the people some or all of the time.

So, now we’ve got the panderers of the presidential race trying to stir the pot of anti-war activism and show who is the most anti-war of the bunch. Competition to demonstrate the greater level of weakness and cowardice with regard to defending America against those who would do serious harm to us doesn’t seem like an effective way to gain votes, but what do I know.

Check this out from the Clinton machine against Obama:

I voted for it before I voted against it--again!

Poor old Hillary is up against it. She voted for the war, although confessing an unprecedented level of naivetĂ© with regard to accepting the administrations rationale for the move. And, she has been surprisingly prudent with regard to keeping the effort funded. It doesn’t look good to cut off the dollars for beans and bullets when Americans are in harm’s way. Mothers and voters don’t like that. So, she’s got a record that is in dissonance with her campaign stance of declaring immediate defeat and bringing the warriors home.

The solution apparently is to point out that Obama is equally guilty of announcing anti-war intentions but being forced to fund the defense of the nation in spite of himself. The Clinton gambit is to point out that both of the Democrat front-runners are equally duplicitous.

I guess that it is a truism that no one really likes war. Occasionally we try to paint industrialists as somehow pro-war because they make money on selling arms. But there isn’t much to support that thesis if we consider that arms producers are pretty well diversified these days and can make profits producing consumer goods as easily as weapons. We know for certain that parents of young adults who have volunteered for military service are a bit ambivalent—on the one hand proud of their children’s patriotism and courage, but on the other hand apprehensive about the dangers involved. No one has ambition to be a Gold Star Mother.

What is missing from this debate is a clear explanation of what immediate, Clintonesque-Obamaesque withdrawal from Iraq will accomplish. Some questions that need to be asked include:

What do you think will happen to Iraq?
What do you think Iran will do?
What will happen to Israel?
What will happen to world energy prices?
Will we be safer in Fortress America?
Where will the next threat come from?
Will Syria, Iran, Saudi and Iraq suddenly play nice?
Is a nuclear attack on Israel, Turkey, Europe or the US acceptable?
Do you think France will like us better for our weakness?
Why have a military if you are going to keep them home awaiting the next attack?
How is your plan better than the President’s?

Don’t simply sing your Kumbaya songs about bringing the troops home, lack of WMD, wrong wars, and firing US attorneys or outing Valerie Plame. Tell us how your plan is going to be better. Inquiring minds and all that jazz…

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Spinning the Pleasure

What is there about plain English that Senator Clinton can’t understand? A few weeks ago she was spouting that she would confiscate the profits of a private corporation, Exxon, because in her vaunted opinion they were excessive. She would then use them for what in her superior judgment was the public good. Having spent little time in the private sector, I guess she simply doesn’t understand the free market concepts of capitalism. The idea that a company is SUPPOSED TO make profits seems foreign to her. The idea that prices are determined in a free market by what a willing buyer and a willing seller agree doesn’t make sense to her socialist conscience. The relationship in price-setting in a competitive marketplace between businesses isn’t in her background. OK, I can understand that reasoning, even if I think it is pure political pandering and ungrounded in reality.

But, now we’ve got her spouting in the realm that she should know a bit about. Take a look at this from the mainstream media:

It's called "at the pleasure" for a reason!

Let’s quickly establish some basics. The Attorney General is the chief of the Department of Justice. He or she is a member of the President’s cabinet, a member of the executive branch. The folks that work for the AG at the top levels across the country are similarly members of the executive branch. They aren’t civil service, but are political appointees of the President. They serve under conditions described as “at the pleasure of the President.” That means, they can be dismissed without cause if they fail to meet the goals or expectations of the President. It even means they can be discharged if the President takes a disliking to the color of their suits.

Is it uncommon for a President to discharge U.S. Attorneys? Not a bit. In fact, it is customary for an incoming President to discharge the entire slate across the country—ninety-three of them. Did former President Clinton do that? Of course he did. Less than two months in office and the shops were purged, with his people put in the seats. That’s the way it works. That’s what most presidents do.

So, what’s the issue with the discharge of eight attorneys now? Remembering that they serve at the pleasure of the incumbent there doesn’t seem to be anything to get into a kerfuffle about. What gives with Hillary?

It’s simply a means to get her face on the front page. She is, after all running, for president. Let’s not recall those attorneys that her husband cut loose. Let’s not rethink those members of the White House travel office that got sent packing. Let’s not even consider the White House chef that packed his knives and recipes without recourse when she pitched him onto the street. No, this is “different”—how?