You are currently viewing archive for September 2007
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
President Clinton made news on Anderson Cooper (CNN video here) last night defending Democrats who would not condemn by attacking "Republicans" as "disingenuous" for their "feigned outrage" regarding the General Betray Us ad.

President Clinton, evidently, thinks it inconceivable that politicians could actually get mad about scurrilous accusations of treason meant to dishonor a no-nonsense, straight-shooting military commander.

When we cry the blues about the "politics of personal destruction," we don't really mean it, right? This is how the game is played.

Even as he criticized the opposition for "feigning outrage," he worked himself up into an angry performance. President Clinton's talent for getting red in the face is impressive--but I think he has started to go there too often. He reminds me of Pacino. How many more times can I watch another variation of: "I should take a flame thrower to this plaaaaaace!"

President Clinton stoked his righteous indignation by retelling the increasingly mythological tale of Max Cleland, who "lost half his body in Vietnam," the President asserted, only to be compared to Saddam and Osama by dastardly Republicans. Ironically, that overly simple and distorted Democratic narrative can only be described as disingenuous. The ad was crude—but accurate.

FYI: see the ad here via YouTube.

The bottom line: if Max Cleland wanted special status accorded to him for his sacrifice and service, he should have avoided politics. Unfortunately, and Bill Clinton has as much to answer for in this regard as any other American politician, American political life is a street brawl.

As for President Clinton, known and praised the world over for his incisive ability to explain events in a nuanced way, regrettably, he chose to broadly assail congressional Republicans and the President as liars and scoundrels. Not very subtle or conciliatory.

A disappointing performance from the President--but not especially out of character. We are likely to have plenty of opportunities to watch him reprise this role over the course of the next nine years.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
News flash from the Hill via Drudge:

"House overwhelmingly condemns MoveOn ad."

This is a smart move. Was it sincere? Who knows what lurks in the hearts of men? I prefer to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Regardless, mark one down for Democratic leadership. They are clearing the decks in preparation for the impending storm over SCHIP. Regardless of principle or specifics, the President et al find themsleves in a particularly vulnerable place on the "insurance for children" bill. Expect an all-out blitzkrieg from the Democrats and their allies.

The "General Betray Us" controversy is at the sunset of its political viability. As I have said previously, I doubt that the Petraeus-MoveOn tempest impacts the political landscape in a long-term meaningful way.

On the other hand, if the President sticks to his guns, the Children's Health Insurance Program veto likely marks the beginning of an extended season of uncomfortably hot and devastating political rhetoric directed at "heartless Republicans."
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
I am right now watching just a snippet of Alan Greenspan on C-SPAN2.

I cannot help but think that Vice President Dick Cheney miscalculated in his Wall Street Journal retort to the "maestro." A better strategy might have been embracing him. It seems to me that the former Fed chairman is much more upset about profligate spending than he dislikes the Bush tax policy. I keep hearing Greenspan say tax cuts are okay. Giving back the surplus was a good thing. The war debt is no big deal. But he is really mad at George Bush for 1) allowing (encouraging, instigating) big spending and 2) not attacking some of the massive entitlement programs looming as economic time bombs.

An alternative strategy for the White House might have gone something like this: "Alan Greenspan is absolutely right. A free-spending Congress and its unwillingness to eschew politics and solve the serious problems confronting the next generation has done great damage to the nation." A more politically adept Bush team could have used the moment to frame more favorably for history the President's failed attempt to reform social security.

On Friday I caught up with the Terry Gross interview on Fresh Air from earlier in the week. I was struck by her palpable disappointment with Greenspan’s vaunted comments on Bush failures. The always cryptic Greenspan does not tarry long on those much ballyhooed disagreements. In fact, if you keep him on those subjects long enough, he offers up assertions quite troubling for the Bush lynch mob. For example, he is not shy about affirming that he viewed the ouster of Saddam as absolutely necessary at the time. But, in the most general way, his selected comments move forward the anti-Bush drumbeat; therefore, Greenspan is getting a friendly reception from the MSM and usual suspects.

Moreover, the libertarian sage fits in with a favorite storyline: even smart Republicans and conservatives think Bush is an idiot, and they don't like him personally.

Another example of this re-emergent template a la Fresh Air again:

Terry Gross also interviewed Jeffrey Toobin last week. Toobin’s latest book, The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court , explains how Sandra Day O'Connor, instrumental in making Bush president through judicial fiat, came to regret her perfidy as she got to know the wild-eyed Texan and come to understand his assault on the Constitution. When asked how he knew this to be true, Toobin responded: "You're just going to have to trust me on that one."

As for the bigger picture, is there a kernel of truth in this increasingly popular Bush-bashing MSM convention? Are Republicans really deserting the sinking ship? Only those who can read a poll. Are GOP Washington insiders saying they knew all along this guy was no good? Every minute of the day.

Is that surprising? Does it mean a whole lot? Not really.

This is life on the Potomac. Outsiders infuriate insiders. When things go bad, like in the case of Jimmy Carter, the insiders pound on the country bumpkin for a lack of sophistication and a reliance on his crude and boorish cronies. By the way, when things go bad for insiders, like the first George Bush, your friends pretty much desert you then as well—although they are forced to come up with different explanations for your failings and be more creative as to why they are not connected to you.

On the other hand, the Beltway “smarties” had to bite their tongues during the Reagan and Clinton administrations. They would have deserted Clinton and Reagan too, with gusto--but those outsider presidents succeeded grandly, and enjoyed protection as a result of high popularity, overwhelming reelection, and savvy communications operations.

Nobody said being president was going to be easy.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
George Bush is often described by his opponents as the dumbest human on the planet.

But, once again, the President is in the process of proving himself the dumbest human on the planet--except for Democratic Party leadership and the New York Times.

In the drama to replace the sufficiently scorched Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, the President signaled that he might elevate Ted Olson, former solicitor general and counsel of record for the Supreme Court case that ended the election of 2000, Bush v. Gore.

Oh, the howls that nomination was set to elicit. Democrats were sharpening the long knives, painting their faces for ritualized torture, and preparing for a long and painful non-confirmation hearing.

But, then, out of nowhere, the imbecile president emerged on Constitution Day to nominate straight arrow, non-friend, non-politician, experienced, competent, and all-around nice guy, Michael Mukasey.


From this Washington Post article: Mukasey is an Orthodox Jew from the Bronx, and the son of a coin laundry operator. Mukasey graduated from Columbia and then Yale Law School during the 1960s, practiced law for 20 years in New York, met and befriended Rudy Giuliani, and accumulated an 18-year brilliantly conservative record at the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Is he conservative enough?

I love this quote from the Post attributed to Mukasey: Civil libertarians who criticized the detention campaign as an unprecedented or unauthorized use of federal powers were spreading "breathless half-truths and outright falsehoods."

Notwithstanding, Mukasey's record and endorsements are so stellar and unimpeachable that he keeps appearing on New York Senator Chuck Schumer's list of acceptable Republican nominees for various top legal posts.

The rub?

Somebody forgot to tell Patrick Leahy and the New York Times.

The senior senator from Vermont, chair of the Judiciary Committee, is threatening to block the President's nomination until he is allowed to extract a pound of flesh off the acrid political corpse of the former Attorney General.

As for the New York Times, they find the nominee "troubling." Evidently, quotes like the one above give the editorial board at the NYT great pause, calling him "too deferential to the government" and finding him not nearly obsequious enough to the American Library Association in their courageous mission to save unsuspecting readers from an inchoate police state.

So, the President now occupies the enviable position of presenting a nominee every one in the legal universe seems to admire personally and professionally (even the proudly liberal, Chuck Schumer), while a cranky but powerful senate Democrat and the unofficial party organ of the DNC attempt to head him off at the pass.

Bring it on.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
What's wrong with initiating the next presidential election in earnest immediately after the last one concludes?

Joe Biden.

I am guessing that most of our reading community does not understand my admiration for Joe Biden. You see the grandstanding, bloviating, self-absorbed senator always mugging for the cameras. I see that Joe Biden too, of course. But I also see the Joe Biden who is talented, diligent, and dedicated to good government. I admire the America-loving public official who has spent almost his entire career learning foreign policy and the judiciary in order to be a constructive element of the solution. He is, in fact, quite good at and what he does, and he oftentimes offers incredibly astute analysis on the topics to which he had dedicated his life.

But then you wave the White House in front of him, and he contracts a classic case of "Potomac Fever," which causes him to froth at the mouth.

Today on Fox News Sunday (see note below on FNS), when asked to comment on John McCain's assertion that congressional control of the military was unconstitutional, Biden launched into a tirade against George Bush (not McCain): "The President doesn't understand the Constitution."

Biden further allowed that the President held a "unitary" view of executive power in relation to the other branches, cleverly using a phrase (unitary executive) that has become a code word for calling the President an inchoate dictator.

Why do that? Clearly, Candidate Biden hoped to make a little headway with the most strident and adamant Bush-haters.

"Did you hear what Biden said about Bush?"

"Yeah. That was fantastic."

Next Topic: "General Betray Us" and

Biden said: " was wrong." Give him some credit for admitting the obvious. Many of his colleagues could not summon the courage to go that far. But Biden went on to qualify his statement: The Move-On folks are good Americans whose frustration got the better of them. The wanton misleadership of the President drove his patriotic opponents to do this unsavory thing--but come on fellas--this is no "capital offense."

So, while gently criticizing MoveOn, the senator made clear he was with them all the way .

My beef with the system? Biden is better than that. If he were not under intense pressure to please the unhinged wing of his party, he would certainly offer words and actions more in keeping with his desire to bring positive change. This current election cycle is the logical extension of the Clinton (42) brain trust’s innovation to American politics: the "permanent campaign." If a sitting president must campaign constantly while in office, the opposition must campaign constantly to counter the President, and the would-be presidents must campaign constantly, forming a shadow government.

Accountability is good for the system--but ultra-democracy snuffs out republican statesmanship. Sometimes the people's representatives must do necessarily unappetizing things (remember the sausage analogy) in order to make the system work. The twenty-four hour news cycle and the permanent campaign threatens good government by shining too much light on the system. In essence, modern politicians are all public performance now.

More to the point, if Joe Biden weren't out running for president and courting the most destructive element of the American electorate, he might be in the Senate helping to lead our nation through one of the most treacherous moments in our long and proud history.

One more thing: Will the "General Betray Us" ad affect the election of the next president?

John Edwards never saw it.

Hillary and Obama ignored it.

But all three embraced it tacitly.

Does it matter?

Only if the war turns around. If the war continues to flounder a year from now, David Petraeus will be as despised as George Bush. The ever-present but lightly used Westmoreland comparisons this time around will be the unquestioned template a year from now--if the current direction fails. Therefore, a year from now (under the gloomy scenario) castigating the dirty dog general will have seemed the appropriate reaction.

However, if the war turns around (the biggest "if" there ever was), then perhaps the Democrats will pay a price with a few (but important) reasonable voters whose support will be up for grabs.

Note on Fox News Sunday: this unique program continues to be the best network Sunday morning talking-head show. Partly a result of the ideologically "balanced" team of news analyzers, and partly because of its conservative perspective on the issues, FNS consistently delves into topics of interest to me that all the other Sunday shows miss completely. Special kudos to Chris Wallace for his steady leadership.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Tying up some lose ends. Last Saturday, I drafted a sub-heading for this post:

"It is finished. The Ordeal of Larry Craig is Over."

But this week contradictory signals continued to emanate from the senator's camp. At week's end, however, the long, strange journey of Senator Larry Craig seems to be nearing its terminus.

Who is responsible for the tragic demise of this career public official?

1. Larry Craig. From any angle, the Senator from Idaho committed egregious errors in judgment and/or conduct.

2. Republicans. At the heart of this matter is the deportment of Craig, but give the panicking Republican Party a big assist. So frightened by polls and the upcoming elections, GOP politicians abandoned loyalty and compassion in the rush to throw an embarrassing friend overboard post haste.

3. The Axis of Liberalism. The shameless inconsistency of Democrats and the so-called progressives was even more revolting than Republican cowardice. The shock troops of "tolerance" declared open season on Craig. Formerly fastidious mavens of open-mindedness tossed aside all previous protestations that the sex lives of public officials should be off-limits to scrutiny and inquiry from the unsophisticated mob.

Craig was not just fair game for these erstwhile sophisticates, they ravaged the wounded senator with a sense of righteous entitlement and a palpable giddiness.

Why was it suddenly appropriate to delve into the private sexual affairs of public figures?

» Read More

Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
My American Government class has an assignment for next week. Perhaps you would like to do it as well.

• Internet Project 1. Visit the official websites of the Democrat and Republican parties, plus one other party of your choice. Answer these questions: 1. the frontpage of the site creates what impression, takes what tone? 2. what issues are most important to the party? 3. what are the party positions on major issues? 4. what solutions to national problems does the party propose?



More below for those of you who can't/won't visit the sites.

» Read More

Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Fred is in, and I see a glimmer of hope.

I have said many times, for a number of reasons, the Democrats own this election: 2008 is theirs to lose. While I stand by that assertion, I am less gloomy today than usual.

Why do I see a slim band of sunlight far off on the dark horizon?

Like the vast majority of Americans, I did not watch the Republican debate in New Hampshire on Wednesday night. However, I did watch Jay Leno.

Fred is in, and he looked good.

Joining the chorus of sour handicappers, I had worried earlier that Fred might have missed his window. But seeing and hearing him over the last few days does much to alleviate my anxiety.

Fred Thompson may not be the perfect conservative--but he does a great job of playing one on TV (much better than the other actors vying for the role).

Is he Ronald Reagan? No. But he is closer than I thought he might be. He is tall and tough and solid. When Jay Leno questioned his Iraq policy on hostile territory (a soundstage in Los Angeles, California), Fred dug in and stood tall and told the truth. No sugar coat. No stuttering. No excuses. Bravo.

Of course, the pundits are not convinced. Reliable fount of conventional wisdom, ABC analyst, George Stephanopoulos, speaking for the pack, opined on Good Morning America Thursday that Fred had three big problems getting in so late:

1. He leaves himself no room for error; he cannot make a mistake (perhaps George was thinking of something like enlisting criminals as important campaign financiers).

2. He has no money.

3. He arrives in a disappointingly second place.


All that is completely wrong.

--It is not really very late. No one is following this race yet. While the Democratic canvass has a distinct character already, the GOP contest is still completely formless. To be sure, he is going to make some mistakes--but he will have ample opportunity to overcome them.

--He is millions of dollars ahead of the game with his Leno appearance alone. This guy is funny, media savvy and the camera loves him. Mitt Romney has a lot of money, but he needs every penny of it to market himself. Fred is a softer, easier sell. Last night I found myself laughing and nodding my head a lot. That brand of natural appeal is worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

--Finally, second place is just fine for now. In fact, it may be a blessing. Emerging a few lengths behind the frontrunner in a horse race and charging hard for the wire is a much better narrative than arriving as the presumptive nominee.

But there are some remaining worries:

Health. Today Hugh Hewitt raised the nagging cancer question (here). Ironically, I was discussing Thompson with an unabashed booster a few days ago when the Fred fan worried that his candidate looked sickly. This is a serious question. Paul Tsongas?

Resilience. How will Fred respond to the barrage of pointed scrutiny and animosity awaiting him. Can Fred keep his cool under the intense pressure of an unfriendly mainstream media? We'll see.

Background. What is in Fred's past? With certainty, the opposition will manufacture a series of phony and/or exaggerated scandals and rumors of wrongdoing. If he is clean as a whistle, he will take a tremendous beating. If he is dirty at all, the mainstream media and Democratic war machine will crucify him.

Having said that, we may have a player here. For the first time in a long time, I've got that delicious feeling that we might have a chance.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
It struck me at the time of his announcement--but I forgot to note publicly--that Alberto Gonzales is resigning as Attorney General effective September 17.

So what?

September 17 is the official birthday of the Constitution, ceremoniously signed on that date in 1787 in Philadelphia.

So what?

Perhaps it is coincidence, or perhaps the Bushies enjoy subtle practical gags--but even as the chattering classes continue to denounce the Bush administration as the most tyrannical regime since James II, the personnel come and go, serving and fading away. And, finally, on January 20, 2009, the much-maligned current President of the United States will walk off the American political stage and retire to his ranch in Texas, performing the most important ritual in all of American government: the peaceful and voluntary renunciation of ultimate power.

Hat tip to George Washington.

So what?

While I am not unconcerned by claims of an imperial presidency and/or the stealthily encroaching "unitary executive" theory, one must keep in mind our deep-seated tradition of public service above individual power accumulation. A whole host of pundits, partisans and scholars are convinced that George Bush and Dick Cheney set out to permanently alter the balance of power in favor of the executive.

Check out this scary title: Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy. More info on the plot from reporter Charlie Savage here via NPR.

But I wonder, how long can this cottage industry of calumnious drivel survive?

For all those who posit that Bush is Hitler, when are they going to contend with the notion that all this alleged power accumulation, if true, profits him nearly nothing—but stands to offer his likely Democratic Party successor a tremendous boon?

UPDATE: Welcome to Hugh Hewitt readers. We are honored.

The Bosque Boys invite all Hugh fans to browse the site and make yourself at home.

Previous thoughts on the signing statements controversy from 2006 here and here.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
If the Republicans had this sort of scandal going on, cable-news would have wall-to-wall coverage.

Gateway Pundit brings together the latest information here and here.

Farmer once said that Bill's downfall always would be women; Hillary's downfall always would be money. Interesting couple.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
Flopping Aces has a helpful timeline and information here.

Gateway Pundit offers historical comparison between Democrat and Republican scandals here.

Wizbang has a list of New England Democrat politicians who received money from Hsu here. Federal politicians were not the only ones.

Wizbang raises the essential question: where did Hsu's money come from?
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
Gateway Pundit remains your one-stop source for information on the Democrat fund-raising scandals specifically involving Hillary. Information and links. I wish the MSM were covering this wall-to-wall like they do much less important stories.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
The cases of Larry Craig and Mark Foley are fundamentally different.

Writing last fall about the "Foley Mess" (within the context of the then-coming election of 2006), I asserted:

"A case of perversion and arrogance. I had never heard of Mark Foley before Friday night, but he was an important person in the GOP hierarchy. And he was also a sexual (homosexual) predator whom the GOP leadership allowed to roam the halls of Congress and solicit underage pages unchecked. Once again, the party of morality faces a moral crisis."

Back then, I was disgusted and demoralized. And I was mad. I was angry at Republican leadership. Foley's bent toward sexually harassing and pursuing young men was an open secret on Capitol Hill. The passivity of GOP leadership in the face of such egregious conduct equaled complicity, and that was shameful.

I was especially infuriated at Dennis Hastert, whom I greatly admired prior to the Foley revelation. In truth, I have yet to fully forgive the former-Speaker for allowing Mark Foley to hustle teenagers entrusted to the United States Congress, presumably under the protection of the hulking, grand-fatherly, former wrestling coach and history teacher.

For me, the Foley revelation was the moral nadir of the modern Republican Party.

I do not feel the same way about Larry Craig. Although it looks increasingly likely the friendless senator from Idaho is finished politically (evidently, a tearful resignation is imminent), I feel only sympathy for him as a human being.

Unlike Foley, who evidently flaunted his sexuality within the circles of Washington power, Craig took great pains to conceal his secret desires from his colleagues, his family, and, perhaps most pitiably, himself.

The Senator's tortured protestations of innocence, "I am not gay; I have never been gay," strike me as ardently hopeful exclamations from a troubled soul. That is, while me thinks he protests too much, I cannot shake the sense that his toughest and principal audience is his own conscience.

The double standard among the Republicans is embarrassing. The GOP readily forgave David Vitter's heterosexual peccadilloes--but they are united in their disgust for Craig's "disgusting behavior" (which, according to the police report, was cryptically signaling his interest in an undercover officer of the same sex in a bathroom stall in an airport in Minneapolis).

The shame of Republican leadership in this instance is not that they allowed a "pervert" in their midst; rather, the moral failing of the GOP leadership in the matter of Larry Craig is the rush to abandon a troubled friend in need.

Still to Come in a Future Post: The worst hypocrisy exhibited in this whole sordid affair actually comes from the Democrats and the shock troops of "tolerance."