March 26, 2007

"In half a century, I have not seen a president so isolated from his own party in Congress..."

".. not Jimmy Carter, not even Richard Nixon as he faced impeachment." Says Robert Novak.
[N]ot many Republican lawmakers would speak up for Gonzales even if they were sure Bush would stick with him. He is the least popular Cabinet member on Capitol Hill, even more disliked than Rumsfeld was. The word most often used by Republicans to describe the management of the Justice Department under Gonzales is "incompetent."...

The saving grace that some Republicans find in the dispute over U.S. attorneys is that, at least temporarily, it draws attention away from debate over an unpopular war. But the overriding feeling in the Republican cloakroom is that the Justice Department and the White House could not have been more inept in dealing with the president's unquestioned right to appoint -- and replace -- federal prosecutors.

The I-word (incompetence) is also used by Republicans in describing the Bush administration generally. Several of them I talked to cited a trifecta of incompetence: the Walter Reed hospital scandal, the FBI's misuse of the USA Patriot Act and the U.S. attorneys firing fiasco. "We always have claimed that we were the party of better management," one House leader told me. "How can we claim that anymore?"
Painful.

70 comments:

The Mechanical Eye said...

At first I was bothered by your recent one-word commentaries on national politics (this isn't the Althouse I know! Where's the Socratic questioning?). But now I think it reflects on some serious disappointment in nearly everyone in current political leadership.

On the Hill and in the White House, everyone is so spectacularly sub-par that they deserve one-word summations. 2008 can't come fast enough.

DU

Roger said...

Hearing the word "incompetent" from a republican house leader talking about management is rather ironic given: republican pork, Foley, Hastert and Congressman Jefferson, etc.. Seems there incompetence is endemic among republicans in Washington!

Anthony said...

Aren't these the same Republicans in congress who lost their majority, largely because they were viewed as a do-nothing corrupt party while in power?

Yeah, I'd certainly believe them.

MadisonMan said...

Republicans also claimed to be the party of fiscal responsibility and small government. Look where that got the USA.

The cynic in me says the White House is purposefully gumming up the works with scandals such as the AG so that Democrats can't get anything done. This doesn't mean, however, that the Democratic Party should play along.

The Exalted said...

Spoken like a true democratic moderate! So sad for the GOP!

CB said...

A trifecta of incompetence? We're far beyond that. I don't think Bush has achieved a trifecta of competence yet. The damage that Bush has done to the Republican party will take years to fix.

Patrick said...

Robert Novak?

He handled the whole Plame thing great!

Whole lot of pots in that kitchen muttering about the kettle.

The question is where's the competent ones?

The press? Nope. Republicans in Congress? Nope. They did themselves in. Democrats in Congress? Not that I can see.

As far as the so-called 'trifecta' of incompetence, these seem like peripheral issues that are being blown way huge. Not a single one is Watergate, or Iran hostages, or even Iran-Contra. They are bored stories told by bored reporters who need something to make the country think there's a bit of competence in the press, and a bit of competence in Democratic management.

Maybe if Republicans in Congress had been themselves significantly less inept, they'd still be controlling the committees and we'd be hearing about other things.

No, incompetence may be charged against Bush, but it's not limited to Bush by any means. And I'll bet Bush feels the same way, and isn't exactly too sad about the Republican congressional problems.

They had a six year run. What did they do with it?

Dewave said...

"We always have claimed that we were the party of better management," one House leader told me. "How can we claim that anymore?"

Not to mention, how their ability to claim they are small government & fiscal responsibility has also taken a big blow.

Of course, while it took a couple years for the republicans to forsake the principles on which they were elected, it's only taken the democrats a couple of months.

Ann Althouse said...

Novak is good with sources. This piece seems significant.

Roger said...

I don't doubt the house republicans are looking for administration scapegoats; they are looking ahead to the 2008 elections. As lots of folks, including me, have already immplied, they (the house republicans) are badly in need of scapegoats to cover their own overwhelming incompetence.

Daryl Herbert said...

Spoken like a true democratic moderate! So sad for the GOP!

I think you're on to something, the exalted.

The article says conservatives are starting to use the I-word with respect to the Bush Administration. By Althouse's relaying of these concerns she is joining them.

Yes, when Ann points to Dem setbacks, she's cackling with evil glee. Where she points to GOP setbacks, she's crying into her beer. She can do the exact same thing to both parties, but it's not the same, is it?

Or maybe it is exactly the same, and you're just paranoid. You can get a decoder ring and join the Ann-haters club who secretly decode the meaning of her posts and always find it to be right-wing and that's sooo incredibly frustrating and unfair and we hate it hate it hate it aaaauguuugughhh

Balfegor said...

The word most often used by Republicans to describe the management of the Justice Department under Gonzales is "incompetent."...

I think this is sort of a continuation of Bush's failed attempts to get Miers and then Gonzalez into the Supreme Court -- those were events that triggered a massive disillusionment with his presidency, among Republicans, and those Republicans presumeably included the Republicans on the Hill. Honestly, has anyone (other than Bush), at any point stuck up for Gonzalez?

They're not really all that incompetent, in that they both have had respectable, if not particularly distinguished legal careers. But they're only where they are because (a) Bush buys into that sad "looks like America" affirmative-action rot, and (b) Bush knows them personally.

ASX said...

Roger is correct. Bush is currently enjoying the highest approval ratings he will ever see again. As low as he is now, it's only going to get worse. He will ultimately be ranked several rungs below Nixon.

Why? A lot of reasons. One is that we are just at the beginning of uncovering all the criminal behavior and contempt for America which his administration embodies.

Blind loyalty and emotional attachment also accounts for a big portion of his ~32% approval rating.

But eventually, all but the pure ideologues will come to their senses. Sure, he can't sink to 0%; he could kill his dog on national TV and he would still get the enthusiastic support of 20% of the population.

But this is to be expected: When you get down to the 20% percentile in any ranking system, you start seeing some really strange types of people. 20% sounds like a lot, but they are the truly marginal members of society. And fortunately, they account for 2/3rd of Bush's remaining base.

As for the fate of the Republican Party, every indication is that Bush has done more lasting damage to the Republican Party than Carter did to the Democratic Party. The young generation strongly identifies as Democratic, largely for the same reasons young people in 1979-1980 strongly identified as Republicans. They smell a loser and run in the opposite direction.

AJD said...

One-word commentaries are FABULOUS! And shallow. And lame.

Al Maviva said...

One is that we are just at the beginning of uncovering all the criminal behavior and contempt for America which his administration embodies.

Oh please. The left embarassed itself with the nearly sexual frenzy over Fitmaz - talk about premature. If the Administration was that bad, running that far amok, the country should be crumbling as a result. The Administration is, indeed, politically inept. But the Executive Branch as a whole seems to be doing not terribly. Somehow, I think we'd hear about it if the entitlement checks were late, if we were getting peppered with terrorist attacks, or if the economy was tanking as a result of government neglect/overreaction.

Crummmy presidency? Maybe, I'd give 3-2 odds. Too hard, from present day perspective, to pretend to issue definitive pronouncements on that. Worst disaster in the history of mankind? Um, not sure about that either, might want to breath into a paper bag for a while before making that allegation. Republicans and Democrats in a race to the bottom? Okay. I'd agree with that.

TMink said...

Madison man wrote: "Republicans also claimed to be the party of fiscal responsibility and small government."

They sure did, the liars. And I believed them because I am a chump. No more, I no longer trust Republicans, I am a conservative. The Republicans can go tax and spend themselves.

Trey

David said...

If there is a trifecta of incompetence it would include the declining ad revenues of an out-of-touch media hemorraghing revenue, Republican and Democratic malfeasance on a huge scale, and the Washington Game that infects most, if not all, the people who go there to represent the people.

The Bush managment style leaves a lot to be desired, as does much of corporate America. The only excuse is that when business, including government, becomes so big it also becomes unmanageable. This begs the question as to just where are the leaders?

Meanwhile, the psycho Jihadists are training their children to blow themselves, and us, in a tribute to Allah. The ramifications of this will haunt the west for a generation. We deal with it now or later, but deal with it we will.

GOD's War by Christopher Tyreman discusses the crusades and 9/11. When describing the crusaders of the 12th century he could easily be describing the politicians of today and their motives;

"...were immediate, contradictory, self-deluding and muddled rather than treacherous or malign."

The effects are the same despite their motives. 2008 will bring us a somewhat different gaggle of Washington types. The true test will be their ability to rise to the occasion in dealing with something over which they have no control.

Beth said...

I'm confused. Why hasn't anyone chirped in with "BDS!" here?

Balfegor said...

I'm confused. Why hasn't anyone chirped in with "BDS!" here?

Well, there are some examples in the thread, but every dog has his day. Gonzalez really is a bad Attorney General, and practically everyone would be happy to see him leave.

Richard Dolan said...

Ann says: "Novak is good with sources. This piece seems significant."

Yes, I suppose. But "significant" has a funny meaning here. It's a truism that nothing seems more dated than headlines from 20 or 30 years ago, along with the players no one can remember who once populated them. The stuff Novak is writing about won't have to wait that long to fall into that category. The three events that got Novak's attention -- the Walter Reed Hospital mess, the FBI's misuse of its already broad powers under the Patriot Act, and the mishandling of the US Atty firings -- are all small bore. It's certainly true that the US Atty mess could have been avoided, and doesn't speak highly of the political skills of Gonzales (and perhaps Bush for putting him there). But the other two involve operative screw-ups that happened way down in the bureaucratic food-chain.

Nor do I see a case for claiming that those events have much to do with the problems Bush may be experiencing with his own team in Congress. The Rep members of Congress don't like any bumps along the road to re-election, and there seems to be a lot of fear that Bush has become a very big bump indeed. After last Nov, that is quite understandable. They'll get over it, mostly because there is no alternative. The Rep team will come around when Congress tries to override the vetoes that seem to be coming. They need something to rally around, and it's likely that they will find it there.

As for the electoral concerns that at bottom are what this is all about, the next election will turn on the two candidates from whom voters will have to make a choice rather than Bush per se. Since the Rep candidate won't be Cheney, both candidates will be campaigning on a pledge of "new directions" even as they disagree about what those directions should be.

The chances that the Bush Admin and the Dem Congress would ever have been able to accomplish much of significance over the next two years was always a fantasy. The Bush Admin still controls foreign policy and the Dem Congress has no way, short of using the purse strings, to change that fact. On the big domestic issues --taxes, entitlement reform, health care, etc. -- nothing significant was ever likely to happen. Instead, the political theatre on both sides is already in high gear, starting with the Iraq funding bill coming out of the House and the recent "hearings" on global warming. The model here is likely to be the last two years of the Reagan and Clinton Admins, both of which were consumed by investigations and political agendas all focused on the next election.

Ann summarizes it all in one word: "painful." The larger and more painful reality is that this is how pretty much all second term administrations end, and have ended for a long time.

bill said...

One-word commentaries are FABULOUS! And shallow. And lame.

One-word commentaries are short.

Al Maviva said...

I'm with you, TMink. I expected them to lie and be bad, just not to go as dishonest and as bad as quickly as they did.

As for BDS and other stuff... a lot of idiots (especially people in the 'radical middle') will say, "people on all sides of the political spectrum are criticizing my decision, so it tells me I must be doing something right." That's possible, I suppose. But it could just mean that you are wrong, and everybody knows it. I think that sums up Gonzales' situation.

Sloanasaurus said...

Everyone has to be over-the-top these days. It's trendy to call the Administration "incompetent." or "the worst ever" at this or that ever. It has been trendy since Hurricane Katrina, even though that was largly a media driven event.

Yet, we still have not been attacked in over 5 years, and the economy is kicking butt. Is that incompetence? Lets not overstate the importance of things!

Besides, Republicans should start feeling better. Democrats are on their way to bungling their new found power wasted on trying to lose the war in Iraq. In early 1995, Republicans passed all kinds of serious legislation including a $500 child tax credit, a large crime bill, tort reform (vetoed), regulatory reform. The Democrats have done almost nothing other than minimum wage. It looks like they have now folded on Earmarks and spending and Congressional corruption in general. Ultimately this Democratic Congress will be compared to the Republicans in 1994. The comparisons won't be pretty for the Democrats. Without Bush to hate in 2008, where can Democrats turn?

peter hoh said...

My theory is that any political figure can endure the slings and arrows as long as he or she has the backing of his/her partisans. Think Clinton weathering the Lewinsky scandal.

When folks on your side leave you hanging, then you're in trouble. Think Trent Lott. In the case of Lott, I think the White House and others were willing to see a powerful Senate leader replaced with one who would be more pliable.

Andrew Sullivan noted last week that the three leading contenders for the GOP nomination have called the Iraq war undermanned, poorly planned, and badly managed. That's the same argument that he was making three years ago. Funny how none of the three presidential nominees making that argument now are accused of being soft on terror, anti-American, or liberal.

Internet Ronin said...

The GOP congressional leadership began discounting the White House point of view not long after the 2004 election and the 2006 election has only deepened that discount. Ann is right, Novak is a good source of quotes - especially those that someone WANTS out there for everyone to know (they call him to leak).

The Bush Administration has a long track of not involving others in its decision-making or reasoning, including the American people and our allies, so why should the congressional GOP have been treated any differently?

Cedarford said...

Richard Dolan - The three events that got Novak's attention -- the Walter Reed Hospital mess, the FBI's misuse of its already broad powers under the Patriot Act, and the mishandling of the US Atty firings -- are all small bore.

I agree they are small stuff, but I think you and Ann mistakenly look at only Novak's "Trifecta" of recent incompetence when the public, I believe, is looking at a long pattern of significant incompetence in significant matters - no postwar plan for Iraq, Katrina, enlarge Gov't by 40%, America's global collapse in prestige, oil costs exploding, increase trade debt by an extra 2,000 per American, net national debt by over 160,000 per American (mainly Bushie inaction and unwitting augmentation of Medicare's out of control future costs as unfunded liabilities, but also borrowing from foreign bankers to take on more debt than any President in history - nearly all put together in fact...).

After Katrina and Iraq, yes, the events and consequences of Bushie bungling have been smaller, but they are cumulative:

Miers nomination, attempts to sound out Gonzales nomination to bug-eyed, incredulous Republican Senators. Stay the course. Stay with loyal buddy Rummy. Decide to drop him, but don't tell the voters...to assure that an extra 3 Senate seats and 12-15 House seats are lost. Mismanage 100 different items of small stuff that blow up like weekly stinkbombs in Dubya's face.

Sloanasaurus - Yet, we still have not been attacked in over 5 years, and the economy is kicking butt. Is that incompetence?

Why attack when you can eat America's economic, cultural, diplomatic lunch and grow the power and influence of Anti-American Lefties here and in Europe daily?
And if I could freely borrow 3 trillion dollars from the Chinese and Saudis, every economic indicator in the extended Cedarford family would look stunningly good - except for the poor relations not getting the borrowed largess that the rich family folk did. Live large, let the kids pay. That's the motto of the tax cuts for the wealthy, reckless spending, supply side Bushies. And why they will be cursed far longer than Carter or Nixon ever were, as those Dubya bills from Bank of China come due for many decades onwards...

madawaskan said...

Well never before has the military community been so abandoned-about the only one that has hung with them is the President.

As soon as the media reached some critical mass with the general public convincing them that the military was a big loser-

Everyone with their own political ambitions first in their hearts-did the Monty as in Python-

Run Away!

Then you've got William F. Buckley moaning in his last NRO piece about how the Republic needs to stand up yadda, yadda.

You know maybe if the public carried more of the burden but they haven't and they've eschewed that "right" as far as I am concerned.

Never before has the military been so invisible and isolated from the rest of the community-no surprise that the C in C would go right with them.

Who's the last President- Republican that you can compare Bush to?

Reagan.

But Reagan wasn't trying to deal with the worst attack on the US in history, the worst election, the worst natural disasters back to back.

With a media that now runs a 24/7 news cycle and is competing for faster innacurate reporting.

A media that thinks nothing of showing beheadings, and snipers shooting GIs in the head on TV, over and over.

The same media that told the White House one of their produced videos was "propaganda" while Osama and Saddam got direct access to the American public like no enemy of the state has before.

Can you imagine Kruschev or Brezhnev getting that kind of "face time" with the American public to spew their threats?

No you can't.

But instead of looking at all the variables and outlying conditions it's a hell of a lot easier and lazier to blame -One Guy-Bush.

If only he would go away everyone would like us.

Wrong. They never liked Americans-that's the resentment that is earn for just having one of the best economies, being one of the last super powers..

Heck-your neighbors-Canadians make a past time out of hating America that they only manage to hold back during interviews for their green cards.

XWL said...

I advocated resignations at the top of the Bush Administration earlier this month (not in a 'Boooosh is Eeeevil' sort of way, but a 'sly way to effect the next election' sort of way).

It would be the "Lucy Strategy" and the Democrats would look like Charlie Brown as the football of Boooosh Hatred was yanked away from them at a critical moment.

Maybe everyone else will catch up with me.

As far as the Novak criticism, the paleocons like Novak and Buckley have hated President Bush since before he was elected, and were critical of abandoning a 'realpolitik' relationship with the Middle East.

Doyle said...

Painful?

Why yes, the Bush administration has been painful, Ann. Thanks for noticing, and voting for him of course.

madawaskan said...

XWL

I keep forgetting that about Novak, even though I know it was the anti-war Armitage that leaked to the anti-war Novak.

Proof that the media is lopsided?

The tape of Armitage leaking like a sieve to Woodward would have been HUGE news had it been released earlier or should have been HUGE news if the media had always played it neutral. Instead since the road from Armitage leads to the media created darling Powell-it didn't even get out of the starting gate..

Interesting at the beginning of this engagement the press said we aren't going to create "heroes" again like Powell and Schwarzkopf-and immediately limited the direct access of the military to the public. No more unfiltered briefings beamed straight to the American living room. The media will "interpet" it for the public.

Americans now know the names and faces of the enemy Saddam, Osama, Al Zaquari better than they do the names and faces of the American generals that have been overseeing the war.

Freder Frederson said...

Well never before has the military community been so abandoned-about the only one that has hung with them is the President.

Hung with them? Are you serious? Every step of the way he has undermined the military. He refused to listen to the uniformed military when they told him how many troops were needed to stabilize Iraq. He overruled them on the use of military tribunals and interrogation tactics resulting in torture and the disaster of the current military commissions. He has refused to fight this war on budget, instead pretending that every year of this war is an unanticipated "emergency". Instead of regearing the military to develop the kind of equipment (e.g., purpose built armored cars and other light wheeled armored vehicles) that we need to fight the kind of war we find ourselves in he presses ahead with ultra expensive weapons systems (e.g., the Sea Wolf and F-22) meant to fight threats that disappeared 15 years ago. He has even refused to allot enough money to keep the equipment we do have repaired. The Depots that overhaul our weaponry are still working on a peacetime schedule. Most of all, instead of expanding the military to meet the threat he depended on the existing threat so that soldiers, sailors, and airmen are now on their third or fourth tour, never asking the people of the country for any sacrifice at all.

dave™© said...

Painful.

To bought-and-paid-for right-wing shills like yourself, I'm sure.

For the rest of us, the end of another long national nightmare brought to you by the Republican Party.

Alan said...

"Not to mention, how their ability to claim they are small government & fiscal responsibility has also taken a big blow."

Yeah, but they're pro-life.

It is my opinion the GOP doomed itself by bringing the pro-lifers into the fold. The party has been on a dumbed down slide ever since.

Freder Frederson said...

Interesting at the beginning of this engagement the press said we aren't going to create "heroes" again like Powell and Schwarzkopf-and immediately limited the direct access of the military to the public.

Where and when did "the press" (as though it is some entity that puts out press releases on what it intends to do) announce this? If anything, it was the administration that decided it was too dangerous to allow the press to have free access to the military and limited their ability to cover the military, imposing onerous embed and censorship requirements.

madawaskan said...

Freder-


Do you think we can win a war of "attrition" again like WW I or WW II. Do you think we can win a war of attrition against China? Do you think we would not encourage or enemies by giving up our one military advantage over those that hold the attrition battle advantages by giving up our leading edge in what greatly offsets the "numbers"?

Technology.

You don't think China noticed the battle in Afghanistan? Take a look at some of the latest interviews and moves by the Chinses military.

Several trends in the Air Force’s leadership since the mid-1980s have affected the
PLAAF’s status within the PLA. Prior to the early 1980s, the PLAAF’s senior leadership was
dominated by ground force air force ranks. Another trend involves age and experience. Since ranks were re-instituted in
1988, the average age of the PLAAF’s leaders at the three general officer ranks has declined by about 3-5 years. In addition, whereas almost every PLAAF leader in the 1980s had fought in the
Korean War, they had all retired by the mid-1990s. These changes, along with the acquisition of
various weapon systems, led to a shift during the 1990s from a purely defensive posture toward
having a simultaneous offensive and defensive capability.


That was from RAND and not so recenttly-

Link

More recently there has been this uptick-

Recent news from China is not reassuring. In early March, Beijing announced a 17.8 percent increase in its military spending, this after 15 years of double-digit increases. Add to this the troubling and still unresolved crisis over Pyongyang's nuclear arms program. Some experts, including John R. Bolton, who has had experience negotiating with North Korea, believe that Kim Jong-Il has more surprises up his sleeve if the U.S.-six-nation agreement breaks down.

Even before its recent announcement, Beijing was rapidly building a massive nuclear arsenal, including ICBMs, nuclear-armed submarines, and the capacity to destroy U.S. military satellites.

It was also testing the waters in the Pacific. Last October 27th, a Chinese diesel-powered attack sub armed with cruise missiles surfaced five miles from the USS Kitty Hawk, a vessel in a U.S. aircraft carrier group patrolling near Japan. Later, China said it was a "chance encounter" and it had no intention of harming the Kitty Hawk.
But Beijing rejected a U.S.-proposed agreement to prevent such provocative incidents.

Link

And this censorship of General Pace-

"On China’s declared military budget, which will increase by 17.8 percent to almost $45 billion this year, Pace had this to say":

It is important to know not only how much of a nation’s resources are being put into the budget, but what is that money buying, what is the intent of that buying.

"This portion of Pace’s message seems to have been lost in translation by the Chinese media, which failed to include the above-quoted remarks in their coverage of the press conference."Link

So sure the Chinese are nothing to be prepared for, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea have nothing to worry about, and we should toss are few remaining allies overboard.

Better yet, leave things unchecked, be unprepared, and we can always throw bodies at them just like we did in WW I and WW II because bodies are CHEAPER.

Finally I remember a certain Democrat presidential contender saying that we were overconcetrating on the Middle East and ignoring China-but whatever works for you politically at the time is what matters most right?

In case you forgot his name was Kerry.

Invisible Man said...

Do you think we can win a war of "attrition" again like WW I or WW II. Do you think we can win a war of attrition against China? Do you think we would not encourage or enemies by giving up our one military advantage over those that hold the attrition battle advantages by giving up our leading edge in what greatly offsets the "numbers"?

Of course we can, but I'm guessing that this was one of those swipes that American is impatient. blah blah blah. World War II lasted 1248 days. The Iraq War if you haven't guessed exceeded that in August of last year. Further demonstrating the difference between that war and this one is the fact that we had a clear goal in mind as well as a country and military prepared for that war. If we are forced into a war with China for credible reasons, with a President who is willing to be clear and honest with the American people about the goals, cost and reasoning for the wars I see no more than a fringe willing to oppose it.

But none of this was done with Iraq. We are still receiving new reasons for the war years later, this President was never honest about the costs of this war in both blood and treasure, and he has yet to be honest about the goals of this War. If President George P. Bush or Chelsea Clinton in 2020 goes about a war in the same fashion as this President we will see some of the same problems, but it doesn't have to be that way.

SGT Ted said...

"Hung with them? Are you serious? Every step of the way he has undermined the military." Freder

Talk about revisionist. Is this the new talking point meme?

You must be thinking of the Democrats in Congress and the press.

Freder Frederson said...

Do you think we can win a war of attrition against China?

Considering that China can destroy our economy simply by refusing to lend us any more money, I think a military confrontation with China is the last thing we need to worry about. This is yet another example of how little this president really cares about the security of this country, since he apparently believes tax cuts are more important than the long term security of the country.

If you are seriously arguing that we need the Sea Wolf and the F-22 to counter some potential threat while we ignore the very real needs of our troops on the ground, then I really question the level of your (and the president's) support of the troops.

Freder Frederson said...

Talk about revisionist. Is this the new talking point meme?

Rather than pithy put downs, you might try countering the points I made.

Balfegor said...

Re: Invisible Man:

Further demonstrating the difference between that war [WWII] and this one [Iraq II] is the fact that we had a clear goal in mind as well as a country and military prepared for that war.

Wait . . . a country and military prepared for World War II? America? What? Since when? Psychologically, sure, we were prepared. Kind of. We had instituted a draft over a year before Pearl Harbor, so we weren't caught flatfooted. But it's not like we had our military forces in a high state of readiness and preparation. We had to train our soldiers and build our war engines before our end of the contest could really begin.

In contrast, in Iraq, we went in with well-trained troops and readily available material, and don't seem to have had to convert civilian industry over to wartime production in any appreciable degree.

Our "clear goal" in WWII also wasn't actually all that clear either. It wasn't until 1944, at Casablanca, that we settled on "unconditional surrender" as our formal objective. Exactly what to do with the conquered populations of Germany and Japan afterwards remained an object of contention up until Potsdam.

On the other hand, to be fair, I suppose we were much more clear in that whatever we said our objective was in political terms, our objective in practical terms was, from the very start, nothing less than the utter and complete destruction of the warmaking abilities of Germany and of Japan. We achieved this primarily by bombing them back to the stone age and killing all their young men -- and this was a tactic we pursued with success from the Dolittle raid right up to the atomic detonation in Nagasaki.

Our initial primary goal in Iraq was comparably clear (destruction of any active Iraqi WMD programs and of Iraq's capacity to reactivate or reconstitute its nuclear weapons program), but after we accomplished that (June/July-2004, when we shipped their uranium stockpiles to the US), our goals shifted. The new goals seem to have been: (1) establish a stable, democratic central government in Iraq; and (2) prevent genocide. And that's pretty much where we are today as well, although the day-to-day goals seem to change from time to time, as Zarqawi, Muqtada al-Sadr, and other individuals and their groups have risen to prominence and become the focus of political attention.

Fen said...

It is my opinion the GOP doomed itself by bringing the pro-lifers into the fold. The party has been on a dumbed down slide ever since.

Don't forget to add those dumb moralizing abolitionist Repubs in the North East. Some lifeforms are subhuman and deserve to be treated as such, yes?

Mindsteps said...

"We always have claimed that we were the party of better management," one House leader told me. "How can we claim that anymore?"

Professor Althouse wrote: "Painful".

I say---bring on the Pain.

I recall one supervisor sharing with me: Do you know what the psychological definition of a trap is? Something that brings short-term gratification or relief, but long term pain and suffering." What are some examples of traps?- lying, cheating, stealing, using drugs or alcohol excessively, neglecting one's family by focusing excessively on work, etc, etc. etc.

For years, our leaders, be they democrat or republican have fallen into traps and placed themselves and us at risk by taking short-cuts, using lies,manipulations, bribes, etc. for a whole host of reasons.

How does one get out of a trap....Suffer some losses now for the sake of greater gain later on. It is my hope that the pain involved with exposing us to the truth about this and so many other unethical, manipulative acts by those in positions of power are part of a process of freeing us from the traps we find ourselves in.

Novak and his partisan ilk have contributed to the current traps our government and citizenry are caught in.

Maybe this pain can be a signal that things may eventually get better in the future. Then again, it probably depends on how we deal with it.

DBrooks said...

Sloanasaurus has it right. A lot of this is affected overreaction--or willful self-delusion. Has the Bush Administration made errors in judgment, and mismanaged events? Obviously. And this differs from every other Administration how? I know. The regular crowd will chime in with accusations of scale--"Bush is the WORSE," "MOST incompetent," "MOST secretive,""MOST disconnected," and so on. Poppycock. History will make the final assessment, but I suspect that judgment will be neither as harsh as his detractors expect and hope, or as positive as his supporters wish. All this sound and fury will ebb like last week's high tide. Sure, there will be those who hold on to this era as their casus belli--just as there are those who seem incapable and unwilling to let former Administrations go--as if such outrage gives meaning to their lives. Trust me. It doesn't. It may be true that young and soon-to-be voters have made a permanent choice to the left as a result of their feelings about President Bush, but I will believe it when I see it. Things change much faster these days. I suspect a President Giuliani will reinvigorate public support for the Republican Party, and win back any voters President Bush may have lost. Republicans are blessed with political adversaries the likes of Pelosi, Reid, Durbin, Conyers, Frank, Dean, Leahy, Gore, Kennedy, and the like. Given that list, I'm not ready to cede any generational shift in political ideologies.

Alan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alan said...

"Don't forget to add those dumb moralizing abolitionist Repubs in the North East. Some lifeforms are subhuman and deserve to be treated as such, yes?"

I'm not sure what you're trying to say, Fen. But there is a creepy alliance between the protect the border crowd and the pro-lifers... as illustrated by this proposed law:

ec. 50.001. ADOPTION INCENTIVE PROGRAM. (a) The
department shall develop a program to encourage pregnant women to
place their children for adoption rather than have an abortion.
(b) The program must include a $500 payment to each woman
who is a resident of this state and a citizen of the United States*
who places a child for adoption rather than have an abortion.



Evidently some lives are worth protecting more than others.

The Exalted said...

well well, only a matter of time in any althouse thread before the comparisons of our silly, voluntary and ill-conceived venture in iraq to World War II begin.

as for bush "hanging with the troops," how exactly does that comport with the continued re-ups, the refusals to increase benefits, refusals to adequately equip, and refusals to adequately man the mission? not to mention, the initial and most fatal refusal to listen to the military men who wanted no part of an iraqi war in the first place.

and daryl, my double plus secret decoder ring works just fine.

Fen said...

Alan: by bringing the pro-lifers into the fold. The party has been on a dumbed down slide ever since.

Fen: Don't forget to add those dumb moralizing abolitionist Repubs in the North East. Some lifeforms are subhuman and deserve to be treated as such, yes?

Alan: I'm not sure what you're trying to say, Fen.

Today's pro-lifers are yesterday's abolitionists. Abortion and slavery are linked, as both discard lifeforms that are considered subhuman. Those pesky dumb Christians had the moral courage to stand against both, when few others would. So I don't mind having them in my tent.

Too Many Jims said...

Fen said... Today's pro-lifers are yesterday's abolitionists. Abortion and slavery are linked, as both discard lifeforms that are considered subhuman. Those pesky dumb Christians had the moral courage to stand against both."

Hate to intrude on a lovely OT conversation but I did want to say a couple of things. Not that I agree with Alan as to where the Republican party went astray, but saying that "Today's pro-lifers are yesterday's abolitionists." is nice self congratulatory language for anti-abortionists but really doesn't mean anything.

In fact there are those who claim that pro-choicers are the rightful heirs to the abolitionist mantle because if abortion were to be outlawed it would have the effect of the government enslaving a woman by denying her sovereignty over her own body.

I am not persuaded by either position.

Further, you say "Those pesky dumb Christians had the moral courage to stand against both." Of course you know that "Christians" were on both sides of the slavery issue (as they are, to a lesser degree, on the abortion issue). So congratulating "Christians" for being against slavery is incomplete to say the least.

TMink said...

Fen said: "Those pesky dumb Christians had the moral courage to stand against both, when few others would."

Thanks for the compliment, but I am not sure we deserve it. Some of us pesky, dumb Christians were indeed on the right side of the slavery debate, but too many of us in the South were not. I think the data on the Civil Rights movement is a little better, but just a little.

I wish us PDC had a better track record, but even on the abortion massacre, we are divided.

Trey

Sloanasaurus said...

Cederford, you make some good points. But, I thinky ou are mistaken with some of the facts.

The U.S. owes about $1.5 trillion to foreign governments. $650 billion is to Japan. $350 billion to China. Saudis hold much less.

This is differnet from the $3 trillion you claimed in a prior post.

Balfegor said...

Re: Too Many Jims:

but saying that "Today's pro-lifers are yesterday's abolitionists." is nice self congratulatory language for anti-abortionists but really doesn't mean anything.

I think the analogy is perfectly reasonable, seeing as both abolitionists and anti-abortionists are/were widely understood to be whacko religious fanatics by their more moderate contemporaries. Indeed, not only as religious fanatics, but as religious fanatics propounding somewhat radical and absolutist version of doctrine -- slavery appears repeatedly in the Bible after all, and slaveowning Christians took comfort from that.

Fen said...

you say "Those pesky dumb Christians had the moral courage to stand against both." Of course you know that "Christians" were on both sides of the slavery issue

Of course I know. That's why I specifically referred to the Christian abolitionists in the NE. They were the kindling that flamed the North's anti-slavery.

there are those who claim that... if abortion were to be outlawed it would have the effect of the government enslaving a woman by denying her sovereignty over her own body.

I've heard that before. Something about how outlawing slavery would deny people sovereignty over their own property...

I think abortion will fall the same way slavery did: cultural and tech advances will weaken arguments supporting its necessity. Look, we know that birth control is not 100% effective, and we choose to take a risk anyway. So I think advances in birth control [along with laws that give us rights re their own DNA] will render the issue moot.

hdhouse said...

ADJ coughed: "But the Executive Branch as a whole seems to be doing not terribly".

not terribly what?

criminal? insane? inane? corrupt? did i mention stupid? pitiful? hitlerian? fascist?

what? the road to federal prison will be so long when congress gets cranked up that it will make Nixon look like a piker.

I'm sure it didn't occur to you that the distance everyone is putting betten the other branchs and the executive is there many never have been an executive like this in history. Bush may be a first.

How do you like them apples?

Too Many Jims said...

That's why I specifically referred to the Christian abolitionists in the NE.

No you didn't. Maybe you meant to or thought you did, but you didn't. The first mention of "Christians" in this thread is the one I cited.

I've heard that before. Something about how outlawing slavery would deny people sovereignty over their own property...

I specifically said I didn't find their argument persuasive that they are the rightful heirs to the abolitionist mantle so I have no desire to attempt to defend that position here. I would note, however, one difference that I see between abolitionists and anti-abortionists. From what I have read, abolitionists were meticulous about taking their opponents moral, theological, legal and political positions seriously.

I think abortion will fall the same way slavery did: cultural and tech advances will weaken arguments supporting its necessity.

Well those advances and a bloody civil war.

Look, we know that birth control is not 100% effective, and we choose to take a risk anyway. So I think advances in birth control [along with laws that give us rights re their own DNA] will render the issue moot.

Personally, this is an odd argument to me because a (not insignificant) portion of people who are anti-aborition are also anti-birth control. Some anti-abortionists want to overturn Griswold as much as they want to overturn Roe.

Balfegor said...

criminal? insane? inane? corrupt? did i mention stupid? pitiful? hitlerian? fascist?

I do have to say that Apple/anti-Hillary Clinton video did give me new enthusiasm for the prospect of a second Clinton president. I must have watched it at least ten times.

Fen said...

Jims: No you didn't. Maybe you meant to or thought you did, but you didn't. The first mention of "Christians" in this thread is the one I cited.

Fen at 11:03 PM

Don't forget to add those dumb moralizing abolitionist Repubs in the North East .... Today's pro-lifers are yesterday's abolitionists. Abortion and slavery are linked, as both discard lifeforms that are considered subhuman. Those pesky dumb Christians had the moral courage to stand against both, when few others would. So I don't mind having them in my tent.


You didn't enter the discussion until 8:07 AM. [shrug]

I specifically said I didn't find their argument persuasive

And I didn't attrib their point to you. You seem to be itching for an argument on something - have I offended you in some way?

hdhouse said...

Isn't the 5th amendment defense a telling turn of events?

Balfegor said...

Isn't the 5th amendment defense a telling turn of events?

In what, the Goodling/US Attorney firing case? Evidently not really. I'm with pretty much everyone else having a difficult time imagining what underlying crime could possibly have been committed by firing political appointees like US Attorneys, who serve at the pleasure of the President. But Prof. Muller does point out that people testifying always run the risk of getting prosecuted under the Federal false statements statute.

hdhouse said...

Not if they tell the truth....

Revenant said...

I'm sure it didn't occur to you that the distance everyone is putting betten the other branchs and the executive is there many never have been an executive like this in history. Bush may be a first. How do you like them apples?

"betten the other branchs and the executive is there many never have been"?

Would you mind translating "them apples" into English? I think you're suggesting that the Bush administration's actions and troubles are without historical precedent (which is silly, of course), but I'm not quite sure.

hdhouse said...

ahh typeo betten...between sorry.

"them apples" as in "how do you like them apples"?

gosh, from what fairly well known piece of entertainment comes:

(knocking on the plate glass)

"So. You like apples?"
"What?"
"Do you like apples?"
(smirks superiorily to his friends and looks back with a smile)...
"Yes, I like apples."
"Well I got her number, how do you like them apples?"

and Rev...everyone has your number.

Ann Althouse said...

"Good Will Hunting." (From memory. Not looked up. But it was knocking on the glass that gave it away for me.)

Balfegor said...

Re: hdhouse:

Not if they tell the truth....

If you've ever had to work with a witness reconstructing their recollection, you'd realise that even if they tell what you think is the truth, there's always multiple perspectives on a particular incident floating around, and there will always be incongruities between them. In the Scooter Libby trial, for example, Ari Fleischer was one of the major witnesses for the government, but his testimony on who exactly he leaked to contradicted the testimony of other government witnesses (some of the reporters). Were they lying? Probably not -- recollection is an imprecise thing. And when you're testifying on record, with a written transcript, a slip of the tongue or an infelicitous phrasing can turn into a major problem.

Too Many Jims said...

Fen,

First off, you have not offended me.

Second, I had read "Those pesky dumb Christians" as referring to "abolitionists" or "pro-lifers" rather than the more remote (and in a different typeface) "abolitionist Repubs in the North East."

Perhaps what threw me off was that you referred to their opposition to "both". I don't exactly think of New England Republicans as being the standard bearers for the so-called pro-life movement.

Fen said...

Jims: Perhaps what threw me off was that you referred to their opposition to "both".

Yah, sorry for that. My writing skills have gotten rusty as of late - disjointed, sloppy, not concise. Sometimes I wonder if English is not my native tongue. Or maybe I've finally lost what extra brain cells I had. Anyways, no biggie.

Revenant said...

"them apples" as in "how do you like them apples"

I know what the phrase "how do you like them apples" means. What I was asking was -- what the heck did the sentence *preceeding* it mean? "How do you like them apples" doesn't make much sense when it follows an incomprehensible statement. The sentence "between the other branchs and the executive is there many never have been" doesn't make any sense either.

and Rev...everyone has your number.

Maybe, but if *you* tried dialing it you'd probably end up ordering pizza by mistake. :)

hdhouse said...

Sloanasaurus said..." Everyone has to be over-the-top these days. It's trendy to call the Administration "incompetent." or "the worst ever" at this or that ever. It has been trendy since Hurricane Katrina, even though that was largly a media driven event. "

One has to thank Sloan for the occasional "tee it up and hit it out the park" opening...

I'm not sure Katrina was a media event...I might be wrong but I'm pretty sure a few thousand people died and most of 2 states and part of a third were kinda ..what's a good word...destroyed?

...but to the tee up...Sloan...you and Katrina are both wind driven

Revenant said...

I might be wrong but I'm pretty sure a few thousand people died and most of 2 states and part of a third were kinda ..what's a good word...destroyed?

The death toll was 1836, not "a few thousand", and the statement "most of 2 states were destroyed" is completely false. Other than that you almost managed to not be wrong.

hdhouse said...

Balfegor said...
If you've ever had to work with a witness reconstructing their recollection.....And when you're testifying on record, with a written transcript, a slip of the tongue or an infelicitous phrasing can turn into a major problem."

If your general bent were adopted there would be no perjury - all comments, recollections, observations would just end up in the lake.

I lead a complicated daily life and it is filled with details and conversations. Honestly if prompted I think I can remember most of them. In Mr. Libby's case it wasn't credible that he could have been so far off the mark in his memory of events.

It is that incredible lack of memory that will and should bit Alberto on his rump. And to the broader theme of the original post (Ann's) where she notes the trifecta of Walter Reed, FBI/Patriot Act and the USA firings, please note that we have had a series of trifectas.

The isolation of Mr. Bush is a self inflicted quarantine as it appears everyone and everthing he touches is struck dumb (a word chosed for application on many levels and meanings).

Balfegor said...

If your general bent were adopted there would be no perjury - all comments, recollections, observations would just end up in the lake.

There's an easy way to avoid any risk of inadvertent perjury -- don't testify under oath.

That's often inadvisable in many contexts. E.g. if you don't cooperate with an internal investigation, you may be fired, and if you don't cooperate with a government investigation, it may make you look suspicious, and turn you into a target at the US Attorneys or something. In addition, when you assert the 5th amendment, it's possible for all kinds of negative inferences to be drawn against that assertion, in a related civil case.

But people do assert the 5th all the time, and evidently (if what Prof. Muller put down was true) to prevent liability based on future activity (i.e. the testimony itself), rather than merely to avoid potentially incriminating testimony on past activities. That seems kind of odd to me, but he's a law professor, and I'm not.