So, Sarah Palin might still be considering a presidential run, and is tactically teasing out her decision until the last minute because of…[insert grand strategy that’s escaping me here]. Or, as chatterers have increasingly come to believe, she has no intention of running but is milking it to boost her a.) speaking fees, b.) publicity, c.) other.
So far, Palin’s guessing games have been all in good fun, mainly because she’s had the media tripping over its own feet. Reporters flocked to cover her much-hyped Iowa speech yesterday, which turned out to be a flop.
As if President Obama didn’t have enough bad news last week, Solyndra, which manufactures solar panels, filed for bankruptcy and laid off almost its entire work force of 1,100. Going down the tubes with it, of course, is a $535 million loan that was guaranteed by the federal government as part of the stimulus program.
And it seems the White House put pressure on the Department of Energy to OK the loan. As the Washington Post reported:
Frank Rusco, a Government Accountability Office director who helped lead a review of the Solyndra loan and the Energy Department’s loan guarantee program, said the GAO remains “greatly concerned” by its 2010 finding that the agency agreed to back five companies with loans without properly assessing their risk of failure. The companies were not identified in the report, but the GAO has since acknowledged that Solyndra was one of them.
In the view of some critics of Israel, Turkey’s decision to downgrade its diplomatic ties with the Jewish state is more than just a setback. It is seen as further evidence of Israel’s intransigence as the Netanyahu government allowed its foolish pride to alienate an important ally and unnecessarily heighten the nation’s diplomatic isolation.
But this false narrative doesn’t just get the dispute between Israel and Turkey wrong. It is based on a misreading of the fundamental shift in Turkey’s foreign policy that predates the Gaza flotilla dustup that served as the spark for the current contretemps. It is important to remember that long before Turkey tried to break the blockade of Hamas-run Gaza, its Islamic government had not only distanced itself from Israel but had begun to turn its back on the United States.
The Wall Street Journal has a curious front-page story in its weekend edition about the history of shameful neglect at Dawood National Military Hospital, Afghanistan’s version of Walter Reed. After spending nearly a full broadsheet page describing the horrifying neglect of soldiers and police wounded in action—some were allowed to starve to death or die of simple infections because they could not pay bribes for food and medicine—the article notes that last December, the Afghan army’s politically connected surgeon general, Gen. Ahmed Zia Yaftali, who was widely seen as the chief culprit, was removed from his post. This occurred, the article notes, because Gen. David Petraeus personally raised the issue with President Karzai.
In the penultimate paragraph one reads this: “The hospital has seen major improvements since then. A surge of coalition military mentors is helping ensure that Afghan nurses and doctors conduct regular checkups of patients and provide routine feedings and dressing changes. There haven’t been any documented cases of starvation since February, American mentors say.”
President Obama could have returned from his vacation and addressed the nation from the Oval Office, outlining his plan to increase jobs, pledging to have the legislative language on the desk of every member of Congress by the time they returned to Washington, calling on citizens to demand Congress act promptly on the Obama Plan.
For that strategy to work, however, you need an actual plan. You don’t summon the nation for an Oval Office address to propose what you’re already doing (unemployment insurance and a payroll tax reduction), or more of what didn’t work before (stimulus, but without the word “stimulus”), or things like patent reform or trade agreements you inherited from George W. Bush. If you don’t have a plan, but want to show you are the most reasonable man in the room, the Oval Office is not the right venue; you need a bigger room, and more people.