Commentary Magazine


Posts For: January 8, 2013

Justice for Benghazi? Still on Hold

In the wake of the murder of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya on 9/11/12, the administration made up for its deceptive accounts of the incident with bloodthirsty avowals that the persons responsible would be hunted to the ends of the earth. Nearly four months later, those promises remain unfulfilled. That stark reality was brought home today by the news that the only known suspect who had been arrested in connection with the terror attack that took the life of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans is no longer in custody. The suspect, a Tunisian named Ali Harzi, was being held in Tunis but was let go even though he is reportedly still considered a suspect by the United States.

State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland attempted to deflect questions about the investigation today by saying that it was the FBI’s responsibility. But that lame response goes right to the heart of the government’s ongoing failure in this case. The administration has consistently failed to treat Benghazi the way we ought to expect the U.S. government to respond to what was a direct terror attack on a symbol of American sovereignty. Instead of a full-court press from security and intelligence services, it was handed off to an FBI that seems to still be lost in Libya. From the first days during which we were told a fairy tale about the murders being a case of film criticism run amok to the present when questions about an investigation that shows no sign of life are stonewalled, Benghazi remains a fiasco for which there has no been accountability.

Read More

In the wake of the murder of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya on 9/11/12, the administration made up for its deceptive accounts of the incident with bloodthirsty avowals that the persons responsible would be hunted to the ends of the earth. Nearly four months later, those promises remain unfulfilled. That stark reality was brought home today by the news that the only known suspect who had been arrested in connection with the terror attack that took the life of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans is no longer in custody. The suspect, a Tunisian named Ali Harzi, was being held in Tunis but was let go even though he is reportedly still considered a suspect by the United States.

State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland attempted to deflect questions about the investigation today by saying that it was the FBI’s responsibility. But that lame response goes right to the heart of the government’s ongoing failure in this case. The administration has consistently failed to treat Benghazi the way we ought to expect the U.S. government to respond to what was a direct terror attack on a symbol of American sovereignty. Instead of a full-court press from security and intelligence services, it was handed off to an FBI that seems to still be lost in Libya. From the first days during which we were told a fairy tale about the murders being a case of film criticism run amok to the present when questions about an investigation that shows no sign of life are stonewalled, Benghazi remains a fiasco for which there has no been accountability.

Though reports speak of at least 15 suspects that have been identified in one way or another, the FBI seems no closer to solving the case and bringing the killers to justice then it was months ago when it was not even able to operate on the ground in Benghazi. The Libyan government doesn’t control Benghazi and is unable or unwilling to help U.S. efforts to take down the al-Qaeda-linked network that helped bring off this daring crime. Under those circumstances, one can hardly blame the FBI for its inability to bring the terrorists to justice since it is obviously more of a military problem than an ordinary criminal case. But for all of the tough-guy talk from the president and his foreign policy team about Benghazi, the actual follow-up is beginning to seem more like the aftermath of a 9-1-1 call than a U.S. security priority.

We can hope that given enough time the FBI will eventually make some arrests, allowing the president to say that justice has been done. But something is going to have to change on the ground in Libya before that happens. As it stands, the only administration pledge on justice for Benghazi that has been kept was the one made by Hillary Clinton when she told the father of one of the murdered Americans that the person who made the film that Clinton, Susan Rice and others falsely claimed was responsible for the attack would be jailed. That man has been imprisoned, though reportedly for parole violations rather than for having offended Muslims.  That unfortunate fact is not only a reminder that justice delayed is justice denied but that Obama, Clinton and the rest of the administration involved in the string of bad decisions that led to this debacle have yet to be held accountable for it.

Read Less

Can Hagel Confirmation Get Through Committee?

The Washington Post published a whip count this morning of where senators on the Armed Services Committee stand on Chuck Hagel’s nomination. By the afternoon, Bill Nelson had also joined the “yeas”–a key victory for Hagel supporters, since Nelson was seen as a Democrat who could have crossed over. That’s seven likely “no” votes and six likely “yes” votes so far. 

Here the latest breakdown (the rest are undecided): 

Read More

The Washington Post published a whip count this morning of where senators on the Armed Services Committee stand on Chuck Hagel’s nomination. By the afternoon, Bill Nelson had also joined the “yeas”–a key victory for Hagel supporters, since Nelson was seen as a Democrat who could have crossed over. That’s seven likely “no” votes and six likely “yes” votes so far. 

Here the latest breakdown (the rest are undecided): 

No votes: Lindsey Graham, Roger Wicker, Ted Cruz, David Vitter.

Leaning ‘no’: Jim Inhofe, John McCain, Kelly Ayotte

Yes votes: Bill Nelson

Near-certain ‘yes’ votes: Jack Reed, Mazie Hirono

Leaning ‘yes’: Carl Levin, Claire McCaskill, Joe Manchin 

Democrats have the advantage, since there are 14 of them on Armed Services and only 12 Republicans. Still, it’s possible Hagel’s nomination could be killed in committee. If every GOP member and just one Democrat opposes him, there would be a deadlock and the nomination wouldn’t be sent to the floor. With Nelson backing Hagel, another possible crossover would be Kirsten Gillibrand, who is still undecided.

It’s hard to predict what will happen if the nomination does make it to the floor, because we don’t know what will come out during the committee hearings. Hagel’s entire record–his finances, board affiliations, meeting transcripts, associates, etc., etc.–will be picked over by the media and opposition researchers. He will likely have to answer uncomfortable questions during the hearings as well. There’s a chance no more damaging information will be uncovered, and he’ll respond to all the questions perfectly. But this is Washington. It’s much more likely he’ll come out looking worse in the end, not better.

Senate Democrats still haven’t rallied behind Hagel, while Republican opposition is growing. The longer the confirmation battle, the more potential pitfalls for Hagel — and if there is a filibuster, which is very possible, the administration will need to secure 60 votes to get the confirmation. 

“If there’s nothing more that comes out, they might be able to squeak him across,” one senior Senate aide told me this afternoon, but noted there was “no room for error in this nomination fight.”

Read Less

GOP Can Start Reining in the Debt

Democrats had good reason to celebrate President Obama’s victory in the fiscal cliff. The House Republican caucus wasn’t just routed; it was nearly torn apart, leading some observers as well as many of the president’s supporters to suppose that this was just the first of a series of triumphs in which their liberal agenda will be imposed on the nation as the GOP fades into insignificance. Perhaps they actually think the president can get away with making the deficit or the debt ceiling go away by merely minting a trillion-dollar platinum coin. But like other triumphalist predictions from both parties in the last decade, such expectations are bound to lead to severe disappointment. Republicans remain in control of the House and any idea that the president can impose further tax increases on the nation while failing to address the need for entitlement reform that is necessary to solve our long-term fiscal crisis is pure fantasy. That’s why so many on the left are pushing hard right now to persuade Republicans to give up the one clear piece of leverage they have over the budget process: the need to raise the debt ceiling within the next two months.

As Pete Wehner wrote last week, using that upcoming deadline to force the president to give in on spending cuts is a perilous enterprise. Past attempts to hold Democrats’ feet to the fire on the budget in this manner have failed miserably. Nevertheless, as I pointed out on Sunday, unilateral surrender on the debt ceiling is not an option for Speaker John Boehner. They must fight not only for the sake of the cause of fiscal sanity but to avoid a meltdown of their caucus that will strengthen the ability of Democrats to get their way on taxes and spending and lessening their own chances of a comeback in 2014. The question is how to do so without being seen as irresponsible hostage takers who don’t care about the damage a government shutdown would have on the economy. A number of ideas are floating around, but Dick Morris floated one yesterday in the Hill that is worth considering: phasing in limited debt ceiling hikes that would avoid a government shutdown but would not be enough to allow the president to avoid having to negotiate on entitlement reform and other spending issues.

Read More

Democrats had good reason to celebrate President Obama’s victory in the fiscal cliff. The House Republican caucus wasn’t just routed; it was nearly torn apart, leading some observers as well as many of the president’s supporters to suppose that this was just the first of a series of triumphs in which their liberal agenda will be imposed on the nation as the GOP fades into insignificance. Perhaps they actually think the president can get away with making the deficit or the debt ceiling go away by merely minting a trillion-dollar platinum coin. But like other triumphalist predictions from both parties in the last decade, such expectations are bound to lead to severe disappointment. Republicans remain in control of the House and any idea that the president can impose further tax increases on the nation while failing to address the need for entitlement reform that is necessary to solve our long-term fiscal crisis is pure fantasy. That’s why so many on the left are pushing hard right now to persuade Republicans to give up the one clear piece of leverage they have over the budget process: the need to raise the debt ceiling within the next two months.

As Pete Wehner wrote last week, using that upcoming deadline to force the president to give in on spending cuts is a perilous enterprise. Past attempts to hold Democrats’ feet to the fire on the budget in this manner have failed miserably. Nevertheless, as I pointed out on Sunday, unilateral surrender on the debt ceiling is not an option for Speaker John Boehner. They must fight not only for the sake of the cause of fiscal sanity but to avoid a meltdown of their caucus that will strengthen the ability of Democrats to get their way on taxes and spending and lessening their own chances of a comeback in 2014. The question is how to do so without being seen as irresponsible hostage takers who don’t care about the damage a government shutdown would have on the economy. A number of ideas are floating around, but Dick Morris floated one yesterday in the Hill that is worth considering: phasing in limited debt ceiling hikes that would avoid a government shutdown but would not be enough to allow the president to avoid having to negotiate on entitlement reform and other spending issues.

As Morris writes:

The Republicans should offer to pass a bill now setting a debt limit that rises each quarter pegged to one-third of the revenue growth of the preceding quarter. Thus, two-thirds of all revenue growth — natural or due to tax hikes — would go to deficit reduction.

Republicans are unwilling to pull the trigger on default by refusing to raise the debt limit. But a bill to allow gradual increases in the debt limit, at a pace slower than revenue growth, need not trigger default. Instead, the president would be forced to prioritize his spending and borrowing so as to avoid default, pay the military and send out Social Security checks. All the rhetorical handles he has to battle an effort to kill the debt-limit increase will be gone in the face of a phased-in debt-limit hike.

Critics of the idea can certainly point out that this proposal could turn out to be as ineffectual as Boehner’s Plan B fiscal cliff plan that was dead on arrival in the House and never would have been passed in the Senate or signed by the president. We should certainly expect the president to stick to his refusal to negotiate on the debt ceiling at least initially. But Morris is right that what the GOP needs to avoid is an all-or-nothing approach to the debt that will only make Obama look like the reasonable one in the negotiation, even if his stand is no less ideological than that of his Tea Party foes.

As Pete wrote last week, conservatives need to use the upcoming months to articulate their vision for the country. But so long as they control the House they must use that body’s power of the purse to fight for the principles that the voters expect them to uphold. That requires what Morris calls a “flexible response” to a difficult fiscal and political problem. So long as Republicans are willing to raise the ceiling and avoid the shutdown that Obama believes will only strengthen his hand, they have a chance to win their point. The phased approach may not be perfect, but it is as good a scheme for thwarting Obama’s tax madness as I’ve heard in the last week.

Read Less

Rand Beers Possible Brennan Replacement?

Assuming John Brennan is confirmed to lead the CIA, the next question is who will replace him as President Obama’s chief counterterrorism advisor? If we’re just reading tea leaves, it sounds like long-time counterterrorism aide and Department of Homeland Security official Rand Beers may be a possibility.

The DHS is touting in a press release that Beers just led a delegation to Sana’a, Yemen yesterday. It’s interesting timing, considering Yemen has been Brennan’s major focus since 2009:

Read More

Assuming John Brennan is confirmed to lead the CIA, the next question is who will replace him as President Obama’s chief counterterrorism advisor? If we’re just reading tea leaves, it sounds like long-time counterterrorism aide and Department of Homeland Security official Rand Beers may be a possibility.

The DHS is touting in a press release that Beers just led a delegation to Sana’a, Yemen yesterday. It’s interesting timing, considering Yemen has been Brennan’s major focus since 2009:

SANA’A, Yemen— U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Under Secretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate and DHS Counterterrorism Coordinator Rand Beers led a DHS delegation to Sana’a, Yemen on January 7-8 to meet with counterparts to discuss strengthening the Department’s collaboration with the Government of Yemen on a variety of trade, civil aviation, and border security issues. This visit builds on the recent meeting between Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano in September 2012.

“The United States has a profound interest in advancing Yemen’s security and prosperity,” said Under Secretary Beers. “By enhancing collaboration with the Government of Yemen, we reaffirm our commitment to more effectively secure our two countries against evolving threats and improve the trade and investment climate in Yemen.”

Beers has served in Republican and Democratic administrations, but he’s not exactly embraced by the left or the right. He resigned from Bush’s National Security Council in protest of the Iraq war and joined the Kerry campaign. He also made offensive comments about John McCain’s time in a POW camp. Normally that might win him points with progressives, but Beers also led Plan Colombia, a Clinton-era operation that the left (and libertarians) have attacked as the “militarization” of the drug war. But Obama wouldn’t have to worry about getting a confirmation, so outside objections would be less of a factor.

Read Less

White House Considering the “Zero Option” for Afghanistan?

How low can they go? After leaks suggesting that the White House is decreasing projected troop levels in Afghanistan post-2014 to as low as 3,000, now the deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes has suggested that the zero option is a very real possibility.

This might be just a bargaining ploy to put pressure on Hamid Karzai as negotiations over a Status of Forces Agreement heat up, but it could also be where the White House ends up. That was certainly the outcome in Iraq. There, as in Afghanistan, the view of most experts and military officers was that we needed a substantial residual force but after negotiations hit a snag, President Obama pulled all the troops out. He may well do so again in Afghanistan—an option that Chuck Hagel and John Kerry would be more likely to support than their predecessors at Defense and State.

Read More

How low can they go? After leaks suggesting that the White House is decreasing projected troop levels in Afghanistan post-2014 to as low as 3,000, now the deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes has suggested that the zero option is a very real possibility.

This might be just a bargaining ploy to put pressure on Hamid Karzai as negotiations over a Status of Forces Agreement heat up, but it could also be where the White House ends up. That was certainly the outcome in Iraq. There, as in Afghanistan, the view of most experts and military officers was that we needed a substantial residual force but after negotiations hit a snag, President Obama pulled all the troops out. He may well do so again in Afghanistan—an option that Chuck Hagel and John Kerry would be more likely to support than their predecessors at Defense and State.

There would be little public pushback; even most Republicans are tired of the war and few are willing to get into a political brawl to keep troops in Afghanistan. This would be a political winner for Obama in the short term. It would not, however, be in our long-term national security interests.

It seems rather late in the day to be rehearsing all the reasons why we need to keep troops in Afghanistan, but those reasons are as valid today as they were in 2002: Our troop presence is an essential bulwark against the return to power of the Taliban which, recall, have never repudiated al-Qaeda and other trans-national terror groups. A victory for the Taliban would be a victory for al-Qaeda too and it would have parlous consequences outside Afghanistan. It would energize jihadists around the world and most particularly in Pakistan, the unstable but nuclear-armed state next door.

The Afghan security forces are more capable than they were a few years ago, but they cannot stave off such a disaster by themselves; they remain highly dependent on U.S. support and they will be so for years to come. The U.S. presence in Afghanistan not only allows us to buttress the Afghan forces but also to conduct our own counter-terrorist operations, such as the operation which killed Osama bin Laden.

All of that would be lost if the White House were to implement the “zero option” over the objections of the commanders on the ground. But it could very well happen. And however disastrous the zero option might turn out to be, it could actually be preferable to leaving a token force of, say, 3,000 troops which would be big enough to arouse nationalist resentment but too small to be militarily effective.

Read Less

What If Assad Wins?

All throughout the Syrian civil war, analysts and human rights groups were at pains to point out the rising death toll and falling share of media and public attention. But underlying the legitimate frustration was a perhaps forced belief–straining under the weight of reality–in the conventional wisdom: the house of Assad will fall; the victims’ deaths will not be in vain.

But the standard rule of conventional wisdom–that it may be the former but is rarely the latter–applies here as well. As Emile Hokayem writes in the wake of Bashar al-Assad’s recent defiant speech:

Read More

All throughout the Syrian civil war, analysts and human rights groups were at pains to point out the rising death toll and falling share of media and public attention. But underlying the legitimate frustration was a perhaps forced belief–straining under the weight of reality–in the conventional wisdom: the house of Assad will fall; the victims’ deaths will not be in vain.

But the standard rule of conventional wisdom–that it may be the former but is rarely the latter–applies here as well. As Emile Hokayem writes in the wake of Bashar al-Assad’s recent defiant speech:

More importantly, Western states should get off the sidelines. The illusion of a negotiated settlement is a consequence of Western indecision, not the cause for it. The United States in particular has squandered precious time and opportunities: The risks of greater involvement in Syria are certainly great, but the conflict has already overtaken the Iraq war in terms of regional and strategic impact, and Washington is at best marginal to its dynamics. U.S. Sen. John McCain only slightly exaggerated when he said last month: “In Syria, everything we said would happen if we didn’t intervene is happening because we didn’t intervene.” Judging by Assad’s speech, Syria’s civil war is indeed about to become even more tragic as the world stands idly by.

That “illusion” is a Western creation, and more importantly it is not widely–and certainly not universally–shared. The “rebels” do not emit an air of encroaching victory, and to speak of patience and inevitability seems nothing less than vulgar. Can anyone explain why time is on the side of the rebels? It certainly doesn’t feel that way anymore, does it?

As Hokayem points out, Assad’s strategy is to wait until 2014 and then pretend to hold (fake) elections. Westerners can laugh at this now, but the world’s only superpower has just nominated to serve as its chief diplomat John Kerry–a man who referred to Assad as his “dear friend,” a reformer with whom we could work. Kerry is so enamored of mindless, endless negotiations that analysts are already predicting he will attempt to swing Foggy Bottom’s approach to North Korea–a genuinely evil regime, the persistence of which we will one day have to explain to its survivors, though we’ll be unable to–away from Hillary Clinton’s supposedly “tough” approach to one that allows him to hear the sound of his own voice in yet another obsequious, weak-willed context.

The Obama administration sought to help the rebels by recognizing the opposition, but in so doing had to first designate the al-Nusra Front, which is participating in the war, as a terrorist organization. The al-Nusra Front subsequently, and unsurprisingly, became the military leaders of the rebellion. Which raises the question: has the window closed on intervention? Have we made it impossible to intervene even if we wanted to? As Simon Tisdall writes at the Guardian, that is becoming the new convention wisdom:

The west’s hedging of bets over Syria has become glaring in recent months even as its rhetoric has intensified. Political demands, principally that Assad step down immediately and without preconditions, have become ever more inflexible. Led by France, the western position is that nothing less than regime change at the top will do. But at the same time, the argument about doing what needs to be done militarily and logistically to ensure that objective, for example by arming the rebels, seems to be over – and the rebels are the losers. Despite the rebooting of opposition forces under the umbrella Syrian National Coalition, weapons supplies and financial aid are drying up. Even the Sunni Gulf states seem to be having second thoughts as they contemplate a post-Assad Syria sliding into post-Saddam style anarchy.

The most perverse element in all this is that it seems the only event that could now trigger American-sanctioned intervention in Syria would be the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime against the rebels. Max has already asked why it is OK for Assad to kill children with guns and bombs but not chemical weapons. It’s a rhetorical question, because the only acceptable answer–that it isn’t OK to kill them with anything–would put Assad on the wrong side of the red line the administration has so carefully placed in front of him.

The White House may also think that this will ease the criticism from interventionists and human rights groups: if it’s too late for action, it’s surely too late for words. It’s more likely, however, that as the inevitable turns into the inconceivable the judgment will be harsh, but it won’t be written on the country’s op-ed pages; it’ll be written in the history books.

Read Less

That War, You Didn’t End That

Presenting his nominee for secretary of defense yesterday, President Obama began with a self-congratulatory assessment of his own national security record, asserting he had protected American security “by ending the war in Iraq, and beginning a transition in Afghanistan.”

As Bret Stephens notes in the Wall Street Journal, it was President Bush whose surge in Iraq (against the advice of Senators Obama, Kerry and Hagel) ended that war, and whose status of forces agreement with Iraq could have led to a long-term U.S. security relationship, had President Obama not fumbled it. In Afghanistan, Obama approved a 3/4 surge, announcing it with a speech setting a time limit and asserting the country he really wanted to build was his own. He will “transition” next year without a victory. In that regard, it may be useful to recall President Bush’s December 1, 2008 interview with Charlie Gibson:

Read More

Presenting his nominee for secretary of defense yesterday, President Obama began with a self-congratulatory assessment of his own national security record, asserting he had protected American security “by ending the war in Iraq, and beginning a transition in Afghanistan.”

As Bret Stephens notes in the Wall Street Journal, it was President Bush whose surge in Iraq (against the advice of Senators Obama, Kerry and Hagel) ended that war, and whose status of forces agreement with Iraq could have led to a long-term U.S. security relationship, had President Obama not fumbled it. In Afghanistan, Obama approved a 3/4 surge, announcing it with a speech setting a time limit and asserting the country he really wanted to build was his own. He will “transition” next year without a victory. In that regard, it may be useful to recall President Bush’s December 1, 2008 interview with Charlie Gibson:

GIBSON: Was there a time [during your presidency] when you thought, if I do this I will be compromising my principles –

BUSH: Yes.

GIBSON: — some decision where you really thought that that was at issue?

BUSH: Yes.

GIBSON: What?

BUSH: The pullout of Iraq. It would have compromised the principle that when you put kids into harm’s way, you go in to win. And it was a tough call, particularly, since a lot of people were advising for me to get out of Iraq, or pull back in Iraq, or — and rather than listen to — I mean, I listened to a lot of voices, but ultimately, I listened to this voice: I’m not going to let your son die in vain; I believe we can win; I’m going to do what it takes to win in Iraq.

As Iran watches the Obama-Kerry-Hagel triumvirate assume control of American foreign policy, the signal is unmistakable. You don’t nominate a person to head the American military who says he is still haunted by Vietnam, said the effort in Afghanistan was “not sustainable at all,” opposed the effort to win the Iraq War, wants to negotiate with Iran’s ally in Gaza, and is proud of his ability to resist the “Jewish Lobby,” without realizing the signal it sends–particularly when you couple it with a nomination for secretary of state of someone similarly haunted (and known more recently for his continual attempts to engage Bashar al-Assad). It is as clear as a presidential pat on the knee.

Read Less

Krugman’s Self-Parody

I rarely agree with New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, but he spoke the truth when he wrote yesterday on his blog at the paper that the notion of President Obama appointing him to the post of treasury secretary was a “bad idea.” The economy is in bad enough shape as it is without exacerbating our problems by putting a doctrinaire liberal like Krugman in the position once held by Alexander Hamilton. But what is interesting about the question of Krugman’s future plans is not so much the negligible merits of the proposal but the idea that anyone other than the columnist and a few of his devoted readers who signed a petition to the effect ever considered it for a moment.

It is to be expected that those who have attained the lofty status held by the Times’s op-ed gods live in something like a bubble. That is especially true for those columnists who regularly appeal to the ideological prejudices of the paper’s core readership, as Krugman does. It is to be imagined that some of (as the Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto likes to call him) the former Enron advisor’s fans really do believe he should be running the country’s finances. But it takes a special kind of egotism, if not hubris, for a writer—even one with a position at Princeton University and a Nobel Prize—to take such babblings seriously enough to write a straight-faced post about why they wouldn’t deign to sit at the cabinet table with the president of the United States. The result is a self-parody that provides a cringe-inducing explanation about why he thinks he is too important to accept the position. Even Krugman’s greatest admirers had to be left scratching their heads.

Read More

I rarely agree with New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, but he spoke the truth when he wrote yesterday on his blog at the paper that the notion of President Obama appointing him to the post of treasury secretary was a “bad idea.” The economy is in bad enough shape as it is without exacerbating our problems by putting a doctrinaire liberal like Krugman in the position once held by Alexander Hamilton. But what is interesting about the question of Krugman’s future plans is not so much the negligible merits of the proposal but the idea that anyone other than the columnist and a few of his devoted readers who signed a petition to the effect ever considered it for a moment.

It is to be expected that those who have attained the lofty status held by the Times’s op-ed gods live in something like a bubble. That is especially true for those columnists who regularly appeal to the ideological prejudices of the paper’s core readership, as Krugman does. It is to be imagined that some of (as the Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto likes to call him) the former Enron advisor’s fans really do believe he should be running the country’s finances. But it takes a special kind of egotism, if not hubris, for a writer—even one with a position at Princeton University and a Nobel Prize—to take such babblings seriously enough to write a straight-faced post about why they wouldn’t deign to sit at the cabinet table with the president of the United States. The result is a self-parody that provides a cringe-inducing explanation about why he thinks he is too important to accept the position. Even Krugman’s greatest admirers had to be left scratching their heads.

It is always a bad sign when a writer bothers to respond publicly to their hate mail. Criticism, even of the unreasonable kind, goes with the territory and those who whine on-line or in print about people writing mean things to them are self-indulgent bores. But it is even worse when a columnist starts writing about his fan mail in a manner that telegraphs their belief that no praise and no public responsibility or honor is too great for them.

Krugman writes:

Being an op-ed columnist at the Times is a pretty big deal — one I’m immensely grateful to have been granted — and those who hold the position, if they know how to use it effectively, have a lot more influence on national debate than, say, most senators. Does anyone doubt that the White House pays attention to what I write?

This is an appalling read but this sort of thing is more than merely a testimony to his self-infatuation. One has to have a healthy ego to write opinions but a degree of humility is just as essential. If Krugman were to write that it is a lot more fun writing about policy than making it, he’d be on firm ground. But to speak of himself in a manner which leads us to believe he thinks he’s too valuable to the country at the Times to consider going to the president’s rescue shows that the frayed cords that tethered his ego to reality have completely unraveled.

I disagree with Krugman’s liberal ideology and think most of his ideas are wrong but anyone—even a conservative with whom I agreed all the time—who wrote about himself in this manner would have demonstrated such terrible judgment so as to cause me to doubt whether I should really bother to pay attention to him anymore.

I don’t know how regularly the folks in the White House peruse Krugman’s columns and blogs, but I’m willing to bet they all had a good chuckle when this piece was forwarded around the West Wing. One wonders whether Krugman is so far gone as to be unable to hear its echoes around the country.

Read Less

Hagel Backers Trying to Redefine Pro-Israel

Yesterday Chuck Hagel told the Lincoln Journal Star there wasn’t “one shred of evidence that [he is] anti-Israeli.” President Obama’s nominee to be secretary of defense claimed the criticism of his record and statements on both Israel and Iran is nothing but “falsehoods and distortions.” That’s a message that is being taken up with gusto by Hagel’s defenders on the news talks shows this week. In particular, some of those who are fighting for his confirmation are taking the position that not only is Hagel pro-Israel but that those who have criticized his positions are in fact a noisy, extremist minority that doesn’t speak for American interests or those of American Jewry, or even the people of Israel.

This is a nasty piece of business that was best exemplified by journalist Carl Bernstein who, during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program today, denounced Hagel’s critics as “Likud” supporters that didn’t speak for American Jews like him. Bernstein’s diatribe in which he claimed the prime minister of Israel also didn’t speak for Israel was then praised effusively by fellow guest Zbigniew Brzezinski, whose own reputation as a bitter critic of Israel seemingly gave him the authority to decide what is and isn’t pro-Israel (something that could perhaps only happen on a show hosted by his daughter). Bernstein—a typical example of a public figure who only cites his Jewish heritage so as to enable him to bash supporters of Israel—has as little authority to speak on the subject as Brzezinski, but his comments go to the heart of the effort to push back at criticism of Hagel. The point here isn’t really about false accusations, since Hagel’s opposition to Iran sanctions or the use of force to stop its nuclear program as well as his boasts about standing up to the “Jewish lobby” are a matter of record. The issue here is one more attempt by Israel’s critics to change the terms of discussion on the issue, in order to make those who are outside the national consensus on the U.S.-Israel alliance appear to be mainstream thinkers while those who support it are castigated as extremists.

Read More

Yesterday Chuck Hagel told the Lincoln Journal Star there wasn’t “one shred of evidence that [he is] anti-Israeli.” President Obama’s nominee to be secretary of defense claimed the criticism of his record and statements on both Israel and Iran is nothing but “falsehoods and distortions.” That’s a message that is being taken up with gusto by Hagel’s defenders on the news talks shows this week. In particular, some of those who are fighting for his confirmation are taking the position that not only is Hagel pro-Israel but that those who have criticized his positions are in fact a noisy, extremist minority that doesn’t speak for American interests or those of American Jewry, or even the people of Israel.

This is a nasty piece of business that was best exemplified by journalist Carl Bernstein who, during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program today, denounced Hagel’s critics as “Likud” supporters that didn’t speak for American Jews like him. Bernstein’s diatribe in which he claimed the prime minister of Israel also didn’t speak for Israel was then praised effusively by fellow guest Zbigniew Brzezinski, whose own reputation as a bitter critic of Israel seemingly gave him the authority to decide what is and isn’t pro-Israel (something that could perhaps only happen on a show hosted by his daughter). Bernstein—a typical example of a public figure who only cites his Jewish heritage so as to enable him to bash supporters of Israel—has as little authority to speak on the subject as Brzezinski, but his comments go to the heart of the effort to push back at criticism of Hagel. The point here isn’t really about false accusations, since Hagel’s opposition to Iran sanctions or the use of force to stop its nuclear program as well as his boasts about standing up to the “Jewish lobby” are a matter of record. The issue here is one more attempt by Israel’s critics to change the terms of discussion on the issue, in order to make those who are outside the national consensus on the U.S.-Israel alliance appear to be mainstream thinkers while those who support it are castigated as extremists.

Let’s first dispense with the disingenuous nature of the defense of Hagel as being a mainstream backer of Israel. During his time in the Senate, the outspoken Nebraskan made no secret of the fact that he did not wish to be seen as part of the bipartisan consensus on Israel. That was the whole point behind his refusal to sign letters on anti-Semitism and terrorism that virtually every other member of the Senate supported. It was also the whole point behind his now-famous rant recorded by Aaron David Miller in which he bragged that unlike his colleagues he was one politician who wasn’t intimidated by the “Jewish lobby.”

Hagel was always one of those members of Congress who would couch any expression of support for Israel in words that made it clear that he disdained the decisions of its democratically-elected government (where it was run by Likud or its opponents) and that it needed to be saved from itself by forcing it to make concessions to its enemies that the people of the Jewish state believe to be unwise, if not suicidal. Nor is there any point trying to spin his long opposition to sanctions or force against Iran or Syria, or his advocacy for outreach to Hamas and Hezbollah as just another way of being a backer of Israel.

These are not mainstream positions. Nor do they require much courage since advocating anything that smacks of opposition to the pro-Israel consensus or talk about the “Jewish lobby” is bound to generate applause among the chattering classes and the liberal media, where resentment of Israel’s popularity is widespread.

Chuck Hagel does not publicly advocate Israel’s destruction, but there is more to the issue than this. To be pro-Israel one needn’t be a fan of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu or of his hapless political opponents. But Americans who purport to care about Israel’s fate do need to respect its democratic process and understand that the idea that Americans have the right to override the judgment of the voters there is illegitimate. Israel, like any democracy, especially one that is still besieged by its enemies, has plenty of problems. But it does not need to be saved from itself, especially by those, like Hagel, who have long demonstrated little sympathy with its security dilemmas or alarm about the existential threats facing it.

People like Bernstein who claim that respect for the stands of Netanyahu’s coalition—which commands the support of a far larger share of Israel’s voters than President Obama won here in 2008 or 2012—is not consistent with supporting Israel are way out of line. So, too, are their attempts to brand the overwhelming majority of Americans who think Israel’s government deserves U.S. support as a conspiracy of neoconservatives and others who don’t speak for the best interest of this country or the Jewish community.

The failure of 20 years of peace processing and concessions to the Palestinians effectively destroyed the Israeli left. That is why Netanyahu is poised to be re-elected later this month with a coalition that is more right-wing than his last government. That may dismay many Americans, but they need to understand that it is the result of Israelis looking at the facts and drawing the inevitable conclusions from them. Unfortunately, many Americans prefer to ignore the reality of the Middle East. Such dreamers who insist on blaming Israel for the lack of peace can call themselves what they like, but that does not allow them to pose as the country’s ardent friends the way Hagel and his fans are trying to.

Hagel is a decorated veteran and a loyal supporter of President Obama. Those are both good reasons for him to sit in the president’s cabinet. But his views on Israel and Iran don’t mesh with the public positions of the president or most Americans. No amount of rhetorical overkill or disingenuous attacks on the pro-Israel community can disguise this fact. Nor can they transform him from the proud opponent of the “Jewish lobby” into the Jewish state’s friend.

Read Less

Enhanced Interrogation Record No Longer a Problem for Brennan

Back in 2008, John Brennan was passed over for the CIA director role largely because of his record on enhanced interrogation. After his nomination to the post yesterday, the anti-war movement is trying to make it an issue again. The ACLU has released a statement calling on the Senate to delay his confirmation and investigate his involvement with the Bush administration’s enhanced interrogation techniques:

President Obama this afternoon nominated his counterterrorism advisor John Brennan to become the next director of the CIA. Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office, had the following concerns with the president’s choice to fill this critical national security post.  

Despite media reports that Brennan continually raised civil liberties concerns within the White House, noted Murphy, the Senate should not move forward with his nomination until it assesses the legality of his actions in past leadership positions in the CIA during the early years of the George W. Bush administration and in his current role in the ongoing targeted killing program.

Read More

Back in 2008, John Brennan was passed over for the CIA director role largely because of his record on enhanced interrogation. After his nomination to the post yesterday, the anti-war movement is trying to make it an issue again. The ACLU has released a statement calling on the Senate to delay his confirmation and investigate his involvement with the Bush administration’s enhanced interrogation techniques:

President Obama this afternoon nominated his counterterrorism advisor John Brennan to become the next director of the CIA. Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office, had the following concerns with the president’s choice to fill this critical national security post.  

Despite media reports that Brennan continually raised civil liberties concerns within the White House, noted Murphy, the Senate should not move forward with his nomination until it assesses the legality of his actions in past leadership positions in the CIA during the early years of the George W. Bush administration and in his current role in the ongoing targeted killing program.

But the Senate doesn’t really seem interested. While John McCain is raising some questions, Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein–a vocal opponent of Bush’s EIT policies–indicated she’s not going to put up much of a fight

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he has “many questions and concerns” about Brennan’s role in overseeing the interrogation programs, “as well as his public defense of those programs.” 

“I plan to examine this aspect of Mr. Brennan’s record very closely as I consider his nomination,” said McCain in a statement Monday.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee that will weigh the nomination, said Brennan has the “qualifications and expertise” to be CIA director. 

But Feinstein also said she would bring up the committee’s recent review of the Bush-era interrogation techniques and ask Brennan “how he would respond to the [review’s] findings and conclusions.” 

To be fair, the opposition to Brennan on these grounds seems overblown. While he hasn’t explicitly defended enhanced interrogation techniques, he has acknowledged they worked and saved lives. Some anti-war leftists might claim that makes him a supporter. But it’s also possible to believe there is a moral or legal case against the Bush administration’s methods, and still admit they were effective. The same case could be made about Obama’s rendition policies the anti-war left opposes, and the drone program he accelerated. 

Four years ago, Brennan’s alleged support for enhanced interrogation was enough to torpedo his potential CIA director nomination. Now even Glenn Greenwald concedes he “can’t quite muster the energy or commitment” to actively oppose his nomination. That dramatic shift is why Brennan’s record on EITs won’t be an obstacle for him in the Senate. The Democratic Party’s civil libertarian streak on national security during the Bush administration was nothing more than partisanship masquerading as principles.

Read Less

Environmental Scientist Bashed for Rediscovering Science

Who would’ve thought the scientific community could be so hostile to dissent? Just like the reaction to attempts to debate climate change, the environmental community is up in arms over one scientist’s about-face on the dangers of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in farming. Huffington Post reports on the controversy:

Last Thursday, Lynas gave a speech at a conference on farming at Oxford University. The response was immediate and overwhelming. Bloggers blogged, tweeters tweeted and Lynas’s own website crashed under the onslaught.

Had Lynas revealed some dramatic discovery, or unveiled a path-breaking new campaign? No, he simply stated, in measured and scientific terms, that he had changed his mind.

Lynas had been a leading voice against using genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in farming. He was also sounding the alarm over climate change, and had immersed himself in climate science. When he belatedly did the same with GMOs, he found that a careful reading of the scientific evidence revealed that his previous opposition was untenable. At Oxford Lynas said he was, in a word, sorry.

Read More

Who would’ve thought the scientific community could be so hostile to dissent? Just like the reaction to attempts to debate climate change, the environmental community is up in arms over one scientist’s about-face on the dangers of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in farming. Huffington Post reports on the controversy:

Last Thursday, Lynas gave a speech at a conference on farming at Oxford University. The response was immediate and overwhelming. Bloggers blogged, tweeters tweeted and Lynas’s own website crashed under the onslaught.

Had Lynas revealed some dramatic discovery, or unveiled a path-breaking new campaign? No, he simply stated, in measured and scientific terms, that he had changed his mind.

Lynas had been a leading voice against using genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in farming. He was also sounding the alarm over climate change, and had immersed himself in climate science. When he belatedly did the same with GMOs, he found that a careful reading of the scientific evidence revealed that his previous opposition was untenable. At Oxford Lynas said he was, in a word, sorry.

Somewhat surprisingly, I had the same reaction as the Huffington Post’s Mark Tercek, the CEO of the Nature Conservancy to the speech and the uproar surrounding it:

Let’s not allow our beliefs and values to divide us. Lynas’s talk and website were swamped with some embarrassingly vitriolic and harsh criticism — because he opened a debate. That should never be the case. We are all stronger if we embrace science even when it surprises us by overturning some of our beliefs, and we are all stronger if we respect one another’s views. 

The tone of Lynas’s speech is as important as its content. He is not picking fights or making attacks; instead, he lays out his thinking and the evidence on which it is based. This is a key lesson for the environmental community. Of course we want passionate debate and discussion about different strategies; this can only move us forward. We do not seek nor could ever achieve lock-step agreement, but when the debate loses all connection to science, the environmental movement suffers badly in the long run.

Lynas described his participation in the highly successful campaign to ban GMO foods, explaining that “These fears [over the safety of GMOs] spread like wildfire, and within a few years GM was essentially banned in Europe, and our worries were exported by NGOs like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth to Africa, India and the rest of Asia, where GM is still banned today. This was the most successful campaign I have ever been involved with.” The most damaging effects of this campaign was felt in the developing world, Lynas explained:

The biggest risk of all is that we do not take advantage of all sorts of opportunities for innovation because of what is in reality little more than blind prejudice. Let me give you two examples, both regrettably involving Greenpeace.

Last year Greenpeace destroyed a GM wheat crop in Australia, for all the traditional reasons, which I am very familiar with having done it myself. This was publicly funded research carried out by the Commonwealth Scientific Research institute, but no matter. They were against it because it was GM and unnatural.

What few people have since heard is that one of the other trials being undertaken, which Greenpeace activists with their strimmers luckily did not manage to destroy, accidentally found a wheat yield increase of an extraordinary 30%. Just think. This knowledge might never have been produced at all, if Greenpeace had succeeded in destroying this innovation. As the president of the NFU Peter Kendall recently suggested, this is analogous to burning books in a library before anyone has been able to read them.

The second example comes from China, where Greenpeace managed to trigger a national media panic by claiming that two dozen children had been used as human guinea pigs in a trial of GM golden rice. They gave no consideration to the fact that this rice is healthier, and could save thousands of children from vitamin A deficiency-related blindness and death each year.

What happened was that the three Chinese scientists named in the Greenpeace press release were publicly hounded and have since lost their jobs, and in an autocratic country like China they are at serious personal risk. Internationally because of over-regulation golden rice has already been on the shelf for over a decade, and thanks to the activities of groups like Greenpeace it may never become available to vitamin-deficient poor people.

This to my mind is immoral and inhumane, depriving the needy of something that would help them and their children because of the aesthetic preferences of rich people far away who are in no danger from Vitamin A shortage. Greenpeace is a $100-million a year multinational, and as such it has moral responsibilities just like any other large company.

The entire speech is worth a watch (the video is below), especially his comments on organic farming, a fad that has taken the green community by storm. Two years ago the Heritage Foundation’s James M. Roberts released a paper that discussed the left’s knee-jerk opposition to GMO foods and its role in world food crises:

In the 1990s, radical green NGOs launched a broad-based campaign, mainly in Europe, to block food imports from developing countries that were produced using GMO seeds. They used scare tactics and junk science to question the safety of GMOs in the global food supply chain. The inefficient and heavily taxpayer-subsidized European agricultural sector also saw GMOs as an economic threat, which led to a marriage of convenience between the green NGOs and agribusiness protectionists.

Through advances in biotechnology, some food crops can be produced from GMO seeds that are more resistant to herbicides. In some cases, the plants themselves produce proteins that can kill predatory pests. Nobel Peace Prize winner and famed scientific pioneer Norman E. Borlaug wrote that GMOs could be a “salvation” for the world’s poor countries, “freeing them from obsolete, low-yielding, and more costly production technology.”

The major thrust of the Roberts paper, however, was on similar resistance to DDT and other chemical anti-malarial solutions. He writes:

Decades ago, the use of DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) was banned worldwide for what were generally seen as noble and unassailable environmental and public health reasons. Today, ample evidence shows that the ban on DDT spraying has been a tragic mistake. In developing countries, it is linked to millions of preventable deaths from malaria. Worse, some protectionist European business sectors and activist groups continue to exploit the fears of DDT in ways that increase the suffering of the poor around the world.

One might hope that the scientific community will take the Lynas speech, and the backlash attached to it, under consideration. The damaging effects of fad causes taken up by Western scientists have a very real and very deadly impact in the developing world. Even in the year 2013, children are dying from starvation despite technological advances that enable crops to be grown more efficiently and in more abundance. In the tropical world, children are daily dying from malaria, dengue fever and other mosquito-borne illnesses when chemical spraying has been proven safe and effective. There is no reason why so-called scientists dismissive of the scientific method should stand in the way of technological developments that have the ability to save an untold number of lives. 

Read Less

David Gelernter on Judaism and Christian Art

Our valued contributor and friend David Gelernter, who is also a painter, has a splendid show up at the Yeshiva University Museum on 16th Street in Manhattan, which everyone in the New York area should go and see. This week, on Thursday, January 10, Gelernter will be delivering a characteristically provocative and original talk at 7 p.m. The talk is described thus:

Christian art, encompassing the architectural masterpieces of the Gothic era and much of the greatest painting and sculpture from the Renaissance through modern times, was molded in part by the genius of classical Greece, but ultimately owes its greatest debt, according to David Gelernter, to Judaism and the Jewish artistic sense. Join Gelernter for a discussion of the roots and nature of this debt, as well as of the duty of Jewish art and artists to help create worldwide recognition of the foundational role of Judaism in Western civilization. The program will be moderated by Jacob Wisse, director of the YU Museum.

David’s show, Sh’ma, can be viewed there from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. before his talk. Tickets are $15. For reservations, go to www.smarttix.com or call 212‐868‐4444. The museum is located at the Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street.

Our valued contributor and friend David Gelernter, who is also a painter, has a splendid show up at the Yeshiva University Museum on 16th Street in Manhattan, which everyone in the New York area should go and see. This week, on Thursday, January 10, Gelernter will be delivering a characteristically provocative and original talk at 7 p.m. The talk is described thus:

Christian art, encompassing the architectural masterpieces of the Gothic era and much of the greatest painting and sculpture from the Renaissance through modern times, was molded in part by the genius of classical Greece, but ultimately owes its greatest debt, according to David Gelernter, to Judaism and the Jewish artistic sense. Join Gelernter for a discussion of the roots and nature of this debt, as well as of the duty of Jewish art and artists to help create worldwide recognition of the foundational role of Judaism in Western civilization. The program will be moderated by Jacob Wisse, director of the YU Museum.

David’s show, Sh’ma, can be viewed there from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. before his talk. Tickets are $15. For reservations, go to www.smarttix.com or call 212‐868‐4444. The museum is located at the Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street.

Read Less

Bloomberg’s Quest for a Celebrity Successor

In December, I wrote about New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s attempts to find a big-name successor, which focused on Hillary Clinton. Clinton is at the very least keeping her options open for a possible 2016 presidential run, which would have to start far too early to take on a responsibility like running New York City. But according to a report in the New York Times today, Bloomberg has been a one-man search committee, floating not just Clinton but also Ed Rendell, Mortimer Zuckerman, Chuck Schumer, and former Bloomberg deputy Edward Skyler.

That’s quite a list, and says much about how Bloomberg views the job. New York City is the media capital of the world, the front lines of 21st century homeland security, and a powerhouse when it comes to urban policymaking, especially with regard to fighting crime. There’s a reason that, as Rendell put it to the Times, he often hears it described as “the second most difficult job in the country.” There’s no doubt Bloomberg believes this–after all, he’s been in office three terms and still hasn’t gotten it right. But Bloomberg’s opinion of what it takes to run the city diverges both with precedent and the judgment of New Yorkers.

Read More

In December, I wrote about New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s attempts to find a big-name successor, which focused on Hillary Clinton. Clinton is at the very least keeping her options open for a possible 2016 presidential run, which would have to start far too early to take on a responsibility like running New York City. But according to a report in the New York Times today, Bloomberg has been a one-man search committee, floating not just Clinton but also Ed Rendell, Mortimer Zuckerman, Chuck Schumer, and former Bloomberg deputy Edward Skyler.

That’s quite a list, and says much about how Bloomberg views the job. New York City is the media capital of the world, the front lines of 21st century homeland security, and a powerhouse when it comes to urban policymaking, especially with regard to fighting crime. There’s a reason that, as Rendell put it to the Times, he often hears it described as “the second most difficult job in the country.” There’s no doubt Bloomberg believes this–after all, he’s been in office three terms and still hasn’t gotten it right. But Bloomberg’s opinion of what it takes to run the city diverges both with precedent and the judgment of New Yorkers.

Of that list of five names, Rendell is the most interesting, because he is in some ways both the most and least logical of that list. He was born and raised in New York City. And he was also a (successful) big-city mayor in the Northeast, having run Philadelphia quite competently beginning in 1992, just two years before Rudy Giuliani would begin his first term in New York. But he is also far removed from his New York days, and has a keen understanding of why he would also be a poor choice to run New York City. “I’m not sure how many times I’ve stepped foot in Brooklyn,” he told the Times. “I have no understanding of Queens and no understanding of the Bronx.”

New York City is far more than just Manhattan, a fact which explains why the current crop of mayoral candidates is so underwhelming. The perceived Democratic frontrunner is City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a Manhattanite. There is no viable candidate with strong roots in the outer boroughs. Like it or not, this is what would have made Anthony Weiner the putative frontrunner, had he not stumbled over a sex scandal.

Although Bloomberg has taken Quinn under his wing, these stories are fairly insulting to Quinn, since Bloomberg appears desperate to prevent her succession. And if a Manhattanite barely has the New York street cred to be mayor, a Philadelphia transplant most certainly has even less. Chuck Schumer wouldn’t have this problem, but he’s staying put in the Senate, having a clear shot at the Democrats’ top Senate leadership spot if Harry Reid retires (or is defeated) in 2016.

That leaves, of the five, Skyler and Zuckerman. Skyler is a relative unknown, and it’s far from clear that even with Bloomberg’s backing he could overtake Quinn. That leaves Zuckerman, the controversial billionaire publisher of the New York Daily News. He, too, is flattered by the suggestion but will be passing on the race:

“I would love to be in that job,” said Mr. Zuckerman, a student of policy who has no party affiliation and weighed running for the Senate a few years ago.

He insisted that Mr. Bloomberg’s suggestion had an informal “teasing” feel, even as he acknowledged a longstanding call to public service in New York.

“If I could be appointed, I’d probably be serious about it,” he added, wryly.

This whole quest is a classically Bloombergian love letter to the city. Bloomberg thinks highly of New York, and even more highly of himself. So he wants someone with the star power to keep New York at the top of the map. But New York doesn’t need his help to do so, and all signs point to Bloomberg’s legacy being a failed technocratic experiment anyway.

Bloomberg should notice something about the other candidates who are either running or considering it. In addition to Quinn and other Democrats, former Giuliani aide Joe Lhota is seriously exploring a run. Lhota is leaving his post as a well-respected head of the city’s transportation authority. And Republicans are apparently still trying to get Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to run. Kelly is popular and has obvious real experience running an essential part of city governance. The street-level experience, the granular knowledge of life in New York, and the years spent paying their dues by working to craft city policy are all things they have in common.

If Bloomberg’s time in office has demonstrated anything, it’s that the city would be ill served by a celebrity figurehead. Bloomberg may love New York, but he needs to have more faith in New Yorkers.

Read Less




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.