Commentary Magazine


Topic: Don’t Tell

Stalling on KSM

Julie Mason of the Washington Examiner picks up on this exchange with Robert Gibbs:

Q: Robert, do you know when we can expect a decision on the KSM trial?

Mr. Gibbs: I don’t expect a decision on that for several or many weeks.

Q: Will it be the president’s decision?

Mr. Gibbs: The president obviously has gotten involved because Congress has actively been involved in venue options for any trial involving Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. The president’s obviously strong equity in this is seeing that after many long years that justice is brought.

I don’t know what the faux legal-speak in the last sentence means (“strong equity”?) either. But the point here is that the administration is in stalling mode. The current approach, both as to the specific venue and a civilian trial more generally, has proved unworkable and grossly unpopular. Yet at the very time their Justice Department lawyers are under attack, in part for having come up with this screwy recommendation, the administration is loathe to retreat. Their base is semi-unhinged enough (you know, with the coming demise of health care and all), and this is no time to push the netroots over the edge.

Nevertheless, I think we’ll never see KSM in a civilian courtroom. No jurisdiction will want the headache, the public thinks the idea is dangerous, and the logistics (the cost, the potential for acquittal or any punishment less than the death penalty) – which the Justice Department brain trust failed to think through — are daunting. So the president stalls. Like so much else on the Left’s agenda (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, cap-and-trade), the president will get to it when he gets to it.

Julie Mason of the Washington Examiner picks up on this exchange with Robert Gibbs:

Q: Robert, do you know when we can expect a decision on the KSM trial?

Mr. Gibbs: I don’t expect a decision on that for several or many weeks.

Q: Will it be the president’s decision?

Mr. Gibbs: The president obviously has gotten involved because Congress has actively been involved in venue options for any trial involving Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. The president’s obviously strong equity in this is seeing that after many long years that justice is brought.

I don’t know what the faux legal-speak in the last sentence means (“strong equity”?) either. But the point here is that the administration is in stalling mode. The current approach, both as to the specific venue and a civilian trial more generally, has proved unworkable and grossly unpopular. Yet at the very time their Justice Department lawyers are under attack, in part for having come up with this screwy recommendation, the administration is loathe to retreat. Their base is semi-unhinged enough (you know, with the coming demise of health care and all), and this is no time to push the netroots over the edge.

Nevertheless, I think we’ll never see KSM in a civilian courtroom. No jurisdiction will want the headache, the public thinks the idea is dangerous, and the logistics (the cost, the potential for acquittal or any punishment less than the death penalty) – which the Justice Department brain trust failed to think through — are daunting. So the president stalls. Like so much else on the Left’s agenda (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, cap-and-trade), the president will get to it when he gets to it.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Joe Lieberman, who continues to confound his critics, is championing the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. The Left blogosphere will no doubt discern a plot to drive them bonkers.

The AP gets into the Rahm Emanuel drama – - ”a narrative that some (though it’s still unclear who) think Obama’s chief of staff is smarter than the president, an awkward development in Washington’s deeply ingrained tradition of aides staying behind the scenes and not upstaging the boss. At the least, it creates an embarrassment and a distraction at a perilous time. And it belies Obama’s own prized no-drama culture, where neither dirty laundry nor disagreements are aired and theatrics aren’t tolerated. At worst, it sets in motion a dynamic that could lead to shakeups and further doubts about Obama’s leadership.”

Charles Krauthammer in defense of snail mail and scented love letters: “You can’t smell your e-mail.”

Scott Johnson: “The Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy K-8 public charter school in suburban St. Paul. It appears to be is an Islamic school operating illegally at taxpayer expense. Among other things, the school’s principal is an imam and almost all of its students are Muslim. It is housed in a building that was owned originally by the Muslim American Society of Minnesota (I’m not sure who owns it now). The school has in any event had a mutually beneficial relationship with MAS Minnesota since the school’s inception. The study of Arabic is required at the school. The Arabic comes in handy for the Koranic studies that follow the regular school day.” The ACLU is suing, and there is evidence that “TiZA has sought to intimidate witnesses.”

Rep. Bart Stupak says there are 12 votes that will switch from “yes” to “no” on the ObamaCare abortion-subsidy issue.

Ron Kampeas shares my amazement at Maureen Dowd’s latest column:  ”To suggest [Israel] – and even its Orthodox — are sliding into theocracy is just nutty.”

The Cook Political Report (subscription required): “The retirement announcement of Democratic Rep. Eric Massa puts his Upstate New York ‘southern tier’ seat in grave jeopardy for Democrats. Massa won by only the barest of margins in 2008 after outspending a badly flawed GOP incumbent. … This seat moves from the Lean Democratic column to the Lean Republican column.”

Jonathan Capehart or Matt Continetti on Sarah Palin’s Jay Leno appearance? “Palin’s comfort in front of the camera and with the material, not to mention her don’t-mess-with-me jeans-and-heels outfit, made Palin a feast for the eyes and ears.”

Rep. Pete Stark, new House Ways and Means chairman, is too much even for Democrats who are looking for an alternative: “Looming over his bid for the top job is a long history of rash public statements. In 2004, a San Francisco talk radio station posted a voice mail message that Mr. Stark left for a constituent that said, in part: ‘Probably somebody put you up to this, and I’m not sure who it was, but I doubt if you could spell half the words in the letter and somebody wrote it for you.’  In late 2007 he apologized for saying that Republicans were sending American youth to Iraq ‘to get their heads blown off for the president’s amusement.’”

Joe Lieberman, who continues to confound his critics, is championing the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. The Left blogosphere will no doubt discern a plot to drive them bonkers.

The AP gets into the Rahm Emanuel drama – - ”a narrative that some (though it’s still unclear who) think Obama’s chief of staff is smarter than the president, an awkward development in Washington’s deeply ingrained tradition of aides staying behind the scenes and not upstaging the boss. At the least, it creates an embarrassment and a distraction at a perilous time. And it belies Obama’s own prized no-drama culture, where neither dirty laundry nor disagreements are aired and theatrics aren’t tolerated. At worst, it sets in motion a dynamic that could lead to shakeups and further doubts about Obama’s leadership.”

Charles Krauthammer in defense of snail mail and scented love letters: “You can’t smell your e-mail.”

Scott Johnson: “The Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy K-8 public charter school in suburban St. Paul. It appears to be is an Islamic school operating illegally at taxpayer expense. Among other things, the school’s principal is an imam and almost all of its students are Muslim. It is housed in a building that was owned originally by the Muslim American Society of Minnesota (I’m not sure who owns it now). The school has in any event had a mutually beneficial relationship with MAS Minnesota since the school’s inception. The study of Arabic is required at the school. The Arabic comes in handy for the Koranic studies that follow the regular school day.” The ACLU is suing, and there is evidence that “TiZA has sought to intimidate witnesses.”

Rep. Bart Stupak says there are 12 votes that will switch from “yes” to “no” on the ObamaCare abortion-subsidy issue.

Ron Kampeas shares my amazement at Maureen Dowd’s latest column:  ”To suggest [Israel] – and even its Orthodox — are sliding into theocracy is just nutty.”

The Cook Political Report (subscription required): “The retirement announcement of Democratic Rep. Eric Massa puts his Upstate New York ‘southern tier’ seat in grave jeopardy for Democrats. Massa won by only the barest of margins in 2008 after outspending a badly flawed GOP incumbent. … This seat moves from the Lean Democratic column to the Lean Republican column.”

Jonathan Capehart or Matt Continetti on Sarah Palin’s Jay Leno appearance? “Palin’s comfort in front of the camera and with the material, not to mention her don’t-mess-with-me jeans-and-heels outfit, made Palin a feast for the eyes and ears.”

Rep. Pete Stark, new House Ways and Means chairman, is too much even for Democrats who are looking for an alternative: “Looming over his bid for the top job is a long history of rash public statements. In 2004, a San Francisco talk radio station posted a voice mail message that Mr. Stark left for a constituent that said, in part: ‘Probably somebody put you up to this, and I’m not sure who it was, but I doubt if you could spell half the words in the letter and somebody wrote it for you.’  In late 2007 he apologized for saying that Republicans were sending American youth to Iraq ‘to get their heads blown off for the president’s amusement.’”

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Less than Meets the Eye — Again

The thing about Obama is that there is always less than meets the eye. He went to Copenhagen twice, each time with spinners expecting the fix was in and Obama could deliver a huge political win; but there was no game plan; there was no Chicago Olympics or global-warming deal. Obama intends to sweep away Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, but not really. There is no executive order. There will be a long study and maybe, sometime, there will be congressional action. Obama had a plan for Iran: prove his bona fides by engagement, pivot to crippling sanctions, and hold military force as an option. Instead, he’s been meandering around in engagement and coming up with mini-sanctions. No cleverly devised plan after all.

Now we hear that the proposal to regulate CO2 by bureaucratic fiat is being whittled down to a mini-gambit that won’t go into effect until after 2010, when, by gosh, we’ll have a new Congress:

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) pledge Monday to move slowly on the implementation of upcoming greenhouse gas rules may give cover to some Capitol Hill Democrats to vote against blocking climate rules entirely, according to lobbyists and activists.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in a letter to a group of Senate Democrats on Monday that upcoming rules to limit emissions from power plants and other industrial facilities won’t take effect in 2010. She also told the eight Democrats — who mostly hail from coal-producing or coal-reliant states — that the rules will initially be narrower than EPA had planned.

On one level, this is another exercise in cynicism. You see, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has a plan to bar the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases. But the Hill reports, “One environmental lobbyist said EPA’s action ‘absolutely’ gives Democrats cover to vote against [Sen. Lisa] Murkowski’s plan by providing time for work on climate legislation.” On the other hand, it’s evidence that the Obami aren’t really equipped to push through much of their radical agenda, so they must resort once again to delay, misdirection, and half-measures to avoid wigging out their base. Still, the EPA’s newest mini-gambit isn’t enough to win over some Democrats, especially those from energy-producing states:

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who led the letter to EPA from the eight Democrats, is preparing a bill that would temporarily prevent EPA rules while Congress works on a broader climate and energy bill. He praised EPA’s action but said it hasn’t changed his mind. “I am glad to see that the EPA is showing some willingness to set their timetable for regulation into the future — this is good progress, but I am concerned it may not go far enough,” Rockefeller said in a prepared statement.

The environmental lobbyists are squawking about the need to ”defend science from politics, defend our children’s future from polluters, and defend our economy from the stranglehold of special interests.” Maybe that sort of thing worked better before Climategate, record unemployment, and Obama’s ratings collapse. But now, it reinforces the chasm between Obama’s agenda and his accomplishments. It is further proof that the Obami have a lot of bark and no bite when it comes to reinventing America or putting in a New Foundation, or whatever they call it these days. That’s very good news indeed.

The thing about Obama is that there is always less than meets the eye. He went to Copenhagen twice, each time with spinners expecting the fix was in and Obama could deliver a huge political win; but there was no game plan; there was no Chicago Olympics or global-warming deal. Obama intends to sweep away Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, but not really. There is no executive order. There will be a long study and maybe, sometime, there will be congressional action. Obama had a plan for Iran: prove his bona fides by engagement, pivot to crippling sanctions, and hold military force as an option. Instead, he’s been meandering around in engagement and coming up with mini-sanctions. No cleverly devised plan after all.

Now we hear that the proposal to regulate CO2 by bureaucratic fiat is being whittled down to a mini-gambit that won’t go into effect until after 2010, when, by gosh, we’ll have a new Congress:

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) pledge Monday to move slowly on the implementation of upcoming greenhouse gas rules may give cover to some Capitol Hill Democrats to vote against blocking climate rules entirely, according to lobbyists and activists.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in a letter to a group of Senate Democrats on Monday that upcoming rules to limit emissions from power plants and other industrial facilities won’t take effect in 2010. She also told the eight Democrats — who mostly hail from coal-producing or coal-reliant states — that the rules will initially be narrower than EPA had planned.

On one level, this is another exercise in cynicism. You see, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has a plan to bar the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases. But the Hill reports, “One environmental lobbyist said EPA’s action ‘absolutely’ gives Democrats cover to vote against [Sen. Lisa] Murkowski’s plan by providing time for work on climate legislation.” On the other hand, it’s evidence that the Obami aren’t really equipped to push through much of their radical agenda, so they must resort once again to delay, misdirection, and half-measures to avoid wigging out their base. Still, the EPA’s newest mini-gambit isn’t enough to win over some Democrats, especially those from energy-producing states:

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who led the letter to EPA from the eight Democrats, is preparing a bill that would temporarily prevent EPA rules while Congress works on a broader climate and energy bill. He praised EPA’s action but said it hasn’t changed his mind. “I am glad to see that the EPA is showing some willingness to set their timetable for regulation into the future — this is good progress, but I am concerned it may not go far enough,” Rockefeller said in a prepared statement.

The environmental lobbyists are squawking about the need to ”defend science from politics, defend our children’s future from polluters, and defend our economy from the stranglehold of special interests.” Maybe that sort of thing worked better before Climategate, record unemployment, and Obama’s ratings collapse. But now, it reinforces the chasm between Obama’s agenda and his accomplishments. It is further proof that the Obami have a lot of bark and no bite when it comes to reinventing America or putting in a New Foundation, or whatever they call it these days. That’s very good news indeed.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

Joe Biden (not really): “So there I was on the Amtrak, and I was thinking Dick Cheney, God love him, my friend Dick Cheney, he is probably worse than Pol Pot. It was because Democrats opposed the surge that the surge worked. If we had gotten behind the winning strategy, the enemy would have known it was too soft. We needed to oppose it in order for it to succeed.”

The real Joe Biden now says he is happy to thank George W. Bush on Iraq policy. Yes, good thing indeed that Bush was wise enough to ignore everything Biden ever said on the subject.

The real Dick Cheney on the Obami’s claiming credit for Iraq: “If they are going to take credit for [Iraq], fair enough, for what they’ve done while they are there. But it ought to go with a healthy dose of ‘thank you George Bush’ up front.” Then he plays Darth Vader mind games with them — praising the surge in Afghanistan and the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

The real Liz Cheney asks, “Bipartisanship to what end?” As she notes, there should be little to praise in “bipartisanship” if the goal is to pass a health-care bill that everyone hates. Ceci Connolly notes that what is interesting is the “bad blood” between the White House and Democratic congressional leaders, as well as between the House and Senate. Bill Kristol remarks that the Obami “can’t resist” making partisan digs. And to prove their point, Juan William says Dick Cheney is helping al-Qaeda by criticizing the Obami’s handling of the war against Islamic fascists.

The unfortunately all too real antics of the Congressional Black Caucus: “From 2004 to 2008, the Congressional Black Caucus’s political and charitable wings took in at least $55 million in corporate and union contributions, according to an analysis by the New York Times, an impressive amount even by the standards of a Washington awash in cash. Only $1 million of that went to the caucus’s political action committee; the rest poured into the largely unregulated nonprofit network. . . . But the bulk of the money has been spent on elaborate conventions that have become a high point of the Washington social season, as well as the headquarters building, golf outings by members of Congress and an annual visit to a Mississippi casino resort.” Among the CBC’s pals: “cigarette companies, Internet poker operators, beer brewers and the rent-to-own industry, which has become a particular focus of consumer advocates for its practice of charging high monthly fees for appliances, televisions and computers.”

Flynt Leverett, who was canned by the Bush administration (“Leverett continually missed deadlines and misplaced documents, and the NSC Records office had a long list of his delinquencies. His office was notoriously messy—documents were strewn over chairs, windowsills, the floor, and piled high on his desk … repeatedly missing deadlines and losing important letters was simply not tolerable behavior for an NSC officer, and Leverett was told to leave”), has now become the favorite flack for the mullahs. “The curious dance between Washington’s Iran experts and the foreign government whose actions they are supposedly analyzing has parallels in the ways that totalitarian governments like the Soviet Union and Mao’s China manipulated Western public opinion by only granting access to scholars and policy hands who would toe the party line. Similarly, the Iranian government today decides who in the West will be granted the kind of access that will allow them to speak with authority about the regime to Washington.” (h/t Jeffrey Goldberg)

James Carafano says that he is not surprised that “there would be more killing of high level terrorists than capture for interrogation and trial. That’s because the administration has botched efforts to come up with a coherent program for detention, interrogation, and trial.”

Matt Welch confirms my suspicion that libertarians have principles inconsistent with big-government liberals: “What I do care about, regardless of who’s president, is human freedom and prosperity. And I strongly and consistently suspect that when the government accumulates more power, I and everyone else (except those wielding it) have less of which I seek.” That said, if Republicans gain power and continue the spending jag, libertarians will turn their ire on them too.

Joe Biden (not really): “So there I was on the Amtrak, and I was thinking Dick Cheney, God love him, my friend Dick Cheney, he is probably worse than Pol Pot. It was because Democrats opposed the surge that the surge worked. If we had gotten behind the winning strategy, the enemy would have known it was too soft. We needed to oppose it in order for it to succeed.”

The real Joe Biden now says he is happy to thank George W. Bush on Iraq policy. Yes, good thing indeed that Bush was wise enough to ignore everything Biden ever said on the subject.

The real Dick Cheney on the Obami’s claiming credit for Iraq: “If they are going to take credit for [Iraq], fair enough, for what they’ve done while they are there. But it ought to go with a healthy dose of ‘thank you George Bush’ up front.” Then he plays Darth Vader mind games with them — praising the surge in Afghanistan and the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

The real Liz Cheney asks, “Bipartisanship to what end?” As she notes, there should be little to praise in “bipartisanship” if the goal is to pass a health-care bill that everyone hates. Ceci Connolly notes that what is interesting is the “bad blood” between the White House and Democratic congressional leaders, as well as between the House and Senate. Bill Kristol remarks that the Obami “can’t resist” making partisan digs. And to prove their point, Juan William says Dick Cheney is helping al-Qaeda by criticizing the Obami’s handling of the war against Islamic fascists.

The unfortunately all too real antics of the Congressional Black Caucus: “From 2004 to 2008, the Congressional Black Caucus’s political and charitable wings took in at least $55 million in corporate and union contributions, according to an analysis by the New York Times, an impressive amount even by the standards of a Washington awash in cash. Only $1 million of that went to the caucus’s political action committee; the rest poured into the largely unregulated nonprofit network. . . . But the bulk of the money has been spent on elaborate conventions that have become a high point of the Washington social season, as well as the headquarters building, golf outings by members of Congress and an annual visit to a Mississippi casino resort.” Among the CBC’s pals: “cigarette companies, Internet poker operators, beer brewers and the rent-to-own industry, which has become a particular focus of consumer advocates for its practice of charging high monthly fees for appliances, televisions and computers.”

Flynt Leverett, who was canned by the Bush administration (“Leverett continually missed deadlines and misplaced documents, and the NSC Records office had a long list of his delinquencies. His office was notoriously messy—documents were strewn over chairs, windowsills, the floor, and piled high on his desk … repeatedly missing deadlines and losing important letters was simply not tolerable behavior for an NSC officer, and Leverett was told to leave”), has now become the favorite flack for the mullahs. “The curious dance between Washington’s Iran experts and the foreign government whose actions they are supposedly analyzing has parallels in the ways that totalitarian governments like the Soviet Union and Mao’s China manipulated Western public opinion by only granting access to scholars and policy hands who would toe the party line. Similarly, the Iranian government today decides who in the West will be granted the kind of access that will allow them to speak with authority about the regime to Washington.” (h/t Jeffrey Goldberg)

James Carafano says that he is not surprised that “there would be more killing of high level terrorists than capture for interrogation and trial. That’s because the administration has botched efforts to come up with a coherent program for detention, interrogation, and trial.”

Matt Welch confirms my suspicion that libertarians have principles inconsistent with big-government liberals: “What I do care about, regardless of who’s president, is human freedom and prosperity. And I strongly and consistently suspect that when the government accumulates more power, I and everyone else (except those wielding it) have less of which I seek.” That said, if Republicans gain power and continue the spending jag, libertarians will turn their ire on them too.

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Don’t Ask, No Telling When Obama Will Lead

As I speculated a couple of weeks ago, the Left has been duped by Obama on the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Obama didn’t move forward by executive order or push for prompt congressional action by sending specific legislation to the Hill. Rather, Obama has called for a long study and then, as he does everything else, left it to Congress to meander. The result one suspects (as the Left certainly does now) is that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Politico reports:

Obama’s historic commitment — featured prominently in his State of the Union speech last month — helped soothe his frayed relationship with the politically powerful gay and lesbian community. … But House Democratic leadership aides tell POLITICO they are growing increasingly worried over the lack of a detailed White House road map for passing a repeal — and that without such a road map, repeal will end up in the same kind of Senate gridlock that hobbled health reform.

Moreover, the Left is spotting an insincerity (or is it ineptness?) in the gap between Obama’s rhetoric and any action on other key concerns, including health-care reform. (Rep. Anthony Weiner: “The frustration has been that while the president has said the right things when he’s on the road, he’s emphasized bipartisanship and not [moved] towards issues of importance to the Democratic base when he comes back to Washington.”) For its part, the White House seems baffled: But we made  a speech! Really, that’s what the Obami think the job is all about. A White House spokesman whined: “I don’t know how you get a more clear signal than calling for repeal in your first State of the Union address in front of an audience of 50 million people and having the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the secretary of defense express their support for ending the ban. … The timing of when Congress acts is up to Congress.” LBJ Obama is not, huh?

And because his ability to prioritize and move agenda items through a Congress with huge Democratic majorities is so lacking, there is the suspicion that he really isn’t interested in achieving some of his self-proclaimed goals. Honestly, how could any president get so little done? He must not be trying. That’s it, reason irritated liberals. Well, it’s possible that it’s a devious plot to raise everyone’s expectations and deliver nothing, thereby setting up his own party for a wipeout in November, but that seems a peculiar tactic. Rather, the Left may be learning the hard way that Obama has little facility for the job of being president and zero talent for crafting historic legislation. He’s the quintessential academic — filled with big ideas (none of which bears much relation to the real world) yet utterly incompetent. Next time they might look for a “transformative” figure who can transform something.

As I speculated a couple of weeks ago, the Left has been duped by Obama on the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Obama didn’t move forward by executive order or push for prompt congressional action by sending specific legislation to the Hill. Rather, Obama has called for a long study and then, as he does everything else, left it to Congress to meander. The result one suspects (as the Left certainly does now) is that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Politico reports:

Obama’s historic commitment — featured prominently in his State of the Union speech last month — helped soothe his frayed relationship with the politically powerful gay and lesbian community. … But House Democratic leadership aides tell POLITICO they are growing increasingly worried over the lack of a detailed White House road map for passing a repeal — and that without such a road map, repeal will end up in the same kind of Senate gridlock that hobbled health reform.

Moreover, the Left is spotting an insincerity (or is it ineptness?) in the gap between Obama’s rhetoric and any action on other key concerns, including health-care reform. (Rep. Anthony Weiner: “The frustration has been that while the president has said the right things when he’s on the road, he’s emphasized bipartisanship and not [moved] towards issues of importance to the Democratic base when he comes back to Washington.”) For its part, the White House seems baffled: But we made  a speech! Really, that’s what the Obami think the job is all about. A White House spokesman whined: “I don’t know how you get a more clear signal than calling for repeal in your first State of the Union address in front of an audience of 50 million people and having the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the secretary of defense express their support for ending the ban. … The timing of when Congress acts is up to Congress.” LBJ Obama is not, huh?

And because his ability to prioritize and move agenda items through a Congress with huge Democratic majorities is so lacking, there is the suspicion that he really isn’t interested in achieving some of his self-proclaimed goals. Honestly, how could any president get so little done? He must not be trying. That’s it, reason irritated liberals. Well, it’s possible that it’s a devious plot to raise everyone’s expectations and deliver nothing, thereby setting up his own party for a wipeout in November, but that seems a peculiar tactic. Rather, the Left may be learning the hard way that Obama has little facility for the job of being president and zero talent for crafting historic legislation. He’s the quintessential academic — filled with big ideas (none of which bears much relation to the real world) yet utterly incompetent. Next time they might look for a “transformative” figure who can transform something.

Read Less

The Left Gets Nothing

As I suggested a few days ago, the decision to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is not, perhaps, turning out to be all the Left hoped it would be. There is a study to be convened, one that will last years. And in the meantime, don’t expect a quick vote. Speaker Nancy Pelosi spills the beans — this isn’t happening any time soon:

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi suggested Thursday that Democrats may wait on voting to repeal the ban on gays in the military until after the midterm elections and after the Pentagon has completed a full review of its “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. “We’ve done a heavy lift, and I don’t know,” Pelosi told reporters. “I’ll have to examine it. We’ll take a look. We’ll sit down together and see. What is the advantage of going first with legislation? Or would the legislation more aptly reflect what is in the review? Or is it a two step-process?”

It seems that Pelosi has already pushed her members out on that plank enough times. (“Many House Democrats who are privately reluctant to take a vote on the issue have already been forced to defend several unpopular health care and spending measures that Pelosi and her leadership team essentially forced them to endorse.”) Her ultraliberal agenda is already so unpopular with many of her members. How can she force a vote on this — in an election year, no less?

There is something comical about the charade. Obama announces the repeal, or, more precisely, the study for the repeal. He knows he’ll get a few rounds of applause from the ever-gullible Left, but he can count on the bureaucratic process and the sweeping terror in Congressional ranks to prevent an actual vote. A vote in an election year would only become a lightning rod and distract from the rest of his agenda — which is also unpopular and going nowhere. Got it?

There is a giant legislative traffic jam underway. The Congress can’t work on health care because it’s impossible to round up the votes in a post-Scott Brown political environment. They can’t pass Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell because health care has freaked out much of the Democratic caucus. They can’t work on cap-and-trade because that vote was a semi-disaster last year and will only remind Blue Dogs how vulnerable they are. It is the perfect storm from a conservative standpoint — nothing awful is likely to happen anytime soon. Each element of the ultraliberal agenda blocks the other parts. The Reid-Pelosi-Obama machine is grinding to a halt.

But the Left must be wondering: don’t they get anything from this president and Congress? Well, there’s the Lilly Ledbetter law, a failed stimulus plan, and a couple nationalized car companies. My, that’s precious little. Meanwhile, we are waging the war against Islamic fundamentalists (not that Obama would call them that) in Afghanistan and Iraq. One wonders why the netroots aren’t more crazed than they already are.

As I suggested a few days ago, the decision to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is not, perhaps, turning out to be all the Left hoped it would be. There is a study to be convened, one that will last years. And in the meantime, don’t expect a quick vote. Speaker Nancy Pelosi spills the beans — this isn’t happening any time soon:

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi suggested Thursday that Democrats may wait on voting to repeal the ban on gays in the military until after the midterm elections and after the Pentagon has completed a full review of its “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. “We’ve done a heavy lift, and I don’t know,” Pelosi told reporters. “I’ll have to examine it. We’ll take a look. We’ll sit down together and see. What is the advantage of going first with legislation? Or would the legislation more aptly reflect what is in the review? Or is it a two step-process?”

It seems that Pelosi has already pushed her members out on that plank enough times. (“Many House Democrats who are privately reluctant to take a vote on the issue have already been forced to defend several unpopular health care and spending measures that Pelosi and her leadership team essentially forced them to endorse.”) Her ultraliberal agenda is already so unpopular with many of her members. How can she force a vote on this — in an election year, no less?

There is something comical about the charade. Obama announces the repeal, or, more precisely, the study for the repeal. He knows he’ll get a few rounds of applause from the ever-gullible Left, but he can count on the bureaucratic process and the sweeping terror in Congressional ranks to prevent an actual vote. A vote in an election year would only become a lightning rod and distract from the rest of his agenda — which is also unpopular and going nowhere. Got it?

There is a giant legislative traffic jam underway. The Congress can’t work on health care because it’s impossible to round up the votes in a post-Scott Brown political environment. They can’t pass Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell because health care has freaked out much of the Democratic caucus. They can’t work on cap-and-trade because that vote was a semi-disaster last year and will only remind Blue Dogs how vulnerable they are. It is the perfect storm from a conservative standpoint — nothing awful is likely to happen anytime soon. Each element of the ultraliberal agenda blocks the other parts. The Reid-Pelosi-Obama machine is grinding to a halt.

But the Left must be wondering: don’t they get anything from this president and Congress? Well, there’s the Lilly Ledbetter law, a failed stimulus plan, and a couple nationalized car companies. My, that’s precious little. Meanwhile, we are waging the war against Islamic fundamentalists (not that Obama would call them that) in Afghanistan and Iraq. One wonders why the netroots aren’t more crazed than they already are.

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Don’t Ask When, Don’t Tell the Left They’ve Been Conned

As with everything Obama-related, his promise to abolish Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell turns out to be less than billed during the State of the Union. This report explains:

The Defense Department starts the clock next week on what is expected to be a several-year process in lifting its ban on gays from serving openly in the military. A special investigation into how the ban can be repealed without hurting the morale or readiness of the troops was expected to be announced Tuesday by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Given that the one-year, self-imposed deadline for Guantanamo has come and gone, it is quite possible that the abolition of the policy could then very well never occur, with the debate extending long past Obama’s presidency. Surely his base will not be mollified with this sort of fluff, right? Others, however, may be delighted by the lackadaisical pace:

Democrats in Congress are also unlikely to press the issue until after this fall’s midterm elections. This will probably satisfy [Defense Secretary Robert] Gates, who has long suggested that change shouldn’t come too quickly. In a speech last year at the Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., Gated noted that the 1948 executive order for racial integration took five years to implement. “I’m not saying that’s a model for this, but I’m saying that I believe this is something that needs to be done very, very carefully,” he told the audience.

As J.E. Dyer explained in her thoughtful post, there are serious issues to consider before we allow the military to tolerate openly gay servicemen. And there is reason to wonder why — other than pure domestic politics to assuage the president’s disillusioned netroot fans — we should subject one of the few highly effective public institutions to “an untested, unnecessary, and probably unwise social experiment,” as Bill Kristol puts it.

Aside from the merits of the existing policy and the real cost in time, focus, and morale to change it, this is yet another example of the president’s rhetorical excess, which I suspect will now be seen as flimflam by his base. He promised to end the policy; the reality is that he is setting up an endless bureaucratic process to study it.

Guantanamo is open, the Patriot Act remains in place, ObamaCare is dead, and now Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is likely to be with us for years, perhaps forever. At some point, the president’s fans on the Left will realize they have been had.

As with everything Obama-related, his promise to abolish Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell turns out to be less than billed during the State of the Union. This report explains:

The Defense Department starts the clock next week on what is expected to be a several-year process in lifting its ban on gays from serving openly in the military. A special investigation into how the ban can be repealed without hurting the morale or readiness of the troops was expected to be announced Tuesday by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Given that the one-year, self-imposed deadline for Guantanamo has come and gone, it is quite possible that the abolition of the policy could then very well never occur, with the debate extending long past Obama’s presidency. Surely his base will not be mollified with this sort of fluff, right? Others, however, may be delighted by the lackadaisical pace:

Democrats in Congress are also unlikely to press the issue until after this fall’s midterm elections. This will probably satisfy [Defense Secretary Robert] Gates, who has long suggested that change shouldn’t come too quickly. In a speech last year at the Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., Gated noted that the 1948 executive order for racial integration took five years to implement. “I’m not saying that’s a model for this, but I’m saying that I believe this is something that needs to be done very, very carefully,” he told the audience.

As J.E. Dyer explained in her thoughtful post, there are serious issues to consider before we allow the military to tolerate openly gay servicemen. And there is reason to wonder why — other than pure domestic politics to assuage the president’s disillusioned netroot fans — we should subject one of the few highly effective public institutions to “an untested, unnecessary, and probably unwise social experiment,” as Bill Kristol puts it.

Aside from the merits of the existing policy and the real cost in time, focus, and morale to change it, this is yet another example of the president’s rhetorical excess, which I suspect will now be seen as flimflam by his base. He promised to end the policy; the reality is that he is setting up an endless bureaucratic process to study it.

Guantanamo is open, the Patriot Act remains in place, ObamaCare is dead, and now Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is likely to be with us for years, perhaps forever. At some point, the president’s fans on the Left will realize they have been had.

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What Now?

Karl Rove writes: “Mr. Obama’s problems are not political management, but policy. They won’t be solved by faux fiscal restraint, mini-ball proposals for the middle class, and angry pretensions to populism.” And they probably won’t be solved by tossing a divisive social issue into the mix and throwing down a challenge on health care that his party’s not prepared to meet. Obama gives speeches like a rock star throws kisses — indiscriminately, with no lasting impact and with no care that further demands might be made on him.

What happens now on health care? He gives Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid a wink and a “no nevermind” so they can go on to something else? Or perhaps he really expects them to keep at it. What happens on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell? He gives speeches and tries to force a vote? Or maybe that was the speech, and he expects to get an A for effort. It’s as if no one in the White House ever says, “But Mr. President, people will hold you accountable if you don’t deliver.”

In a sense, Obama, for all the “buck stops here” fluffery, still wears the mantle of a candidate, not a campaigner. Lobbyists run Washington. Earmarks are pervasive. There’s too much partisanship. Did he have another job last year, or was he in charge while all this old-style politics was running unchecked?

There is, moreover, one fundamental problem with his throw-all-the-darts-at-the-board domestic agenda. There isn’t really much of anything that’s going to be a jump-start for job creation. All the itty-bitty recycled job items are unlikely to provide the needed push for employers to resume hiring. And if unemployment remains at historic highs, as the CBO recently predicted, there’ll be no one in sight to blame and no amount of fake populism to disguise the Democrats’ failure to address the most important domestic issue.

In the end, the speeches really don’t matter. Obama, after a year in office, seems not to have grasped this. In many ways he recycled the September health-care speech and his February 2009 “new foundation” speech. But it’s 2010, and now the voters expect results.

Karl Rove writes: “Mr. Obama’s problems are not political management, but policy. They won’t be solved by faux fiscal restraint, mini-ball proposals for the middle class, and angry pretensions to populism.” And they probably won’t be solved by tossing a divisive social issue into the mix and throwing down a challenge on health care that his party’s not prepared to meet. Obama gives speeches like a rock star throws kisses — indiscriminately, with no lasting impact and with no care that further demands might be made on him.

What happens now on health care? He gives Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid a wink and a “no nevermind” so they can go on to something else? Or perhaps he really expects them to keep at it. What happens on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell? He gives speeches and tries to force a vote? Or maybe that was the speech, and he expects to get an A for effort. It’s as if no one in the White House ever says, “But Mr. President, people will hold you accountable if you don’t deliver.”

In a sense, Obama, for all the “buck stops here” fluffery, still wears the mantle of a candidate, not a campaigner. Lobbyists run Washington. Earmarks are pervasive. There’s too much partisanship. Did he have another job last year, or was he in charge while all this old-style politics was running unchecked?

There is, moreover, one fundamental problem with his throw-all-the-darts-at-the-board domestic agenda. There isn’t really much of anything that’s going to be a jump-start for job creation. All the itty-bitty recycled job items are unlikely to provide the needed push for employers to resume hiring. And if unemployment remains at historic highs, as the CBO recently predicted, there’ll be no one in sight to blame and no amount of fake populism to disguise the Democrats’ failure to address the most important domestic issue.

In the end, the speeches really don’t matter. Obama, after a year in office, seems not to have grasped this. In many ways he recycled the September health-care speech and his February 2009 “new foundation” speech. But it’s 2010, and now the voters expect results.

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Surprises

There were a few in Obama’s speech. First, he didn’t mention the “peace process.” Hooray! It is moribund and unproductive and he should give George Mitchell a much needed rest. Second, he seems to be serious about repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It is hard to see why this would help him. His moderate and conservative congressional allies won’t want to vote on a divisive issue, and if he does not achieve yet another “priority” what will his base say? Third, a smart reader asks whether in a SOTU a president has ever, as Obama did, attacked the Supreme Court in that fashion. I think not. It is, especially for a constitutional “scholar” rather craven. Fourth, he is setting himself up for a mighty big policy cul-de-sac when it gets to the Bush tax cuts. He’s said he hasn’t raised taxes on anyone but he sure is planning to do so. How does he wiggle out of this one? And finally, he avoided the disastrous Christmas Day episode, Guantanamo Bay and the KSM trial. Perhaps he is leaving room to escape.

The biggest surprise of all is really no surprise. He is the same unalloyed liberal who got himself in deep trouble. He thinks more of the same is the way out. We’ll see if he’s right.

There were a few in Obama’s speech. First, he didn’t mention the “peace process.” Hooray! It is moribund and unproductive and he should give George Mitchell a much needed rest. Second, he seems to be serious about repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It is hard to see why this would help him. His moderate and conservative congressional allies won’t want to vote on a divisive issue, and if he does not achieve yet another “priority” what will his base say? Third, a smart reader asks whether in a SOTU a president has ever, as Obama did, attacked the Supreme Court in that fashion. I think not. It is, especially for a constitutional “scholar” rather craven. Fourth, he is setting himself up for a mighty big policy cul-de-sac when it gets to the Bush tax cuts. He’s said he hasn’t raised taxes on anyone but he sure is planning to do so. How does he wiggle out of this one? And finally, he avoided the disastrous Christmas Day episode, Guantanamo Bay and the KSM trial. Perhaps he is leaving room to escape.

The biggest surprise of all is really no surprise. He is the same unalloyed liberal who got himself in deep trouble. He thinks more of the same is the way out. We’ll see if he’s right.

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LIVE BLOG: The Warm Up

Excerpts are circulating of the president’s speech. The lawmakers are assembling. (Which incumbents want to rush to the aisle to shake the president’s hand, knowing that image wind up in some challenger’s campaign ad?) But this report sort of sums up where we are:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s guest list includes the expected array of family, political friends and a few union chiefs, including Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO and Anna Burger of SEIU. But interestingly, Pelosi’s guest list includes the last sitting speaker to lose election: former Rep. Tom Foley.

Nothing like having those special, special-interest folks with you when the president decries corruption and lobbyists. As for Foley, I’m sure he’s telling Pelosi she  has nothing to fear so long as the president doesn’t double down on healthcare, insist her members vote on repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and attack the Supreme Court for defending the First Amendment. Oh, wait.

UPDATE: A reader sends this along: “Foley worked as a lobbyist for Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld after serving as U.S. ambassador to Japan, representing clients such as AT&T, Walt Disney Co., CSX Corp. and the State University of New York. Jim Wright, a Texas Democrat who was speaker from 1987 to 1989, was a consultant for Arch Petroleum Co., although it is unclear if he was ever a registered lobbyist, said the Office of the Historian of the House.” Great image, Nancy.

Excerpts are circulating of the president’s speech. The lawmakers are assembling. (Which incumbents want to rush to the aisle to shake the president’s hand, knowing that image wind up in some challenger’s campaign ad?) But this report sort of sums up where we are:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s guest list includes the expected array of family, political friends and a few union chiefs, including Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO and Anna Burger of SEIU. But interestingly, Pelosi’s guest list includes the last sitting speaker to lose election: former Rep. Tom Foley.

Nothing like having those special, special-interest folks with you when the president decries corruption and lobbyists. As for Foley, I’m sure he’s telling Pelosi she  has nothing to fear so long as the president doesn’t double down on healthcare, insist her members vote on repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and attack the Supreme Court for defending the First Amendment. Oh, wait.

UPDATE: A reader sends this along: “Foley worked as a lobbyist for Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld after serving as U.S. ambassador to Japan, representing clients such as AT&T, Walt Disney Co., CSX Corp. and the State University of New York. Jim Wright, a Texas Democrat who was speaker from 1987 to 1989, was a consultant for Arch Petroleum Co., although it is unclear if he was ever a registered lobbyist, said the Office of the Historian of the House.” Great image, Nancy.

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