Commentary Magazine


Flotsam and Jetsam

Gov. Mark Sanford in a letter to President Bush warning against use of TARP funds to rescue the car companies: ” What’s unfolding now is ultimately bigger than credit in our financial system and distressed businesses. We are placing an unhealthy and unprecedented level of debt on present taxpayers and future generations. And I believe we are at a tipping point in moving from a market-based economy to a politically-based economy, wherein one’s success can be determined not by good decisions and hard work, but by the size of one’s voice and connection to Washington.”

Is the only misdeed by the Obama transition team in Blago-gate the crime of mishandling the media? Well, they picked the right people to mishandle — the most sympathetic and protective group one could imagine.

I’m so glad John McCain  Barack Obama was elected so that he can have the national security advice of people like Joe Leiberman and George Shultz to guide him. One wonders if reality has had a sobering effect. “Mumbai was a little bit of a wake-up call,” a top advisor says. Hey, we can bemoan the fact that the President-elect needed waking, but at least he’s been roused.

Richard Cohen is trying to encourage the President-elect to give up his Blackberry in favor of a newspaper, which he claims will give him a broader outlook. But this is about the worst possible argument: “The paper is not written with him in mind. The paper does not set out to please him, and it is not seeking a job.” Aside from the fact that “the paper” is an inanimate object, 80% of the writers do write with him in mind, are out to please and are seeking jobs. Ask Linda Douglass and Jay Carney, if you doubt me.

RNC Chair hopeful, Katon Dawson is playing defense on his membership in a whites-only club. His latest: well blacks played golf there as guests, so who was to know they weren’t members? Aside from the fact that as a member Dawson would likely know the other members (and know they weren’t black), and that the major political paper The State reported several years ago on the club’s exclusive status, I suppose he could have been clueless. (Although this most recent defense comes belatedly and oddly wasn’t mentioned in his letter resigning from the club this year. There was no “I just learned that. . .  ) In any event, “clueless on race” is not a good moniker for the head of the GOP, especially now.

Both Kleins agree: thumbs down on appointing Caroline Kennedy. She’s nice, but enough with the dynasty thing.

Meanwhile, Ramesh Ponnuru asks: “It is, rather, her lack of accomplishments. Board memberships; insubstantial and ‘co-written’ books: Can’t New York find someone more impressive to hand this job to? Being part of a dynasty is fine, but it’s not enough.” Frankly, having elected an unaccomplished President largely on star power, Democrats are in a poorer position than the Right to argue experience and merit. But perhaps it is one thing to be a celebrity in your own right and another merely as an accident of birth.

And Claudia Rossett nails The Banana Republic of New York.

But we’re not done with the nepotism sweepstakes! The Colorado Senate seat may be filled with the brother of Sen. Ken Salazar who has been picked for Interior. Because that’s a rule — only relatives of politicians get Senate seats, right?

Howard Fineman thinks pushing until Christmas week the release of the review of the  transition team’s Blago contacts is fishy. “Still, however justifiable the silence and caution, Emanuel (and, by extension, Obama) could pay a price for both as the Chicago mess simmers on. Emanuel already has blown up at members of the Chicago press corps—a newspaper reporter and a cameraman. Obama’s transition team, eager to show its openness and focus on naming cabinet nominees, has been forced to spend day after day dealing with the Blago story. There’s too much focus on Emanuel, whose naturally abrasive personality clashes with his boss’s cool demeanor.”

This is quite comforting: “The White House has prepared more than a dozen contingency plans to help guide President-elect Barack Obama if an international crisis erupts in the opening days of his administration, part of an elaborate operation devised to smooth the first transition of power since Sept. 11, 2001.”

Jesse Jackson, Jr. was helping the feds in Blagogate. Anyone else, or were others really unaware they were the supporting cast in the Blago-gate drama?

Harold Meyerson says the Republicans are out to destroy the UAW, which made the middle class. Actually, the middle class hasn’t been built on unionization for decades. But who needs facts when you are waxing rhapsodic? And as for the destroying part ( jobs and the attractiveness of unions in general), the UAW and the Big Three — by conspiring to resist change — are doing that all by themselves.

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