Commentary Magazine


Flotsam and Jetsam

Terry McAuliffe mulls over what to do with Bill Clinton during his Democratic primary. He can, after all, be more trouble than he’s worth. Hillary can commiserate.

You want a targeted, temporary and timely stimulus? Try defense spending, and specifically keeping the F-22 in production.

What’s in the Senate stimulus plan? All we have so far is a summary and a spreadsheet. The specifics of what the money is going to be spent on remains carefully concealed from view. Too bad we didn’t elect an administration which promised to publish the full text of bills in advance of votes. Oh, right.

But we have an agreed upon number: $827B which is indeed more than the House bill. Those Republican moderates are some tough negotiators, huh?

In case you thought there weren’t enough overlapping power centers in the Obama administration, the National Security Council is now growing.

Minority Leader John Boehner visits Iraq. Among his findings: “Major General Kelly reported that Anbar Iraqi Security Forces have assumed full lead in protecting the population, and that the provincial elections occured last week without any violence.  He reported that while the insurgency has largely been defeated (the first 90 yards of the field), the last 10 yards must be won by the government of Iraq.”

Even Tom Friedman concedes success: “Those U.S. soldiers in Iraq can take pride in the recent Iraqi elections, which have strengthened the more secular and centrist parties. But we have to wait and see if the losers in this election take their defeat peacefully and whether the winners can actually produce better governance. The Iraqi elections, though, are a rare example of Arabs getting a chance to build their own future from the bottom up, and I continue to root for them.” Hmm. So war precedes political solutions after all. Good to know next time Friedman and his ilk trot out the “cycle of violence” canard.

The President’s popularity floats downward.

Jim Hoagland writes, “But by the standards of the past — and of the rough neighborhood in which Iraqis still live — the two general elections that Iraq has held in four years stand as paragons of progress and adaptation that others in the region should aim to emulate. That development should not be ignored or minimized, particularly as the United States and Europe wrestle with analogous problems that confront a newly besieged Afghanistan. Even more important than shifting troops from Iraq to Afghanistan may be shifting counterinsurgency lessons learned. . . The internalizing of Iraq’s strife — as horrible as that strife can be on any given day for Iraqis — makes the region less of a global tinderbox than it was. That the country’s Kurds no longer live under the threat of genocide directed from Baghdad and that the Shiites no longer have to submit to state-organized mass murder on a routine basis constitutes real progress for them and for humanity.” And if the house of Saud can get past its personal pique, we might have a fairly effective and unified counterweight to Iran.

Eleanor Clift roots for Howard Dean for HHS. Well, if you’re looking for partisan bile and more White House rivalries (he and Rahm Emanual don’t exactly get along) he’s just the ticket.

Maureen Dowd is back to excoriating her once-dreamy president, who’s turned out to be less than she (and most liberals) hoped: “It’s a huge, scary moment, with trillions of dollars and millions of jobs flying out the window. Vice President Joseph Biden, in another Cassandra moment, told House Democrats that even if the White House does everything right, ‘there’s still a 30 percent chance we’ll get it wrong.’ The president and his aides seemed a bit snow-blinded by the White House, overwhelmed and slow to understand that they were losing the high ground and the whip hand. They couldn’t even get their pick for commerce secretary, the Republican Senator Judd Gregg, to vote for their stimulus bill; he said he would abstain.” So: is he wrong on substance or execution, or both?

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