|Man Without Qualities|
Friday, July 23, 2004
Pathetic ... And Bound To Lose XLVI: Spinning And Spinning In A Widening Gyre
Frankly, one tires a bit of pointing out that the coming election will be driven by the domestic economy even as the media fusses endlessly over what sometimes seems like every nit of the War on Terror and foreign affairs (Was there another roadside bomb outside Baghdad? How about that electrifying poll of asking Americans if they "approve of torture?")
But release of the September 11 Commission counts for something worth some serious consideration - although not much new. The full Report is Brobdingnagian and willfully diffuse - but its Executive Summary is worth reading. The Democrats and their media hangers-on seem to have been a bit gobsmacked by the Report's failure to criticize the Bush administration. The Dems and their media for some unaccountable reason were counting on such criticism (did Ms. Gorelick steer them wrong?) - even to the point of arguing as late as yesterday that the disclosure of Sandy Berger's thefts of confidential documents was motivated by administration intent to "distract" the public from the Report. It would be interesting to revisit with Messrs. McAuliffe and Gergen and others who voiced such opinions to ask them now exactly what they find in the Report from which the administration wanted to "distract" the public.
Public expressions of Democratic hope on this count seems to gush endlessly, if not spring eternal, even as their media sycophants acknowledge disappointment, as with this hilarious spin by Dan Froomkin in the Washington Post:
It was an indictment without a defendant. Bush praised the report yesterday morning, and by afternoon was describing its recommendation as consistent with his policies. Underneath its everyone's-to-blame veneer, the report includes some weighty assertions that are potentially very damaging to the White House. The report, for instance, criticizes the concept of the "war on terror" that has been the signature issue of Bush's presidency. It concludes that what is required to defeat Islamist terrorism is something more nuanced than that. And it does not support the argument that the war on Iraq was either related to or helpful in that quest.Does any serious person think that "underneath" this Report immediately praised and embraced by the President is a disaster for him and his administration? Such an assertion is in the same nonsense category as Linus Roache's line from The Chronicles of Riddick that "The Underverse will be reached only by those who have embraced the Necromonger faith!" One can just imagine the whoops of delight at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue if the Kerry-Edwards campaign had the temerity to repudiate the War On Terror in favor of something "more nuanced than that." And Mr. Froomkin seems not to have carefully read the Report's language regarding Iraq and terrorism, since that language is now so complex and "nuanced" as to be essentially anodyne - almost incomprehensible. Abandoning the Commission's interim conclusion of no "collaborative relationship" the Report now finds no "collaborative operational relationship" to attack the U.S. Huh? Whatever that means, it won't make for a good bumper sticker.
On first reading the Report seems to be mostly a big criticism of liberal Democratic intelligence policies going back to the Church Committee. For example, the Report urges that the CIA, FBI and other intelligence agencies be given an common chief and otherwise more closely integrated. Could there be a more thorough repudiation of the grotesque Church Committee approach? The Wall Street Journal gets this aspect of the Report exactly right by pointing out that the Report is largely an assault on the infamous "wall of separation" between intelligence and law enforcement that was reinforced in 1995 by Clinton Deputy Attorney General (and 9/11 Commissioner) Jamie Gorelick. The Patriot Act took down that wall, and the report amounts to a rousing endorsement of that much-maligned legislation." Worse for liberal Democrats, the Report is full of recommendations for legislation running entirely against their whole philosophy of intelligence gathering.
Is the Kerry-Edwards campaign going to embrace all that? It seems to have escaped the notice of Mr. Froomkin and the liberal media generally that John Kerry and his clique have not embraced the Report, as with these comments from Senator Kerry:
This report carries a very simple message for all of America about the security of all Americans: We can do better. ... We must do better, and there's an urgency to our doing better. We have to act now. ... If I am elected president and there still has not been sufficient progress rapidly in these next months on these issues, then I will lead. .... Unfortunately, this administration has had an ongoing war between the State Department, the Defense Department, the White House. ... People have been at odds, everybody knows it, they'll deny it, but everybody does know. And the fact is that it has created a struggle that has delayed our ability to move forward.
Unlike the Commission, in the above quote Senator Kerry is clearly attempting to lay the blame for the lack of "dot connecting" on the Bush administration - not on the structure of the nation's intelligence apparatus. Senator Kerry's approach certainly deflates any imperative to seek further formal integration of the intelligence services, such as appointment of the grand intelligence chief and other urgent structural reforms suggested by the Report. In Senator Kerry's comment, all that is needed to stop the ongoing war between the State Department, the Defense Department, the White House is to elect him President. That is not at all consistent with what the Report says. It's no wonder that he intones "If I am elected president and there still has not been sufficient progress rapidly in these next months on these issues, then I will lead. From his comments, he expresses no desire to "lead" now - and certainly not to "lead" in the basic direction advocated by this Report.
To say the least, Senator Kerry's response is well, more nuanced than the bear hug from the White House. But then, this Nuancy Boy seems to reserve most of his bear hugs for his cute running mate. Interestingly, as pale as Senator Kerry response to the Report has been, the New York Times reports:
Essentially none of the Commission's significant recommendations can be effected by Executive Order, and Senator Edwards wants "Congress to work on the rest." He doesn't suggest that Congress actually enact the rest, mind you - or actually enact any of what the Commission wants. Just work on the rest.
And, of course, sometimes Congress just works and works and nothing gets done. I know it's hard to believe, but that sometimes just happens. Jeepers.
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