|Man Without Qualities|
Friday, July 30, 2004
Washington Post columnist David Ignatius scribes an amazingly clueless column today, including this passage:
But as President Bush and John Kerry race to endorse the commission's agenda for change, you'd think the proposals had been handed down from heaven itself, rather than offered up for public discussion. .... [T]here's something dispiriting about the knee-jerk endorsement of the commission's proposals. The ink was barely dry on the 567-page report when Kerry gave it his blanket endorsement. Hoping to bind himself even more tightly to the commission's image of national unity, Kerry then proposed extending its life by 18 months.But President Bush isn't racing to endorse the Commission's recommendation across the board. He has indicated that he is seriously considering them and that he will likely act early to effect some of them.
Senator Kerry, on the other hand, has taken a more "nuanced" - that is, "deliberately misleading" - approach. As noted in a prior post, right after the Commission Report was issued "he" posted a letter on his website listing and superficially "supporting" every one of the Commission's recommendations. On its face the across-the-board "support" is absurd, and the Senator quite clearly signaled in the same letter that he had no intention of supporting every one of the Commission's recommendations in the form they had been written when he included the disclaimer:
Your Commission has provided an excellent roadmap to make our nation as safe as we can be and now we must work out the details in a bipartisan manner that lets us accomplish our goal of defeating the terrorists and protecting our nation.Any such "bipartisan consensus" must necessarily exclude much of what the Commission has recommended - and Senator Levin has already signaled his opposition to some of its "marquee" items. Further, the same day "he" posted "his" letter, Senator Kerry told the New York Times that he had only skimmed parts of the Report overnight and that "I regret that many of these have not been put in place over the course of the last few years. They would have made America a great deal safer." The not-so-subtle consequence of this comment is that the Senator thinks that the recommendations other than the "many of these [that] ... would have made America a great deal safer" would not have made America a great deal safer. Is the Senator supposed to be read as supporting even those recommendations that he has indicated he does not think would have made America a great deal safer? Of course not! His posted letter specifically states that he is committed only to actions in "manner that lets us accomplish our goal of defeating the terrorists and protecting our nation." So he is not binding himself to any recommendation that he does not think would have made America a great deal safer because any such recommendation quite clearly does not accomplish our goal of defeating the terrorists and protecting our nation. Any such recommendation would clearly fail the balancing test of preserving individual freedom against our goal of defeating the terrorists and protecting our nation = and the Senator should not be construed otherwise.
Further, while Senator Kerry may have been hoping to bind himself even more tightly to the commission's image of national unity [when he] ... proposed extending its life by 18 months, the actual effect of any such extension would almost certainly be to slow down any enactment of the Commission's recommendations while progressively eroding the Commission's "independence" that gives it credibility in the first place. The continuing activity of the Commission is a clear invitation for Congress to punt tough questions back to the Commission for further consideration and review - thereby delaying any action on what the Commission has done so far. The result would also be integration of the Commission into the ongoing political process of Washington, thereby eroding its independence. But that "independence" would already have become a farce given the fact that the members of the Commission are already being discussed and proposed for high positions in the government as a result of their service on the Commission. Could there be a more clearly defined conflict of interest and abrogation of "independence" than the spectacle of the political Parties and Commission members vying for each others' favors as legislation is formulated?
Who knows? Maybe I could think of a more clearly defined conflict of interest if I sat down and thought about the matter for a month or so.
The rest of the column is just as ill-thought-out.
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