Politics/Law/Government

Bob Novak reminds us how the economy works

Er, the D.C. economy, at any rate. From his latest exclusive newsletter:

[F]amily members of senators and congressmen from both parties and in all regions of the country have for years benefited directly from the “Washington economy” of lobbying firms and government contractors, many of which would not even exist without the infusions of taxpayer money that earmarks provide each year. … This has never been considered improper, but few Americans know that a very small number of Washington-connected families negotiate, appropriate and benefit from large expenditures of taxpayer money on a small number of companies through the earmarking process.

Another interesting bit from his latest is his take on the dust-up between Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama at the recent Democratic YouTube debate. Of Clinton, Novak quips, “This debate will likely be remembered as the performance in which [she] finally learned to lighten up and act a bit human [emphasis his], eschewing the debilitating and robotic persona she normally affects in public speaking situations.” Not sure exactly what Novak means by “act a bit human”; is this what he had in mind?

Crows Novak, “When offered the opportunity to exploit rival Barack Obama’s lack of experience, she hit a home run.” Uh, did she? He continues on Obama: “[He] delivered a gaffe on a foreign policy question that highlighted his lack of experience and could cost him…

“His unqualified willingness to meet with a number of rogue world leaders,” he states, “was suddenly thrown into sharp contrast with Clinton’s careful answer that she would not meet with anyone if she believed that the visit was going to be used as a propaganda piece to humiliate the United States.”

Katrina Vanden Heuvel at The Nation makes a mockery of Novak’s (and others’) rah-rahing of Clinton’s “careful answer” and alleged foreign relations superiority by simply saying, “Witness how far Clinton’s nuanced experience got her when confronted with the 2002 Iraq war resolution.”

But Clinton does have a point about being used as a propaganda piece. A president should always leave it to his lesser, nameless footsoldiers to do the grunt work with unsavory world leaders. Ronald Reagan was wise enough to do that with Saddam Hussein, sending some guy named Rumsfeld over there to meet with him. Whatever happened to those two, by the way?

Rummy & Saddam, a special friendship

x-post: JAZZ from HELL

4 replies »

  1. Refusing to meet with some little-known leader from an unimportant corner of the world is not always without cost. This can be true even if the meeting might be exploited for propaganda purposes.

    A little nobody named Ho Chi Minh repeatedly petitioned President Harry Truman for support with achieving Vietnamese independence from France. The French had the ear of Washington and the President considered Ho Chi Minh to be of no consequence to a world power. Nor was Harry Truman alone in his assessment. President Truman’s successor thought Ho Chi Minh to be little more than a crackpot. After all, the United States had won World War II and Ho Chi Minh only played a bit part in harassing the Japanese. Besides, he was a commie.

    That little mistake only squandered about 58,000 American lives and several billions of dollars – not to mention diminished American prestige in the eyes of the world as well as a divided country at home. The ghost of Vietnam still haunts the United States and is being exploited by opponents of the Iraq debacle.

    Still, despite the fact that the United States twice helped the French escape from the stranglehold of their German neighbors and largely financed their lost cause in Vietnam, our drinking buddies in Paris never liked us very much. This was especially true under Charles de Gaulle even after we helped save his worthless hide.

    More recently, the infamous 1983 meeting between Saddam Hussein and Donald Rumsfeld might not have occurred if the Ronald Regan’s diplomacy had consisted of more than a de facto “Enemy of the Month Club”! In a revolving door of friendships, the enemy of our enemy is not always our friend. Then, neither are those whom we choose to assist.

  2. “The enemy of our enemy is not always our friend. Then, neither are those whom we choose to assist.” We’re lucky these days to have anyone in the White House or State Dept. with even a rudimentary level of discernment.

  3. When a nation starts confusing money in the bank with brains in the cranium, it is already in that proverbial handbasket and headed for an unpleasant stay in a place a whole lot warmer than Death Valley in July and August! Rule by entitlement has produced quite a few disasters in governance.

  4. Much was made of Obama’s “unqualified willingness to meet with a number of rogue world leaders.” in the press. Lots of points chalked up for Hillary on that one.

    She’s doing way too well in the debates. Though I saw former Bush pollster-focus grouper Frank Luntz on Hannity & Colmes demonstrating how the one that the public really identifies with is, oddly, Joe Biden.

    Truly annoying though when the people I meet parrot the media’s line that Obama lacks Hillary’s experience. Exactly what experience is that?

    I don’t have time at the moment to track down the article, but I read that up until now, as a senator, she sweated the small stuff, rather than take on the big bills, to build her resume.

    What’s she done in foreign policy that would give her an advantage over Obama? (Somebody might have an answer to that, I’m aware.)

    For the record, I’m unashamed to admit that I’m a Gravel guy.

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