The year 2012 is about to expire. It was a blank in my judgment — poof and it is gone. We have the same sorry vacuity in the White House, bereft of knowing how to run the government. Just now he is off to Hawaii to loll in the sun, having left behind questions as to how to avoid our "fiscal cliff." Yes, he wants to raise taxes on the top two percent, but how do we reduce the deficit and finish off the tax bill? He has headed for the beach — and practically no one remarks on the amateurism of it. The president is a poseur.
Not much more can be said for the rest of the leadership in Washington, in Congress, in the media, strutting down the halls of government. As year chases year, I have come to the conclusion that this whole town is abundant with poseurs or worse. The blandness of the Washington and New York City scenes is maddening to anyone familiar with American history, a history filled with great figures.
MSNBC's Chris Matthews is featured in a new "Lean Forward" promo spot [embedded below page break; MP3 audio here] quoting his "hero" Winston Churchill as having asked "Then what are we fighting for?" when his finance minister suggested that the government's budget for the arts would have to cut to aid Britain's war effort. Matthews used that story as a warning to conservatives that the nation's dire financial straits are no excuse for cutting federal spending on the arts.
On this past weekend’s Fox News Sunday, panel member Mara Liasson - also of NPR - invoked the name of Winston Churchill as she recommended that House Democrats send off Nancy Pelosi "in a blaze of glory" after having "accomplished historic things," rather than keep her on as party leader in the House. Liasson:
Nancy Pelosi did two things for which she will go down in history. She was an incredibly effective majority leader when, and Speaker, there was an opposition President. She helped make the majority. And when she was in the majority, she was the hammer that got through President Obama’s agenda and sent it to the Senate. However, that is a completely different role than what she wants to do now. For which, I think she’s kind of like Winston Churchill. I mean, she accomplished historic things for the Democrats, and they should be sending her off in a blaze of glory and adjusting for this new regime.
Panel member Brit Hume took exception with Liasson connecting Churchill and Pelosi. After Hume argued that "the difference between her and Winston Churchill is that Winston Churchill was turned out after he led his country to a great victory," leading Liasson to respond that she agreed Pelosi "should be turned out," the exchange continued:
Trying to blame someone—anyone—other than his man Barack Obama for the security meltdown surrounding NWA 253, Ed Schultz ran head-first into history without a helmet tonight. Seeking to shift some of the onus onto England for not having alerted us about having denied young Umar entry into its country, Ed entertainingly claimed that the UK has probably been "our best ally since the country started."
Um, Ed: "since the country started"? You mean, like, when we started the country in 1776? When we declared our independence from, and fought a war against, uh, you know? That same "best ally" that—more than a third of a century later—we fought the War of 1812 against, in the course of which its forces occupied Washington, DC and burned down the White House?
Now it's true that for many years we have enjoyed a special relationship with the UK, one personified by the warm and respectful dealings between Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. One that was strained, however, when shortly after his inauguration PBO removed the bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office and sent it back to the Brits.
Before his run-in with American history, Schultz also played the blame-Bush card.
It would be hard to overstate the significance of Barack Obama's blunder. As a certain junior senator from New York said during the primary season, while John McCain has obviously passed the Commander-in-Chief threshold, it's not clear Obama has. If there is one fundamental challenge facing the Dem candidate in this campaign, it is to prove that he has the values and the toughness necessary to protect our country against the terrorists who seek to destroy us.
Yet now—in an interview with ABC's Jake Tapper—Obama has proposed a read-them-their-Miranda-rights approach to dealing with the likes of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. It's the policy equivalent of Dukakis-in-a-tank, and is likely, in this NewsBuster's opinion, to have an even more harmful impact on his campaign. The McCain camp has wasted no time in weighing in. In a conference call yesterday, former CIA director James Woolsey said Obama's advocacy of giving terrorists access to U.S. courts was an "extremely dangerous and an extremely naive approach to terrorism."
Discussion on Morning Joe today among, on the one hand, Barack fans Mika Brzezinski and WaPo's Jonathan Capehart, and on the other a Joe Scarborough preaching realpolitik, revealed just how vulnerable Obama is on the issue. I'd encourage readers to view the extended video clip here, but for present purposes will focus on one exchange:
Any man who is under 30 and is not a liberal has no heart; and any man who is over 30 and not a conservative has no brains. - Winston Churchill
I guess we know what old Winston would think of Chris Matthews, then. Appearing on Morning Joe today, the Hardball host turned the Churchillian maxim upside down, claiming his gut leans right but his head pulls him left.
Chris was conversing with MJ panelist Mika Brzezinski. After calling her "a cutie pie and "very smart," he continued.
If you're the Boston Globe, there's no day like 9-11 to suggest negotiating with terrorists. For that's what the Globe appears to propose in its editorial of this morning, "Toughness after Sept. 11."
The gist is that in response to 9-11, President Bush's "aggressive foreign policy" and his "version of toughness" have had "tragic and unpredictable consequences," including "tens of thousands of civilians dead" in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the trampling of civil liberties at home.
So what does the Globe propose as the alternative to toughness? The editorial approvingly notes that "Churchill sought rapprochement with the Soviet Union following Stalin's death in 1953. Reagan realized he could negotiate with the Soviet Union after Mikhail Gorbachev came to power."