Thursday, April 23, 2009
Two very happy guys at the rabidly anti-U.S. (I really can't say anti-American) Summit of the Americas meeting.
Another day; Another opportunity to vent about the POTUS, courtesy of the WSJ.
Daniel Henninger on Obama's coziness with leftist dictators and its deleterious effect on their oppressed subjects.
In New York this week, I asked a former Eastern European dissident who spent time in prison under the Communists: "If you were sitting in a cell in Cuba, Iran or Syria and saw this photo of a smiling American president shaking hands with a smiling Hugo Chávez, what would you think?"
He said: "I would think that I was losing ground."
Karl Rove on Obama's apology tour. Rove is rapidly showing that he's as valuable a journalist as he was a Presidential advisor. And that's saying a lot. I noticed that there's some book, "The Rise and Fall of Karl Rove" in the bargain bins at Borders. A good place for it.
There is something ungracious in Mr. Obama criticizing his predecessors, including most recently John F. Kennedy. ("I'm grateful that President [Daniel] Ortega did not blame me for things that happened when I was three months old," Mr. Obama said after the Nicaraguan delivered a 52-minute anti-American tirade that touched on the Bay of Pigs.) Mr. Obama acts as if no past president -- except maybe Abraham Lincoln -- possesses his wisdom.
Mr. Obama was asked in Europe if he believes in American exceptionalism. He said he did -- in the same way that "the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks in Greek exceptionalism." That's another way of saying, "No."
Mr. Obama makes it seem as though there is moral equivalence between America and its adversaries and assumes that if he confesses America's sins, other nations will confess theirs and change. But he won no confessions (let alone change) from the leaders of Venezuela, Nicaragua or Russia. He apologized for America and our adversaries rejoiced. Fidel Castro isn't easing up on Cuban repression, but he is preparing to take advantage of Mr. Obama's policy shifts.
Mr. Obama is downplaying the threats we face. He takes comfort in thinking that Venezuela has a defense budget that "is probably 1/600th" of America's -- it's actually 1/215th -- but that hasn't kept Mr. Chávez from supporting narcoterrorists waging war on Colombia (a key U.S. ally) or giving petrodollars to anti-American regimes. Venezuela isn't likely to attack the U.S., but it is capable of harming American interests.
Henry Kissinger wrote in his memoir "Years of Renewal": "The great statesmen of the past saw themselves as heroes who took on the burden of their societies' painful journey from the familiar to the as yet unknown. The modern politician is less interested in being a hero than a superstar. Heroes walk alone; stars derive their status from approbation. Heroes are defined by inner values; stars by consensus. When a candidate's views are forged in focus groups and ratified by television anchorpersons, insecurity and superficiality become congenital."
A superstar, not a statesman, today leads our country. That may win short-term applause from foreign audiences, but do little for what should be the chief foreign policy preoccupation of any U.S. president: advancing America's long-term interests.
The WSJ issued a forceful, angry editorial on the divisive and destructive effect investigations of Bush era interrogation methods would have on the country.
Mark down the date. Tuesday, April 21, 2009, is the moment that any chance of a new era of bipartisan respect in Washington ended. By inviting the prosecution of Bush officials for their antiterror legal advice, President Obama has injected a poison into our politics that he and the country will live to regret.
...at least until now, the U.S. political system has avoided the spectacle of a new Administration prosecuting its predecessor for policy disagreements. This is what happens in Argentina, Malaysia or Peru, countries where the law is treated merely as an extension of political power.
If this analogy seems excessive, consider how Mr. Obama has framed the issue. He has absolved CIA operatives of any legal jeopardy, no doubt because his intelligence advisers told him how damaging that would be to CIA morale when Mr. Obama needs the agency to protect the country. But he has pointedly invited investigations against Republican legal advisers who offered their best advice at the request of CIA officials.
"Your intelligence indicates that there is currently a level of 'chatter' equal to that which preceded the September 11 attacks," wrote Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee, in his August 1, 2002 memo. "In light of the information you believe [detainee Abu] Zubaydah has and the high level of threat you believe now exists, you wish to move the interrogations into what you have described as an 'increased pressure phase.'"
So the CIA requests a legal review at a moment of heightened danger, the Justice Department obliges with an exceedingly detailed analysis of the law and interrogation practices -- and, seven years later, Mr. Obama says only the legal advisers who are no longer in government should be investigated. The political convenience of this distinction for Mr. Obama betrays its basic injustice. And by the way, everyone agrees that senior officials, including President Bush, approved these interrogations. Is this President going to put his predecessor in the dock too?
Congress will face questions about what the Members knew and when, especially Nancy Pelosi when she was on the House Intelligence Committee in 2002. The Speaker now says she remembers hearing about waterboarding, though not that it would actually be used. Does anyone believe that? Porter Goss, her GOP counterpart at the time, says he knew exactly what he was hearing and that, if anything, Ms. Pelosi worried the CIA wasn't doing enough to stop another attack. By all means, put her under oath.
Michigan Congressman Peter Hoekstra on widening those prospective investigations to include members of Congress who knew about the program and to Obama himself.
It was not necessary to release details of the enhanced interrogation techniques, because members of Congress from both parties have been fully aware of them since the program began in 2002. We believed it was something that had to be done in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to keep our nation safe. After many long and contentious debates, Congress repeatedly approved and funded this program on a bipartisan basis in both Republican and Democratic Congresses.
Members of Congress calling for an investigation of the enhanced interrogation program should remember that such an investigation can't be a selective review of information, or solely focus on the lawyers who wrote the memos, or the low-level employees who carried out this program. I have asked Mr. Blair to provide me with a list of the dates, locations and names of all members of Congress who attended briefings on enhanced interrogation techniques.
Any investigation must include this information as part of a review of those in Congress and the Bush administration who reviewed and supported this program. To get a complete picture of the enhanced interrogation program, a fair investigation will also require that the Obama administration release the memos requested by former Vice President Dick Cheney on the successes of this program.
An honest and thorough review of the enhanced interrogation program must also assess the likely damage done to U.S. national security by Mr. Obama's decision to release the memos over the objections of Mr. Panetta and four of his predecessors. Such a review should assess what this decision communicated to our enemies, and also whether it will discourage intelligence professionals from offering their frank opinions in sensitive counterterrorist cases for fear that they will be prosecuted by a future administration.
Perhaps we need an investigation not of the enhanced interrogation program, but of what the Obama administration may be doing to endanger the security our nation has enjoyed because of interrogations and other antiterrorism measures implemented since Sept. 12, 2001.
A WSJ reader has written a letter about the remarkable foresight of WSJ editors going back several years. (I had observed this too). Beginning early this decade, in an ongoing series of opinion pieces, the Journal warned that the Fed's loose money policy and the lack of restrictions on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would eventually lead to big trouble. The letter writer suggests that the WSJ should print a summary of all of the editorials that warned of these policy errors. In addition, he thinks it should publish the summary in full page ads in other papers. A good idea. The hoped for effect would be an alteration of the public's misconceptions about the source of the economic downturn.
Not a WSJ item, but of interest nonetheless. Obama's subservience to the teacher's unions has managed to enrage even the solidly liberal, dependably Democratic, NPR and Fox News Correspondent Juan Williams. He's angry about Obama's plan to dismantle the modest D.C. voucher system and deny some poor, black kids the opportunity to escape the terrible D.C. public school system. A system that Obama (and most other Washington political elites) shun for their own children.
I was too quick to write some complimentary things about Obama the other day. He's been about as bad a President as I thought he would be. Awful. Just awful. He was advertised as post-partisan, post-racial, post ideological. Three egregious lies. Somehow, we've elected as President of the United States a media "personality". It's no wonder Oprah likes him so much. He is Oprah. Without the business acumen.
It's still early in his term. He could change. I'm not hopeful. Things will probably only get worse. I've only volunteered once in my life for a candidate - McGovern in 1972. I'm ready to volunteer for Obama's opponent in 2012. It doesn't matter who it is. Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Ron Paul, Daffy Duck. Sign me up.