Friday, December 16, 2016

Practice What They Preached

Via TPM, a group of former Democratic staffers on Capitol Hill suggest that the way to resist Trump and his minions is to give them back what they gave President Obama.

In an online guide made public Wednesday night, a number of those onetime Hill staffers say that the best way for individuals to derail the policy agenda of Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) is to organize locally and badger their own congressional representatives to vote against individual pieces of legislation.

The guide argues that, like the “Tea Party patriots” who found common cause in their unified loathing of President Barack Obama, progressives who oppose Trump should stand against him before all else rather than try to articulate a policy agenda that has no hope of advancing while the GOP controls all three branches of government.

“We believe that the next four years depend on citizens across the country standing indivisible against the Trump agenda,” the authors write in the guide, which is formatted as a live Google document. “We believe that buying into false promises or accepting partial concessions will only further empower Trump to victimize our fellow citizens. We hope that this guide will provide those who share that belief useful tools to make Congress listen.”

The only problem with that is that the Tea Party groups were able to exploit the fear, loathing, and racism that was easily stirred up because Barack Obama was very easy to “other”: he’s African-American, he has a funny name, and the folks who manipulated the GOP base knew they were dealing with pigeons who were, to be polite, under-educated.  Trump exploited them and their fears even more.

How you fight back against such knee-jerk reactionaries without getting down to their level of meanness and falsehood will not be easy; Democrats have this annoying habit of bringing a casserole to a gunfight thinking it’s a potluck dinner.  But it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Cage Match: Matthews vs. Priebus

Okay, so I said I wasn’t going to waste pixels on the GOP convention, but that didn’t mean I wouldn’t notice — and post — some of the sideshows.

Here’s Chris Matthews during a live segment of Morning Joe opening a can on RNC Chair Reince Priebus for the birtherism and the foreignization of President Obama by the Romney campaign:

Yip yah.

And I love the way the bystanders like Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski are absolutely mortified by such incivility on their TV show. Much pearl clutching ensued. Half a kudo to Tom Brokaw for limply coming to Chris’s defense.

Cage Match: Matthews vs. Priebus

Okay, so I said I wasn’t going to waste pixels on the GOP convention, but that didn’t mean I wouldn’t notice — and post — some of the sideshows.

Here’s Chris Matthews during a live segment of Morning Joe opening a can on RNC Chair Reince Priebus for the birtherism and the foreignization of President Obama by the Romney campaign:

Yip yah.

And I love the way the bystanders like Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski are absolutely mortified by such incivility on their TV show. Much pearl clutching ensued. Half a kudo to Tom Brokaw for limply coming to Chris’s defense.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Fallows v. Ferguson

Niall Ferguson, a tenured professor of history at Harvard, wrote a cover story for Newsweek making the case for the defeat of President Obama. Numerous pundits and fact-checkers have gone over the article and pronounced it flawed, including blaming the president for bad things that happened a year before he took office.

But leave it to James Fallows of The Atlantic (and a Harvard alum) to really give Mr. Ferguson his comeuppance, and it is a thing of beauty.

– “I was a good loser four years ago. But this year, fired up by the rise of Ryan, I want badly to win.”

According to an article in the Telegraph this year, Ferguson has chosen America over Britain because the intellectual life back home is so shallow. It is good that he is deepening our discourse with observations like these. (To the best of my knowledge, he is not a U.S. citizen, which I note only because it gives the “good loser” and “want badly to win” observations an unusual edge.)

There is lots more, which you can judge for yourself. Let me re-establish the point: I have no complaint with anyone making a strong case against Obama, or in his favor. That’s what an election year is for. My point concerns the broadside pamphleteering nature of his argument, which is no worse than what we expect on cable-news talk shows but also no better. And it comes from someone trading heavily on the prestige that goes with being a tenured professor at the world’s leading university.


You can say these things if you’re a talk-show host or a combatant on some cable-news gabfest. To me this is not what the tradition of Veritas and the search for scholarly enlightenment is supposed to exemplify. Seriously, I wonder if one of Ferguson’s students will have the panache to turn in a similar paper to see how it fares.

Game, set, match.

Fallows v. Ferguson

Niall Ferguson, a tenured professor of history at Harvard, wrote a cover story for Newsweek making the case for the defeat of President Obama. Numerous pundits and fact-checkers have gone over the article and pronounced it flawed, including blaming the president for bad things that happened a year before he took office.

But leave it to James Fallows of The Atlantic (and a Harvard alum) to really give Mr. Ferguson his comeuppance, and it is a thing of beauty.

– “I was a good loser four years ago. But this year, fired up by the rise of Ryan, I want badly to win.”

According to an article in the Telegraph this year, Ferguson has chosen America over Britain because the intellectual life back home is so shallow. It is good that he is deepening our discourse with observations like these. (To the best of my knowledge, he is not a U.S. citizen, which I note only because it gives the “good loser” and “want badly to win” observations an unusual edge.)

There is lots more, which you can judge for yourself. Let me re-establish the point: I have no complaint with anyone making a strong case against Obama, or in his favor. That’s what an election year is for. My point concerns the broadside pamphleteering nature of his argument, which is no worse than what we expect on cable-news talk shows but also no better. And it comes from someone trading heavily on the prestige that goes with being a tenured professor at the world’s leading university.


You can say these things if you’re a talk-show host or a combatant on some cable-news gabfest. To me this is not what the tradition of Veritas and the search for scholarly enlightenment is supposed to exemplify. Seriously, I wonder if one of Ferguson’s students will have the panache to turn in a similar paper to see how it fares.

Game, set, match.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Short Takes

The New York Times reports that North Korea has built a “vast” new nuclear facility.

A two-way street — President Obama pushes back on criticism from Afghan president Karzai.

Former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois announced that she’s running for mayor of Chicago, too.

There’s a manhunt going on in Utah in pursuit of a shooter who critically wounded a park ranger.

Pass, friend — Airline pilots will not have to go through enhanced searches.

The pope says condoms are okay for male prostitutes.

Un-friend him — A New Jersey pastor who slammed Facebook for promoting infidelity admits to having at least one too many “friends.”

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Cage Match: Lurching or Sensible Turn?

Bob Herbert knocks Barack Obama for lurching to the center, while the Washington Post thinks it’s the right thing to do.

Mr. Herbert:

Only an idiot would think or hope that a politician going through the crucible of a presidential campaign could hold fast to every position, steer clear of the stumbling blocks of nuance and never make a mistake. But Barack Obama went out of his way to create the impression that he was a new kind of political leader — more honest, less cynical and less relentlessly calculating than most.

You would be able to listen to him without worrying about what the meaning of “is” is.

This is why so many of Senator Obama’s strongest supporters are uneasy, upset, dismayed and even angry at the candidate who is now emerging in the bright light of summer.

One issue or another might not have made much difference. Tacking toward the center in a general election is as common as kissing babies in a campaign, and lord knows the Democrats need to expand their coalition.


Mr. Obama is betting that in the long run none of this will matter, that the most important thing is winning the White House, that his staunchest supporters (horrified at the very idea of a President McCain) will be there when he needs them.

He seems to believe that his shifts and twists and clever panders — as opposed to bold, principled leadership on important matters — will entice large numbers of independent and conservative voters to climb off the fence and run into his yard.

Maybe. But that’s a very dangerous game for a man who first turned voters on by presenting himself as someone who was different, who wouldn’t engage in the terminal emptiness of politics as usual.

But Senator Obama is not just tacking gently toward the center. He’s lurching right when it suits him, and he’s zigging with the kind of reckless abandon that’s guaranteed to cause disillusion, if not whiplash.

The Washington Post:

Mr. Obama’s shift came when he was asked last week about his withdrawal plan, which he first proposed in late 2006, a time when Iraq appeared to be sliding into a sectarian civil war. Since then, a new U.S. counterinsurgency strategy has helped bring about a dramatic drop in violence, and the Iraqi government has gained control over most of the country. Among other things, Mr. Obama said “the pace of withdrawal would be dictated by the safety and security of our troops and the need to maintain stability” — an apparent acknowledgment that the hard-won gains of the last year should not be squandered. He also said that “when I go to Iraq, and have a chance to talk to some of the commanders on the ground, I’m sure I’ll have more information and will continue to refine my policies.”


In fact, Mr. Obama can’t afford not to update his Iraq policy. Once he has the conversations he’s promising with U.S. commanders, he will have plenty of information that “contradicts the notion” of his rigid plan. Iraq’s improvement means that American forces probably can be reduced next year, but it would be folly to begin a forced march out of the country without regard to the risks of renewed sectarian warfare and escalating intervention in the country by Iran and other of Iraq’s neighbors. The Democratic candidate is reportedly planning a visit to Iraq in the coming weeks. That will offer an opportunity for him to lay out a new position on the war that both distinguishes him from Mr. McCain and gives him the freedom to be an effective commander in chief.

I may be revealing my age-earned cynicism, but Mr. Obama’s statements are a reflection of two realities: people running for the presidency have to shift their positions for any number of reasons, including the coldly calculated changes to appeal to a broader audience when the primaries are over and the audience goes from being just the party faithful to the electorate in general. And second, because there might actually be a valid reason to reassess your views and objectives if the circumstances warrant. It would be amazingly thick-headed for a candidate to take a position and staunchly never budge, and disastrous for a president to do so. (As if the last seven years hasn’t been proof of that.)

I do agree with Mr. Herbert that the ham-handed way that Mr. Obama has dealt with this “refinement” makes it look like he’s being reactive to the taunts of the McCain campaign rather than using his own judgment and angering constituencies in the process. He may be right in thinking that they won’t abandon him in the long run, but it does test their trust, and he will sorely need that if he’s to be an effective leader in the Oval Office. Once bitten, twice shy.

For whatever reason he may have for the puzzlement over the reaction to his perceived lurch, Mr. Obama should have seen it coming and used it effectively to point out that for every so-called “flip-flop” he’s done, John McCain has done many more; he’s just gotten down to a fine art (not to mention bought and paid for fawning press coverage). Barack Obama is learning that in such things, it’s not the act itself but the execution that tells the tale.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Cage Match

Two liberal blogs react to the same story that Democrats in Congress will introduce a resolution condemning Rush Limbaugh for his “phony soldiers” comment.


Senate Democratic leaders demand Limbaugh apologize for dissing troops

by John Aravosis (DC) · 9/28/2007 09:13:00 PM ET


Talking Points Memo:

Here We Go Again

TPM Election Central has learned that Rep. Mark Udall (D-CO) will introduce a resolution Monday condemning Rush Limbaugh’s remarks about “phony soldiers.”


Your thoughts?

Friday, March 9, 2007

Cage Match

Charles Krauthammer makes excuses for Scooter Libby.

There are lies and there are memory lapses. Bill Clinton denied under oath having sex with Monica Lewinsky. Unless you’re Wilt Chamberlain, sex is not the kind of thing you forget easily. Sandy Berger denied stuffing classified documents in his pants, an act not quite as elaborate as sex, but still involving a lot of muscle memory and unlikely to have been honestly forgotten.

Scooter Libby has just been convicted of four felonies that could theoretically give him 25 years in jail for…what? Misstating when he first heard a certain piece of information, namely the identity of Joe Wilson’s wife.

Think about that. Can you remember when you first heard the name Joe Wilson or Valerie Plame? But it was a preoccupation of many Washington journalists and government officials called to testify at the Libby trial, and their memories were all over the lot. Former presidential press secretary Ari Fleischer testified under oath that he had not told Post reporter Walter Pincus about Mrs. Wilson. Pincus testified under oath that Fleischer definitely had.

Obviously, one is not telling the truth. But there is no reason to believe that either one is deliberately lying. Pincus and Fleischer are as fallible as any of us. They spend their days receiving and giving information. They can’t possibly be expected to remember not only every piece but precisely when they received every piece.

Should Scooter Libby? He was famously multitasking a large number of national security and domestic issues, receiving hundreds of pieces of information every day from dozens of sources. Yet special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald chose to make Libby’s misstatements about the timing of the receipt of one piece of information — Mrs. Wilson’s identity — the great white whale of his multimillion-dollar prosecutorial juggernaut.


This is a case that never should have been brought, originating in the scandal that never was, in search of a crime — violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act — that even the prosecutor never alleged. That’s the basis for a presidential pardon. It should have been granted long before this egregious case came to trial. It should be granted now without any further delay.

E.J. Dionne scoffs at Krauthammer’s situational ethics:

Hand-wringing over extreme partisanship has become a popular cause among learned analysts. They operate from Olympian heights and strain for evenhandedness by issuing tut-tuts to all sides, Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives.

But the evidence of recent days should settle the case: This administration has operated on the basis of a hyperpartisanship not seen in decades. Worse, the destroy-the-opposition, our-team-vs.-their-team approach has infected large parts of the conservative movement and the Republican Party. That’s a shame, since there are plenty of good people in both. Still, the tendency to subordinate principles to win short-term victories and cover up for the administration is, alas, rampant on the right.

Take the rush of conservative organs demanding an immediate pardon of Scooter Libby after his conviction on four counts related to lying and obstruction of justice. Last I checked, conservatives were deeply committed to the rule of law. They said so frequently during the Clinton impeachment saga.

But the conscientious Libby jury had barely announced its conclusions when the Wall Street Journal editorial page and the National Review, among others, called for a pardon because the case, as the Journal editorial put it, involved “a travesty of justice.”

In other words, when an impartial judicial system does something that conservatives don’t like, the will of conservatives, not the rule of law, should triumph. Is there any doubt that a Democrat who used executive power to protect a convicted political ally from the consequences of the legal process would be savaged for abusing his authority? (Since you might ask, I pilloried Bill Clinton for the Marc Rich pardon.)


All of which leaves conservatives and Republicans who care about the rule of law with a choice. If they keep going along with this White House’s way of doing business, their own cause will continue to suffer long after the president’s term is over. Principled conservatives should be the first to want to clean up these stables and end the hyperpartisanship.

I gotta give this one to Dr. Krauthammer: when it comes to the pearl-clutching vapors, no one is as melodramatic or high-handed as the righties.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Cage Match: For and Against Impeachment

The February 12 edition of The Nation squares off Former Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman, who sat on the House Judiciary Committee that tendered articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon in 1974, against Sanford Levinson, a professor of law at the University of Texas.

Ms. Holtzman:

Approximately a year ago, I wrote in this magazine that President George W. Bush had committed high crimes and misdemeanors and should be impeached and removed from office. His impeachable offenses include using lies and deceptions to drive the country into war in Iraq, deliberately and repeatedly violating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) on wiretapping in the United States, and facilitating the mistreatment of US detainees in violation of the Geneva Conventions and the War Crimes Act of 1996.

Since then, the case against President Bush has, if anything, been strengthened by reports that he personally authorized CIA abuse of detainees. In addition, courts have rejected some of his extreme assertions of executive power. The Supreme Court ruled that the Geneva Conventions apply to the treatment of detainees, and a federal judge ruled that the President could not legally ignore FISA. Even Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’s recent announcement that the wiretapping program would from now on operate under FISA court supervision strongly suggests that Bush’s prior claims that it could not were untrue.


Public anger at Bush has been mounting. On November 7 voters swept away Republican control of the House and Senate. The President’s poll numbers continue to drop.

These facts should signal a propitious moment for impeachment proceedings to start. Yet House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has taken impeachment “off the table.” (Impeachment proceedings must commence in the House of Representatives.) Her position doesn’t mean impeachment is dead; it simply means a different route to it has to be pursued. Congressional investigations must start, and public pressure must build to make the House act.

This is no different from what took place during Watergate. In 1973 impeachment was not “on the table” for many months while President Nixon’s cover-up unraveled, even though Democrats controlled the House and Senate. But when Nixon fired the special prosecutor to avoid making his White House tapes public, the American people were outraged and put impeachment on the table, demanding that Congress act. That can happen again.


Failure to impeach Bush would condone his actions. It would allow him to assume he can simply continue to violate the laws on wiretapping and torture and violate other laws as well without fear of punishment. He could keep the Iraq War going or expand it even further than he just has on the basis of more lies, deceptions and exaggerations. Remember, as recently as October 26, Bush said, “Absolutely, we are winning” the war in Iraq–a blatant falsehood. Worse still, if Congress fails to act, Bush might be emboldened to believe he may start another war, perhaps against Iran, again on the basis of lies, deceptions and exaggerations.

There is no remedy short of impeachment to protect us from this President, whose ability to cause damage in the next two years is enormous. If we do not act against Bush, we send a terrible message of impunity to him and to future Presidents and mark a clear path to despotism and tyranny. Succeeding generations of Americans will never forgive us for lacking the nerve to protect our democracy.

Mr. Levinson:

It would be wonderful to evict George W. Bush–quite possibly the worst President in our entire history–from the White House. Thus one can readily understand the temptation to talk about impeaching him. But we should recognize that this conversation is triggered not only by Bush’s own performance as President but also, and perhaps more important, by one of the greatest defects of the Constitution, the impeachment clause. Thanks to the Founders, we were given a Constitution that perversely makes us “better off” with a criminal in the White House instead of someone who is “merely” grotesquely incompetent. The reason is that the Constitution provides us with a language to get rid of a criminal President, but it provides us no language, or process, for terminating the tenure of an incompetent one. Unfortunately, this was a deliberate decision by the Framers, who rejected an altogether sensible proposal to make “maladministration” an impeachable offense for fear that this would give Congress too much power.

Only because of the Constitution are serious progressives engaging in an entirely fruitless campaign to impeach Bush by describing him as a criminal. It is fruitless for two quite different reasons. The first, and more practical, is that there is simply no possibility that Bush will actually be removed from office in the twenty-four months that unfortunately remain to him. One might well contemplate impeachment if there were a possibility of its being successful. But the House Democratic leadership has rejected the idea, not least because there is no possibility that the constitutionally required two-thirds of a nearly evenly divided Senate would vote to convict an impeached George W. Bush. Thus, advocates of impeachment are in effect supporting a strategy doomed not only to fail but also to be perceived by most of the country as a dangerous distraction from the pressing problems facing the country.

House Republicans in 1998, who knew for certain that Bill Clinton would never be convicted by the Senate, could behave with reckless abandon in part because much of the country did not perceive itself as facing grave problems. Democrats today do not have that luxury.


Although I admire some of those calling for impeachment, one should recognize that some of their ostensibly legal claims are all too dubious. Consider the charge that Bush lied to the country during the run-up to the war, which may well be true. If lying to the public about matters of grave importance were an impeachable offense, however, almost no President–including, for starters, Franklin Roosevelt and his deceptions regarding lend-lease–would survive. It is even more difficult to construct criminality out of Bush’s reckless disregard of the consequences of Katrina. It is not, however, at all difficult to accuse him of maladministration and disqualifying incompetence.

American politics would be infinitely better if we could avoid legalistic mumbo-jumbo and accusations of criminality and cut to what is surely the central reality: The American people have exhibited a fundamental loss of confidence in a wartime President/Commander in Chief. In most political systems around the world, the response to such a stinging rebuke would be resignation or removal. But we are trapped in a constitutional iron cage devised by eighteenth-century Framers who, however wise, had no conception of the role the presidency would come to play in American (and world) politics. The US President should be treated as what Ross Perot aptly called an “employee” of the American people, vulnerable to being fired for gross incompetence in office. Instead, he is given the prerogatives of a feudal lord of the manor who owns the White House as his personal property until the end of the presidential term, with almost dictatorial power over decisions of foreign and military policy.

Far better than a politically pointless–and almost certainly counterproductive–campaign to impeach George W. Bush would be the initiation of a serious discussion of the extent to which we are disserved, in 2007, by a political system devised for an entirely different era. However divided we might be, most Americans might be persuaded that we would all be better off if future Presidents could face the possibility of a Congressional vote of “no confidence” that would trigger eviction from the White House. Perhaps that discussion, too, would be doomed, given both the preposterous reverence that Americans have for the Constitution and the near-impossibility of constitutional amendment because of the hurdles placed by Article V in the way of amendment. But at least such a discussion would focus on the most important feature of the Bush Administration–its gross incompetence–in a language that could readily be understood by any attentive citizen rather than quickly degenerate into an arcane (and acrimonious) discussion among constitutional lawyers.

When Bill Clinton was impeached, the Republican mob that did it recognized that Mr. Levinson’s point was well-taken; you can’t impeach a president for gross incompetence, and in the case of Mr. Clinton, it was never an issue because even Republicans grudgingly admit that Mr. Clinton was anything but incompetent. A horndog, yes, but not incompetent or wreckless in the administration of his dutes. (For that they’d have to impeach several other presidents, including Warren Harding, a Republican, who was both a horndog and incompetent.) The GOP also knew from the outset that they didn’t have the votes to go through with a conviction, but they had no problem with that: tying up the country for six months while they indulged in an orgy of pruient partisanship just because it meant more to them than actually accomplishing anything for the citizens. (See Eric Alterman’s excellent essay on William Kristol, the Don Quixote of the right wing.) So they had to whip up something, and catching Mr. Clinton in a lie was enough. (Ironically, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby is on trial for the same thing, and the righties are calling him a hero. Isn’t that the “moral relativism” that the right wing is always accusing the left of practicing?) Therefore Mr. Clinton was dragged through the intricate kabuki of impeachment just so Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay could get their jollies. But in true dramatic fashion, the impeachment of Mr. Clinton ended up doing more harm to the accusers; Mr. Clinton emerged even more popular than when it all started, and Newt Gingrich ended up being shitcanned by his own caucus. (Tom DeLay’s comeuppance followed in due time.)

In the Clinton case, the impeachment clause was tortured to fit the needs of the accusers, and Professor Levinson is arguing that instead of doing the same to remove Mr. Bush from office, we should consider redefining and updating the constitutional definition of what constitutes an impeachable offense while doing everything within the power of congressional oversight to rein him in. Until then, we will always be faced with the rather subjective model of 1998, and in this day and age, it’s not practical to stop the operation of the government to answer the nebulous question of what exactly are “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Ms. Holtzman’s points are also compelling: the lies of President Bush and his abuses of power represents a clear and present danger to both the laws and the citizens of the nation, and recent events involving further intrusions into the privacy of American citizens, not to mention the disasterous conduct of the war (and the fuhrerbunker mentality of the vice president) make it imperative that something must be done before it is too late. It’s one thing to have to test the skills of diplomacy and parenting to explain to a child exactly what it was that President Clinton did with Ms. Lewinsky; it’s another thing to have to explain to that child why their father or mother had to go off to fight in a war.

In true liberal fashion, I see merit in both arguments. In practical terms, impeachment resulting in conviction would be very difficult to accomplish, it would take us away from the important matters such as education and health care, and it would be very hard not to have it seen as nothing but partisan revenge for the Bush presidency, much as the GOP tried to do in 1998. The Constitution has been abused enough. That said, if we don’t do something to curb this wreckless and dangerous path, we may not have much of a country or a Constitution left to defend.

So, what do you say?

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Cage Match: Tom Tancredo vs. Miami

Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo raised some hackles and, as he proudly boasts, got some support from the anti-immigrant crowd, for his comments labeling Miami as a “third world” city. Here he faces off against one of Miami’s defenders, Dario Moreno, director of the Metropolitan Center at Florida International University here in Miami.

Mr. Tancredo:

Although I believe I have made more controversial statements in my political life, I don’t recall any that sparked more interest and response than my reference to Miami as a ”Third World country.” Interestingly, most of the response — especially from Floridians — has been quite positive. Even the polls I have seen from the area indicate I have said something most people believe to be true, but few politicians or media outlets are willing to utter.

Forbes magazine reports that in the five years since 2002, a net of 151,000 Miami residents, most of them middle class, have left Miami, and 238,000 new residents have arrived from other nations, mostly Central and South America. Miami-Dade County now has a foreign-born population of 51.4 percent, the highest in the country for a large city.

When any area of the country experiences a massive influx of both legal and illegal immigrants, as Miami has in a relatively short time, there are societal ramifications. Some are positive; some are not. Among the latter are dramatic increases in crime and corruption.


It is widely accepted that life can be lived quite easily in Miami as a monolingual Spanish speaker. This phenomenon indicates a disturbing trend on the part of immigrants who seem to have lost, or never had, the desire to fully assimilate. It is exacerbated by the official acceptance of this attitude on the part of community leaders who pride themselves on their ”celebration of diversity,” as Gov. Jeb Bush put it in his letter of admonishment to me. As I told him in my response, celebrating diversity is admirable; making it into a state-sponsored religion is catastrophic.

If you want to see a nation that has a 200-year experience with bilingualism and its consequences, look at our neighbor to the north, Canada. I do not think we want to follow that path and experience those consequences.

(Every Canadian reading this is now blinking and saying, “Eh? What’re you talking about, hoser?”)

Mr. Moreno notes that diversity is what America is all about.

Dual-assimilation is as American as apple pie, or better said, as pizza pie, corned beef and cabbage, and hot dogs. As a new city, Miami is at the forefront of this process. This is exactly what makes Miami exciting and a place where politics is, more often than not, passionate and heartfelt. Miami as a developing urban area attracts new Americans from all over the world. Miami is no longer the destination for Cuban exiles alone but is increasingly attracting people from Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, France and Germany.

This convergence of new Americans may seem chaotic, alien and strange to Tancredo, to the point where he disparages this city as being a ”Third World country.” Yet, where the congressman sees chaos, I see vibrancy; where he sees alien, I see exotic; and what may seem strange is just cosmopolitan and sexy.

Miami is not foreign. It is, fundamentally, part of the American experience. As President John F. Kennedy put it, ”We are a nation of immigrants.” Each wave of immigrants instills unique values and experiences within a larger national mosaic that is essentially the backbone to the idea “that all Men are created equally.”

Historically, each wave of new immigrants is greeted with suspicion and skepticism about whether they were authentic Americans. In the 19th Century Irish-Catholics were suspect because of their religion. Immigrants from southern Europe were viewed as incapable of adopting democratic values because of the long history of absolutism in their homeland. Jewish immigrants from Russia and Germany were similarly rejected because they were not Christians. Thus, it is not surprising that some, like Tancredo, are skeptical of Latin American and Caribbean immigrants and their ability to assimilate.

The historic record shows that his concerns are baseless. Each wave of American immigrants has shown a remarkable capacity to accept and embrace the essence of the American experience. John Adams said it best when discussing the qualifications to be an American. He argued that there were only two, ”That you are people, and that you are here.” The wisdom of Adams’ remarks resonates within each wave of new Americans.

What I believe it comes down to is that Mr. Tancredo has tapped into the infamous human quality for distrust of something new as well as an underlying resentment of people who have shown an amazing capacity to sacrifice and persevere by giving up their native land, culture, and, in some cases, family, to come to America. The vast number of immigrants — legal or otherwise — came here not for nefarious reasons but for the most basic one of all: survival and a better life. Yes, there are some bad apples in the barrel; there always have been, including those who came from Mr. Tancredo’s ancestral home of Italy.

If anything, Mr. Tancredo and the people who support him sound as if the threat they feel from immigrants is that they will show them up as being too lazy or stupid to learn how to adapt to a complete change in their everyday life, and there’s more than just a hint of jealousy that someone has learned to get along in more than just one language.

It’s a little more than ironic that Mr. Tancredo targets Miami for his scorn; he would to well to look to his own district in Colorado where Spanish is also heard on the streets and violence and gang warfare is not an unknown occurrence, even in Littleton. Perhaps he should spend more time worrying about his own district rather than telling people in Miami how to live.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Cage Match: Bill Clinton vs. Chris Wallace

I don’t know if they have FOX News on the cable system here in Canada — I’m guessing the CRTC, the Canadian version of the FCC, has rules about broadcasting hate speech and propaganda. So I won’t be able to see the actual interview between President Clinton and FOX News’s Chris Wallace tomorrow. But Think Progress has a rough transcript, and it’s quite good, based on just reading the script. Mr. Clinton defends himself agains the charges from Wingnuttia that he didn’t do enough to catch Osama bin Laden, and he also has a few choice things to say about FOX News and getting the story straight.

CLINTON: I authorized the CIA to get groups together to try to kill him. The CIA was run by George Tenet who President Bush gave the medal of freedom to and said he did a good job.. The country never had a comprehensive anti terror operation until I came to office. If you can criticize me for one thing, you can criticize me for this, after the Cole I had battle plans drawn to go into Afghanistan, overthrow the Taliban, and launch a full scale attack search for Bin Laden. But we needed baseing rights in Uzbekistan which we got after 9/11. The CIA and the FBI refused to certify that Bin Laden was responsible while I was there. They refused to certify. So that meant I would have had to send a few hundred special forces in helicopters and refuel at night. Even the 9/11 Commission didn’t do that. Now the 9/11 Commission was a political document too. All I’m asking is if anybody wants to say I didn’t do enough, you read Richard Clarke’s book.

WALLACE: Do you think you did enough sir?

CLINTON: No, because I didn’t get him


CLINTON: But at least I tried. That’s the difference in me and some, including all the right wingers who are attacking me now. They ridiculed me for trying. They had eight months to try and they didn’t….. I tired. So I tried and failed. When I failed I left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy and the best guy in the country, Dick Clarke… So you did FOX’s bidding on this show. You did you nice little conservative hit job on me. But what I want to know..

WALLACE: Now wait a minute sir…


WALLACE: I asked a question. You don’t think that’s a legitimate question?

CLINTON: It was a perfectly legitimate question but I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you asked this question of. I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you asked why didn’t you do anything about the Cole. I want to know how many you asked why did you fire Dick Clarke. I want to know…


CLINTON: What did I do? I worked hard to try and kill him. I authorized a finding for the CIA to kill him. We contracted with people to kill him. I got closer to killing him than anybody has gotten since. And if I were still president we’d have more than 20,000 troops there trying to kill him. Now I never criticized President Bush and I don’t think this is useful. But you know we do have a government that think Afghanistan is 1/7 as important as Iraq. And you ask me about terror and Al Qaeda with that sort of dismissive theme when all you have to do is read Richard Clarke’s book to look at what we did in a comprehensive systematic way to try to protect the country against terror. And you’ve got that little smirk on your face. It looks like you’re so clever…

WALLACE: [Laughs]

CLINTON: I had responsibility for trying to protect this country. I tried and I failed to get bin laden. I regret it but I did try. And I did everything I thought I responsibly could. The entire military was against sending special forces in to Afghanistan and refueling by helicopter and no one thought we could do it otherwise…We could not get the CIA and the FBI to certify that Al Qaeda was responsible while I was President. Until I left office. And yet I get asked about this all the time and they had three times as much time to get him as I did and no one ever asks them about this. I think that’s strange.

WALLACE: Can I ask you about the Clinton Global Initiative?

CLINTON: You can.

WALLACE: I always intended to sir.

CLINTON: No you intended to move your bones by doing this first. But I don’t mind people asking me. I actually talked [t]o the 9/11 commission for four hours and I told them the mistakes I thought I made. And I urged them to make those mistakes public because I thought none of us had been perfect. But instead of anybody talking about those things. I always get these clever little political…where they ask me one sided questions… It always comes from one source. And so…


CLINTON: And so…

Game over, Mr. Wallce; you lose.

You can expect the right-wingers to get all hissy because Mr. Clinton didn’t collapse under the glaring insightful journalistic inquiry of Chris Wallace…as opposed to the provocative and rude behavior of Matt Lauer when he reduced Mr. Bush to a babbling tower of inarticulate elipses and sentence fragments in his Oval Office stand-up interview. The difference, of course, is that It’s Okay If You’re A Republican.

Moliere knew what he was talking about.

Monday, July 3, 2006

Cage Match: Bill Bennett vs. The World

Dana Priest of the Washington Post got under Bill Bennett’s skin yesterday with a nice little dig at one of his peccadilloes, namely the fact that he’s fond of casino gambling. Watch the video from Crooks and Liars.

Bill Bennett, as you recall, was the Secretary of Education in the Reagan administration. He has now taken on the role of chief jowl-shaker and finger-wagger of all that is immoral in everybody else’s life except that of his own (he’s blown millions at the slots in Vegas and Atlantic City) or anyone who isn’t a Republican; they all get a free pass on their behavior because IOKIYAR.

On Meet the Press Mr. Bennett acted like he was the only conservative in the bunch, despite the presence of John Harwood of the Wall Street Journal and William Safire, formerly of the New York Times and speechwriter for the Nixon administration. What Mr. Bennett was actually complaining about was that he was the only one on the panel that was toeing the Bush administration’s line that the New York Times — and only the Times — was treasonable for printing the story about the Swift bank account mining. Nobody else, including substitute moderator Andrea Mitchell, went along with him.

After the little shot by Ms. Priest, the best one was when Mr. Bennett pompously asserted that no one elected the New York Times to reveal the “secrets” of the war on terror. Mr. Safire shot back that indeed someone did elect the press; a little group known as the Founding Fathers when they inserted that little inconvenience known as the First Amendment. You could hear Mr. Bennett’s pathetic little whimper even off-camera, and he was quite the grumble-bunny for the rest of the show. Harrumph.

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Cage Match: Kennedy vs. Manjoo

Last week after I posted the Rolling Stone article by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. on the 2004 election, I was chided by one of my more thoughtful conservative fellow bloggers for taking Mr. Kennedy at his word and that there were a lot of articles, including some from liberal publications, who did not accept the facts of the Mr. Kennedy’s claims.

Having already been burned on the Rove-is-indicted and the Iranian Jewish-star stories last month, I am certainly willing to read and discuss alternate points of view on this story, ratchet up my healthy skepticism, and I am more than happy to do it in a civil discourse as opposed to some of the more energetic methods at other blogs and sites wherein the writer’s parentage is called into question and accusations of indecent conduct with certain barnyard creatures are levelled.

To that end, I offer a sampling from Salon, which published one of the more cogent rebuttals to Mr. Kennedy’s article by Farhad Manjoo, and has now posted a face-off between Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Manjoo.

Mr. Kennedy gets the first turn.

It was good to see Farhad Manjoo weigh in on my article in Rolling Stone about the 2004 election. Unlike reporters in the mainstream media, Manjoo has displayed a willingness to actually read the published reports that document the electoral travesty that occurred in Ohio. It is a shame, however, that in his attempt to debunk my article, he commits precisely the sins of omission and distortion that he accuses me of having perpetrated.

The key example of this is Manjoo’s flatly inaccurate claim that the Democratic National Committee report identifies only 129,543 voters, or 2 percent of the electorate, who were disenfranchised by the long lines in Ohio. I can only point to the executive summary of the DNC report, which states:

“Scarcity of voting machines caused long lines that deterred many people from voting. Three percent of voters who went to the polls left their polling places and did not return due to the long lines.”

Manjoo seizes on one line in the 204-page report and then attempts to play a clumsy game of gotcha. But if he had read more carefully he would have understood that the 129,543 votes he refers to were only a subset of those disenfranchised by the long lines. Had Manjoo read a mere paragraph further in the report, he would have seen that it identifies a second group, comprising roughly 48,000 citizens, or 0.83 percent of Ohio’s electorate, whose votes were also suppressed because of the lines and other factors.

The authors of the DNC report aggregate these totals to arrive at the 3 percent figure that I cited. Does Manjoo pretend to have a better grasp on the data than the DNC’s own experts? If so, his beef is with them, not me.


Manjoo has made a cottage industry for himself in attempting to debunk concerns about the validity of the 2004 election. Given that he has staked his professional reputation on the thesis that Bush beat Kerry fair and square, it’s unsurprising that he should be eager to attack my piece. But it is a shame that his faith in the election results has blinded him to the point that he can dismiss the widespread and uncontested evidence of vote suppression as nothing more than a “hit parade” of irrelevant facts and figures. He also remains strangely silent on the transparently crooked recount process, which has kept this debate alive by preventing us from knowing the actual outcome of the vote in Ohio.

Manjoo’s outrage and professional energy would be better directed at those who mounted a concerted campaign to obstruct hundreds of thousands of American voters from going to the poll and having their vote counted in 2004. The nation still needs a thorough and honest exploration of what happened across the country, so we can begin the urgent work of instituting real reforms — ensuring that such abuses do not continue to undermine democracy and cast doubt on the integrity of our entire electoral system.

Mr. Manjoo replies:

I appreciate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s response to my article, and I’d like to first note that I agree with him on one main point — that we should urgently begin the work of honest election reform. We differ on how to go about that effort, however. Kennedy believes that any such reform effort must begin with an examination of whether Republicans stole the 2004 race. I disagree for many reasons, but mainly because the evidence that John Kerry actually won Ohio is so slight that any such effort is, in my view, doomed to failure — and such a failure would damage the entire reform movement.

Kennedy says that I’ve made a “cottage industry” of attempts to debunk the concerns surrounding the 2004 election. But as my reporting history at Salon shows, I’ve been exploring the various threats to honest elections for several years, and I thoroughly covered the threats to the 2004 race. He’s right that I’ve criticized some who’ve been quick to claim that the race was stolen. But this is not because I think elections in America are perfect — in fact, just the opposite is the case.

We’ll only improve the process if we begin by honestly reviewing the facts — and once again, I’ve got to disagree with the ways in which Kennedy interprets some of the key sources he cites to arrive at his conclusions.

Read the entire article (endure the ad if you’re not a Salon subscriber) and decide for yourself. Having now read a lot of the articles (and having flashbacks to growing up in Ohio politics), I am inclined to believe that if anything nefarious occurred in the 2004 election in Ohio, those evil plots were overwhelmed by incompetence, miscommunication, and just plain human error.

Salon also did a lot of javelin catching for their troubles in printing Mr. Manjoo’s rebuttal. Joan Walsh answers the critics.

Farhad Manjoo’s article criticizing Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s Rolling Stone piece “Was the 2004 Election Stolen?” generated hundreds of letters, most of them critical, and hot debate in the blogosphere (with most but not all lefty voices raised to criticize Salon). […] But with people denouncing Manjoo, and Salon, as pawns of Karl Rove, it’s worth taking a minute to place this debate in its proper political context.

Salon has aggressively covered Republican efforts to suppress Democratic voter participation going back to December 2000, when we revealed how Florida’s program to purge supposed felons and other people allegedly ineligible to vote prevented thousands of eligible voters, most of them African-American, from casting ballots — just one example of the many GOP maneuvers that suppressed votes for Vice President Al Gore. (Writer Greg Palast brought us the story, and a team of Salon reporters contacted county election officials in Florida to report it out with him.) Just a few days later, we followed up with a feature on the Republican-connected firm that carried out the purge, ChoicePoint, along with a history of GOP efforts at voter suppression. (The storyline is old and simple and continues through today: Republicans tend to back efforts to aggressively “purge” voter rolls of those who’ve moved or who vote infrequently, while Democrats tend to oppose them, since they usually scrub low-income voters who move more, vote less, fail to work the system adequately and — surprise — happen to favor Democrats.) We’ve followed the story doggedly ever since.


Salon will continue to try to get to the bottom of charges of election theft in Ohio, but we don’t think the available facts prove the election was stolen. We also think unproven claims of theft weaken Democrats’ credibility and keep them from the work needed to build an electoral majority, as well as to reform the broken voting system that is at least one obstacle to that majority. While the blog posts below display a range of opinion about whether Kennedy or Manjoo makes the most effective case, they also show an increasing weariness of battles about the “theft” claim, when both sides agree there were serious problems in Ohio. As Chris Bowers of MyDD puts it, “Simply rehashing these old arguments is not going to get us very far in creating the sort of electoral reform we need … From what I can tell, there are only two things that will allow us to move forward with unity and hope. First, we need a lot more on the ground activism to try and retake control of our electoral infrastructure. Second, we need a national agenda for election reform that people on all sides of this issue can get behind.”

We couldn’t agree more.

I also think that if both sides would trade in their tin-foil-hats for thinking caps and not look for ways to play “gotcha” but instead rationally explore the elements of the events, we might not only get the real answers, we might also be able to actually do something about fixing the system.

Wow, what a concept.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Cage Match

Cal Thomas

This isn’t about one secretary of defense or six generals who don’t like his policies. This is about winning the most dangerous and important war America has ever fought. By going public with criticisms during war, those generals make victory more difficult. They are encouraging the enemy to fight on, believing that we will ultimately surrender. There can be no good that will come from the comments of the former leaders of our volunteer soldiers, at least no good for what they once called “our side.”

David Broder

Rumsfeld and President Bush insist that the manpower and strategy have been exactly what the commanders in the field thought best, but now general after general is speaking out to challenge that claim.

The situation cries out for serious congressional oversight and examination; hearings are needed as soon as Congress returns. These charges have to be answered convincingly — or Rumsfeld has to go.

Cast your vote now.

Thursday, January 5, 2006

Cage Match

Two opposing views of the Abramoff situation from two conservative pundits.

  • David Brooks at the New York Times beats the crap out of the Republicans for covering for Jack Abramoff:

    I don’t know what’s more pathetic, Jack Abramoff’s sleaze or Republican paralysis in the face of it. Abramoff walks out of a D.C. courthouse in his pseudo-Hasidic homburg, and all that leading Republicans can do is promise to return his money and remind everyone that some Democrats are involved in the scandal, too.

    That’s a great G.O.P. talking point: some Democrats are so sleazy, they get involved with the likes of us.


    Back in the dim recesses of my mind, I remember a party that thought of itself as a reform, or even a revolutionary movement. That party used to be known as the Republican Party. I wonder if it still exists.

  • Meanwhile, Jonah Goldberg at NRO’s The Corner thinks it’s no big deal.

    As it stands now, it’s your basic K-Street corruption story. I was never that interested in these kinds of stories under Clinton — when they were more plentiful — and I’m not now. Until then, my attitude is shame on the guilty parties and get back to me when there’s something interesting to discuss.

    I think Mr. Brooks is probably right, but most of the tweeters will probably follow Mr. Goldberg’s lead and ignore it until it’s too late. Fine with me.

  • Thursday, July 21, 2005

    Cage Match

    David Brooks practically wets himself over John Roberts:

    Roberts nomination, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

    I love thee with the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach. I love thee freely, as men strive for right. I love thee because this is the way government is supposed to work. President Bush consulted widely, moved beyond the tokenism of identity politics and selected a nominee based on substance, brains, careful judgment and good character.

    I love thee because John G. Roberts is the face of today’s governing conservatism.

    E.J. Dionne is a bit more cautious:

    The stampede should be resisted until everyone knows more about where Roberts stands. Conservatives were surprised at how liberal Justice Souter turned out to be. There will be no excuse for discovering too late that Roberts is every bit as conservative as his supporters think he is.

    Wednesday, April 27, 2005

    Cage Match

    Should DeLay stay or should he go?

  • David Corn and the editors of The Nation lay out the reasons for Tom DeLay to resign:

    Tom DeLay should resign as leader of the House Republican majority. If he doesn’t, Republicans should have the decency to remove him. He’s been rebuked unanimously four times by the bipartisan House Ethics Committee–which he then proceeded to purge and disembowel. Three of his political associates are under indictment in Texas for raising illegal corporate campaign contributions. He’s luxuriated in lavish junkets on the tab of crooked lobbyists and foreign agents. He’s given “family values” a new meaning by paying his wife and daughter $500,000 from his PACs for part-time work. And one of his cronies, “Casino Jack” Abramoff, who is under investigation for bilking Indian tribes and pressing them to donate to the GOP, says DeLay “knew everything” about what was going on.

    Corruption isn’t, or shouldn’t be, a partisan issue. DeLay isn’t in trouble because he’s a conservative, as he claims. He’s in trouble because he is “The Hammer,” the “undisputed and unapologetic master”–as the Wall Street Journal puts it–of a Republican-controlled Congress whose hallmark is the flagrant exchange of legislative favors for campaign contributions.


    The Republican National Committee talking points in defense of DeLay dismiss his troubles as partisan politics and suggest that his effective leadership will be demonstrated by moving forward with the Republican agenda. But that agenda–a bankruptcy bill designed by the credit card companies, tort “reform” sculpted by companies to limit their liability for injuries caused by their negligence, a Big Oil energy bill that ladles out subsidies to every energy producer while increasing our dependence on foreign oil–doesn’t distract from DeLay’s corruption but exemplifies it.

    A small group of public interest organizations–the Campaign for America’s Future, Public Campaign Action Fund, Common Cause, and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington–have led the charge against DeLay and done a commendable job of bringing his abuses to public attention. They’ve shaken the system enough to get Republicans on the ethics committee to try to make the controversy go away by offering to set up a carefully managed “investigation” of DeLay in return for Democratic endorsement of rules changes that would gut the committee’s ability to fight corruption. Democrats should stand firm for a real investigation and do what Republicans already charge they are doing: Use DeLay’s excesses to expose the corruption of the Congressional majority. Even as they do this, Democrats should make themselves into the party of reform, offering proposals to curb lobbyists, expose the back rooms to sunlight and move toward clean elections that limit the role of big money in politics.


    Americans tend to be pretty cynical about politicians and think corruption is widespread. But periodically, when the stench gets particularly bad, they realize it’s time to clean out the stables. By 2006 Democrats may find the public ready to do just that. But DeLay’s ouster cannot wait that long. He must go–now.

  • Jonathon Alter in Newsweek offers reasons why DeLay must stay.

    A couple of years ago, Tom DeLay was chomping on a cigar at a Washington restaurant with some lobbyists. The manager went over to tell him he couldn’t smoke because the restaurant was located on property leased from the federal government, which bars smoking. “I am the federal government,” DeLay replied, in words that will follow the onetime exterminator from Sugar Land, Texas, like ants at a picnic.

    The line reeks of the arrogance and self-importance that may bring DeLay low, but it also has the advantage of being true: all three branches of the federal government belong to Republicans, and the autocratic House majority leader is the purest representation of the breed. On every issue—ethics, the environment, guns, tax cuts, judges—he is a clarifying figure for anyone who might be confused about the true nature of today’s GOP.

    So assuming he dodges indictment, DeLay should stay in his post for 18 months, until the 2006 midterm elections. Even if his legendary gerrymandering has made it unlikely that the Democrats will regain control of Congress, at least the voters—who now, finally, have heard of this guy—would have a clearer decision about where the country should go. His potential successors are all just as conservative as DeLay, but they seem colorless and would thus fuzz up the choice. The midterms should be a referendum on DeLay’s America. Stay on the right fringe or move toward the center? Let the people decide.

    Some Democrats aren’t buying. Sure, it would be nice to have “the Hammer” around as a bogeyman for direct-mail solicitations, they say, but he should step down. They claim that his death by a thousand cuts is, as Democratic Rep. Harold Ford puts it, “a big distraction from all that we are trying to do.”

    Actually, that’s an argument for keeping DeLay around. We should want the 109th Congress “distracted” and kept from returning to normal business for as long as possible. Anything the Democrats are “trying to do” won’t get done anyway. And what the Radical Republicans are trying to do is usually bad—from cutting taxes further amid monster deficits to immunizing polluters in the energy bill (which won’t do a thing, as even proponents admit, to cut gas prices), to subjecting Social Security to the whims of the stock market. It was once conservatives who thought Congress should legislate less. Now this should be the Democratic mantra: Don’t do anything. Just stand there!


    Sure, it’s wrong when DeLay takes Scottish golf outings courtesy of Indian casinos or lets lobbyists write bills or turns the House ethics committee from a bipartisan panel into his own personal Laundromat, bent on cleaning his reputation. This is the same man who asked in 1995: “Are they [representatives] feeding at the public trough, taking lobbyist-paid vacations, getting wined and dined by special-interest groups? Or are they working hard to represent their constituents? The people have a right to know.”

    But this smelly hypocrisy — assuming it’s not found illegal — merely offends the senses. DeLay’s views on muscling the judiciary and ending the separation of church and state (which he believes is a fiction) offend the Constitution. That makes it too important to leave to the media and the rest of the Washington scandal machine to remedy. This job belongs to the voters, who can hammer the Hammer by siding against his many acolytes in Congress. Let’s make 2006 a referendum on the right wing. For that, DeLay must stay.

    Okay, readers, you make the call: who makes the better case?

  • Thursday, April 14, 2005

    Cage Match

    Shorter David Brooks on John Bolton:

    So, he’s not perfect. Neither is the U.N. But that mustache has me in its thrall…

    The Miami Herald editorial board:

    As a rule, presidents should have wide latitude in appointments for high office. When questions arise, the nominee deserves the benefit of the doubt — absent an egregious transgression. John Bolton’s well-known disdain for the United Nations doesn’t by itself disqualify him for the job of U.S. ambassador. But his ideological zeal, demonstrated by his dismaying record of carving the facts to fit narrow political goals, make him a singularly poor choice for this important position.