Friday, June 5, 2009

The Road to Cairo

When a doctor starts to treat a patient with the wrong diagnosis in mind, the patient usually does not get well; more often than not, the condition gets worse. So it will inexorably be concerning Barack Obama's identification of the problem between Islam and the West during his speech in Cairo.

We meet at a time of tension between the United States and Muslims around the world – tension rooted in historical forces that go beyond any current policy debate.
He gets it wrong from the start, perhaps deliberately. Rather than stemming from unnamed "historical forces," the tension to which he refers results necessarily from order - established and maintained primarily by Western countries - straining against the murderous chaos incited by al Qaeda and those similarly disposed. Surely we did not invade Afghanistan and Iraq as some sort of retaliation for such ancient hostilities as the Barbary Wars, although it can be said that both belligerencies have their roots in Muslim "misreadings" of the Qu'ran. According to The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, it was the contention of more than a few North African Muslims that raiding European ships sailing along the Barbary Coast was sanctioned by holy writ.
In 1786, Thomas Jefferson, then the ambassador to France, and John Adams, ambassador to Britain, met in London with Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja, a visiting ambassador from Tripoli. The Americans asked Adja why his government was hostile to American ships, even though there had been no provocation. They reported to the Continental Congress that the ambassador had told them "it was written in their Koran, that all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave."
After spewing some unmemorable treacle about "civilization's debt to Islam," Obama turns his attention to America's efforts to confront Islamic extremism. If there is wisdom to be found at all in Obama's remarks, it is in his noting that "military power alone will not solve the problems in Afghanistan and Pakistan." He goes on to cite America's present and future monetary kindnesses to that area. Obama would have done well to point out - as Charles Krauthammer did recently - the span of America's beneficence to the Muslim world.

Every new president flatters himself that he, kinder and gentler, is beginning the world anew. Yet, when Barack Obama in his inaugural address reached out to Muslims by saying "to the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect," his formulation was needlessly defensive and apologetic.

Is it "new" to acknowledge Muslim interests and show respect to the Muslim world? Obama doesn't just think so, he said so again to millions in his al-Arabiya interview, insisting on the need to "restore" the "same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago."

Astonishing. In these most recent 20 years - the alleged winter of our disrespect of the Islamic world - America did not just respect Muslims, it bled for them. It engaged in five military campaigns, every one of which involved - and resulted in - the liberation of a Muslim people: Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Again, Obama's misreading and/or ignorance of history causes him to distort present-day events; he claims to have "unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States," as if he chiseled the U.S.'s longstanding torture statutes (see here and here) into marble with his fingers on Inauguration Day.

But it is during his discussion of the Israel-Palestinian situation where Obama lets his inner camp counselor (or community organizer) shine. He lays on enough grandiose boilerplate to "up armor" all of the HUMVEEs in Iraq.
Too many tears have flowed. Too much blood has been shed. All of us have a responsibility to work for the day when the mothers of Israelis and Palestinians can see their children grow up without fear; when the Holy Land of three great faiths is the place of peace that God intended it to be; when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed (peace be upon them) joined in prayer.
Unrepentant equalist that he is, Obama confuses and conflates the behavior of Arab and Jew as if they were two kids who both need a time out. Had he a capacity for shame, Obama's ethical opacity would be to his everlasting disgrace in as much as he sees the aggressor and the victim as morally equivalent. He evidences no remembrance of Yasser Arafat spurning an American-brokered peace plan at the 2000 Camp David Summit, the involvement of Palestinian militants with Fatah and Hamas, and the once-incessant suicide bombings that claimed the lives of untold Israeli civilians.

It is when he discusses democracy, religious freedom and women's rights that Obama sounds positively Bushian, with Obama positing his "undying belief that all people yearn for certain things." (This might be the one inheritance that Obama will gladly receive from his predecessor.) Sadly, he follows all that up by opening a grab bag of goodies for the Islamic world not unlike the stimuli that Obama intends for the U.S.
Many Gulf States have enjoyed great wealth as a consequence of oil, and some are beginning to focus it on broader development. But all of us must recognize that education and innovation will be the currency of the 21st century, and in too many Muslim communities there remains underinvestment in these areas. I am emphasizing such investments within my country. And while America in the past has focused on oil and gas in this part of the world, we now seek a broader engagement.

On education, we will expand exchange programs, and increase scholarships, like the one that brought my father to America, while encouraging more Americans to study in Muslim communities. And we will match promising Muslim students with internships in America; invest in on-line learning for teachers and children around the world; and create a new online network, so a teenager in Kansas can communicate instantly with a teenager in Cairo.
And the gimmies kept coming: "support for technological development" in Muslim countries, plans to operate "centers for scientific excellence," along with "Science Envoys." Efforts to eradicate polio and improve maternal and child health.

All of this is well and good in and of itself, it ignores a fundamental reality about the Muslim world. Namely, the same radicalism that esteems intifada and suicide bombing over peace and shared prosperity will not respond as Obama would predict to offers of economic cooperation. Cultures that prize submission - to one's state, tribe or husband - cannot manifest the independent, decentralized thinking and behavior that economic development would both engender and require.

If economics alone were sufficient to bring the Islamic world into something similar to modernity, the flow of petrodollars over 50 years would have already brought as much about. That Obama believes that he can drag the Middle East into the 21st Century after so many others have tried speaks to a hubris born of ignorance of history and one's own limitations. As many a patient can attest, the worst doctors are those who are convinced of their own infallibility.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

They're at it again!



I will be the first to admit that as a forty-something, I am too prone to "senior moments" for my liking. But I think I remember hearing something about then-Sen. Barack Obama wanting to "raise America's standing in the world," particularly with her allies. And I am certainly sentient enough to gather that - like other promises - this was one that Obama broke almost as soon as he made it.

As discussed elsewhere, Obama's foreign policy is remarkable in that it seeks to placate the Chavez-Ahmedinejad-Castro genre of world leaders, while rebuffing longstanding allies like Great Britain. We recall Obama's thoughtless treatment of Prime Minister Gordon Brown during Brown's visit to Washington earlier this year (i.e.: DVD-gate), as well as the return of the Winston Churchill bust that was loaned to the White House by the British after 9/11.

The kicker - at least up to that point - was a comment attributed to an unnamed State Department official when asked by a reporter from Britain's Sunday Telegraph why the White House reception of Brown was so "low-key."

The official dismissed any notion of the special relationship, saying: "There's nothing special about Britain. You're just the same as the other 190 countries in the world. You shouldn't expect special treatment."
These and similar snubs of other allies now put to lie the notion that the Obama administration would breathe new life into our relations with other countries.

They're at it again.

As recently as last week, the Obamabots were dissing the British press. According to Politico, Press Secretary Robert "I'm in over my head" Gibbs responded to a press query about a report in the Telegraph suggesting that there exist "photos of U.S. soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners that include images of rape and sexual abuse" thusly:
"I want to speak generally about some reports I've witnessed over the past few years in the British media," Gibbs said. "In some ways, I'm surprised it filtered down."

"Let's just say if I wanted to look up, if I wanted to read a write-up of how Manchester United fared last night in the Champions League Cup, I might open up a British newspaper," he continued. "If I was looking for something that bordered on truthful news, I'm not entirely sure it'd be the first pack of clips I'd pick up.
As you might imagine, the British press, particularly the Telegraph, is fit to be tied.

Can you imagine Gibbs making these remarks about The New York Times or The Washington Post, or NBC, ABC or CBS? This would never happen. The British press, especially the Telegraph, has been singled out because they frequently publish articles critical of the Obama administration and are not afraid to take on the status quo in Washington. Increasingly, millions of Americans are turning to online UK news websites for cutting edge reports on American politics and U.S. foreign policy that the mainstream media refuses to cover in the States, especially if it is unflattering to the Obama White House.

Robert Gibbs' completely unwarranted rant against the British press is an absolute disgrace, and the President should disown his views. An unreserved apology by Gibbs is also in order.

For all its talk of "raising America's standing" in the world after the Bush years, the Obama administration is doing a spectacularly bad job of reaching out to its allies. Unfortunately this is the new face of America's public diplomacy, which will only serve to alienate public opinion across the Atlantic. (Emphasis added.)
It makes some sense that Mr. Gibbs would be a bit perturbed with the denizens of Fleet Street. The unanswered question is what lies behind Obama's singular obsession with alienating longstanding stawlarts of the United States, be they across the pond or situated elsewhere. His administration's ham-handed treatment of Benjamin Netanyahu
is now a threat to the stability of the Israeli government and represents another glaring example of this fixation with stiffing old friends. One would be forgiven for suspecting that Obama's rush to throw out the Bush administration's bathwater will lead to the loss of more than a few friendly babies.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Survivor



The video says all that need to be said about the mad rush to socialized medicine.

H/T to: PatientsUnitedNow.

The Great Global Warming Swindle - Full movie



I have referenced elsewhere a documentary produced by the BBC's Channel 4, "The Great Global Warming Swindle," but up til now I had yet to find an online copy that wasn't chopped up. Thanks to GarageTV, we can see the film in its entirety.

As I have observed previously:

Through interviews with internationally prominent thought leaders in climate science, documentarian Martin Durkin takes a balanced look at the available data regarding climate change and CO2's supposed impact thereon to confirm that changes in the temperature of the earth's atmosphere are far too complex to be governed primarily by human activity. The feature then goes on to describe the origins and activities of the environmental movement; some of the most damning testimony against the "green lobby" comes from a co-founder of GreenPeace, Patrick Moore. To be sure, this movie serves as a powerful counterweight to "An Inconvenient Truth," and we can only hope that there will be an opportunity for the film to receive wider international release.
Please enjoy this fine film with my best regards!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

So what was the point?



In the seemingly interminable back and forth between Left and Right over enhanced interrogation techniques, the self-righteous fulmination of liberals over waterboarding was nearly matched by the efforts of more than a few conservative partisans to infinitesimalize the physical and psychological distress caused by the practice. The textbook example of this minimization is that of Sean Hannity offering to be waterboarded for charity. To be charitable, Hannity's point - well taken, if not well said - was twofold: 1) while waterboarding is in and of itself admittedly (WARNING: understatement alert!!!) unpleasant, it is this unpleasantness that makes it effective and 2) as it is conducted as a routine part of training for the military's Special Operations units, it is hard to argue that waterboarding conducted by our government is categorically torture.

But to the point of Hannity's detractors, nor is waterboarding some sort of exotic carnival event akin to a dunk tank. Yet it was a carnival atmosphere that prevailed for a while in the radio studios of Mancow and Cassidy last Friday. Having lost a listener vote, it was co-host Erich "Mancow" Muller who was chosen to be waterboarded on the air. As the video above shows, Mr. Muller found his experience with waterboarding to be - not to be redundant - a tad unpleasant. And as his comments after the fact indicate (according to The Raw Story), Muller came to a different opinion after his time on the waterboard than he had before.

"I wanted to prove it wasn't torture," Mancow said. "They cut off our heads, we put water on their face... I got voted to do this but I really thought 'I'm going to laugh this off.' "

The upshot? "It is way worse than I thought it would be, and that's no joke," Mancow told listeners. "It is such an odd feeling to have water poured down your nose with your head back... It was instantaneous... and I don't want to say this: absolutely torture."
Not to minimize things myself, but after all of five seconds, Muller learned firsthand what Khalid Sheikh Mohammed or Abu Zubaydah could have told him; waterboarding is both unpleasant and effective.

But is it torture?

The Left's presumption that it is adds a sense of urgency to Nancy Pelosi's credulity-straining attempts to slime the CIA. (How interesting is it that the MSM was so exercised about a perceived Republican attack on a lone CIA operative, but is relatively nonplussed by a Democrat's smearing of the entire agency.) As a means to malign Bush, Cheney, et. al, waterboarding fits right into the elastic definition of torture espoused by progressives. But as a legal matter, torture has a statutory definition (see Section 2340 and 2340A of the Federal Penal Code), and it is not at all clear that waterboarding would meet the clear that definitional hurdle.
"[T]orture" means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control. (Emphasis added.)
It was certainly unclear to Barack Obama's Attorney General. In recent testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, Eric Holder was questioned by two Republican House members about his thoughts on what exactly is required under statute for an activity constitute torture. According to Human Events, Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA), a former California Attorney General asked Holder about the Justice Department's definition of torture.
In one of the rare times he gave a straight answer, Holder stated at the hearing that in his view water-boarding is torture. Lundgren asked if it was the Justice Department's position that Navy SEALS subjected to waterboarding as part of their training were being tortured.

Holder: No, it's not torture in the legal sense because you’re not doing it with the intention of harming these people physically or mentally, all we’re trying to do is train them.

Lungren: So it's the question of intent?

Holder: Intent is a huge part.

Lungren: So if the intent was to solicit information but not do permanent harm, how is that torture?

Holder: Well, it… uh… it… one has to look at... ah… it comes out to question of fact as one is determining the intention of the person who is administering the waterboarding. When the Communist Chinese did it, when the Japanese did it, when they did it in the Spanish Inquisition we knew then that was not a training exercise they were engaging in. They were doing it in a way that was violative of all of the statutes recognizing what torture is. What we are doing to our own troops to equip them to deal with any illegal act - that is not torture.
But as National Review Online's Andrew McCarthy points out, the statutory issue is not whether waterboarding is done as part of training, but whether there is specific intent to inflict severe physical or mental pain.
What removes an act from the ambit of torture (besides lack of severe pain) is intent. Lungren pressed this point, and Holder admitted that the training was "not torture in the legal sense because we're not doing it with the intention of harming these people physically or mentally." Intent, he acknowledged, was the key question.

Then, Lungren pounced. The CIA interrogators who questioned top al-Qaeda captives like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah intended no more harm to them than Navy instructors intended to their SEAL trainees. In fact, we know that the CIA went to great lengths, under Justice Department guidance, precisely to avoid severe harm. Their purpose, Rep. Lungren observed, was to "solicit information," not to inflict torture.
Rep. Lungren was followed by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), a former judge who followed Lungren's line of questioning on intent.
Gohmert: Whether waterboarding is torture you say is an issue of intent. If our officers when waterboarding have no intent and in fact knew absolutely they would do no permanent harm to the person being waterboarded, and the only intent was to get information to save people in this country then they would not have tortured under your definition, isn't that correct?

Holder: No, not at all. Intent is a fact question, it's a fact specific question.

Gohmert: So what kind of intent were you talking about?

Holder: Well, what is the intention of the person doing the act? Was it logical that the result of doing the act would have been to physically or mentally harm the person?

Gohmert: I said that in my question. The intent was not to physically harm them because they knew there would be no permanent harm - there would be discomfort but there would be no permanent harm - knew that for sure. So, is the intent, are you saying it's in the mind of the one being water-boarded, whether they felt they had been tortured. Or is the intent in the mind of the actor who knows beyond any question that he is doing no permanent harm, that he is only making them think he's doing harm.

Holder: The intent is in the person who would be charged with the offense, the actor, as determined by a trier of fact looking at all of the circumstances. That is ultimately how one decides whether or not that person has the requisite intent.
McCarthy comes to the rescue again by clarifying that Holder was conflating a "general intent" offense - which could be adjudicated with the help of a neutral "trier of fact" (i.e.: a jury) - with torture, which again requires specific intent.
To state the matter plainly, the CIA interrogators did not inflict severe pain and had no intention of doing so. The law of the United States holds that, even where an actor does inflict severe pain, there is still no torture unless it was his objective to do so. It doesn't matter what the average person might think the "logical" result of the action would be; it matters what specifically was in the mind of the alleged torturer - if his motive was not to torture, it is not torture.
Of course if the head of the Department of Justice could be confused by finer points of the torture statutes, Mr. Muller could be forgiven for his verbal promiscuity in defining his adventure with waterboarding as "absolutely torture." What he and his co-host can't be excused for is turning a controversial interrogation method into an on-air stunt. Rather than garnering attention and interest from unlikely quarters, this feeble attempt at shock-jock shtick should be considered as far beyond the pale as holding one's wee for a Wii.

On the general theme of intent, was it Muller's intent to establish that waterboarding is - again - unpleasant? If so, then point made. If on the other hand, as his previous statements would indicate, Muller was trying to establish that waterboarding is not torture because it is as relatively benign as tickling a terrorist with a feather, then his effort was patently misguided. And if he now wishes to conclude based upon his experience that waterboarding is torture as a matter of law (and therefore illegal), he would be well served to leave those interpretations to others better versed in the appropriate statutes.

I would not suggest that he seek advice from Eric Holder.

Judge Sotomayor speaks!



If we were in doubt before, Barack Obama's indifference to the rule of law - versus the rule of the mob (or of empathy) should be self-evident with his nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the SCOTUS. This video clip comes from a 2005 panel discussion at Duke University Law School in which Judge Sotomayor participated.

I'll have more to say on this nomination soon, but for now, be afraid... be very afraid!

H/T to: thanatogenos.

You might be a liberal...

As seen on Twitter:

"u
might be a liberal if u have the stomach for killing the unborn, then pretend to be bothered by waterboarding"

I can't take credit for this one. (H/T to: brooksbayne by way of the Chicago News Bench.)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Military Veterans of All Ages Tend to Be More Republican

As befits his lofty position, Barack Obama had a more eventful Memorial Day than did I. I suspect the hardest part of it all was remembering to sync up the random buzzword generator with his teleprompter so that he could deliver his usual desultory remarks in response to North Korea's underground nuclear test. He managed to render a few gems such as "take action" and "blatant violation of international law"; it was as if Obama thought that Kim Jong Il was just another part of his sycophancy to be persuaded by such perfunctory nonsense.

For my part, the highlight of the weekend - besides spending time with family and friends - was coming across a report on a Gallup poll of over 130,000 adults that seemed to confirm the intuitively obvious.

Veterans are more likely to be Republican than are those of comparable ages who are not veterans. This Republican skew is at least minimally evident across all age groups, ranging from a 15-point difference in the percentage Republican between veterans and nonveterans in the 25-29 age group, to a 2-point difference in the 85+ group.
This does not entirely surprise when one considers that veterans were also noted by Gallup to be more supportive of Sen. John McCain in last year's presidential election. What is interesting is the fact that this gap seems to persist irrespective of both age and gender, although - as the poll goes on to point out - "[n]inety-one percent of those who have served in the military at some point in their lives are men."

Needless to say, Gallup was more than interested in coming up with a reason for this variance. They considered two hypotheses, the former positing that military service
"socializes an individual in certain ways that in turn lead to a more Republican viewpoint."
Their other theory proposed that "individuals already disproportionately Republican in orientation are more likely to join the military." By Gallup's lights, both have explanatory power depending upon the age of the veteran.

The latter explanation seems more reasonable for the younger age cohorts considered in this research. For the most part, Americans who are now aged 55 and under, as noted, volunteered to serve rather than having been drafted. Under these conditions, a reasonable hypothesis seems to be that more conservative/more Republican persons would be disproportionately represented in the ranks of volunteers, suggesting that the major reason for the observed veteran/nonveteran political difference lies in the backgrounds of those who choose to serve.

On the other hand, those who are now 56 and older were generally subject to the draft and presumably had a lot less choice in whether they served. That would be particularly true for Americans now 70 and older, among whom the majority are veterans. Here a more reasonable hypothesis may be that the socialization process that took place as part of military training and service, coupled with the impact such service has on an individual's reflection on politics and policy later in life, had a greater impact on the observed more Republican orientation among these veterans.

In the end, Gallup concluded that "both processes are at work to at least some degree across the age spectrum." Not to split hairs with Gallup, but as a veteran, I would argue that while their second explanation seems plausible, the first seems incomplete. To be sure, if you are a 20-something who would consider military service - despite the best efforts of liberal teachers/professors, pop culture, the MSM, much of established religion, liberal politicians and touchy-feely Baby Boomer parents - then yes, you probably are right-of-center in your political leanings.

But if the "socialization process" attendant to military service were an explanatory factor, then one might expect for Republican Party identification to be either uniformly high among veterans across age groups or to increase with age. The socialization theory would not account for the observed dip in GOP identification among vets between the ages of 35-59. For socialization to be a major part of the answer, one would have to conclude that it was less effective (or the effect more delayed) for some age cohorts than others.

Whatever the case, when one observes GOP affiliation among veterans by age, it is becomes evident that the distribution closely matches that seen among Republicans more generally by age, with the GOP achieving near parity with Democrats among those ages 30-44, and doing not as well with Baby Boomers and members of Generation Y (ages 18-29). All of this begs yet another question: namely, what is it about Gen X'ers - the fabled slackers of yore - that predisposes them to be slightly more likely to identify with the GOP than Boomers or Gen Y?

I'll offer one other thought. Unlike their Boomer forebears of their Gen Y siblings, Gen X'ers represent a generational cleanup crew of sorts. They are the ones who have and will continue to pay the tab - emotionally, psycho-socially and financially - for the Boom generation's self-indulgent delusions. As servicemembers fighting in their own inter-generational war, X'ers seem to be coming to a similar conclusion to that reached by vets more generally.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

What a dumb ass!!!



It's his frickin' Secretary of Defense. You'd think he'd know his name is "Robert," not "William."

H/T to: TownHall.

Comings and Goings

I am understandably most loath to cite Media Matters as a proof source, but I trust that on this matter, I will be able to plead your indulgence. The aforementioned (and never to be mentioned again in decent conservative company) website reports that Rush Limbaugh has resigned from his post as "titular head of the Republican Party," conceding the spot to retired General Colin Powell.



I will leave it to others - to include Limbaugh himself - to expound on the good to be gained from his "resignation" and Mr. Powell's ascension. All of this does beg the question of what is to be said about the real (grammatically speaking) titular head of the GOP. Besides the shout out given to Michael Steele by President Obama at last weekend's White House Correspondents Dinner, the RNC Chairman has been largely invisible.

Well that's not exactly true; to be fair, Steele has busied himself with trying to be the face of the Republican Party, if not its leader. He has graced the pages of Gentlemen's Quarterly, and has also appeared on CNN's D.L. Hughley Breaks the News, the site of one of his most infamous experiments in extemporization. Steele's attempts at outreach notwithstanding, as Republicans are roiled by internecine struggle, Chairman Steele has left us bereft of any real leadership.

Even as he attempts to - as the Washington Post put it - "reassert himself as party leader," Steele must contend with a battery of Biden-esque gaffes, which include questionable hiring of friends, his conflicting statements about a woman's right to abort her fetus (see here and here), his insistence that the GOP is in need of a "hip-hop makeover," and his comments on Mitt Romney's Mormonism. As it stands now, senior
GOP leaders are concerned
that the party has made a mistake in selecting him as chair (see here, here, here and here.)

Steele must also contend with his record of passivity in attacking liberals and their policies. Today's Steele encourages Republicans to stop "navel gazing" and sharpen their attacks on Obama.

"We've seen strategists writing memos and doing briefings urging that Republicans avoid confronting the president," Steele said in remarks at a convention center at National Harbor in Prince George's County. "If we have the courage of our convictions, and we do, then we will and we must stand up against disastrous policies, regardless of the president's popularity."
But we will recall that it was Steele himself who sought to blunt Limbaugh's broadside against Obama. In his interview with D.L. Hughley, it was Steele who seemed to apologize for Limbaugh's wish that the Obama presidency fail, calling Limabugh's sentiments and rhetoric "incendiary" and "ugly." He has also backed away from opportunities to take on Obama more directly. For instance, he could only meekly refer to Obama's honorary degree from Notre Dame as "inappropriate."

All that said, I am thankful that Mr. Steele has come around to the way of thinking that was advocated elsewhere on these pages.
If Steele hopes to sell the GOP and conservatism more generally, he will need to abandon such bogusness as "hip-hop makeovers" and sharpen his elbows just a touch (or at least sharpen the distinctions between us and them.)
In the interest of full disclosure, I will note that I also said at that time...
At this point, I will confess that I consider providing guidance to Chairman Steele to be as useless as attempting to drain the ocean with a thimble; Steele has always struck me as being what a Texan would describe as "all hat and no cattle."

Before and since his stint as Maryland's Lieutenant-governor, he seemed to wander aimlessly from pillar to post. His time as the Chair of GOPAC was singularly unremarkable, and he was certainly not a slam dunk for his current post, having won only after six rounds of voting (and the withdrawal of three of his opponents.)
And as much has been the case. At best, Steele has shown himself to be an amiable dunce, doing as little real harm as good. My own sense runs along the lines of the many GOP leaders who are less sanguine. At a time of equal parts great opportunity and peril for both the GOP and for the U.S., Steele repeatedly evidences the fact that he is in over his head. His election seems to represent as much of a stroke of affirmative action/white guilt as that of Obama himself.

The good news is that the Republican Party does not have to wait four years to correct its mistake.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009