Feed on Posts or Comments 23 January 2018

2008 Election &Conservatives &Team Obama Richard Falknor on 29 Nov 2008 02:06 pm

Bush’s Final Act | Obama Picks Shouldn’t Upset The Left

Here are three illuminating takes: one from a conservative national-security perspective, one from a more grassroots-oriented conservative perspective, both suggesting what the president should do before leaving office; and one from a left perspective, reassuring Obama progressives about Obama’s foreign and defense post selections.

William Kristol in the Weekly Standard writes here in his “Before He Goes — What President Bush could accomplish in his final days in office” —

“. . . [H]e could do his party–and the nation–a service by reminding Americans of our successes fighting the war on terror. He did address the achievements in Iraq and Afghanistan in a fine speech at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, last week, and he can do more along those lines. In particular, he can continue to pay tribute to the successes of the Army and the Marines on the ground, and explain that the task must be finished in both theaters. He can address issues like getting ROTC back on elite campuses (a position Obama also favors). And while he’s at it, perhaps he could tell various admirals to stop moaning about how difficult it would be to deal with the pirates off the coast of Somalia (isn’t keeping the shipping lanes open a core mission of the Navy?) and order the Navy to clobber them. If need be, the Marines would no doubt be glad to recapitulate their origins and join in by going ashore in Africa to destroy the pirates’ safe havens.”

Human Events lists “Top 10 Things President Bush Should Do Before Leaving Office” here — the recommendations range from strengthening English as our national language to sanctuary cities to Federal land use.

Both sets of recommendations also include presidential pardons:  Kristol argues —

“One last thing: Bush should consider pardoning–and should at least be vociferously praising–everyone who served in good faith in the war on terror, but whose deeds may now be susceptible to demagogic or politically inspired prosecution by some seeking to score political points. The lawyers can work out if such general or specific preemptive pardons are possible; it may be that the best Bush can or should do is to warn publicly against any such harassment or prosecution. But the idea is this: The CIA agents who waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and the NSA officials who listened in on phone calls from Pakistan, should not have to worry about legal bills or public defamation. In fact, Bush might want to give some of these public servants the Medal of Freedom at the same time he bestows the honor on Generals Petraeus and Odierno. They deserve it.”

The Human Events list declares —

“1. Pardon the border agents — U.S. Border Patrol Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean have been in prison since January ‘07 for wounding a fleeing drug smuggler on the U.S. Mexican border.”
“5. Under the Constitution, President Bush can pardon Tom Delay and others prosecuted in the Texas redistricting case. Former Rep. DeLay and associates were indicted for their involvement in a political action committee dedicated to redistricting the Texas congressional lines. They were indicted in 2005, but the case has not been pursued for years.”

When reviewing these two contrasting sets of proposed conservative last-minute presidential priorities, we invite our readers’ to revisit Mark Steyn’s November 20, 2006 warning in his “Philosophy Of Small Government” here

“The War Party is the War Party, the Small Government Party is the Small Government Party, and ne’er the twain shall meet apparently. That way lies disaster: you can’t be in favor of assertive American foreign policy overseas and increasing Europeanization domestically; likewise, you can’t take a reductively libertarian view while the rest of the planet goes to pieces. Someone in the GOP needs to do what Ronald Reagan did so brilliantly a quarter-century ago — reconcile the big challenges abroad with a small-government philosophy at home. The House and the Senate will not return to Republican hands until they do.”

Meanwhile the American Thinker’s Richard Baehr in his “Liberal Tells Liberals Not to be Fooled by Obama appointments”  here drew our attention to Peter Beinart’s Time article here “Obama Chooses an Unlikely Team of Hawks” —

“In liberal blogland, reports that Barack Obama will probably choose Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State and retired general James Jones as National Security Adviser and retain Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense have prompted a chorus of groans. ‘I feel incredibly frustrated,’ wrote Chris Bowers on OpenLeft.com ‘Progressives are being entirely left out.’

A word of advice: cheer up. It’s precisely because Obama intends to pursue a genuinely progressive foreign policy that he’s surrounding himself with people who can guard his right flank at home.”
. . . . . . . . . .
To grasp the logic of this strategy, start with the fact that Obama’s likely national-security picks don’t actually disagree very much with the foreign policy he laid out during the campaign. Jones is on record calling the Iraq war a ‘debacle’ and urging that the detention center at Guantánamo Bay be closed ‘tomorrow.’ Gates has also reportedly pushed for closing Gitmo and for faster withdrawals from Iraq. He has called a military strike against Iran a ‘strategic calamity,’ urged diplomacy with Tehran’s mullahs and denounced the ‘creeping militarization’ of U.S. foreign policy. (You don’t hear that from a Defense Secretary every day.) For her part, Hillary Clinton during the presidential campaign embraced an Iraq-withdrawal position virtually identical to Obama’s. And although they fought a sound-bite war over sitting down with the leaders of countries like Iran, the two candidates’ actual Iran policies were pretty much the same. Both wanted intensive diplomacy; both wanted to start it at lower levels and work up from there.

On key policy issues, Jones, Gates and Clinton aren’t significantly more hawkish than Obama. What they are is more hawkish symbolically.”

In reviewing much of the fine print, particularly of the Human Events list, some readers may point to Randall Hoven’s recent observation here (in a different context) that “no one but insiders, wonks and pundits pay attention to such things.”  We would counter that the Left always pays much attention to these matters. Conservative activists, if they want to be effective as we enter the Obama Interlude, should learn to do the same.


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