Thursday, January 28, 2010

A question of trust

It’s a given that all politicians lie at one time or another. Americans generally don’t expect our politicians to be truthful on small matters. What we want is leadership we can trust to do the right things, who will tell us the truth on the issues that matter.
Nixon still had the support of a majority of Americans until he admitted he had lied, repeatedly, about Watergate. A week later he resigned.
Most Americans didn’t much care about Bill Clinton’s philandering, or even his perjury. But his weasel words on the meaning of the word “is” permanently damaged whatever trust he had left with the public. Clinton was lucky: he never had to speak to the country on an occasion like 9-11 or Katrina.
I never shared and don’t understand the deep dislike of George W. Bush that developed in the last few years of his Presidency, but I suspect a lot of it stemmed from a growing lack of trust. More and more people doubted that he could be believed, or be trusted to do the right thing.
Reagan, even when it was clear that he had been deceptive (Iran Contra) never lost the people’s trust. Conversely, most Americans in 1980 probably still believed that Jimmy Carter would never lie to them. But they no longer trusted him to make the right decisions.
Obama has shown a consistent habit of breaking promises and stretching the truth. He attended Jeremiah Wright’s church for 20 years but never heard Wright’s more incendiary comments. Bill Ayers was just a guy in the neighborhood. Obama’s government will be open and transparent, with bills posted on the web before they are voted on and Congressional negotiations on C-Span.
The Dianne Sawyer interview is the latest. Does he seriously expect us to believe that he would rather be a good one term President than a mediocre two term President?

I read this as a slap at W and Bill Clinton. But my fear is that, in the not too distant future, Obama will need Americans to trust him to make really hard decisions, to believe him when he speaks to the country in a moment of crisis. And we will need to trust that we have a leader who has the depth, wisdom, and maturity- and the smart advisors- to make hard decisions. A year in, I do not have that confidence in him, and I fear what will happen in a real crisis.

Carter lost the public’s trust after malaise, cardigan sweaters, the Iran embassy takeover, and the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. He wasn’t dealing with attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Napolitano said after the Christmas Day near miss that ”the system worked.” Eric Holder wants to try terrorists in New York City, and reads Abdelmotallab his Miranda rights. This is thunder from a distant but approaching storm. More than just trouble for the Democrats in November 2010, no matter how much or in what direction Obama pivots, it bodes trouble for all of us.

I wrote this before the SOTU. Nothing to change. I'll just add a quote from a comment over at Tigerhawk:
This POTUS is a dangerously disingenuous dilettante and a growing disgrace to the office.

Damn, I wish I'd said that.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

In the wake of the Massachusetts earthquake...

Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., said last night it would "only be fair and prudent that we suspend further votes on health care legislation until Brown is seated."

For the first time in my life, I'm proud to have Jim Webb as my U.S. Senator.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Three Cheers for Scott Brown

... with respect to those who wish to harm us: I believe that our Constitution and laws exist to protect this nation. They do not grant rights and privileges to enemies in wartime. In dealing with terrorists, our tax dollars should pay for weapons to stop them, not lawyers to defend them.

(Senator-elect Brown's victory speech, January 19, 2010)

Quick punditry: Three issues elected Scott Brown:
Obamacare; the Christmas near miss airline bombing (and Janet Napolitano's declaration that "the system worked"); and the Administration's plans for civil trials of terrorists.
Major media covered the last few days of the campaign but as far as I could tell, no one outside Massachusetts reported what Brown said in his stump speeches. I'm guessing he spoke as much about national security as he did about health care.

Martha Coakley was right about one thing: 2010 will be hell for the Democrats.

Monday, December 28, 2009

I just saved a bunch of money on my car insurance.

The bad news: Terror cells in Yemen. Al Qaeda bomb plots. Massive demonstrations and violent repression in Iran. North Korea’s nuclear program may be farther advanced than previously suspected.

It’s multiple three a.m. phone calls, and the President is busy golfing in Hawaii.

But there is some good news. The Senate just passed a historic health care bill. And since Obama promised to be the last President to deal with health care reform, the problem must have been solved. Maybe Obama and Congress can move on to other issues?

Victory has a thousand fathers, defeat is an orphan

There will be lots of blame to go around when al Qaeda succeeds where Abdulmutallab failed and brings down an airliner, or commits an even more heinous atrocity. (Wager: Obama and Napolitano will blame Bush.) Here are my two chief culprits:

(1) The Flying imams and their attorneys. Removal of six Muslim imams from US Airways Flight 300 at the Minneapolis airport on November 20, 2006, resulted in a lawsuit against the airline and the airport, and a 2009 out of court settlement. This effectively stopped any initiative by American airline employees to exercise judgment and common sense, and deny a boarding pass to someone, who, say, had an Islamic sounding name and paid cash for a one way ticket from Amsterdam to Detroit, with no checked baggage. Twenty quatloos says the airlines have all established corporate policy: Do not risk a lawsuit because of a passenger’s ethnicity, country of origin, or assumed religious faith. If TSA does not flag him, let him board.

(2) DHS. Yes, Napolitano is an easy target. Political correctness does not begin to describe the sheer obtuseness of the redefinition of terrorism as “Man caused disasters.“ It’s not just a euphemism, it’s a state of mind. In November 2009 I heard a senior DHS staffer describe the Department’s mission as preventing and responding to natural disasters, like earthquakes and hurricanes; and man caused disasters, “like a dam break.” With that perspective, the 2800 deaths in lower Manhattan on September 11, 2001 were the result of poor engineering design. It’s no wonder Secretary Napolitano’s initial reaction to the attempted Christmas bombing was “the system works.”

President Obama has gone out of his way to avoid any associations with President G. W. Bush's war on terrorism. Obama doesn’t want to talk about terrorism, any more than he wants to make decisions about Afghanistan. As Dan Riehl notes about Obama’s statement today (emphasis added):

This has to be the most perfunctory speech the orator in chief has ever given. He's literally reading a press release and it shows. It's as if the issue doesn't even interest him at all.

The people who write rules for TSA have far more knowledge about terrorist threats, motives, and methodologies than will ever become publicly available. Given that, I still can’t comprehend the ban on in flight GPS systems, nor the prohibition on holding anything in a passenger’s lap for the last hour of the flight. If you’re on a nine hour trans-Atlantic flight, eight hours have passed, you see land out the window that is definitely not Greenland, and the plane is starting to descend, doesn’t that give you a clue as to where you are? For that matter, why not simply wait to ignite the explosive device in your underwear until the flight attendant asks you to hand over your blanket and pillow?

Al Qaeda's hallmark, from 9-11 to London to Madrid, has been multiple simultaneous attacks. One bomber who gets through security is like one cockroach in your kitchen: there are plenty more that you haven't noticed.

I see a bad moon rising.

Saturday, December 19, 2009