Posted: May 6, 2016 Filed under: Diplomacy, Mediasphere, Politics, White House | Tags: Barack Obama, Ben Rhodes, Donald Trump, Foreign policy of the United States, George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton, Iraq War troop surge of 2007, McGeorge Bundy, Robert Gates, The New York Times
‘Kind of like McGeorge Bundy meets Lee Atwater’
Thomas E. Ricks writes: The profile of one Ben Rhodes running in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine is not unsympathetic, which makes it all the more devastating.
Perhaps the key sentence is this: “His lack of conventional real-world experience of the kind that normally precedes responsibility for the fate of nations — like military or diplomatic service, or even a master’s degree in international relations, rather than creative writing — is still startling.”
“Most of the outlets are reporting on world events from Washington. The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.”
Rhodes comes off like a real asshole. This is not a matter of politics — I have voted for Obama twice. Nor do I mind Rhodes’s contempt for many political reporters: “Most of the outlets are reporting on world events from Washington. The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.”
“Obama’s hasn’t been an original foreign policy as much as it has been a politicized foreign policy. And this Rhodes guy reminds me of the Kennedy smart guys who helped get us into the Vietnam War. Does he know how awful he sounds? Kind of like McGeorge Bundy meets Lee Atwater.”
But, as that quote indicates, he comes off like an overweening little schmuck. This quotation seems to capture his worldview: “He referred to the American foreign policy establishment as the Blob. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: April 2, 2016 Filed under: Mediasphere, Politics, War Room, White House | Tags: Barack Obama, Department of Defense, Fox News, news, Obama White House, Pentagon, Robert Gates, Special Report with Bret Baier, U.S. Military, video
Posted: October 9, 2014 Filed under: Politics, Reading Room, U.S. News, White House | Tags: Barack Obama, Books, Democratic Party, Foreign Policy, Leon Panetta, Newt Gingrich, PEGGY NOONAN, Robert Gates, Washington D.C., Worthy Fights
“‘Worthy Fights’ is highly self-regarding even for a Washington book.”
Peggy Noonan writes: There’s the sense of an absence where the president should be.
Decisions are made—by someone, or some agency—on matters of great consequence, Ebola, for instance. The virus has swept three nations of West Africa; a Liberian visitor has just died in Dallas. The Centers for Disease Control says it is tracking more than 50 people with whom he had contact.
“Publicly Mr. Panetta has always been at great pains to show the smiling, affable face of one who is above partisanship. But this book is smugly, grubbily partisan.”
The commonsense thing—not brain science, just common sense—would be for the government to say: “As of today we will stop citizens of the affected nations from entering the U.S. We will ban appropriate flights, and as time passes we’ll see where we are. We can readjust as circumstances change. But for now, easy does it—slow things down.”
[Check out Panetta’s “Worthy Fights: A Memoir of Leadership in War and Peace” at Amazon.com]
Instead the government chooses to let the flow of individuals from infected countries continue. They will be screened at five U.S. airports, where their temperatures will be taken and they will be asked if they have been around anyone with Ebola.
A lot of them, knowingly or unknowingly, have been around Ebola. People who are sick do not in the early stages have elevated temperatures. People who are desperate to leave a plague state will, understandably if wrongly, lie on questionnaires.
“He is telling partisan Democrats on the ground that he’s really one of them, he hates those Republicans too, so you can trust him when he tells you Mr. Obama’s presidency is not a success.”
U.S. health-care workers at airports will not early on be organized, and will not always show good judgment. TSA workers sometimes let through guns and knives. These workers will be looking for microbes, which, as they say, are harder to see. A baby teething can run a fever; so will a baby with the virus. A nurse or doctor with long experience can tell the difference. Will the airport workers?
None of this plan makes sense. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: September 27, 2014 Filed under: Diplomacy, Politics, White House | Tags: Afghanistan, David Petraeus, George W. Bush, Iraq, Leon Panetta, Obama, Robert Gates, Syria, United States, Weekly Standard
Max Boot writes: Last week brought a reminder of what the United States has lost since Bob Gates and Leon Panetta left the Obama cabinet. Both are straight shooters with a centrist, hardheaded sensibility.
“What happened? How did the centrist Obama of his early years in office give way to the dovish Obama of more recent times? “
Panetta has been making headlines with his criticism of Obama on 60 Minutes for pulling out of Iraq too soon (“I really thought that it was important for us to maintain a presence in Iraq”) and not doing more early on to aid the Syrian opposition (“we pay the price for not doing that in what we see happening with ISIS”).
“Obama suffers from the not uncommon defect of the intellectually able: He imagines that he is always the smartest guy in the room and thus has trouble taking advice that does not accord with his own predilections.”
Meanwhile, Gates has been critical of Obama for prohibiting U.S. “boots on the ground” to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria: “The reality is, they’re not gonna be able to be successful against ISIS strictly from the air, or strictly depending on the Iraqi forces, or the Peshmerga, or the Sunni tribes acting on their own,” he told CBS This Morning. “So there will be boots on the ground if there’s to be any hope of success in the strategy. And I think that by continuing to repeat that [the United States won’t put boots on the ground], the president, in effect, traps himself.”
[Check out Max Boot’s “Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present” at Amazon.com]
In retrospect, it is clear, the first Obama term—when Gates was at Defense (followed by Panetta), Panetta at CIA (followed by General David Petraeus), Hillary Clinton at State, Admiral Mike Mullen at the Joint Chiefs, and retired General Jim Jones at the National Security Council—was a golden age (by Obama standards) when there were grown-ups more or less in charge of U.S. foreign policy. Obama at first tended to accede to the advice of his more seasoned foreign policy hands because as a first-term senator he was acutely aware of his own lack of experience or credibility in the field. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: May 9, 2014 Filed under: War Room, White House | Tags: Barack Obama, Congressional Budget Office, John McCain, Marine One, Obama, Pentagon, President, Robert Gates, Sikorsky, Sikorsky Aircraft
Marine One-to-be: An artist’s rendering shows what Sikorsky’s proposed ‘VXX‘ presidential helicopter might look like
For Mail Online, David Martosko reports: The Department of Defense awarded a contract on Wednesday to a Connecticut company that will build a fleet of helicopters to replace the Marine One fleet that ferries U.S. presidents short distances.
The contract, given to Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, will cost an initial $1,244,677,064 ‘for the engineering and manufacturing development phase of the Presidential Helicopter Replacement program.’ For that price the U.S. Navy will get six test aircraft and all the necessary research & development.
The Pentagon made a similar attempt to replace the aging fleet of Sikorsky choppers, spending $3.2 billion on a landing pad to nowhere.
Adding in the likely $17 billion price tag for the new project – a numberestimated by the Congressional Budget Office – the $20 billion total makes the fleet the most expensive helicopters ever built.
Seeing double? If the current fleet of presidential choppers looks a lot like the new one, it’s because the same company will build them, and it was the only firm to bid on the project
The CBO reports that the projected cost also ‘does not include costs to keep the 19 existing presidential helicopters in operation until they are replaced by new helicopters.’ Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: January 22, 2014 Filed under: Politics, U.S. News, White House | Tags: Andrew Cuomo, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, New York, Obama, Remnick, Robert Gates, Wendy Davis
No longer punished with a baby.
From Ace of Spades HQ:
Ace also has a take on Isaac Chotiner‘s New Republic ‘Obama’s-talking-to-us-like-we’re-children’ complaint, which he gets to, further in. Read it all, at the HQ. Here’s Ace getting warmed up…
It’s instructive to note the shift from Bill Clinton to Barack Obama. Bill Clinton straddled the issue, rhetorically, by declaring that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare.” By adding the last word — really nothing more than a rhetorical fillip, because he opposed all restrictions — he at least attempted to signal to pro-life people that he understood the act of abortion did in fact have moral consequences.
Whether he did believe this I have no idea. But he did at least try to signal his understanding of, and concern about, the moral consequences of abortion.
His political posture was thus: If you’re pro-life, I am voting against you; I will use my power as President to advance the interests of your opponents and thwart your own; however, I will at least give you the courtesy of a rhetorical nod towards the plausibility and respectability of your position. I disagree with you, but I will grant you that your position is well-founded, even if it is one I do not favor.
Compare this to Barack Obama, who today proclaims abortion an unambiguous moral good, something that permits “everyone” to “have the same freedom and opportunity to pursue their dreams.”
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: January 22, 2014 Filed under: Mediasphere, Politics, White House | Tags: Barack Obama, David Remnick, George W. Bush, New Yorker, Obama, Remnick, Robert Gates, United States
Because he’s so busy showing us what an adult he is
Isaac Chotiner writes: David Remnick’s long profile of President Obama in this week’s New Yorker gives the president numerous opportunities to speak at length about a variety of subjects and events. Remnick’s piece is not edited in the style of most New Yorker stories, perhaps because Remnick himself felt that the best way for readers to really “get” Obama was to let him talk (and talk), largely uninterrupted. The portrait that emerges is not so different from the picture most people who follow politics already have of the president: serious, reserved, rather dispassionate, cerebral, intellectual, and proud of his own self-awareness.
It’s this last attribute, however, that has become increasingly noticeable over the past five years. And the more noticeable it’s gotten, the less attractive it has become.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: January 13, 2014 Filed under: Breaking News, Mediasphere, Politics, White House | Tags: Barack Obama, Corner, Hillary Clinton, Iraq, Iraq War troop surge of 2007, Mediaite, Robert Gates, Washington
From Mediaite via The Corner, National Review Online: Former secretary of defense Robert Gates spoke on the Today Show Monday morning, saying that while he was “not really surprised” by the reaction to his memoir, he was upset with the politicization of it.
“In a way I was disappointed that the book has been hijacked by people along the political spectrum to serve their own purposes, taking quotes out of context,” Gates said. “It’s part of the political warfare in Washington that I decry in the book.”
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: January 9, 2014 Filed under: Reading Room, War Room, White House | Tags: Barack Obama, Iraq War, Joe Biden, Powell Doctrine, Rich Lowry, Robert Gates, Vietnam War, Washington
President Barack Obama, and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Rich Lowry writes: Robert Gates has roiled the Beltway with perhaps the least surprising bombshells ever to appear in a tell-all Washington memoir.
Did anyone believe that President Barack Obama was passionately committed to the Afghanistan war that he escalated at the same time he announced a withdrawal date?
Is there anyone who thought that Hillary Clinton in 2008 calibrated her position on the Iraq War based on the state of play in Anbar province rather than the Iowa caucuses?
Does anyone consider Vice President Joe Biden a thoughtful policy maven with a long history getting stuff right?
Before going any further, let’s stipulate that there’s something a little unseemly about the Gates book project. Gates has always seemed among the most old-school and stand-up of our political elites, yet even he reverted to the all-too-typical play of keeping notes for his memoir, to be published as soon as possible upon leaving office.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: January 7, 2014 Filed under: Mediasphere, Politics, U.S. News, War Room, White House | Tags: Afghanistan, Barack Obama, Bob Woodward, Gates, George W. Bush, Joe Biden, Obama, Robert Gates
Bob Woodward has an item in today’s WaPo that will stir some conversation:
Robert Gates: A look at his career in government: He served as defense secretary under both presidents George W. Bush and Obama, bridging the two administrations and earning a reputation as careful, conservative and consensus-oriented.
Woodward writes: In a new memoir, former defense secretary Robert Gates unleashes harsh judgments about President Obama’s leadership and his commitment to the Afghanistan war, writing that by early 2010 he had concluded the president “doesn’t believe in his own strategy, and doesn’t consider the war to be his. For him, it’s all about getting out.”
Leveling one of the more serious charges that a defense secretary could make against a commander in chief sending forces into combat, Gates asserts that Obama had more than doubts about the course he had charted in Afghanistan. The president was “skeptical if not outright convinced it would fail,” Gates writes in “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War.”
Obama, after months of contentious discussion with Gates and other top advisers, deployed 30,000 more troops in a final push to stabilize Afghanistan before a phased withdrawal beginning in mid-2011. “I never doubted Obama’s support for the troops, only his support for their mission,” Gates writes.
As a candidate, Obama had made plain his opposition to the 2003 Iraq invasion while embracing the Afghanistan war as a necessary response to the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, requiring even more military resources to succeed. In Gates’s highly emotional account, Obama remains uncomfortable with the inherited wars and distrustful of the military that is providing him options. Their different worldviews produced a rift that, at least for Gates, became personally wounding and impossible to repair.
Read the rest of this entry »