Hillary Can’t Say No Now

It’s a little over a week since the Inauguration, and I’m already sick of the Hillary speculation.

Even if she knows what she wants to do, she can’t make a definitive statement.  If she’s going to run, she can’t step on the President’s toes so early in his term.

If she’s not going to run, she’ll want to delay saying so as long as possible.  Bill has to keep the speculation going because he needs the attention and money for his Clinton Global Initiative that a possible Billary return to the White House generates.  If the Clinton era is truly over, Bill loses buzz.  And Bill the Big Baby desperately needs buzz like the rest of us need oxygen.

My gut feeling is that she won’t run.

So to Andrew Cuomo and Martin O’Malley, I say, “Please proceed, Governor.”

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Just Take Your Millions and Shut Up

Al Gore lamely tried to justify selling Current to Al Jazeera on Jon Stewart last night, claiming that they provide “the highest quality, most extensive, best climate coverage of any network.”

Yes, we all think of Al Jazeera as our go-to source for climate change.  And to think how distraught and inconsolable I was when Bush v. Gore was announced.

Hagel Disappoints

Chuck Hagel did not exactly hit it out of the park in his hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee today.

He stumbled on Iraq, Iran, and the “Jewish lobby” comment.

Supposedly, he did three mock hearings in preparation, but given that everybody knew what was going to come up, he wasn’t as sharp and well-prepared as he should have been.  The surprise wasn’t any particular question that caused him to stumble, but the fact that he stumbled.

What what me cringe most was when he said he supported Obama’s policy of “containment” of Iran.  It took a passed note to get him to correct that.  Our policy on Iran’s getting nuclear weapons is not containment, but prevention.

John McCain got the better of him when Hagel didn’t defend his opposition to the Iraq surge forcefully enough.  Lindsey “Butters” Graham got him to say he couldn’t/wouldn’t name a senator who had been “intimidated” by the “Jewish lobby” or to name a “stupid thing” Congress had done on Israel as a result of such intimidation.

I don’t think it was a fatal performance, but it certainly was a disappointing one.  Peter Beinart tweeted that it reminded him of the first Obama-Romney debate.  Yup.

What Do You Get When You Cross a Hawk and a Dove? Maybe Some Sane Policy.

From “Why Chuck Hagel Is Obama’s Pentagon Pick,” Bob Woodward, WaPo:

“The two [Obama and Hagel] share similar views and philosophies as the Obama administration attempts to define the role of the United States in the transition to a post-superpower world.

“This worldview is part hawk and part dove.  It amounts, in part, to a challenge to the wars of President George W. Bush.  It holds that the Afghanistan war has been mismanaged and the Iraq was unnecessary.  War is an option, but very much a last resort.

“So, this thinking goes, the U. S. role in the world must be carefully scaled back — this is not a matter of choice but of facing reality; the military needs to be treated with deep skepticism; lots of strategic military and foreign policy thinking is out of date; and quagmires like Afghanistan should be avoided.

“The bottom line:  The United States must get out of these massive land wards — Iraq and Afghanistan — and, if possible, avoid future large-scale war.

“Although much discussion of the Hagel nomination has centered on his attitudes about Iran, Israel and the defense budget, Hagel’s broader agreement with Obama on overall philosophy is probably more consequential.”

I am hopeful that Obama/Kerry/Hagel will spend the next four years devising foreign and military policy that protects our power by getting the best bang for the buck and then uses that power wisely.  Applying our power conservatively — that would make them the neo-neo-cons.

After 9/11, we knew the world had changed, but it’s taken us over a decade to figure out how to change with it.

I would say the Iraq war wasn’t just unnecessary, but was very harmful to our interests because it took Iraq away as a counter-weight to Iran and upset the balance of power in the region.  Saddam Hussein was a bastard, but he was a useful bastard.  Bush 41 recognized this when he freed Kuwait, but didn’t march to Baghdad.

And the idea that we were going to change Afghanistan was always absurd.  No one changes Afghanistan — they just bang their heads against a wall and eventually leave.