GOP Intellectuals Can’t Stand Newt, the Intellectual Candidate

It’s interesting that Newt Gingrich presents himself as the intellectual in the GOP primary race, and yet party intellectuals (George Will, David Brooks, David Frum, Peggy Noonan, Charles Krauthammer) can’t stand him and are arguing passionately against the passionate one.  They agree that he’s smart, but conclude that scary should make you run screaming from smart.

Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran

There is much speculation that Israel may be close to bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities.  Israel can certainly delay or disrupt Iran’s nuclear capabilities with airstrikes, but it can’t completely destroy them.  It doesn’t have the ability to bomb deeply enough or to carry out the sustained campaign it would take.   The only country that has a chance, and even then it’s not a certainty we could get everything, is — you guessed it —  the United States.

We and the Israelis have bought some time with the Stuxnet virus and targeted assassinations of Iran’s nuclear scientists.  But the grains left in that hourglass are running out.

President Obama is pursuing options to contain Iran if it goes nuclear, much as we contained the Soviet Union.  The better analogy is not our successful containment doctrine of the 1950’s, but Britain’s failed appeasement doctrine of the 1930’s.  I know that’s the Israeli view.

Bombing Iran is a daunting task militarily and politically.  The short-term consequences won’t be pretty.  But they won’t be as ugly as the longer-term consequences of letting Iran proceed.

When India got nuclear weapons, Pakistan had to have them too.  Now we are dealing with an unstable nuclear Pakistan, which is much tougher than dealing with an unstable non-nuclear Pakistan.

If Iran goes nuclear, so will Saudi Arabia.  Another unstable regime threatened by terrorists.

If we don’t act, eventually the Israelis will do as much as they can.  But if you’re going to remove a cancer, you should do your utmost to remove it all.  The United States has the best –and only — shot at doing that.

Mr. President, ’twere well it were done quickly.  You’ve done so much to keep us safe, do this.

Here’s Something That Never Occurred to You

A new book about the British royal family, Not in Front of the Corgis, by Brian Hoey, reveals that one of Prince Charles’ valets (he has three, out of a staff of 133) irons his shoelaces whenever the Prince takes off his shoes.

All these years I’ve been going around with un-ironed shoelaces!  I hope you have too.  Otherwise, you are crazy.

And our Founding Fathers thought George III was insane.

Clarifying Our Goals in Afghanistan

Today’s NYT story “U. S. Seeks Aid from Pakistan in Peace Effort” says that Pakistani leaders “are confused by a lack of clarity in the administration’s long-term goals in Afghanistan.”

Our long-term goals are to get our troops the heck out of there and let the Afghanis go back to enjoying the seventh century.  The British learned they couldn’t bring Afghanistan into the nineteenth century, the Russians learned they couldn’t bring it into the twentieth century, and we have learned that we can’t bring it into the twenty-first.

We really have no interest in Afghanistan qua Afghanistan.  We just need to use a little bit of their territory so our drones and special forces can attack terrorists in Pakistan.

I hope that’s clear now.  You’re welcome, Pakistan.

A Speech is Fine, But a Paycheck Is Better

President Obama’s speech was better than I expected, in the size and scope of his proposals, and in the passion of his delivery.  But to me, it should be twice as big in dollars (I’m one of the few conservative Republicans who thinks the stimulus was too small, as well as poorly devised.  This group easily fits in my kitchen.).  So his jobs plan isn’t big enough for the current lack of demand in the private sector.

Of course there’s no way his plan is going to be enacted as he presented it.  So a too-small plan will get shrunk further, maybe by another half.  If your baby needs an eight-ounce bottle, a two-ounce bottle isn’t going to get him growing.

Much of his plan is based on politics, not economics.  He chose policies that won’t give us the most bang for our buck, but are designed to appeal to Republicans.  He should be careful what he wishes for.  The Republicans will probably approve an anemic plan — just enough so they can say they weren’t obstructionists, not enough to help him get re-elected because the economy is improving.

Richard Nixon said, “We are all Keynesians now.”  Now I’m one of the few Republican Keynesians left.

Romney’s Ineffective Whine about Obamacare

If Mitt Romney is their nominee, the Republicans take Obamacare off the table.   His Republican opponents haven’t challenged his latest ineffective response (I’m looking at you, T-Paw), but surely Obama will.  Mitt whines that Obama never called him to discuss Romneycare when preparing Obamacare.  But Obama’s obvious answer is that he didn’t need to call Romney because his policy wonks were snugly in bed with Mitt’s policy wonks.  I’m sure at a debate, Obama would be ready with the exact number of times his folks contacted Romney health gurus like MIT Professor Jonathan Gruber.