It is a good thing that Mr. Kristol's piece is a mere opinion. Kristol suggests things throughout and outrightly speaks for others even when others have spoken otherwise. He smears the line of turf wars at the State Department with those in the White House to the past administration without giving facts; this is pure gossip. He blames Rahm Emmanuel for Gregg's withdrawal on the basis of the Census when Gregg said publically in his press conference that the Census was not the reason for his withrdrawal. Who's lying here, the good right pundit or politician?
What accounts for this debacle? You could start with a lack of presidential leadership. Who would have thought the missing player in the first month of the administration would be Barack Obama? He let his signature economic legislation, the stimulus, be shaped by congressional Democrats. He let internal disputes over the difficult question of how to save the banking system result in a disastrous non-announcement of a non-plan by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner last week....He allowed Rahm Emanuel to politicize the Census Bureau, losing as a result his commerce secretary-designee, Judd Gregg, an ornament of his professed hope for bipartisanship...Does anyone rationally expect that after three weeks of being in the most partisan organization on the planet that we would see major change? But on second thought, what American president has ever passed such a bill in record time? Does the fact that President Obama even tried for bipartisanship mean anything?
In foreign policy, Obama has exerted no more control. He allowed both Super-Special Pooh-bah Richard Holbrooke and National Security Adviser Jim Jones to give interviews to the New York Times and the Washington Post, respectively, touting their own importance and presenting the president as a distant player in the formulation of foreign policy. Meanwhile, turf wars in the State Department and the National Security Council are even more bitterly fought than usual. The tale of Holbrooke shouting at Undersecretary of State Bill Burns that he'll keep Burns waiting as long as he wants, since he (allegedly) outranks Burns, makes the Rumsfeld-Powell drama look tame...
Obama allowed the GOP to dodge that bullet and begin the term with a reinvigorating series of intellectually successful assaults on the stimulus bill. A strong message on Afghanistan from the administration would have won the support of Republican hawks--and might have caused other Republicans foolishly to move in a semi-isolationist direction, provoking another internal GOP dispute. Withdrawing Geithner's nomination would have elevated the new president above the last eight years of Republican-dominated Washington business as usual.
So Republicans have some reason to cheer. But not much. The country needs a president capable of exercising leadership at home and abroad. Barack Obama has had a charmed career. He's been the magnetic-levitation train of recent American politics, skimming over the surface at great speed without having to slog through the mud that slows down and climb over the boulders that trip up normal politicians. But now he's president. The charm is wearing off. It's time for him to stoop to govern.
Does anyone really think that the market sell-off was really due to Geithner's speech instead of a gain of short sales and market gimmicks by traders to control the markets? Does anyone actually believe that the efforts of Republican pundits and politicians are not a part of a play to assume power as opposed to an effort to turn the economy around?
Shame on all of you who are participating in this game. Bring varied ideas, not more of the same.