Have The Democrats Gone Too Far?

George Will edition.

As expected, the plaintive wailing will begin with people who find the basic idea of Democrats in power offensive. FOX News will be next of course. Over the past week, seeing some moderator literally begging her panelists to blame Nancy Pelosi for something was sadly typical. I’m sure that it won’t be too hard to wound the sensitive feelings of Davids Broder and Brooks. Mark Halperin might hold his fire until the Democrats actually do something awful like pass a bill or issue a subpoena. Or maybe not.

As promised I won’t be able to keep up with everything that happens, so feel free to shoot me an email if you spot something I missed.

A Small Step

We never get any good news around here, so here is a small piece:

The cost of treating children infected with H.I.V. and AIDS is poised to plummet next year, under a deal announced today between two Indian drugmakers and former President Bill Clinton’s foundation.

Cipla and Ranbaxy Laboratories agreed to make 19 different anti-retroviral drugs designed for children available at an average price of 16 cents a day, or $60 a year, which is about 45 percent lower than the lowest current price, the Clinton Foundation said in a statement.

Because not everyone has access to the current lowest price, the plan will actually translate into a four- to six-fold cost reduction for many children, said Stephen Lewis, the United Nations special envoy for H.I.V. and AIDS in Africa.

The prices will be available to 62 developing countries and will lead to the treatment of an additional 100,000 people in 2007, the statement said.

Good news, indeed.

Jumping the Gun

This is the kind of story that has to drive politicians nuts:

It was a solemn pledge, repeated by Democratic leaders and candidates over and over: If elected to the majority in Congress, Democrats would implement all of the recommendations of the bipartisan commission that examined the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

But with control of Congress now secured, Democratic leaders have decided for now against implementing the one measure that would affect them most directly: a wholesale reorganization of Congress to improve oversight and funding of the nation’s intelligence agencies. Instead, Democratic leaders may create a panel to look at the issue and produce recommendations, according to congressional aides and lawmakers.

Because plans for implementing the commission’s recommendations are still fluid, Democratic officials would not speak for the record. But aides on the House and Senate appropriations, armed services and intelligence committees confirmed this week that a reorganization of Congress would not be part of the package of homeland-security changes up for passage in the “first 100 hours” of the Democratic Congress.

I didn’t vote for the Democrats because I like their agenda, and I am under no illusion that the Demcorats are the party for me. But I intend to at least wait until they take office to start blaming them for things they have or have not done.

Blaming The Soldiers

Is wrong, unless you have to in order to cover-up for the incompetence of a Republican administration:

In his first detailed public statement since his nomination as defense secretary, Robert M. Gates criticized the Pentagon as failing to prepare adequately for securing Iraq after the invasion in 2003.

Asked in a questionnaire from the Senate Armed Services Committee what he would have done differently in Iraq if he had been defense secretary in the last six years, Mr. Gates responded: “War planning should be done with the understanding that postmajor-combat phase of operations can be crucial. If confirmed, I intend to improve the department’s capabilities in this area.”

He added that “with the advantages of hindsight, I might have done some things differently.”

You see- it is the military’s fault- those guys at the Pentagon just didn’t plan thoroughly enough. Time for the wayback machine:

In a contentious exchange over the costs of war with Iraq, the Pentagon’s second-ranking official today disparaged a top Army general’s assessment of the number of troops needed to secure postwar Iraq. House Democrats then accused the Pentagon official, Paul D. Wolfowitz, of concealing internal administration estimates on the cost of fighting and rebuilding the country.

Mr. Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, opened a two-front war of words on Capitol Hill, calling the recent estimate by Gen. Eric K. Shinseki of the Army that several hundred thousand troops would be needed in postwar Iraq, “wildly off the mark.” Pentagon officials have put the figure closer to 100,000 troops. Mr. Wolfowitz then dismissed articles in several newspapers this week asserting that Pentagon budget specialists put the cost of war and reconstruction at $60 billion to $95 billion in this fiscal year. He said it was impossible to predict accurately a war’s duration, its destruction and the extent of rebuilding afterward.

“We have no idea what we will need until we get there on the ground,” Mr. Wolfowitz said at a hearing of the House Budget Committee. “Every time we get a briefing on the war plan, it immediately goes down six different branches to see what the scenarios look like. If we costed each and every one, the costs would range from $10 billion to $100 billion.” Mr. Wolfowitz’s refusal to be pinned down on the costs of war and peace in Iraq infuriated some committee Democrats, who noted that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., the budget director, had briefed President Bush on just such estimates on Tuesday.

We’ll give Gates the benfit of the doubt and assume he was talking about Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz and their cadre of obstinate fools who msiguided us into this mess. In that case, simply by taking Rumsfeld’s place, Gates is improving “the department’s capabilities.” It is pretty clear that the problem with the Pentagon was not the Pentagon itself, but the incompetent leadership from this administration that was foisted upon the military.

The Christianist Debate

I see that Andrew Sullivan has been sucked into a war of the words against the self-annointed net-nanny Ann Althouse and self-styled libertarian Glenn Reynolds over the term Christianist. Says Glenn:

I continue to think that the term draws an unfair equivalence between Islamist terror, and mere Christian social conservatism, which are hardly comparable. I disagree with the latter, but those people aren’t the enemy, just people with whom I disagree.

I am not sure why he continues to think that, as Sullivan has pretty clearly explained what he means by the term:

I should underline that the term Christianist is in no way designed to label people on the religious right as favoring any violence at all. I mean merely by the term Christianist the view that religious faith is so important that it must also have a precise political agenda. It is the belief that religion dictates politics and that politics should dictate the laws for everyone, Christian and non-Christian alike.

Of course, when dealing with Althouse and others, I have learned it doesn’t matter what you actually say, it is what they think you have said and what they can convince their legions of air-headed readers/yes-men what you have said. It really doesn’t matter that Sullivan is not talking about rank and file Christians, but rather the folks who think that the government’s primary role is instilling and maintaining morality in the populace.

The Scandal That Wasn’t

Until now I have passed on the apparently scintillating question of who Nancy Pelosi would pick to chair the Defense Committee for two reasons. First, the idea that she could only pick Jane Harman or Alcee Hastings seemed silly. Second, I don’t understand getting worked up about something that Pelosi hasn’t done yet. Well, I guess I was right. Alcee Hastings won’t be picked for reasons that should be obvious to everybody and, via two excellent posts by Glenn Greenwald, Jane Harman has already met the post’s limit of four terms.

Look at it this way – the GOP’s work output demonstrates that they never liked the act of governing very much. Despite their rhetoric about the “party of no” and whatnot, Republicans really thrive on ginned-up scandals and phony outrage. Those slow or new enough to disagree can kindly revisit how many hours of testimony the Republican Congress spent determining whether the Clinton White House used its Christmas card list for fundraising. FOX News, the Goldberg clan, Drudge and most of our luminaries in the rightwing New Media made their name by throwing a three-year epileptic fit over a blowjob in the Oval Office. Casting wild aspersions at powerful Democrats is their comfort zone.

With Democrats back in the driver’s seat the GOP and its trained pets will get back to doing what they do best. This fabricated flap over the Defense Committee seat will be only the first of many, many, many Drudge-fueled scandals that amount to less than nothing once the smoke grenades have run out of fuel. I guess one could ask whether the clenis years taught the major news outlets anything about playing the sap, if one wanted to get a reputation for not paying attention. In reality the stupidity hasn’t even warmed up yet.

Postscript: Those scandals which don’t amount to nothing, e.g. which have some meat on their bones, will and should be taken seriously. For example William Jefferson, who bloggers across the lib spectrum are working their ass off to unseat. But count on acres and acres of flak for every one that matters.


In other news the pace has picked up here in the salt mines of my academic research lab, which will probably cut into my time to troll the internet for good material and blog it. In the meantime I recommend giving John the usual hard time as well as Steve Benen’s excellent work at the Carpetbagger Report. More than anyone else I usually check there before fleshing out a post because odds are that Steve already has it up. Thus my posts tend to have a lot of Carpetbagger links. I don’t know to what degree his commenters have caught on to our trademarked brand of spoofing (something in the water around here?) but try not to drive them too crazy.

Open Thread

Tell me what I am missing.