|By: SJGulitti Friday June 7, 2013 11:00 am|
As we navigate our way through this season of political scandal there are questions which have begun to arise, surrounding events in Benghazi, as to motives, both on the part of the supposed architects of failure and those likewise ascribed to their accusers. The Benghazi affair is both fraught with conflicting stories and muddled facts as to what happened and why and what role, if any, was played directly by President Obama and his immediate lieutenants. Beyond discerning what the president actually knew and when he knew it there are numerous questions as to what are the real motives of those on the right who are leading the charge to get to the bottom of it all.
Looking back to this past February, Senator John McCain, appearing on Meet the Press demanded: “Shouldn’t these people [the Administration] be held accountable for the deaths of four brave Americans? We need answers.” More recently Congressman Darrell Issa, Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, appearing on that same program, made his case for going after whomever it is determined to be responsible. Issa has publicly alleged that the CIA has been manipulated to get the truth that the administration wanted and that the American people had been lied to. That lying, deception, false statements and cover up are all actions of this administration that are legitimately within the scope of Congressional oversight. Issa has demanded to know what the State Department had failed to do to protect American lives. And lastly he, along with the rest of the American public, has lamented the needless loss of four brave Americans.
The maelstrom that Benghazi has become is now easily seen as a politicized contest between the G.O.P. and the Obama administration in their respective efforts to shape a message to the American public. That message, to paraphrase BBC Washington correspondent Katty Kay, is one in which the American people are now completely either missing the point or can’t discern what constitutes a clear picture of what actually happened and why. Are we engaged in a political witch-hunt to bring down the Obama administration or are Republicans engaged in a legitimate inquiry so as to preclude future Benghazi’s or is it both? Is this really about establishing ineptitude on the part of former Secretary of State Clinton or a rightwing ploy to torpedo her chances in 2016? After all Rand Paul, a potential contender for the presidency, has gone on the record as saying, before guilt has been unequivocally established, that Hillary Clinton is unqualified for the presidency. Former Vice president Dick Cheney has publicly asserted that the Obama White House is engaged in a cover up, David Brooks of the New York Times has disputed that, saying that the CIA is trying to shift blame to the State Department. White House sources have alleged that Republicans have altered e-mails so as to create “support” for their position. In the froth and foam of all of these charges and countercharges some on the far right, as in the IRS scandal, have clamored for Obama’s impeachment while other voices within and from outside of the G.O.P. have cautioned restraint until all of the facts are known. The House Republican leadership has asked that Congressman Issa to cease and desist with his personal attacks.
If it is truly the goal of Issa and his allies to rectify, for all time, the shortcomings that led to the Benghazi, tragedy then I say he deserves our support and if it leads to the impeachment of the President Obama and / or the end of Hillary Clinton’s political career so be it. But if Issa’s efforts are just the latest iteration of “gotcha” politics or just another attempt at partisan attack for its own sake then it is almost certainly guaranteed to yield little in the way of benefit to either the American people or the Republican Party. For you see the issues that surround the tragedy in Libya are far from unique to the Obama Administration. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. Political columnist Bob Cesca in his article “13 Benghazis That Occurred on Bush’s Watch without a Peep from Fox News” detailed numerous attacks on American interests which took place during the Bush administration and which received little if any attention from those now clamoring for accountability in the Benghazi incident. Likewise in his interview with Congressman Issa, David Gregory, moderator of Meet the Press, pointed out a litany of past attacks on U.S. interests abroad and asked why Issa wasn’t interested in establishing responsibility for those attacks as well only to have Issa ignore past history in his focus on the present.
The central and most important question to be raised here is whether or not Congressman Issa and his political allies will seize this opportunity to examine all of the recent failures in protecting American interests abroad so as to establish a sound and effective policy for protecting those interests going forward, or will they succumb to the politically attractive alternative of short term political gain that might be had from tying up the Obama administration in endless rounds of hearings over scandals real or imagined? Conceivably and legitimately, this line of inquiry could extend to an analysis of the run up to and the conduct of the War in Iraq as well which contained elements of manipulated intelligence, lying, deception, false statements and cover up of the ineptitude of the Bush administration’s lack of a game plan to manage Iraq after the end of hostilities. After all couldn’t it be said that hundreds of Americans died needlessly there as well?
I’m not a big believer in “multitasking” so I say let Issa and his consort make a thorough examination of Benghazi and let the political chips fall where they may. But after that let Issa and his associates go through the list of other past security failures as outlined by Bob Cesca and as suggested by David Gregory so that they can prove to the American people that their motives aren’t purely, or even largely, political. Anything less than that would leave the American people with only one plausible conclusion and that is that Issa and the Republicans had only one goal in mind when they launched the Benghazi hearings and that was the pure politics of a continual campaign of obstructing the Obama Administration through whatever means were handy at the time.
Steven J. Gulitti
7 June 2013
John McCain: Meet the Press – February 17, 2013: http://presspass.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/02/17/16992343-meet-the-press-mcdonough-mccain-mark-kelly-roundtable-february-17-2013?lite
Darrell Issa: Meet the Press – May 12, 2013; http://www.nbcnews.com/id/51857413/ns/meet_the_press-transcripts/t/may-darrell-issa-dianne-feinstein-thomas-pickering-adam-kinzinger-david-brooks-katty-kay-wes-moore/
New Benghazi probe evidence puts spotlight back on Clinton; http://thehill.com/blogs/global-affairs/middle-east-north-africa/298395-new-evidence-in-benghazi-probe-puts-the-spotlight-back-on-clinton
Serious Investigations, or Partisan Ploys?; http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2013/05/08/are-congressional-hearings-serious-investigations-or-just-party-politics
Boehner calls for release of Benghazi emails as pressure grows on administration; http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/05/09/issa-seeks-more-whistle-blowers-after-dramatic-benghazi-hearing/
13 Benghazis That Occurred on Bush’s Watch without a Peep from Fox News; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bob-cesca/13-benghazis-that-occurre_b_3246847.html
Benghazi emails put pressure on White House; http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/10/us-usa-benghazi-idUSBRE9490VD20130510
Rand Paul: Hillary Clinton does not deserve higher office due to Benghazi; http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/299165-paul-hillary-clinton-does-not-deserve-higher-office-due-to-benghazi
Benghazi: A Desperate GOP Attack; http://www.realclearpolitics.com/2013/05/14/benghazi_a_desperate_gop_attack_307696.html
Cheney: White House ‘lied’ to hide Benghazi ‘incompetence’; http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/299587-cheney-white-house-lied-to-hide-benghazi-incompetence
White House: GOP fabricated leaked Benghazi email; http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/299645-white-house-gop-fabricated-benghazi-email
State fretted over Benghazi talking points; http://www.politico.com/story/2013/05/benghazi-talking-points-91458.html
White House releases Benghazi emails; http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/300039-white-house-releases-benghazi-emails
White House: Benghazi emails have different quotes than earlier reported; http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18563_162-57584947/wh-benghazi-emails-have-different-quotes-than-earlier-reported/
Redacted truth, subjunctive outrage; http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-05-16/opinions/39311695_1_benghazi-libya-susan-rice
Benghazi witness points finger at Clinton on lapses in consulate security; http://thehill.com/blogs/global-affairs/middle-east-north-africa/300879-benghazi-witness-points-finger-at-clinton-on-lapses-in-security#ixzz2TvmyPa2J
Petraeus’s role in drafting Benghazi talking points raises questions; http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-05-21/politics/39420257_1_petraeus-benghazi-attack-house-permanent-select-committee
Rep. Chaffetz: Administration covering up on Benghazi terror attack; http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/301983-chaffetz-administration-covering-up-on-benghazi#ixzz2UPOSm7Bg
Benghazi Depositions To Examine Hillary Clinton’s Role In Response To Attacks; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/13/benghazi-depositions_n_3265354.html?utm_source=DailyBrief&utm_campaign=051313&utm_medium=email&utm_content=FeatureTitle&utm_term=Daily%20Brief
Defense bill presses Pentagon on lessons learned from Benghazi failures; http://thehill.com/blogs/global-affairs/terrorism/303161-defense-bill-presses-pentagon-on-lessons-learned-from-benghazi-failures
House Republicans grill Benghazi auditor on blame for security lapses; http://thehill.com/blogs/global-affairs/terrorism/303385-republicans-get-their-chance-to-grill-benghazi-auditor-on-whos-to-blame-for-security-lapses
GOP to Darrell Issa: Cool it; http://www.politico.com/story/2013/06/gop-darrell-issa-cool-it-92306.html
|By: SJGulitti Friday May 31, 2013 1:05 pm|
Amid all of the sound and fury bubbling up from the IRS examination of the various conservative organizations there’s hope among the Tea Party faithful that this controversy will somehow breathe new life into their movement. But will it be enough to reinvigorate a movement considered to be in disarray, if not politically stalled? Yes the vast majority of Americans holds the IRS in low esteem and is troubled by the revelations that the agency has, if nothing else, tangled rightwing organizations in excessive red tape, even if it hasn’t moved to cripple them altogether. However, as Sam Tanenhaus of the New York Times pointed out, this isn’t the first time that an administration has used the IRS against the opposition, even though, to date, there’s no evidence that President Obama ordered any such action.
While the wild eyed voices on Capitol Hill have been bellowing for the impeachment of the president, the more level headed among them, and among conservative political pundits, have counseled caution least the Tea Party claque in Congress overplay its hand with negative consequences for 2014. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in a meticulously detailed piece outlines the vast differences between Watergate and the current IRS controversy. It is an analysis that undermines the very argument being made by the far right for the impeachment of President Obama: “Those who bother to read these historical snippets will find many important departures and only tenuous parallels between the Obama Administration’s IRS affair and Richard Nixon’s Watergate-era IRS scandal. A principal distinction is the ingredient of direct presidential involvement. President Nixon was the fulcrum, the visionary and the principal conspirator in his various capers to use the IRS as a political weapon. Nixon personally directed and persistently harangued his staff to audit, investigate and gather dirt on his enemies for personal purposes. Nixon went to reckless extremes even punishing IRS agents who refused to participate in his vendetta. A mean-spirited viciousness and his contagious enthusiasm for law breaking were also distinctive Nixon bailiwicks. In contrast, there is no evidence that Obama even knew of the IRS investigations which were presided over by Donald Shulman, a Bush appointee. The most recent evidence indicate that the Tea Party audits resulted not from intentional political targeting of conservatives from the sheer preponderous of Tea Party applications among the hundreds of 501(c)(4) tax exemption requests that deluged a tiny understaffed IRS field office.”
But while it’s important to note the fact that, to date, the current scandal doesn’t even come close to approximating the severity of Watergate as an assault on the Constitution, there is evidence that Tea Party organizations have pushed the limits of what was politically legitimate. That in turn has increased the attention given these groups by the IRS, which isn’t necessarily unwarranted or beyond the pale of legitimate agency operations. In the article “Groups Targeted by I.R.S. Tested Rules on Politics”, referenced below, two political reporters, Nicholas Confessore and Michael Luo, detail the many activities undertaken by conservative organizations over the past few years that have given rise to legitimate questions on the part of IRS agents who have conducted these examinations. Have those agents been overzealous, perhaps, but at the same time those agents wouldn’t be looking into these groups if they didn’t have a reason to believe that somehow these organizations hadn’t run afoul of the law. The IRS simply doesn’t have the luxury of excess manpower with which to carry out such a political wild goose chase no matter who might have requested such a thing. Likewise the claim by conservative columnist Peggy Noonan, a tireless critic of Barack Obama, that conservatives generally have been singled out for IRS harassment has been debunked prima facie as well by Nate Silver, as referenced below.
With all of the above being understood, what affect, if any, has the IRS scandal had, to date, on the public perception of the Tea Party movement as a whole? Is there any reason thus far to believe that this controversy is breathing new life into the Tea Party? Presently the answer is emphatically no. Jon Cohen and Dan Balz of the Washington Post, analyzing the results of the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll concluded the following: “The IRS scandal has brought the tea party back into the spotlight, but it has done little to change the public’s impressions of the political movement. In the poll, 40 percent of all Americans say they support the tea party movement and 43 percent oppose it, numbers stable back to last year. A record high of 17 percent express no opinion on the question. About 73 percent of conservative Republicans say they support the movement, but that’s the lowest percentage to say so in polls going back more than two years.” Moreover, when you go inside the results of this poll 74 percent of the respondents saw the IRS actions as inappropriate and 56 percent of respondents see this activity as deliberate harassment; 54 percent see the Federal Government as threatening the individual rights of the average citizen.
One would think that for all of the public discomfort being generated by the actions of the IRS that the American people would see anew some value in the Tea Party and its ideas. Ironically that has proven not to be the case. Likewise you would think that these same Americans would now be looking to throw Obama, the far right’s new Nixon, under the bus but that hasn’t happened either. Obama’s poll numbers have actually edged up since this controversy began. In fact if you examine the bulk of the data compiled by PollingReport.com, referenced below, the Tea Party movement has seen, in net terms, its popularity and acceptance decline overall since 2010 and it is, thus far, in no way positively affected by the current spate of scandal and revelation.
One would ask why, with all the unpopularity surrounding the IRS and big government generally and with all of the sensational media coverage and the mainstream media’s new found interest in challenging the Obama administration, why is it that the Tea Party seems to be getting little if any traction from all of this? I think that to for many informed observers the answers are self-evident if not outright obvious. For one thing, even though Americans are wary of “too much government” they have little stomach for deliberate government gridlock and when it comes to gridlock they see the Tea Party movement is the chief culprit in affecting the dysfunctional state of affairs that has come to characterize Washington D.C. generally and Capitol Hill in particular. Gridlock aside, the Tea Party’s penchant for economic austerity works to the movement’s disadvantage as this economic policy has come to be seen as a failure, even among serious conservative thinkers in organizations like the American Enterprise Institute. Finally, the movement is now beset by scandal as well, its onetime Congressional standard bearer Michelle Bachmann has decided not to run for reelection with a scandal of her own as a backdrop.
The essence of American democracy has always been compromise and it has been at those junctures in American history where the practice of compromise broke down that our democracy has been seen to fall short, sometimes with disastrous results, the Civil War being the most obvious example. In the current era it has been the Tea Party movement that has epitomized the belief put forth by Henry Clay, the Great Compromiser of pre-Civil war fame, who famously stated, “If you can’t compromise you can’t govern.” Today the American people know that there is little in the way of real political progress being made in Washington D.C. They see the Republican Party and the Tea Party specifically as the reason why. Furthermore, after three plus years on the American political scene, serious Tea Party missteps at the level of Republican Presidential politics and in Senate races have cast Tea Party politics and politicians in a less than flattering light. All one need do is think back over the clown fest that was the 2012 Republican primaries or some of the absurdities surrounding Tea Party backed candidates for the U.S. Senate during the last two election cycles and it’s not hard to see why, even in the wake of the current scandals and with issues that play right into the anti-government creed, that the Tea Party could still fail to benefit from this current state of affairs.
Scandals have rocked Washington before and they will rock it again. That said there’s another reason that the current round of scandal may fail to reinvigorate the Tea Party movement. The reason for this is that voters have had over three years to get to know the movement and there seems to be little coming out of it that those who don’t already support it find compelling. In fact if you go back inside the data in PollingReport.com you find that the numbers prove that those respondents who claim they don’t know enough about the Tea Party have been halved since data collection began in 2010, sometimes falling to single digits. It could be that even though the average American is disgusted with the state of American politics, those same Americans may see the Tea Party movement as part of the reason for that disgust and therefore the movement isn’t seen as part of the solution. After all one of the chief complaints about Washington today is gridlock, a word synonymous with the Tea Party and that’s not a good thing.
If the aforementioned is in fact the case, and I for one strongly believe it is, then there is little in the way of hope to be had from all of this that will ultimately bode well for the Tea Party. Yes voters can punish the Obama and the Democrats in 2014 at the ballot box, but that doesn’t mean that they’ve finally and firmly embraced the ideas of the Tea Party and the far right. We can see a replay of the 2010 elections which I believe to have been nothing more than a protest against the perceived excess of the first Obama administration rather than a rejection of progressive ideas. For if in fact the 2010 elections had been a rejection of the essence of the first Obama administration there would have never been a second one and as we all know it was Barack Obama and not a champion of the far right who was elected in November of 2012. In other words, as far as the fortunes of the Tea Party movement are concerned, the more things change the more they seem to stay the same.
Steven J. Gulitti
30 May 2013
IRS targeting scandal a political ‘gift from heaven’ for Tea Party groups; http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/299765-irs-scandal-a-political-gift-from-heaven-for-tea-party
Tea Party Looks to Gain Momentum in IRS Scandal Aftermath; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/19/tea-party-irs_n_3302392.html?ref=topbar
Sam Tanenhaus: The Government’s Worst Face; http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/19/sunday-review/the-governments-worst-face.html?pagewanted=all
Confusion and Staff Troubles Rife at I.R.S. Office in Ohio; http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/19/us/politics/at-irs-unprepared-office-seemed-unclear-about-the-rules.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=0
IRS Scandal Letters: Other Offices Sent Requests To Target Tea Party Groups, NBC News Reports; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/28/irs-scandal-letters_n_3349174.html?utm_hp_ref=daily-brief?
Trio of Scandals Puts Obama, Holder in Hot Seat; http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2013/05/republicans-media-bare-down-on-administration-facing-two-scandals.html
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.: Obama and Nixon: A Historical Perspective; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-f-kennedy-jr/obama-nixon-watergate_b_3305611.html?utm_hp_ref=daily-brief?
Groups Targeted by I.R.S. Tested Rules on Politics; http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/27/us/politics/nonprofit-applicants-chafing-at-irs-tested-political-limits.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
Nate Silver: New Audit Allegations Show Flawed Statistical Thinking; http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/17/new-audit-allegations-show-flawed-statistical-thinking/?ref=politics
PollingReport.com: The Tea Party; http://www.pollingreport.com/politics.htm
Obama’s rating steady in face of controversies, likely buoyed by rising economic hopes; http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-05-21/politics/39402441_1_benghazi-attack-president-obama-irs-action
Obama, politics, IRS and Benghazi; http://www.washingtonpost.com/page/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2013/05/21/National-Politics/Polling/release_237.xml
Obama’s poll numbers hold up despite the storm of scandal; http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/302451-obamas-poll-numbers-hold-up-despite-the-storm-of-scandal
|By: SJGulitti Friday May 31, 2013 11:31 am|
I could only laugh when I heard the would be first lady publicly declare that there was a serious breach of trust between the White House and the American people. Did Ms. Romney ever stop to think about the fact there was never a bond of trust to begin with between those same Americans and her husband when he unsuccessfully ran for president?
How could anyone who has just endured the wear and tear of a presidential contest make such a naive statement, unless of course she herself is just so out of touch with the American people she’s addressing as to not see the forest for the trees.
Source: Ann Romney: Public feels ‘breach of trust’ amid White House controversies: http://thehill.com/video/in-the-news/302489-ann-romney-americans-feel-breach-of-trust-after-wh-scandals#ixzz2UtYPaj3L
|By: SJGulitti Monday February 25, 2013 10:02 am|
No American with a basic understanding of this country’s military history could not have been anything but taken aback by William Kristol’s intellectually dishonest criticism of this statement in President Obama’s second inaugural speech: “But we are also heirs to those who won the peace and not just the war, who turned sworn enemies into the surest of friends, and we must carry those lessons into this time as well.” Kristol, the public face of the Neoconservatives, who like most of his likeminded peers, is lacking in military experience, regularly advocates a muscular use of American military power abroad. Thus few would be surprised that he might construct his own historically inaccurate critique of the president’s remarks: “Two points: First, our forebears were only able to “win the peace” because they first crushed our enemies in war. But under President Obama we’re not committed to winning our wars. We’re committed to ending them. Does Obama really think we’re going to win the peace after not winning the war? Second, think about the formulation-”and not just.” Surely President Obama should have said this: “we are also heirs to those who won the peace as well as the war…” But he didn’t say that. The formulation Obama chose-”and not just the war”-suggests that Obama believes that it’s no big deal to win a war, and the greater achievement is winning the peace. With respect to World War II, this view is ludicrous. With respect to today’s world, this view is dangerous.”
First and foremost the very notion that our forbearers regularly “crushed our enemies in war” doesn’t correspond too closely with accepted history. The truth is that the majority of wars fought by America were settled with negotiated peace treaties that left our defeated enemies more or less intact as nation states. In the American Revolution, where victory was anything but certain, it was the introduction of French forces, especially naval, combined with significant material aid from Britain’s European adversaries that turned the tide in favor of the American cause and which led to the British surrender at Yorktown. Moreover, it was a vote taken in the House of Commons in April 1782 that provided the impetus to finally end the politically unpopular war in the colonies rather than any crushing defeat of British military forces in North America. Even in defeat, Britain with the rest of its empire intact could hardly be seen as having been crushed. Following the American Revolution two wars with the piratical Barbary States in North Africa were ultimately settled through negotiation. The final military measures which lead to the long term demise of pirate activity in North Africa was a function of British, not American, naval action. The Quasi-Naval War with France from 1798 to 1800 ended in a negotiated settlement which left Napoleon Bonaparte anything but “crushed.” The War of 1812 devolved into a stalemate where Washington D.C. was burned, American invasions of Canada failed and the new American Navy won impressive victories at sea and on the Great Lakes. The negotiated settlement that ended the War of 1812 happened to fall between two important military victories for the British. In 1805 Horatio Nelson defeated the French and Spanish navies at Trafalgar thereby assuring British naval supremacy and in 1815 Wellington would defeat Napoleon at Waterloo thereby eliminating Britain’s chief land rival in Europe. Again with Britain militarily ascendant and its empire intact, no one but a fool would claim that the Americans had “crushed” the British.
The War with Mexico comes closer to Kristol’s idea of America crushing an enemy but even then we forgave or alleviated the defeated Mexican government’s $30 Million dollars in owed reparations. In the American Civil War Union forces definitely crushed the small government states’ rights advocates of the Confederacy and in all of the Indian Wars that preceded it and took place thereafter the American Army certainly crushed the Native Americans in ways that many of us would find questionable today. In the Spanish-American War we defeated obsolete Spanish naval squadrons in the Caribbean and in the Pacific but our ultimate victories in Cuba and the Philippines were greatly aided by long running and deep seated indigenous insurgencies in both theaters and which saw Filipino’s not Americans doing almost all of the fighting ashore. While Spain lost its feeble grip on its overseas possessions Spain itself was never invaded nor was its more modern home fleet ever challenged at sea. Again, based on history, it’s hard to see the negotiated outcome of the Spanish-American Wars as one in which the enemy was crushed.
In World War I the entrance of the United States into the conflict finally tipped the balance in the favor of the Allies but Germany’s war machine had run up against so many failures to break through the stalemate on the Western Front that continuing was no longer tenable. Beset by internal dissent at home and a breakdown in trust between the Army and the ruling autocrats an armistice was sought. Germany itself was never invaded and German arms had put Czarist Russia out of the war, thrown back the Italians on their southern flank, defeated the Romanians and with the Turks, stymied the British and French in Asia Minor. With the British and French forces doing most of the fighting and dying it is again, hard to conceive of the Germans having been essentially “crushed” by America alone. Kristol’s image of America crushing its enemies certainly obtains a high degree of historical accuracy when analyzing World War II in the Pacific, particularly if you downplay British Commonwealth operations in Burma and the war in China. America along with Britain and Russia certainly crushed Nazi Germany and beat the Italians into submission in Europe. But while British and American bombers pulverized Germany from the air and their navies chased the Germans from the sea, one can’t ignore the fact that 80% of all of the German soldiers who perished in WWII were killed by a Russian. That said it would be intellectually as well as historically dishonest to claim that America alone or even largely crushed the European Fascists. In the immediate postwar period, the Korean War ended in a stalemate, settled in negotiated armistice. Despite the fact that every major city, village and town in North Korea was heavily bombed, one could hardly say the Communist regime in North Korea had been crushed, certainly not when they’re toying with nuclear weapons today as I write this post. The only parties crushed in the Vietnam War were our allies the South Vietnamese and the Cambodians. George H. W. Bush showed definite restraint in refraining from invading Iraq after dislodging Saddam Hussein’s forces from Kuwait even though we decisively won the First Gulf War. While we seriously degraded Saddam Hussein’s forces in 1991 we didn’t crush his Baathist regime until the Second Gulf War. In Afghanistan we routed the Taliban out of the country and into Pakistan ten years ago on George W. Bush’s watch but based on the continued threat posed by them one could not contend that they’ve been crushed. Retiring theater commander General John Allen has recently said that the Pakistan based Taliban remains the single most significant operational threat facing American forces and the long term stability of Afghanistan.
Likewise Kristol is historically far afield when he tries to portray Obama as being uniquely “not committed to winning our wars.” Dwight D. Eisenhower, a national war hero, traveled to the Korea just weeks before his inauguration, determined the war unwinnable and then came home to set in motion the military and diplomatic actions that would lead to an armistice. That settlement would leave a badly battered Communist regime in power in the north. Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger telegraphed to the diplomatic community at the time that they had no intention of trying to win the war in Vietnam when they said that their goal was to affect “a decent interval” within which military operations could be turned over to the government of South Vietnam. The ultimate political goal, citing Stanley Karnow, author of “Vietnam: A History” was to create enough space for America to disengage from the conflict leaving its ally in Saigon to fend for itself thereby absorbing alone any defeat that might follow. George Veith in a more recent book on the fall of South Vietnam titled “Black April” detailed the many factors that contributed to the fall of the Saigon government. Among those factors was Nixon’s failure to honor the pledge to intervene with massive air and naval support and how the drastic reduction in material aid would result in southern forces losing air mobility due to a shortage of spare parts and fuel. In 1983 Ronald Reagan was quick to pull American Marines out of Lebanon after their barracks were bombed and showed little interest in trying to forge a victory in that country choosing instead to cut his losses and change direction.
Kristol’s notion that it was only by crushing our adversaries that we were able to “win the peace’ is also to be seen to be anything but accurate in historical hindsight. While we had little to worry about from Mexico after 1848 the westward expansion resulting from our victory only served to fuel the slavery / states’ rights controversy that would eventually boil over into the American Civil War. The Federal victory over the Confederacy far from eliminated problems of race and discrimination in the southern states. The crushing of Indian tribes east of the Mississippi did little to convince those to the west to surrender without a fight. Our victory over Spain in the Philippines in 1901 was followed by an insurrection against occupying American forces that didn’t end until 1913. Few would consider the peace won in 1918 to be anything but a setting of the stage for a more horrific war in 1939. One could hardly see the Iraq affair as anything but a misadventure in which no one apparently has won the peace, not unless your idea of peace comes with regular car bombings and domestic terror or one in which the power of our arch enemy in the region, Iran, has been greatly enhanced. With regard to Afghanistan the jury of history is still out but the prospects for a lasting peace there are far from bright.
Nothing in the foregoing is meant to downplay the triumphs of American arms or the sacrifice of American fighting forces from the founding of the country to the present. Nor is it meant to give short shrift to the benefits that many in this world have derived from those sacrifices and triumphs which have done so much to further the cause of democracy and freedom through the ages. Those who know American military history are well aware of those achievements and there is nothing new in the way of knowledge for them to gain in paying serious attention to William Kristol. Kristol is best viewed as a man who is forlornly pushing a much discredited Neoconservative agenda that has been seen to have largely failed. Anyone who is in search of a good overview of American military history has more than enough in the way of good scholarly research from which to choose and suffice it to say the writings of Bill Kristol wouldn’t be listed among them.
What is at issue here is either a deliberate misuse of history for the purpose of furthering a now discredited political agenda or a willingness to engage in intellectual dishonesty in a continuing campaign of perpetrating lies and falsehoods related to the actions and character of the president. This sort of behavior needs to be called out so as to prevent these ill-conceived ideas from gaining any further currency in the nation’s political discourse. It goes without saying that neither of the aforementioned motives does anything to advance the cause of freedom and the esthablishment of democracies. Kristol’s commentary can only be seen for what it ultimately is, the musings of a malcontent whose chief political accomplishment to date was to advocate for a war that is considered, thus far, to be America’s greatest foreign policy disaster. Kristol is a man who continues to be adversely obsessed with the political success of Barack Obama, unable or unwilling to see the president as anything but a political bogeyman. Kristol continues to advocate for a type of foreign policy that is unsustainable in the current fiscal and political environment. The American people, as a whole, are war weary and defense budgets are being cut back around the world with few exceptions. Of late the Neoconservatives can add yet another failure to their track record and that would be their role in the failed presidential campaign of Mitt Romney where they dominated his foreign policy staff. As one would recall, beyond Romney’s ill-advised comments about the 47%, his trips abroad and his positions on foreign policy turned out to be among those most damaging to his prospects for electoral success. That said is it any wonder as to why Bill Kristol and the Neoconservatives continue to fade in importance on the political scene both here and abroad. Is there any reason for the informed among us to pay them any mind? I think the answer to that question is more than obvious at this point in time.
Steven J. Gulitti
February 25, 2013
|By: SJGulitti Thursday January 3, 2013 6:54 am|
At this point all I can do is laugh when I think about how some of my friends on the far right were naive as to think that sensible Republicans in Congress had failed to heed the message of the 2012 election and the current political realities borne therefrom. The latest development in the fiscal cliff drama show to what degree some on the right have regained their senses and moved back to the center, in the direction of much needed compromise. Quoting political commentator Jennifer Steinhauer: “Ending a climactic fiscal showdown in the final hours of the 112th Congress, the House late Tuesday passed and sent to President Obama legislation to avert big income tax increases on most Americans and prevent large cuts in spending for the Pentagon and other government programs. The measure, brought to the House floor less than 24 hours after its passage in the Senate, was approved 257 to 167, with 85 Republicans joining 172 Democrats in voting to allow income taxes to rise for the first time in two decades, in this case for the highest-earning Americans…The decision by Republican leaders to allow the vote came despite widespread scorn among House Republicans for the bill, passed overwhelmingly by the Senate in the early hours of New Year’s Day. They were unhappy that it did not include significant spending cuts in health and other social programs, which they say are essential to any long-term solution to the nation’s debt.” Clearly and unequivocally the resolution of the fiscal cliff represents a major defeat for Grover Norquist and his Tea Party allies as well as a significant victory for president Obama.
And what of those Republican Congressman who voted to let tax rates rise? Remember how often we’ve been told that almost every Republican in the House had signed Grover Norquist’s “No Tax Pledge.” Quoting Politico’s Alexander Burns and Maggie Habberman: “…given the lopsided Senate vote in favor of the tax-hiking measure, as well as the 85 GOP House members who voted yes, members of the GOP have violated the party’s no-new-taxes orthodoxy for the first time in two decades. It’s a significant concession in the aftermath of Mitt Romney’s November defeat and a potentially existential moment for a party that has prided itself on a defiant and dogmatic dislike of tax increases. What remains to be seen is whether that is merely a tactical retreat — bowing to the unique circumstances of the fiscal cliff — or a more meaningful cave-in on the part of Republicans who believe that their anti-tax platform has become politically unsustainable, particularly after a presidential cycle in which the party found itself caricatured as the puppets of the rich and powerful.” Perhaps it was the fact that a large majority of Republican Senators had voted for a tax hike that finally drove home the political reality to the 85 Republican Congressional legislators who decided to follow suit. Why even such staunch conservatives as Congressman Paul Ryan and Senators Patrick J. Toomey and Tom Coburn voted in favor of raising taxes. The fact that, in the face of a growing fiscal crisis, that Republicans voted to raise revenue via tax hikes, should come as no surprise as 2012 election exit polling showed 75% of the voters supported said increases, including a large minority of those who voted for Mitt Romney. Fox News contributor and prominent conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer opined: “This is a complete surrender on everything” and “a rout.” Not surprisingly, Norquist himself appeared on the cable circuit claiming to Anderson Cooper, among others, that the “deal was technically not a pledge violation”, but then what would you expect to hear from a guy who just went off of his own political cliff.
Many on the right have been seen to try to spin this defeat as a tactical maneuver that takes taxes off the table thereby enabling the G.O.P. to be more hard-nosed in dealing with the debt ceiling / spending cuts debate that we’ll be revisiting in a few months. But this too may amount to nothing but wishful thinking. Again quoting Burns and Habberman: “The president’s party, meanwhile, has no intention of easing up on a GOP they believe is in serious disarray. And while Republicans take heart from the hope that they’ll have more leverage in the next showdown, emboldened Democrats say the demand for “balanced” deficit reduction — meaning both spending cuts and new taxes — remains a challenge for their foes. Democratic pollster Geoff Garin, who advised the pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA, called the fiscal cliff deal “a band-aid on a serious wound” for Republicans. “The sane wing of the Republican Party recognized the GOP was playing a losing hand badly on taxes in a way that was deeply damaging to the Republican brand,” Garin said. “The Republicans will find themselves in a similar mess going forward if they insist on entitlement cuts while resisting new revenues from closing loopholes and tax breaks for those at the top.”
In the final analysis, when the spin and the political posturing is put aside there is one simple fact that comes through as the dust settles in the aftermath of the fiscal cliff and that is that Barack Obama has just cashed in on some major political capital and the sensible conservatives knew he had it to use and fully intended to use it. Obama ran, in part, on solving the fiscal crisis by raising taxes on the richest among us and won. America had two clear choices to pick from and they didn’t pick the conservative version. Much has been made of the fact that the G.O.P. had held onto the House but they only did so as a result of redistricting. In terms of absolute votes cast for those running for Congress, across the nation as a whole, “Democratic candidates for Congress won 1.1 million more votes than Republicans, according to a tally of the popular vote kept by David Wasserman, the House editor of The Cook Political Report.” The Republican leadership in Congress knows that winning as a result of map making means a lot less politically than does winning by popular appeal and presently the G.O.P. ranks near the low end of its historic popularity. More importantly, the American people have demanded compromise and they indicated that they are clearly fed up with Tea Party obstruction on Capitol Hill. This had to be a motivating factor for Republicans as it is they, not Obama and the Democrats who would have been blamed for the country’s sliding back into a recession. In the end President Obama wound up giving less in the way of concessions than he would have just two weeks ago when he bargained with John Boehner in search of a deal and dramatically less than he would have back in 2011 when he and the Speaker were on the verge of a “Grand Bargain.” Such is the measure of the political shift that has taken place since the Tea Party victories in 2010 and Obama’s re-election this past November.
Steven J. Gulitti
Jennifer Steinhauer: “Divided House Passes Tax Deal in End to Latest Fiscal Standoff”; http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/02/us/politics/house-takes-on-fiscal-cliff.html?pagewanted=2&_r=0&ref=todayspaper
“John Boehner, Eric Cantor Split On Fiscal Cliff Deal”; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/02/john-boehner-eric-cantor_n_2395593.html?utm_source=DailyBrief&utm_campaign=010213&utm_medium=email&utm_content=FeatureTitle&utm_term=Daily%20Brief
Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei: “BEHIND THE CURTAIN — Why the GOP caved: The politics are horrible on the backside of the cliff”; http://www.politico.com/playbook/
“Tea party backers swallow a bitter pill in ‘cliff’ bill”; http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/cliff-bill-is-a-bitter-pill-for-houses-tea-party-adherents-to-swallow/2013/01/01/5345286e-544d-11e2-8e84-e933f677fe68_story.html
“GOP anti-tax policy goes over the cliff”; http://www.politico.com/story/2013/01/gop-anti-tax-policy-goes-over-the-cliff-85657.html
Charles Krauthammer: “Cliff deal a ‘rout”; http://www.politico.com/story/2013/01/krauthammer-cliff-deal-surrender-85656.html?ml=po_r
“Why President Obama, Mitch McConnell took the deal”; http://www.politico.com/story/2013/01/why-mcconnell-obama-took-the-deal-85655.html#ixzz2Gr6BLtPZ
“Obama hails tax bill, warns GOP not to pick fight on debt ceiling”; http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/275123-obama-hail-cliff-deal-but-warns-gop-on-debt-ceiling
“How Maps Helped Republicans Keep an Edge in the House”; http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/15/us/po
|By: SJGulitti Saturday December 1, 2012 1:57 pm|
Two weeks ago I penned a short piece titled “Grover Norquist Collateral Casualty of 2012?” where I broached the question of whether or not Norquist would become a casualty as a result of the coming fiscal cliff negotiations and where I said, “…look for Grover Norquist to politically take a major hit in the resolution of the fiscal cliff crisis.” The way things are playing out I think that we can pretty much assume that Norquist is already taking on water and his support and influence seems to be fading with each passing day. Let’s review a few recent developments, staring with this:”Grover Norquist: Washington Enemy No. 1 :The man who enforces the no-new-taxes pledge is under fire like never before. Why he still expects Republicans will hold the line”; To wit: “Republicans are facing an avalanche of pressure from the White House, the media and even many on Wall Street to abandon their antitax principles to avoid a “fiscal cliff…The pressure on Republicans to repudiate this oath has never been as intense as it is now. Mr. Obama is claiming a voter mandate to raise taxes, while the media and liberals are declaring that the days of “Norquistism,” as they derisively call it, are over. A New York Times story this week claimed that more Republicans are ready to violate the pledge. After the 2011 debt-ceiling debacle, the election losses and the prospect of getting blamed for going over the fiscal cliff, the conventional wisdom is that the GOP has no choice but to fold…I remind Mr. Norquist that the election exit polls show that voters, for the first time in two decades, favor higher taxes on the rich.”
In the Senate, several prominent Republicans have already broken ranks with Norquist publicly, Lindsey Graham (R-SC): “When you’re $16 trillion in debt, the only pledge we should be making to each other is to avoid becoming Greece, and Republicans — Republicans should put revenue on the table…We’re this far in debt. We don’t generate enough revenue. Capping deductions will help generate revenue. Raising tax rates will hurt job creation…So I agree with Grover, we shouldn’t raise rates. But, I think Grover is wrong when it comes to [saying] we can’t cap deductions and buy down debt…I want to buy down debt and cut rates to create jobs, but I will violate the pledge, long story short, for the good of the country, only if Democrats will do entitlement reform.” Tom Coburn (R-OK): “I’m all for the very wealthy paying more taxes…Senate Republicans — and many House Republicans — have repeatedly rejected Mr. Norquist’s strict interpretation of his own pledge, a reading that requires them to defend every loophole and spending program hidden in the tax code…As a result, rather than forcing Republicans to bow to him, Mr. Norquist is the one who is increasingly isolated politically.” John McCain (R-AZ) said Sunday, “that he would support limiting deductions.” Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) who said last week that “the pledge is outdated and unhelpful for reducing the national debt…I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge.” Bob Corker (R-TN): “I’m not obligated on the pledge…I made Tennesseans aware, I was just elected, the only thing I’m honoring is the oath I take when I serve, when I’m sworn in this January.” The senior Republican Senator from Tennessee, Lamar Alexander said that the only oath he’s taken is his oath of office.” Regarding taxes Alexander said’ “I think Republicans have done plenty of talking about revenues on the table…We’re ready. It’s time for the president to step up.”
Of even greater significance is the fact that the defections have now moved beyond the Senate, where Republicans are in the minority, to the Republican controlled House of Representatives. Even fiscal hawk Eric Cantor (R-VA) has publicly distanced himself from Norquist, “When I go to the constituents that have reelected me, it is not about that pledge…It really is about trying to solve problems.” While Cantor, like Graham isn’t a fan of raising the tax rates he is unequivocally in favor of increasing revenues and he doesn’t necessarily tie that to matching adjustments in deductions as required by the Norquist pledge. Peter King (R-NY) said, “everything should be on the table in negotiations to avert the “fiscal cliff.” Jeff Flake (R-AZ): “The only pledge I’d sign is a pledge to sign no more pledges…We’ve got to ensure that we go back and represent our constituents in a way — I believe in limited government, economic freedom, individual responsibility. I don’t want higher taxes. But no more pledges.” Quoting the political magazine “The Hill” on the comments of Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK): “Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a respected party strategist and former chairman of the National Republican Campaign Committee, became the most prominent House Republican to suggest that the GOP do what has long been unthinkable within the party: lock in the George W. Bush-era tax rates for annual incomes up to $250,000 without simultaneously extending them for top earners.” Diane White (R-TN): “I answer to my constituents, not to a pledge.”
|By: SJGulitti Monday November 12, 2012 9:34 am|
In light of the election post mortems taking place among conservatives, perhaps no one is more delusional, with the exception of Karl Rove, than Grover Norquist. Norquist, a high priest of limited government, is having nothing to do with the reality borne of Mitt Romney’s defeat. Rather than to see in that defeat the rejection of four years of anti-government attacks and ideas, Norquist would have us believe that Tuesday night’s results have simply “confirmed the status quo of the 2010 election.” That’s an odd way of thinking about the election when one considers the fact that the entire contest was framed as a choice between two different paths for America and that roughly 60 percent of Americans agreed with president Obama’s views on taxes. If you read the National Review piece, written by Jim Geraghty the morning after, you would more likely believe that the Republican victory of 2010 was the anomaly and as such hardly represents the status quo. If Norquist’s political and economic arguments had taken hold, as many on the right believe they had, then Romney and the Republicans would have won by a landslide. Hence the notion that what we have here is a “confirmation” of the recent past is nothing more than a salve for bruised and disconsolate conservative egos. That said, while we may all be focused with laser like attention on the upcoming fiscal cliff, I fully expect to see Grover Norquist among the collateral casualties littering the political landscape in the aftermath of 2012.
Grover Norquist is famous for the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” which obligates its signatories to “oppose increases in marginal income tax rates for individuals and businesses, as well as net reductions or eliminations of deductions and credits without a matching reduced tax rate.” In the abstract the pledge might seem a sound and reasonable approach to taxation, in reality it has little utility in the current economic and political environment and therein lays a fundamental problem for Norquist. In light of the looming fiscal cliff, with its necessity of raising revenues, coming as it has in the wake of Barack Obama’s victory, the likelihood that Norquist’s ideas will be adhered to are remote at best. Added to that reality is the fact that Americans want their entitlements to remain essentially intact while business leaders are now open to increasing revenues through tax reform. It is of particular significance that responsible business leaders see a need for increased revenues as they should normally be Norquist’s natural allies. To wit: “On Thursday morning, more than 80 executives of leading American corporations signed a statement calling for a deficit reduction compromise that would “include comprehensive and pro-growth tax reform, which broadens the base, lowers rates, raises revenues and reduces the deficit.” Several members of the group, which includes highly paid chief executives of financial and industrial corporations who will stand to pay more if President Obama succeeds in his effort to raise taxes on the wealthy, then helped ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange to draw attention to their coalition, Fix the Debt… But the business leaders’ position also contradicts the stand of Mitt Romney and other Republicans, who say that all tax increases are “job killers,” that the federal budget can be balanced with spending cuts alone and that any overhaul of the tax code should be “revenue neutral,” neither raising nor lowering the government’s total tax collection. “To say that you can solve this without increases in taxes is ludicrous,” said David M. Cote, the chief executive of Honeywell, a Republican and a member of Mr. Obama’s Bowles-Simpson fiscal commission in 2010. “Most wealthy people get it.” The underlying change in tone is clearly evident when even a stalwart critic of the Obama administration, the NeoCon Bill Kristol noted on Fox News “It won’t kill the country if we raise taxes a little bit on millionaires.”
In what can only be seen as a further weakening of Norquist’s anti-tax appeal is the fact that many of the Republican members of Congress who originally signed the pledge have by now distanced themselves from it. Those who have not have suffered politically: “While not all races have been called, at least 55 Republican House incumbents or candidates who signed the pledge — and 24 Republican Senators or hopefuls — lost on Tuesday. Linda McMahon (R-CT), Senator Scott Brown (R-MA), Treasurer Josh Mandel (R-OH), Secretary of State Charles Summers (R-ME), former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R-WI) all signed the pledge and were attacked by their Democrats opponents in face-to-face debates over the issue. All five were defeated in their Senate bids. State Sen. Tony Strickland (R-CA), Rep. Bob Dold (R-IL), State Sen. Richard Tisei (R-MA), and Rep. Frank Guita (R-NH) were also attacked by their House race opponents in debates for signing the pledge in this campaign or in the past. All four were also defeated. In fact, of the fifteen-plus House Republican incumbents who apparently lost re-election, every single one had signed Norquist’s pledge.” In another indication of the changing mood on taxes, a senior aide to one House Republican leader said, off the record, “The president won, and the tax cuts are ending, whether we like it or not. So we have to figure out how to deal with it.” Beyond this weakening in the commitment to the no tax pledge among individual members of Congress there is a renewed interest in the “Grand Bargain” on the part of the bipartisan “Gang of Eight”. These senators, who in the summer of 2011 had crafted a deficit compromise that was a combination of revenue increases and spending cuts, are already meeting to discuss the way forward. When considering the work of the “Gang of Eight” the operative word is compromise, something that the American people have overwhelmingly endorsed and one which Norquist and his followers have opposed. In the words of Tom Friedman who wrote a compelling article as to why Obama was reelected: “The country is starved for practical, bipartisan cooperation, and it will reward politicians who deliver it and punish those who don’t.” Grover Norquist are you listening or are you content with being on the wrong side of this issue?
Speaker of the House John Boehner has already signaled his willingness to compromise on fiscal reform to the point of raising revenues by eliminating loopholes as part of overall tax reform. While he may oppose raising marginal tax rates, and it’s not certain that he will prevail, Boehner’s willingness to increase revenues overall is a direct blow to Norquist’s anti-tax pledge which eschews any idea of revenue increases unless those are offset by further corresponding reduced tax rates. That said it would also appear that the results of 2012 have strengthen Boehner’s hand in dealing with the Tea Party crowd in the House. Former Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich, detailed the setbacks suffered by the G.O.P. in this election and concluded that considering all of the Tea Party induced setbacks: “Tuesday wasn’t exactly a repudiation of the Tea Party, and the public’s rejection of Tea Party extremism on social issues doesn’t automatically translate into rejection of its doctrinaire economics. But the election may have been enough of a slap in the face to cause Tea Partiers to rethink their overall strategy of intransigence. And to give Boehner and whatever moderate voices are left in the GOP some leverage over the crazies in their midst.” Apparently a significant number of House Republicans are already coming around to Boehner’s way of thinking as is indicated a recent New York Times article, “Boehner Tells House G.O.P. to Fall in Line”, referenced below. Ironically, if not almost comically, Grover Norquist himself seems to have sobered up to the new political realities stemming from the reelection of Barack Obama. He is now on the public record as saying “I’m for additional revenue. I’m not for tax increases.” But Norquist is also banking on the hope that any increase in revenues will be offset by a corresponding reduction in overall tax rates thereby conforming to his tax pledge philosophy. If that doesn’t happen then his pledge will have seen to have been violated by House Republicans. Seeing as House Republicans has evidenced much less in the way of loyalty to the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” look for Grover Norquist to politically take a major hit in the resolution of the fiscal cliff crisis.
In the upcoming deficit reduction fight, Barack Obama presently holds most of the tactical advantages. For one, a central theme of his reelection campaign was tax fairness and it is he who won the election not the advocates of limited government. In staking out his position the president said: “I’m not wedded to every detail of my plan. I’m open to compromise. But I refuse to accept any approach that isn’t balanced…and on Tuesday night, we found out that the majority of Americans agree with my approach.” Secondly, Obama and the Democrats can force House Republicans into a compromise by using the fiscal cliff as leverage, threatening to allow higher tax rates and spending cuts to go into effect on January 1st and thereafter proposing tax cuts for the majority of Americans. Republicans will be put in the position of opposing tax relief for the bulk of the taxpayers in the event that they don’t agree to compromise with the Democrats. The last time we went to the brink of a fiscal cliff, it was the Republicans, not Obama and the Democrats who paid the price politically. This time the damage to Republicans can only be worse, particularly as the electorate demands bi-partisan compromise as noted above. Conservatives have their backs to the wall on this issue for other reasons as well. Several studies have come out and have “found no correlation between top tax rates and economic growth, a central tenet of conservative economic theory…The reduction in the top tax rates appears to be uncorrelated with saving, investment and productivity growth. The top tax rates appear to have little or no relation to the size of the economic pie. However, the top tax rate reductions appear to be associated with the increasing concentration of income at the top of the income distribution.” The gravity of such a finding and its threat to Congressional Republicans is underlined by the fact that their leadership on Capitol Hill had the report withdrawn. Moreover, two recent reports from the Congressional Budget Office also bode ill for Republicans. One shows that the deficit can’t be reduced by spending cuts alone and that “significant deficit reduction is likely to require a combination of policies”; i.e. both spending cuts and revenue increases. The second details the damage that will be done if we go off the fiscal cliff: “According to CBO’s projections, if all of that fiscal tightening occurs, real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) will drop by 0.5 percent in 2013 (as measured by the change from the fourth quarter of 2012 to the fourth quarter of 2013)—reflecting a decline in the first half of the year and renewed growth at a modest pace later in the year. That contraction of the economy will cause employment to decline and the unemployment rate to rise to 9.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013.”
From a political standpoint I hardly think that the Republican Party wants to be blamed for sending the economy back into recession and unemployment back over 9 percent and therein lays another advantage that favors the president. The bottom line is this, politically and tactically the president holds a better hand of cards than do his adversaries. With their most powerful card being politically unpopular continued obstruction they really don’t have a very powerful hand to play after all. The weakness of the Republican hand is particularly relevant as the upcoming fiscal negotiations will take place at the same time the G.O.P. is undergoing a period of deep soul searching as to why they lost an election that they theoretically should have won and to what degree Republican obstruction on Capitol Hill contributed to that defeat. That said look for Grover Norquist to be found among the collateral casualties that will result from a deficit reduction deal. There’s a better than average likelihood that Norquist and Co, are going to be going over their own political cliff and that his ideas will become less and less compelling as we move forward as a nation.
Steven J. Gulitti
How Stand the Correlation of Forces in American Politics?; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/grover-norquist/republican-house-obama-reelection_b_2088071.html?utm_hp_ref=daily-brief?utm_source=DailyBrief&utm_campaign=110812&utm_medium=email&utm_content=BlogEntry&utm_term=Daily%20Brief
Jim Geraghty: And Now, the Most Depressing Morning Jolt Ever; http://www.nationalreview.com/campaign-spot/332940/not-less-painful-day-goes
Grover Norquist; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grover_Norquist
Business Leaders Urge Deficit Deal Even With More Taxes; http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/26/us/politics/business-leaders-urge-deficit-deal-even-with-more-taxes.html
White House Plans Public Appeal on Deficit; http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324894104578113022312251756.html?mod=ITP_pageone_1
More Republicans Rejecting Grover Norquist’s ‘No Tax Increases Ever’ Pledge; http://crooksandliars.com/blue-texan/more-republicans-rejecting-grover-norqu
GOP rookies buck Grover Norquist; http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0512/76470.html
How Grover Norquist’s Radical Anti-Tax Pledge Sunk Top Tier Republican Senate Candidates; http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/11/07/1159241/grover-norquist-pledge-albatross-vulnerable-candidates/?mobile=nc
Axelrod calls Boehner ‘encouraging’ ahead of ‘fiscal cliff’ negotiations; http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/267257-axelrod-obama-campaign-never-doubted-victory
The Looming Compromise on Revenues; http://open.salon.com/blog/steven_j_gulitti/2011/07/08/the_looming_compromise_on_revenues
Tom Friedman: Hope and Change: Part 2; http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/07/opinion/friedman-hope-and-change-part-two.html?_r=1
Obama must lead effort to avoid fiscal cliff: Boehner; http://news.yahoo.com/obama-must-lead-effort-avoid-fiscal-cliff-top-164653450–business.html
Obama, Boehner Open to Budget Bargain; http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324439804578108971200674876.html?mod=WSJ_Election_LEFTSecondStories
The Fever and the Cliff; http://thepage.time.com/2012/11/09/the-fever-and-the-cliff/?xid=newsletter-thepagebymarkhalperin
Robert Reich: Why John Boehner May Have More Leverage Over the Tea Partiers in Congress; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-reich/boehner-fiscal-cliff-negotiations_b_2093390.html?utm_hp_ref=daily-brief?utm_source=DailyBrief&utm_campaign=110912&utm_medium=email&utm_content=BlogEntry&utm_term=Daily%20Brief
Boehner Tells House G.O.P. to Fall in Line; http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/11/us/politics/boehner-tells-house-gop-to-fall-in-line.html?ref=todayspaper
Norquist OK with Boehner tax stance; http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/domestic-taxes/267211-norquist-okay-with-boehner-tax-stance
Pressure Rises on Fiscal Crisis; http://professional.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324894104578107363250113122.html?mod=WSJPRO_hpp_LEFTTopStories
Sen. Murray: Dems would let Bush-era rates expire before taking ‘unfair deal’; http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/267253-sen-murray-dems-would-let-bush-era-rates-expire-before-taking-unfair-deal
Congress Sees Rising Urgency on Fiscal Deal; http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/09/us/politics/congress-sees-rising-urgency-on-fiscal-deal.html
Nonpartisan Tax Report Withdrawn After G.O.P. Protest; http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/02/business/questions-raised-on-withdrawal-of-congressional-research-services-report-on-tax-rates.html
C.B.O. Choices for Deficit Reduction; http://www.cbo.gov/publication/43692
C.B.O. Economic Effects of Policies Contributing to Fiscal Tightening in 2013; http://www.cbo.gov/publication/43694
Obama, Boehner Open to Budget Bargain; http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324439804578108971200674876.html?mod=WSJ_Election_LEFTSecondStories