Streetcar Line

Bank on It: This Nominee Is Outrageous

When qualifications and the job description are poles apart.

By 2.26.13

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Can you believe who Barack Obama has nominated to be the new head of the World Bank? The nominee, a major corporate executive, has seriously weird antipathy toward Eastern Europeans.

When Solidarity was making progress against the Soviet puppet regime in 1987, the nominee opposed American aid to the union, saying “Let the Poles pay for their own damn fax machines.”

That same year, when the Pope visited New Orleans and called for “spiritual support of our brothers yearning for freedom,” the nominee warned that “a bunch of Catholic senators are likely now to kowtow to the Vatican lobby.”

Two years later, with student demonstrations beginning against Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania, Obama’s man complained about “this bunch of gypsies posing a threat to world peace.” And when the Serbs in the 1990s practiced ethnic cleansing against other populations in the former Yugoslavia, this executive focused on economics, saying “it’s not worth American involvement to save a bunch of folks whose major contribution is a second-class car like the Yugo.”

In 2004, as the Orange Revolution in Ukraine began in support of the pro-western leader Viktor Yushchenko, this executive again spoke up, accusing the demonstrators of seeking to impose “apartheid against ethnic Russians.” Earlier that year, he blamed what he called the “Bronkowski brigades” of blue-collar workers in Ohio for handing re-election to President George W. Bush, saying they voted against John Kerry because of social-issue concerns born of their “Papist upbringings.”

And upon Martina Navratilova’s retirement in 2006, an ESPN retrospective on her career quoted this man, whose company’s products used Navratilova as a major endorser, as follows: “She was brawny, she’s Slavic, and she just used brute force to dominate tennis for years, but she’s been a surprisingly intelligent and articulate voice off the court for important social causes [emphasis added].”

Nonetheless, the nominee is known to share Obama’s strong views in favor of third-world debt relief, and his supporters say he’s actually a particular friend of Eastern Europeans because, when he backed Obama’s gutting of missile defense for Poland and the Czech Republic, he explained that “This is the best thing for those nations to stay on the good side of Vladimir Putin and thus benefit from Russian economic support rather than exacerbating Putin’s reasonable fears. In the long run, they’ll thank us.”

Meanwhile, Obama doesn’t seem fazed by the fact that in a post-nomination interview with the New York Times, his nominee admitted he would “need to study up more on the World Bank, because there’s lots I don’t know enough about when it comes to derivatives and stuff.” In an NPR radio interview, he likewise stumbled over whether or not the United States currently is imposing an economic embargo or other sanctions against Iran and Cuba. Shortly after those two interviews were aired, however, the administration seems to have put somewhat of a gag order on the nominee, and also has refused to make public his tax returns from five years ago, when he went on a major Third World speaking tour while his company made unprecedented investments in Africa.

So far, not a single Democratic senator has broken ranks and opposed the nomination – not even Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, who represents those blue-collar workers the nominee described as the “Bronkowski brigades.” Republicans, meanwhile, who had threatened a lengthy filibuster, now say they don’t want to upset Senate tradition by using a parliamentary tactic to deny the president his choice of a nominee.

OF COURSE, THIS IS ALL fictional. There is no World Bank nominee. And if such a nomination had been made, surely it wouldn’t have survived even two weeks. The nominee’s obvious hostility to a particular ethnic group (or conglomeration of ethnic groups) would surely have sunk him, almost immediately.

But when the ethnic group so badly insulted is Jewish, I guess, the usual strictures don’t apply. Every fictional example above mirrors things Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has said and done with regard to Jews and/or Israel – which he seems to conflate as if they are one and the same, as if the latter’s advocates are speaking not out of geopolitical principle but instead acting merely as a “Jewish lobby.”

The American public knows better. The more it sees of Chuck Hagel, the more it dislikes him. Those senators who stand against him will see net political benefits. And this is a fight the political right can win, which would help reinvigorate right-leaning supporters and help them overcome despair.

If Hagel is confirmed, once again the Republicans in the Senate will have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, and will have failed to realize when a stand on principle should supersede the usual niceties of the Senate – niceties the Left never observes when it comes to opposing conservatives, even if, unlike in the Hagel case, the opposition is based on smears rather than on legitimate concerns.

I mean, really: Can you believe who Barack Obama has nominated to be Secretary of Defense?

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About the Author
Quin Hillyer is a senior editor of The American Spectator and a senior fellow at the Center for Individual Freedom. Follow him on Twitter @QuinHillyer.