During a week when we should have been occupied with serious subjects, it's hard not to focus on some of the truly outrageous statements made by some of the usual suspects.
Pat Robertson has long been a member of the Over the Top Club, but this week he outdid himself. Interviewing the author of a book that essentially labels the State Department a gaggle of traitors, Robertson delivered himself of the opinion that Foggy Bottom should be nuked: "I read your book. When you get through, you say (to yourself): 'If I could just get a nuclear device inside Foggy Bottom (the State Department's main building), I think that's the answer' and you say: 'We've got to blow that thing up.' I mean, is it as bad as you say?" Robertson asked. The author, to no one's surprise, said it is that bad. I'm certainly not a big fan of the State Department, which seems always to have other nations' best interests in mind instead of ours. But to suggest nuking it is over the top. Robertson should get off the caffeine, and not advocate the use of nukes inside our capital city. As for Foggy Bottom, we need someone to transform that Augean Stable, in the manner that Mr. Rumsfeld is trying to do at Defense. But after all that, Pat isn't the winner for the worst of the week.
Another longstanding member of the OTT Club outdid himself this week. Columnist Ralph Peters, one of the more strident McCaffrey/Clarkist critics of the Iraq campaign, also outdid himself this week. In a column titled, "Bush's Betrayal," Peters said that the president's desire to have Turkish troops in Iraq is "craven," and that "No troops from neighboring states should be allowed to meddle in Iraq, but we would be better off with Iranian troops than with Turkish forces." (His italics, not mine.) Anyone who wants to disagree with the President -- even disrespectfully -- has a right to do so, and while Peters is demonstrably wrong, it's not over the top to say that Mr. Bush is craven. But to say that we'd be better off with Iranian than Turkish troops is tantamount to saying that we should have left Saddam in place, and that Turkey is a terrorist state. Which is, I gather, just what Peters meant. Yet Peters, like Robertson, didn't make the worst statement of the week.
More understated, but not much, are most of the Dems who have been warning us since the Iraq campaign began that we won't be able to afford the usual entitlement handouts (with which they buy elections) if we have to pay for the war in Iraq. This is another version of the Statue of Liberty play. Remember John Lehman?
Lehman was the Gipper's first Navy secretary, and the only one of his service secretaries to hit the ground running. By the time he got the keys to his Pentagon office, Lehman had already fired twelve broadsides at Congress. A master of the Statue of Liberty play, Lehman threatened that if the Navy didn't get the shipbuilding funds he wanted, the Cubans would invade Florida, and the Soviets would cart the Statue of Liberty off to display in Dzherzhinsky Square. (Okay, he didn't say exactly that. He merely implied that the world would end if the Navy weren't rebuilt.) Lehman played the Hill like a fiddle, and because he did it so well, he got a lot of what he wanted, and the other services had to play catch-up. Now, the Dems are running the same play, in reverse.
The President's request for $87 billion to finance the continued costs of the Iraq campaign, and of the building of Iraqi and Afghani infrastructure, is being challenged by the senior Dems who have been telling us for months that we won't be able to afford the social spending they think we need. Last week's Senate hearing was just a recap of what they've been saying for months. The whole exercise is just another warmup for next year. Next year, we'll hear that Social Security checks will stop, the mail won't be delivered, and granny will freeze to death in the dark because Mr. Bush is spending so much on "his wars." We got a little taste of that this week.
Last Tuesday, Senate Dems -- joined by some RINOs and other Repubs trying to play both sides of the issue -- spent the day bashing Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and White House budget director Josh Bolten. Their criticisms were all too predictable.
From Babs Boxer, Wolfowitz and Bolton got what they undoubtedly expected. Babs wanted to know how the $87 billion for the war squared with what she thinks is the chintzy $6.76 billion for Head Start, $27 billion for the National Institutes of Health and $31 billion for highways. I only wish Bolton had the guts to tell her that those programs wouldn't suffer, but that the White House planned to zero out some of the federal nuisances we pay for every year, like National Public Radio, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Department of Education. (Heck, if we zeroed the DoE, we'd probably be able to afford to invade a couple of other countries.)
Babs, of course, is a charter member of the Over the Top Club. And, not surprisingly, she made the most outrageous statement of the week.
Boxer lectured Wolfowitz that calling the continued action in Iraq a "low-intensity conflict" was wrong, because, "I want you to know when your kid dies, it's not a low-intensity conflict." How dare she? Has she ever had a relative or a friend who risked -- or lost -- his life in combat? Has she ever said a kind word to a grunt? Has she ever gone to a military funeral? I doubt it. Her contempt for the soldier has never been at all concealed.
Has Boxer ever done anything to support the troops? Of course not. For about a decade on the House Armed Services Committee, she provided histrionics, and opposition, to everything DoD wanted to do. In her time in the Senate (now also over a decade) she has done just the same. California has rid itself of the pestilence of the Davis governorship. Can it do the same next year to rid us all of this one?
(I don't usually ask our readers to do anything other than think, speak out and vote. There needs be an occasional exception to this rule. Humor columnist Dave Barry struck a blow for freedom a couple of weeks ago by publishing the telephone number of the American Teleservices Association, the trade group of what Barry calls the industry "…which believes it has the Constitutional right to call people who do not want to be called." By publishing the ATA's number, Barry sparked a protest of people such as thee and me who want to be left the hell alone and not called at all, far less during dinner, by the telemarketing idiots. As a result, the ATA's switchboard was swamped, and unable to conduct business for quite a while. Tsk, tsk. On Sunday, Barry wrote that the ATA apparently has a working number again. According to his column, it's 317-816-9336. I plan to call. You should too.)