Ukraine and the Return of the KGB
Regarding our community activist’s present imbroglio with President Vladimir Putin, I stand with Donald Trump who said recently: “The thing I have the most concern about is that he’s being so lambasted for not being respected, and for being a joke, that he’ll do something really stupid to show that he’s a man.” We are now about where we were with Jimmy Carter after he lectured his fellow citizens about their so-called “inordinate fear of communism” even as the Soviet Union was spreading its tentacles over the Third World. His sudden turn-around—caused by Soviet aggression in Afghanistan—from a position of sweet reason to the pose of a hawk alarmed me and doubtless alarmed the Russians. Jimmy began the military build-up that a more gifted statesman, President Ronald Reagan, consummated in pursuit of a peaceful ending of the Cold War. Yet while Jimmy resided in the White House, I was uneasy with the sudden anti-communism of this moralistic twerp. Most probably Donald was too. Now we have to worry about the intolerable greenhorn Barack Obama. What will he do next?
He came into the White House promising to turn his back on some forty years of history. To him the Cold War was a foolish waste of resources that could have been better spent on the kind of things community activists spend government resources on: in the main, booty for their friends.
He famously “reset” the administration’s policy with Russia, to use Secretary of State’s Hillary Clinton’s pert term for their démarche. He abandoned a missile-defense agreement with Poland and the Czech Republic. He abruptly pulled out of Iraq and began planning his withdrawal from Afghanistan. Continuing his imbecilic “reset” project with Russia, he was embarrassingly overheard—by the whole wide world—confiding to the then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he would have “more flexibility” on missile defense after his re-election. “I’ll transmit this information to Vladimir,” Medvedev replied. Did Jimmy Carter ever make such a faux pas?
More recently he has frivoled as Iran approaches achieving the atomic bomb. He backed down on his “red line” with Syria, and, of course, he announced he would be scaling down our military to pre-World War II size. All of this he did because in the ideological world of community activists American foreign policy has for two generations been such a disaster. That was until late this winter when a former KGB officer by the name of Putin ordered Russian troops into Crimea, possibly beginning again the Cold War, certainly beginning again an era of hostilities between Russia and the West, with China mulling over its opportunities. Now, who knows what a community activist thinks?
A few months ago I came across the name Vitaly Churkin once again. I had my own encounter with a Vitaly Churkin back in 1987 when the world’s media was echoing with disparagements of President Reagan’s intellect and denunciations of him as a war hawk. Today’s Vitaly Churkin is the suave Russian ambassador to the United Nations. The Vitaly Churkin of 1987 was a vitriolic spokesman for the USSR’s embassy in Washington. Could they be one and the same?
In 1987 I came home from what had been a heated televised debate with a man named Churkin only to be informed by the brave Soviet dissident then staying at my home, Vladimir Bukovsky, that I had appeared on television with a well-known KGB officer and “you did good, Bawb.” I had wondered why my adversary had taken such strong exception when I compared Nazi Germany to his motherland. When I looked up today’s Churkin on Wikipedia and in a February 22 New York Times feature, among other sources, I could find no mention of his KGB past. Yet from further research it became obvious that they are the very same: once a Churkin, always a Churkin. How soon Wikipedia, the Times, and other contemporary sources forget even one’s KGB connections.
Today’s younger generations—the computer-savvy youth, the middle-aged politicians—seem to believe that the past is dead and buried. Yet history has a way of enduring and becoming episodically relevant again. So it has with the return of the KGB in Russia. I am reminded of another of my peers who had some dealings with Putin and possibly with Churkin: Bob Gates, former head of the CIA and the Pentagon. He said recently that “I had looked into Putin’s eyes and I saw a stone-cold killer.” What did Barack Obama think he saw?
A Very Jolly Election
The republicans would nominate as their candidate for the recently contested House seat in Florida a candidate with the celebratory surname of Jolly. David Jolly to be exact. Needless to say David Jolly won. Perhaps his victory will establish a trend. According to the trend, the Republicans will be running candidates with surnames like Happy, or Joyous, or even Gay. Imagine a wave election—as political commentators are predicting 2014 to be—in which the Republicans run candidates with the aforementioned names: Happy, Joyous, Gay! Imagine a future House of Representatives where the dialogue might run: “Speaker Jolly, I should like to propose an amendment to your bill on noxious particulates in the atmosphere,” says the Hon. Happy. Responds the Hon. Jolly, “By all means do so, Mr. Happy.” It would be a new dawn for the Republic.
Of course the Democrats were out to win the Florida district, and they thought they had it in the bag. President Barack Obama had attained victory twice in the district. It was thought to be marginally Democratic. The party nominated a successful businesswoman, Alex Sink, who in her 2010 campaign for governor won 49 percent of the vote in the district. She only lost the governor’s race by a whisker, and believe it or not Jolly was not the Republicans’ favored candidate. They preferred three earlier candidates. Moreover, Sink outspent him four to one in advertising, and one other thing: Jolly has been in the throes of a bitter divorce and is dating a young lady 14 years his junior. Nonetheless, Sink lost to the candidate with the dulcet name, Jolly. As I say, it could be the harbinger of a trend.
Yet if we do spy a trend here it will be for heftier reasons than the candidates’ last names, though Sink is admittedly not nearly as agreeable as Jolly. I think the trend that is coming this November issues from the president’s declining popularity. He is now below 40 percent. Then there will be the factor of lower turnout. In a presidential year the Democrats can count on the stupid vote, the youth vote (often one and the same), and of course the angry women’s vote. In this election they will not be able to rely upon their presidential base. Finally, there is the question of the independent vote or the moderate vote.
These folks are today more numerous than they have been in recent decades. In 2010—a game changer, as they say—they registered around 35 percent of the vote. Then they leaned heavily Republican, and the result was a Republican House of Representatives. This year they register 40 percent in the polls, and it appears they are leaning even more heavily toward the GOP. The independent or moderate voters seem to shy away from the Republicans on social issues, but for them one issue trumps all others. These voters are intensely interested in economics. Government spending, federal deficits, and—particularly—the value of the dollar really concern them.
On all these points they are alarmed by the Democrats’ performance. What has made them particularly alarmed is Obamacare. Talk of losing their health insurance, paying higher premiums, and being forced to switch their doctors is driving them to the Republicans, and the Democrats know it. Maybe the Democrats are smug and unperturbed in Manhattan, but elsewhere in the land they are feeling queasy.
Here in Washington the Democrats fear a rout mainly over domestic policies that the community organizer, Obama, has championed, but increasingly for foreign policy issues too. The cleverly named David Jolly essentially ran on one issue, Obamacare. That drove the independents and the moderates to the Republican candidate. In the rest of the country this November, the issues will be Obamacare, the insolvency of state and federal budgets, and possibly foreign policy. On each issue the independents and moderates will vote as they did in 2010, only in larger numbers. My guess is that 2014 will be a historic election.