Nobody ever really bought into Pete Buttigieg, did they? He wasn’t exactly a plausible presidential candidate, and the first question anybody ought to ask themselves before running for something like president of the United States of America is, “Am I plausible?”
Buttigieg was like the little ant who thought he could move the rubber tree plant in the Frank Sinatra song. But unlike the ant or Sinatra’s ram, who head-butts a hydroelectric dam until it collapses, high hopes don’t often translate into results in American politics — particularly when those hopes run counter to obvious reality. Let’s talk about that as the first item in this week’s edition of Five Quick Things.
1. Pete Buttigieg owes Rush Limbaugh an apology.
Now that Buttigieg, who as the mediocre-at-best mayor of a middling college town of 101,000 running almost solely on his identity as an openly gay man engaging in obnoxious public displays of affection with his husband that was unsellable even to base Democrat voters, has called it quits, it’s time for him and the Twitter mob he stoked up against Rush Limbaugh to admit Rush was right.
As we noted in a previous entry in this space, Buttigieg presented himself as one of the most in-your-face cultural Marxists ever to grace the American political stage — flaunting his homosexuality with conduct that even in a heterosexual context would be considered gauche and inappropriate and then attempting paint critics of that conduct as bigots and homophobes. This came atop Buttigieg’s constant lecturing of traditional Christians that their belief in Biblical prohibitions against homosexuality as a sin was simply a mask for their bigotry, and thus he was actually a better Christian than they.
This was never going to work.
Sure, it might have worked had Buttigieg managed to drag his campaign to New York or California. But even Democrats in more ordinary locales were never going to buy into it. Particularly in the black community, which — let’s face it — has been so badly abused by politicians from the Democrat Party that now isn’t all that good a time to browbeat them about their cultural values. Buttigieg was poison to black voters, making him an impossibility; once the primary race left lily-white Iowa and New Hampshire, he was done.
All of which Limbaugh predicted. Limbaugh merely said Buttgieg wouldn’t be able to sell his Make-Me-President-Because-I’m-Gay-or-Else act even to Democrat voters. For that, Buttigieg squealed that he shouldn’t have to take lessons on “family values” from Rush Limbaugh. That was more of an appeal to Democrat voters’ hatred of Rush, just like the fight he picked with Mike Pence was a similar attempt at punching up against someone more relevant than he is, but at this point we can recognize it for the failure it was.
Sorry, Pete, but the lesson wasn’t about family values. It was about political reality.
2. You probably don’t suck as badly at your job as William Walters does.
We can say this with some confidence, particularly if you work in the private sector. Why? Because private sector companies fire employees who repeatedly manifest the kind of arrogance and incompetence Walters has, well before they can do the damage he’s done.
Who’s William Walters? Daniel Greenfield at FrontPage Magazine outs him as a State Department Obama leftover who helped spread coronavirus to America, which the Democrats are banking on to become a Hurricane Katrina–style calamity for Trump:
President Trump had been told that nobody with the coronavirus would be flown to America.
The State Department decided to do it anyway without telling him and only made the announcement shortly after the planes landed in the United States.
According to the Washington Post, as unfriendly an outlet to the administration as there is, “Trump has since had several calls with top White House officials to say he should have been told, that it should have been his decision and that he did not agree with the decision that was made.”
The Directorate of Operational Medicine is a part of the Bureau assigned to deal with crisis response with a $250 million portfolio and a lot of employees that almost no one outside D.C. ever heard of. At least unless you remember an event at which Barack Obama honored Dr. William Walters, the head of the Directorate, for evacuating Ebola patients to the United States.
“Now, remember, the decision to move Kent back to the United States was controversial. Some worried about bringing the disease to our shores. But what folks like William knew was that we had to make the decisions based not on fear, but on science,” Obama said.
By “some,” Obama meant, among others, Trump, who had been a strong critic of the move.
Despite Obama’s end-zone dance, the State Department had badly botched the Ebola evacuations.
Under Bush, the CDC had prepped an evacuation aircraft for flying out contagious Americans. The Obama administration shelved the gear because of the cost, and then failed to make use of it. The evacuation process led to the same infighting between the State Department and the CDC as now.
Dr. William Walters is still on duty. In 2017, Walters was boasting of prepping more Ebola evacuations even over President Trump’s opposition to the practice. And he was once again at the wheel now.
“The question was simply this: Are these evacuees?” Walters explained the decision to evacuate coronavirus patients to the United States. “And do we follow our protocol? And the answer to that was yes on both accounts.”
Consulting President Trump was not part of the protocol even on a major national security issue.
In a Congressional briefing, Walters boasted that, “the Department executed the largest non-military evacuation of U.S. citizens in its history. The safe and efficient evacuation of 1,174 people from Wuhan, China and people onboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan is a testament to the agility, proficiency, and dedication of our workforce to accomplishing our core mission – advancing the interests of the American people.”
And the triumph of the administrative state and its bureaucratic protocols over the President.
At a State Department briefing, Walters stated that, “The chief of mission, right, through the U.S. embassy, is ultimately the head of all executive branch activities.”
That is the problem. Right there.
Walters got his job in 2011. He’s a relic of the Obama era. That doesn’t mean that his politics are those of his former boss. But this is not about him. It’s about the reality that the White House doesn’t make many of the most vital decisions and doesn’t even know that they’re being made until it’s too late.
The point in dealing with these pandemics is to try to isolate infected people so they don’t pose a threat to the general public. It doesn’t mean shooting them like the North Koreans do; it means taking them somewhere they can be cared for and observed and then letting them go home when they aren’t contagious anymore.
But we have bureaucrats who botch that fairly simple process and then blame elected political leaders out of sheer partisanship.
Coronavirus is China’s doing, not President Trump’s. But if you want to blame somebody stateside, this guy Walters ought to be your huckleberry.
3. We’re finally getting what we want in Afghanistan.
We had won the war in Afghanistan, which has become the longest military conflict in American history, by 2003 if not before. We’ve been losing it ever since.
President Trump signed a deal with the Taliban over the weekend that amounts to the beginnings of a peace treaty, which finally gets us out of there.
Afghanistan has been a low-grade conflict on the geopolitical scale for a long time, though you won’t get very far telling that to the families of the soldiers in harm’s way fighting it for the past two decades. It’s been a pointless exercise for the vast majority of that time.
It was a foreign policy failure to remain in Afghanistan. It wasn’t in our interest, and we certainly didn’t have the national will, to do what it would take to reform that country into something Western and modern. Afghanistan is a wretched place full of wretched people with wretched customs like old men using small boys as sexual playthings, and rather than at least stamping out such a barbaric practice by using old-fashioned tried-and-true methods like those of, say, Charles James Napier, we’ve hung around for two decades and thrown money at them.
It was principally George W. Bush’s fault we didn’t leave Afghanistan in 2003 when we had routed the enemy and installed a government. If that government fell and the Taliban took back control of the place, nothing prevented us from going back in and routing them again. That would have been cheaper and less deadly than staying for what will be 20 years.
But Barack Obama bears a great deal of blame, because Obama was the one who decided nation-building in Afghanistan should be a geopolitical priority.
At the end of the day, though, Trump deserves credit for having brought restraint to our foreign policy. He isn’t starting wars, and we’re not suffering for that inaction. Maybe, just maybe, a new foreign policy consensus will be built around Trump’s nutty idea that sending in troops when it isn’t in our national interest to do so shouldn’t be done.
Lord knows Afghanistan is a complete enough lesson not to use our military for nation-building.
4. Could someone please kick Turkey out of NATO?
Have you heard about the latest along Turkey’s border with Greece?
There’s a new migrant crisis there. Over the weekend, some 18,000 refugees from Syria and heaven knows where else tried to storm the border between Turkey and Greece in order to get access to the European Union’s rich welfare state, and Turkey’s semi-dictator President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is now boasting that “the door is open” because the EU has “broken its promise” to the Turks.
Erdoğan has done this before, of course, unleashing a flood of more than a million migrants into Europe when the Syrian civil war first broke out. The political unrest that came from those migrants ultimately led to the EU agreeing to pay Erdoğan protection money not to send more migrants. But he isn’t satisfied, particularly when there came blowback to his continuing military exploits there.
Erdoğan thinks he’s in the catbird seat. He can play Russia off against the EU and the U.S. and leverage himself into the status of a caliph like Turks in previous centuries as a result. But given his behavior and given his efforts to decouple Turkey from Europe, something previous Turkish leaders had worked hard to establish in making Turkey one of the most secular of Muslim countries, there is very little reason to maintain Turkey as part of NATO.
It’s obvious that at some point soon Erdoğan is going to try to drag NATO into a conflict with Russia or someone else, and at that point NATO will cease to hold any meaning. If the organization is to continue, it probably ought to cut the Turks loose — or at least threaten to, so Erdoğan gets the message that he can’t keep making demands from people he treats as enemies without consequence.
5. Obamacare gets its final day in court.
You might have heard about Monday’s big legal news, which is that the Supreme Court picked up the multi-state constitutional challenge to Obamacare:
The Supreme Court on Monday announced it will take up a case seeking to overturn the Affordable Care Act, returning the health care law’s fate to the high court.
The major announcement means that the case will loom over the November elections and could make the Affordable Care Act an even bigger issue in the presidential race.
The case will be heard during the court’s next term, which starts in October, meaning that a decision is not expected until after the elections. It is unclear when the court will hear arguments, but those could come in October, before the election.
The case threatens to blow a major hole in the health care system and overturn coverage for roughly 20 million people if the Supreme Court overturns ObamaCare.
But legal experts in both parties say the challengers’ legal arguments are weak and view it as unlikely that the high court will strike down the law.
The case was brought by a group of GOP-led states and is supported by the Trump administration.
The case came out of the Fifth Circuit, and it was originally a Texas federal judge who ruled that once the individual mandate was gone the entire structure of Obamacare, constitutionally, had to go with it. As there is no severability clause in the law, the legal argument is quite strong for that ruling — and the appellate judges agreed.
There should be a majority for striking the law down, but we won’t know that until after this fall’s election.
In the meantime, the Democrats are going to play the “preexisting conditions” card in every federal race this fall, attempting to scare voters that Republicans will leave them out in the street.
There’s an easy way to respond to that, and hopefully Republicans are smart enough to take advantage. The way to handle it is to note there are all kinds of non-destructive ways to cover people with preexisting conditions, and a GOP majority in the House and Senate and a second-term Trump presidency will focus on those things. But Democrats in control will do away with private health care altogether and put everyone on Medicaid. They’ll call it “Medicare for All,” but it’s really Medicaid for All. And all that’s required is horror stories from just north of the border, where you can wait a week in agony for a doctor to set a broken arm.
GOP messaging on health care has never been aggressive enough. It’s about time that changed, because the fight is coming.