November 22, 2006


 I just received Robert Novak's e-letter on recent news from the Beltway and once again I'm reminded of how little I know about politics. He says:
Never before has a new speaker entered office on such a sour note as Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Her vigorous and totally rejected campaign for Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) supports widespread cloakroom sentiment that she is not qualified for her high office and is there because of her gender and the support of the huge California delegation.
And yet I didn't see it as a mistake at all. She wanted Murtha as her man Friday and couldn't get him. So what. She lost a vote. I guess this is one of those "perception is reality" deals that is also the rationale given by some for why we can't leave Iraq. (There are good reasons to stay; I just don't find that one particularly compelling.) I suppose if Pelosi is seen to lose the fight she is immediately seen as "weak". But I think it's a sign of strength to fight for, in her view, the best leadership team. (Maybe I should read Machiavelli some day. Huge hole in my education.)

More Novakian:
A wide assortment of Republican notables, including some fellow administration appointees and many of Rumsfeld's quiet critics, were nonetheless upset about his treatment. Even Vice President Dick Cheney is said to be profoundly disturbed by Rumsfeld's treatment. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), the soon-to-be-former Armed Services Committee chairman, calls it "a mistake for him to resign." But many others, even those less supportive of Rumsfeld, said they were "appalled" -- the most common descriptive word -- by the President's performance.
Again I'm left dumbfounded. One of the truisms of the Bush White House is that, for better or worse, the personal always trumped the performance. Having a Republican-led Congress meant he never had to veto anything. (I think he's vetoed one bill in six years.) Receiving inadequate intelligence regarding both 9/11 and Iraq meant no one got fired at the intelligence agencies. Fighting a war where there was as much post-war planning as the amount of planning that went into this post means... ? Well certainly Bush is generally very loyal, and I'm not saying his leadership style is wrong. In some ways it is similar to Pope John Paul II's, who likewise was gentle with subordinates and very reluctant to resort to disciplinary measures. My only point is that surely one can't be shocked by the firing, can one?

On another front, I'm sort of hyp-mo-tized by NRO's discussion over Romney's chances in the '08 election given his religion. There are varying opinions about how much being a member of one of America's least intellectually defensible religions should matter. Atheists would say the same about Christians, but Christianity has a historical record. The archeological record supports the Bible but not the Book of Mormon and American Indians are not the lost tribe of Israel. The Corner is commenting here, here and here.

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