Some of McCain’s Heroes Today Were Bush’s Terrorists Yesterday

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who pulled his head out of John McCain’s rectum long enough to talk to CNN, said of the U.S. involvement in Libya:

I like coalitions: It’s good to have them, it’s good to have the U.N. involved.  But the goal is to get rid of Gaddafi…So, I would not let the U.N. mandate stop what is the right thing to do.

In other words, to hell with the rest of the world, we’ve got bombs to drop!

For his part, John McCain, who seemed to be enjoying his Graham-free rectum, said on Sunday that a stalemate in Libya “would open the door for Al Qaeda to come in.”

Whoops!  It may be too late.  McCain, who on Friday called the Libyan rebels the “legitimate voice of the Libyan people,” and his “heroes,” also said,

I have met these brave fighters and they are not al Qaeda,” he said. “To the contrary, they are Libyan patriots who want to liberate their nation.

Except that the New York Times reported this weekend that a former Guantanamo detainee—he was released by the Bushies in 2007—who was “judged ‘a probable member of Al Qaeda’ by analysts there,” and deemed a “medium to high risk” as a threat to the United States, is now leading a “ragtag band of fighters” in Libya.  And the paper reported that,

American officials have nervously noted the presence of at least a few former militants in the rebels’ ranks. 

None of this gives Lindsey Graham or John McCain (or Israeli representative, Sen. Joe Lieberman) pause, however.  They want the U.S. to engage more aggressively in Libya, with Graham urging Obama to bomb Libya’s capital. He told CNN’s Candy Crowley:

My recommendation to NATO and to the administration is to cut the head of the snake off, go to Tripoli, start bombing Gaddafi’s inner circle, their compounds their military headquarters in Tripoli. The way to get Gaddafi to leave is to have his inner circle break and turn on him, and that’s going to take a sustained effort through an air campaign.

Apparently NATO was listening.  This morning comes word that NATO aircraft bombed Gaddafi’s Bab al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli, which renewed charges that the good guys are trying to assassinate Gaddafi. 

Whether we are, or whether we’re just trying to put the fear of Allah in him or his “inner circle,” as Graham suggested, it is clear that there will be no stalemate in Libya, even though a stalemate might be the best possible outcome, in terms of short-term regional stability.  Gaddafi’s days are numbered. 

What remains is the obvious question: What happens after Gaddafi is gone?  

Nobody, not Barack Obama or, Allah knows, not even John McCain, can give us a credible answer to that question.  Somehow, though, I suspect that whatever happens, President Obama—who is under pressure from the militaristic Right to step us his Libya game—will never get any credit for a good outcome, only blame for a bad one.

The Prince And The Prince Of Peace

Now that the Democrats have squandered an illusory 60-vote majority in the Senate, one that wasn’t really manageable considering Joe Lieberman had a man crush on John McCain and other hawkish Republicans, and considering he is as phony as an Allen Shirley guest column, it’s time to try a new strategy of governance.

While I will leave it up to legislative gurus to figure out a way to advance through Congress an agenda that Democrats can be proud of, I want to address something that has bothered me at least since the false-patriot Rush Limbaugh uttered the F-word—failure—regarding Obama’s presidency.

Make no mistake about it, I am a great admirer of the president.  I worked to get him votes; I defended him before angry voters; I supported his initial conciliatory approach to governance, in which he tried to transcend normal partisan politics and forge coalitions to get things done.  I have written many times in his defense over the past several months.  His thoughtfulness, his deliberation,  and his willingness to wait until he has all the facts before he acts are part of a style I love and appreciate.

But, I am now waiting for Obama to channel his inner Machiavelli. At least a little bit. I realize that Jesus is likely Obama’s model of behavior, and I realize that it probably isn’t in his nature to actually apply Machiavellian principles of princely behavior to his presidency.

However, I suggest that perpetually “turning the other cheek” in today’s political environment will lead to failure.  And it didn’t work out too well for Jesus, either.  His earthly career ended in ignominy, hanging from a crossbeam outside the city walls, naked and defeated.

While I am not asking Obama to fundamentally change his personality, I am asking him to at least consider two pieces of Machiavelli’s advice:

He who wishes to be obeyed must know how to command.

It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both.

Obama’s administration began with Rush Limbaugh’s famous, “I want Obama to fail” remarks and his flirtation with moving to New Zealand—which not one Republican politician had the balls God gave man to protest—continuing through Jim DeMint’s “Waterloo” comment, in which the creepy religious fanatic masquerading as a U.S Senator pledged that killing health care would be the end of Obama. 

Last summer, we endured the spectacle of so-called “angry” voters, who voiced such anger in terms fit for a World Wrestling Federation event.  We endured swastika-covered placards; voodoo-priest images; messages that Obama was a fascist, socialist, communist, and racist; charges that Obama was not a U.S. citizen, that his presidency was not legitimate and that he wanted to destroy America.  

To top it all off, we endured the embarrassment of a rude, unruly, disrespectful Congressman Joe Wilson shouting, “You lie!” during an Obama speech to a joint session of Congress.

Obama, of course, largely ignored the anger, at least publicly.  He, of course, accepted the congressman’s apology without highlighting the uncivility.  And, of course, last night Obama phoned Scott Brown, who defeated Martha Coakley, to “congratulate” him.

Why?  Why ignore the Tea Party anger?  Why accept Wilson’s apology without using it to embarrass those who hate Obama? Why congratulate Brown so soon? There would have been plenty of time to shake his hand and offer his congratulations. Why last night?

He congratulated a man who opposes nearly every social value that Obama holds dear; he congratulated a man who publicly suggested Obama was a bastard child; he congratulated a man who has pledged to join a small but fanatic group of Republicans who are hell-bent on seeing to it that Obama’s administration will be the failure that Rush Limbaugh famously wished for and predicted.

Why give such an unworthy opponent immediate recognition and instant credibility?

Anyway, we now have the spectacle of a teabagger capturing the seat of Ted Kennedy, who surely must be scratching and clawing on his coffin lid to get out and demand a do-over.  But ironically, despite a poor campaign and some gaffes by the Democratic candidate, Ted Kenney’s life-long issue—health care reform—proved to be the defining issue of the Brown-Coakley campaign.

That didn’t have to happen.

Because of a noble, cautious, protracted approach—apparently approved by Obama—that dragged on much too long in an attempt to attract conservatives in the Democratic Party, not to mention fringe Republicans like Olympia Snowe, we have what we have today.

Because the White House chose a behind-the-scenes strategy of influencing the outcome of the health reform legislation rather than an open and direct and emphatic defense of an acceptable bill, we have what we have today.

Because of a calculated recognition of the difficulty of overcoming conservative opposition in both parties and a desire to get something passed, no matter how feeble, we have what we have today.

Because from the start the White House took off the table a single payer option and signaled that a strong public option wasn’t even an essential part of reform legislation, we have what we have today.

So, I ask:  What did all the soft-sell strategy accomplish?  We all understood the reality of the situation: There were just too many damn conservatives in the Senate to get the best bill.  But my problem is that the White House didn’t even put up a goddamn fight for one.  Thus, the other side recognized a palpable weakness, and as the calendar advanced, wily conservative Democrats sensed the opportunity to game the process.

All of this confounded liberals, those who put Obama in the White House by actually going out and convincing the much-vaunted “independents” to vote for him.  And some liberals, pissed off that their candidate was not fighting hard enough, unwisely threw up their hands and said “let the bill die.”  Or at least began to stop aggressively defending it against the lies being told constantly by Republicans at Town Halls and Tea Parties, broadcast faithfully by the Obama-hating Fox “News” channel, whose perpetuation of falsehoods about the bill and the “Obama is dangerous” meme came to be less and less challenged, too.

Even the feeble attempt by the White House to challenge Fox “News,” which initially had such promise, withered under the criticism of “mainstream” journalists, who incomprehensibly defended the network, despite the fact that Fox is undoubtedly destroying the line between journalism and propaganda and thus undermining the very journalists willing to defend the network.

Finally, although no one knows how this mess will play out, I will offer President Obama one final piece of advice from Machiavelli:

Whosoever desires constant success must change his conduct with the times.

Hopefully, in the times to come, Obama will move forward with less “turn the cheek,” “Jesus meek and mild” reactions and be more like the Jesus who threw the moneychangers out of the temple.

Because Obama’s political enemies seek not only his office, but seek to destroy him and the promise and legitimacy of liberalism.

Joltin’ Joe

Democrats are upset that Joe Lieberman is threatening to betray them again by suggesting he may join a Republican filibuster of health care reform legislation.  But it shouldn’t be a surprise that Joltin’ Joe would do his business that way. 

On November 4 of last year, Lieberman appeared on the Glenn Beck show to tell Glenn how “proud” he was of the paranoid broadcaster.  But before he did so, he expressed his “fear” that the Dem’s would have a filibuster-proof majority:

GLENN: Do you agree that with Senator Hatch — I’ve only got a minute before a network break. I hope we can hold you here. But do you agree that Senator Hatch said to me that if we don’t at least have the firewall of the filibuster in the Senate that in many ways America will not survive.

SENATOR LIEBERMAN: Well, I hope it’s not like that, but I fear. And I think for some of us there is a key. You know, it gets a bad name but it was really put there, a 60-vote requirement as somebody said to me when I first came to the Senate, stop the passions of a moment among the people of America from sweeping across the congress, the House, to the Senate and to a like minded President and having us do things that will change America for a long time. So the filibuster is one of the great protections we have. Glenn, I apologize. I’m running to go out with Senator McCain. We’re going to Colorado.

GLENN: Best of luck.

SENATOR LIEBERMAN: I’m real proud of you. I remember you back when.

GLENN: Thanks a lot. Bye-bye.

So, if Joe joins his Republican friends, he is merely ensuring that America “survives” the ravages of the party he used to belong to, and the party that gave him shelter in the form of a committee chairmanship.

Thanks a lot, Joe. Bye-bye.

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