- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 20, 2005

Rumsfeld’s reply

George Stephanopoulos, the host of ABC’s “This Week,” found out yesterday just how feisty Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld can be.

“If you had actionable intelligence that Osama bin Laden was in Iran, do you think the United States has the right just to go in and get him without asking for permission?” Mr. Stephanopoulos asked.

Mr. Rumsfeld replied, “Obviously, you wouldn’t get permission.”

“That’s my point,” Mr. Stephanopoulos said.

“And those are questions for the president of the United States,” Mr. Rumsfeld continued.

“What would be your recommendation?” Mr. Stephanopoulos asked.

“I give my recommendations to the president of the United States, not to George Stephanopoulos,” Mr. Rumsfeld said.

“I’ll try. I’ve got to keep trying, Mr. Secretary,” Mr. Stephanopoulos said.

Future politics

Over time, the fiscal crisis of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid will begin to transform politics, New York Times columnist David Brooks writes.

“The parties will grow less cohesive. The Democrats are held together by the common goal of passing domestic programs that address national needs — like covering the uninsured. But with all the money going to cover entitlements, there will be no way to afford new proposals. Republicans, meanwhile, owe their recent victories to the popularity of tax cuts. But those will be impossible, too. Both parties will lose a core reason for being,” Mr. Brooks said.

“At the same time, Americans will grow even more disenchanted with the political status quo. Not only will there be a general distaste for the hyperpartisan style, but people will also begin to see how partisan brawling threatens the nation’s prosperity. They’ll read more books like ‘The Coming Generational Storm’ by Laurence Kotlikoff and Scott Burns and ‘Running on Empty’ by Peter Peterson. They will be more aware of the looming disaster. As the situation gets worse, the prospects of change get better, because Americans will not slide noiselessly into oblivion.”

Mr. Brooks added: “The party alignments have been pretty stable over the past few generations, but there’s no reason to think they will be in the future. The Whig Party died. The Progressive Movement arose because the parties seemed stagnant a century ago. I wouldn’t be surprised if some anti-politician emerged — of the Schwarzenegger or Perot varieties — to crash through the current alignments and bust heads.”

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