- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 23, 2009

HORRIFIED

“After having served most of my adult life in the CIA’s Clandestine Service and having led many important counterterrorism missions, I can say that the rank and file is truly horrified by President Obama’s naive decision making,” Gary Berntsen writes at www.realclearpolitics.com.

“Apologists for Obama’s misguided decision may counter by highlighting the president’s announcement that no CIA employees who participated in the interrogation program will be prosecuted. Surely President Obama understood that taking such action would have accelerated retirement of many senior officers already eligible to depart and would have also caused a significant number of resignations,” Mr. Berntsen said.

He added: “President Obama’s handling of the classified Bush-era interrogation memorandums displays a lack of maturity. More dangerously, it displays a lack of understanding of what could lie ahead for the nation. Like all presidents in the modern age, Obama is likely to face events in the years ahead that will be heartrending. To prepare for these challenges and to minimize the impact on the nation, he must avoid rewarding our enemy and build consensus within the national security establishment.

“Unfortunately, with the release of these memos, the hope that President Obama would conduct himself in foreign affairs as a moderate pragmatist has all but evaporated.”

CAR KING

“It’s good to be the king - until you start tripping over your own robe,” Wall Street Journal columnist Holman W. Jenkins Jr. writes.

“So King Barack the Mild is finding as he tries to dictate the terms of what amounts to an out-of-court bankruptcy for Chrysler and GM. He wants Chrysler’s secured lenders to give up their right to nearly full recovery in a bankruptcy in return for 15 cents on the dollar. They’d be crazy to do so, of course, except that these banks also happen to be beholden to the administration for TARP money,” Mr. Jenkins said.

“Wasn’t TARP supposed to be about restoring a healthy banking system? Isn’t that a tad inconsistent with banks just voluntarily relinquishing valuable claims on borrowers? Don’t ask.

“Kingly prerogative also conflicts with kingly prerogative in the case of GM’s unsecured creditors, who are the sticking point in agreeing to a turnaround plan by the drop-dead date of June 1. His retainer, Steven Rattner, has delivered word that the king’s pleasure is that these unsecured creditors give up 100 percent of their claims in return for GM stock.

“It may also be the king’s pleasure, he advised, to convert at some point the government’s own $13 billion in bailout loans into GM stock.

“There’s just one problem: Why on earth would GM’s creditors - who include not just bondholders but the UAW’s health-care trust - want any part of this deal?

“They’ve already seen that the rights and privileges of shareholders are not worth diddly when the king is throwing his prerogatives around. He dispensed with the services of GM chief Rick Wagoner, though the king owned not a single share of GM stock at the time. His minions communicated the king’s pleasure that GM consider discontinuing its GMC brand, maker of pickups and SUVs that offendeth the royal eye - though these vehicles earn GM’s fattest profit margins.

“His minions haven’t asked GM to give up the Chevy Volt, even after determining it will be a profitless black hole, because of the king’s fondness for green.

“No wonder the king’s mediation of 40 years of stalemated labor and business issues in the auto sector isn’t going so well. There’s a reason royal discretion has long been outmoded as a way to run an economy: Things just work better if a realm’s subjects are left to resolve their own disputes and interests through the impersonal mechanism of the markets and the law.”

A FUN GAME

“Yet another Republican has fallen into the trap of discussing whether or not Rush Limbaugh is the head of the Republican party,” J.G. Thayer writes in a blog at www.commentarymagazine.com.

“This is a fun little game, apparently concocted in daily conference calls between White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Democratic operatives James Carville and Paul Begala, and ABC News’ George Stephanopolous. It involves finding some Republican and buttonholing him on whether or not Rush Limbaugh is the head of the GOP, as the fur flies over the answer,” the writer said.

“It’s a clever move: Right now the Republican party doesn’t have a clear leader.Michael Steele is the party chairman and John McCain was the party’s most recent nominee for president, but neither has a solid lock on the position of ‘leader.’ There’s a strong case to be made that the GOP doesn’t have any veritable ‘leader’ at the moment. …

“Yet like nature, politics abhors a vacuum. With no prominent Republican to step forward and assume the leadership role, these leading Democrats (using the resources of their party - the White House, and ABC News) are pushing a scheme to turn Rush Limbaugh into the ‘face’ of the GOP. So far they have been successful at stirring up fights between those Republican politicians they’ve managed to entangle in this debate. …

“Limbaugh himself is largely ignoring this stunt. He’s more adept at countering direct attacks - such as when Media Matters conned every single Democrat in the Senate into signing a condemning letter to Limbaugh’s syndicator - he took that letter and spun it into a multimillion-dollar auction (matched by his own funds) for a charity, garnered a ton of good publicity for himself, and put the Democratic signatories on the defensive.”

CARVILLE’S THESIS

“The Ragin’ Cajun is hot about the media coverage of the Tax Day conservative tea parties. But James Carville isn’t one of those liberals who think the press should have ignored the events. He wishes there had been wall-to-wall coverage to highlight those who now represent the GOP base,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column at www.usnews.com.

” ‘I say the media didn’t cover them enough,’ he told me during an interview about his upcoming red-meat book, ‘40 More Years, How the Democrats Will Rule the Next Generation.’ ‘I wish they would have been there 24 hours a day. I mean, I couldn’t imagine anybody, like, identifying with those old - the average age at the thing must have been 76,’ he said.

“Part of the thesis, grimly acknowledged by some Republican advisers, is that the party has lost the youth vote, something that started in 2004 at the height of the Iraq war. And with that trend, he said, the party is in trouble.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/635-3285 or [email protected] .com.

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