All you have to do to sound smart in a right wing bar is start every sentence with "Neal Boortz says…" and all it takes to be a political wit is to say "Hillary" out loud.
I for one am fatigued of hearing earnest discussion by the professional and sandlot punditry alike about whether or not Hillary forgave Bill for Monica because it was a good career move, or if she faked crying like a girl on camera, or if she can take it like a man, and of hearing her blamed for every societal ill from inflation to illegal immigration to fluoridation (Ice cream, Mandrake. Children's ice cream!) and just about everything else. I'd really like the discussion about Hillary to focus on whether or not she'd make a good president.
I happen to think she wouldn't make a good president at all, but not because I'm afraid she might show a little too much cleavage at her inauguration. I'm convinced she would make a wholly inadequate commander in chief of our military, and after two terms of Bush the younger, that's something we simply cannot endure.
As I said a few weeks ago, I view our current presidential race as a cattle call audition for the role of commander in chief. The trick to wading through a slate of candidates the size of this one is to begin by eliminating everyone who's obviously not right for the part.
From the top, I can scratch the leading GOP hopefuls, the holy trinity of theocons who hope to exploit misdirected religious fervor to support their neoconservative foreign policies. Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee were conspicuous Christian Soldiers from the get go. John McCain joined their ranks when he aired the Christmas ad that Mel Gibson could have directed, the one showing young Lieutenant McCain, tortured prisoner of war, looking like You-Know-Who after they pulled Him down off the you-know-what.
But even if we take the Messiah handle away from him, McCain comes up short in the CINC department. Yes, he's been on the Senate Armed Services Committee forever, but being on the SASC doesn’t make one competent on security matters. Joe Lieberman has been on the committee for donkey's years too, and what he understands about military art you wouldn't notice if he stuck it under your right eyelid. Moreover, everyone must (or at least should) admire and respect McCain's heroism in the service of our country, but let's face it; being a prisoner of war doesn’t teach anybody how to run one.
But McCain's chief flaw as a prospective war chief is that he was foursquare in favor of Mr. Bush's Iraq surge strategy, and what's more, he thinks it's working. That makes him an even poorer choice for commander in chief than Hillary.
Based on her January 13 appearance on Meet the Press, Hillary (or one of her staffers) seems to understand Clausewitz's admonition that "The political object is the goal, war is the means of reaching it, and the means can never be considered in isolation from their purposes." I'm not convinced, though, that a cursory understanding of On War will be sufficient for Hillary to keep Pavlov's Dogs of War in their cages. I'm especially uncertain whether she has what it takes to get Trumanesque with a MacArthur class American Caesar like General David Petraeus, the senior U.S. commander in Iraq.
In the December 13th interview, Tim Russert posed a hypothetical: If Petraeus reports to Congress in March and "says the surge is working, that reconciliation started in a big way yesterday when the Iraqi parliament said that former members of the Saddam government can participate in new government, don't pull 35,000 troops out now, keep them there for at least the remainder of the year, would you be open to that?"
Hillary shot back, "No, and here's why, Tim." She continued strongly for a time, asserting that the surge was "explained and rationalized as giving the Iraqi government space and time to make the hard decisions that they needed to make." But then she wobbled off into kinda/sorta country, mentioning how 2007 was the "deadliest year for American troops" and "that the large part of the reason that we're seeing the Iraqi government do anything is because time is running out" and yada, yada, blah, blah, wimp, wimp, wimp.
What she should have done immediately was mulch Russert from his hairline to his Adam's apple for asking such a stupid question, and told him the issue of extending the surge was irrelevant because the 35.000 extra troops will be all home by this summer come hell or Hezbollah. That was in the plan when the surge began in January 2007. It can't last any longer without doing seed corn damage to the Army.
Then she should have ripped Russert a new exit ramp for suggesting that allowing minor government clerks to go back to work constituted a "big way" toward political reconciliation.
Last but not least, she should have told Russert—and the rest of the world—that as president she wouldn’t let David Petraeus dictate Iraq policy any more than Harry Truman let Douglas MacArthur call the shots in Korea.
But she didn't do any of those things. What's more, when Russert challenged her on her 2002 vote approving the Iraq invasion, Clinton gave her standard non-answer: "I made it very clear that my vote was not a vote for preemptive war. I said that on the floor, I said it consistently after that. It was a vote to put inspectors back in to determine what threat Saddam Hussein did in fact pose."
Let's take a look at what the bill actually said. Its title was "Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq. Do you think it's possible Hillary didn't read that part of it, or that she misread it, and thought it said "Resolution to Authorize Putting Inspectors Back In?"
Then there's the part of the bill called "authorization" that says "The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to (1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and (2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions regarding Iraq."
How on earth does Hillary think she didn't vote for the war? Was it a matter of what her definition of "authorize" was? If so, that goes beyond Clintonesque. It's downright Bushwacky.
No matter how vehemently she denies it, Hillary bought the Bush team's narrative on Iraq back in 2002, and now she's vested in their Iran fable.
At the November 2007 Democratic candidates' debate in Las Vegas, she tried to bully a young Iraq War veteran into agreeing that "the Iranian Revolutionary Guard has assisted the militias and others in killing our Americans and in maiming them." In a February 2007 address to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), she echoed the administration's boo noise about Iran's nuclear program, and emphasized the "urgency to the necessity to doing everything we can to deny nuclear weapons to Iran."
The claims about Iranian culpability in attacks on American G.I.s started about the same time as the surge, and the administration has yet to provide a stick of credible proof to back those accusations. And we don't need to do anything at all to deny nuclear weapons to Iran because, as we all know now thanks to the latest National Intelligence Estimate, it denied them to itself.
One can only conclude that Hillary is a closet neocon or that she's so afraid of being cast as weak on security that she'll give them whatever they want to keep them from calling her a girly girl on AM radio and Fox News.
In either case, I'm sorry, Senator, but you didn't pass the audition. Next Democrat, please, and remember everyone, we're only seeing singing CINCs today. If you're a dancing CINC, you need to come back tomorrow.
Jeff's novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books) will be available April 1, 2008.