Tag Archives: Jonathan Tobin

“Burning Out His Fuse Up Here Alone”

A.J. Perez at Fanhouse:

Roger Clemens‘ precipitous descent from one of the game’s top power pitchers to landing under a multi-count federal indictment “was completely self-inflicted,” former Congressman Tom Davis told FanHouse on Thursday.

“He got caught in a speed trap like a lot of other ballplayers found in the Mitchell Report,” said Davis, former ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform where Clemens testified in February 2008. “Most of the others offered up an apology and many of them did just fine. He didn’t want to do that. He wanted to clear his name and we offered him a forum.”

This forum, however, came with a caveat: the seven-time Cy Young Award winner had to go under oath with no promise of immunity. That public relations move fully backfired Thursday as United States Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. and Shawn Henry, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington field office, announced that Clemens would face one count of obstruction of Congress, three counts of making false statements and two counts of perjury.

Clemens, whose appearance in front of the committee was completely voluntary since he was not subpoenaed, faces a combined maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine, although he would likely only serve 15-21 months if convicted on all six counts under current sentencing guidelines.

Barry Petchesky at Deadspin:

The Rocket, responding to his indictment on perjury charges: “I never took HGH or Steroids. And I did not lie to Congress. I look forward to challenging the Governments accusations, and hope people will keep an open mind until trial.”

‘Duk at Yahoo Sports:

Today’s news is bound to produce a bevy of reactions that will all sound something like “why is the government wasting resources and taxpayer money pursuing this case?” In fact, I would guess there’s a good chance you’re saying something similar right now.

But I’ve never liked that line of thinking much because we have rules about lying under oath for a reason. And those rules become absolutely worthless if we summarily pardon anyone who is suspected of doing so.

Now, if you want to argue that Clemens shouldn’t have been summoned to a position where he could be accused of lying, that’s a different debate altogether. With much bigger battles out there to fight, the insistence of politicians on becoming involved with sports and PEDs is probably more misguided than any of our shrugs over this Clemens charge.

But because it may have happened, it’s important that prosecutors hold Clemens accountable for his actions — so long as they’ve built a case they actually have a chance of bringing home. Federal perjury charges were first brought against Barry Bonds in November 2007 and the prosecutors still aren’t any closer to being able to convict him. (Bonds’ perpetually delayed trial, by the way, is now set for March 2011.)

In other words, if the prosecutors are going to start this controversial job, they better have a pretty good idea of how they’re going to finish it in a timely and efficient manner.

And if they don’t?

Well, that’s where our real issue with this action should lie.

Shaun Powell at ESPN:

Wouldn’t a simple “my bad” have spared him a fidgety appearance at a 2008 congressional hearing that was both sad and hilarious, where he used awkward words (“misremembered” being my favorite) and a variety of silly replies to charges made by Brian McNamee, his former trainer? Wouldn’t Clemens have been better served by taking the road followed by Andy Pettitte, his close friend and training partner, who ‘fessed up and still enjoys hero status in the Bronx? Would Clemens be facing the same disgraceful fate as Marion Jones, the Olympic sprint queen, who was locked up for nearly six months?

Yes, it was arrogance that doomed Clemens, nothing more or less, and exposed him as a fraud. You can understand why. For years, that attitude served him well. It allowed him to intimidate hitters with those strike zone-seeking missiles he threw with amazing consistency for 24 years and two tours of duty with the Yankees. It encouraged him to famously fire some high heat at Mike Piazza‘s head and then grab a broken bat and hurl it at Piazza’s feet. It made him do whatever possible, even if it were illegal, to strike back at then-Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette, who dismissed “The Rocket” as being finished when Clemens left Boston.

And arrogance told Clemens he was a better man and would cut a more believable figure at that hearing than McNamee, who in the big picture was a complete nobody. At least the Republicans on the panel thought so, anyway.

Don Suber:

Let me make this clear: I dislike Roger Clemens — Rajah — a guy whose achievements on the field do not match his outsized ego, and considering he won 354 games, that is saying a lot.

So why in the hell are federal prosecutors dogging the man?

Why are they indicting him?

Because he used steroids? Hell, they all did in the 1990s, including A-Rod. If the difference between making $1 million and making $10 million was taking a banned drug, I would take them.

But the feds cannot get him for that because of the statute of limitations.

So he will be indicted for lying to Congress.

That’s like breaking wind in a stockyard.

Jonathan Tobin at Commentary

Joshua Tucker:

Relieved to hear he was indicted, but I was still kind of hoping they were finally going to get him on assault and battery for this:


For those of you not permanently traumatized by the 2000 World Series, yes, that is Roger Clemens about to throw a bat at Mike Piazza’s head. And no, not only was he not arrested, he wasn’t even thrown out of the game. Go figure.

Scott Lemieux:

My official reaction to the indictment of Roger Clemens is that I don’t like perjury charges that are an outgrowth from “OMG baseball players use different kinds of PEDs than the good, clean ballplayers of my youth did” witch hunts. On the other hand, something bad has happened to Roger Clemens, so you can see my dilemma here. Maybe the feds can get him to name Jeter so we never have to hear about steroids again…

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Filed under Crime, Sports

Barack, Bibi, And The Bomber Boys

Jeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic:

It is possible that at some point in the next 12 months, the imposition of devastating economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran will persuade its leaders to cease their pursuit of nuclear weapons. It is also possible that Iran’s reform-minded Green Movement will somehow replace the mullah-led regime, or at least discover the means to temper the regime’s ideological extremism. It is possible, as well, that “foiling operations” conducted by the intelligence agencies of Israel, the United States, Great Britain, and other Western powers—programs designed to subvert the Iranian nuclear effort through sabotage and, on occasion, the carefully engineered disappearances of nuclear scientists—will have hindered Iran’s progress in some significant way. It is also possible that President Obama, who has said on more than a few occasions that he finds the prospect of a nuclear Iran “unacceptable,” will order a military strike against the country’s main weapons and uranium-enrichment facilities.

But none of these things—least of all the notion that Barack Obama, for whom initiating new wars in the Middle East is not a foreign-policy goal, will soon order the American military into action against Iran—seems, at this moment, terribly likely. What is more likely, then, is that one day next spring, the Israeli national-security adviser, Uzi Arad, and the Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak, will simultaneously telephone their counterparts at the White House and the Pentagon, to inform them that their prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has just ordered roughly one hundred F-15Es, F-16Is, F-16Cs, and other aircraft of the Israeli air force to fly east toward Iran—possibly by crossing Saudi Arabia, possibly by threading the border between Syria and Turkey, and possibly by traveling directly through Iraq’s airspace, though it is crowded with American aircraft. (It’s so crowded, in fact, that the United States Central Command, whose area of responsibility is the greater Middle East, has already asked the Pentagon what to do should Israeli aircraft invade its airspace. According to multiple sources, the answer came back: do not shoot them down.)

In these conversations, which will be fraught, the Israelis will tell their American counterparts that they are taking this drastic step because a nuclear Iran poses the gravest threat since Hitler to the physical survival of the Jewish people. The Israelis will also state that they believe they have a reasonable chance of delaying the Iranian nuclear program for at least three to five years. They will tell their American colleagues that Israel was left with no choice. They will not be asking for permission, because it will be too late to ask for permission.

When the Israelis begin to bomb the uranium-enrichment facility at Natanz, the formerly secret enrichment site at Qom, the nuclear-research center at Esfahan, and possibly even the Bushehr reactor, along with the other main sites of the Iranian nuclear program, a short while after they depart en masse from their bases across Israel—regardless of whether they succeed in destroying Iran’s centrifuges and warhead and missile plants, or whether they fail miserably to even make a dent in Iran’s nuclear program—they stand a good chance of changing the Middle East forever; of sparking lethal reprisals, and even a full-blown regional war that could lead to the deaths of thousands of Israelis and Iranians, and possibly Arabs and Americans as well; of creating a crisis for Barack Obama that will dwarf Afghanistan in significance and complexity; of rupturing relations between Jerusalem and Washington, which is Israel’s only meaningful ally; of inadvertently solidifying the somewhat tenuous rule of the mullahs in Tehran; of causing the price of oil to spike to cataclysmic highs, launching the world economy into a period of turbulence not experienced since the autumn of 2008, or possibly since the oil shock of 1973; of placing communities across the Jewish diaspora in mortal danger, by making them targets of Iranian-sponsored terror attacks, as they have been in the past, in a limited though already lethal way; and of accelerating Israel’s conversion from a once-admired refuge for a persecuted people into a leper among nations.

If a strike does succeed in crippling the Iranian nuclear program, however, Israel, in addition to possibly generating some combination of the various catastrophes outlined above, will have removed from its list of existential worries the immediate specter of nuclear-weaponized, theologically driven, eliminationist anti-Semitism; it may derive for itself the secret thanks (though the public condemnation) of the Middle East’s moderate Arab regimes, all of which fear an Iranian bomb with an intensity that in some instances matches Israel’s; and it will have succeeded in countering, in militant fashion, the spread of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, which is, not irrelevantly, a prime goal of the enthusiastic counter-proliferator who currently occupies the White House.

Steve Clemons at the Washington Note:

In an important article titled “The Point of No Return” to be published in The Atlantic tomorrow, national correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg recounts something many people didn’t realize at the time and still have a hard time believing. President George W. Bush knocked back Dick Cheney’s wing of the foreign policy establishment – both inside and out of his administration – that wanted to launch a bombing campaign against Iran. In a snippet I had not seen before, Bush mockingly referred to bombing advocates Bill Kristol and Charles Krauthammer as “the bomber boys.”

George W. Bush was showing his inner realist not allowing his own trigger-happy Curtis LeMays pile on to the national security messes the US already owned in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But that was several years ago. Today, there is a new US President, more Iranian centrifuges, and a different Israeli Prime Minister – and Bibi Netanyahu seems closer to a Curtis LeMay, John Bolton or Frank Gaffney than he does to the more containment-oriented Eisenhowers and George Kennans who in their day forged a global equilibrium out of superpower rivalry and hatred.

Goldberg, after conducting dozens of interviews with senior members of Israel’s national security establishment as well as many top personalities in the Obama White House, concludes in his must-read piece that the likelihood of Israel unilaterally bombing Iran to curtail a potential nuclear weapon breakout capacity is north of 50-50.

Joe Klein at Swampland at Time:

I’m not sure I miss Bush’s penchant for nicknames (mine was “Joe Boy”): it was far too frat boy by a lot. But occasionally the President struck gold, as Jeff Goldberg reports in a new piece previewed by Steve Clemons today: he called Bill Kristol and Charles Krauthammer “the bomber boys,” after their obsession with going to war with Iran–an obsession Bush eschewed in his more reasonable second term, when he retrieved his foreign policy from the Cheney Cult.

In the end, Bush was completely overmatched by the presidency. His time in office–the tax cuts, the Iraq war, the torture, the slipshod governance, the spending on programs like Medicare prescription drugs without paying for them, the deficits, the failure to foresee the housing bubble–was ruinous for the country. But I’ve got to say that “Bomber Boys” is a keeper. Kristol and Krauthammer are hereby branded for life.

Jonathan Tobin at Commentary:

It is more likely that the president and his advisers are more worried about validating the Bush doctrine that a preemptive strike is justified when the threat of a rogue regime getting hold of a weapon of mass destruction is on the table. Everything this administration has done seems to indicate that it sees a potential strike on Iran as more of a threat to the world than the Iranian bomb itself. Since Obama is almost certainly more afraid of another Iraq than he is of a genocidal threat to Israel’s existence, it is difficult to believe that he will take Hitchens’s advice.


I think some people in Washington — and elsewhere — have been letting the Israelis twist in the wind in the hopes that Israel will solve our Iran problems for us, and take the blame. I don’t think these “leaders” will like the outcome, and if I were the Israelis I wouldn’t be trying too hard to make it pleasant. Irresponsibility can be expensive.

Rick Moran:

Goldberg notes that with success, the Israelis will buy time (probably putting the Iranian program back 3-5 years), earn the secret thanks of most of the moderate Arab regimes in the Middle East, and will have stopped potential proliferation to terrorist groups in its tracks.

Is that worth initiating a strike that could lead to World War III?

What will the Russians do if the Israeli’s hit Bushehr? It is likely they will kill Russian technicians in such a strike since they are building the facility under contract with Tehran. Will Vladmir Putin take the death of Russian scientists and technicians lying down? What if he retaliates against Israel? What would be the American response to that?

August, 1914?

Unleashing Hezb’allah against the western world, stirring up trouble in Iraq by ordering the Shia militias into the streets, not to mention a missile campaign against Israel that could kill thousands (at which point Israel may decide that to save its people, it must expand its own bombing campaign, escalating the conflict to the next level) – this alone could ratchet up tensions causing the world to start choosing up sides.

And no America with the will or the self-confidence to step in and assist the world in standing down.

Obama’s foreign policy is not anti-American, unpatriotic, or designed to favor Muslims. It’s just weak. The president has made the conscious decision that the US is too powerful and needs to defer to supra-national organizations like the UN, or regional line ups like NATO or the Arab League when conflict is threatened. “First among equals” is not rhetoric to Obama. He means it. He has been thoroughly indoctrinated with the idea that most of the world’s troubles have been caused by a too-powerful United States and hence, only deliberately eschewing the promotion of American interests can redress this sin.

This will be the first world crisis since the end of World War II where American power and prestige will not be used to intervene in order to prevent catastrophe. Obama is betting the farm that his worldview will be more conducive to defusing a crisis than the more realpolitik and pragmatic point of view that has dominated American foreign policy for 65 years.

We are shortly going to find out whether good intentions really matter in international affairs

Allah Pundit:

Somehow it manages to be both harrowing and mundane: No matter what Obama and Netanyahu end up doing or not doing, the Middle East is sure to be a more dangerous place in a year or two than it is even now — and yet we’ve been headed towards that Catch-22 for years, dating well back into the Bush administration. As dire as they are, the strategic calculations have become sufficiently familiar — a bombing run might not disable the program, might only postpone it for a year or two, might touch off a regional war with America in the middle — that I bet most readers will either glance at the piece or pass on it entirely as old news. The Iranian program is like having a bomb in your lap knowing that any wire you cut will detonate it, so you sit there and fidget with it in hopes that it’ll just sort of fizzle out on its own. Sit there long enough and even a situation as dangerous as that will start to seem boring. Until the bomb goes off.

Doug Mataconis:

I honestly don’t know what the answer to the Iranian nuclear question is.

The prospect of the likes of the Islamic Republic possession nuclear weapons is not something I look forward to. Then again, I’m still not all that comfortable with the idea of Pakistan having nuclear weapons, and don’t get me started about North Korea. Nonetheless, Pakistan has had those weapons for more than a decade now and they haven’t used them. Even same goes for North Korea. Both countries, of course, have engaged in nuclear proliferation, and that may be the greatest danger of an Iranian nuclear weapons program, not that they’d use them, but that they’d teach others how to make them.  It’s entirely possible, then, that a nuclear-armed, or nuclear-capable, Iran, may not end up being as much of a threat as we fear.

Israel, however, doesn’t seem to be inclined to wait to find out how things will turn out. Their current leadership views a nuclear-armed Iran as an existential threat to Israel and, whether or not that is actually true, they’re likely to act accordingly. Unfortunately, their actions are likely to have consequences that we’ll all have to deal with.

UPDATE: Fred Kaplan at Slate

Glenn Greenwald

Jonathan Schwarz

Joe Klein at Swampland at Time

James Fallows

UPDATE #2: Robin Wright at The Atlantic

Christopher Hitchens in Slate

UPDATE #3: Elliott Abrams at The Atlantic

Greg Scoblete

Dave Schuler

UPDATE #4: Marc Lynch at The Atlantic

UPDATE #5: Heather Hurlburt and Daniel Drezner at Bloggingheads


Filed under Israel/Palestine, Middle East

The Laying Of The Wreath And All That It Means

John Hudson at The Atlantic with a round-up. Hudson:

For the first time ever, a U.S. delegation will attend Japan’s annual memorial commemorating America’s atomic bombing of Hiroshima. U.S. Ambassador John Roos is expected to lay a wreath at the memorial in remembrance of the bomb victims. While the appearance could hold political risks for the Obama administration, it could also strengthen U.S.-Japan relations.

Interestingly, President Obama’s latest gesture isn’t stirring much outrage among hawkish foreign-policy writers. Instead, what has emerged is a discussion about Japan’s need for a more honest assessment of World War II

Kenzaburo Oe at NYT:

At the annual Hiroshima Peace Ceremony on Friday, this year marking the 65th anniversary of the dropping of the atom bomb, representatives from Britain, France and the United States planned to be in attendance, for the first time. This is a public event at which government leaders give speeches, but it also has a more profound and private aspect, as the atomic bomb survivors offer ritual consolation to the spirits of their dead relatives. Of all the official events that have been created during the past 200 years of modernization, the peace ceremony has the greatest degree of moral seriousness.

I’m using the term “moral seriousness” deliberately here, to echo a passage in the speech President Obama delivered in Prague in April 2009. “As the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon,” he said, “the United States has a moral responsibility to act.” The president’s call is yet another indication that a sense of crisis is germinating, fueled by a growing awareness that if decisive steps are not taken, before long the possession of nuclear weapons will not be limited to a few privileged countries.

Mr. Obama’s Prague speech reflected the sentiments expressed previously by George Shultz, William Perry, Henry Kissinger and Sam Nunn in a 2007 article for The Wall Street Journal titled “A World Free of Nuclear Weapons.” They wrote: “Deterrence continues to be a relevant consideration for many states with regard to threats from other states. But reliance on nuclear weapons for this purpose is becoming increasingly hazardous and decreasingly effective.”

The antinuclear mood in America and Europe appears to be gaining momentum; indeed, the American, British and French presence at the peace ceremony may be seen as a small symbolic step toward a nuclear-free world. However, as things stand now, Japan still has no concrete plan for moving the air base. In the same vein, there’s the possibility that we will allow nuclear weapons to pass through Japan in exchange for American protection.

At a meeting of the United Nations Security Council before he was deposed, Prime Minister Hatoyama responded to Mr. Obama’s Prague speech by noting that Japan, too, had a “moral responsibility” because it was “the only victim of nuclear bombings.”

But what sort of action will result from all this antinuclear rhetoric? If Prime Minister Kan also takes the time to think about President Obama’s phrase, how might he interpret it? It probably wouldn’t go over very well if, in his speech at the peace ceremony, he were to side with the crowd advocating transport of nuclear weapons through Japan.

But suppose he did — how would such a declaration be received by the foreign dignitaries who have allied themselves with Mr. Obama’s pledge? And what about the bombing victims who will fill the venue? Wouldn’t they feel a sense of outrage if they were told that it’s their moral responsibility, as citizens of the only atom-bombed country, to choose to live under the protection of a nuclear umbrella, and that wanting to discard that umbrella in favor of freedom is, conversely, an abdication of responsibility?

James Gibney at The Atlantic on Oe:

The annual anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6th inevitably prompts an outpouring of a lot of well-meaning pablum. One bracing, eloquent exception to that is novelist Kenzaburo Oe’s column on yesterday’s New York Times op-ed page.

Ignore Oe’s spluttering about the current imbroglio over the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station in Okinawa. Although it ought to be moved, and although there’s no excuse or serious strategic rationale for why Okinawa needs to keep “hosting” the bulk of U.S. forces in Japan, those debates are tangential to Oe’s larger point: that many Japanese seem to want to live under the righteous penumbra of the Hiroshima dome AND enjoy the protection of the U.S. nuclear umbrella. Discussing how atom bomb survivors might view a decision by Japan to allow the transit of U.S. nuclear weapons through its territory, Oe writes:

Wouldn’t they feel a sense of outrage if they were told that it’s their moral responsibility, as citizens of the only atom-bombed country, to choose to live under the protection of a nuclear umbrella, and that wanting to discard that umbrella in favor of freedom is, conversely, an abdication of responsibility?

I doubt Mr. Oe and I would agree with each other on either the decision to drop the bomb on Hiroshima and the desirability of a truly nuclear-free world. But his insight provides the basis for a more honest discussion about Japan’s claims to moral privilege and its strategic future.
Warren Kozak at The Wall Street Journal

Jonathan Tobin at Commentary:

In theory, there ought to be nothing wrong with an American representative appearing in Hiroshima. Mourning the loss of so many lives in the bombing is both understandable and appropriate. But the problem lies in the way Japan remembers World War II. One of the reasons why it would have been appropriate for the United States to avoid its official presence at this ceremony is that the Japanese have never taken full responsibility for their own conduct during the war that the Hiroshima bombing helped end. Indeed, to listen to the Japanese, their involvement in the war sounds limited to the incineration of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as the fire bombings of many other urban centers in the country, followed by a humiliating American occupation. The horror of the two nuclear bombs didn’t just wipe out two cities and force Japan’s government to finally bow to the inevitable and surrender. For 65 years it has served as a magic event that has erased from the collective memory of the Japanese people the vicious aggression and countless war crimes committed against not only the Allied powers but also the peoples of Asia who fell under their cruel rule in the 1930s and 1940s. The bombing of Hiroshima was horrible, but it ought not, as it has for all these years, to serve as an excuse for the Japanese people to forget the crimes their government and armed forces committed throughout their empire during the years that preceded the dropping of the first nuclear bomb.

Richard Fernandez at Pajamas Media:

As the New York Times remembers Hiroshima, try this quiz. Name the two greatest losses of civilian life in the Pacific war. Hint. In both cases the civilian casualties were greater than Hiroshima’s. In one case the event took place on American soil.


Hiroshima 70,000–80,000

Battle of Manila 100,000
Nanjing 300,000


Hiroshima, Manila and Nanjing are tragic in their own ways. But one tragedy that continues even to this day is the selective memory in the capitals of nations who the inhabitants of Manila and Nanjing once called their Allies.  Bravery and sacrifice is fine; but politics is finer. Hiroshima is remembered not only because of the suffering and loss that took place there but because it renews an ongoing narrative, and those Japanese dead can still march in its cause. Manila and Nanjing, which hold the graves of nearly 400,000 people who once fought on the side of the democracies, are forgotten.  But that is no matter. After the first death, there is no other.

Bruce McQuain:

The Japanese people supported the war, cheered the victories and reveled in the spoils it brought. They were brutal and murderous conquerers. And they refused to surrender.After the first bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, the Japanese war cabinet of 6 split in their vote, refusing to surrender. After Nagasaki, they still refused to surrender until, in an unprecedented move, the Emperor intervened and essentially ordered them to do so.

If those who survived the atomic bombings at Hiroshima feel “outrage”, they should look in the mirror. They enabled and supported a regime that “outraged” the world. They cheered and shared in the spoils of a war they started which devastated much of Asia. They supported a brutal, murderous and criminal militaristic war machine that raped and murdered at will. If anyone should be “outraged”, it is those who suffered under the horrific but thankfully short Japanese rule of that time. If anyone should be apologizing yearly, it is the Japanese.

Well, for a time I organized my World Politics classes around case study analysis, and I used Carolyn Rhodes’, Pivotal Decisions: Select Cases In Twentieth Century International Politics. One of the best chapters is “The Decision to Drop the Bomb on Japan.” A lot of students were overwhelmed by the case studies, and I imagine that’s because Rhodes’ cases were extremely in-depth and rigorous, and thus required more advanced training than many entry-level students possessed. That said, there were some beefy discussions. I can remember at least one student — and a couple of others to a lesser degree — who basically broke down during the discussion of whether the U.S. should have used nuclear weapons to end the war. I mean, really, the discussions were almost traumatizing for some. So while the article above notes that the Japanese are perhaps the world’s most pacifist people, especially with regards to nuclear weapons, some the post-’60s cohorts of neo-socialist youth have internalized tremendously strong feelings about this as well. Of course, I don’t think such ideological sentiment leads to rigorous thinking, but at least those views are deeply held.

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Filed under Foreign Affairs, History

The Week That Was Landon Donovan’s Goal

USA Today:

Here’s a video that marvelously compiles the national reaction to Landon Donovan’s game-winning goal at the World Cup yesterday, from Nebraska to Arizona to New York, and even to “some dude in Arkansas.” Look closely, you might see someone you know.

Charlie Corr at ESPN:

Emotions built as the clock ticked away Wednesday during the United States’ final Group C match against Algeria in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Which way would the tide flow for the U.S.? Would the Americans fall short once again from advancing through the group stage, or could they pull off the miracle goal?

In the 91st minute, the U.S. found that long-awaited clutch strike as Landon Donovan’s second-half stoppage time goal carried the Americans to a 1-0 victory over Algeria and first place in Group C.

The U.S. could not afford a draw, because also on Wednesday, England advanced through the group stage with a 1-0 win over Slovenia.

“It’s a match where both teams need to win, so it turns into a very wide open game,” former Chicago Fire and current U.S. head coach Bob Bradley said in the postmatch news conference. “Algeria is a very good team, skillful and well-organized, but the game now takes on a different tone just because of the need for both teams to win.”

If you were attempting to watch the two Group C matches simultaneously, there were some key sequences to pay attention to on both screens.

In the 20th minute of the U.S.-Algeria match, the Americans were involved yet again with another disallowed goal. Clint Dempsey was called for offside before striking the ball into the back of the net. But replays showed that he was level with Algeria’s back line.

Flip over to England-Slovenia, and in the 23rd minute England garnered a much-needed goal from Jermain Defoe to take a 1-0 lead. If things stood that way, with England topping Slovenia and the U.S. level with Algeria, that meant England and Slovenia would advance.

Back to the split-screen, in the U.S. match in the 57th minute, Dempsey hit the post off of Jozy Altidore’s cross. While that was going on, England’s Wayne Rooney had the ball one-on-one against Slovenia goalkeeper Samir Handanovic in the 58th minute. But Rooney’s strike hit the left post after the ball ever-so-slightly deflected off of Handanovic’s finger tips.

Aside from a near disaster at the start of the match — almost allowing a 6th-minute goal to Algeria — the U.S. created the better chances of the two teams. But the Americans were unable to finish.

From the U.S. viewers’ standpoint, they were grasping for any advantage, whether it was the U.S.’s match or Slovenia hoping to find an equalizer against England. Even if it meant an Algerian booking — Dempsey took a knock to the face from Antar Yahia in the 81st minute and Altidore was fouled from behind by Medhi Lacen in the 82nd, but neither foul (Yahia’s was not even called by the official) had any bearing on the match. Around the 90th minute of the England-Slovenia match, Slovenia had a few attacking moments to try and level things up.

But that little bit of assistance would not come. The Americans had to overcome this obstacle on their own, and Donovan came through with the tally.

Tommy Craggs at Deadspin

David Roth at The Wall Street Journal:

In the short run, the repercussions of Landon Donovan’s game-winning goal in the 91st minute against Algeria are pretty clear – the U.S. won its group and sealed a knockout round date with Ghana, the team that eliminated the U.S. from the 2006 World Cup. And yet focusing on the short run falls dramatically short of capturing the moment’s significance. More to the point, the goal was pretty awesome, and judging by the response to it – it nearly broke the internet and launched millions of high fives – Donovan’s improbable goal might’ve accomplished another improbable goal in turn: finally turning recalcitrant American sports fans into soccer fans.

“This was huge,” George Vecsey writes in the New York Times, “not because it put that foreign sport over the top, which is never the point, and not because it meant anything less about Algeria — a smaller nation and a skilled, competitive team — but because it felt like a sporting event that could unify America for a few screaming moments.”

All true, all well put, but perhaps most important of all: It was seriously, seriously exciting. “Remember June 23, 2010: the day the lame old ‘Soccer is Boring’ argument finally died in the U.S.,” the Journal’s Jason Gay cheers. “If you weren’t completely, utterly thrilled, exhausted and satisfied by Wednesday’s 1-0 Team USA World Cup thriller over Algeria, you’re a lifeless sports corpse.”

Stefan Fatsis at The New Republic:

The guy standing near me was crying, too. It was my new best friend, Ian Ainslie of the fan group American Outlaws, and after the fourth Foer brother — tell me that Landon and this blog’s editor aren’t separated at birth — scored the most important goal in American soccer history (later, Paul Caligiuri), tears were streaming down his face. Streaming, I tell you. Ainslie borrowed my notebook and wrote, “I don’t even have words.” I really think he couldn’t speak.

Inside Loftus Versfeld Stadium, the 90 minutes before bedlam were an anxious and frustrating referendum on US soccer. We had seen this movie before: the sloppy defending, the missed sitters. Jonathan Bornstein? Seriously? Here were my worries: a three-draw exit, capped by a nil-nil result, would rearm the wingnuts and the Reillys. More important, it would buzzkill what I gather is genuine hype and excitement — and good ratings — back home. Sunil Gulati told me before the Slovenia game that, while he doesn’t believe in tipping points, this likable team, this seriously ESPNed tournament and a bid-in-progress to host a World Cup presented a rare opportunity for the sport. I’m in the bag for Sunil, whom I’ve known for a long time. Backdated to 1984, he talked about a 50-year plan for American soccer; I’ve been yapping about a 20- to 30-year one for a while now. Fucking Jozy, I said. How do you not just tap that ball in?

And then it happened. Sunil cried, too. And he woke up this morning to escort Bill Clinton and shake the trees for votes from FIFA’s 24-member Politburo for that 2022 World Cup bid. (Clinton is the bid’s honorary chairman; he got a big cheer when his face appeared on the video board last night.) ESPN was assured another weekend of USA-fired ratings. And given that we’ve landed for the first two knockout rounds in the best group since the Beatles, the possibility for advancing further than any modern US men’s national team is real. Project 2010, anyone?


Anyone with a dust speck of knowledge of US soccer’s place in the world understands that the euphoria surrounding Donovan’s goal and the prospect for the US in this World Cup have nothing whatsoever to do with reinforcing American cultural might and everything to do with celebrating a long-time-coming (and still-not-there) American ascendancy in the rare place it hasn’t existed. Those chants of “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” aren’t an expression of American superiority. They’re a foam finger in the world’s eyeball from a historically and justifiably overlooked, disrespected, disregarded second-rate soccer country. It’s all about redemption on the field, not politics off of it.

Daniel Drezner:

The USA’s thrilling, last-minute victory over Algeria yesterday seemed tailor-made for pushing the popularity of the sport in this country to the next level.  Americans like winners, but they really like last-minute, come-from-behind winners, and this American team seems to excel in that area.

On the other hand…. I’m not sure I really want Americans to care that much about what happens on a soccer field football pitch.  To see why, consider this Steven Erlanger story in the New York Times about how the French elite has reacted to that country’s ignominious exit from the World Cup:

The philosopher Alain Finkielkraut, who has often criticized the failures of French assimilation, compared the players to youths rioting in the banlieues, France’s suburban ghettos. “We now have proof that the French team is not a team at all, but a gang of hooligans that knows only the morals of the mafia,” he said in a radio interview.

While most politicians have talked carefully of values and patriotism, rather than immigration and race, some legislators blasted the players as “scum,” “little troublemakers” and “guys with chickpeas in their heads instead of a brain,” according to news reports.

Fadela Amara, the junior minister for the racially charged suburbs who was born to Algerian parents, warned on Tuesday that the reaction to the team’s loss had become racially charged.

“There is a tendency to ethnicize what has happened,” she told a gathering of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s governing party, according to news reports. “Everyone condemns the lower-class neighborhoods. People doubt that those of immigrant backgrounds are capable of respecting the nation.”

She criticized Mr. Sarkozy’s handling of a debate on “national identity,” warning that “all democrats and all republicans will be lost” in this ethnically tinged criticism about Les Bleus, the French team. “We’re building a highway for the National Front,” she said, in a reference to the far-right, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim party founded by Jean-Marie Le Pen….

Mr. Sarkozy himself called a meeting on the disastrous result on Wednesday, summoning Prime Minister Francois Fillon, Sports Minister Roselyne Bachelot and Rama Yade, the junior sports minister. In a statement, he said he had ordered them “to rapidly draw the lessons of this disaster.”

Now, to be fair, there have been a few moments in the past when a US team has performed so abysmally on the global stage that it prompted a minor, ugly political kerfuffle (I’m thinking of the 2000 Olympic men’s basketball team).  Still, in order, here’s what I don’t want to see happen in the United States:

1.  Philosophers using a national team’s sporting performance to opine about the state of the union;

2.  Any politician blaming the performance of a national sports team on the country’s government;

3.  A Minister of Sport;

4.  A head of state summoning the head of government and other policy principals to discuss the broad socioeconomic lessons that can be drawn from the failures of a f***ing football team.

David Zirin at The Nation:

I personally felt almost a little drunk at the excitement of it all (which unfortunately may have come across on air.) The United States is not my favorite team by a long stretch. I’m an Argentina guy, myself. But I was reminded of the words of Eduardo Galeano, author of Soccer in Sun and Shadow, who said, “Years have gone by and I’ve finally learned to accept myself for who I am: a beggar for good soccer. I go about the world, hand outstretched, and in the stadiums I plead: ‘A pretty move, for the love of God.’ And when good soccer happens, I give thanks for the miracle and I don’t give a damn which team or country performs it.”

Yet after the show, I was reminded about why when the United States wins in international tournaments, it can bring a nasty undercurrent in its wake. I was listening to a DC sports radio show called the Sports Fix with Kevin Sheehan and Thom Loverro (Loverro writes a sports column for the Washington Times). Loverro was dismissive about the quality of the victory, saying, “When I think of Algeria, all I think about are terrorists and Abbott and Costello movies.” (Given what Algeria suffered at the hands of French occupiers, they probably have a different definition of terrorism.) The two then debated whether United States vs. Algeria was “a Grenada game” or “a Vietnam game,” comparing the soccer game to the two wars—Grenada of course being the easy win and Vietnam the tragic loss.

It reminded why these kinds of international competitions can leave me with such a sour taste. Why can’t we just recognize that Algeria played gallantly against a better US team, which won by the skin of its teeth? Why must an insanely miraculous athletic victory also be a reinforcer of cultural supremacy? It’s yet another reminder why it is so important for progressives to not just thrill to the joys of sport but be conversant in the politics of sports. The right will forever try to pump the worst kind of racist, nationalist garbage through our play, even at moments that by all rights should be above and beyond politics and just about the electric thrill of the moment. Especially given the right’s (and Loverro’s) contempt for “the beautiful game”, soccer of all things shouldn’t suffer the curse of being a cheap, political football.

Jonathan Tobin at Commentary:

In the NPR universe, the reluctance of the vast majority of Americans to embrace the so-called “beautiful game” is a symbol of our Bush-like arrogance and refusal to march to the same drummers as those enlightened soccer hooligans from Europe, South America, and even North Korea (whose representatives made the 32-team final in South Africa). For soccer lovers who see the sport’s minor-league status here as an affront to their globalist sensibilities, the World Cup is the quadrennial chance to boost its status, so the fortunes of the American team are a matter of deep concern to them. If the Americans succeed, as they have so far in this World Cup, then they hope that somehow this will translate into more prestige for U.S. soccer or at least a chance that the sports manifestation of American exceptionalism is in decline. Notwithstanding our sympathy for the boys running around the fields of South Africa in red, white, and blue, that is an outcome we should not desire. Soccer is just a game (albeit a boring one), and there’s no need for patriots to abuse it or its fans. But let’s just say that as long as Americans don’t share a common sports culture with Algerians and Iranians or even Europeans, we need not fear for the future of the republic.

But there’s the rub for hardcore leftists like Zirin, who hope that one day we will be no different than the rest of the world. Zirin wrote last week that the real reason that most Americans don’t like soccer is racism and looked forward to Glenn Beck’s dilemma when America was a World Cup favorite, as the right-wing broadcaster would have to choose between supporting the flag and his anti-soccer faith. But American successes, such as yesterday’s U.S. victory, provide Zirin with his own problem. In order for soccer to do well here, he’s got to root for the American team against Third World victims like Algeria (he admits he’s really an Argentina fan) and be subjected to jingoist soccer rhetoric about America’s “cultural supremacy” on sports talk shows. He confesses that is why international competitions leave him “with such a sour taste.”

While I find Zirin’s soccer evangelism as well as his aversion to rooting for his own country risible, he’s actually right about that last point even if he doesn’t follow it to its logical conclusion. While I wish the American World Cup team well, as I would any endeavor in which my fellow citizens represent our country, the business of wrapping team sports in national flags is sheer humbug. Which is why I despise the World Cup in the same way I detest other instances of sports globaloney, like the Olympics or our beloved national pastime of baseball’s own World Cup, whose absurd out-of-season international tournament has produced little interest here the two times it was played. It is far better to leave this nonsense to the denizens of Old Europe, unstable South America, and the despotic Middle East, whose one democracy, Israel, is not allowed to compete against its neighbors in soccer but must instead play against the powerhouses of Europe to get into the World Cup, and thus has never been allowed to participate.

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More Voting, But Not Involving Mickey Kaus Or Orly Taitz

Joe Klein at Swampland at Time:

The United Nations Security Council has passed a new, tougher Iran sanctions regime by a vote of 12-2, with Brazil and Turkey voting against and Lebanon abstaining. This will not create enough pressure to end Iran’s nuclear recalcitrance, but it’s a significant achievement nonetheless. It send a strong message to the Iranian people that the world–even friends like Russia and China–considers their government an international outlaw. That means something; it will have an impact on the growth and depth of the political opposition movement (and may eventually sway some of the crucial bazaaris, whose businesses may be affected by the sanctions, against the Revolutionary Guards’ dictatorship). We’ll see, over time, if Iran responds to diplomatic pressure;  it often has done so in the past.

The no votes by Brazil and Turkey are a matter of concern and sadness. Obviously, those two emerging powers aren’t feeling too pleased that their lame bid at nuclear diplomacy with Iran fell flat. They should be included–indeed, they should be front and center–when Iran is ready to return to the table; indeed, their initiative could be the start of the next round of negotiations. They could be valuable intermediaries between Iran and the rest of the world.

Michael Rubin at The Corner:

It is a blessing that Turkey is on the United Nations Security Council. For the first several years of Erdogan’s premiership, Turkish diplomats tried to be all things to all people, and, as so often happens with American diplomacy, we were willing to accept insincere Turkish statements in closed doors rather than listen to what the Turkish leadership was saying publicly. Today, Turkey decided definitively to side with Iran.

I am reminded of 1990, when Yemen represented the Middle East on the Security Council and did not vote to condemn Saddam’s invasion of  Kuwait. It is a vote that Yemen watchers still remember, 20 years later. Turkey’s vote today is similar.

A question for Obama and Secretary of Defense Gates: Given Turkey’s slide toward Iran, are you really willing to sell the Joint Strike Fighter to Ankara? Do you really want to supply that technology to a country, albeit for now a NATO member, where the government might simply transfer the technology to adversaries that seek to kill Americans?

This further round of sanctions is unlikely to stop Iran if it is set on making a bomb. The sanctions add a list of heavy weapons that may not be sold to Iran, and forbid Iran to develop ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. They lengthen slightly a list of Iranian officials and institutions on which various travel and financial restrictions are imposed. Perhaps most prominently, the resolution calls on countries to board ships bound for Iran and inspect their cargo, to enforce the resolution (if the country flagging the ships agrees, which is a big if).

What the resolution does not do is take a bite out of Iran’s main economic activity, the sale of its oil and gas. China made sure of that. As symbolic a blow as the vote is to Iran, these are not the “crippling” sanctions that the most fretful Iran-watchers have called for.

If these sticks are unlikely to do the trick, what of the carrots? The last annex of the resolution reiterates the P5+1’s offer from 2008 to recognise Iran’s right to peaceful nuclear power and to co-operate in areas from aviation to trade to security if Iran will suspend enrichment and enter a larger dialogue. The resolution now throws the focus back on Iran’s response. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s president, is likely to continue his public theatrics against the Western powers and Israel. But the supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, holds a great deal of power in Iran. It remains to be seen whether the new sanctions, combined with some muted sweet-talk from the P5+1 can change his mind.

Noah Pollak at Commentary:

Let’s review how we got here: The “reset” with Russia that was supposed to earn cooperation on Security Council sanctions merely taught Russia that Obama can be defied, cost-free. China noticed, and has joined the hands-off-Iran coalition. The “daylight” policy of being rude to the Israelis as a way of unifying the Arabs behind the peace process and against Iran has only left Israel isolated and the Arabs in disarray. Obama’s review conference for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and his calls for a nuclear-free Middle East have been easily manipulated to deflect attention from the threat to American interests — Iran — to the threat to Iranian interests, Israel.

The world has noticed Obama’s inability to get serious: Russia and China are now joined by Brazil and Turkey in openly thwarting the president’s meek effort to confront Iran. You know your enemy has lost respect for you when he admits, as Jalali does above, that you’re not even making it hard for him anymore.

Jonathan Tobin at Commentary:

So, like the three previous rounds of UN sanctions on Iran, we can expect this latest one to have no impact on either Iran’s willingness to buck global displeasure over the nuclear issue or its ability to proceed with its plans.

All of which leaves us asking the Obama administration, what now?

In theory, the new UN sanctions could prompt the United States and other Western powers to unilaterally impose far harsher sanctions by themselves. But that move will take even more months of negotiations and would almost certainly not include Russia and China, countries that have played a major role in enabling the Iranians to avoid paying the price for their nuclear ambitions. With force off the table and little hope of a truly crippling round of international sanctions, what does Iran have to worry about?

Though the administration is busily spinning recent developments as proof that the year they wasted trying to engage Iran helped build support for sanctions, the fact remains that Iran is not only a year closer to its nuclear goal but also in a stronger political and diplomatic position today than it was 12 months ago. Having completely suppressed domestic opponents in the wake of their stolen presidential election, the Khamenei/Ahmadinejad regime can also now point to the acquisition of two important foreign allies: Brazil and Turkey, both of whom are now firmly in Iran’s camp. And those two countries can say that the mischief they are making on Iran’s behalf is no different from what President Obama tried to do himself during his long unsuccessful attempt to appease Tehran.

Just as bad is the fact that over the past year, Obama has allowed the Iranians and their friends to establish a false moral equivalence between their nuclear program and that of the State of Israel, a country whose very existence requires a nuclear deterrent that Iran’s does not. The United States’s vote last week in favor of a resolution at the UN nonproliferation conference, which called on Israel to open up its nuclear facilities, is a clear signal that the Obama administration’s faltering resolve on Iran is matched by its ambivalence about the Jewish state and its security needs.

The bottom line is that far from today’s UN vote being a cause for celebration or even satisfaction over the fact that the world is finally paying attention to the threat of a nuclear Iran, it may well be a better indication of the West’s slide toward ultimate acquiescence to Iran’s goals.

Max Fisher at The Atlantic with the round-up

Josh Rogin at Foreign Policy:

Now that the U.N. Security Council has passed its new sanctions resolution against Iran, the path is clear for Congress to move forward with its own, tougher set of sanctions.

Lead sponsors Sen. Chris Dodd, D-CT, and Rep. Howard Berman, D-CA, had agreed to give the administration more time to complete the U.N. track before reconciling the Senate and House versions of Iran sanctions legislation. After an unusually public first session of the conference committee, work has been quietly proceeding at the staff level and is finishing up now.

The sequencing here is important. Congress is also waiting until the European Union has a chance to meet and announce its own set of measures. That meeting will happen June 16 and 17 in Brussels. After that, Congress will have two weeks to unveil its bicameral bill before lawmakers leave town for the July 4 recess.

“We now look to the European Union and other key nations that share our deep concern about Iran’s nuclear intentions to build on the Security Council resolution by imposing tougher national measures that will deepen Iran’s isolation and, hopefully, bring the Iranian leadership to its senses,” Berman said Wednesday. “The U.S. Congress will do its part by passing sanctions legislation later this month.”

Hill sources say that it’s still unclear whether Congress will be able to pass the conference report out of both chambers before the July 4 recess, as Dodd and Berman promised. But they see the passing of the U.N. resolution as the needed signal to move the conference process to its final conclusion.

“Now that the U.N. vote is behind us, there is a strong case to be made that the sanctions should be as strong as possible,” said one congressional aide working on the issue. “We’ve now begun the process of what is essentially the last, best hope of stopping Iran’s nuclear weapons program.”

Still, even among sanctions advocates, there’s great skepticism that Iran can be convinced to change course.

“The good news is that everything is going according to plan,” the aide said. “The bad news is that the plan might not work.”

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Republican And Democratic Politicians Come Together To Do What Politicians Do Best… Behave Badly

David Weigel:

Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.) has told his Republican colleagues that he will resign from the House following an affair with an aide.

“I sinned against God, my wife and my family by having a mutual relationship with a part-time member of my staff,” said Souder in a statement. “In the poisonous environment of Washington, D.C., any personal failing is seized upon, often twisted, for political gain. I am resigning rather than to put my family through that painful, drawn-out process… by stepping aside, my mistake cannot be used as a political football in a partisan attempt to undermine the cause for which I have labored all my adult life.”

One of the causes Souder is talking about is, of course, abstinence education. As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources when Republicans held the majority in Congress, Souder was a warrior for abstinence-only sex education and a critic of other forms of sex education, and he repeatedly intervened to make sure abstinence advocates were represented — even to the inclusion of other experts — on panels about sexual health. This is an embarrassing moment for the cause Souder spent 16 years advocating for.

Justin Elliott at Talking Points Memo:

Jackson played the role of interviewer for a Souder Web video show on the issues of the day — including one on the value of abstinence.

Dubbed “Congressional Update with Congressman Mark Souder,” the show hit on issues like intelligent design and fencing the border.

In the November 2009 abstinence video, Jackson introduces Souder this way: “You’ve been a longtime advocate for abstinence education and in 2006 you had your staff conduct a report entitled ‘Abstinence and its Critics’ which discredits many claims purveyed by those who oppose abstinence education.”

Avi Zenilman at Vanity Fair:

Souder frequently meddled with CDC research into at-risk behavior, and made life difficult for medical researchers of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease. For example, in March 2004, Souder hauled Dr. Jonathan Zenilman, a former C.D.C. officer and S.T.D. specialist at Hopkins who happens to be my father, before his committee and proceeded to lecture him on the sins of condoms and sex outside of wedlock and its liberal enablers.

My dad, at the time “speaking as a proud parent of three teenagers” (I’ve grown up since then!), thought it was important to push a message of delay, but that demanding celibacy was just not going to work. “An
abstinence-only approach which excludes safer sex messages and includes messages that emphasize intercourse only within the context of marriage, is therefore clearly out of touch with the realities and practices of the vast majority of Americans,” he said, complaining that the whole debate was “framed in an absolutist stark context.”

Souder ultimately responded by saying that teen sex needs to be aggressively confronted, like date rape, because out-of-wedlock sex always leads to pregnancy and ruins lives. My dad said well-informed people use condoms. This led to the following exchange:

Zenilman: Teenagers having consensual intercourse or adults having sexual intercourse is not the same as a date rape or sexual harassment. The latter has a lot more of the consequences that you mentioned previously. Souder: I don’t think this data backs that statement up. I believe they are awful and I have worked with them, but you are not going to argue here that out-of-wedlock pregnancy and related things are less damaging overall to a life’s career than somebody who has been sexually harassed, which, by the way, may also occur in the teen pregnancy and the out-of-wedlock or non-married sexual activity.

Zenilman: A consensual adult who is actually having sexual relations and is properly informed will be contracepting.

Souder: This isn’t really a debate, and I am sorry I got us off into that. We have a substantial disagreement.

If Souder was my dad, I’d be very confused.

Steve Benen:

But then there’s the larger context: those “family-values” Republicans sure do have a lot of sex scandals, don’t they? It’s getting difficult to keep track of them all. Souder is the newest, but his humiliation comes on the heels of Sen. John Ensign’s (R-Nev.) scandal. That came to light around the same time as Gov. Mark Sanford’s (R-S.C.) sex scandal, which came soon after Gov. Jim Gibbons (R-Nev.), which itself followed Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho).

If we look back a little further, we also find disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani. If go back a little more, names like Vito Fossella, Tim Hutchinson, Henry Hyde, Dan Burton, and Bob Livingston also come to mind. And those are just the office-holders.

For the better part of a generation, the Republican Party has demanded higher moral standards of all of us, while failing to meet these standards. It’s far easier for the public to tolerate personal mistakes and human failings than it is to accept shameless hypocrisy.

Chris Good at The Atlantic:

But here’s why Rep. Souder’s resignation isn’t all that bad for his party, compared to recent congressional sex scandals:

1) He’s resigning from Congress. Any scandal is worsened by a politician who chooses to stick around. Souder’s affair with a part-time staffer is reminiscent of Sen. John Ensign’s (R-NV) staffer affair, and Ensign has remained in the Senate, dogged by an FBI investigation over a nearly $100,000 payment he arranged and help he gave go the staffer’s husband in finding a job. Souder, it seems, has come out with it and will leave, making a relatively clean break, not a messy, protracted, circus. Compare that to the days after Eric Massa’s scandal broke, before he resigned the following Monday. Souder will officially resign from Congress Friday.

2) Eric Massa. There is no way this looks all that bad compared to the utter charade of questionable statements, snorkeling revelations, live Glenn Beck air time, and sniping at the White House and Democratic leaders that Eric Massa delivered to us in his fantastical whirlwind of egomania. After Massa, the first congressman to resign in relative calm order, basically, gets overshadowed.

3) Republicans will keep his seat. Whether a special election is held, or whether Indiana waits until November to replace him, Souder’s third district seat is not competitive. The Cook Political Report rates that district as R+14. There will be no meme about how infidelity has cost Republicans an actual legislative seat.

4) It’s clearly not as juicy as other recent scandals. Yes, an affair with a part-time staffer is pretty good. Taxpayers were paying someone that Rep. Souder was having an affair with. But, so far, it lacks the extravagance of David Vitter’s prostitution scandal, Larry Craig’s wide stance, Mark Sanford’s Argentinian disappearance,  Eliot Spitzer’s affair with the since-ubiquitous Ashlee Dupre, and, yes, Massa’s tickle fights. All those scandals have happened in the last few years. Compared to them, Souder’s appears less than memorable, at this point.

A few points: we don’t know the full story on Souder yet. All we have is the breaking news, so perhaps it’s premature to judge impact. Add a dash of blackmail and Souder’s Google hits will spike.

Expect Democrats, if given a reasonable opportunity, to ask what House Republican leaders knew and when they knew it, probing for any inkling of a cover up. When Massa’s scandal broke, Republicans loudly called for the House ethics committee to investigate Democratic leaders. The committee has since interviewed Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, according to Politico. It’s unclear as of yet whether the ethics committee will investigate Souder and his staffer, but it’s a safe bet they will.

And on to the second politician behaving badly:

Raymond Hernandez at NYT:

At a ceremony honoring veterans and senior citizens who sent presents to soldiers overseas, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut rose and spoke of an earlier time in his life.

“We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam,” Mr. Blumenthal said to the group gathered in Norwalk in March 2008. “And you exemplify it. Whatever we think about the war, whatever we call it — Afghanistan or Iraq — we owe our military men and women unconditional support.”

There was one problem: Mr. Blumenthal, a Democrat now running for the United States Senate, never served in Vietnam. He obtained at least five military deferments from 1965 to 1970 and took repeated steps that enabled him to avoid going to war, according to records.

The deferments allowed Mr. Blumenthal to complete his studies at Harvard; pursue a graduate fellowship in England; serve as a special assistant to The Washington Post’s publisher, Katharine Graham; and ultimately take a job in the Nixon White House.

In 1970, with his last deferment in jeopardy, he landed a coveted spot in the Marine Reserve, which virtually guaranteed that he would not be sent to Vietnam. He joined a unit in Washington that conducted drills and other exercises and focused on local projects, like fixing a campground and organizing a Toys for Tots drive.

Many politicians have faced questions over their decisions during the Vietnam War, and Mr. Blumenthal, who is seeking the seat being vacated by Senator Christopher J. Dodd, is not alone in staying out of the war.

But what is striking about Mr. Blumenthal’s record is the contrast between the many steps he took that allowed him to avoid Vietnam, and the misleading way he often speaks about that period of his life now, especially when he is speaking at veterans’ ceremonies or other patriotic events.

Daniel Foster at The Corner:

Blumenthal has steadfastly refused to directly apologize, stating only his passive “regret” at “misplaced words” and citing this seemingly innocent prepositional inversion as the source of all the controversy surrounding his statements on his military service.

Does anyone buy this? Once maybe, but Blumenthal’s elisions and insinuations about his service are plural, and have taken different forms.

Besides, the move from “during” to “in” is a move from ambiguity to clarity. I, for one, wouldn’t know whether a soldier had been in-country merely from his statement that he served “during Vietnam.” This tells me when he served, but leaves unclear where. A man who says he served “in Vietnam”, on the other hand, answers the second question definitively.

UPDATE: I don’t think there is any reason at all to believe Blumenthal “misspoke.” I think he lied, full stop. But to see why Blumenthal’s prepositional slip story doesn’t quite fit, allow me to keep on my grammarian’s hat and semanticist’s monocle for just a minute longer. Let’s take a look at Blumenthal’s alleged “misplaced” words:

“We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam.”

Simply subbing in “in” for “during” here makes the sentence sound a bit off. That’s because “in” is usually a spatial preposition, but both “during” and “since” are temporal prepositions. If he really meant to say “during Vietnam”, which fixes Blumenthal’s service temporally, then “since the days” would be redundant or vice versa. In other words, if he really meant “during Vietnam” and only “during Vietnam”, the whole sentence would have looked different. He would have said something like “We have learned something important since the Vietnam era, when I served.”

Jonathan Tobin at Commentary:

Connecticut’s Democratic Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal’s news conference in which he attempted to defuse the scandal over his lies about his military service provided a new version of the “suffering wife” who routinely stands by her husband as he owns up to misdeeds.

But instead of having his spouse stand painfully by him as he walked back what he now describes as “a few misplaced words,” Blumenthal had a chorus line of veterans behind him at the press conference that took place at the West Hartford Veterans of Foreign Wars hall. And rather than keep silent as he at first spoke at length touting his record and then briefly owned up to the problem, the veterans in attendance cheered Blumenthal’s statement and frequently punctuated it with applause and Marine chants.

The brief press conference that Blumenthal ended abruptly was mostly devoted to praise of his own actions in which he claimed that his military service was voluntary. His statement admitting guilt was as follows: “On a few occasions I have misspoken about my service and I take full responsibility. I will not let anyone take a few misplaced words and impugn my record of service to our country.” He gave no reason for his lies about having been in Vietnam and offered no apology. And his friends behind him — who might otherwise be expected to take a dim view of those who falsely claim war-veteran status — demanded none. But the proposition that this group of veterans is representative of others around the state is yet to be proved.

This performance shows that Blumenthal’s intention is to stay in the Senate race and that he hopes the storm will blow over. However, as the New York Times story that blew the lid off of his lies shows, this one item may be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Blumenthal’s record. As the Times reported, Blumenthal appears to have misled journalists about other aspects of his biography.

Allah Pundit:

This isn’t complicated. He’s an ambitious pol and he knew he could squeeze a few more votes out of the electorate by creating the impression that he served in ‘Nam. Evidently he’s been playing this game of hinting that he did without clearly saying so for years and years, with only occasional slip-ups of the in/during variety. That is to say, it sounds like he intended to deceive people all along, but chose his words carefully in all but a few instances to preserve plausible deniability in case he was ever called on this. He’s a seedy liar, but a clever one.

Now that the in/during mix-up is in vogue, I assume it’s also okay for people who went to college in Boston to say they went to school at Harvard. Because you know how easy it is to confuse “at” and “near.” Exit quotation from a Twitter pal: “Dick Blumenthal’s favorite Village People song is ‘During the Navy.’

Marc Ambinder at The Atlantic:

Blumenthal is correct that no one can control the articles that are printed about him. But surely this is a misdirection. Ambitious politicians have teams of communications professionals devoted to shaping, manipulating and repairing their public images. It is undoubtedly clear that Blumenthal sought out the identity of a Vietnam veteran, wrapped himself in that cloak, and used it to perpetuate his power. Even if he did not intend to mislead voters about his service, it is incumbent upon him to make sure that he did not use his position to perpetuate a myth that enhanced said power. To me, that DOES make him responsible for being accurate about his service record and going out of his way to correct the perceptional.    Military service is threshold-honorable. But after that threshold is crossed, people judge you differently if they know you actively sought a  position in a service that put your life in harm’s way. Blumenthal did not.

A tactical aside: Linda McMahon’s campaign planted the story with the New York Times and then bragged about it. Basic political gamesmanship: “If you land a hit like that on opponent you don’t brag about it an hour after. It undermines the story, the reporter, and no matter what the facts are, it lets the target of the hit say “This is Republican hit job. I’m not saying it. There campaign is bragging about it.”  A complete rookie unforced error, one that might help Blumenthal keep his position in the race.

UPDATE: More on Blumenthal, Greg Sargent

Bob Somerby

Ed Morrissey

UPDATE #2: Michael Scherer at Swampland at Time

Mary Katherine Ham at The Weekly Standard

Jules Crittenden

UPDATE #3: On Blumenthal, James Craven at The New Britain Herald


Filed under Political Figures

Peas In Our Time

abbas netanyahu

Jerusalem Post:

Israel and the Palestinians have agreed to relaunch peace negotiations without any preconditions, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu declared on Tuesday.

There was general agreement, including on the part of the Palestinians, that the peace process has to be resumed as soon as possible with no preconditions,” the premier told reporters in New York City.

Earlier, US President Barack Obama expressed a similar sentiment, emerging from bilateral meetings with both Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas vowing to move ahead with the diplomatic process, while seeming to step back from his call for a total settlement freeze, saying that Israel now is discussing “restraining settlement activities.”

Laura Rozen in Politico:

A source close to the Palestinians told POLITICO Obama asked the Palestinian delegation to compromise on its demand for a full settlement freeze. In turn, Obama said, ths U.S. would provide the Palestinians proposed “terms of reference” for Israeli-Palestinian permanent status negotiations, as early as next week, as well as continue to press the Israelis on settlement freeze.

While Mitchell answered press questions, the NSC’s Shapiro was seen in the hall on his cell phone briefing White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel on the meetings.

Mitchell said National Security Advisor Jim Jones, Deputy National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, himself and Obama had sat on the two sets of bilateral meetings. Jones, Clinton, Obama and Mitchell had sat in on the three way meeting.

The Israelis and Palestinians will send delegations to meet with him in Washington next week.

Shmuel Rosner in TNR:

In some ways, Obama repeated today some of the mistakes that have spoiled his efforts thus far. For no obvious reason–and clearly irritated by both Netanyahu and Abbas–the president had summoned the sides to this mini-summit and lectured them like rebellious children. No statement was agreed on, so he made one on his own. He demanded final status negotiations, despite the Israeli government’s belief that interim agreements and gradual progress better fit the current situation. He showed little sympathy for Abbas’ reluctance to negotiate, despite the fact that Abbas couldn’t even attend this meaningless meeting without being subjected to a barrage of criticism at home. (The best advice may have come from a Hamas spokesman I heard on Israeli radio this week, who suggested that Abbas meet with the group’s leader, Khalid Mishal, to stem the internal Palestinian conflict before even thinking about peace with Israel.)

But beneath the seemingly empty demands and banal pronouncements, a lot can be read into Obama’s short statement. He said Israelis should “restrain” settlements, not “freeze” them–a distinct change in rhetoric from the past few months. He said “permanent status negotiations must begin, and begin soon”–but was careful enough not to commit to a time table, as he did not long ago. Gone is Hillary Clinton’s cocky denial of any previous agreements between Israel and the United States regarding natural growth of settlements. A more subtle, humble approach carried the day. The president admitted that “it is past time to talk about starting negotiations,” which is exactly what his special envoy, George Mitchell, will be doing next week when he continues the exhaustive work of negotiating over the start of negotiations.

Jonathan Tobin, Noah Pollak and Jennifer Rubin in Commentary.


What is different about the current situation is that when this president makes “evenhanded” statements in which he poses a moral equivalence between Israel and the Palestinians, his coolness to the Jewish state during his nine months in office leads one to believe that he really means it. Obama’s obsession with trying to halt the building of Jewish housing not only in Jerusalem but also in the West Bank (parts of which were accepted by the Bush administration as permanently belonging to Israel in exchange for Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza) has not made the Palestinians more amenable to peace. On the contrary, the more Washington backs away from the Israelis, the more likely Abbas (not to mention his Hamas rivals who rule Gaza and threaten his hold on the West Bank) is to stand pat and wait for the Americans to deliver more Israeli concessions to him on a silver platter. And given that leftist Jewish groups, who may well have the ear of Obama and his intimates, are calling for more pressure on Israel, supposedly for its own good, there is every reason to believe that any involvement by the president in the talks will be to Israel’s detriment.

Far from being a formula for peace, Obama’s involvement and his hectoring of Israel may set in motion a chain of events that, like the failure of Bill Clinton’s Camp David summit, may instigate a new campaign of Palestinian violence. Photos such as the one taken today may nurture the illusion that Obama is helping to nudge the Middle East on its way to peace. But the price for such heightened expectations, in the absence of any real change of heart about the need for mutual recognition of Israel on the part of the Arab and Muslim worlds, may be terrible indeed.

Taylor Marsh

UPDATE: Eli Lake in Washington Times

Paul Mirengoff at Powerline

Daniel Levy at Foreign Policy

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Filed under Israel/Palestine

Maybe China And Russia Will Go Along With It If We Give Them A Pony


Apropos of the picture, let’s start with the bomb.


Iran has perfected the technology to create and detonate a nuclear warhead and is merely awaiting the word from its Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to produce its first bomb, Western intelligence sources have told The Times.

The sources said that Iran completed a research programme to create weaponised uranium in the summer of 2003 and that it could feasibly make a bomb within a year of an order from its Supreme Leader.

A US National Intelligence Estimate two years ago concluded that Iran had ended its nuclear arms research programme in 2003 because of the threat from the American invasion of Iraq. But intelligence sources have told The Times that Tehran had halted the research because it had achieved its aim — to find a way of detonating a warhead that could be launched on its long-range Shehab-3 missiles.

They said that, should Ayatollah Khamenei approve the building of a nuclear device, it would take six months to enrich enough uranium and another six months to assemble the warhead. The Iranian Defence Ministry has been running a covert nuclear research department for years, employing hundreds of scientists, researchers and metallurgists in a multibillion-dollar programme to develop nuclear technology alongside the civilian nuclear programme.

Allah Pundit:

Any reason to believe Iran might have those “smaller, secret facilities” needed to build a bomb covertly? Why, yes: According to an NYT story published in January, a classified portion of that 2007 NIE described at great length analysts’ “suspicion that Iran had 10 or 15 other nuclear-related facilities, never opened to international inspectors, where enrichment activity, weapons work or the manufacturing of centrifuges might be taking place.” Combine the fact that that rather significant detail was omitted from the public debate at the time with the report’s increasingly discredited conclusion that Iran gave up its program in 2003 and you’ve got one of the most astounding intelligence failures in U.S. history, with potentially graver consequences than either 9/11 or the WMD intel on Iraq.

Rowan Scarborough at Human Events

Dave Schuler:

I have little doubt that Iran at the very least wants to be able to build a nuclear weapon and I’d be flabbergasted if the Iranians didn’t have a covert program to exactly that effect. However, it also appears that they’ve run into a lot more difficulties in their enrichment program than they expected. I have no idea when they could produce enough HEU to produce a weapon and I doubt that anybody else does, either.

I’m not going to bother to dredge up the fatwas against nuclear weapons that have been issued by Iranian clerics (Khamenei wrote such a fatwa in 2005). I’m sure Steve Hynd over at Newshoggers will be all over this story and will do it for me. I also don’t put a lot of truck in them. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Next, possible sanctions on Iran. Michael Goldfarb in TWS:

That’s the lead story from Ha’aretz today, whose plugged-in diplomatic correspondent Barak Ravid writes that, in meetings this week in Israel, National Security Adviser Jim Jones told the Israelis that the Obama administration has begun thinking about imposing tough new sanctions on Tehran, if the Iranians don’t respond to the administration’s outreach by the end of September.

According to Ravid, “new sanctions would mainly aim to significantly curb Tehran’s ability to import refined petroleum products. Despite its huge crude oil reserves, Iran has only limited refining capacity, so it imports large quantities of refined products such as gasoline. Jones and his team reported that a bill by Senator Joe Lieberman to curb sales of refined oil products to Iran is almost complete, and 67 senators have already signed it.”

More Goldfarb

Daniel Drezner in Foreign Policy:

In fact, here’s a good time-saver:  if you read any story about a gasoline embargo o Iran, just scan quickly and get to the part where the reporter explains how and why Russia and China would go along.  If it’s not mentioned, the story is inconsequential.

If you want China and Russia to agree to sanctions, should you wish for the free pony as well?  Here the growth of dissent in Iran complicates an already complicated picture.  I’m betting that Moscow and Beijing have observed the “Death to Russia!” and “Death to China!” chants among the protestors.  This is likely going to make them even more reluctant to do anything that undermines the current regime (even if this hurts their long-term interests).  Which a gasoline embargo would most certainly do.

Do I think a gasoline embargo is a good idea?  Absolutely.  Do I think it will happen?  No, I don’t.

Spencer Ackerman:

Why would Russia and China agree to such a package? And why would, say, the United Nations agree to a move that would push the Iranians to dare the international community to confront it militarily over a global economic chokepoint? The smart people quoted in Sanger’s piece make the case for the sanctions by saying that the Iranian regime is more vulnerable to sanctions now, after the theft of the June 12 elections exposed popular anger and antipathy toward it, but not how to make those sanctions feasible.

Prairie Pundit

Matthew Yglesias:

I suppose one question for the folks pushing this line is how badly do you want it? What are you willing to give the Russians to get them on board? The US-Russian bilateral relationship, after all, has many aspects to it. But the very same people who are most vehement about the idea that the Iranian nuclear program is a threat to civilization tend to also be the most vehement about the idea that we should admit Ukraine and Georgia to an anti-Russian military alliance, that we should spend billions of dollars on attempting to undermine Russia’s nuclear deterrent, etc. I would think that if people really believed some of the things they claim to believe about Iran, that they’d be more eager to trade some horses.

Russia and China aside, what I think we need to hear more about here is the Iranian opposition. In general, I’m pretty skeptical about sanctions. If it’s the case that the opposition actually wants sanctions, the way the ANC did during apartheid, then that’s something we should take very seriously. But I would imagine that if Iran finds itself short of gasoline that the security services and the governing elite won’t be the ones without enough fuel to get around.

Roger Cohen’s piece on Iran and the Obama administration in NYT

Jonathan Tobin in Commentary:

The main point of the piece is that Obama and his foreign policy team are committed to a realpolitik view of the world. In this case, that means engagement with Iran must proceed no matter how beastly the ayatollahs and their minions behave. Appeasing dictators is not for the faint of heart. But as Cohen aptly notes, the most obvious historical analogies to Obama’s plans for Iran — Franklin Roosevelt’s rapprochement with the Soviet Union in 1933 during Stalin’s terror famine and Richard Nixon’s outreach to China in 1972 during the equally bloody Cultural Revolution — have one significant difference from the current situation in Iran: “bloodshed then … was not being YouTubed around the globe.” Obama’s slow, bumbling, stumbling, and halfhearted reactions to the heartbreaking scenes in Tehran, which Cohen himself witnessed, were not only an embarrassing indication of the president’s lack of judgment. They were also a measure of how badly a cynical policy, such as his determination to “engage” Iran, plays in an informed democracy.

Indeed, despite Obama’s claim that the opposition in Iran didn’t want his support, Cohen confesses that “protesters I met on the streets of Tehran pointedly asked me, “Where’s Obama?” The conclusion that this policy has been a disaster both in terms of the administration’s credibility and the forlorn hope of convincing the Iranian government that America means business about stopping their nuclear program is inescapable.

According to Cohen, Obama’s team, in which veteran foreign policy hack and Middle East peace processor Dennis Ross now plays a pivotal role from a perch at the National Security Council, is nonetheless determined to move ahead with engagement even though their plans are in ruins. Even if it were inclined to deal with Obama, the Iranian regime “is in no position to talk right now.” Obama has forced everyone in his administration to read from the same playbook on Iran — even Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who supposedly entered into office with a sensible skepticism about appeasing the regime. But they must now contend with the fact that “Iran has morphed in the global consciousness, to the point that U2 and Madonna have adopted the cause of Iranian democracy.”

Spencer Ackerman on the Cohen piece

Matthew Yglesias on the Cohen piece

UPDATE: Michael Goldfarb in TWS, answering Ackerman

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Filed under Middle East, Political Figures

The Best And Brightest No More


Robert McNamara has died. What will Liza Minnelli and Usher say about this?

Rachel Slajda in TPM has a round-up of obits.

Marc Ambinder:

For people in Washington, McNamara’s folly was an institutional folly: the belief that one smart person with a vision can see what thousands of others with experience cannot.  The fog of war, the irrationality of human nature, the limits of formal chains of command, the limits of reason itself, and a fundamental conflation of decision-making and administration. John Ralston Saul, in Volatire’s Bastards, makes McNamara a central character in his tale of Western governments came to rely on a cult of credentialed, jargon-y experts to make decisions that were better left to politicians. This is not a conservative critique of the elite, per se: it’s merely a meditation on the limits of what humans can do, and know, and why it is dangerous to leave major decisions in the hands of people who think they can know.  We’ve see a version of this fallacy play out among the central actors in our economic crisis: CEOs and experts, quants and traders, who created an orderly world from something fundamentally, almost irreducibly complex.

Joshua Keating in Foreign Policy:

Because of his role in the Vietnam war, Mcnamara will likely be remembered as an archetypal cold warrior. In his retirement however, McNamara became an outspoken advocate of nuclear disarmament. His cover story from the May/June 2005 issue of Foreign Policy remains a must-read on the topic, particularly given today’s talks in Moscow

Matthew Vadum in American Spectator:

He was brilliant, the quintessential liberal do-gooder who sincerely believed he was doing the right thing but whose efforts almost invariably led to disaster.

His horrendous “Project 100,000” program was aimed at getting more black Americans serving in the military but was savaged as an attempt to use minorities as cannon fodder. Much like another liberal idealist a decade later, Jimmy Carter, the harder McNamara worked, the more he seemed to fail.

McNamara was a very interesting, tragic historical figure who in later life came to recognize the error of his ways.

We can learn from his mistakes.


McNamara thought he could modulate the warfare and thereby achieve an eventual peace agreement. By doing so he lost the impact of giving the communist a “hard knock” that many in the military thought was necessary. His modulation of the war made it longer and bloodier.

I don’t think he ever understood that. Instead he evolved into a position the anti war critics had embraced, that the war was never winnable. In fact it was winnable, but he just did not want to follow a strategy that would win.


Jesus, anybody else feel like dying in the next week or two?

Here’s The Fog Of War:

UPDATE: James Joyner

Rod Dreher

UPDATE: #2: Dday

Jonathan Tobin in Commentary:

It can certainly be argued that America’s decision to militarily intervene in Vietnam was a mistake because that country’s strategic importance did not merit the commitment of such massive forces. But the notion that the U.S. effort to defeat the Communist attempt to subvert and then conquer South Vietnam was immoral ignores not only the context of the conflict but the consequences of the eventual American defeat that was set up by McNamara’s squandering of years of public support on ill-considered tactics. It was once thing to denounce the war in 1968, quite another after the exodus of the boat people and decades of bloody Stalinist repression there after the North’s military conquest of the South once America had abandoned the country to its sorry fate.

It would have been far better for McNamara to spend more time apologizing for his inept micromanaging of the war effort that squandered American and Vietnamese lives on a massive scale. It was ironic that in his later years he curried favor among the liberal intellectuals by calling Curtis LeMay a “war criminal” for the massive bombing of Japanese cities in 1945. While in control of the effort in Vietnam, he attempted the opposite strategy, employing American air power in minute pinprick attacks on selected targets in North Vietnam rather than using an overwhelming conventional attack. His tactic of gradual escalation only convinced the North Vietnamese that the Americans were not serious about winning the war and inflicted no serious damage. The lives lost in this campaign were simply thrown away. The North was not brought to the negotiating table until McNamara’s flawed ideas were discarded. A more comprehensive air assault on the North at the end of 1972 brought our prisoners home and forced the North to accept an independent South Vietnam although they threw out that agreement as soon as they thought the time was right.

On the McNamara/Rumsfeld connection:

Doug J.

Spencer Ackerman

Kevin Drum

Lots of people a little older than me won’t agree with this, but I’ve always felt sorry for him.  I think part of the reason is that his personality is a lot like mine — it’s mine squared or cubed or to the tenth power or something, but still recognizably mine.  And so it’s easy for me to believe that if I had been in his situation I might have ended up doing many of the same things he did: overanalyzing the details, burying myself in work, staying too loyal to a cause for too long, avoiding the moral consequences of what I was doing, and then ending up haunted by it for the rest of my life.

Spencer Ackerman on Drum’s post:

Jesus, Kevin, whatever happened over the last 24 hours, it’s going to be OK. You’re a lot better than Robert McNamara. Your empathy is as admirable as it is wholly misplaced. You’re not a Robert McNamara That Could Have Been.

TNR has a round up, including an old Mickey Kaus piece.

Matt Y on the Mickey Kaus piece.

UPDATE #3: Fred Kaplan in Slate

James Fallows in the Atlantic

Peter Scoblic in TNR

UPDATE #4: Impossible to get all the McNamara commentary. Some MSM stuff:

George Will in WaPo

Matt Welch in Reason on Will’s piece

Jonathan Tobin in Commentary on Will’s piece

David Brooks and Gail Collins in NYT

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Filed under History, Movies, Political Figures

Don’t Cry For Me, South Carolina

Mark Sanford admits to an affair with an Argentinian woman.

Michelle Malkin

It’s the only fitting word for a man who abandons his wife and four sons on Father’s Day weekend to indulge his “overdrive” on an Argentinian fling.

Mark Sanford: Bastard.

Ed Morrissey

Safe to say that after having his official spokesman lie to the press to cover the affair, Sanford’s career in national politics has just ended. It’s a shame that it came to this, but Sanford brought it on himself.

Talking Points Memo

John Cole

I don’t know if Sanford is a culture warrior or not, I’m assuming you would have to be as a Republican and chair of the RGA, but for whatever reason, I have to say I like the guy more than I did yesterday, even if he is a hypocrite. He is standing up there, owning his mistake, is not being evasive, and just laying it all out for everyone, and clearly this is a tough thing for him and his family. It is remarkably refreshing.


You know what, though? Even if you cry about how you are a terrible person, on the teevee, and even if there was “a sparkin’ thing” between you and your Argentine Firecracker that you just had to deal with, by flying back and forth to South America to fuck her, leaving your family and, er, entire state of South Carolina to fend for themselves, well you are still a piece of trash. Hope your dumped wife gets everything you’ve ever (and will ever) earn, Mr. soon-to-be lobbyist. Sanford-Santelli 2012!

At The Corner,

Ramesh Ponnuru

Gov. Mark Sanford is admitting to an affair with an Argentinean woman. Normally I think that this stuff should not be public business, but his conduct over the last week made that rule completely untenable.

Mike Potemra

This dramatic news conference was the first time I had ever watched him, and he came across as a very sincere, humble, and impressive person. If you come across this well on the worst day of your life, you must be doing something right. Is his political career “over”? I frankly don’t care about that. I’m just glad to have seen somebody standing up and doing the right thing, being honest about sin and responsibility.

Rich Lowry:

First Ensign, then the “Crying in Argentina” press conference. If Republicans want a presidential candidate who lives clean and whose family hasn’t been involved in tabloid scandals, it might soon be Mitt Romney by process of elimination.


In a sane country it would be none of my business who Sanford was was having an affair with, and in a sane country gay people would be allowed to get married no matter what people like Sanford think about it.

James Joyner

John Hawkins offers the unsolicited advice that he might as well step down as governor while he’s at it. He adds, “Sanford was a rising star in the Republican party and it was really sad to see him throw away his promising political career this way.”

Indeed. I’d add: At least we’re finding out now rather than in the midst of the presidential race.

EARLIER: Break Out The Milk Cartons!

UPDATE: Ezra Klein

Jonathan Tobin in Commentary

UPDATE #2: Allah Pundit:

Under different circumstances I think he could have survived this, but it’s a quirk of our politics that voters don’t mind cheating as much as they do inept cheating. Infidelity makes you a cad; unannounced week-long disappearances and rambling confessional pressers about the new lady in your life makes you a cad and erratic, and Americans don’t dig erratic in their would-be presidents. Word on the street via Geraghty is that if he doesn’t resign the state legislature will move to impeach him. Not sure what the grounds would be — dereliction of duty for dropping off the map for a week, maybe? — but I doubt he’ll have to be pushed like Blagojevich was.

At the rate we’re going, I’m starting to think Obama might run unopposed in 2012. Exit question: Think The One’s happy that his big health-care infomercial tonight has to compete for headlines tomorrow with Sanford and Iran?

UPDATE #3: Reihan Salam

Rod Dreher

UPDATE #4: Erick Erickson

Mickey Kaus in Slate

Allah Pundit again:

Few people realize it yet but there’s a fascinating rift opening between those who think Sanford’s a pure scumbag for cheating and those who sympathize with a guy who pretty clearly has fallen in love. The boss is firmly in the first camp, and for once she has some lefties on her side: Witness this piece at Trueslant by Michael Roston, bowled over by the eloquence and dignity displayed this afternoon by Sanford’s wife Jenny. In the second camp: No one yet, but given some of the cooing I’m seeing over Sanford’s love letters to his mistress and the obvious depth of affection he has for her, it won’t be long before he has his qualified defenders too (e.g., “He shouldn’t have cheated, but…”). Which is more forgivable, a roll in the hay or an affair of the heart? The latter’s a graver threat to his marriage but it also suggests that he wouldn’t have hurt his wife unless he felt very, very deeply.

Exit question: So we’re all agreed that “hiking the Appalachian trail” is now officially sexual slang, yes?

UPDATE #5: David Frum

John Dickerson in Slate

UPDATE #6: Danielle Crittenden

UPDATE #7: The worm turns: more time with Maria and more women?



Allah Pundit


UPDATE #8: The Sanford story continues:

Lucy Morrow Caldwell in The Corner

Mark Steyn in The Corner

James Wolcott:

Mark Sanford, Republican governor of South Carolina and slave to passion, confesses that his extramarital dockings were more numerous than originally recorded in the public ledger. Understandable. When you’re in a scented tropical daze, time and space begin to undulate and dissolve until it’s hard to keep track of particulars. Yet this was not an erotic fugue state of unclouded bliss for Sanford. No one could argue that his strayings didn’t exact a psychic toll.

Allah Pundit:

I know we’ve covered it but the key bits really have to be heard to be believed. The part where he talks about his “soulmate” is where I finally reached my Don Corleone/Johnny Fontane “you can act like a man!” point. I’m almost surprised he didn’t break into song. The guy’s clearly a wreck, and his judgment’s sufficiently impaired that he thinks three-hour interviews with reporters about his love life are a good idea.

Michelle Malkin

Michelle Cottle at TNR

Joan Walsh in Salon

UPDATE #9: Maureen O’Connor at Gawker


Filed under Political Figures