My posts on Oval Office are supposed to be objective thoughts about the race. This post is advocacy, so it goes here.
Rudy Giuliani is going to take some criticism for his handling of 9/11 in the next few days – inadequate radio communication between NYPD and FDNY; the Mayor walking the streets instead of hunkering down in a safe bunker with communication equipment; locating an emergency command center within the
My expectation is that, especially if Rudy posts impressive numbers in tomorrow’s FEC fundraising disclosures, these attacks will intensify.
It seems to me that substantial defenses can be offered to all of the criticisms. Last one first, you don’t really get to know the quality of a person until you see them in extreme circumstances. We got that with Rudy and everyone was, and remains, impressed. It’s simply not exploiting 9/11 to remind people that Rudy did a good job leading
Locating the emergency response center in the WTC in retrospect posed some significant disadvantages as things actually unfolded. But remember that the 1993 attack on the WTC failed to achieve any kind of structural damage to the building. Remember how unthinkable the actual event was when you watched it on TV. No one anticipated this sort of thing outside the realm of military fiction. Without the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, this was not a bad decision to have made.
Should Rudy have gone to a safe location? I think it was a good thing that Rudy was on the ground, seeing things with his own eyes – communications networks were disrupted anyway, so Rudy in a bunker would have been even more blind and deaf than he was several blocks away from where the buildings were coming down. He did the right thing by going to the scene.
Communications among the first responders? NYPD and FDNY didn’t want compatible radio systems and actively resisted the idea when it was floated. Should Rudy have forced them, kicking and screaming, to integrate their systems? I question exactly how much good that would have done. Would more firefighters and police have been saved had they been able to talk to one another directly rather than relaying information through a command center? The sad answer is, probably not.
Bernie Kerik? Yeah, turns out he was not altogether a good guy, which I realize is something of an understatement. But then again, we’ve seen plenty of Presidents in the recent past have people who aren’t such good guys around them, too. Scooter Libby. Sandy Berger. David Rosen. And other candidates have personal involvement in some questionable dealings in their pasts. Others lack many years of substantial political experience, at least at the federal level, on both sides of the aisle. If you’re going to hold Rudy Giuliani accountable for not having held Federal elected office in the past, you need to also criticize the relative inexperience with Federal politics of Mitt Romney, Barack Obama, or John Edwards, and the lack of executive or managerial experience against John McCain or Hillary Clinton. So none of the major candidates offers the kind of substantial Federal executive background that, for instance, a Vice-President or Secretary of State could offer.
As for the cleanup, that had to start at some point. Cleanup crews are still finding body parts in the rubble at Fresh Kills and even at Ground Zero. If the city had waited until all the body parts had been found, the ruins of the site would still be there today. It wasn’t disrespectful to the f
The criticisms I’ve heard floated so far seem to be demanding perfection. No one can offer that – not the current President, not Giuliani, not Clinton, not anyone. It’s all well and good to criticize the response to the disaster in retrospect. But the real measure of Rudy’s leadership in those dark hours should be based on the information available at the time. We cannot know the ch
Serving in a combat zone we sometimes forget the true casualties of war. Certainly the comrades that I have lost over here in Afghanistan come to mind. In fact, they never leave your thoughts. But the ones who suffer day in and day out are the refugees.
I was fortunate enough to visit (although briefly) a refugee camp in Kabul , Afghanistan just the other day. I hesitate to describe exactly where the camp is since the Taliban like to attack anyplace where the international community is providing support. In fact, just to drop off relief supplies we had to travel in a well guarded convoy.
This particular camp housed 200 families with a total population of about 500 people. These refugees are people who fled to Pakistan and Iran during the many years of war in Afghanistan . They left behind everything. All of which was eventually lost. They have no land, no jobs, and hardly any clothes. And more importantly, they have no families left to whom they can return.
These refugees subsist purely on donations. Many wear clothing donated by Americans. Their living conditions are terrible. No running water and only outside bathrooms. Their one building, where they all live, is nothing more than a bombed out shell. Some windows are missing and there are very few working doors.
The sanitation environment is horrible. There is a drainage ditch that runs right through the middle of the camp that is nothing more than an open cesspool. Disease runs rampant throughout the camp. Diseases such as tuberculosis are common here. The average lifespan in Afghanistan is 43 years old. In this camp it is less. The common cold can be fatal in an environment like this.When we arrived I noticed one little girl who was very shy. She stood away from the others and would not participate in any group activities. It took a long while of being patient and letting her find her own timing and space, but finally we became friends.
She turned out to be very sweet. She has a smile that would melt anyone. She told me about her dream to someday leave this camp. But for now she must live in this nightmare.
Why any military would want to inflict pain and suffering on someone like this little girl is beyond comprehension.
But war does that.
Spoiling for a fight before a new Supreme Court next year (coincidentally during election season), Mississippi is apparently on the verge of outlawing all abortions except in the case of rape or endangerment of the mother.
Note the absence of the traditional exception for incest. Of course, if you accept the moral argument underlying the pro-life position (the fertilized ovum is a full and complete human being and therefore as entitled to life as an independent adult) then the only exception should be endangerment of the mother – it is not the unborn human’s fault that its father raped its mother, any more than it is that unborn human’s fault that there is a close genetic or family relationship between its parents. That is where the pro-life argument ends, after all – only when one life is threatened by another can it become morally permissible to take one.
Conversely, the pro-choice argument's reductio ad absurdum is the moral condonation of post-partum infanticide. Both extremes are unpalatable.
The answer, of course, lies in the ability of the political process to reach a compromise. Oh, dear. Did I use the “c-word” with respect to abortion? That would mean that advocates for both positions will have to sit down, listen to each other in good faith, modify their original positions to at least partially accommodate the concerns of the other side, and otherwise act like grownups. Pro-lifers would have to accept that since abortions are going to take place anyway, they should at least be safe and not send people to jail for doing them. Pro-choicers are going to accept that after a certain point, the abortion starts to become a morally grave act indeed and that yes, the state really does have an interest in regulating and in some cases preventing it.
Fact is, Justice Blackmun kind of jumped the gun with his reasoning in Roe v. Wade. Perhaps Blackmun reached what would work out to a good political compromise, but he did not allow the political process to move forward to that position and instead figured what he thought would be the right balance himself. That doesn't mean it was the wrong result (in a general sense) but it does mean that the result shouldn't have come in the form of an absolute dictum from the Supreme Court.
Now I’ve done it – no one’s going to be happy with me.
Fred Dalton Thompson is best known to Americans as Arthur Branch, the District Attorney on TV’s Law & Order. He does a very convincing job in that role. Earlier in his acting career, he played a racist bad guy once, but most Americans won’t confuse a role with an actor. We’re willing to accept Anthony Hopkins as someone other than Hannibal Lecter, for instance. And he certainly looks the part of a conservative President from the South.
More important, he’s not an intellectual or political lightweight. He was also an accomplished prosecutor (on the Watergate team) who took down Tennessee Governor Ray Blanton for selling pardons, but whose legal career will forever be defined by being the man who formulated the question that, more than any other, resulted in Richard Nixon’s fall from power: “What did the President know and when did he know it?” Thompson is solidly conservative on social issues and has been beefing up his foreign policy credentials at the American Enterprise Institute.
On the other hand, he is closely associated with recently-convicted felon Scooter Libby, having raised over three and a half million dollars for Scooter’s defense fund. While there may be some sympathy for Scooter as being the “fall guy” for Vice-President Cheney in the Valerie Plame affair, that is a simplistic and probably erroneous characterization of what happened – and Scooter did lie to investigators. Even if he was told to, that was still a wrong thing to do. No candidate is perfect, and this is one of several downsides Thompson might bring to the table. But on the other hand, I think he’d be able to make a credible play for the right flank of the GOP.
The biggest problem for Thompson – as it is for Newt Gingrich, another potential right-wing star – is that surprisingly, it’s getting to be reasonably late in the game already. It’s eleven months until the effective end of the primary season. So if these guys are going to go for it, they need to decide to do so very soon before all the money and organization gets snapped up by the other candidates.