Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Feith-Based Politics and the Comedy that is Carville

I hate to be vulgar, but really, how far inside the beltway do you have to be before you fly up your own ass and disappear into a strange parallel universe?

Two of the more powerful second-string "Beltway Boys" have managed to prove that the only difference between Republican fuckups and Democratic ones is who's become most insulated from the consequences of their ideological isolationism.

Slate reports:

Douglas Feith: What has the Pentagon's third man done wrong? Everything.

Why is Feith involved with all these foul-ups? How could one man be so consistently in error? Nearly every critique of the Pentagon's plan for Iraq's occupation blames the blinkers imposed by ideology. For example, The New Yorker reported last fall that Feith intentionally excluded experts with experience in postwar nation-building, out of fear that their pessimistic, worst-case scenarios would leak and damage the case for war. In the Atlantic earlier this year, James Fallows told a similar story: The Pentagon did not participate in CIA war games about the occupation, because "it could be seen as an 'antiwar' undertaking" that "weakened the case for launching a 'war of choice.' " The State Department's Future of Iraq Project, an effort that accurately predicted some contingencies that the Pentagon overlooked, was dismissed by Feith and company out of hand.

And while the Pentagon's assumptions of an ecstatic, sweets-and-flowers-bearing populace that would welcome the occupiers as liberators may have been understandable in February 2003, Feith continued to let ideology rule his decisions long after the "major combat operations" ended. Last September, Knight Ridder reported that Paul Bremer's request for more than 220 employees for the occupation had yet to be approved. Guess who was to blame? "It is taking forever because Feith only wants true believers to get through the gate," a senior administration official said.

Well, we all know how well that worked out. Read the whole story, it's damning. By the by, though the story says nothing, it's difficult to read it without thinking that anyone above Feith should have noticed a difference between promise and payoff - somewhere around, oh, say, 2004. Why? Well, almost everyone outside of the beltway who wasn't sucking up to someone inside the beltway had some questions about performance, even some damn hawkish hawks. There were whole bunches of news items - like the looting, like the destruction of Iraqi Interior Ministry files - that were cause for alarm, that were indications of bad preparation.

The worst, of course, was the blatant failure to secure Iraqi munitions dumps, a failure that has cost thousands of lives, both civilian and military. That was a decision that caused me to wonder aloud to myself if someone in charge was smoking crack, as it seemed to me the exact opposite of any prudent decision based in sound military training.

Now, it seems likely that it was a decision made under the delusion that the Neocon Vision would prove true, there would be no insurgency, and democracy would flourish as predicted, so long as "nay-saying defeatists" were kept away.

But such delusional thought-processes are far from being unique to the Right Wing.

Fatcat politics links to the New York Daily News

Clinton tells Carville to sit down and shut up.

Ain't it rich... The mighty Carville (mighty wrong a lot) got shot down in flames for his remark about replacing Howard Dean at the DNC. I love it... He underestimated the importance of Dean's 50 state strategy along with a bunch of weeping wingnuts (Santorum at the top of the list) and had him a little hissy fit because he didn't get to be the guru that had it all figured out.

The beltway spinmeisters are all mad because they got bypassed in the groundswell of voters ire against the Republicans. They are still in denial of the netroots and the 'base' that Dean built in just two short years. They eagerly took credit for the tsunami when it was actually Dean who provided the earthquake that triggered it.

Hil's no dump Dean fan. Her camp sez Carville on his own in coup bid

The Clintonistas don't want an undeserved backlash from the activist wing of the party that overwhelmingly supports Dean, especially because some anti-Clinton Democrats have blamed Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) for the attack by Carville, a longtime Clinton insider. Those forces claimed Carville's motive was to topple Dean in favor of a chairman more favorable to Sen. Clinton's bid for President.

Carville's remarks last week came as House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) bungled the race for Democratic majority leader. Party operatives acknowledged the Carville and Pelosi sideshows were detracting from their election victories.

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I have to be honest, I've always liked James Carveille - in the same way I've always had a soft spot for Magneto and The Joker. He has class, he has style, he's gloriously, unapologetically, flamboyantly villainous - and convinced that his Cause Is Just, of course, at least when colloquy is called for. But essentially, he just likes beating the crap out of the other side, and I think we saw him at his personal public best playing the Snake in Crossfire episodes with Tucker Carlson as the Mongoose.

I kind of wish John Stewart hadn't ruined that gig. It was a lot of fun and it kept both of them out of trouble for days at a time. Furthermore, some of us have an appreciation for the pure art of rhetoric. But I suppose that John did have a point; the people did deserve better.

The Beltway Boys - all of the Insiders - are more concerned about appearances than about real issues of real consequence. It's easier to spin issues if the issues themselves are framed as simple, black and white concepts that have a "republican" approach and a "democratic" approach.

In fact, there are a few approaches that will work and a very great many that will not, and if your major considerations are maintaining power while appearing to attempt to do something - only to be Thwarted by Evil Plotters On The Other Side - the odds of finding a program that will work is nil.

But this is politics in Washington, and it's worked with great success for a very long time - so well, in fact, that a lot of people involved forgot that it was a political tactic and came to embrace it as a reliable expression of reality.

And when people like that came into total control of the party and the nation - people who chose to believe in religious, economic and social fairy tales as being preferable to inconvenient realities; that's when the stark comedy of errors commenced.

It's fashionable to suggest that Democrats would have been no better. I tend to disagree. Democrats have different fairy tales, and while they certainly would have done no better implementing theirs if they were able to be so consistently deluded, working from the same ideological page - pardon me, I'm snickering too loudly.

The thing republicans see as the greatest weakness of Democrats in particular and people left of themselves in general is their lack of "team spirit," their inability or unwillingness to defer personal gratification for the "greater good," as defined by some schmuck with more clout in the party.

Nope, left of center folks tend also to be less willing to worship at the altar of Authority, and "Because I said so," is met with raspberries and overripe fruit. This is why Carville got shut down, frankly.

He may well be an authority - but he's an authority on old fashioned, bare knuckles dirty politics that depends on a small cadre of True Believers to do the bidding of their cynical and utterly amoral leadership.

The netroots - well, look around. Pick a blogroll, pretty much any blogroll that doesn't include Free Republic and you will find thinking people making very uncomfortably astute policy observations. Howard Dean is an example of a man who realizes that the netroots is a completely new phenomenon, one that demands a new era of leadership, one that's unafraid of meeting reality head on.

In many ways, Iraq and Vietnam are very comparable. Both wars of choice; both wars of ideological "necessity." Both wars required a great deal of contrivance and a huge amount of information control to sustain. Both collapsed when reality failed to support any conceivable version of "victory."

But it took decades for that point to arrive with Vietnam, with total casualties in the millions. With Iraq - there were far too many information leaks to plug. In fact, I think it likely that in the last year or so, information management has been fairly much all the White House and Pentagon has been doing, leaving them few resources to to actually achieve much of any meaning.

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