Saturday, October 17, 2009

Dangerously Dumb People in the World -- Bluesy

Hey, I'm actually home this weekend, which means I can actually partake in my weekly installment of identifying people I feel are dangerously dumb. This week, there's a lot of blue amongst the winners.


3. Barack Obama -- His lame-ass trip to New Orleans this week was called out by none other than Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for the Washington Post and well-established liberal commentator.


"I wish I could just write a check," Obama said. If that was his message, he should have stayed home. We now know that our government can make hundreds of billions of dollars available to irresponsible Wall Street institutions within a matter of days, if necessary. We can open up the floodgates of credit to too-big-to-fail banks at the stroke of a pen. But when it comes to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, well, these things take time.

As Robinson mentions, New Orleans doesn't even have an "operational full-service hospital". Nine months into Obama's presidency, and the situation in Katrina-stricken areas remains unacceptable. The response, according to local officials, has improved. Somewhat. Not enough. "I wish I could just write a check." Wow.

2. Keith Olbermann -- In a curious argument exposing Chuck Grassley's lack of any coherent opposition to health care reform, Olbermann pulled out a counterargument that actually was incorrect. One actually reasonable argument in terms of proposed health care reform legislation is mandated coverage. (In other words, "everyone" would be required to have health care insurance.) Grassley's argument included the use of the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution, which states:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Grassley's argument was that the government may not be able to make such a law, in violation of this amendment. (Whether this argument is valid/correct is not within the scope of this note.) Keith Olbermann brought up car insurance as a rebuttal. Except that the requirement of auto insurance is provided by the states, not the federal government. This was astutely pointed out by guest Lawrence O'Donnell, who contended that such a mandate would indeed be unprecedented (federally).

A rare miss, Olbermann, but one nonetheless.

1. Arianna Huffington -- I cannot even begin to see why Arianna Huffington thought it would be a good idea for Joe Biden to resign because of his stance on the future of Afghanistan.

It's been known for a while that Biden has been on the other side of McChrystal's desire for a big escalation of our forces there -- the New York Times reported last month that he has "deep reservations" about it. So if the president does decide to escalate, Biden, for the good of the country, should escalate his willingness to act on those reservations.

What he must not do is follow the same weak and worn-out pattern of "opposition" we've become all-too-accustomed to, first with Vietnam and then with Iraq. You know the drill: after the dust settles, and the country begins to look back and not-so-charitably wonder, "what were they thinking?" the mea-culpa-laden books start to come out. On page after regret-filled page, we suddenly hear how forceful this or that official was behind closed doors, arguing against the war, taking a principled stand, expressing "strong concern" and, yes, "deep reservations" to the president, and then going home each night distraught at the unnecessary loss of life.

So Huffington thinks the best plan is to resign. To make this opposing stance as public as possible, and potentially embarrassing as possible. Of course, she neglects to point out the repercussions of such a move.

First, the next VP would be selected, not elected. The next VP would likely be more "in-line" with the President. Biden would certainly not strengthen his political stature. And, what's the slippery slope here? Any official who opposes the President regarding any issue of national security (which may be indirect topics such as the economy -- since economic stability is historically associated with national security) should resign or face the "mea culpa" later on.

Where's the line here, and what's the positive? That the President is embarrassed enough, or convinced enough, to change his mind? Doubtful. A lot of pomp and circumstance with such a decision...but, I suspect, the conclusion would be far less different than she imagines. In fact, a resigning VP would probably be an incredibly large distraction. Certainly not something warranted in a decision as important as future military plans in Afghanistan.

Arianna Huffington, this week's dangerously dumb person in the world.