It is hard to put down exactly where one can begin with this strange notion that Instapundit cites from Jay Nordlinger that has thoughts that giving the Democrats complete control of the White House and Congress will somehow make them accountable:
I have a friend who, in a phone conversation last weekend, said the unsayable. Come to think of it, this friend makes a specialty of saying the unsayable. That is one reason he is invaluable.Yes, this one is a pretty strange observation, as if, suddenly, the ranting children will suddenly become absolutely docile once the cookie jars are open and the tractor-trailer with cases of cookies backs up to them. So let us look instead at the past three 'full monte' Democratic Administrations with full or partial control of Congress during their terms. This ought to demonstrate, beyond a shadow of a doubt how CAPABLE the Democratic Party actually *is* at this sort of thing.
He said, “The Democrats have to win in 2008 — I mean, the whole enchilada: House, Senate, and presidency.” You ought to know that my friend is a staunch conservative Republican. “Why?” I said. “Why do they have to win?” He answered, “Because that’s the only way they will be fully onboard the War on Terror. They won’t fully support it otherwise, because they will always be trying to trip up the Republicans. If you want the Democrats onboard the War on Terror, they have to be in charge. Period.”
A dark, dark proclamation. And redolent of ol’ Joe, the one from Wisconsin. I am not entirely convinced of its wrongness, however.
And we start, of course, with Lyndon Baines Johnson. Yes, his term started with the assassination of President Kennedy, but he played on that to get all sorts of wonderful new programs passed and greatly expand government in the lives of the People. The term Great Society comes to mind on that. Now the concept of actually adhering to the Constitution to ensure that all Citizens were treated fairly and not discriminated against via skin color was, indeed, something that is necessary to make America Great.
The War on Poverty, however, got us such things as urban eyesores for housing complexes from the Model Cities Program, which would tend to be very Soviet in design and capability, and remove the ability of poor people to actually *own* their own residences. And for all the money put *into* education, the actual reading rates of children remained steady from 1958 when Johnny couldn't read to this very day. Much in the way of 'feel goodism' but little in the way of actual results. And while Food Stamps may have served some immediate need, their long term goal has been to use up over-produced food by US agriculture and distribute it via Federal means... while the old idea of giving a tax break and letting companies and charities work out these things was bypassed. Can't have progress without a large Federal Program donchyaknow? Such things as 'Community Action Agencies' were finally replaced with Block Grants so as to get the Federal middle-man out of the equation, to a greater or lesser extent, but in conception it was yet another 'top down' idea of how to impose Federal oversight in things it had no role in.
Now you can't have a Federally Funded Great Society without huge bureaucracies to intrude into area of medicine, which was done with Medicare. The outlook of helping older Americans get 'affordable medical care' included forms to be filled out in triplicate, a huge bureaucracy, and something known as an additional 'entitlement'. Over time the older population of the US has not looked to their own resources to take care of themselves, for good and ill, but have depended upon the largess of the working taxpayers to get these medical goodies. One of the larger problems with this has been the fact that companies realized that they can start over-charging, increasing their fees and generally ensure a steadily increasing cash flow from Federal payments even with a 'set cost adjustment'. This is done by the entire industry raising prices for goods and services, which then requires the Federal Government to RESPOND by increasing payments above and beyond the rate of inflation. Added into this was the Welfare portion for medical assistance, known as Medicaid, which has its own problems on payment, increasing costs and Federal adjustments.
Out of the Great Society came the National Endowment for the Arts and the Humanities, which were meant to get the poor starving artists and writers and such from the 'down and outs' and make socially relevant pieces to 'uplift society'. Today, of course, we get to see religious icons with dung on them as a result... somehow that does not seem to be so socially uplifting. Why a Free People need to give money to artists and such is beyond me. Added into this was the Corporation for Public Broadcasting which has gone from wonderful and basic education programs for children to empowering all sorts of leftist non-sense via news and opinion shows and, generally, disenfranchise segments of society that are just not seen as holding to a Leftist outlook. Throw into this all sorts of 'cultural centers' and one begins to get the idea that Federal Bureaucratic Culture is the goal of these things and *not* actually expanding the sphere of Citizen interaction.
Lest we forget the Urban Mass Transit Authority started and continued the process of removing trolleys from Cities and replacing them with diesel buses. Yes, lovely and generally quiet trolleys with regular service and distributed pollution at electrical generation power plants was changed over to buses and the result was increasing smog as the buses were slow, the routes were unfathomable and navigating such systems impossible for anyone who could buy a car. Which is why even poor folks started to buy cars.
About the only good ideas from the Great Society, beyond the Civil Rights bills, were such things as traffic safety, environmental clean-up, fair labeling of foods and a few areas that are, in truth, things that the Federal Government can point to as actual, real things given to them in the Constitution to do. They ensure that Citizens be informed about those things that they eat are safe and open up the marketplace from advertising designed to disguise product drawbacks and flaws. And cross-State environment is the purview of the Federal Government, although having to work with States to get things done is still necessary.
We haven't even GOTTEN to Vietnam, yet!
And that is a telling reminder of how Democrats look at conflict and warfare: they 'micromanage'. President Kennedy didn't really like the Diem government in South Viet Nam and made it known that nothing would be done to protect him. So when rebels found and assassinated Mr. Diem, that was actually something an American Administration was willing to put up with: the removal of a duly elected leader of an Ally because the President did not like him. After the assassination of President Kennedy, LBJ opened up the war and committed more and more forces to it early on. Going from small-scale counter-insurgency to large scale warfare against an enemy was seen as a change in tactics, not strategy. While some of that was necessary, the overall effect was one that did not lead to the defining moment that should come in warfare when large scale escalation begins: you are no longer looking to remove an insurgency, but remove the Nation supplying it.
The Johnson Administration then started to move from escalation to attrition, without addressing the actual enemies and how to deal with them and preferred that the war itself still be considered some sort of counter-insurgency effort. Interdiction of supply routes from the air is harassment at best, and limited by the terrain and cover of the region. Defoliation is a brute force method of trying to deny territory instead of actually capturing it, holding it and performing full-scale closure of supply routes. President Johnson had begun to have the actual direction of operations move out of the field and up the chain of command until it reached very high into the Administration. Even the great successes of actually destroying entire North Vietnamese Military build-ups and armies, after the successful removal of the Viet Cong, had never been played up nor analyzed for their long term effects because those that would need to do that were *running the war*. High level strategic impacts upon the actual suppliers of weapons and war material could not be taken in, analyzed, and reviewed for their wider impact in the Cold War. The highly detrimental effects of having to totally resupply the North Vietnamese three if not four times upon the USSR was never done. Instead the war was fought in the 'living rooms of America' from the White House.
Far be it from me to say that I am given great heartening by the ability of one of the most astute politicians of his era, which LBJ *was* to actually come to terms with a far off proxy war and botch it so badly on the home front. That disillusionment that he suffered was a stark realization of the limitations of the Power of the Presidency and that delegating such powers is *necessary* in wartime. Not only was the actual military situation never properly addressed and reviewed, but the longer term interests of the US in the Cold War were harshly impacted because no one had time to see what the effects on the USSR were. The further loss of the Democratic Party to the Left and the slow removal of the 'National Security' contingent started to change US Politics and put in-place an anti-American attitude that made the old Isolationism seem benign in retrospect.
Next up is the Carter Administration.
Now, Mr. Carter had served in the 'Silent Service' with nuclear subs, which was a very key part of the strategic outlook of the late 1970's. That said, Mr. Carter served in the era with a whole host of terms associated with it: stagflation, climbing interest rates, rising unemployment, 'put on a sweater', 'malaise', Billy Carter, New York City bankruptcy, 1979 Energy Crisis, canceling the B-1 Bomber, Iranian Revolution, Embassy Hostage Crisis, the 'Rose Garden Strategy', Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, the Carter Doctrine for the Persian Gulf, The Ogaden War, Moscow Olympics boycott, Sandanistas in Nicaragua, Panama Canal Treaties, the botched hostage rescue, and disco with 'leisure suits'. Does this, perhaps, ring a bell or two with people?
And to deal with these he sought MORE Federal Bureaucracy: Dept. of Energy, doing a two-fer to make two departments from one in the form of the Dept. of Education and the Dept. of Health and Human Services. This is not to say it was *all* bad during the Carter Administration! The Israeli-Egyptian Camp David Peace is still the major centerpiece of this noxious bouquet, along with a fine sprinkling of Federal deregulation of the airlines, trucking, oil, finance and other industries. The creation of the Rapid Deployment Force was a first attempt to try and understand the needs of the blossoming of Soviet expansion on a global basis, although President Carter couldn't place the fact that moving from 'containment' to 'castigating the USSR for human rights abuses' was seen as a softening of the US stance towards the USSR. President Carter would also be the first President to send money to the Islamist rebels in Afghanistan and start to make them a cohesive force, which would later divide and subdivide into much of the noxious mess that had to be cleaned up there after 9/11.
In full tally President Carter tried to move from an assertive stance in US Foreign Policy to one of protecting the oil interests and generally not much else. The problems in the military would need to be addressed by the Reagan Administration, because such things as equipment repair and replacement had not actually been properly funded under the Carter Administration and morale was *still* recovering from Vietnam. This inability to actually confront dangers abroad, look towards government bureaucracy in the energy field as a way to get out of the 'energy crisis', and by being unwilling to run a tight fiscal policy all led to an interlocking set of pieces by the government that started a downward spiral both in capability and National outlook. Further, by not trying to find and support non-religious, Nationalist elements in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the poison of distributed non-State terrorism was given a huge boost. Funding that went to Afghanistan would soon lead to the first true Transnational Terrorist organizations that had a global view and outlook. Undermining defense posture and Cold War outlook put regimes at peril on a global basis to a Communist System that was expanding as it had a method to defeat the US via Proxy War.
And it must be mentioned that the entire attack on the US Embassy was an Act of War. To which President Carter never responded, nor any President thereafter.
In all, I find this a less than heartening background to giving the Democrats full reign of power.
And President Clinton, although having to suffer with a divided Congress, did get a couple of years in which he could have enacted his 'magic' at the start of his term. Here, again, we get micromanagement of 'problems' that was the hallmark of LBJ in Vietnam and with the Great Society, and with Carter in trying to solve the energy crisis via a new bureaucracy and make two Federal Bureaucracies from one so as to increase overhead. This did not stop with President Clinton who gave us programs large and small: the Family and Medical Leave Act, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", enacting NAFTA, the Brady Bill, the Earned Income Tax Credit, "Hillarycare", and a tax hike. All of THAT in four years.
What we also got was something called 'The Peace Dividend'. With the end of the Cold War there was the attitude that the US would not need as much in the way of military forces and would concentrate on a 'Two War' basis for military planning: being able to fight two simultaneous small wars that are geographically separated. That being the outlook, one must actually *maintain* the military forces that are left and by the end of the Clinton Administration this was no longer being done, as witness the problem with Army Readiness due to overextended Peacekeeping missions and two units dropping to the lowest readiness since the Vietnam war. The long list of 'Peacekeeping missions' gives one pause on to exactly how you can have a 'Peace Dividend': Mogadishu, Bosnia, Kosovo, Haiti, Missile attacks against Afghanistan and Sudan, Operation Desert Fox.
Direct attacks upon the United States and its Armed Forces by terrorists, however, were not seen as illegitimate Acts of War, but mere criminal problems. Thus the Nation would not respond to such acts even when they hit actual US soil and Sovereign Embassies, nor seek reprisals to end those that attack US Armed Forces: 1993 Mir Aimal Kansi killing of CIA employees in Virginia, 1993 Riyadh residential compound attack, 1993 World Trade Center bombing orchestrated to include multiple terrorist organizations, 1993 Bombing of a US Diplomatic Convoy in Gaza, 1995 Karachi Embassy attack, 1996 Khobar Towers bombing, 1996/97 Leavenworth Letter bombs, 1997 Karachi UTP murders, 1998 African Embassy bombings, 2000 USS Cole bombing.
Mind you these are the ones that succeeded, others point to long lasting terrorist campaigns aimed at the US which should have served as sharp reminders to the Clinton Administration:
1993 NYC Landmarks bombing plot orchestrated by Omar Abdel-Rahman from a US jail, 1995 Oplan Bojinka, 2000 foiled plot against USS The Sullivans which was *before* the USS Cole bombing, 2000 Millennium attack.
I am pretty sure that the President remained as Commander in Chief throughout all of this and did not do very much at all to respond to direct attacks upon the Nation, its Sovereign Territory, diplomatic personnel and military personnel, and attendant families of US personnel abroad in service to the Federal Government. So where was he in defining the threat against the US and its People? Because all of those are Acts of War and he was the Commander in Chief.
Looking at the attitudes of many on the Democratic side on actually *having* a Foreign Policy and addressing terrorism as Acts of War leaves very, very, very little for encouragement. And one can be sure that *any* Democratic President will try to get at least one or two huge Federal Programs started, increase taxes and then cite the growing 'gap' between rich and poor based on such taxation. The Democratic Party needs a major 'cluebat' applied to it for a year or two to see if ANYONE in it can actually get a clue and stand up for the Nation as a whole, not just parts of it they hope to combine to some minimal 'majority' while turning off the actual majority from all political intercourse.
Let me know if you see any of those around.
Because the current ones don't seem to have any message to give and they seem to be fully intent on blaming *everyone* for the problems of the Nation.
And I doubt that they can get a clue *to* save themselves, either.