Now comes this, from the sigh-heaving National Journal:
Just as occurred with Rice, the U.N. ambassador whose prospective nomination as secretary of State ... flamed out in the face of widespread criticism of her, President Obama appears to be rethinking his choice for Defense secretary.
Generals, it is commonly observed, always fight, or prepare to fight, the last war--a martial failing that is seemingly, regrettably underway in the White House. Doubtless Obama's political generals are tired. They've been through a long and bloody campaign--grueling hours and dozens of crucial decisions each day, all with decency's future hanging in the balance. It's an exhausting, brain-numbing burden; indeed it's enough to make a political strategist survey the next war's pressing enormities and think: How about we just do what we successfully did last time?
Because "last time" was brilliant. Last time worked. Last time entailed a daring, pragmatic long-game that though irritating as hell to the left's anxious idealists was in reality the best possible strategy to achieve incremental victories, demonstrate patient leadership and a compromising spirit to swing voters, and thus win reelection. But that was then, and then is not now. Unlike early 2009, now means another four presidential years whose presiding influence and power will endure for only about two.
The White House can no longer afford to play the long game, because the game is now politically and Constitutionally shortened--the evisceration of lame duckism looms and reelection is removed from the governing equation. Hence any WH notion that political capital preserved today on, say, cabinet nominations, won't suffer immense devaluation tomorrow on, say, the debt-ceiling issue, is catastrophically, anachronistically misguided.
I've never made any secret of my deep admiration for the Obama administration; in fact I have frequently compared it to Lincoln's and declared it the progressive-conservative successor to FDR's. And if I didn't admire it and wish it every possible success, I'd keep my critical mouth shut and thereby do it the greatest possible disservice.
If one sees a valued friend going down the wrong road, one intervenes bearing the truest gift of friendship: corrective advice.
Therefore my Christmas gift to the Obama administration: Stop this. Stop this right now.