President George Walker Bush is famous for being an astonishingly effective politician (until the post-presidency), but not much of a technocrat. Why, some asked, can’t he govern as he fights? From Veterans Affairs, to the Iraq War, to Education, a clever and effective politicla campaign is often met with a slow-moving, error-prone policy based on stubborness, and waiting for things eventually to be successful.
In truth, this combination shouldn’t be surprising. Controlling buzz and running a government as quite different. Obama’s good at the Buzz — he’s even going to accept his party’s nomination in a football stadium! But as far as understanding government, not so much.
Th elatest is Obama’s belief that the Join Chiefs are in fact not primarily budget-warriors for their armed services (as everyone else believes), but rather have operational control over actual wars (which no besides Obama believes):
The Weekly Standard
Before the long weekend began, Barack Obama made a semi-flip-flop regarding the situation in Iraq, even allowing that the surge had achieved some stability and that the next president would be foolish to fritter away those gains. Predictably, this acknowledgment of the obvious triggered howls of outrage on the left. Obama firmly stuck to his new position for almost two full hours before assembling the press once more to reaffirm his long-expressed intention to abandon Iraq. â€œI am absolutely committed to ending the war,â€ the longtime community organizer declared. â€œI will call my Joint Chiefs of Staff in and give them a new assignment and that is to end the war.â€
While everyone has focused on the first part of the statement â€“ Obamaâ€™s â€œabsolute commitmentâ€ to defeat â€“ I want to devote a little attention to the second part, the mechanism whereby Obama will make that defeat a reality. In Obamaâ€™s telling, he will call in his Joint Chiefs of Staff and re-jigger their priorities.
I know Obama is a student of military matters and intellectually voracious, so it is thus rather stunning that he would betray such ignorance regarding the way the military actually functions. In truth, the Joint Chiefs are not part of the chain of command. Indeed, they are specifically by statute not part of the chain of command but instead serve solely in an advisory capacity to the president.
If I was as stupid as some of the anti-Bush II commentators I read, I would ask “Why does Obama hate the troops so much?” But of course, that line of attack is juvenile, worthless, and typical of blogs such as Daily Kos, Wonkette, and other political pornography.
Rather, the question is: is another Bush III administration worth the cost in lives that will be paid because of that incompetence.