Like Father, Like Son (Except Not)


Out-of-the-closet David Kurtz has some choice words on hopes for a big Iraq turnaround:

That Bob Gates is going to make a dramatic difference over the next two years. First, I remember the last time we were promised wisdom, experience, and a steady hand from a member of Bush 41’s old team. That was Dick Cheney.

Right. The purported dichotomy between 41 people (good!) and 43 people (bad!) is dramatically overstated. And it’s not just Cheney. Paul Wolfowitz was on the Bush 41 team. So was Condoleezza Rice. And, of course, so was Colin Powell. Don Rumsfeld, meanwhile, wasn’t. The reality is that presidents almost always — especially in the first terms of their administrations — appoint reasonably diverse groups of people to national security positions. They proceed to disagree with each other. The President of the United States then decides what he wants to do. Bush 41 had some real nutters working for him who pushed some nutty ideas inside his administration. Bush 43 had some reasonably sensible people working for him who pushed some reasonably sensible ideas inside his administration. The difference wasn’t in the advisors, it was in the presidents. More often than not, Bush 41 made reasonable choices while Bush 43 made bad ones.

There’s no mystical Team Kennebunkport that can save the country from the fact that our president has some very wrongheaded ideas about the world and a habit of making very bad decisions.