"The successful politician today is the one who can best convert the agendas of his campaign contributors into politically saleable policies. That's the business of government today; both the legislative and the executive branch are mainly engaged in searching out and finding the acceptable mean between voter sentiment and financial interest. It's sort of an ongoing math problem -- figuring out how many voters you can afford to fuck every four years, or how much money you should be extracting, and from which sponsors, for each rape of your constituents.
It's important, when you nominate your panel (e.g. ISG), to dig up the oldest, saggiest, rubberiest, most used-up political whores on the Eastern seaboard to take up your cause. That way, you can be sure that the panel will know its place and not address any extraneous issues in its inquiry -- like, for instance, whose fault a certain war is, or whether the whole idea of a "War on Terrorism" needs to be rethought, or whether the idea of preemptive defense as a general strategy is viable at all, or whether previously unthinkable solutions may now have to be countenanced, or whether there is anyone currently in a position of responsibility who perhaps should immediately be removed from office and hung by his balls. Your panel should contain people who are not experts or interested parties in the relevant field (since experts or interested parties might be tempted to come up with real, i.e. politically dangerous solutions), but it should contain people who are recognizable political celebrities whose names will lend weight to your whole enterprise, although not for any logical reason."
"It's possible that the Democratic takeover of Congress can result in genuine and meaningful -- and desperately-needed -- change for our country. But it's also possible that it could result in nothing notable, that it will produce only the most marginal and politically risk-free actions, all justified by the need not to do anything too "extreme" due to a fear of harming their 2008 electoral prospects.
Which course Democrats take will be determined by whether they are guided by political figures committed to genuine change due to a conviction that such change is needed (even if that means incurring some political risks), or whether they are driven by cynical, exclusively political and dishonest Beltway operatives like Rahm Emanuel.
To compete with Republicans, Democrats need not only political idealists, but also calculating strategists who are devoted to winning. That's fair enough. But they also need to enforce some (at least) minimal ethical standards if they are to avoid becoming indistinguishable from the rotted and corrupt GOP tyrants who were just so deservedly tossed out of power. Rahm Emanuel seems to fall well below even those most minimal standards."
* SMCD with driftglass:
"So although there were distinct flavors at various stations of the Sunday Morning Squalid Bar, mostly there was sober conversation about how blunt the language of the report was, how utterly fucked we are, and how to best dig out the bullets Bush has recklessly fired into the belly of Mesopotamia without killing the patient, when the only tools he as left us are a nuclear warhead, a melon baller and a silly straw.
Iraq is, among many other tragic things, the blowback that comes from infusing Rove/Gingrich/Limbaugh/Falwell, all-out berserker GOP politics into foreign affairs.
From letting every other tool but the strident, divisive Universal Hammer rot into rust. A tool which worked great when gutting honorable men or stabbing heroes in the back to get cowards and criminals elected, but now it has seeped so deeply into the Party DNA that they literally don’t know how to do act any other way, and so they actually come to believe they could somehow Swiftboat Iraq."