Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Republican Comeback, Part 3, from the Fox Forum at

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Yes We Can Reward Failure!

Should one of the geniuses who helped run Citigroup off a cliff now move over to a top job at the State Department? Should there be any penalty for failure--or should failures get promoted, if they know the right people?

As so often happens, The New York Times got the scoop on a hot story this morning: The headline reads, “Clinton Moves to Widen Role of State Dept.” The story concerns the efforts by Hillary Rodham Clinton, the incoming Secretary of State, to enlarge the “turf” of her new department.

And as so often also happens, the Times missed the hottest part of its own story: the upward mobility of yet another Wall Street bailout recipient. This is from the second graf of the Times story:

Mrs. Clinton is recruiting Jacob J. Lew, the budget director under President Bill Clinton, as one of two deputies, according to people close to the Obama transition team. Mr. Lew’s focus, they said, will be on increasing the share of financing that goes to the diplomatic corps.

OK, fine. But is there anything else we should know about Lew? Deep in the story, the Times adds this bit of biography: “A well-connected figure who was once an aide to Speaker Thomas P. O’Neill, Mr. Lew now works for Citigroup in a unit that oversees hedge funds.” [emphasis added]

Now let’s see here. Citigroup, Citigroup. Would that be the same Citigroup that employs Bob Rubin as chairman of its executive committee? The same Bob Rubin who was Lew’s Clinton Administration colleague when Rubin ran Treasury and Lew ran the Office of Management and Budget? And more recently, the two of them have been colleagues at Citigroup? And now Rubin is a top adviser to President-elect Barack Obama, and Lew might be joining the State Department in a top slot? And hedge funds--aren’t those the squirrelly investments that nobody really understands--not even Wall Street’s “masters of the universe”?

Do I have all that right?

And would that be the same Citigroup that last month received a direct cash injection of $45 billion and a loan guarantee of another $306 billion? Why, yes, it would be the one and the same Citigroup, a bailout recipient whose dollar totals put Detroit’s Big Three to shame. As Reuters points out, the mismanagement of Citigroup means that “the government has pledged about $1,000 per American to guarantee the bank's assets.”

So let’s see: Rubin and Lew were both high-ups at Citigroup, as Citi stock fell by 95 percent in the last year; without its bailout, the company probably would have gone bankrupt.

And now, what’s the reward for such failure? Rubin has a place of honor at Obama’s table, and Lew is slated for a big job at the State Department.

This doesn’t look to me like change we can believe in. But surely it’s a career bailout that Lew can believe in.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

My tribute to Paul Weyrich.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

More posts on FoxForum: I see the beginnings of a Republican comeback, starting with the Louisiana and Georgia elections, and now the arrest of Governor Blagojevich (D-Ill.) on corruption charges.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

"Throw a TARP on Hank Paulson — The Treasury Secretary Should Go, Now"

That's the headline for my piece calling for Paulson's resignation.

Monday, December 01, 2008


Tonight's D.C. showing of “Frost/Nixon” was an early holiday gift to Beltway liberals, delivering glad tidings of anti-Nixonian feelgood to the permanent Washington establishment, which has felt shut out of power for so long, during the dark night of Gingrich-DeLay-Bush these past 15 years, before the Obama dawn. But even during this happy masque of lefty triumphalism, Fox News’ Chris Wallace threw a fair-and-balanced apple of discord into the middle of the festivities. Wallace had the nerve to defend George W. Bush from the ongoing liberal effort to Nixonize the 43rd President.

After the screening of the film, at the National Geographic Society headquarters in downtown D.C., director Ron Howard, playwright/screenwriter Peter Morgan, and Nixon-hater James Reston Jr. (son of the legendary New York Times columnist) appeared onstage for a question-and-answer session with the audience, moderated by Robert Dallek, the retired Boston University professor and well-known historian. Howard was, well, Hollywood-ish, talking about the making of the film and the screen-testing of various alternate endings. And Morgan was arty and somewhat abstract, seemingly more hostile to Frost—who conducted the 1977 “checkbook journalism” interviews with the disgraced 37th President that are the heart of the film—than to Richard Nixon. But Reston, portrayed in the film as a young Nixon-hating researcher for Frost, was relentlessly vehement, using every occasion he could to steer the discussion back to Nixon’s “criminality” and the need to confront it. Again. And again. And again.

Then Reston went further, declaring that the film was “a metaphor for George W. Bush,” a theme that Howard and Dallek, at least, seemed comfortable with. That was fine for the liberal multitudes in the audience, including former CBS News reporter Daniel Schorr, now up in his 90s, who proudly recollected for the audience that he was “Number fourteen on Nixon’s enemies list,” and former Watergate Committee counsel Richard Ben-Veniste, who resurfaced in 2004 as one of the 9-11 Commissioners.

But then “Fox News Sunday” anchorman Chris Wallace, braving the liberal wind, asked a question, which was actually more of an accusation. “To compare George W. Bush to Richard Nixon is to trivialize Nixon’s crimes and is a disservice to Bush,” Wallace said. Recalling that 3000 people were killed on 9-11, and noting that there hadn’t been any attacks on U.S. soil since, Wallace suggested that something had been done right. That’s why, he said, “we are all sitting here tonight so comfortably”—and not afraid of another terrorist attack. Moreover, Wallace said, “Richard Nixon’s crimes were committed solely for his own political gain, whereas George W. Bush was trying to protect the American people.” To suggest otherwise, Wallace insisted, “was a grave misrepresentation of history, then and now.” And, amazingly, Wallace received a smattering of applause.

Seemingly not wanting to get into a fight with the TV man, Dallek answered that we knew full well of Nixon’s criminality because of the Watergate tapes, but that no similar documentary record existed yet for Bush. Only when such information comes out, Dallek suggested, would the full horror of Bush’s presidency become visible. Which, of course, proved Wallace’s point: It was not fair to equate proven facts about Nixon with mere allegations about Bush.

“You make suppositions on no facts whatsoever,” Wallace concluded.

“Do you read The New York Times?” Dallek countered. That might not have been the strongest comeback ever, but it worked just fine with this audience. And with that, the Q & A session resumed its liberal course for the rest of the evening.