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Works and Days

Thoughts from the Later Republic

November 14th, 2009 - 9:24 pm

Contrast recent media coverage:

The furor over Dick Cheney’s past severed involvement with Halliburton—the meowing over Bush-critic, liberal icon, ex-diplomat Peter Galbraith’s present, ongoing conflict-of-interest as profiteer and pundit/advisor involving a multimillion-dollar oil scam in Kurdistan.

The son of share-the-wealth John K. Galbraith, Galbraith Minor barnstormed the air waves in the dark days of Iraq, in solemn tones predicting the end of Iraq, why Iraq must be trisected (e.g., giving the Kurds an independent country), and in general (in two books) predicting the end of constitutional Iraq. He ritually was slamming Bush, predicting ruin—all at a time when the the U.S. was trying to reassure the Iraqis we supported the territorial integrity of their country and would not abandon them. Ok, fine, well and good, it’s a free country, and pessimism is sometimes warranted.

But now we learn that a possible pay-off for opposing US policy of Iraqi unity was a stake in a Kurdish oil field worth, according to some reports, a potential $100 million. (When did stone-faced diplomats and finger-in-the-wind pundits turn into Texas-style oil tycoons or Russian oilocrats?) Why did not Galbraith from the very beginning disclose his financial interests so that his readers, other diplomats, and those who consulted him might factor his profits into his prognoses?

(And what is it with these liberal utopians and money? Do they think their sniff/sniff, aristocratic disdain for a dirty coin allows them to pile them away in the basement—couldn’t Al Gore have made, to use a liberal trope, $10 million rather than a $100 million out of scaring the daylights out of Western suburban society? I think we are in the age of the solely symbolic: you buy the gas-guzzling Volvo SUV, but put an “Impeach Bush!” sticker on the back, or put a few solar panels on the roof tiles over the 10,000 square foot addition).

For all of Galbraith’s sermonizing about the Bush disaster, the hopelessness in Iraq, etc., I think the only major politician to buy into his “divide Iraq into threes, give Kurdistan its autonomy, and me an interest in an oilfield” line was, yes, Joe Biden.

Remember, after Biden was swearing that we should trisect Iraq, Obama inexplicably sent the VP over there to reassure the Iraqis of our commitment to their unity, sovereignty, and future (sort of like having Timothy Geithner oversee tax policy at Treasury or a Charles Rangel at Ways and Means).

The furor over the inept federal response to Katrina—the quiet about the current mess with the federal government’s current swine flu vaccine.

I don’t quite know to what degree, if at all, yet the federal government is culpable for the vaccine shortage, or why it was solely culpable for the Katrina mess, given that Mississippi’s local and state response averted the sort of social chaos we saw in New Orleans under its mayor and the Louisiana governor.

I do know that had Bush been President during the current vaccine furor, and had Obama presided during Katrina—well, you can again fill in the blanks. (I just talked to two doctors who said the inability to get swine flu vaccine for staff, pregnant women, etc. was quite astounding, given the promised delivery dates).

The hysteria over the decisive decision to surge in 2006-7—the “reasoned” debate over the dithering over the Afghan surge.

Where are the “General Betray Us” ads, offered at a reduced rate in the New York Times? Are we going to see an entire subculture—Michael Moore, novels, docu-dramas, comedians, etc.—slamming Obama on the war? Or, in contrast, an entire populist, in the streets, protest over Obama voting “present” while he goes to Copenhagen instead of meeting with Gen. McChrystal? Cannot the media see that the surge in Iraq—little public support, defections in Bush’s own party, a hostile media, demagoguery from the left, campaign distortions by the likes of Obama himself—was the far harder call than granting a troop request in Afghanistan? Why was Bush’s tough call “doomed” in a “lost” war, while Obama’s “present” vote is seen as sober and judicious?

The hype about the false story that Palin faked her pregnancy—the enforced quiet about the real story of John Edwards’ illegitimate child.

Did Edwards’ get a pass for fathering a child while criss-crossing the country, relating his familial solidarity stories about his cancer-stricken wife, tugging on our heart-strings as the dutiful husband in crisis, while diverting campaign monies to a gold-digger?

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