Ed Driscoll

Burning Down The House

Hugh Hewitt has a great comparison between two governmental organizations, both of which have literally burned others–and themselves–in the past. But only one of which might have learned not to repeat the same mistake:

On May 4, 2000, officials of the U.S. Forest Service started a fire in the Bandelier National Monument. The was was supposed to be a “controlled burn,” but the Service miscalculated conditions on the ground and the weather forecast was wrong, and the fire became a runaway disaster, eventually consuming 235 homes and 47,000 acres. The Service did not intend to start the fire, but it surely caused the destruction, and it admitted responsibility. No criminal charges were brought. The United States government paid for the losses not covered by insurance.

If the Forest Service were to initiate another controlled burn in the same spot under the same conditions and with the same weather forecast as it did in 2000, the public would be outraged. Not only would the Service’ proclamation of innocent intent be insufficient to quell the anger, but demands for criminal investigation into culpability would surely follow.

Indeed, if any controlled burns get away from the Service for years to come, they will be under immediate suspicion of fecklessnes and and best gross negligence. The public assumes they should know better, and the Service will be held to a much higher standard of care for years to come, a standard that will brand them as arsonists in fact if not in intent if any more of their experiments in forest management result in the destruction of private property, especially homes.

The Democratic Party and its liberal/left supporters negligence with regard to southeast Asia in the ’70s bought about the deaths of millions and the enduring communist governments of Vietnam and Laos and the desperate circumstances of Cambodia. They did not intend that result. In his famous testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, John Kerry predicted of the aftermath of a unilateral withdrawal of American troops that the United States would have “an obligation to offer sanctuary to the perhaps 2,000, 3,000 people who might face, and obviously they would, we understand that, might face political assassination or something else.” His blindness was neither unique nor even notable. They did not see the carnage coming, or the consequence of American retreat from Vietnam as it would manifest itself in Africa, Central America and ultimately in Afghanistan.

Now the same Democratic Party, the same liberal/left, the same John Kerry and Ted Kennedy and some of the same anti-war protestors grown old and respectable are urging that timelines for unilateral withdrawal be set, the words “bug out” and “quagmire” and back, and once again an ally is beginning to feel the full support of the Democratic Party like a knife in the back. The same tactics, the same denunciations, the same theater that cloaked the approach of disaster are in play in D.C. The Democrats want to start a controlled burn.

If they succeed again, the deaths will surely occur far away and by the hundreds of thousands if not millions.

But they will also occur here. The president knows this, as does the vice president, the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State. What Rumsfeld must have been thinking when Kennedy ranted on about the need for the controlled burn to begin in Bandelier Monument immediately.

What Rumsfeld could not say, Rove did, and good for him. More and more people should say it, and are saying it. Serious people don’t have to rely on MSM for repackaged talking points from the left. There are new voices and new sources, and they know the one key political fact: The leadership of the Democratic Party is now committed to a strategy of retreat that will inevitably lead to disastrous defeat and the deaths of Americans here at home. They have reverted to type, and the type is naive and dangerous. Their intentions don’t matter, and their predictions can’t be trusted. The voters have taken away most of their matches. In 2006, they should take away the rest.

Click on over and read it on Hugh’s site–he has plenty of links to accompany his remarks.