Mickey Kaus was looking for the proverbial “Wise Men” of politics to come out of the woodwork to rescue the White House back in January. But as Peggy Noonan wrote in July, good luck trying to find them:
What Mr. Obama needed the past 18 months was a wise man—more on that later—to offer counsel and perspective, a guy who just by walking into the room brings historical context. “Mr. President, the whole nation’s worried about this thing and you’re worried about that thing. They’re thinking money, and you’re thinking health care. Stop that, focus like a laser beam on the economy.” “My friend, you’re gonna get a win on this stimulus thing in the House, and you’re gonna do it without one Republican vote. That’s gonna make you feel good—flexing the muscle. But it’s gonna hurt you long-term. You need bipartisan cover or people will think you’re radical. Whatever you gotta do to get some Republicans on board you do it, bow to what they need. Don’t worry about your left, where they gonna go? Left attacks you, center’ll like you more.”
I know, “the wise men” are dead. Vietnam killed them. They were the last casualties, pushed off the roof with the helicopters. Their counsel on Vietnam was not good. But we learned the wrong lesson. We should have learned, “Wise men can be wrong, listen close and weigh all data.” Instead we learned, “Never listen to wise men,” and “Only the young and sparkling, not enthralled by the past, can lead us.”
The good news for Obama is that a wise man, a grizzled veteran politician with executive experience who’s also served on a presidential campaign has been found, and is offering his services to bring order to the White House.
Update: What could go wrong?