Friday, September 5, 2014

Doin' the chronic disconnect

Chaplin moonwalk. From Modern Times (1936), via rebloggy.

Is there an editor in the house?

David Sanger on the imperatives of legacy rethinking:
“There is a chronic disconnect, not just in this administration, between the policy, the budget guidance, and the classified strategies,” said Shawn Brimley, the director of studies at the Center for a New American Security, who served as the director of strategic planning at the National Security Council during Mr. Obama’s first term. That is what Mr. Obama needs to do for a “lasting legacy” of rethinking America’s defenses, Mr. Brimley said, but “if you don’t do it in the next six months, it’s too late.”
What is what Obama needs to do? Some words may have gone missing here. If it's really that urgent, could you let us know fairly soon? Also, can he do it just for his own administration or does he have to do it for the previous ones as well?

Everybody's doing the disconnect, like one of those Lawrence O'Donnell montages where you get to see the GOP password of the day hopping from mouth to mouth, even unto Ron Fournier, though of course he is so famously passionately nonpartisan that you could hardly imagine him getting his vocabulary from Frank Luntz, except when he does, but he does a tiny Shakespeare riff in speaking of "the summer of Obama's disconnect":
He tries to manage the world as he hopes it will be, rather than lead the world as it is. Yes, foreign policy is hard. These issues are both historic and existential. The American public is fickle. Congress is all but useless. And our allies in Europe are loathe to lead—or even to pay a fair price for fighting threats closer to their borders than our own.
But that's why only one person gets to be president of the United States, and, presumably, that's why Obama asked twice to be elected. He wanted the job. He knew its challenges (including the existence of social media). He thought he could lead. When does he get started?
I don't need to write about Fournier because Matthew Dickinson at the Christian Science Monitor completely squashes his stupid argument with a well-chosen FDR story:
The late historian James MacGregor Burns, in his excellent study, Roosevelt: Soldier of Freedom, recalls that by May 1941 “a deepening crisis of confidence enveloped the [Roosevelt] administration." Roosevelt’s Secretary of War Henry Stimson, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox and Interior Secretary Harold Ickes met secretly to discuss ways of pressuring FDR to act; “all agreed that Roosevelt was failing to lead, that the country wanted more action and less talk.”
Why was Roosevelt so passive in the face of the gathering storm? MacGregor Burns concludes that it was because the president – caught between a desire to act more aggressively on Great Britain’s behalf but facing strong resistance to military intervention within Congress and the public – did not see an optimal route to pursue. In short, “the crisis of confidence was a crisis of strategy.” So he waited, and waited some more, essentially adopting “a strategy of no strategy” until the Japanese resolved the dilemma by attacking Pearl Harbor in December 1941.
Oh, and there's a cease-fire in Ukraine following Obama's visit to Estonia (which our late-night comics thought was a pretty hilarious place for him to go to, evidently unaware that it's a kind of important place) and a NATO rapid reaction force being formed on the heels of his visit to Wales. But nobody got bombed, so I guess no connects got made, if you know what I mean.

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