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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Stuff a sock in it, Carl

Elections have consequences. Unfortunately, sometimes those consequences are to push previously mostly-harmless idiots into positions from which they can exercise a genuinely dangerous megalomania.

Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-IL), who thinks he's Czar of the World The one in November 2004 meant that George W. Bush will be the President of the United States until January 2009. But the one in November 2006 apparently meant, among other things, that a magnificent idiot like Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-MI) has suddenly come to think he's leap-frogged the office of the Presidency of the United States to become Czar of the World, including Iraq — and thus he's entitled to tell the Iraqi people "that Iraq's parliament should oust Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his cabinet if they are unable to forge a political compromise with rival factions in a matter of days."

Let me be precise: Even if he's right, he's wrong. Even if this is good advice, it's incredibly, unequivocally, unarguably bad for a United States senator, even the chairman of the Senate Armed Service Committee — especially the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee — to start acting in this way as a free agent, an unguided missile, in sensitive matters of foreign policy.

Bodadpaf, but Sen. Levin should be metaphorically horsewhipped by every politician and pundit of either party who has the slightest notion about how foreign policy ever has worked or ought to work now. He's out of his field, out of his expertise, and so far outside of his mandate as to be out of his mind. This is the kind of colossal misjudgment and misconduct that, in a sane era, would result in this nincompoop being stripped not only of his chairmanship, but of his committee membership. This is the kind of thing a willful, not-very-bright sixth-grader, pretending to be a senator, might do before he's corrected by his civics teacher.

Will Hillary or any other prominent Democrat tell him, "Stuff a sock in it, Carl"? Or are we just going to hear more from the Dems about how "amateurish" the Bush-43 administration is in its foreign policy efforts?


UPDATE (Tue Aug 21 @ 6:50pm): "Stormy70" has this comment over on a post by James Joyner on Outside the Beltway:

By all means, lead the way, Levin. Show Maliki how to aspire to the heights of a 14% approval rating, and a do nothing label. You are the man.

That's genuinely funny. What's not funny — and what I failed to articulate adequately in my own original post — is that statements by someone in Levin's current position, i.e., Chairman of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, may be read by both our allies and our enemies to mean more than they really do. "That's why we have a State Department, to explain to foreigners how little most of this speechifying really means," says my commenter Steve Forsberg below; and he's correct, too, that some abroad will indeed treat Levin's remarks dismissively.

But either the very unsophisticated (who aren't privy to our State Department spin) or the very sophisticated (who already thoroughly understand the American system and therefore draw their own conclusions) are likely to read Levin's remarks as a not-very-veiled threat, made by America's most senior legislative branch official who has specific responsibility for funding and oversight of the American armed forces that could either foment or block an Iraqi coup d'état pretty much at will. When I read Levin's remarks, what I immediately recalled were the disastrous and equally inappropriate comments made by Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. when he was the U.S. Ambassador to South Vietnam — comments that were way ahead of, and very possibly contrary to, the intentions of the Kennedy Administration, but that nevertheless directly brought about the Diem coup, with a resulting multi-year set-back in the war effort there. Before that coup, Kennedy knew that Lodge was habitually out of line, but he refused to recall or replace Lodge because of concerns about how that might play in the 1964 presidential election, in which Lodge was expected to be a leading candidate for the GOP nomination.

My point in this post is not to defend the Maliki government. But whether, and how, the United States of America withdraws its support from that particular Iraqi political coalition is a damned important, and damned dangerous, and damned delicate subject. Unless his comments were made at the suggestion of the Administration (e.g., as part of a "signals campaign" designed to exert pressure that's not directly traceable to the White House), which strikes me as quite unlikely, then he was out of line in making them.

Posted by Beldar at 07:02 AM in Global War on Terror, Politics (2007) | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Stuff a sock in it, Carl and sent a trackback ping are listed here:

» On the other hand, about that sock, Carl ... from BeldarBlog

Tracked on Aug 22, 2007 1:47:21 AM


(1) Cory made the following comment | Aug 21, 2007 11:55:13 AM | Permalink

Will Hillary or any other prominent Democrat tell him, "Stuff a sock in it, Carl"? Or are we just going to hear more from the Dems about how "amateurish" the Bush-43 administration is in its foreign policy efforts?

You giving any kind of odds on that?

3-1 maybe?


(2) stan made the following comment | Aug 21, 2007 2:39:40 PM | Permalink

After watching Dems on foreign policy for almost 40 years, the odds of them denouncing Levin are nearly zero. The odds of a majority of Dems even understanding why Levin has made a mistake aren't much better.

(3) Steve Forsberg made the following comment | Aug 21, 2007 3:12:13 PM | Permalink

You may or may not agree with Levin, but he has a right to speak out. He is the representative of his district. What about Newt Gingrich calling for revolution in Iran when Clinton's policy was cautious outreach? It is not uncommon for senators to offer foreigners unsolicited advice, or to criticize/conflict with executive branch policy. That's why we have a State Department, to explain to foreigners how little most of this speechifying really means.

(4) Dennis made the following comment | Aug 21, 2007 3:46:15 PM | Permalink

Out of his field and out of his expertise? Come on, the guy has been a senator for years and is a recognized authority on defense and foreign policy issues. Just because you happen to disagree with him doesn't mean you are the expert and he is not. He also happens to be right about Maliki, not that it hadn't been glaringly obvious for some time. But hey, when are you running for office?

(5) Beldar made the following comment | Aug 21, 2007 6:11:04 PM | Permalink

Dennis: He has indeed been a senator for years, which makes it that much more unbelievable that he should suddenly decide that his job responsibilities include issuing veiled threats to a foreign parliaments conditioned upon their ousting their leadership in favor of one he favors.

Mr. Forsberg: He has the right to speak out, as do you and I. That doesn't make him not an idiot; the responsibility of his elected office, and certainly the responsibility of his committee appointment and leadership, include a responsibility not to be so stupid. And like Levin, Republicans have also sometimes been guilty of this same sin (Gingrich for one, Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. (as U.S. Ambassador during the Diem coup) for another). I am a fan of neither man.

(6) KYJurisDoctor made the following comment | Aug 21, 2007 9:12:27 PM | Permalink

Should Bush not second the call for Al-Maliki's ouster by parliamentary means?


(7) softspade made the following comment | Aug 21, 2007 10:19:42 PM | Permalink

Funny how there's nothing about Tancredo wanting to bomb Mecca on this blog...

(8) Beldar made the following comment | Aug 22, 2007 1:14:38 AM | Permalink

Softspade, I've mentioned Tancredo's name precisely once on my blog (as has one commenter). I'm not among his fans. The comments to which you allude were not among his most thoughtful, and I would agree with anyone who characterizes them as reckless and foolish; but then, neither were they quite as bad as your comment makes them out to be.

KYJD, if the government of the United States were to take a public position to that effect, which I doubt will happen, then yes, I would expect the position to be taken by the Executive, not by the Congress, and I would further expect that the position would encourage change by peaceful and lawful parliamentary means, not by violence. As I've written several times, though, I'm not taking a position on whether that should happen, because I haven't made up my own mind on that subject. My point is that Sen. Levin has no business actively trying to destabilize the Maliki government.

(9) Sarah made the following comment | Aug 22, 2007 9:52:05 AM | Permalink

I'll be anxiously awaiting your similar comments after our own 2008 election.

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