From an editorial in today’s New York Times:
We have long suspected that there is no one in charge of the Iraq war. How else can you explain four years of multifront failures, including President Bushâ€™s most recent plan to order even more American troops to risk their lives there without demanding any political sacrifice or even compromise from Iraqâ€™s leaders? So we were not surprised to hear that White House officials are looking for someone to oversee both Iraq and the faltering Afghanistan warâ€” and not surprised that they were having a tough time filling the job.
National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley told The Times heâ€™d decided that â€œwhat we need is someone with a lot of stature within the government who can make things happen.â€ He said that top official would have the authority to â€œcall any cabinet secretary and get problems resolved, fast.â€
As Keith Olbermann observed last week –that sounds like the Commander-in-Chief’s job.
Peter Baker and Thomas Ricks wrote in the Washington Post last week that at least three retired generals have turned down the job.
“The very fundamental issue is, they don’t know where the hell they’re going,” said retired Marine Gen. John J. “Jack” Sheehan, a former top NATO commander who was among those rejecting the job. Sheehan said he believes that Vice President Cheney and his hawkish allies remain more powerful within the administration than pragmatists looking for a way out of Iraq. “So rather than go over there, develop an ulcer and eventually leave, I said, ‘No, thanks,’ ” he said.
The more we learn about the White Houseâ€™s purge of United States attorneys, the more a single thread runs through it: the Bush administrationâ€™s campaign to transform the minor problem of voter fraud into a supposed national scourge. …
..,Last week, we learned that the administration edited a government-ordered report on voter fraud to support its fantasy. The original version concluded that among experts â€œthere is widespread but not unanimous agreement that there is little polling place fraud.â€ But the publicly released version said, â€œThere is a great deal of debate on the pervasiveness of fraud.â€ Itâ€™s hard to see that as anything but a deliberate effort to mislead the public….
…charges of voter fraud are a key component of the Republican electoral strategy. If the public believes there are rampant efforts to vote fraudulently, or to register voters improperly, it increases support for measures like special voter IDâ€™s, which work against the poor, the elderly, minorities and other disenfranchised groups that tend to support Democrats. Claims of rampant voter fraud also give the administration an excuse to cut back prosecutions of the real problem: officials who block votersâ€™ access to the polls.
There is one big catch, as Eric Lipton and Ian Urbina reported in The Times last week. After a five-year crackdown, the Justice Department has not turned up any evidence that voter fraud actually is a problem. Only 86 people were convicted of voter fraud crimes as of last year â€” most of them Democrats and many on trivial, trumped-up charges.
The Bush administration was so determined to pursue this phantom scourge that it deported a legal Florida resident back to his native Pakistan for mistakenly filling out a voter registration card when he renewed his driverâ€™s license. And it may well have decided to fire most of the eight federal prosecutors because they would not play along.
Worse than Nixon, I tell you.