Dark and Brooding Thoughts

Denis McDonoughFrom Politico:

White House chief of staff Denis McDonough suffered a slip of the tongue Sunday when he offered the first name of an American woman held hostage by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

In an interview with host George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week” about the ongoing situation with a Japanese hostage held by ISIL, McDonough mentioned the woman’s first name, which is not public knowledge.

No, Politico, this is not a “slip of the tongue.” McDonough was appearing on a full slate of Sunday morning shows, and he had certain objectives and parameters which, as a professional and a high-ranking advisor to the President of the United States, he was bound and obligated to be competent to fulfill, or he should not have accepted the assignment. There weren’t that many of them. One was not to reveal the name of an ISIS hostage, and he couldn’t do that. He was not properly prepped, or trained, or focused on his assignment.

It’s not because “anyone can make a mistake.” Professionals do not make such mistakes, and if they do, they are in the wrong profession. This occurred, as so, so, SO many other fiascos have, because this entire Administration is led by, staffed by and advised by hyper-partisan incompetents who learn nothing, understand nothing, and place the interests of the United States at constant risk; because a culture of arrogant incompetence has been allowed to flourish under the abdication of journalists to call it to account; and because the potential critics whose allied philosophies would make them the most effective voices to call for accountability are too biased, cowardly, or lacking in integrity to do so.

You can’t trust our national leadership. If you do, you are a fool. This has nothing whatsoever to do about policies, parties, or loyalty.

As I ponder this, I am trying to understand the character of a man who could preside of over such a incompetently staffed and managed administration and still deliver the defiant, dishonest, destructive and divisive speech he gave to the Congress last week.

That may be a futile effort. But I doubt that I  can continue to muster respect for those who continue to offer excuses and rationalizations for this ongoing tragi-comedy of unapologetic ineptitude rather than to face reality and try to help the nation survive the next two years.

That’s what I’m thinking tonight.

I wish I weren’t.

11 thoughts on “Dark and Brooding Thoughts

  1. I’ve been reading editorials in the Hartford Courant, and it baffles me how the paper manages to spin the State of the Union address in President Obama’s favor. They also publish cartoons from all across the country portraying the Republicans as putting their fingers in their ears.

    The Courant did post its token opposition editorial. That editorial quite fairly portrayed the speech as same old, same old, making an interesting point about Obama’s constant self-referencing previous speech as appeals to his own authority. (The Courant of course portrays this as a position only held and holdable “On the Right”)

  2. I might point out, Jack, that this is not the first time that a member of the administration has leaked information in this manner that put Americans overseas at risk. It’s scary enough that an old and bumbling Jimmy Carter is dragging himself around places with people who are America’s mortal enemies, potentially telling them things that might still compromise our security. Presidents invariably learn things of long term importance. However, Obama’s is the first presidency I know of where there are so many functionaries with access to highly classified information who would never have passed a background check on their own merits; Obama himself being one. Nor do I recall a White House where the very concept of American security seems to be held hostage to political advantage… along with everything else. Were I to be elected president in 2016, my first action would be to place every top staff and cabinet member in custody until a full security evaluation could be made. There’s room for them at Gitmo now that they’ve turned so many terrorists loose!

    • I don’t doubt that purposeful “mistakes” are made by government officials and spokespeople every day, but I can’t see any purpose to this one.

      In fact, McDonough’s job as “chief of staff” was never a mandated office; it grew out of “private secretary” following the Roosevelt administration. As the role expanded into what it is today, apparently it lost a crucial portion of its original character, which combined personal and “professional assignments of highly delicate and demanding natures, requiring great skill and discretion.”

      I hope he is held personally responsible for any negative outcome in this situation. Just as his boss would be for declaring If I had a son, he’d look like Tr…. uh…oh well, never mind. Dark and brooding time it is.

  3. I’ve been brooding for six years, and the criticism of my thoughts was one-sixth give the guy a chance and five-sixths you’re a racist. Pat deflections unfortunately don’t make incompetents competent, and they have led us into a place where no one listens to criticism on either side. What’s worse is the next president, whichever side he comes from, is also unlikely to listen to criticism, well-founded or not, and the leadership is going to keep on being out of touch.

  4. Of course, it is OK. When conservatives do it, you get the Plame affair. *

    * Yes, I know ‘that is more serious’, people will say. However, Valerie Plame was herself unaware that her identity as a CIA operative was classified until someone else told her (after the Novak article was published), so I consider this leak in the same category.

    • Are we referring to the “yellow cake” dispute again? Because after the dust cleared, it sure looked like the major dissembler in this fiasco was Plame’s husband, Joe Wilson not the Republicans. And the claim—originated with Wilson but one you still hear today, that the “leak” was a dastardly plot by the Bushies to punish Wilson for blowing their fake (but not so fake) story is pure fabrication. This one is too muddled to stand for anything.

  5. The SEAL community was infuriated by this administration’s outing of DEVGRU (SEAL Team 6), an organization that up until then, was pretty much off the map, right after OBL was killed. Many of them feel that the crash of Extortion 17 just a few weeks later, which resulted in the largest single loss of SEAL life to date (most of them DEVGRU), was a result of this, or possibly even a setup. This isn’t a tin-foil conspiracy theory going around in the SHTF/Alex Jones crowd; this is a sizable contingent of the SOCOM community claiming this, with some very compelling evidence to support it.

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