George Bush Was Not Very Good At Making Decisions

The New Yorker looked at George Bush’s memoir Decision Points and found that The Decider was not actually very good at making decisions:

Here is a prediction: “Decision Points” will not endure. Its prose aims for tough-minded simplicity but keeps landing on simpleminded sententiousness. Though Bush credits no collaborator, his memoirs read as if they were written by an admiring sidekick who is familiar with every story Bush ever told but never got to know the President well enough to convey his inner life. Very few of its four hundred and ninety-three pages are not self-serving…

Every memoir is a tissue of omission and evasion; memoirs by public figures are especially unreliable. What’s remarkable about “Decision Points” is how frequently and casually it leaves out facts, large and small, whose absence draws more attention than their inclusion would have. In his account of the 2000 election, Bush neglects to mention that he lost the popular vote. He refers to the firing, in 2002, of his top economic adviser, Lawrence Lindsey, but not to the fact that it came immediately after Lindsey violated the Administration’s optimistic line by saying that the Iraq war could cost as much as two hundred billion dollars. In a brief recounting of one of the central scandals of his Presidency, the Administration’s outing of the intelligence officer Valerie Plame, Bush doesn’t acknowledge that two senior White House aides, Karl Rove and Lewis (Scooter) Libby, alerted half a dozen reporters to her identity…

The steady drip of these elisions and falsifications suggests a deeper necessity than the ordinary touch-ups of personal history. Bush has no tolerance for ambiguity; he can’t revere his father and, on occasion, want to defy him, or lose charge of his White House for a minute, or allow himself to wonder if Iraq might ultimately fail. The structure of “Decision Points,” with each chapter centered on a key issue—stem-cell research, interrogation and wiretapping, the invasion of Iraq, the fight against AIDS in Africa, the surge, the “freedom agenda,” the financial crisis—reveals the essential qualities of the Decider. There are hardly any decision points at all. The path to each decision is so short and irresistible, more like an electric pulse than like a weighing of options, that the reader is hard-pressed to explain what happened. Suddenly, it’s over, and there’s no looking back. The decision to go to war “was an accretion,” Richard Haass, the director of policy-planning at the State Department until the invasion of Iraq, told me. “A decision was not made—a decision happened, and you can’t say when or how.”

…Here is another feature of the non-decision: once his own belief became known to him, Bush immediately caricatured opposing views and impugned the motives of those who held them. If there was an honest and legitimate argument on the other side, then the President would have to defend his non-decision, taking it out of the redoubt of personal belief and into the messy empirical realm of contingency and uncertainty. So critics of his stem-cell ban are dismissed as scientists eager for more government cash, or advocacy groups looking to “raise large amounts of money,” or Democrats who saw “a political winner.”

…What he cannot explain is why he allowed Iraq to descend into a nightmare of violence, year after year, until, by 2006, millions of Iraqis were fleeing the country. Perhaps he didn’t know what was going on, having been shielded by sycophantic advisers and yes-sir generals. Yet “Decision Points”—indeed, the whole trajectory of Bush’s Presidency—suggests that he had the information but not the character to face it. “I waited over three years for a successful strategy,” he says in a chapter called “Surge.” But what sort of wartime leader—a term he likes to use—would “wait” for three years, rather than demand a better strategy and the heads of his failed advisers?

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Palin Fights Barbara Bush While Her TV Show Loses Viewers

Sarah Palin has a habit of winding up in feud, and with his history of abuse of power it is a scary thought to think she might ever wind up as president with control of the FBI, IRS, and entire nuclear arsenal. She’s getting involved in a couple more.

Palin didn’t have the sense to ignore Barbara Bush’s suggestion that she remain in Alaska and instead launched into this counter-attack in an interview with Laura Ingraham:

“I don’t want to concede that we have to get used to this kind of thing, because i don’t think the majority of Americans want to put up with the blue-bloods — and i want to say it with all due respect because I love the Bushes — the blue bloods who want to pick and chose their winners instead of allowing competition,” Palin said (beginning at about 1:30 in the interview above).

Palin also suggested that the Bushes upper-class status had contributed to “the economic policies that were in place that got us into these economic woeful times.”

Meanwhile her television show is receiving criticism from animal rights groups while it falls in the ratings:

After setting a TLC ratings record last week, Sarah Palin’s reality show plummeted for its second episode.

Sarah Palin’s Alaska fell 40% on Sunday night to 3 million viewers.

Not many were in the key adult demo either. Only 885,000 viewers were ages 18-49, dropping 44% from last week.

In fact, the median age of the show is 57 — that’s 15 years older than TLC’s average.

There still were 3 million people who either were brain dead and thought she was worth watching or were brain dead and unable to figure out how to change the channel.

Educating Sarah Was Unsuccessful

During the 2008 campaign the McCain campaign found that Sarah Palin was ignorant of basic information regarding recent history and other nations, including that Korea was a divided country. Game Change explained:

She knew nothing. She had to be taken through World War I, World War II, the Cold War, and Palin was not aware there was a difference between North and South Korea. She continued to insist that Iraq was behind 9/11; and when her son was being sent off to Iraq, she couldn’t describe who we were fighting.

Palin is still having difficulty remembering the details about Korea. Today in an interview with Glenn Beck she referred to “our North Korean allies.”

“This speaks to a bigger picture here that certainly scares me in terms of our national security policy. But obviously we’ve gotta stand with our North Korean allies.”

In what might be the first occurrence ever, Glenn Beck provided the correct answer.

Majority Oppose GOP Repeal of Health Care Reform While Tea Party Opposes Benefits For Congress

The health care reform legislation caused a lot of problems for Democratic candidates this year due to all the misinformation about the plan spread by the right. It might also cause some problems for Republicans. If they stick with claiming to have a mandate to repeal health care reform Republicans risk objections from the majority of the country which wants to keep the current law or expand upon it. McClatchy reports:

The post-election survey showed that 51 percent of registered voters want to keep the law or change it to do more, while 44 percent want to change it to do less or repeal it altogether.

Driving support for the law: Voters by margins of 2-1 or greater want to keep some of its best-known benefits, such as barring insurers from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions. One thing they don’t like: the mandate that everyone must buy insurance.

Making matters even more complicated for them, the newly elected Republican members of the House face demands from their base that they not only repeal health care reform but that they also decline government provided health care for members of Congress. Public Policy Polling reports:

Most Americans think incoming Congressmen who campaigned against the health care bill should put their money where their mouth is and decline government provided health care now that they’re in office. Only 33% think they should accept the health care they get for being a member of Congress while 53% think they should decline it and 15% have no opinion.

Democrats are actually the most supportive of anti-health care Congressmen taking their health care, with 40% saying they should accept it to 46% who think they should decline. But Republicans and independents- who put these folks in office in the first place- strongly think they should refuse their government provided health care. GOP voters hold that sentiment by a 58/28 margin and indys do 56/27.

This is an issue where Democrats really have the opportunity to create tension between the newly elected officials and the Tea Partiers who put them there by highlighting the disconnect between the freshmen Republicans’ rhetoric and their actions. Their base clearly expects them to act in a way consistent with their stated opposition to government provided health care but given Andy Harris’ recent outburst about his care not starting quickly enough it’s not clear the new electeds are getting the message. If Tea Party activists continue to get let down by the Republicans they elect it increases the possibility for them to shift their energies toward third party conservative candidacies in 2012.

Question of the Day

After the Republicans repeal health care reform, will they next repeal the Bill of Rights?

Plouffe Joins White House

I am happy to see that David Plouffe will soon be back working for Obama. Plouffe ran Obama’s 2008 campaign, and perhaps his departure is one of the reasons that the Obama campaign did a better job of controlling their message than the Obama White House. This won’t do anything to stop the misinformation from the right, but perhaps he will get the White House better organized to get its message out to thinking people.

Sarah Palin Remains Afraid To Be Interviewed By Katie Couric

During the 2008 campaign Sarah Palin’s ignorance was exposed when she could not answer basic questions related to public policy during interviews with network news anchors. Katie Couric especially deserves credit for asking follow up questions when Palin tried to avoid answering questions. Since then Palin has avoided Couric as well as the rest of the news media.

In an interview tonight, Sarah Palin states she will not do further interviews with Couric. Needles to say, this statement came in an interview on the house GOP network, Fox, conducted by Sean Hannity.

Should Palin decide to run for president in 2012 it will be interesting to see if she can get away with avoiding any legitimate news interviews. To this day she has never appeared on the major network Sunday interview shows, which tend to lean conservative but which still would not be likely to allow Palin to get away without being able to answer basic questions.

HHS Issues Rules Requiring 80% Of Premiums Be Spent on Health Care

The Department of Health and Human services has released new rules requiring health insurance companies to spend 80 to 85 percent of premium dollars on medical care as opposed to administrative costs. Companies which exceed these numbers will have to start issuing rebates to beneficiaries beginning in 2010. The National Journal reports:

The Department of Health and Human Services today released long-awaited regulations governing how insurance companies can spend customer premiums.

The interim final rule on medical-loss ratio requires insurers to spend 80 percent to 85 of premium dollars on medical care, as opposed to administrative costs.

The regulations follow the National Association of Insurance Commissioners recommendations on deducting federal and state taxes from the medical loss ratio. It also allows “mini-med” plans to follow a different calculation formula than other plans in 2011.

“These new rules are an important step to hold insurance companies accountable and increase value for consumers,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told reporters at a press conference this morning.

The new health care law requires insurers offering individual or group coverage to submit annual reports to HHS on the percentages of premiums that the coverage spends on reimbursement for clinical and quality improvement services.

If the spending does not meet minimum standards for a given plan year, then the companies have to pay a refund to policy holders beginning in 2012.

Meghan McCain Wants To Kick Obama’s Ass

Liberal writers have often been pretty soft on Meghan McCain. After all, we don’t blame her for  backing her father and it is good to see a Republican comment on how the social policies of the GOP risk losing a generation. McCain would be best off writing books such as Dirty Sexy Politics as opposed to getting more directly  involved in political battles. She now states she desires to become a political strategist and “kick Obama’s ass the next election.”

McCain’s lame attack on Obama isn’t going to go over well with many liberals who have so far limited any criticism of her, and I have my doubts that any major campaigns will really see her as an asset.

Quote of the Day

“Sarah Palin says she’s going to run for President in 2012. 2012. Donald Trump said he’s going to run for President in 2012 against Sarah Palin. Nice to know there will somebody equally unqualified…Now that would be some presidential race. You’ve got Donald Trump and Sarah Palin and the debates. Get there early and get some seats down front for those debates. ‘You’re fired, you becha.'” –David Letterman