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"The Worst Ineptitude in Governance"

   "As a teacher who's studied every administration since 1945, I think this is probably the worst ineptitude in governance, decision-making and leadership I've seen in 50-plus years. You've got to go back and think about that. That includes the Bay of Pigs, that includes -- oh my God, Vietnam. That includes Iran-contra, Watergate."

   So where does this partisan quote come from? Al Gore? Nancy Pelosi? Some lefty blogger? No, it's from retired Army colonel Larry Wilkerson, a Vietnam combat veteran, war college professor and former chief-of-staff for Colin Powell. Rich Leiby today profiles Wilkerson and details his estrangement from Powell and his disgust at the handling of the Iraq war and the treatment of enemy detainees. Meanwhile, Broder gives a thumbs up to the Gore speech. Were the president the kind of person who reads newspapers, he probably wouldn't like today's. (Tip: Go straight to the funnies.)

By Joel Achenbach  |  January 19, 2006; 9:22 AM ET
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Next: Singing to a Turkey on American Idol


We should all be a bit more like Pollyanna; just look on the bright side, after all: at least the administration hasn't started turning critics into Soylent Green and feeding them to school children.

Posted by: Huntsman | January 19, 2006 9:39 AM | Report abuse

To answer the question from the previous kit: IIRC stands for "if I recall correctly."

Still haven't had my coffee; will return shortly, when my eyes are fully open.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 19, 2006 9:49 AM | Report abuse

The Leiby article on Wilkerson should be required reading, even if you strongly disagree with all of Wilkerson's conclusions. The article reinforces the point that government entities, be they military, intelligence, congressional, or otherwise, are not monolithic. This is a point I have made before in regard to conspiracy theories. Not everyone who works for a government agency is a clone. (Although I have heard rumors..)

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 19, 2006 10:01 AM | Report abuse

I am profoundly offended by your "clone" comment, RDP.

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 19, 2006 10:05 AM | Report abuse

As am I, RDP.

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 19, 2006 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Me three!

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 19, 2006 10:06 AM | Report abuse

I don't know if "fun" is the word I'd use, but the E-Prime-for-a-day fiasco was interesting, and I still think it was a good idea. When I compose in E-Prime (and even though I was familiar with the concept, I'd never tried to do it before) I can feel my synapses creating new connections, blood circulating to previously unused brain cells. It's a little disconcerting, but I like it.

Posted by: Reader | January 19, 2006 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Being a government clone (sub-species contractor), I have no previously unused brain cells, as they were never issued to me and weren't part of my contract. I only possess the standard issue complement of brain cells, which I use sparingly, so as not to wear them out prior to the five o'clock whistle. One day I accidentally used a small cluster of brain cells three different times in one afternoon, and was so exhausted I had to take a mental health day the very next day.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 19, 2006 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Reader- that was fun. Kind of like learning a new language, but without having to roll your r's.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 19, 2006 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Leiby's piece supports the idea that many have had for some time: The Administration's made Major Blunders in Iraq and their unwillingness to take responsibility for it and to commit whatever resources are necessary to make it right pronto caused Powell (and others) to walk.

Powell, the good solider to the end, won't speak ill of the CIC or anyone else.

Wilkerson sounds like the kind of man the Adminstration could use right now.

Sadly, the Executive branch continues to demonstrate their unworthiness of the men and women they command in our Armed Forces.

I could go on, but I'll just ask Joel if he's asked The Man In His Basement what he thinks of the Bush-league Adminstration we're saddled with.


Posted by: bc | January 19, 2006 10:42 AM | Report abuse

From yesterday's NYT, an op-ed that goes hand-in-hand with Leiby's piece on Wilkerson, since he's probably the next target of the neo-con smear machine.

Purple Heartbreakers

Published: January 18, 2006

Posted by: Pixel | January 19, 2006 10:43 AM | Report abuse

I can't decide if I like Scottynuke's clone response or Reader's post(s) better.

Posted by: omnigood | January 19, 2006 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Joel, I'm not sure which funnies you're talking about. Tom Toles and Dunesberry both seem pretty tame, today.

Leiby's and Webb's articles together make my blood boil. I could forgive the current administration for making mistakes. Theirs wouldn't be the first case of good intentions gone awry. But the scorched-earth, blindly-partisan manner in which the President's men (and followers) have addressed responsible critics is insulting to our country and society.

Posted by: CowTown | January 19, 2006 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Don't knock clones, please. If youare one, just layback and enjoyitititi.


Posted by: Message to Scottynukkie | January 19, 2006 12:56 PM | Report abuse

I'm just curious as to when it was *exactly* that Colin Powell sold his soul to the Devil, and what he got for it.

Whatever it was, it wasn't enough.

Posted by: amo | January 19, 2006 1:26 PM | Report abuse

PS George W Bush doesn't care what we think. Never has, never will.

Posted by: amo | January 19, 2006 1:44 PM | Report abuse

So, we've learned:

As a former President, TR was called "Colonel Roosevelt."

Wilkerson was once Colin Powell's chief-of-staff and is "Colonel Wilkerson."

yours cordially, etc.,

Colonel Nash

(I once worked at Dairy Queen.)

Posted by: Nash | January 19, 2006 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Colin Powell could have fundamentally affected change in this country for the better if he had adhered to his moral compass and publicly denounced going to war in Iraq. But instead he's been a yes, sir! man to the end with the moral clarity of silly putty. It all started when he was a lieutenant in Viet Nam assigned to find out if U.S. troops really were killing civilians. He issued a white-wash report insisting claims of civilian massacres were unfounded. A few weeks later My Lai hit the press. Harry Belefonte had it exactly right.

Posted by: Dave | January 20, 2006 7:29 AM | Report abuse

Having been in the military, I understand the pressure to go with prevailing (higher-ranking) opinion, but going along to get along doesn't make one a better person, quite the contrary.

Posted by: Dave | January 20, 2006 7:42 AM | Report abuse

In addition, Colin Powell's relationship to President Bush during this time was not that of a military subordinate. As Secretary of State, his was an appointed, Congressionally approved, civillian position. People continue to "credit" him with following orders like a good soldier and supporting a war which he felt was a mistake, when in fact, he was no longer a soldier and President Bush was not his CinC. His ethical reputation appears to me to be worse for that fact.

Isn't it reprehensible for him to try to claim a distance from the wrong-thinking now? Cy Vance resigned his office. Why not Colin Powell?

Posted by: Nash | January 20, 2006 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Actually his position was less tenuous as Secretary of State than it was as a General. The Sec of State, like every appointed position, serves at the descretion of the President. If the boss doesn't like you, you are gone. Hell, even if the boss likes you, you can be gone. There is no appeal except to that of public opinion, if one chooses. Powell has already indicated that his U.N. speech is a blot on his record. One can only hope that, at some point, he reveals more as Paul O'Neill did with Ron Suskind. I won't be too hard on him if he doesn't, however. Not many people have f-you money, like O'Neill did.

Regardless, I think the Webb op-ed and the Wilkinson article are essential reading in understanding our current political climate.

Posted by: pj | January 20, 2006 10:19 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

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