Tom Tomorrow:
The center cannot hold

Vice-President Dick Cheney and a handful of others had hijacked the government’s foreign policy apparatus, deciding in secret to carry out policies that had left the US weaker and more isolated in the world, the top aide to former Secretary of State Colin Powell claimed on Wednesday.

In a scathing attack on the record of President George W. Bush, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff to Mr Powell until last January, said: “What I saw was a cabal between the vice-president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made.

“Now it is paying the consequences of making those decisions in secret, but far more telling to me is America is paying the consequences.”

* * *

Mr Wilkerson said his decision to go public had led to a personal falling out with Mr Powell, whom he served for 16 years at the Pentagon and the State Department.

“He’s not happy with my speaking out because, and I admire this in him, he is the world’s most loyal soldier.”

Among his other charges:

–The detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere was “a concrete example  of the decision-making problem, with the president and other top officials in effect giving the green light to soldiers to abuse detainees. “You don’t have this kind of pervasive attitude out there unless you’ve condoned it.”

–Condoleezza Rice, the former national security adviser and now secretary of state, was “part of the problem”. Instead of ensuring that Mr Bush received the best possible advice, “she would side with the president to build her intimacy with the president.”

–The military, particularly the army and marine corps, is overstretched and demoralised. Officers, Mr Wilkerson claimed, “start voting with their feet, as they did in Vietnam. . . and all of a sudden your military begins to unravel.”

Mr Wilkerson said former president George H.W. Bush, “one of the finest presidents we have ever had,” understood how to make foreign policy work. In contrast, he said, his son was “not versed in international relations and not too much interested in them either.”


Tom Tomorrow:
A tiny slip

Rush Limbaugh, being interviewed by Sean Hannity on Fox last night:

The Democratic party’s stuck in the past. Their presumed glory years are Watergate and Iraq, and they can’t look forward, they don’t look forward…

It took me a second: Watergate and Iraq? Does he mean the first Iraq war? Does he somehow think that was such an unpopular war that…

Oh. He meant to say Watergate and Vietnam. But for some strange reason, Iraq and Vietnam are categorized in the same little subfolder in his brain.

Wonder why that is?

Tom Tomorrow:
Quickie auctions

I wanted to put a “Buy It Now” price on the art I’ve got up for auction, but eBay won’t let me do that til I’ve got a feedback rating above ten. To expedite that process, I’ve just put up five postcards. These are just quickie bullshit auctions to run up the feedback, and I don’t expect anyone should have to bid more than a quarter on each of them–but if there are five kind readers willing to do me this favor, I’d be grateful.

…okay, a couple bucks each. But these are just postcards, not worth a bidding war.

Tom Tomorrow:
The crux of the matter

I think Alterman points out something crucial in l’affaire Miller–the impact of social striving in the government/media nexus of the Northeast Corridor. When you live in these worlds, it’s all about the parties.

The big question in The New York Times cafeteria yesterday was how did it happen that Arthur Sulzberger and Bill Keller let so dishonest and slippery a character as Judy Miller hijack the institution of the New York Times for her own nefarious purposes and humiliate its entire echelon of top leadership; the publisher; the editor and the editorial page…

Again, the answer is ultimately unknowable, but I?ve always felt it was a matter of social power. Judy is married to Jason Epstein, who is one of the most widely admired and well-liked people in all of New York. Jason is a legend of an editor, and was widely referred to for decades, almost every time you heard his name as ?the smartest man in New York.? He practically invented the trade paperback book, and played key roles in the founding of The New York Review of Books and the Library of America. He is also the editor to some of our greatest fiction and non-fiction writers. What?s more, he is a charming raconteur and a famous amateur chef. Maybe he?s got some bad qualities, but I?ve never heard any mentioned. Anyway, Jason and Judy are famous hosts, at their apartment in the Police Building downtown and their Sag Harbor House, and they sit at the nexus of an extremely important social network that nobody wants to be thrown out of. (I saw Jason, whom I like and admire, at a party the night before Miller?s last testimony and did not know what to say to him, given what I?ve written about his wife. I?m sure a lot of people don?t want that problem.) The fact that Judy was also close to Arthur Sulzberger made her nearly untouchable, no matter what she did inside the paper. As Keller admits in the long take-out, he could not control her. She had more power to get her reporting in the paper than he felt he did to keep her out.

Tom Tomorrow:
Note to New Englanders

My friend Jack Hitt, who is one of the most engaging storytellers I have ever known, will be sharing some of his stories at the Quinnipiak Club in New Haven this weekend, along with Andy Borowitz, Jonathan Ames and Mike Daisey. It’s an event held regularly in NYC and in New Haven, by a group called The Moth. More details here.