America Held Hostage: Sequester Day 8
It didn't snow in DC on Wednesday so I spent the entire afternoon watching Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky) filibustering the nomination of John Brennan to be the director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Sen. Paul's issue wasn't with Brennan; it was with the refusal of President Barack Obama to describe his position on using drones to kill people generally, and Americans in particular, on U.S. soil.
Mr. Obama, still believing what his mirror tells him every morning, that he is the fairest in the land, didn't think he needed to explain himself to anyone about anything (much less to a Republican U.S. Senator from a red state) about who the President might want to kill and where he might want to kill him.
All he wanted, Sen. Paul said, was a message from the President or his Administration on whether a person who presented an "imminent threat" (the standard for hitting someone in the head with a Hellfire missile overseas) could be used to summarily execute someone on U.S. soil.
After about 13 hours, the call of nature took precedence over waiting for a call from the White House and Sen. Rand relinquished control of the floor
Yesterday afternoon, the Attorney General - Eric Holder - indeed sent a letter to Sen. Rand which read in, its entirety:
It has come to my attention that you have now asked an additional question: "Does the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?" The answer to that question is no.
Eric H. Holder, Jr.
First of all, no one in the near galaxy thinks Holder was the least bit sincere. I think Obama felt the tide of public opinion turning and didn't want to make Rand Paul a national hero so he instructed Holder to write the letter.
Second, I Tweeted that if Holder had any sense of humor at all he would have sent a letter with two letters: N.O. which would have gone down in American lore with General Anthony McAullife's response to the German demand he surrender the town of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge which was, "Nuts."
But, Holder doesn't and he didn't.
In spite of Obama's dire warnings in the run-up to sequester, the only thing that has gone south is his approval rating.
The latest bit of bad news for Obama comes from the good people at Quinnipiac University's polling unit. It's most recent poll shows Obama's approve/disapprove in negative territory: 45 percent approve, 46 percent disapprove.
As you would expect the GOP split is 87-9 while Democrats side with Obama 85-10.
But as he continues to try and execute on a strategy that will overcome historical political gravity by switching control of the U.S. House from Republican to Democrat in 2014, this is the kind of number that has caused him to change course: Among Independents his approval rating is 35-52.
In that same poll Quinnipiac asked if people liked the way Democrats and Republicans were handling their jobs in Congress.
Not much back-patting on either side. The poll found Republicans were deep in negative territory at 20-71. But Democrats were not that far above their GOP colleagues at 32-60.
For Obama, when your allies on The Hill are minus 28 in approval, you don't want to spend a lot of political capital extolling their virtues.
To make my point, Obama went to dinner at a downtown hotel with GOP Senators on Wednesday night and then had lunch at the White House with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-MN) who is chairman of the House Budget Committee and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) the ranking Democrat on Thursday.
Not only is Obama losing the undying adoration of the American people, he is also in trouble with the normally Liberal chattering class here in Our Nation's Capital.
The National Journal's Matt Cooper wrote a great piece in which he pointed out the hypocrisy of conservatives who defended the Cheney Doctrine during the W. years, but now are howling at Obama's use of the same tools.
But, Cooper also wrote: Greater hypocrisy lies with Democrats, who have expressed only modest interest in [Rand] Paul's cause. The biggest blame, though, ought to go to President Obama, who campaigned on reversing Cheneyism and has prosecuted the wars of 9/11 while keeping Gitmo open and making the drone the symbol of his military policy.
After I read that, I Tweeted: To misquote LBJ: If BHO has lost Matt Cooper he's lost the war.
There is a persistent legend that, after Walter Cronkite expressed the opinion that the Viet Nam war was unwinnable, President Lyndon Baines Johnson once said "If we've lost Walter, we've lost the war."
Whether Johnson actually said that or not, Obama understands its meaning.
On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the Quinnipiac poll, to the House Budget lunch, and to Matt Cooper's piece. Also a pretty scary Mullfoto of the Potomac River during the storm on Wednesday.
If We've Lost Walter ...
America Held Hostage: Sequester Day 8