Newt on Parade
Thursday, September 07, 2006 :::
Newt Gingrich takes to the pages of the
Wall Street Journal, wherein he compares the current situation to that faced by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.
He's painting with a very broad brush, to be sure. But there is also a narrative developing here. Condi Rice accuses the anti-war types of being the equivalent of "Copperheads." Now, Gingrich chimes in with his Bush-is-Lincoln c. 1862.
I have my doubts about both characterizations. But the far more interesting point Gingrich raises are on what we ought to be doing to win this conflict.There are a number of hollow Gingrichisms -- The current hopelessly slow and inefficient interagency system should be replaced by a new metrics-based and ruthlessly disciplined integrated system of accountability, with clear timetables and clear responsibilities.
But there are also some interesting ideas -- Following this initiative, the president should propose a dramatic and deep overhaul of homeland security grounded in metrics-based performance to create a system capable of meeting the seriousness of the threat. The leaders of the new national security and homeland security organizations should be asked what they need to win this emerging World War III, and then the budget should be developed. We need a war budget, but we currently have an OMB-driven, pseudo-war budget. The goal of victory, ultimately, will lead to a dramatically larger budget, which will lead to a serious national debate. We can win this argument, but we first have to make it.
Gingrichisms aside, the idea that the government is not serious about the conflict, let alone winning it, are legitimate. If we are in a protracted struggle, then let's have budget and tax policies that reflect a desire to win. If it means higher taxes, make the case for them. If it means shifting spending out of the domestic arena and shifting it to defense, make the case. If this conflict will play-out over many years, then perhaps we really do need to revisit the idea of either a draft or compulsory national service.
This is not the sort of debate we are likely to get. Any one of these points will send the partisans scrambling for the barricades. But the point remains: If this is a real war over issues of fundamental importance, then it's time to have it out.
::: posted by Norman Leahy at 9/07/2006