Watching CIA director Michael Hayden attempt to explain away the destruction of CIA interrogation videos and John Boehner this morning on CNN Wolf Blitzer show trying to explain away record federal debt under Republican management, I was reminded of my youth.
Back when I was a wee little one in third grade, as war raged in Vietnam and anti-war protests raged at home, I can remember explaining to my teacher why I thought the US could not pull out of Vietnam. (And, yes. My pathology of political junkiness dates back to my earliest year: I started checking books out from the library on athe Ciivil War and WWII when I was five. Egad.) In way of explaining why there was no viable exit strategy from Vietnam I asked my teacher, “Do you know what a mortar could do to a landing craft?” I was envisioning, with my grand military experience, exiting Vietnam to be kind of a Normandy invasion in reverse, with the Vietcong firing mortar rounds at the departing US troops in their open boats at sea. What did I know: I was only nine.
So it surprises me–though it really shouldn’t; these are politicians we’re talking about, after all—to see sophisticated adults advancing arguments the same level of pre-adolescent logic. According to CIA Director Hayden, two video tapes off terrorist subjects being interrogated were destroyed because they “posed a serious security risk.” “Were they ever to leak, they would permit identification of [CIA officers] who had served in the program, exposing them and their families to retaliation from al-Qa’ida and its sympathizers.”
By this logic, of course, the CIA should now begin shredding, deleting and erasing all of its records, least the theoretical leak of which (presumably to be done at some unknown future time by members of the CIA itself) result in putting CIA officers and their families at future risk. One takes it the Director: a) has no faith in the ability of his own agency to keep such material safe; b) should such material ever be divulged to congressional or executive branch oversight, those parties could not be trusted to keep the material confidential; and c) the Director has never heard of “didacting.” Maybe he should watch a Cops episode or two, where faces are blurred out. Neat technology. Maybe the CIA should invest in it.
“No, teacher, the government should never keep records because terrorists may get them some day and use them to target government agents,” the third grader says.
Similar logic was demonstrated by House Minority Leader Boehner in his defense of the massive national debt the Bush Administration has run up over the last seven years—six of which under Republican Congressional hegemony. Least one forget, when George W. Bush received the keys to the Federal Treasury, no less a figure than Alan Greenspan anticipated the then five trillion dollar Federal debt being possibly paid off by 2010. Instead, by 2010 that debt will be ten trillion dollars—a historically unprecedented fifteen trillion dollar swing! Talk about not balancing the ‘ol check book.
Boehner’s response to Blitzer’s remark (his last before Wolf heads north to begin his annual duties as a member of Santa’s team: “On Comet and Cupid and Donder and Blitzer” and all that—bet he’s never heard that one, before…) about how Republicans had managed to drown America in a sea of red ink rose to the grade school logic challenge:
“Wolf, Wolf, Wolf, did you forget that 9/11 occurred? The brakes went on to the economy? We were — this economy was in a real freefall. Had it not been for rate reductions that were enacted in ’01 and ’03 by the Bush administration and this Congress… the tax cuts, in a bipartisan way, we could have had a very serious economic problem.”
According to the Congressman, if the Bush administration and Republican had not pushed through tax cuts estimated to cost the treasury seventeen trillion dollars by 2017 the economy would have fallen into depression. Wow. It was tax cuts—and not the FED dropping interest rates to historically unprecedented levels—effectively negative rates, adjusted for inflation—that saved the economy! Perhaps Representative Boehner is unaware the dominant economic orthodoxy of political conservatives for the last thirty years has been “monetarism,” the idea that monetary policy driven by the apolitical Federal Reserve should be—and is–the chief tool of economic management. Not fiscal policy, driven by the politicized Congress and Presidency?
And as to those “serious economic problems” the Republicans had to heroically deal with? Well, according to that liberally-biased progressive think tank, the Wall Street Journal:
According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the recession officially
ended in November 2001, just 50 days after 9/11. Retail sales, excluding autos, were higher in October 2001 than they were in August. Real GDP expanded at an annualized rate of 1.6% in the fourth quarter of 2001, and since then has grown at an annual real rate of 3.2% — roughly equal to the 50-year average.
Gee, those Post-9/11 tax cuts were really, really fast acting, ending a recession just fifty days after 9/11 necessitated them! Of course that pesky Wall Street rag also points out:
The economy was already in recession on 9/11, and was theoretically vulnerable. At the time of the attacks, industrial production had fallen for 11 consecutive months, new orders for durable goods were down 8.5% from the previous year, retail sales were barely growing and the unemployment rate had jumped by a full point to 4.9%.
But what do those bozos know? (Note to Congressman Boehner: Did we forget to renew a subscription?)
“Gee teacher, if we hadn’t cut taxes and run up a gizzillion dollar debt, we’d have never gotten out of the Post-9/11 recession, even though 9/11 didn’t cause the recession and we were already almost out of it by then, anyway,” the grade schooler says.
Seems to me Director Hayden and Congressman Boehner need to skip a few recesses and bone back up on their old Logic 101 textbooks. Or they better go back to grammar school and leave running the country to grownups. (Of course if you can find any of those anymore, let me know….)