IT’S PIRATE TIME FOR THE GOP
WALL STREET JOURNAL
[Republicans] just lost an election, they’re up against the wall, they have to figure out how to survive and thrive as a party that stands for something, while attempting each day to do the work that needs doing for a country in trouble. The challenges are huge, the odds long. They can sit back and be depressed and whine. Or they can decide: It’s pirate time. And really, it is. Now is the time to fight and be fearless, to be surprising, to break out of lockstep, to be the one thing Republicans aren’t supposed to be, and that is interesting. Now’s the time to put a dagger ‘tween their teeth, wave a sword, grab a rope and swing aboard the enemy’s galleon. Take the president’s issues, steal them—they never belonged to him, they’re yours!
ZERO DARK AFGHANISTAN
WALL STREET JOURNAL
The U.S. strategic interest is to prevent Afghanistan from again becoming an al Qaeda sanctuary, while keeping terrorists under pressure along the Pakistan border. This interest will be compromised if the Taliban is able to retake huge swaths of the country because the U.S. leaves prematurely. Mr. Karzai’s willful sense of entitlement may lead him to make foolish choices that put his country’s future at risk. But after so much American sacrifice, Afghanistan’s fate is also Mr. Obama’s responsibility. If Kabul falls to the Taliban, or the country descends into renewed civil war, it will also be an American defeat—and President Obama’s.
THE FISCAL FUMBLE
The GOP’s best chance to persuade Obama to offer cover for meaningful entitlement restraint was to couple it with a big rollback of the Bush tax cuts; for Obama, the reverse dynamic was true. The revenue generated by the end of the Bush tax cuts was the grease that could have smoothed a deal; without it, both parties may be perpetually grinding gears. Republicans now expect that Obama will accept further spending cuts if they threaten to shut down the government or breach the debt limit, but experience dating back to Bill Clinton’s presidency says they are overestimating their leverage. The two sides may be doomed to little further progress on revenue or spending—and thus, mountainous deficits stretching toward the horizon.
THE MEANING OF HAGEL
The puzzle of the Chuck Hagel nomination for defense secretary is that you normally choose someone of the other party for your Cabinet to indicate a move to the center, but… Hagel’s foreign policy views are to the left of Barack Obama’s, let alone the GOP’s. Indeed, they are at the fringe of the entire Senate. So what’s going on? Message-sending. Obama won reelection. He no longer has to trim, to appear more moderate than his true instincts. He has the “flexibility” to be authentically Obama. Hence the Hagel choice: Under the guise of centrist bipartisanship, it allows the president to leave the constrained first-term Obama behind and follow his natural Hagel-like foreign policy inclinations.
BIDEN GUN TASK FORCE MUST NOT OVERREACH
…The White House can show leadership on the related issues of mental health and of violence in entertainment and video games. But the urgency of action, and the deep polarization of our politics, means the administration should choose its legislative priorities carefully, aiming for those with broad public support and a reasonable chance of approval. As Mr. Biden vowed the other day, “We are not going to get caught up in the notion that unless we can do everything, we’re going to do nothing. It’s critically important that we act.”