The Hayden nomination: too clever by half?

The basic Republican political play from 9-11 to the present is “Propose something plausibly related to national security so bone-headed, unconstitutional, corrupt, or just plain disgusting that Democrats will have to vote against it. Then attack the Democrats for being soft on terrorism.” The Hayden nomination may be another iteration of that play. But times have changed, and I doubt it will work.

The basic Republican political play from 9-11 to the present is “Propose something plausibly related to national security so bone-headed, unconstitutional, corrupt, or just plain disgusting that Democrats will have to vote against it. Then attack the Democrats for being soft on terrorism.” The Hayden nomination may be another iteration of that play. But times have changed, and I doubt it will work.

Why not? Because the President is now widely unpopular and distrusted.

Not only will that embolden the Democrats; it will prevent the formation of a united front among Republicans. The political payoff &#8212 even among conservatives &#8212 from distancing yourself from GWB is now too great. (The Dubai Ports World deal is the gift that keeps on giving.)

When Pat Roberts greets a Bush appointment with “I’m not in a position to say that I am for General Hayden and will vote for him,” you know that it isn’t 2003 any more.

As Machiavelli says, you get a reputation as a political genius when your natural disposition happens to fit the demands of the times. When the times change, it’s hard to stop doing what has worked for you in the past and what you were inclined to do in the first place. That may be Rove’s problem, and Bush’s, right now.

And it couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

2 thoughts on “The Hayden nomination: too clever by half?”

  1. Well said and hopeful. Yet I wonder what happens when we all get that the entire "political play," is itself based on a lie. Yes, 9/11 itself, as is becoming increasingly obvious to more and more of us willing to peer into the Darkness–and I mean Darkness–and see it was written and directed by the same goons who have benefited from it, at the expense of the rest of the world. A recent survey by Zogby shows that half of the New Yorkers questioned believe the truth has not been told by the Bush Adminstration.
    http://www.911truth.org/index.php?topic=resources
    http://911research.wtc7.net/index.html
    From turning off the air defense to the highest grade US military anthrax delivered to those who wanted to actually read the Patriot Act a few days after, 9/11 was an inside job. Rantings of a wacko conspiracy theorist you say? Read the two books by David Ray Griffin. He is considered one of the most astute philosophers alive, now Professor Emeritus of the Philiosophy of Religion at Claremont Graduate School, where he taught for 30 years. It takes a certain mentality and courage to penetrate widely held illusions and a rigorous method to explicate what you see–even when it ain't pretty.

  2. Your point is an interesting one. However, in my attempts to try and understand the lunatic-in-chief, I believe the primary motive is executive power. Hayden has supported that initiative.

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