Salient Points: The Opening Blast
And he finishes with a flourish:
It felt yesterday like paying last respects to the Constitution of the United States at the wake orchestrated by the Senate Armed Services Committee, the very reverend John Warner, gentleman for Virginia, presiding. On the surface, the ceremony was about confirming Robert Gates to be secretary of defense. But at a deeper level, it was quite a sorry spectacle, as pretentious heads and patrician manners once trumped courage, and vitiated the prerogative carefully honed by the framers of our Constitution for the Senate to advise and consent...
That Gates would be given a free pass without serious probing was already clear in ranking member Carl Levins's (D-Mich.) deference to lame-duck chairman John Warner's (R-Va.) plan for a carefully scripted hearing, at which senators could disregard new, documentary evidence of Gates's deception of Congress and the independent counsel for Iran-Contra. Holding the hearing so quickly after Gates's nomination also made it possible for him to say, in effect, "Gosh, I just got here; didn't know about that; haven't read that, but I'll put that on the top of my reading pile."
Fully expecting that Levin's Democratic colleagues would join him in acquiescing in the charade, anti-war activists told me before the hearing began that they had come prepared with a chant:
You won the elections. Now ask real questions!
Yesterday's charade at the Senate Armed Forces Committee included repeated allusion to the biblical injunction to "speak truth to power." This has never been Robert Gates's forte. Rather, his modus operandi has always been to ingratiate himself with the one with the power, and then recite - or write memos about - what he believes that person would like to hear. Thus, while CIA Director Bill Casey's "analysis" suggested that the Soviets would use Nicaragua as a beachhead to invade Texas, Gates pandered by writing a memo on December 14, 1984, suggesting US air strikes "to destroy a considerable portion of Nicaragua's military buildup."
This makes me wonder what may be in store for Iran, if Cheney solicits help from Gates in making the case for bombing.
Gates may have "fresh eyes," but if past is precedent he will add but marginally to the flavor of the self-licking ice cream cone that passes for Bush's coterie of advisers. What Bush has done is substitute Sugary Gates for Rumsfeldian Tart. Otherwise, the Cheney/Bush recipe is likely to remain the same as the US draws nearer and nearer to the abyss in Iraq..
"The Self-Licking Ice-Cream Cone". I like that.