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Doing it the Easy Way
June 28, 2002
By Mike McArdle

We've probably all known at least one person like this, the one whose whole life is devoted to the proposition that effort and accountability are to be avoided at all costs. These people are able to handle problems as long the pesky things remain simple but when things get complicated they sense immediately that they are out of their element and they leave the playing field. The amazing thing is that some people actually make it through life, some quite successfully without ever having to tough anything out or face any consequences.

So it was that a man of miniscule talent who was never called to account for poor grades, problematic military obligations, or failing businesses managed to achieve the nation's highest office. He got there specifically by avoiding all the things that the more talented, responsible people of his generation dealt with head on.

We saw this during the Florida election crisis when his father rallied planeloads of political operatives and sent them to the Sunshine state to try to seize the presidency for his little boy. But while daddies buddies finagled, stonewalled and sued, the beneficiary of all this activity retreated to his Texas ranch and spent the duration clearing brush and throwing a stick to his cleverly-named dog Spot. I mean the situation was just so icky, you know, it was all just complicated and everything. It's kind of like getting kicked out of Andover for throwing a keg party. See if Dad can fix this for you, and have him give you a call when it's time to be inaugurated.

And that is the way the little man handles every crisis he's encountered as President - retreat, sulk a bit, try to find an easy way out. Terrorists knocked down some of your buildings ? Well, you need to have a war. But not one of those complicated wars where you tell people who you're fighting and when their going to know whether they won or not. You need a war where nobody expects things like results and the people and the pols aren't agitating for successes. So how about a war that may never end, it may keep going forever so if you don't win right now or even years from now that's OK. Hell you told them that it might take years; it's going to be handed down to the next guy no matter what so you're off the accountability hook and on to the gym.

We saw this once again in the Homeland Security reorganization. To do this right you have smack some of the biggest heads in DC together. You've got to make huge powerful agencies like the FBI, CIA, and NSA clean up their act, roll some heads, quit the damn turf wars and at the very least talk to one another. You've got to step on the toes of some powerful committee chairmen and talk tough to the intelligence chiefs and the doofus religious fanatic at the Justice Department that you appointed to appease the nutball wing of your party.

But all that is just so difficult so many agencies all those details all that time and effort it's like those teachers at school who gave you a paper to write when you had like three big parties to go to that weekend. Oh, hell, just put together one new department with FEMA people and the bollweevil chasers and the airline bag inspectors and the guys who try to find the pot on the boats, the Coast Guard, yeah, those guys. It may not fix the problem but, hell, it takes the heat off on the intelligence failures and disarms those damn 9/11 survivors who were becoming a real pain in the butt demanding investigations. See, a little reshuffling, and you've bought instant treadmill time.

But now the simplistic get somebody-else-to-do-it approach is being brought to bear the world's stickiest, most complicated problem the Middle East. Ancient animosities, suicide bombers, occupied territory. One side is demanding their own state, they have allies who are supposed to be your allies and those people have lots of oil. The other side is a longtime ally and friend and they don't want the other guys to have any state.

Well, how about half a state? That's right an "interim Palestinian state," a kind of "provisional" thing. But of course this only happens if the Palestinians elect more acceptable leadership and "renounce terror," of course. There are no details on where the borders of Provisionalland will be or what will be its capital. And the best part is that if even if the Palestinians meet all the conditions the "state" is not even going to happen for three years. And after that they begin working out the details.

So this is all years down the road. It's definitely somebody else's problem.

Break out the pretzels.

Mike McArdle is the DU writer formerly known as birdman.

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