Rich Tucker

Who says newspapers are obsolete? Sometimes a single front page can explain as much as a weighty Washington tome.

The latest example of the latter is “Power Rules: How Common Sense Can Rescue American Foreign Policy,” by Leslie Gelb. It’s well written, entertaining and has some good advice for the Obama administration (which will likely ignore it).

Gelb remains admirably non-partisan right up until the end of the book, when he slides off the rails for a moment. “Republicans act like rabid attack dogs in and out of power, and treat facts like trash,” he writes. “Democrats seem to lack the decisiveness, clarity of vision and toughness to govern.”

On the contrary. It’s liberals who are ready to trash facts, and the left that maintains a single-minded focus on gathering political power. The front page of the May 9 Washington Post featured three stories that prove that point.

“The Obama administration still plans to spend tens of billions of dollars reviving the nation’s financial system, even after the government’s unexpected finding that major banks need only a little bit more direct government aid,” began one story.

Of course. That’s what liberal administrations do. Spending is how they gain and hold power. So, whether it’s necessary or not, the administration is going to spend. Facts be damned.

Another story says, “the Obama administration is preparing to revive the system of military commissions established at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, under new rules that would offer terrorism suspects greater legal protections.”

That’s odd. Then-Sen. Obama opposed such commissions. “By any measure, our system of trying detainees has been an enormous failure,” he announced on the campaign trail. But now, “it looks a lot more difficult now than it did on Jan. 20,” an anonymous “government official” told the Post.

It’s always easier to criticize the party in power’s ideas than to come up with your own. That’s why we’re still waiting for a liberal plan to fix Social Security, more than four years after congressional Democrats blocked a Bush administration proposal to create personal retirement accounts.

But possibly the best example of the left’s eagerness to take and hold power comes from the debate over what top congressional liberals knew about interrogation techniques.

“A top aide to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi attended a CIA briefing in early 2003 in which it was made clear that waterboarding and other harsh techniques were being used in the interrogation of an alleged al-Qaeda operative, according to documents the CIA released to Congress on Thursday,” The Post front page reported.

This contradicts what Pelosi has said. “We were not -- I repeat -- were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation methods were used,” she told reporters on April 23. So her aide knew but she didn’t?

In an attempt to answer that, Pelosi spoke to reporters on May 14. “I wasn’t briefed. I was told -- informed that someone else had been briefed about it,” she insisted. That “someone” would have been her aide.

Still, Pelosi insisted, “I wasn’t informed. I was informed that a briefing had taken place. Now, you have to look at what they briefed those members. I was not briefed that. I was only informed that they were briefed, but I did not get the briefing.” Got that?

Apparently her aide went to the briefing and learned about waterboarding, but never mentioned it to Pelosi. Although, if that’s the case, why did he go to the briefing at all? Pelosi’s answer seems to indicate her aide’s job was simply to go to briefings and then inform her he’d been to them, but not fill her in with the details of the briefings. Great work, if you can get it.

In her defense, Pelosi was pretty busy in 2003. “I was fighting the war in Iraq at that point, too, you know,” she told reporters. Really? In a tank? An F-16?

In the same news conference, Pelosi highlighted what’s really the most important thing for liberals, and has been for years. “We needed to elect a new president. We did,” Pelosi announced. In case anyone missed it, she later returned to the point. “We had to win the election to make the change. We did.” For the left, beating Bush and gaining power is all that seems to have mattered.

On Inauguration Day, ultra-leftist Susan Sarandon cooed that President Obama, “is a community organizer like Jesus was, and now we’re a community and he can organize us.” This perfectly captures the views of the left, because it ignores a crucial fact: We remain a community, no matter which party controls the White House.

Maybe some Washington expert can eventually write a book explaining how to get liberals to support a conservative president during a time of war. That would be worth reading.


Rich Tucker

Rich Tucker is a communications professional and a columnist for Townhall.com.