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Pundit Roundtable

Hi folks! Welcome back to the PUNDIT ROUNDTABLE, our rousing roundup of repartee. I am your host and loyal aide-de-camp, Ken McCracken. Here are our topics for this week:

Topic 1: What do you think are the biggest failings of the Bush administration? Is there time enough to correct them before President Bush leaves office?

Topic 2: Porter Goss, Andrew Card and Scott McClellan are gone, and Karl Rove has been demoted. Are recent personnel changes going to reinvigorate the Bush administration, or is this merely a rearrangement of the deck chairs?

Topic 3: Who is the most overrated artist, thinker or personality of all time?

I would like to introduce a new guest to the Roundtable, Curt of Flopping Aces. What do you think, Curt?

"In my opinion his biggest failings would be immigration and spending as I'm sure most Republicans will agree. I knew full well going into the Bush Presidency that he was not a Reagan Republican but I could never had pulled the lever for Gore, not in a million years. I was not sold on Bush from the beginning, but that all changed after 9/11.

He has increased his spending over 130% since his first term began but now appears to finally be tightening the belt. We shall see how far that goes.

As far as immigration goes, what can I say. I don't agree with him. I think a physical wall needs to be built FIRST then we go after the illegals. I do agree that it is not possible to round up 12 million illegals and send them home, but we can go after the business that employ's them. Stop the jobs and they go home.

I am the first to tell people that we will never find the perfect President. The man who we agree with on all issues. It will not happen. So based on this fact the good greatly outweighs the bad here. Yes, his immigration and fiscal policies could be better but his nominations for the court, his steadfast support for the war on terror, and the way he carried out that war far outweighs the negatives. Most importantly to me tho is the way he will not bend/change his belief's just to push his poll numbers up...the anti-Clinton. Natan Sharansky put it so well recently:

There are two distinct marks of a dissident. First, dissidents are fired by ideas and stay true to them no matter the consequences. Second, they generally believe that betraying those ideas would constitute the greatest of moral failures. Give up, they say to themselves, and evil will triumph. Stand firm, and they can give hope to others and help change the world.

Political leaders make the rarest of dissidents. In a democracy, a leader's lifeline is the electorate's pulse. Failure to be in tune with public sentiment can cripple any administration and undermine any political agenda. Moreover, democratic leaders, for whom compromise is critical to effective governance, hardly ever see any issue in Manichaean terms. In their world, nearly everything is colored in shades of gray.

That is why President George W. Bush is such an exception. He is a man fired by a deep belief in the universal appeal of freedom, its transformative power, and its critical connection to international peace and stability. Even the fiercest critics of these ideas would surely admit that Mr. Bush has championed them both before and after his re-election, both when he was riding high in the polls and now that his popularity has plummeted, when criticism has come from longstanding opponents and from erstwhile supporters.

Does he have time to turn this around, definately. I would not underestimate Bush.

Topic 2: These changes will definately reinvigorate the administration, and the choices he is making to replace those leaving couldn't be better. One major mistake made by this administration is being slow to recognize political problems on the horizon and then once recognized, battling it head on. It appears he has realized there is a problem and is taken the steps necessary to turn this around.

Topic 3: Um wow....how in the hell can I narrow this one down? I will have to go with artist this time around and choose Bob Dylan. His voice sucked, his harmonica sucked, but he was a decent writer. Just never understood the homage paid to him....just my opinion, no hate mail. Well ok, send the hate mail, they always make me smile.

Next we have frequent WILLisms.com commenter and author of Ski-Blog.com, Justin B. Welcome Justin, what do you say?

"Public Relations is the single biggest failing. We could point to the WOT, handling of pre-9-11 Intel, failing to reform Social Security, etc., but ultimately, the economy today is absolutely soaring. And the administration cannot get the message out. The WOT is winnable and we are winning, yet no one knows it. They have allowed the Democrats to consistently tell us how bad the world hates us, despite leadership changes in Germany, Canada, the reelection of Tony Blair, and the near ouster of Chirac. The Dems have downplayed the economy, despite every indicator pointing to this economy possibly being better than Clinton’s last couple of years. It is a massive PR Failure of every sense.

The second half is yes, but it does not matter if he corrects them by November 2008. What matters is if the administration’s new hire of Tony Snow can correct them by November 2006. And I believe the answer is yes to both of them. Can we fix everything that has gone wrong in Iraq? No. Can we fix Social Security. Probably not. But we can fix the misperception that lower taxes, less government, and an aggressive foreign policy and WOT strategy work. And that is the goal. Bush is a lame duck, but this is now a referendum on the Republican Ideals of values, smaller government, economic freedom, capitalism, and lower taxes. Bush’s lack of PR expertise, if not corrected, could sink all of these ideas and their supporters.

Yes. Absolutely. Americans are tired of the same old faces. And this administration has allowed their reliance on “loyalty” and Bush’s belief in some folks that are not doing their jobs to influence his decisions. I like Card and McClellan, but given the poll numbers on the economy, despite the reality of GDP Growth, Unemployment, Wage Growth, etc., the message has not been getting out. So you fire your PR firm. You have to. Perhaps Rummy needs to go too, but honestly, he has done a pretty good job and you don’t fire your General in mid-battle. That is conceding defeat. But things need to change and again, it starts with PR. Marx. No doubt. Considering the range of influence that his ideas have had and that so many have been proven wrong and caused so many problems throughout the world. His ideas led to the slaughter of close to 100M people in China, Russia, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, North Korea, Cuba, South and Central America, the dividing of Germany, and the economic and political imprisonment of half the world’s population under tyranny. Now, that does not mean he is wrong about everything. Conflict theory and some of the other pieces of things such as religion’s influence are relevant and need to be explored and understood, but given his range of influence and how wrong several of his ideas were that caused massive conflicts worldwide, I am thinking Marx.

I will add a simple tidbit on personalities and other overrated people—Tom Cruise. How the hell did this guy go from Risky Business to being the world’s preeminent expert on Mental Disorders and Psychiatric treatment simply by joining a cult and reading some science fiction? Put on your sunglasses, slide across the wood floor in your socks, and shut the hell up. MI-3 should have been about the Impossible Mission of him coming out of the closet and fathering a child. I believe that about as much as Michael Jackson and Debbie Roe.

I am also pleased to announce another newcomer to the Roundtable, Scott Chaffin, The Fat Guy. Tell us what's on your mind, Scott.

"Failing is a harsh word. In general, I would say that pronouncements of failure are best left to history. But by far my biggest disappointment with the Bush administration is with the expansion of the federal government. It would be unfair to say that we didn't see it coming, since Bush never ran as a small government guy, and I had personal experience under his governorship of Texas. I did, however, expect a lower rate of expansion than we've seen, but it's almost certainly slower than I would have expected under a Democrat. External events, specifically 9/11 and the resulting global war on terror, have to be a part of the calculus, though, and the return on investment, as it were, is still out there a ways. Is there enough time to correct that? I doubt it, as there is no external, voter-driven push to shrink the federal footprint. Americans seem to want the federal security blanket, and our elected leaders seem quite happy to give it to them, thus ensuring their continuing to be our elected leaders. My personal, somewhat irrational view is that there are almost no frontiers left for Americans to escape to, and the innate drive for independence from the government is muffled.

Topic 2: Porter Goss, Andrew Card and Scott McClellan are gone, and Karl Rove has been demoted. Are recent personnel changes going to reinvigorate the Bush administration, or is this merely a rearrangement of the deck chairs?

Do you mean reinvigorate the administration, or reinvigorate the polls about the administration? Personally, I could care less about the administration's invigoration, and even less about the polls. I want my president to have his head down doing the job of leading the country. Obviously, though, polls tie into that, as does administrative invigoration. I don't think there's ever anything bad about fresh ideas, but I don't believe those are going to come from the press secretary or the chief of staff. Ultimately, though, I believe the polity is too divided by the question of whether we are at war with terrorists or not (and how we handle that) for the administration to have much of an effect on American vigor, which is what truly matters.

Topic 3: Who is the most overrated artist, thinker or personality of all time?

Whoo. Of all time??? I'll stick to what I've personally experienced, thanks. For my money, it's the Beatles. Talk about 'right place at the right time.' If I never have to listen to one more hippie deliver an uber-serious, self-important monologue about the overwhelming genius of John, Paul, George and Ringo, it'll be too soon. Give me the Rolling Stones (and someone please tell those guys to hang it up right now and quit screwing up their legacy; that's the one thing the Beatles did right - quit.)

And now we have returning pundit John Stansbury of The Blorg to tell us the score. What do you say?

"Not to go all 11th Commandment or anything, but George W. Bush's biggest problem was that he was a Conservative Christian, and he's never been able to recover from that. That, and he doesn't take the time to slam his enemies in public. Plus, if he has a problem with somebody, he takes it up with them in private, and doesn't make a public spectacle of it.

Bush is a pathological classy guy. From this, he can never recover.

Topic 2: Not to go all 11th Commandment or anything...uh, okay, actually I will go and break Reagan's Law. The Bush administration was always originally built as the massive team-building exercise. As hokey as "I'm a uniter, not a divider" sounds, that's what it was built to do. If Bush had any idea just how partisan and militarily important his tenure would be, I'm sure the makeup would be different.

That said, I think there's little to the changes being made. 8 years is a long time to be doing anything, especially in a wartime administration.

Topic 3: That guy who said that socialism was a good idea. Sadly, I would have to explain, over and over again, who that guy is. It fails every time it's tried, yet...over and over again...there's always some "brilliant thinker"...

Finally we have Will Franklin of this very blog with his thoughts. Will?

"This is a difficult question to answer. So many failings (in terms of results) could have ended up even worse under different courses of action. It's too easy to Monday Morning Quarterback things. However, in terms of ongoing failings, there needs to be a far more aggressive campaign to "sell" the economy.

Topic 2: It's way too early to write off this administration. There are still roughly 1000 days remaining. If anything, the GOP Congressional leadership is what needs reinvigoration.

Topic 3: Muhammad Ali.

The Host's Last Word: The biggest failing of the Bush administration was falling prey to boondoggles like No Child Left Behind and the Medicare prescriptions bill, and yet not tackling the really important issue of Social Security reform. I give Bush huge credit for touching the third rail of American politics, but then when the fight started getting tough Bush left the gloves on. The PR campaign (what there was of it) just sputtered, and Bush left the field to the fear mongering demagogues of the nanny-state Left.

Folks, this was not a failure for Bush, it was a failure for America because this problem is not going away and is simply multiplying. No doubt some future Democratic administration will blame Bush for the problem, when it was Democratic stonewalling that bankrupted the federal government.

As for the second topic, I am particularly interested in who will replace Porter Goss. The CIA is an absolutely critical agency in this day and age, and yet sections of it are in near-revolt against the Bush administration. The CIA is in the unenviable position of never being able to trumpet its successes, yet its failures (911, Iraq WMDs, leaks, etc.) make glaring front-page news. The volume of reportage on the CIA indeed makes it look like a completely broken organization.

What we need is a new CIA director that will keep the CIA out of the news. No news is good news when it comes to intelligence.

dylan.jpg marx.jpg

Curt absolutely nails it on Bob Dylan - easily the most overrated artist of all time. Curt says that he is at least a good writer - I don't even give him credit for that, I always found his lyrics and poetry to be incoherent at best.

As for Marx, calling him 'overrated' seems almost like a compliment of sorts when juxtaposed with the mass murders committed in his name, and all the lives, resources and opportunites squandered in the service of his destructive philosophy, which even continues today in places such as that gulag known as Cuba. To paraphrase William F. Buckley, the time spent studying Marx's writings and those of his followers was the greatest waste of man-hours in the history of civilization.

That's all! Come back next week for the next edition of PUNDIT ROUNDTABLE!

Posted by Ken McCracken · 7 May 2006 01:05 PM


How about Neil Young? Heard his new "impeach Bush" song? Grow up hippie. What a joke.

Posted by: Justin B at May 7, 2006 01:36 PM

Thomas Kinkaid. Man, I hate that guys art so much, and every freaking midwest family has his prints in their house.

Posted by: super susan at May 7, 2006 03:39 PM

Madonna? Does she have any relevance at all artistically? I mean "Like a Virgin" and "Material Girl" make her some kind of pop sensation. People worship her and think she is some kind of enlightened being because she heads to the Temple occasionally to make an ass out of herself.

Her music sucks and were it not for a fairly fine body and some metal cone bras, she would be completely irrelevant.

Posted by: Justin B at May 7, 2006 04:29 PM

Super Susan...Gosh that is funny! Ha! That is so funny! AND, true.
Jason, Neil Young is probably a socialist commie. Once I loved his music. Sometimes they just don't know when to quit...He is a Has been. When Americans start insulting our troops and start spouting anti american leftist liberal trash it shows their true colors. RED. unfortunately it happens all too often. He is probably hoping to relive his Viet Nam days of yore.

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at May 7, 2006 04:37 PM

Dylan: Maybe over-rated but still great. Come on - who of us has ever written a decent song that anyone wanted to hear?

Posted by: bird dog at May 7, 2006 04:42 PM

bird dog...Think of all the beautiful musicals. Fiddler on the roof, The sound of Music, Oklahoma, Cats etc. ???

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at May 7, 2006 05:07 PM


Ran into the guy in Hawaii a few years back and thought he was an ass.

Btw, how do you participate in the roundtable discussion? I'd like to give my .02 if Will and Ken allow me to do so.


Posted by: Eric at May 7, 2006 05:21 PM

Sean Penn is way over rated. George Clooney is dumber than a door and a lousy actor. He is good looking though. Rosie Odonnell is just sickening!

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at May 7, 2006 05:58 PM

One of the things I had hoped Bush would do is get Condie to fire evryone at the snake pit. I mean State department.

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at May 7, 2006 08:20 PM

Why you gotta start spouting off about Sean Penn? He is a great humanitarian. Did you see him single handedly saving those four cameramen in his five person boat in New Orleans? Or how about him trying to talk Saddam into not invading Kuwait... wait, isn't that why he went on his humanitarian mission to Iraq? Code Pink was to stop Saddam's invasion wasn't it?

But he did marry Madonna, so can you imagine how overrated their children would be?

Posted by: Justin B at May 7, 2006 08:52 PM

Bill Maher. Almost forgot. And folks on the left sound like the canned laugh track on a Scooby Doo show whenever he spouts off some anti-Bush crap.

Add to that the entire staff at Air America. Alledgedly they are the best thinkers and the most enlightened Liberals there are.

The only thing that they are enlightened about is ripping off little kids in the Ghetto.

Posted by: Justin B at May 7, 2006 08:55 PM

If the most overrated person of all time must also still be alive, I am flabbergasted that nobody nominated Colin Powell.

If he may be dead, then John F. Kennedy.

Of course, there may be overrated people from other countries -- Charles DeGaulle, anybody? -- but I don't know enough to comment. Being an American, and all.

Posted by: TigerHawk at May 7, 2006 10:37 PM

Justin, Thanks for pointing that out about Sean Penn. He has done some interesting things in the name of humanity. HA1...

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at May 8, 2006 07:23 AM