May 23, 2006

The Hayden Surprise Symphony

Hatched by Dafydd

So in the end, after all the blather and hysteria, with the spectacle of Democrats leaping atop tables, clutching their skirts, and screaming like they'd seen a rat... Gen. Michael Hayden was passed out of committee, with a strong recommendation to confirm as the 20th Director of Central Intelligence, quicker than beets through a baby's behind.

The vote was a crisp 12-3, the three rabid lefty naysayers being Evan Bayh (D-IN, 90), Ron Wyden (D-OR, 100), and Russell Feingold (D-WI, 100).

The other four Democrats voted to confirm: Jay Rockefeller IV (D-WV, 90), Carl Levin (D-MI, 100), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA, 100), and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD, 100).

I'll bet you're wondering about those numbers I'm including in the party/state designation. Aren't you?

Hayden, 61, who would replace Porter Goss as CIA director, is widely expected to win confirmation in a Senate vote that could come as early as Thursday. Goss was forced from his job after clashing with U.S. intelligence chief John Negroponte and is expected to leave the agency on Friday.

There were two reasonable criticisms -- frets, actually -- raised against Hayden... and a really, really silly one. The silly one was that he wears a uniform: the undischarged assumption was that an undischarged serviceman would necessarily be a toady to Donald Rumsfeld.

Contrariwise, a moment's research revealed that Hayden was a protege of Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte, Rumsfeld's primary disputant on intelligence matters -- and a lifelong civilian. If Hayden comes down anywhere on the Pentagon vs. Langley dispute over who should control intelligence, it will be on the side of the civilians.

The reasonable worries were:

  • His background at the National Security Agency might predispose him towards signals intelligence (SigInt -- spy satellites, communications intercepts, and such) and away from human intelligence (HumInt -- actual spies on the ground infiltrating terrorist organizations).
  • He might be less eager to crack down on the CIA leakers, so to avoid suffering Porter Goss's fate.

The first is a bit up in the air, though Hayden did seem to indicate that he understood the CIA was woefully void of actual spies. The second worry, however, was very well addressed by Hayden during his confirmation hearing in the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence: he explicitly and bluntly told the CIA that the agency should not get involved with reporters:

The general's portrait of the C.I.A. he would like to preside over seemed to be one of esprit, imagination and discretion. "C.I.A. needs to get out of the news, as source or subject, and focus on protecting the American people by acquiring secrets and providing high-quality, all-source analysis," he said.

There are eight Republicans on the committee: Chairman Pat Roberts (KS, 92), Orrin Hatch (UT, 96), Mike DeWine (OH, 68), Christopher Bond (MO, 96), Trent Lott (MS, 96), Olympia Snowe (ME, 60), Chuck Hagel (NE, 87), and Saxby Chambliss (GA, 96). By and large, they gave Hayden fairly easy questions, though Olympia Snowe was somewhat more concerned about the NSA al-Qaeda interception program than was, say, Chairman Roberts.

Still puzzled? What are those weird numbers?

But the hearings were nothing at all like the roughing-up that we expected from the initial hue and cry about Hayden... not just from the Democrats but many Republicans as well, including Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI, 100). In fact, this turned out to be yet another brilliant appointment by the "powerless" and "impotent" President Bush.

Will Republicans give him any credit for this, or for any of the other excellent conservative policies he has promoted, from tax cuts, to a robust military and defense of the country, to partial privatization of Social Security, to a pro-life position on abortion, partial-birth abortion, and even cloning and embryonic stem-cell research?

Or does the litmus test applied by conservatives change from day to day, reflecting the "what have you done for me lately" attitude of that faction?

All right, ab Hugh... if you don't cough up the explanation for those goofy numbers right now, you're going to be looking for your front teeth two blocks up Skid Row!

I thought you'd never ask. It's a new policy that may or may not continue past this post, since it's an annoying bit of work.

  • The numbers in parentheses after Democratic politicians are their ratings from the Americans for Democratic Action... a very liberal group, usually considered the sine qua non of liberalism. This indicates how liberal the senator or representative is.
  • The numbers after Republican names are their ratings from the American Conservative Union, indicating how conservative they are.

As you can now see, five of the seven Democratic members of the Senate Intelligence Committee rate a 100% liberal score from the ADA. The other two get 90%, for an average "liberalness" of the Democratic side of the Intelligence Committee of 97%.

By contrast, the eight Republicans on the committee range in "conservativeness" from a high of 96% to a low of 60%, with a mean average of 86%.

In other words, on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the Democrats are very significantly more liberal than the Republicans are conservative.

This brings up a serious problem in Congress: the Democrats see all congressional committees in purely political terms. Since the party is left-liberal, they will pack every committee with ultra-liberals, even when those liberals are congenitally incapable of fairly or honestly doing their duty: the anti-intelligence-collection Sen. Feingold springs easily to mind, as does the virulently anti-military former Rep. Ron Dellums, who served as the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

Republicans, however, see important governing committees more in policy terms; so they tend to install people who have expertise in certain areas, regardless of their politics. This, too, can cause problems, when some of the more liberal Republicans use their committee assignments to push politics ahead of policy; but by and large, it works out a lot better than the Democratic approach... where not only is the personal political, but so is every other aspect of human life.

This tends to be true in presidential appointments, too; consider the difference in credibility and seriousness between Attorney General Janet Reno on the one hand -- clearly appointed for pure politics, whose highest previous position was as the very liberal prosecutor in Florida's most liberal county (like Ronnie Earle in Austin) -- and Attorneys General John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales, the former having been state attorney general of Missouri (and then governor and senator); the latter being the former secretary of state in Texas, then serving on the Texas Supreme Court, and of course was a White House counsel.

The disparity becomes even more marked when considering Clinton's first two picks for attorney general, Zoë Baird and Kimba Wood, neither of whom appears to have had any qualifications whatsoever for being United States Attorney General... until you realize that Clinton was simply bound and determined to pick a woman.

Note that there was not a single issue on which Reno disagreed with Bill or Hillary Clinton, including about whether independent counsels should be appointed to investigate well-founded accusations of criminal activity within the Clinton White House. By contrast, John Ashcroft as senator very much opposed some policies Bush later supported -- for example, national educational testing, NATO expansion, and especially spending -- while Alberto Gonzales was known to be pro-choice and much more favorable to "affirmative action" than Bush.

The Hayden appointment is a case in point: I cannot imagine any Democratic president picking someone like Michael Hayden to head the CIA; they go for folks like Anthony Lake (a pure State Department guy who had written books attacking Republicans), John Deutch (who had no prior intelligence experience prior to being appointed by Clinton), and James Woolsey (ditto).

(George Tenet was promoted by Clinton from Deputy Director to Director only after Clinton was forced to withdraw Anthony Lake, due to Republican objections.)

By contrast, Republicans name people like Porter Goss, former chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and House chair of the Joint 9/11 Intelligence Inquiry, and Gen. Michael Hayden, former head of the National Security Agency, then principal Deputy NID, with a long career primarily in military intelligence.

The "seriousness gap" between the parties is the great, unreported story of the last several decades.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 23, 2006, at the time of 6:38 PM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this hissing:


The following hissed in response by: Mr. Michael

So why doesn't Hayden get a rating? Don't get me wrong, I LOVE the idea. Maybe color code it for us Dislexics... makes it easier to quickly determing the label.

Besides, you love colors on the page. Admit it, that's the main reason you are actually considering it, despite the added coding...

But what DO we do with folks who are not yet rated by either group? New candidates for office, bureaucrats, etc? Maybe issue them a presumed lean, in BigLizard Green. Yeah, that'll do until they get properly vetted by the Pros. I mean, the OTHER Pros. No insult intended.

On the subject of the post itself... I heard a Dem on the radio today saying that Hayden was acceptable because he was strong willed, showed some individualism... and I quote: "Spoke Truth to Power." I paid good money for that lunch, and that Dem Senator (missed the name) nearly made me waste my lunch money. [grump] But in the end, Republicans like him because he works with Negroponte, Democrats will like him because they hate Rumsfeld. The mere possibility of Hayden being free of Rumsfeld's control is enough to get him by their litmus tests...

The above hissed in response by: Mr. Michael [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 23, 2006 7:31 PM

The following hissed in response by: nk

About the liberal rating. I guessed that that's what the numbers were but I still kept on reading to be sure. Pretty good trick to make us read at least half the post. You could have kept it up until the end, I think.

The above hissed in response by: nk [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 23, 2006 9:09 PM

The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist

...quicker than beets through a baby's behind...


Anyway, i did a double-take after reading the headline. i never Voted until 2002, and can barely wait to Vote *AGAINST* Florida's "Democratic incumbent" Bill Nelson this year!!!

Nelson is not particularly popular and has made little impression since his election to the Senate.

Right, and have at least one Vote *AGAINST* you in 2006 that you didn't have in 2000. And, Senator Mel Martinez, you best pay close attention, and stop rubbing elbows with Bill, because you come back up in 2008, and i'm already planning on Voting *AGAINST* you the next time to speak of "quicker than beets through a baby's behind"!!! i have Corrine Brown as my Representative!?! Will someone please run against her...humble me is tired of the 'Write-In' stuff!!!

Now, Hayden...bring us some reporters' heads, and a paper plate works for me.

The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 24, 2006 2:36 PM

Post a comment

Thanks for hissing in, . Now you can slither in with a comment, o wise. (sign out)

(If you haven't hissed a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Hang loose; don't shed your skin!)

Remember me unto the end of days?

© 2005-2009 by Dafydd ab Hugh - All Rights Reserved