Thursday, August 24, 2006



I was watching The Daily Show last night on TiVo with my wife and the guest William Cohen. Almost 10 years ago this December, President Clinton announced Cohen as his nomination to fill the vacant position of Secretary of Defense. It was considered a bold move at the time if for no other reason then the fact that Cohen had recently retired from the Senate as a member of the Republican Party. Rarely in recent history has a president reached across party lines (the previous time before that being President Ford's appointment in 1975 of Daniel Patrick Moynahan as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations). When asked why he would appoint Cohen to the position, Clinton stated simply, "He was the right person."
Unfortunately, what was at the time a bold bit of bipartisanship in 1996 would be considered nothing short of political suicide in 2006.
Seriously, can you imagine a Democratic president in the future (say 2008?) naming a member of the Republican Party as the Secretary of Defense? The implicit message this would send is that Democrats are incapable of handling national security issues and must turn to the GOP to protect them from all the evil in the world. The news of this would be bouncing off the walls of the right wing echo chamber EVERY TIME a national security issue arose. The exploitation by the conservative mouthpieces of this appointment would be deafening.
And this might be the true tragedy of this era of hyper-partisan politics. It is no longer about who would be the best person for a given job. It is infinitely more important who the best Democrat or Republican is for the job; just another lamentable casualty in this era of politics.

No comments: