In the Arena

Republicans and Democracy

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Christopher Hill* was finally confirmed as U.S. Ambassador to Iraq yesterday, a month later than he should have been. The reason for the delay was an American patriot named Sam Brownback, the U.S. Senator from Kansas, who allegedly had objections to Hill’s independent conversations with the North Koreans–passively, but not explicitly, approved by the Bush White House–and his failure to excoriate the NoKos on human rights. Brownback knew that his was a losing proposition, especially after General David Petraeus weighed in, pleading for Hill’s swift appointment. After all, Iraq is a fragile state just now and a world-class negotiator like Hill might have been able to spend the past month helping the Maliki government come to terms with the Sunni Awakening militias, and to help ease the Arab-Kurd tensions in the north. I mean, imagine for a moment, if the situation were reversed and Russ Feingold were holding up the appointment of, say, Jerry Bremer, as Bush’s Iraq emissary. The howls would be deafening. Feingold would be accused of crippling the U.S. war effort. His patriotism would be questioned. 

So let’s be clear: Sam Brownback is a solipsistic poseur who has hampered the U.S. war effort in Iraq. I don’t question his patriotism, just his intelligence.

And, by the way, the same goes for the Republicans counseling Norm Coleman to keep up his futile fight so that Minnesota is denied its full compliment of Senators. If Al Franken were doing this, you can imagine what Rush Limbaugh and his GOP minions would be saying. 

*As regular Swampland readers know, my son is a foreign service officer who served on Hill’s staff in the past–and is about to join him in Iraq.