Monday, August 17, 2009

Loren Thompson to the rescue again!

We can always count on him for a great partisan-right or pro-industry quote, whatever the subject! This time he makes an appearance in an important article in Defense News about the Obama administration's failure to fill a number of senior positions in the acquisition apparatus at both the departmental and service levels.
"The hidden message in the Pentagon personnel data is that this White House really doesn't care much about defense," said Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute. "The picture I get from all this is that President Obama's main security goal is just to keep defense off the front page. As long as the Pentagon doesn't present him with any political problems, he's content to focus on his domestic agenda and let military matters drift."

Honestly, what a freakin' joker. You really think that's the hidden message, huh? To "keep defense off the front page"? I mean, they must be doing a hell of a job, because as far as I can tell, defense never ends up on the front page these days.

Oh, wait, that's actually completely backwards: the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are prominently featured in the news; everyone's talking about the appointment of GEN McChrystal and the associated proliferation of strategic assessments and reviews; the rise to prominence of counterinsurgency doctrine gets a lot of ink; more people know what the QDR is than ever before; and Secretary Gates has been fighting a highly-publicized campaign against established defense industry and Congressional interests to reshape the structure of our force and its strategic direction.

But otherwise, it's pretty much all been about welfare and bailouts and other commie stuff.

Good thing Dr. Thompson's got a new blog, where you'll no doubt find more incisive political analysis like this.

7 comments:

  1. Wow. I am floored by this piece. What amazing brilliance.

    I never knew that Gates and Mullen's "failure to fill a number of senior positions in the acquisition apparatus at both the departmental and service levels" was part of some super deep subliminal insidious strategy to drive procurement out of the front pages so that Gates and Mullen could transform DoD acquisitions and practices.

    What better way to transform acquisitions and practices than to not fill the senior positions that manage them? Not hiring is the best way to break inertia and transform behavior. I never knew these things.

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  2. That and God forbid that these posts be temporarily filled by career types instead of political appointees. Years of experience in these bureaucracies, training etc, those aren't qualifications right? That and interviewing only Thompson and the person from Heritage...so much for balance.

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  3. I'd be curious to know the full context of Thompson's comment to better evaluate what his point was and his rationale.

    I don't know if this is what he was getting at, but I can see how an administration dragging its feet on appointments could help to control (not necessarily preempt) news regarding defense. Until the appointments are made, the lines aren't quite drawn for any internal bureaucratic squabbling. Once all appointments are made, then the lines are drawn and internal disputes turn into leaks and off-the-record comments that put the Pentagon back on the front page.

    It also makes sense, politically, that Obama would not want defense news to feature too prominently. Afghanistan still looks pretty dicey and he was elected as the anti-Bush - not necessarily campaigning to end wars, but certainly doing nothing to disavow his supporters of the thought that he would. I doubt that he wants to be too well known as the guy escalating the war in Afghanistan, even if it is "the good war." I don't think anyone foresees much good occurring there anytime soon.

    Afghanistan is on the front page fairly often, but I think it is dwarfed by coverage of the health care legislation and related "town hall" events. I suspect that is what the administration prefers.

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  4. "Afghanistan is on the front page fairly often, but I think it is dwarfed by coverage of the health care legislation and related "town hall" events. I suspect that is what the administration prefers."

    Yeah, in terms of Afghanistan, I suppose, but who wants bad press for anything?

    Once again, so glad I am not in DC, not in political-type job, although, I have to say, I'm impressed with you lot. Will I have to reconsider my 'Ugh, DC, dismantle it" stance thanks to all of you? Please don't shatter my deeply held prejudices, what would I do without them?

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  5. Schmedlap -- I'd be curious to know the full context of Thompson's comment to better evaluate what his point was and his rationale.

    I don't know if this is what he was getting at, but I can see how an administration dragging its feet on appointments could help to control (not necessarily preempt) news regarding defense. Until the appointments are made, the lines aren't quite drawn for any internal bureaucratic squabbling. Once all appointments are made, then the lines are drawn and internal disputes turn into leaks and off-the-record comments that put the Pentagon back on the front page.

    It also makes sense, politically, that Obama would not want defense news to feature too prominently. Afghanistan still looks pretty dicey and he was elected as the anti-Bush - not necessarily campaigning to end wars, but certainly doing nothing to disavow his supporters of the thought that he would. I doubt that he wants to be too well known as the guy escalating the war in Afghanistan, even if it is "the good war." I don't think anyone foresees much good occurring there anytime soon.

    Afghanistan is on the front page fairly often, but I think it is dwarfed by coverage of the health care legislation and related "town hall" events. I suspect that is what the administration prefers.


    Come on, dude.

    I know your political sensibilities aren't the same as the President's (the same is true of Loren Thompson, his writings suggest), but you seriously think a guy who openly campaigned on escalation of the war in Afghanistan (particularly the drone war) doesn't "want to be too well known as the guy escalating the war in Afghanistan, even if it is "the good war"?

    If you've read Thompson's stuff for a while, you know his point: the President cares about commie stuff like feeding all the poor people, taking from the rich, educating everybody and socializing health care. National security and foreign policy are just diversions from that, except for the part where he wants to do commie stuff like eliminate nuclear warheads and spend U.S. taxpayer dollars on the U.N. and feeding poor people in Africa.

    What he's trying to say is that the President doesn't care about defense and only pays attention to it when he has to. Even the most casual consumer of the news should be clear on the fact that this is patently absurd.

    Does the administration have significant challenges in its domestic agenda? Absolutely. Are there domestic concerns that rank at the top of the priority list? Almost certainly. But I think we all know that, whether he likes it or not, no modern American president can walk away from defense (post-9/11) in the way that Clinton was thought to have done. Thompson has his head in the sand if he really believes this.

    What I think is that this canard proves useful when Thompson needs to rail against the budget cuts that his benefactors in the defense industry so deride. "Obama is slashing F-22 because he doesn't care about defending America!" It's an easier sell when you spend your time writing garbage like "the hidden message in the Pentagon personnel data is that this White House really doesn't care much about defense."

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  6. Madhu -- Thanks for the kind words.

    I guess I'd just say that there's always going to be a "Washington insider culture," whether it's these particular insiders and whether it's on the banks of the Potomac or not. It's just the cost of doing business, I guess.

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  7. Gulliver,
    In regard to your question, yes, I believe what I wrote. Campaigning on something does not mean that one believes or supports it (true of any party in any race). It simply means that the candidate thinks that it will help win that particular election. In 2008, candidate Obama was the anti-Bush, Iraq was Bush's war, and Afghanistan was the anti-Iraq. In 2012, I think that the President would prefer to cruise to re-election on the platform that he ensured all Americans have health care.
    Regarding the comment, "if you've read Thompson's stuff for a while..." That was where I went astray. My only familiarity with him is skimming his new blog and finding that it does not live up to what he promised. At least my instinct didn't fail me there.

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