Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Opinionator

September 11, 2007, 3:43 pm
Thompson’s Legal Work for the Libyans
By Chris Suellentrop

Christopher Orr, a senior editor for The New Republic, is outraged that “more is not being made of the news that, back in 1992 when he was a lawyer/lobbyist, Fred Thompson billed a few hours of work on behalf of two Libyan intelligence agents charged with (and one of them later convicted of) the bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.” Orr writes:

Several prominent lobbyists, including Tommy Boggs, turned down overtures to work for Libya on the case, despite offers of a reported $1.5 million retainer. Vicki Reggie Kennedy, wife of Ted, actually resigned a partnership in her law firm over its decision to represent Libya, even though–as far as I can tell–she was never asked to do any work on the case.

But not good ol’ Fred. Not go along to get along, take a dollar where you find it Fred. A couple dozen hours lobbying for abortion rights? Why not? A few more spent helping defend two men accused of a heinous act of terrorism? Heck, if it wasn’t Fred, it’d just be someone else, right?

In a political era in which the cost of a man’s haircut can be treated as though it were a window into his soul, you’d think people would be a little more curious what it says about Fred Thompson that he’d do work–even just 3.3 hours of it–for indicted terrorists.

September 11, 2007, 9:46 am
A Failure by Any Other Name…
By Chris Suellentrop

You don’t need to listen to Gen. David Petraeus to know that “the surge has failed, as measured by the president’s and Petraeus’s standards of success,” writes George Will in his Washington Post column. He continues:

Those who today stridently insist that the surge has succeeded also say they are especially supportive of the president, Petraeus and the military generally. But at the beginning of the surge, both Petraeus and the president defined success in a way that took the achievement of success out of America’s hands.

The purpose of the surge, they said, is to buy time — “breathing space,” the president says — for Iraqi political reconciliation. Because progress toward that has been negligible, there is no satisfactory answer to this question: What is the U.S. military mission in Iraq?
Americans are, and will always be, uncomfortable with “wars of choice” like Korea, Vietnam and Iraq, Will suggests. “What ‘forced’ America to go to war in 2003 — the ‘gathering danger’ of weapons of mass destruction — was fictitious,” he writes. “That is one reason this war will not be fought, at least not by Americans, to the bitter end.” He continues:
The end of the war will, however, be bitter for Americans, partly because the president’s decision to visit Iraq without visiting its capital confirmed the flimsiness of the fallback rationale for the war — the creation of a unified, pluralist Iraq.
After more than four years of war, two questions persist: Is there an Iraq? Are there Iraqis?


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