The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Friday, January 24, 2003

Gary Hart is the Blogosphere's 2004 candidate du jour. InstaPundit mentions him almost every day, and Rand Simberg climbed aboard the bandwagon with this post. Though "climb aboard the bandwagon" is too emphatic a metaphor; bloggers who mention Hart appear to be out for a leisurely stroll while they mention that Hart could really give Bush trouble.

It's not clear why Hart inspires this admiration. The explanation is that he is good on "security issues," but I have never heard tell of anything specific that he did. Hey, if I don't get any interviews soon I am going to put "XML" on my resume -- but that doesn't mean I really have the experience.

If you're not an American, you've probably never heard of Gary Hart. Hart -- originally Gary Warren Hartpence, born in 1936 -- was elected Senator from Colorado in 1974. He ran for president in 1984 and was a front-runner until he made a mistake. Responding to rumors that he was a womanizer, he dared the media to catch him at it -- and continued his womanizing. Hart was photographed in the Bahamas with a cute girl named Donna Rice on his lap. The resulting scandal destroyed his candidacy.

(Donna Rice is now 42 years old and "communications director for Enough Is Enough!, an organization crusading against illegal pornography, particularly on the Internet." The mills of God grind slowly, but exceeding fine. Or something.)

Hart served two terms as Senator, from 1975 to 1987. Doesn't it say something about the Democratic presidential field that their candidate with the best national security experience has been absent from public office for over a decade and a half?

While researching this post I came across a couple of interesting documents. First was Hart's official web page. Take a look at the biography, and you will see the soullessness of the modern American politician. First start with the tagline on the upper left: "There is no such thing as an 'average American'."
- Gary Hart. Did Hart write Saturday Night Live's "Deep Thoughts?"

Let's count the cliches in the first paragraph:

In an era of career politicians, Gary Hart has chosen a road less travelled, devoting himself first and foremost to public service and the good of his country. A prolific author, lecturer, teacher, scholar, and attorney, America's newest "elder" statesman is a man on a mission who shows no signs of slowing down.


TalkLeft added a comment to Simberg's post linking to Hart's recent speech to the Council on Foreign Relations. It's not surprising that the speech would excite TalkLeft -- we get to hear about root causes and about how the U.S. uses a quarter of the world's energy -- but there is absolutely no foreign policy, defense, or national security wisdom to be had. Hart's speech contains the restatement of the obvious:

We are indeed in a "revolution of military affairs" largely driven by technology but dependent on intelligence collected and analyzed by humans. Our fighting forces are increasingly directed by and through a complex web of command, control, and communications networks all interwoven and interrelated.

Bleeding-heart crusades:

This new age requires, at the very least, a new definition of security and, to achieve it, a tool-box filled with more than weapons. National security in the 21st century will require economic and political tools, not simply military ones. Trade and aid programs must become more grassroots and human scale than top-down and bureaucratic. For example, micro-loan programs directed at home, land, and small business ownership have proved enormously promising in several countries in Asia and Latin America.

And meaningless stock phrases that no politician would be caught dead without:

War is not an instrument of policy; it is a failure of policy. We cannot here today discuss the use of military power as an instrument of national policy without recognition that it is the lives of our sons and daughters that are most immediately at stake. We all must now earn our rights by performance of our duties. And our duty to our sons and daughters requires our policy makers to hold their lives in sacred trust. Only then will our national security be just as well as strong and only then can we be truly proud of who we are.

I didn't mind the leftism so much; Hart has to run left to get the nomination, then sprint back to the center for the general campaign. But the smarmy monday morning quarterbacking is irritating, for instance:

The preemption approach, moreover, has long-term foreign policy consequences. For example, in Afghanistan, we armed the mujahadeen to fight the Soviets in the 1980s. Then, when the Soviets left, we rode away and the Taliban took over and eventually provided hospitality to al Qaeda.

It's not clear what "preemptive" approach Hart thinks would have solved the Afghan invasion. In any event, it would have been pretty perceptive for US policymakers to take the Taliban into account, given that they did not exist when Afghans were fighting Soviets. When you consider that Hart had his own chance to exercise the smallest amount of caution and prudence when his career was at stake ...



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