The “So What” Issues

Every so often there appears a convergence of news media stories that can only be described as “so what issues”.  The question of why they made the news in the first place is swamped by the irrelevance of the overall story… Here are three.

Chuck Hagel’s confirmation vote delayed a week.  Senate Republicans asked Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, for a week’s delay on any vote.  The Republicans wanted more information on Hagel’s finances.  Hmmm.

After 8 hours of testimony in which Republicans asked nothing relevant to current world conditions (that is, conditions Hagel will have to deal with), the GOP now has questions about where Hagel earned his money over the past 5 years.  While this is a legitimate question, if it were so important why wasn’t it front and center during the testimony?

But the “so what” label comes from someplace else.  If for any reasons Hagel is not confirmed, does anyone think President Obama will nominate someone like Lindsay Graham, Ted Cruz, or John McCain?   Does anyone think that the President’s next pick would not conform to the President’s policies?

Boy Scouts Delay Decision on Gay/Lesbian Members.  A few realists in the national Boy Scout movement had mustered enough common sense to propose (actually run a trial balloon) on changing “national” by-laws to allow for gay and lesbian members.  The trial ballon did not require any local troops to follow but if local troops did, there would be no national blow back.  Hmmm.

American opinion on gays and lesbians is changing so fast one can almost feel the winds.  The longer any private group waits to find accommodations will only make the embarrassment greater when consequences of today’s delay are fully seen.  For Boy Scouts, enrollment will certainly continue to decline and their cherished image of helping old ladies cross the street will turn dark.

Immigration Reform.  There appears to be growing support (outside the Latino community) for immigration reform.  The only question is whether the reform will include a path to citizenship.  Opposition ranges from “ship them all back” to “give them documents but not documents that could lead to citizenship”.  Hmmm.

Opponents of immigration reform seem ignorant of the national demographics as well as the inherently un-enforceable aspects of the boarder with Mexico.  One can understand GOP opposition to citizenship thinking that it only means more votes for Democrats.  The problem is without comprehensive immigration reform how will the GOP get any Latinos already citizens to vote for them?  With Unions and the business community now behind immigration reform, opponents should be looking for a soft landing spot.

Hagel, gays in the Boy Scouts, and immigration reform may not succeed soon.  That is the nature of political debates.  What will not change is that the current basis for opposition will forever be seen as short sighted and wrong headed.   Smart players know when to fold them.

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2 Comments on “The “So What” Issues”

  1. J. Palmer Says:

    Speaking of “so what issues,” how about the GOP outcry over Benghazi? Was Hillary Clinton right that the level of formal coordination behind the attack is irrelevant? I tend to believe that it doesn’t really matter, at least not as much as Republican leaders want to believe. And I also can understand why initial reports would have linked protests at one embassy in Egypt to an attack on another embassy in Libya on the same day.

    But on the other hand, I can see the motivation for the White House to stick with the initial assessment as long as possible for political reasons. It never looks good for a President’s foreign policy platform when the country (or embassy in this case) is attacked by terrorists; it is especially troubling just weeks before an election. Yet critics of Obama seemed to make a mountain out of a mole hill by differentiating between planned violence and spontaneous violence. If their goal was to show that Obama’s administration was not doing its job regarding the proper collection of intelligence, I think Bin Laden’s fish eaten corpse proves otherwise. If the critics were (still are) outraged that the White House was less than forthcoming with information in an effort to win the election, is that really a groundbreaking concept? Should we believe that Republican President would not have done the exact same thing?

    Either way, I think that angle of the story got way more attention than more important factors, like how many Libyans came to help the injured Americans–or the fact that the embassy itself was much less of a diplomatic mission as it was an intelligence gathering post for the CIA. That last fact would make the attack less of a terrorist attack and more of a military strike, but that wouldn’t play well at all into the GOP narrative, now would it?


  2. You make some good points… I can accept that some how the government did not work as well as was needed in Benghazi, and adequate protection was not at the ready in a lawless land. The grilling aimed at President Obama but dropped at Susan Rice’s feet were shameful to say the least… Many suggest that the GOP thought they had a campaign issue, a wedge that could hurt Obama’s reelection. They say red when he just bluffed them…
    As we now know, the election turned on other matters and that makes Benghazi a “so what” issue…


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