Monday, December 16, 2002

Christmas Greetings From the Permanent Opposition

Every year my wife and I receive a Christmas card from a grad school classmate of hers who is now serving our country in the Foreign Service.

Actually to call it a Christmas card is a bit of a stretch. It’s really an annual partisan rant that manages to be equal parts offensive to the reader and embarrassing to the writer. To give you a flavor, two years ago he sent a card with him and Al Gore on the front . . . and Gore was not dressed as Santa Claus either.

This year he outdid himself. Keep in mind that this is written by a fairly senior State Department official in Southeast Asia and that he is charged with representing and carrying out the foreign policy of the Bush Administration in one of the critical theaters of the war on terrorism.

Happy Holidays! With bombings in Bali, nukes in North Korea, a sniper (captured at last) in Washington, Republicans controlling every branch of the U.S. government, and war looming in Iraq, the world feels like a dangerous place. But this time of year still prompts me to count some blessings.”

Hmmm . . . Republicans on par with terror bombings and nuclear blackmail . . . and framed with hackneyed cliches no less.

Replicate this sort of reflexive hyper-partisanship a couple of dozen times throughout the State Department and CIA and you get an idea of why it is so difficult to break with the foreign policy status quo even in wartime.

Another even more troubling example comes from today’s Washington Post that is running a story about how a Clinton appointee has replaced “Radio Freedom,” a highly influential VOA-type news program broadcasting to revolutionary Iran with “Radio Tomorrow” a sugary top 40 pop music program that is supposed to enhance America’s image on the Arab Street but has no news value whatsoever.

Pretty hard to move forward with so many Lilliputians holding you back.

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