Category Archives: Political Commentary

Lousy Bedside Manner?

I’ve never been as impressed by doctors as I’m supposed to be. It’s a lot of work to get through medical school, but I’ve never seen much evidence that it requires a lot of intelligence, at least not as much as some would have you believe, and certainly not enough to justify the arrogance of many of the practitioners of the medical profession. I’ve seen too many medical screwups, and known too many (successful) pre-med students who didn’t seem all that brilliant to me. I’ll confess that I probably couldn’t either get into med school, or through it, but not because I lack intelligence–it’s because I lack the more important qualities–persistence (not to mention desire) and a good memory.

Anyway, this is preamble to linking to a column by Marjorie Williams, in which she puts her finger on something that’s been bothering me about Howard Dean as well. He’s an MD, with a manner to match. I agree with her that her thesis has great explanatory power.

Of course, I don’t know if we can generalize this to all physicians. After all, Bill Frist has been a fairly successful politician, and as far as I can tell, his medical training doesn’t seem to have harmed his career–he’s one of the people to watch to replace Dubya in 2008.

[Update on Tuesday]

Galen, who runs a doctorblog, says that one reason that doctors won’t admit error is fear of losing lawpractice suits. And congratulations to the new addition to the family and the planet (go to the main page and scroll down).

An Idle Thought

A Florida judge has denied Rush Limbaugh’s attempts to keep his medical records private. On Fox News, I heard a replay of Rush reading a statement from his attorney, Roy Black, in which Mr. Black claimed that this was a violation of Rush’ “constitutional right to privacy.”

I wonder if Rush agrees with his lawyer that he has such a thing?

Drinking Their Own Bathwater

Hugh Hewitt thinks that being a cybercampaign has made the Deaniacs too insular, insulating them from reality.

The nuttiest 1 percent of the American electorate is going to number around 1 million voters. Gather those people in one place, let them talk to each other and cheer each other on, and they are going to begin to assume that their 1 percent is much more numerous than it is, much more powerful, much more authentic than the 99 percent not at the rally.

This appears to be happening among the Deaniacs. They believe themselves to be far more numerous than they are, and to think that their self-referential assurances of virtue and victory carry weight beyond their chat rooms.

Someone over at Free Republic commented that the Dean campaign is just “one extended flash mob.” I think that’s a good characterization.

“An Attitude Of Look The Other Way”

Rich Lowry describes how we rewarded terror and attacks on us in the nineties, in the Khobar Towers bombing.

When Freeh told national security adviser Sandy Berger there was evidence to indict several suspects, Berger asked, “Who else knows this?” He then proceeded to question the evidence. A reporter for The New Yorker who later interviewed Freeh about the case writes that the FBI Director thought “Berger . . . was not a national security adviser; he was a public-relations hack, interested in how something would play in the press. After more than two years, Freeh had concluded that the administration did not really want to resolve the Khobar bombing.”

The price of not getting to the bottom of the matter ? although the Saudis opened up somewhat in response to Freeh’s proddings and allowed the questioning of suspects ? wasn’t just shrugging off the murderer of 19 Americans. It was failing to understand fully the changing nature of the terror threat. “Khobar provided the keys that unlocked the new terror world,” says one terror expert. “Everything you needed to know about the new terror network, the cooperation between all the different sects and factions, the rise of Wahhabi radicalism in Saudi Arabia, the changing dynamic of the Middle East ? it all was present in that case.”

I would note that, similarly, we’ve never really found all of the perpetrators of the Oklahoma City bombing, for the same reason, with an additional one. Not only would proof of a Middle East connection have required undesired action on the part of the Clinton administration, but it would have diluted the politically-useful message that this was the sole act of “angry white men,” the same ones who’d been stirred up by Rush Limbaugh into giving the Republicans control of Congress the previous fall.

One other interesting parallel.

The pattern of Saudi non-cooperation had been set after the Riyadh bombing, when the Saudis denied FBI agents access to four suspects, and swiftly beheaded them to lend finality to that lack of access.

And interestingly, Tim McVeigh is also no longer around to tell the whole story (had he ever been willing to do so–it appears that he wanted all the credit for himself, and wouldn’t want it to look like he needed foreign assistance).

“An Attitude Of Look The Other Way”

Rich Lowry describes how we rewarded terror and attacks on us in the nineties, in the Khobar Towers bombing.

When Freeh told national security adviser Sandy Berger there was evidence to indict several suspects, Berger asked, “Who else knows this?” He then proceeded to question the evidence. A reporter for The New Yorker who later interviewed Freeh about the case writes that the FBI Director thought “Berger . . . was not a national security adviser; he was a public-relations hack, interested in how something would play in the press. After more than two years, Freeh had concluded that the administration did not really want to resolve the Khobar bombing.”

The price of not getting to the bottom of the matter ? although the Saudis opened up somewhat in response to Freeh’s proddings and allowed the questioning of suspects ? wasn’t just shrugging off the murderer of 19 Americans. It was failing to understand fully the changing nature of the terror threat. “Khobar provided the keys that unlocked the new terror world,” says one terror expert. “Everything you needed to know about the new terror network, the cooperation between all the different sects and factions, the rise of Wahhabi radicalism in Saudi Arabia, the changing dynamic of the Middle East ? it all was present in that case.”

I would note that, similarly, we’ve never really found all of the perpetrators of the Oklahoma City bombing, for the same reason, with an additional one. Not only would proof of a Middle East connection have required undesired action on the part of the Clinton administration, but it would have diluted the politically-useful message that this was the sole act of “angry white men,” the same ones who’d been stirred up by Rush Limbaugh into giving the Republicans control of Congress the previous fall.

One other interesting parallel.

The pattern of Saudi non-cooperation had been set after the Riyadh bombing, when the Saudis denied FBI agents access to four suspects, and swiftly beheaded them to lend finality to that lack of access.

And interestingly, Tim McVeigh is also no longer around to tell the whole story (had he ever been willing to do so–it appears that he wanted all the credit for himself, and wouldn’t want it to look like he needed foreign assistance).