Politics & Policy

Obstacle in Chief

Sen. Carl Levin (D., Mich.) does all he can to hamper the administration in the war on terror.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This piece appears in the December 31, 2005, issue of National Review.

There are several reasons for the Bush administration to fear–indeed, to dread–the possibility of a Democratic takeover of the Senate in 2006. Chairman Leahy of the Judiciary Committee is one. Chairman Rockefeller of the Intelligence Committee is another. But perhaps the most consequential, at least in terms of national security, would be Chairman Levin of the Armed Services Committee. Just to mention the prospect of Sen. Carl Levin, Democrat from Michigan, overseeing the Pentagon–and therefore much of the war on terror–and it’s enough to send a chill down administration spines.

Certainly, there are several Democrats who strongly oppose the administration’s national-security policies. But much of that opposition is rhetorical. Levin, on the other hand, works hard to actually block some of those policies. Inside the Bush administration, and among Republicans on Capitol Hill, Levin has won the reputation of being perhaps the chief congressional obstacle to prosecuting the War on Terror.

He has done it in two ways. First, he has put “holds” on key Bush nominees to national-security posts. And second, he has conducted an ongoing bureaucratic war with the Department of Defense, demanding investigations and re-investigations of issues that have already been extensively examined, all in the hope of finding evidence to support his apparently unshakable belief that a neoconservative conspiracy inside the Pentagon led to the war in Iraq.

First the nominees. Although in the minority, Levin enjoys powerful positions on both the Armed Services Committee, where he is the ranking Democrat, and the Intelligence Committee, where he sits beside Senator Rockefeller. In the last nine months, Levin has used his position to block three key national-security nominees. The first is Eric Edelman, chosen by President Bush to be undersecretary of defense for policy (succeeding the controversial Douglas Feith–more on him later). The second is Peter Flory, picked to be assistant secretary of defense for international security policy. And the third is Benjamin Powell, nominated for a top job at the new Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI).

None of them faces any substantive objections from Democrats; they’re all qualified candidates who have no problems in their past that would derail their nominations…

YOU CAN READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE IN THE CURRENT ISSUE OF THE DIGITAL VERSION OF NATIONAL REVIEW. IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A SUBSCRIPTION TO NR DIGITAL OR NATIONAL REVIEW, YOU CAN SIGN UP FOR A SUBSCRIPTION TO NATIONAL REVIEW here OR NATIONAL REVIEW DIGITAL here (a subscription to NR includes Digital access).

Most Popular

Immigration

What Now for Trump’s Border Wall?

The verdict on the U.S.–Mexico border wall President Trump promised to construct is decidedly mixed as the year comes to a close. The “big, beautiful wall,” as Trump referred to it, reached 400 miles in length by the end of October, when the Department of Homeland Security held a ceremony hailing the ... Read More
Immigration

What Now for Trump’s Border Wall?

The verdict on the U.S.–Mexico border wall President Trump promised to construct is decidedly mixed as the year comes to a close. The “big, beautiful wall,” as Trump referred to it, reached 400 miles in length by the end of October, when the Department of Homeland Security held a ceremony hailing the ... Read More
Books

Three Cheers for the Quiet Ones

People often dismiss shy, quiet characters in literature. Readers prefer to identify with Jo March, Elizabeth Bennett, or Anne Shirley -- those delightful, bold, and charming characters who made a deep impression on us when we first encountered them. While there’s nothing wrong with emulating or admiring these ... Read More
Books

Three Cheers for the Quiet Ones

People often dismiss shy, quiet characters in literature. Readers prefer to identify with Jo March, Elizabeth Bennett, or Anne Shirley -- those delightful, bold, and charming characters who made a deep impression on us when we first encountered them. While there’s nothing wrong with emulating or admiring these ... Read More
Culture

New England Journal of Medicine Pushes Reparations

Reparations would grant African Americans government benefits not paid to other Americans to rectify the awful sin of slavery and the "peculiar institution's" residual harm. It is a favored policy of hard progressives, so of course, the New England Journal of Medicine -- which regularly promotes left-wing causes ... Read More
Culture

New England Journal of Medicine Pushes Reparations

Reparations would grant African Americans government benefits not paid to other Americans to rectify the awful sin of slavery and the "peculiar institution's" residual harm. It is a favored policy of hard progressives, so of course, the New England Journal of Medicine -- which regularly promotes left-wing causes ... Read More