Memo To: Sen. Joe Biden [D-DE] Chairman Foreign Relations Committee
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: A Good Idea
To tell you the truth, Senator, I was not expecting much from you when I saw you were going to be the guest on CNN’s weekend Novak, Hunt & Shields. Since September 11, you have more or less sat and watched the Commander-in-Chief manage foreign policy, with hardly an eyebrow raised. I can’t forget your answer on one of the Sunday talk shows several weeks ago when you said, “That’s above my pay grade.” Huh? I was glad to see Bob Novak introduce you as the highest ranking member of Congress on matters related to foreign policy, as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The American people of course are solidly behind President George W. Bush as they know we can only have one Commander-in-Chief at a time. But the United States Senate, for goodness sakes, is supposed to chip in with advice and consent now and then. We expect you to at least kibbitz! I had begun to think you had relinquished your chairmanship to Richard Perle, who you have indicated gives you regular briefings on how he thinks the world should work.
It was thus very important that you made such an issue of your Democratic colleague, Sen. Joe Lieberman [D-CT] squiring Benjamin Netanyahu around Capitol Hill. Netanyahu is one of the most dangerous men in the world, next to his buddy Richard Perle, the Svengali of this show. These guys do not want peace in the Middle East if it means a Palestinian state and have been horrified that President Bush gave Secretary of State Colin Powell the green light to meet with Yasir Arafat. I will take Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon any day of the week over Netanyahu, who gets as far as he does because he is slick and handsome and articulate while Sharon is old and fat and blustery. That is, I can just barely see Sharon doing a deal with the Palestinians and the Arab League, but Netanyahu wants to play for keeps, for all of the West Bank and Gaza and whatever else he might be able to grab with the help of Perle and his henchman, Paul Wolfowitz, our deputy Defense Secretary. If I were you, Senator, next time I dine with these guys I would ask for a very long spoon. Richard thinks of himself as the Master of the Universe. As far as he is concerned, the World Trade Center was collateral damage.
Busting your fellow Democrat, Holy Joe Lieberman, for his grandstanding was not the only good thing you did on the show. Netanyahu ran around the Hill warning your ill-informed colleagues that Saddam Hussein is planning to sneak a “suitcase” nuke into the United States. When Novak asked what you thought of that bit of Perle Propaganda, I appreciated the scorn on your lips when you said you rejected the idea. You should tell your colleagues that anyone carrying a radioactive nuke around should be wearing a suit of lead three-feet thick. Of course, you made the obligatory comment that we want to see another regime in Baghdad, but ruled out any idea of bombing before breakfast. I think you said we should hope to be rid of him in five years. It would help fortify you, I think, if you understood that Saddam Hussein never did “gas his own people,” and that this was yet another example of Perle Propaganda. Take my word for it: Saddam did not gas his own people.
You did really impress me when you were asked if you were going to run for President in 2004. You said you would make up your mind come January, and would not run if you thought President Bush was sorting out his difficulties in foreign policy. I think that is a perfect way to put it. If you help him in every way you can as chairman of Foreign Relations, and he finds a way to a solid peace in Israel/Palestine, you will not run. There of course is always the possibility you could say he did a bum job and the President thinks he did a good job, but I think it should be clear enough one way or another so this argument does not come up. It also gives you a clear opportunity to give your best advise to him, and if he takes it and it does not work, you will shoulder some of the blame. This is a bipartisan foreign policy of the best kind. It made me think that I really hope you can make such a significant contribution to the President’s success that you decide there is really no reason for you to run against him in 2004.