Today's Blogs

Fed Up

Bloggers are posting their early reaction to Ben Bernanke, nominated to replace Alan Greenspan as Fed chairman. They’re also discussing Brent Scowcroft’s disenchantment with President Bush, as well as the U.S. military’s revival of body counts.

Fed up: President Bush nominated Ben Bernanke, his top economic adviser, to replace the retiring Alan Greenspan as Federal Reserve chairman.

Unlike the Miers’ nomination, reaction in the blogosphere has been relatively positive. Angry Bear, a left-of-center blogger, studied under Bernanake and admits his bias. “Bernanke is a superb macroeconomist, a nice guy, and, despite his current position as chair of the CEA (a position that has historically been filled by highly respected academics with only minor partisan leanings), he is not a sharply partisan or ideological person,” he writes. “Credit one to Bush for making a sensible pick in this case.” On EconLog, the blog of the Libarary of Economics and Liberty, fellow former student Bryan Caplan  writes, “He is not a dinosaur Keynesian left over from the 60’s, or an idiot savant math whiz. Bernanke is a macro theorist who knows an enormous amount of economic history, and an empirical economist interested in wise policy.”

How will Bernanke differ from Greenspan? At Economist’s View, economics professor Mark Thoma favors the nomination but has reservations: “I do not believe Bernanke will politicize the job as much as Greenspan did. My worry is the opposite, that he will not speak forcefully enough on issues such as the budget deficit that impact monetary policy.”

At Marginal Revolution, economist Tyler Cowen  breaks down what a good Fed chair should do and says that Bernanke probably qualifies. And economist Max Sawicky at MaxSpeak  also approves: “Given the likely possibilities, putting Ben Bernanke in charge of the Fed is much the preferable outcome. He is well-qualified, and he has managed to sail through his brief tenure in the Bush Administration with minimal resort to demagogy.”

The Prudent Investor, however, thinks the Bernanke appointment will simply bring America’s red-inked economy more of the same: “Looking at the soaring debt Bush has been creating since he took office and considering the dovish stance of Bernanke one does not get the picture that the US is serious about reducing soaring deficits.”

Read more about the Bernanke nomination. Read Daniel Gross’ take on Bernanke in Slate here, and learn how to pronounce his name here.

Scowcroft on the attack: Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser to and best friend of George H.W. Bush, is at odds with the current Bush administration, writes Jeffrey Goldberg in The New Yorker. (The article isn’t available on the magazine’s Web site, but the site does offer this Q&A with Goldberg.)

If it takes plunking down the $3.95 cover price to read the article, do it, says the Washington Note. The Note’s Steven Clemons, a fellow at the New America Foundation, likens its impact to Ron Suskind’s critique of Bush (in the New York Times Magazine *) before the 2004 election. “This critique by Scowcroft hardens the foundation of critique that others have recently put in place – particularly from Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former State Department Chief of Staff under Colin Powell who spoke at the New America Foundation last Wednesday,” writes Clemons.

The dissension of such a key confidant to George H.W. Bush also hints at a familial rivalry, Hullabaloo writes: “The underlying narrative … is the subconscious rivalry between the father and the son, Scowcroft becoming the stand-in for 43’s resentment toward 41. You wonder how many of the tragic blunders of the last five years are the result of crafty neocons playing into Junior’s desire to gainsay his father.”

TPM Cafe’s Matthew Yglesias wonders why we’re hearing from “the likes of Scowcroft, Larry Wilkerson, Richard Haas” only now—and not before the election. “Everything they say could have been said 12-18 months ago when it would have made a difference for the future of the country,” Yglesias writes. “But that would have meant taking fire from the then-intact conservative attack machine, and gotten them labeled as bad party men.”

But as a couple of TPM Cafe readers point out, Scowcroft has been complaining about the administration’s Iraq strategy to anyone who’d listen for years. Reader Dan K. points to Scowcroft’s 2002 op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal titled “Don’t Attack Saddam” and says: “The New Yorker article is only the latest installment in a series of bitter denunciations by Scowcroft since the war of the current Bush administration.”

The Moderate Voice has a roundup of blog posts on Scowcroft, as well as an opinion on Yglesias’ point: “Not that Matt’s wrong, however. Republicans are known for their blind loyalty, but there isn’t much left to which to be loyal — and now the smart ones (including Colin Powell) are abandoning ship. …. Credit Scowcroft for putting truth above friendship, principle above party.”

Read more about the Scowcroft/New Yorker piece. Slate’s Fred Kaplan weighed in on the Scowcroft-Bush rift here.

Reviving the body count: “Eager to demonstrate success in Iraq,” the U.S. military has resumed disclosing enemy casualty estimates. This practice was discredited during the Vietnam War.

The Washington Post article is quick to acknowledge that this does not appear to be a formal military policy. Political independent Crist.TV awaits the backlash: “My guess is that they feel that if they can kill a few thousand Iraqi insurgents, then we win,” he writes. “I can see this backfiring on the Pentagon and the Administration as a whole. As much as this war is not another Vietnam, it sure seems like the Pentagon is eager to make it appear like another 


Rantingprofs offers a thoughtful defense of the military: “Since the military has to announce precise figures for US and allied dead and wounded, you consistently have the sense created of battles where Americans are wounded and killed and … what? There’s no information coming from the other side, so there’s no way for the American people to gauge whether battles are even balanced, much less lop-sided, especially in situations where, once again, the goal is not moving forward and taking territory.”

Read more about the body counts here. Also, readWashington Post reporter Bradley Graham’s online chat about his article.

Correction, Oct. 26: The article orginally stated that the article about President Bush by Ron Suskind ran in The New Yorker. (Return to the corrected sentence.)