The Washington Post

The week that was

With all the general doom and gloom talk about the failure of Congress’s deficit-cutting supercommittee, there is specific doom and gloom that has gone underreported. In government, there is almost always an option to do nothing, but there are consequences to doing nothing. And in this case, the consequences are severe cuts in our defense spending. Former defense secretary Bob Gates, respected by both parties and completely uninhibited by not having to be part of anybody’s team, said on Oct. 11, 2011 at the Eagle Ford Conference and Exhibition in San Antonio, Texas that it would be bad policy to cut the nation’s defense and intelligence budgets, as the U.S. must be prepared to deal with powerful and volatile nations. For more on this, it will probably come up this weekend with supercommittee member Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.) on Fox News Sunday and with former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice on CNN’s State of the Union.

We shouldn’t pretend like this doesn’t matter, and if we’re going to diminish America’s defense capabilities in this way, then we can’t expect for there to be no consequences. We can all hope for the best, but that’s not a good defense strategy in the 21st century. Not enough is being said about this issue. 

Too much is being said about the rise of Newt Gingrich in the polls. Everybody should ignore all national polls until after Christmas. Polls are interesting, but they’re not relevant. They tend to unjustly diminish or enhance a campaign. So far, the Gingrich phenomenon is just the Cinderella cycle taking its natural course, and Newt currently has his toe in the slipper. We are still too early in the process to take any polling today and extrapolate out to the voting next year. 

Last thought — it’s also foolish and ridiculously early to speculate who the vice presidential nominee for the Republican ticket might be. But doing so is always a lot of fun and irresistible in Washington. So if you want to see who is at the top of everybody’s shortlist these days, tune in to ABC’s This Week on Sunday to see Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). 

Ed Rogers is a contributor to the PostPartisan blog, a political consultant and a veteran of the White House and several national campaigns. He is the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group, which he founded with former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in 1991.

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