Captain Obvious

A depressing but funny piece on James Baker.

Robert Tracinski writes:

In my student days back at the University of Chicago, there was a campus comedy troupe modeled on Second City, their more well-known uptown uncle. The U of C group was pretty funny, if in a somewhat bookish way. (Who else does a comedy routine based on “Oedipus Rex”?) One of their funniest bits was a recurring skit about a superhero named Captain Obvious. In each scene, a character would face a mundane problem, only to be “saved” by the banal and utterly unhelpful advice offered by Captain Obvious. “I’ve locked my keys in my car. What am I going to do?” “Well then,” replies Captain Obvious, “all you have to do is open the door to your car, and then you can get your keys.” Each scene ended the same way, with Captain Obvious proclaiming, “No, don’t thank me. It’s all in a day’s work for Captain Obvious.

I’ve been reminded of this skit many times since, because I frequently hear the same kind of advice being given in Washington. Take, for example, the recommendations offered, to much fanfare, by the Iraq Study Group.

The problem in Iraq is that we can’t withdraw U.S. troops because the Iraqi military is not adequately trained to maintain security on its own? Well then, the ISG tells us, all we need to do is to train the Iraqi military so that they can maintain security on their own, and then we can withdraw our troops.

The problem in Iraq is that the Iraqi government won’t approve a crackdown to dismantle the Shiite militias? Well then, all we have to do is to convince the Iraqi government to approve a crackdown to dismantle the Shiite militias.

The problem in Iraq is that Iran and Syria are arming, funding, and encouraging Sunni and Shiite insurgents? Well then, all we have to do is to convince Syria and Iran to stop supporting these insurgents.

The problem in the region is that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict inflames anti-American sentiment? Well then, all we have to do is to convene a conference to negotiate peace in the Middle East.

See how simple that was? It’s amazing that no one ever thought of these ideas before the Iraq Study Group came along. But no, don’t thank them. It’s all in a day’s work for Captain Obvious.

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