Sunday, March 29, 2009

Chris Hill sings 'Much More'

I'd like to waste a week or two
And never do a chore.
To wear my hair unfastened
So it billows to the floor.

So sings Barbra on The Barbra Streisand Album ("Much More" written by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt) and though thee 1963 release would win a Grammy for album of the year, who knew it would provide the interior monologue for a Barack nominee?

Obama has nominated Chris Hill to be the US Ambassador to Iraq and, last Wednesday, Hill appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee . . . leaving his hair . . . unfastened. And uncombed.


With his twigs and fly away hair untamed, Hill began the proceedings flaunting his inability to follow the most basic of instructions. Senator John Kerry chairs the committee and supports Hill's nomination. Based on those two things, when Kerry makes a request in the committee hearing, you'd think Hill would rush to follow up on it. That didn't happen.

In an attempt to move the hearing along, Kerry asked Hill to summarize, and not read, his prepared remarks. Hill agreed to do just that and then . . . he read, word for word, page for page, his entire prepared remarks.

Where was the confusion, Hill?

You were asked to do something. You agreed to do it. And then you didn't do it.

That's really basic and he couldn't even follow through on that which led many who have worked with and/or supervised Hill over the years to begin whispering about how this was exactly the way he performed his job. He'd nod in agreement at whatever order he was given and then go off and do whatever he wanted.

With Iraq being a hot spot, that temperament really doesn't seem suited with the country.

But Hill and Iraq seem a very poor fit. He pontificated at length about the "Awakening" Councils and was wrong repeatedly. Feeling sorry for him, a senator threw back one portion of his statements, allowing Hill the chance to correct it but Hill stuck with it.

No, Nouri's not taken over payment for all the "Awakenings." No, he's not paying the ones he's supposed to be paying. But Hill was happy to make such claims.

He had even less of a clue when it came to the oil-rich Kirkuk and, sadly, he bragged about having requested a briefing on Kirkuk and having received one yet there was no indication from his statements that the briefing took.

Just a land dispute, he said. Not at all uncommon from what he saw in Bosnia. Really, he dealt with oil-rich cities and disputes over them in Bosnia? He dealt with cities where one group of people were run out and another transplanted in based on the whim of whomever was ruling? Really?

He had no clue and only made it worse with statements implying the United Nations was at work on the situation and had been. (The UN forced a compromise decision on Kirkuk in late 2008 after the issue flared up in the summer of 2008 and threatened to prevent the provincial elections from being held in 14 of Iraq's 18 provinces last January. The compromise was that the fate of Kirkuk would yet again be tabled. In other words, the UN got all parties to agree to hit the snooze alarm and wait.)

He had no concept of the meaning of oversight and, when asked about it, was eager to push it off on the auditors in the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction's office.

What's especially scary is that Hill's been the nominee for over a month. What's especially scary is that last week's Senate hearing was scheduled in advance. Despite that, Hill showed up completely unprepared.

For more on the hearing, refer to Wednesday and Thursday's Iraq snapshots.
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