Yesterday at West Point, in his sharpest criticism of the Iraq war, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that anyone who advises a ground war for the U.S. in Asia ought to have his head examined.
And afterward, Bill Kristol trashed the Obama administration response to Libya, twice: "Pathetic" and "decadent". As for Kagan, he ran out and signed a neocon letter pressing Obama to take decisive action in Libya, including bringing warships into Libya's waters and fighter jets into its airspace.
So: a Cabinet Secretary has a meeting with a couple rightwing guys who stand for everything he says he's against, and they promptly go out and undermine the Obama administration.
If you are a reporter for a Tea Party group that opposed Obama's healthcare program, would you get an interview with a Cabinet Secretary? No f'ing way. If you were against him on gay rights, would they let you anywhere near the Rose Garden? Again, no.
The Washington status of the neoconservatives in spite of their hostility and ghastly mistakes is about the Israel lobby's power in D.C. Kristol and Kagan are both ardent supporters of Israel-- here they argue against any pressure on the Jewish state--and because those who care about Israel are such an important part of American electoral politics, the Obama administration must kiss the tuchis of those who are seen to represent that lobby-- or it will cause defections from its own Establishment base. The access that Kristol and Kagan got is little different from the fact that Dennis Ross, who epitomized the failed peace process, was elevated to be Obama's Middle East envoy-- because Ross is the embodiment of the Israel lobby, a "melitz yosher," in the words of Abe Foxman, or advocate for Israel. Or why Stuart Levey hung around from the failed Bush administration to the Obama administration in Treasury-- because he had cred with the lobby.That's how it works.