Commentary Magazine


Posts For: January 26, 2008

Who Must Win?

The latest Florida poll has McCain with a narrow lead and, in a sure sign the race is close, my in-box is fillling up with nastygrams from the Romney camp focusing on McCain’s un-Republican leanings. The most telling part of today’s poll is Rudy’s number: 15 perecent. As that number decreases (a function of the bandwagon effect and perhaps Mel Martinez’ endorsement of McCain) expect McCain’s to rise.

It is worth exploring how critical Florida is and for whom it is a “must win.” Despite pledges he would continue on, it is hard to see how Rudy, whose numbers are already dropping in February 5 states, would remain viable after a Florida loss. For Romney, a loss here would leave Michigan as his only win in a contested state and deprive him of a needed boost going into February 5, where he must take on both McCain and Huckabee, who remains a threat in Red states. Things would look grim. But, just as he soldiered on after New Hampshire and Iowa, he would have no reason to give up. (Romney said just that today.) McCain, who now is building leads in California, Illinois, New Jersey, and New York, could survive a close loss in Florida. However, the last thing he wants is to do is revive criticisms that he cannot win in a closed primary and set up a coast-to-coast battle with an opponent who has seemingly unlimited funds. So, on balance, Rudy is the only one who must win, Romney needs it very badly and McCain would sure prefer not to lose.

The latest Florida poll has McCain with a narrow lead and, in a sure sign the race is close, my in-box is fillling up with nastygrams from the Romney camp focusing on McCain’s un-Republican leanings. The most telling part of today’s poll is Rudy’s number: 15 perecent. As that number decreases (a function of the bandwagon effect and perhaps Mel Martinez’ endorsement of McCain) expect McCain’s to rise.

It is worth exploring how critical Florida is and for whom it is a “must win.” Despite pledges he would continue on, it is hard to see how Rudy, whose numbers are already dropping in February 5 states, would remain viable after a Florida loss. For Romney, a loss here would leave Michigan as his only win in a contested state and deprive him of a needed boost going into February 5, where he must take on both McCain and Huckabee, who remains a threat in Red states. Things would look grim. But, just as he soldiered on after New Hampshire and Iowa, he would have no reason to give up. (Romney said just that today.) McCain, who now is building leads in California, Illinois, New Jersey, and New York, could survive a close loss in Florida. However, the last thing he wants is to do is revive criticisms that he cannot win in a closed primary and set up a coast-to-coast battle with an opponent who has seemingly unlimited funds. So, on balance, Rudy is the only one who must win, Romney needs it very badly and McCain would sure prefer not to lose.

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The David Gergen Project

Not since The Blair Witch Project has there been a more terrifying piece of seemingly amateur video than this short squib captured by my friend Jeff Jarvis, in which David Gergen, the Super Elastic Man of American politics, gets down and funky with all the other extremely white people at the extremely elite Davos conference.

Not since The Blair Witch Project has there been a more terrifying piece of seemingly amateur video than this short squib captured by my friend Jeff Jarvis, in which David Gergen, the Super Elastic Man of American politics, gets down and funky with all the other extremely white people at the extremely elite Davos conference.

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Obama and Israel, continued

There has been an awakening in recent days to the presence of a disturbing number of foreign policy advisers to the Obama campaign who harbor hostile views of Israel. Ed Lasky of the American Thinker has been doing serious work on the subject, and his two pieces — here and here — are must-reads. Caroline Glick adds to the discussion here.

But there is another Obama foreign policy adviser–a prominent one–who has so far escaped criticism. This is Samantha Power, a Harvard professor, journalist, and human rights specialist who of late has become a high-profile liberal critic of American foreign policy.

For one, Power is an advocate of the Walt-Mearsheimer view of the American relationship with Israel. In a recent interview published on the Harvard Kennedy School’s website, Power was asked to explain “long-standing structural and conceptual problems in U.S. foreign policy.” She gave a two-part answer: the first problem, she said, is “the US historic predisposition to go it alone.” A standard reply, of course. The second problem, though, should give us pause:

Another longstanding foreign policy flaw is the degree to which special interests dictate the way in which the “national interest” as a whole is defined and pursued . . . America’s important historic relationship with Israel has often led foreign policy decision-makers to defer reflexively to Israeli security assessments, and to replicate Israeli tactics, which, as the war in Lebanon last summer demonstrated, can turn out to be counter-productive.

So greater regard for international institutions along with less automatic deference to special interests–especially when it comes to matters of life and death and war and peace–seem to be two take-aways from the war in Iraq.

Power is not just assenting to the Israel Lobby view of American foreign policy, but is also arguing that Israel had something to do with the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003–an appalling slander, and a telling one.

Also of note is a recent opinion piece Power wrote for TIME magazine, titled “Rethinking Iran,” the thrust of which rethinking involves the need to engage diplomatically the mullahs and pretend that the Iranian nuclear program is a figment of the paranoid imagination of the Bush administration. She writes:

The war scare that wasn’t [the recent incident between Iranian speedboats and the U.S. Navy in the Straight of Hormuz] stands as a metaphor for the incoherence of our policy toward Iran: the Bush Administration attempts to gin up international outrage by making a claim of imminent danger, only to be met with international eye rolling when the claim is disproved. Sound familiar? The speedboat episode bore an uncanny resemblance to the Administration’s allegations about the advanced state of Iran’s weapons program–allegations refuted in December by the National Intelligence Estimate.

Does Power actually believe that the NIE put to rest concerns about the Iranian nuclear program? If she actually thinks that — and it appears she does — she deserves voluminous ridicule from thinking people everywhere.

Does anyone think that if the time comes that Power has President Obama’s ear, she will advise him to do anything other than repudiate America’s greatest ally in the Middle East in favor of appeasing its greatest enemy? And here’s an even better question: Does Barack Obama have a single adviser who would tell him to do anything else?

There has been an awakening in recent days to the presence of a disturbing number of foreign policy advisers to the Obama campaign who harbor hostile views of Israel. Ed Lasky of the American Thinker has been doing serious work on the subject, and his two pieces — here and here — are must-reads. Caroline Glick adds to the discussion here.

But there is another Obama foreign policy adviser–a prominent one–who has so far escaped criticism. This is Samantha Power, a Harvard professor, journalist, and human rights specialist who of late has become a high-profile liberal critic of American foreign policy.

For one, Power is an advocate of the Walt-Mearsheimer view of the American relationship with Israel. In a recent interview published on the Harvard Kennedy School’s website, Power was asked to explain “long-standing structural and conceptual problems in U.S. foreign policy.” She gave a two-part answer: the first problem, she said, is “the US historic predisposition to go it alone.” A standard reply, of course. The second problem, though, should give us pause:

Another longstanding foreign policy flaw is the degree to which special interests dictate the way in which the “national interest” as a whole is defined and pursued . . . America’s important historic relationship with Israel has often led foreign policy decision-makers to defer reflexively to Israeli security assessments, and to replicate Israeli tactics, which, as the war in Lebanon last summer demonstrated, can turn out to be counter-productive.

So greater regard for international institutions along with less automatic deference to special interests–especially when it comes to matters of life and death and war and peace–seem to be two take-aways from the war in Iraq.

Power is not just assenting to the Israel Lobby view of American foreign policy, but is also arguing that Israel had something to do with the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003–an appalling slander, and a telling one.

Also of note is a recent opinion piece Power wrote for TIME magazine, titled “Rethinking Iran,” the thrust of which rethinking involves the need to engage diplomatically the mullahs and pretend that the Iranian nuclear program is a figment of the paranoid imagination of the Bush administration. She writes:

The war scare that wasn’t [the recent incident between Iranian speedboats and the U.S. Navy in the Straight of Hormuz] stands as a metaphor for the incoherence of our policy toward Iran: the Bush Administration attempts to gin up international outrage by making a claim of imminent danger, only to be met with international eye rolling when the claim is disproved. Sound familiar? The speedboat episode bore an uncanny resemblance to the Administration’s allegations about the advanced state of Iran’s weapons program–allegations refuted in December by the National Intelligence Estimate.

Does Power actually believe that the NIE put to rest concerns about the Iranian nuclear program? If she actually thinks that — and it appears she does — she deserves voluminous ridicule from thinking people everywhere.

Does anyone think that if the time comes that Power has President Obama’s ear, she will advise him to do anything other than repudiate America’s greatest ally in the Middle East in favor of appeasing its greatest enemy? And here’s an even better question: Does Barack Obama have a single adviser who would tell him to do anything else?

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