Commentary Magazine


Posts For: March 5, 2008

Wrong Again

Their candidate suffered three losses Tuesday, but they have not given up. The newest line is: “She simply cannot win 2025 delegates.” The “they” here is not the Obama camp, but the media pundit class, the same folks who declared Hillary Clinton dead and were telling her to scram, even last night. (There were a few exceptions, like this, which at least recognized the Clinton perspective “that a race this close can be altered by a virtually limitless number of tactical maneuvers, unexpected events, or shifts in public perception.”)

Why exactly is this latest “inevitable” analysis wrong? Barack Obama does, after all, have a lead of about 100 delegates. It is wrong because neither of these candidates can get to 2025 absent the superdelegates. It is wrong because rumblings can already be heard about an accommodation with Michigan and Florida, both of which are ripe for Clinton. (So any calculation needs to add approximately 340 more delegates.) It is wrong because one must give the devil his due and concede the Clinton team’s point that there is considerable doubt as to whether Obama can take a punch.

Other than that, it is as accurate and reliable as all the other “can’t be” scenarios the media has discarded, ranging from John McCain’s nomination to Clinton’s victories last night. Haven’t they learned anything from their favored candidate? “Yes, she can.”

Their candidate suffered three losses Tuesday, but they have not given up. The newest line is: “She simply cannot win 2025 delegates.” The “they” here is not the Obama camp, but the media pundit class, the same folks who declared Hillary Clinton dead and were telling her to scram, even last night. (There were a few exceptions, like this, which at least recognized the Clinton perspective “that a race this close can be altered by a virtually limitless number of tactical maneuvers, unexpected events, or shifts in public perception.”)

Why exactly is this latest “inevitable” analysis wrong? Barack Obama does, after all, have a lead of about 100 delegates. It is wrong because neither of these candidates can get to 2025 absent the superdelegates. It is wrong because rumblings can already be heard about an accommodation with Michigan and Florida, both of which are ripe for Clinton. (So any calculation needs to add approximately 340 more delegates.) It is wrong because one must give the devil his due and concede the Clinton team’s point that there is considerable doubt as to whether Obama can take a punch.

Other than that, it is as accurate and reliable as all the other “can’t be” scenarios the media has discarded, ranging from John McCain’s nomination to Clinton’s victories last night. Haven’t they learned anything from their favored candidate? “Yes, she can.”

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A Brave UK Muslim

The U.K. has seen a recent string of capitulations to radical Islam and its politically correct Western enablers. In a February 12 article in the Jerusalem Post, Daniel Pipes chronicled three events in one very bad week in England:

First, the UK government has decided that terrorism by Muslims in the name of Islam is actually unrelated to Islam, or even anti-Islamic.

[…]

Second, and again culminating several years of evolution, the British government now recognizes polygamous marriages.

[…]

Third, the archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, endorsed applying portions of the Islamic law (the shari’a) in Great Britain.

Indeed, there is reason to suppose that a fair number of British lawmakers and clergy could get a tidy British shari’a system up and running before the Dems figure out who their nominee for President is. Which is why the following news is so important. The Evening Standard reports on a brave British Muslim who’s taking a stand against radicalization among England’s Muslims and the isolation that feeds it.

A leading Muslim figure has spoken out against plans for a 12,000-seat mosque next to the Olympic site.

Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, who co-founded the Muslim Parliament of Great Britain, says there is no need for another mosque in East London.

His opposition follows that of mayoral candidate Alan Craig – who found his own “obituary” posted on internet site YouTube after making his views known.

Dr Siddiqui, an Indian-born elder statesman, said: “We have too many mosques. I think it should not be built. What we need first is more integration between the existing mosques and the wider community.”

The “megamosque” in Newham is being planned by Islamic group Tablighi Jamaat, which the FBI has described as “a recruiting ground” for al Qaeda – a claim it denies. Shoebomber Richard Reid and 7/7 bombers Mohammad Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer were members.

Dr. Siddiqui’s courage and honesty should be a source of great shame to the likes of Rowan Williams. As a Muslim, this man faces a far greater danger from his radical co-religionists than does the Archbishop. Yet he grasps the graver peril of allowing his country to give in to fanatics without a fight. While Williams deems shari’a inevitable, Dr. Siddiqui finds at least enough morale to take a stand. His proposition is hardly dramatic; he’s simply recognizing that there is a problem worthy of engagement. How encouraging it would be if Dr. Siddiqui’s call was the first in a hat trick of resistance to counter Britain’s bad week.

The U.K. has seen a recent string of capitulations to radical Islam and its politically correct Western enablers. In a February 12 article in the Jerusalem Post, Daniel Pipes chronicled three events in one very bad week in England:

First, the UK government has decided that terrorism by Muslims in the name of Islam is actually unrelated to Islam, or even anti-Islamic.

[…]

Second, and again culminating several years of evolution, the British government now recognizes polygamous marriages.

[…]

Third, the archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, endorsed applying portions of the Islamic law (the shari’a) in Great Britain.

Indeed, there is reason to suppose that a fair number of British lawmakers and clergy could get a tidy British shari’a system up and running before the Dems figure out who their nominee for President is. Which is why the following news is so important. The Evening Standard reports on a brave British Muslim who’s taking a stand against radicalization among England’s Muslims and the isolation that feeds it.

A leading Muslim figure has spoken out against plans for a 12,000-seat mosque next to the Olympic site.

Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, who co-founded the Muslim Parliament of Great Britain, says there is no need for another mosque in East London.

His opposition follows that of mayoral candidate Alan Craig – who found his own “obituary” posted on internet site YouTube after making his views known.

Dr Siddiqui, an Indian-born elder statesman, said: “We have too many mosques. I think it should not be built. What we need first is more integration between the existing mosques and the wider community.”

The “megamosque” in Newham is being planned by Islamic group Tablighi Jamaat, which the FBI has described as “a recruiting ground” for al Qaeda – a claim it denies. Shoebomber Richard Reid and 7/7 bombers Mohammad Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer were members.

Dr. Siddiqui’s courage and honesty should be a source of great shame to the likes of Rowan Williams. As a Muslim, this man faces a far greater danger from his radical co-religionists than does the Archbishop. Yet he grasps the graver peril of allowing his country to give in to fanatics without a fight. While Williams deems shari’a inevitable, Dr. Siddiqui finds at least enough morale to take a stand. His proposition is hardly dramatic; he’s simply recognizing that there is a problem worthy of engagement. How encouraging it would be if Dr. Siddiqui’s call was the first in a hat trick of resistance to counter Britain’s bad week.

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Fool Us Twice . . .

Today, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rejected talks with the European Union over his country’s nuclear program and said he would discuss this subject only with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

This development followed yesterday’s successful maneuvering by Russia and China, which together forced European nations to drop their efforts to have the IAEA Board of Governors adopt a resolution targeting Iran’s nuclear program. The failure of Britain, France, and Germany to increase the pressure on Tehran came a day after the U.N. Security Council imposed a third set of sanctions on Iran for failing to halt its enrichment of uranium. Some nations on the IAEA board felt that a second resolution in a single week might antagonize the mullahs. As one Asian diplomat said, “The board doesn’t need to compete with the Security Council.”

The failure of the governing board to take up the issue is an unmistakable defeat for the West and will have consequences. As an initial matter, a stiff IAEA resolution condemning Tehran might have had a bigger effect on the Iranian regime than Monday’s Security Council resolution. In January, Ahmadinejad said “Nobody except the International Atomic Energy Agency has the right to make decisions or impose anything on the Iranian nation.” He is undoubtedly insincere—he is not about to listen to anyone who disagrees with him—but he probably made that statement because developing nations, which have traditionally befriended Iran, comprise almost half of the IAEA’s Board of Governors. In short, a board resolution would have strongly signaled intolerance of Iran’s delaying tactics by its friends as well as its adversaries.

Yesterday’s setback is also a signal to the West. The European retreat demonstrates that Moscow and Beijing are calling the tune on issues involving Iran. We should remember they similarly demanded a slow pace on sanctions on North Korea, thereby giving Pyongyang time to succeed in weaponizing the atom. In short, the Russian and Chinese approach has already failed to stop nuclearization this decade. Now, the U.S. and Europe are letting these two large authoritarian states adopt the same maneuver. It is grossly irresponsible for the Chinese and Russians to support Iran’s efforts to build a nuclear weapon. And we are inexcusably feckless if we permit them to do so—again.

Today, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rejected talks with the European Union over his country’s nuclear program and said he would discuss this subject only with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

This development followed yesterday’s successful maneuvering by Russia and China, which together forced European nations to drop their efforts to have the IAEA Board of Governors adopt a resolution targeting Iran’s nuclear program. The failure of Britain, France, and Germany to increase the pressure on Tehran came a day after the U.N. Security Council imposed a third set of sanctions on Iran for failing to halt its enrichment of uranium. Some nations on the IAEA board felt that a second resolution in a single week might antagonize the mullahs. As one Asian diplomat said, “The board doesn’t need to compete with the Security Council.”

The failure of the governing board to take up the issue is an unmistakable defeat for the West and will have consequences. As an initial matter, a stiff IAEA resolution condemning Tehran might have had a bigger effect on the Iranian regime than Monday’s Security Council resolution. In January, Ahmadinejad said “Nobody except the International Atomic Energy Agency has the right to make decisions or impose anything on the Iranian nation.” He is undoubtedly insincere—he is not about to listen to anyone who disagrees with him—but he probably made that statement because developing nations, which have traditionally befriended Iran, comprise almost half of the IAEA’s Board of Governors. In short, a board resolution would have strongly signaled intolerance of Iran’s delaying tactics by its friends as well as its adversaries.

Yesterday’s setback is also a signal to the West. The European retreat demonstrates that Moscow and Beijing are calling the tune on issues involving Iran. We should remember they similarly demanded a slow pace on sanctions on North Korea, thereby giving Pyongyang time to succeed in weaponizing the atom. In short, the Russian and Chinese approach has already failed to stop nuclearization this decade. Now, the U.S. and Europe are letting these two large authoritarian states adopt the same maneuver. It is grossly irresponsible for the Chinese and Russians to support Iran’s efforts to build a nuclear weapon. And we are inexcusably feckless if we permit them to do so—again.

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She Has No Choice

Today, for the first time, Hillary Clinton said that she would be open to the possibility of a joint ticket with Barack Obama. She, of course, is speaking about a Clinton-Obama ticket, not the converse. Here’s the exchange from earlier today:

On CBS’ morning program, anchor Harry Smith said to Clinton, “We talked to a lot of people in Ohio who said there really isn’t that significant a difference between you two, and they’d like to see you both on the ticket.”

“Well, you know, that may be where this is headed.” Clinton said. “But of course we have to decide who is on the top of the ticket. I think the people of Ohio very clearly said that it should be me.”

The only way that Clinton could win the nomination at this point would be through convincing superdelegates to vote for her at the convention. This will be viewed by Obama supporters–the unprecedented million-plus people who have contributed money to his campaign, whom the Democrats do not want to alienate–as a power grab, and rightly so. To prevent the party from tearing itself to shreds, Clinton will have no choice but to offer Obama a position as her running mate. Whether he accepts her offer is a different question. He may bank on her losing to McCain, which would make him the presumable front runner in 2012. If Obama, on the other hand, wins the nomination, he will have no reason to make Clinton his running mate, ending (for good, I predict) her political ascent.

So today’s remarks are part of a well-coordinated strategy to increase her chances of convincing superdelegates to support her, even though she trails in pledged delegates, states won, and the popular vote. This olive branch is not motivated by a desire to save the Democratic Party (because the Clintons could care less about that) though that is its effect, insofar as keeping the party together just this once is vital for Clinton to have any shot at beating McCain should she become the nominee. To do that, she has no choice but to have Obama on the ticket with her.

Today, for the first time, Hillary Clinton said that she would be open to the possibility of a joint ticket with Barack Obama. She, of course, is speaking about a Clinton-Obama ticket, not the converse. Here’s the exchange from earlier today:

On CBS’ morning program, anchor Harry Smith said to Clinton, “We talked to a lot of people in Ohio who said there really isn’t that significant a difference between you two, and they’d like to see you both on the ticket.”

“Well, you know, that may be where this is headed.” Clinton said. “But of course we have to decide who is on the top of the ticket. I think the people of Ohio very clearly said that it should be me.”

The only way that Clinton could win the nomination at this point would be through convincing superdelegates to vote for her at the convention. This will be viewed by Obama supporters–the unprecedented million-plus people who have contributed money to his campaign, whom the Democrats do not want to alienate–as a power grab, and rightly so. To prevent the party from tearing itself to shreds, Clinton will have no choice but to offer Obama a position as her running mate. Whether he accepts her offer is a different question. He may bank on her losing to McCain, which would make him the presumable front runner in 2012. If Obama, on the other hand, wins the nomination, he will have no reason to make Clinton his running mate, ending (for good, I predict) her political ascent.

So today’s remarks are part of a well-coordinated strategy to increase her chances of convincing superdelegates to support her, even though she trails in pledged delegates, states won, and the popular vote. This olive branch is not motivated by a desire to save the Democratic Party (because the Clintons could care less about that) though that is its effect, insofar as keeping the party together just this once is vital for Clinton to have any shot at beating McCain should she become the nominee. To do that, she has no choice but to have Obama on the ticket with her.

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Michelle Obama: America Is ‘Just Downright Mean’

After Michelle Obama was caught on camera saying that her husband’s presidential bid had made her “really proud of my country for the first time in my adult lifetime,” we were assured by a source no less august than her own sainted husband that she had been misunderstood. Well, guess what? She wasn’t.

In a profile of Michelle Obama published in this week’s New Yorker, Lauren Collins catches her subject out in standard anti-American boilerplate in an appearance at a South Carolina church:

Obama begins with a broad assessment of life in America in 2008, and life is not good: we’re a divided country, we’re a country that is “just downright mean,” we are “guided by fear,” we’re a nation of cynics, sloths, and complacents. “We have become a nation of struggling folks who are barely making it every day,” she said, as heads bobbed in the pews. “Folks are just jammed up, and it’s gotten worse over my lifetime. And, doggone it, I’m young. Forty-four!”

From these bleak generalities, Obama moves into specific complaints. Used to be, she will say, that you could count on a decent education in the neighborhood. But now there are all these charter schools and magnet schools that you have to “finagle” to get into. (Obama herself attended a magnet school, but never mind.) Health care is out of reach (“Let me tell you, don’t get sick in America”), pensions are disappearing, college is too expensive, and even if you can figure out a way to go to college you won’t be able to recoup the cost of the degree in many of the professions for which you needed it in the first place. “You’re looking at a young couple that’s just a few years out of debt,” Obama said. “See, because, we went to those good schools, and we didn’t have trust funds.”

It is one thing to say that many people have it tough. Many people do have it tough. But for a 44 year-old woman to tell a black audience that things have “gotten worse during my lifetime” is astonishing. When Michelle Obama was born, racial intermarriage was against the law in at least two dozen states. Governors were standing in front of university and classroom doors, attempting to bar black children and teenagers from entering white-only institutions. The per capita income of African Americans has risen sixteen-fold over the past 40 years. Black homeownership has risen tenfold. The black poverty rate has declined from 75 percent to 25 percent.

Over the past 13 years, a breathtaking drop in the crime rate has made poor black neighborhoods safe and habitable in cities across the country for the first time in Michelle Obama’s lifetime — since the crime spiral that made them intolerable places to live began in the year of her birth, 1964. There are about 350 different categories in which life for black people in particular is so far superior to what it had been in her infancy — even as one has to acknowledge, in the areas of family breakdown in particular, ways in which it is at the very least no better than it was.

But all of this is to take Michelle Obama at her word that her problem with this country’s downright meanness has to do with the sufferings of those who better not get sick in America (because, you know, it’s so much better to get sick in another country). She seems at least as bitter, if not more so, about the fact that she and Barack had student loans to pay off and didn’t have a trust fund. So maybe what is bugging her is not that so many people are poor, but that her life in the Ivy Leagues and as a political wife has placed her in proximity to an entire class of people vastly more wealthy than she — from enormously rich classmates to colossally rich donors whose life of easy privilege apparently induces a degree of resentment in the striving daughter of a terrifically impressive working-class family that succeeded in sending its progeny from a four-room bungalow on the South Shore of Chicago through the nation’s finest schools and into marriage with the man who may prove to be the most notable African-American in this country’s history.

There used to be a term for what ails Michelle Obama: She has a chip on her shoulder. For her sake and for the country’s, she really ought to brush it off. “First Ladies,” writes Collins, “have traditionally gravitated toward happy topics like roadside flower beds, so it comes as a surprise that Obama’s speech is such an unremitting downer.” Now imagine eight years of it. In the relationship between America and Michelle Obama, America may not be not the “downright mean” one.

After Michelle Obama was caught on camera saying that her husband’s presidential bid had made her “really proud of my country for the first time in my adult lifetime,” we were assured by a source no less august than her own sainted husband that she had been misunderstood. Well, guess what? She wasn’t.

In a profile of Michelle Obama published in this week’s New Yorker, Lauren Collins catches her subject out in standard anti-American boilerplate in an appearance at a South Carolina church:

Obama begins with a broad assessment of life in America in 2008, and life is not good: we’re a divided country, we’re a country that is “just downright mean,” we are “guided by fear,” we’re a nation of cynics, sloths, and complacents. “We have become a nation of struggling folks who are barely making it every day,” she said, as heads bobbed in the pews. “Folks are just jammed up, and it’s gotten worse over my lifetime. And, doggone it, I’m young. Forty-four!”

From these bleak generalities, Obama moves into specific complaints. Used to be, she will say, that you could count on a decent education in the neighborhood. But now there are all these charter schools and magnet schools that you have to “finagle” to get into. (Obama herself attended a magnet school, but never mind.) Health care is out of reach (“Let me tell you, don’t get sick in America”), pensions are disappearing, college is too expensive, and even if you can figure out a way to go to college you won’t be able to recoup the cost of the degree in many of the professions for which you needed it in the first place. “You’re looking at a young couple that’s just a few years out of debt,” Obama said. “See, because, we went to those good schools, and we didn’t have trust funds.”

It is one thing to say that many people have it tough. Many people do have it tough. But for a 44 year-old woman to tell a black audience that things have “gotten worse during my lifetime” is astonishing. When Michelle Obama was born, racial intermarriage was against the law in at least two dozen states. Governors were standing in front of university and classroom doors, attempting to bar black children and teenagers from entering white-only institutions. The per capita income of African Americans has risen sixteen-fold over the past 40 years. Black homeownership has risen tenfold. The black poverty rate has declined from 75 percent to 25 percent.

Over the past 13 years, a breathtaking drop in the crime rate has made poor black neighborhoods safe and habitable in cities across the country for the first time in Michelle Obama’s lifetime — since the crime spiral that made them intolerable places to live began in the year of her birth, 1964. There are about 350 different categories in which life for black people in particular is so far superior to what it had been in her infancy — even as one has to acknowledge, in the areas of family breakdown in particular, ways in which it is at the very least no better than it was.

But all of this is to take Michelle Obama at her word that her problem with this country’s downright meanness has to do with the sufferings of those who better not get sick in America (because, you know, it’s so much better to get sick in another country). She seems at least as bitter, if not more so, about the fact that she and Barack had student loans to pay off and didn’t have a trust fund. So maybe what is bugging her is not that so many people are poor, but that her life in the Ivy Leagues and as a political wife has placed her in proximity to an entire class of people vastly more wealthy than she — from enormously rich classmates to colossally rich donors whose life of easy privilege apparently induces a degree of resentment in the striving daughter of a terrifically impressive working-class family that succeeded in sending its progeny from a four-room bungalow on the South Shore of Chicago through the nation’s finest schools and into marriage with the man who may prove to be the most notable African-American in this country’s history.

There used to be a term for what ails Michelle Obama: She has a chip on her shoulder. For her sake and for the country’s, she really ought to brush it off. “First Ladies,” writes Collins, “have traditionally gravitated toward happy topics like roadside flower beds, so it comes as a surprise that Obama’s speech is such an unremitting downer.” Now imagine eight years of it. In the relationship between America and Michelle Obama, America may not be not the “downright mean” one.

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French “Youth” Alert

European Jewish Press reports that on February 22, a Jewish teenager was captured and tortured in France:

Six youths from the southern Paris suburb of Bagneux, aged 17 to 25, are accused of locking up 19-year-old Mathieu Roumi in a storage room on February 22, beating and sexually tormenting him.

Aged 17 to 25, the six youths — who knew the victim — had falsely accused him of stealing from them in order to lure him into a trap, judicial sources said.

Somehow, I don’t think we’re dealing with a bunch of young South of France suburbanites. For starters, these mischievous kids are pretty much men. Second, Bagneux is the same Muslim ghetto in which a gang kidnapped, tortured, and killed 23-year-old French Jew Ilan Halimi in 2006. Here’s more on the February attack:

With a pen, the aggressors scrawled “dirty Jew” and “dirty faggot” on the face of their victim. Later they forced him to swallow down cigarette butts and to suck a condom on a stick. The man’s ordeal reportedly lasted nine and a half hours.

From the Halimi case:

 . . . For three weeks, the “Barbarians” detained and tortured Ilan Halimi. When he was found on February 13, he was naked, handcuffed after being dumped near railway tracks in a Parisian suburb. He suffered from severe burns covering 80 percent of his body. Traces of cigarette burns, iron burns, and various cuts (made by knives and scissors) covered his body. He passed away in an ambulance before reaching the hospital…

In 2006, Ilan Halimi was one of four Jews potentially targeted for the attack. The gang that killed him called his family and read them Koranic verse while he was in captivity. But apparently we shouldn’t necessarily concern ourselves with that or consider the larger implications of French “youth” culture and environs like Bagneux, because the city’s Communist Mayor, Marie-Hélène Amiable,  is quoted as saying “one should not make a confusion between the two cases.” Not only are the cases nearly identical–so is the French government’s dismissive response. So far, the only difference I see is that the recent victim was lucky enough to survive.

European Jewish Press reports that on February 22, a Jewish teenager was captured and tortured in France:

Six youths from the southern Paris suburb of Bagneux, aged 17 to 25, are accused of locking up 19-year-old Mathieu Roumi in a storage room on February 22, beating and sexually tormenting him.

Aged 17 to 25, the six youths — who knew the victim — had falsely accused him of stealing from them in order to lure him into a trap, judicial sources said.

Somehow, I don’t think we’re dealing with a bunch of young South of France suburbanites. For starters, these mischievous kids are pretty much men. Second, Bagneux is the same Muslim ghetto in which a gang kidnapped, tortured, and killed 23-year-old French Jew Ilan Halimi in 2006. Here’s more on the February attack:

With a pen, the aggressors scrawled “dirty Jew” and “dirty faggot” on the face of their victim. Later they forced him to swallow down cigarette butts and to suck a condom on a stick. The man’s ordeal reportedly lasted nine and a half hours.

From the Halimi case:

 . . . For three weeks, the “Barbarians” detained and tortured Ilan Halimi. When he was found on February 13, he was naked, handcuffed after being dumped near railway tracks in a Parisian suburb. He suffered from severe burns covering 80 percent of his body. Traces of cigarette burns, iron burns, and various cuts (made by knives and scissors) covered his body. He passed away in an ambulance before reaching the hospital…

In 2006, Ilan Halimi was one of four Jews potentially targeted for the attack. The gang that killed him called his family and read them Koranic verse while he was in captivity. But apparently we shouldn’t necessarily concern ourselves with that or consider the larger implications of French “youth” culture and environs like Bagneux, because the city’s Communist Mayor, Marie-Hélène Amiable,  is quoted as saying “one should not make a confusion between the two cases.” Not only are the cases nearly identical–so is the French government’s dismissive response. So far, the only difference I see is that the recent victim was lucky enough to survive.

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More Popular than France

Gallup just released the latest in its series of polls (see here and here) that track Americans’ opinions on 22 countries around the world. Israel’s popularity — measured as the percentage of respondents who view the Jewish state “very” or “mostly” favorably — has increased to 71 percent, a number not seen since the Gulf War in 1991. The Palestinian Authority’s rating is a stark 14 percent–only two points higher than North Korea’s and six points higher than Iran’s.

There are a couple of interesting things about these numbers. For one, it appears that the recent Walt-Mearsheimer fracas did absolutely nothing to disabuse ordinary Americans of their affection for Israel. Another is the continuing trend of Republicans being significantly more favorably disposed to Israel than Democrats — in the latest survey, Israel is viewed favorably among Republicans by a remarkable 84 percent, compared to 64 percent among Democrats.

Gallup just released the latest in its series of polls (see here and here) that track Americans’ opinions on 22 countries around the world. Israel’s popularity — measured as the percentage of respondents who view the Jewish state “very” or “mostly” favorably — has increased to 71 percent, a number not seen since the Gulf War in 1991. The Palestinian Authority’s rating is a stark 14 percent–only two points higher than North Korea’s and six points higher than Iran’s.

There are a couple of interesting things about these numbers. For one, it appears that the recent Walt-Mearsheimer fracas did absolutely nothing to disabuse ordinary Americans of their affection for Israel. Another is the continuing trend of Republicans being significantly more favorably disposed to Israel than Democrats — in the latest survey, Israel is viewed favorably among Republicans by a remarkable 84 percent, compared to 64 percent among Democrats.

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Time To Crow

The Hillary Clinton team together with Senators Evan Bayh and Chuck Schumer held a press call to tout the results from last night. Both senators echoed the same theme: as voters get “serious” (that word was used multiple times), they will come around to Clinton. Schumer bluntly added, “You never count her out.”

In answers to questions, campaign head Mark Penn, advisor Harold Ickes, and spokesman Phil Singer wanted to get out several messages:

1) Barack Obama has yet to be vetted and, as Penn noted, “just a couple of days” of hard questions led to a dramatic decrease in his poll numbers. (There was much encouragement to look at the Obama team’s “puzzling” answers to NAFTA-gate and get “just some basic information” about Tony Rezko.)

2) They repeatedly rebuffed any questions about a VP spot for Clinton, saying she was focused on winning.

3) They again seemed to minimize states like “Idaho, Nebraska, and Kansas,” which Obama has won, but which the Democratic nominee is unlikely to win in November. They termed upcoming Wyoming and Mississippi “challenging.”

4) Ickes is pushing undeclared superdelegates to come their way, or, at the very least, to “stand back” and see what else comes to light about Obama.

5) Clearly, they see this as a key moment in the race. Ickes declared they “turned a corner” after a “dry spell.”

Just one more observation: These folks seem to think the world of Republicans, how tough they are, how effective they are in dishing dirt and how hard they will be in a general election. Who knew?

The Hillary Clinton team together with Senators Evan Bayh and Chuck Schumer held a press call to tout the results from last night. Both senators echoed the same theme: as voters get “serious” (that word was used multiple times), they will come around to Clinton. Schumer bluntly added, “You never count her out.”

In answers to questions, campaign head Mark Penn, advisor Harold Ickes, and spokesman Phil Singer wanted to get out several messages:

1) Barack Obama has yet to be vetted and, as Penn noted, “just a couple of days” of hard questions led to a dramatic decrease in his poll numbers. (There was much encouragement to look at the Obama team’s “puzzling” answers to NAFTA-gate and get “just some basic information” about Tony Rezko.)

2) They repeatedly rebuffed any questions about a VP spot for Clinton, saying she was focused on winning.

3) They again seemed to minimize states like “Idaho, Nebraska, and Kansas,” which Obama has won, but which the Democratic nominee is unlikely to win in November. They termed upcoming Wyoming and Mississippi “challenging.”

4) Ickes is pushing undeclared superdelegates to come their way, or, at the very least, to “stand back” and see what else comes to light about Obama.

5) Clearly, they see this as a key moment in the race. Ickes declared they “turned a corner” after a “dry spell.”

Just one more observation: These folks seem to think the world of Republicans, how tough they are, how effective they are in dishing dirt and how hard they will be in a general election. Who knew?

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Passing The Baton

President Bush enthusiastically endorsed John McCain at the White House. In front of the White House press corps, a talkative and ebullient President seemed a bit unwilling to cede the stage and promised he would “sprint to the finish” and get a lot done before he leaves office. President Bush gave the expected answer that he would campaign as and if needed but that McCain, not he, would be on the ballot. It was a nice tableau for Republicans and  little material was provided to the Democrats with which to bash McCain.

President Bush enthusiastically endorsed John McCain at the White House. In front of the White House press corps, a talkative and ebullient President seemed a bit unwilling to cede the stage and promised he would “sprint to the finish” and get a lot done before he leaves office. President Bush gave the expected answer that he would campaign as and if needed but that McCain, not he, would be on the ballot. It was a nice tableau for Republicans and  little material was provided to the Democrats with which to bash McCain.

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Better Late than Never?

This week offered two milestones in the history of the Palestinian media war against Israel. Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, publicly apologized for an editorial run in 2002 which declared that the Israeli operation in the Jenin refugee camp was “every bit as repellent as Osama Bin Laden’s attack on New York on September 11.” The Jenin operation, it will be recalled, was originally dubbed a “massacre” by the Palestinians and much of the Western world, but later was revealed to have been one of the most careful operations in the history of urban warfare, fighting house-to-house in the most entrenched terrorist wasp nest in the Palestinian areas, taking unprecedented risks to their own forces to avoid civilian casualties.

Second, an independent ballistics expert testified to a French court that the Mohammed Al-Dura could not possibly have been shot by Israeli forces. The incident in 2000, in which film footage showed what appeared to be a Palestinian child being shot to death by the IDF, became a rallying cry for the second intifada, yet serious evidence later emerged suggesting that the entire film was staged.

There is something tiresome about all this. If the Palestinian cause is so righteous, why do its proponents need to fabricate so much? One would hope that the Western media would learn to double-check itself, or at least that some kind of organic, internet-based mechanism would emerge to keep them in check. Oh wait: That’s us.

This week offered two milestones in the history of the Palestinian media war against Israel. Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, publicly apologized for an editorial run in 2002 which declared that the Israeli operation in the Jenin refugee camp was “every bit as repellent as Osama Bin Laden’s attack on New York on September 11.” The Jenin operation, it will be recalled, was originally dubbed a “massacre” by the Palestinians and much of the Western world, but later was revealed to have been one of the most careful operations in the history of urban warfare, fighting house-to-house in the most entrenched terrorist wasp nest in the Palestinian areas, taking unprecedented risks to their own forces to avoid civilian casualties.

Second, an independent ballistics expert testified to a French court that the Mohammed Al-Dura could not possibly have been shot by Israeli forces. The incident in 2000, in which film footage showed what appeared to be a Palestinian child being shot to death by the IDF, became a rallying cry for the second intifada, yet serious evidence later emerged suggesting that the entire film was staged.

There is something tiresome about all this. If the Palestinian cause is so righteous, why do its proponents need to fabricate so much? One would hope that the Western media would learn to double-check itself, or at least that some kind of organic, internet-based mechanism would emerge to keep them in check. Oh wait: That’s us.

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Tribal Democrats

If you were told that a guest on a Sunday morning political talk show had lost control of his or her emotions and declared it a tragedy that a black man is currently engaged in a very viable bid for the White House, who might you suppose had said it? Perhaps former Klansman David Duke? Or a Ron Paul supporter from way-back-when?

As it happens, the culprit is left-wing pundit Eleanor Clift. This is what she said on the “McLaughlin Group” this past Sunday:

Women have waited decades to see the first woman president and it’s actually something of a tragedy that a talented African-American guy comes along at the same–this isn’t liberal guilt.

It is, of course, the very opposite of tragedy that a woman and a black man are competing fiercely for the presidential nomination. This historic first serves as living proof of the noblest of American principles—equality among citizens. Throughout the primaries the two candidates’ fortunes have shifted and shifted back. One is in the lead, and then the other, and so on. Shouldn’t it be enough for Ms. Clift that when one of them loses it won’t be because of their color or gender? Apparently not. And she’s right: it’s not liberal guilt—it’s base tribalism.

And in a piece entitled “The Feminist Case for Obama,” in yesterday’s Washinton Post, Adele M. Stan describes her own struggle with this:

I have hoped against hope to see a good, liberal woman lead this nation before I die. In the voting booth on primary day, I stared at the ballot for a long time before I marked it for Barack Obama. It was a painful mark to make.

Such sacrifice. Meanwhile, Ms. Stan’s piece was written in response to a piece in Sunday’s Washington Post, by Linda Hirshman, who complains of women voters: “They’re the only voting bloc not voting their bloc.”

It’s no wonder that the Democratic candidates have been steeped in identity. It’s what their constituency responds to. It is, for Democrats, the number one issue. As one pores over the countless arguments for this or that candidate being the “correct” choice for this or that demographic (white working-class women, elite black women, etc.) one begins to think of Clinton’s identity strategy not so much as sleazy but simply on-point.

If you were told that a guest on a Sunday morning political talk show had lost control of his or her emotions and declared it a tragedy that a black man is currently engaged in a very viable bid for the White House, who might you suppose had said it? Perhaps former Klansman David Duke? Or a Ron Paul supporter from way-back-when?

As it happens, the culprit is left-wing pundit Eleanor Clift. This is what she said on the “McLaughlin Group” this past Sunday:

Women have waited decades to see the first woman president and it’s actually something of a tragedy that a talented African-American guy comes along at the same–this isn’t liberal guilt.

It is, of course, the very opposite of tragedy that a woman and a black man are competing fiercely for the presidential nomination. This historic first serves as living proof of the noblest of American principles—equality among citizens. Throughout the primaries the two candidates’ fortunes have shifted and shifted back. One is in the lead, and then the other, and so on. Shouldn’t it be enough for Ms. Clift that when one of them loses it won’t be because of their color or gender? Apparently not. And she’s right: it’s not liberal guilt—it’s base tribalism.

And in a piece entitled “The Feminist Case for Obama,” in yesterday’s Washinton Post, Adele M. Stan describes her own struggle with this:

I have hoped against hope to see a good, liberal woman lead this nation before I die. In the voting booth on primary day, I stared at the ballot for a long time before I marked it for Barack Obama. It was a painful mark to make.

Such sacrifice. Meanwhile, Ms. Stan’s piece was written in response to a piece in Sunday’s Washington Post, by Linda Hirshman, who complains of women voters: “They’re the only voting bloc not voting their bloc.”

It’s no wonder that the Democratic candidates have been steeped in identity. It’s what their constituency responds to. It is, for Democrats, the number one issue. As one pores over the countless arguments for this or that candidate being the “correct” choice for this or that demographic (white working-class women, elite black women, etc.) one begins to think of Clinton’s identity strategy not so much as sleazy but simply on-point.

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From Middle East Journal: In the Slums of Fallujah

FALLUJAH, IRAQ – Captain Steve Eastin threw open the door to the Iraqi Police captain’s office and cancelled a joint American-Iraqi officer’s meeting before it could even begin. “Someone just shot at my Marines,” he said. “We can’t do this right now.”

I following him into the hall.

“What happened?” I said.

“Someone just shot at my guys at the flour mill,” he said. “A bullet struck a wall four feet over a Marine’s head. We have to go in there and extract them.”

“They don’t extract themselves?” I said.

“They’re on foot,” he said, “and we’re going in vehicles. They don’t extract themselves on foot.”

And I was getting comfortable and even bored in post-insurgent Fallujah. Complacency kills, and Fallujah isn’t completely free of insurgents just yet.

“Can I go with the extraction team?” I said.

“They’ve already left in Humvees,” he said.

But he did send a patrol to the flour mill less an hour later, and I went with them.

Read the rest of this entry at MichaelTotten.com »

FALLUJAH, IRAQ – Captain Steve Eastin threw open the door to the Iraqi Police captain’s office and cancelled a joint American-Iraqi officer’s meeting before it could even begin. “Someone just shot at my Marines,” he said. “We can’t do this right now.”

I following him into the hall.

“What happened?” I said.

“Someone just shot at my guys at the flour mill,” he said. “A bullet struck a wall four feet over a Marine’s head. We have to go in there and extract them.”

“They don’t extract themselves?” I said.

“They’re on foot,” he said, “and we’re going in vehicles. They don’t extract themselves on foot.”

And I was getting comfortable and even bored in post-insurgent Fallujah. Complacency kills, and Fallujah isn’t completely free of insurgents just yet.

“Can I go with the extraction team?” I said.

“They’ve already left in Humvees,” he said.

But he did send a patrol to the flour mill less an hour later, and I went with them.

Read the rest of this entry at MichaelTotten.com »

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Inside The Exits

Barack Obama had been defying expectations, showing that he could pull in white and Hispanic voters. That did not happen yesterday. In Texas, whites favored Hillary Clinton 56%-43% and Hispanics favored Clinton by a remarkable 67%-31% margin. In Ohio, a swing state in the general election, Clinton carried the white vote 64-34%.

Why his previously broad appeal shrunk so suddenly (and whether it can be regained) will be the subject of much discussion. Certainly, he can’t expect to win Pennsylvania (or any other non-Southern state) without re-establishing his appeal with White and Hispanic voters. And with numbers like that, you can bet Clinton would be happy to have a do-over election in Florida. (Exit polls from the uncontested race earlier in the year showed that 78% of the Democratic primary electorate was either white or Hispanic.)

Barack Obama had been defying expectations, showing that he could pull in white and Hispanic voters. That did not happen yesterday. In Texas, whites favored Hillary Clinton 56%-43% and Hispanics favored Clinton by a remarkable 67%-31% margin. In Ohio, a swing state in the general election, Clinton carried the white vote 64-34%.

Why his previously broad appeal shrunk so suddenly (and whether it can be regained) will be the subject of much discussion. Certainly, he can’t expect to win Pennsylvania (or any other non-Southern state) without re-establishing his appeal with White and Hispanic voters. And with numbers like that, you can bet Clinton would be happy to have a do-over election in Florida. (Exit polls from the uncontested race earlier in the year showed that 78% of the Democratic primary electorate was either white or Hispanic.)

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Space Race

When China unexpectedly demonstrated its anti-satellite capability in January 2007, shattering a communications satellite with a missile from the ground, quite a few observers in this country worked overtime to explain away its conduct, in effect justifying the Chinese action as a reaction to the U.S. refusal to negotiate a ban on the use of anti-satellite weapons.

This was the view of the editorial page of the New York Times, which cited unnamed “experts” who contended “that China’s latest test is intended to prod the United States to join serious negotiations.” The way to counter China, the Times continued, “is through an arms control treaty, not a new arms race in space.”

Now that the United States has shot down a satellite of its own — in this case not to test an anti-satellite system but to avert the danger of it falling in a populated area with its fuel tank spewing poison gas — many of the same observers are working overtime to paint the United States in the worst possible light. They are describing the shoot-down as a provocation, an unnecessary effort to test an anti-satellite capability under the guise of protecting public safety.

Fortunately, James Oberg has been on the case. He is one of this country’s most knowledgeable experts on space and he has authored an indispensable piece, Five Myths About the Satellite Smash-Up. One such myth is that “Falling satellites aren’t really hazardous, and since they’ve never hurt anybody before, they were unlikely to hurt anybody this time. Hence, there must have been a secret ‘real reason’ for the missile mission.” Oberg convincingly explains why this logic is wrong.

Not that his explanations have stopped the Times editorial page from again leaning on unnamed “experts” who believe that the primary reason for the shoot-down is that the “United States is eager to trump China, which shot down one of its own satellites last year.”

Though the Times notes that American officials deny such speculations, it goes on to say that the “administration would have a lot more credibility if it wasn’t also planning to oppose the latest Russian-Chinese draft treaty to ban weapons in space.”

But the Times would have a lot more credibility if, no matter what aggressive actions are taken by the Chinese, it didn’t sing the same old refrain about the necessity of arms control, while simultaneously pointing a finger of blame at the United States.

When China unexpectedly demonstrated its anti-satellite capability in January 2007, shattering a communications satellite with a missile from the ground, quite a few observers in this country worked overtime to explain away its conduct, in effect justifying the Chinese action as a reaction to the U.S. refusal to negotiate a ban on the use of anti-satellite weapons.

This was the view of the editorial page of the New York Times, which cited unnamed “experts” who contended “that China’s latest test is intended to prod the United States to join serious negotiations.” The way to counter China, the Times continued, “is through an arms control treaty, not a new arms race in space.”

Now that the United States has shot down a satellite of its own — in this case not to test an anti-satellite system but to avert the danger of it falling in a populated area with its fuel tank spewing poison gas — many of the same observers are working overtime to paint the United States in the worst possible light. They are describing the shoot-down as a provocation, an unnecessary effort to test an anti-satellite capability under the guise of protecting public safety.

Fortunately, James Oberg has been on the case. He is one of this country’s most knowledgeable experts on space and he has authored an indispensable piece, Five Myths About the Satellite Smash-Up. One such myth is that “Falling satellites aren’t really hazardous, and since they’ve never hurt anybody before, they were unlikely to hurt anybody this time. Hence, there must have been a secret ‘real reason’ for the missile mission.” Oberg convincingly explains why this logic is wrong.

Not that his explanations have stopped the Times editorial page from again leaning on unnamed “experts” who believe that the primary reason for the shoot-down is that the “United States is eager to trump China, which shot down one of its own satellites last year.”

Though the Times notes that American officials deny such speculations, it goes on to say that the “administration would have a lot more credibility if it wasn’t also planning to oppose the latest Russian-Chinese draft treaty to ban weapons in space.”

But the Times would have a lot more credibility if, no matter what aggressive actions are taken by the Chinese, it didn’t sing the same old refrain about the necessity of arms control, while simultaneously pointing a finger of blame at the United States.

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Identity’s Double-Edged Sword

A primary reason to vote for Barack Obama, we are told, is that he will change the face of America. Literally. Having a man with a culturally and racially diverse background will–on day one–reconnect us to a world allegedly alienated by the policies of George w. Bush. And the fact that Obama’s father was a (non-practicing) Muslim and that Barack lived for years as a child in Indonesia will help us improve, we’re informed, our extremely troubled relations with the Muslim world. But Seth Gitell of The New York Sun attended a panel discussion at Brandeis University on Monday entitled “The Obama Phenomenon,” where he discovered that the subject of Obama’s identity is more problematic than his supporters would like to believe.

Obama’s having a father raised as a Muslim doesn’t mean he is a panacea for America’s troubles with the Islamic world. Far from it. While George W. Bush may be an infidel, he is not the son of an apostate. The latter is worse: an apostate actively turns his back on the faith, as opposed to never having chosen it. Such simple observations that Obama has never identified as a Muslim nor was ever raised as one will not save him, either. As Brandeis professor Ibrahim Sundiata says, “I think that people paint a too rosy picture of Obama being the world, that in the Muslim world, being the son of an ex-Muslim is apostasy and it is a very serious crime.”

A primary reason to vote for Barack Obama, we are told, is that he will change the face of America. Literally. Having a man with a culturally and racially diverse background will–on day one–reconnect us to a world allegedly alienated by the policies of George w. Bush. And the fact that Obama’s father was a (non-practicing) Muslim and that Barack lived for years as a child in Indonesia will help us improve, we’re informed, our extremely troubled relations with the Muslim world. But Seth Gitell of The New York Sun attended a panel discussion at Brandeis University on Monday entitled “The Obama Phenomenon,” where he discovered that the subject of Obama’s identity is more problematic than his supporters would like to believe.

Obama’s having a father raised as a Muslim doesn’t mean he is a panacea for America’s troubles with the Islamic world. Far from it. While George W. Bush may be an infidel, he is not the son of an apostate. The latter is worse: an apostate actively turns his back on the faith, as opposed to never having chosen it. Such simple observations that Obama has never identified as a Muslim nor was ever raised as one will not save him, either. As Brandeis professor Ibrahim Sundiata says, “I think that people paint a too rosy picture of Obama being the world, that in the Muslim world, being the son of an ex-Muslim is apostasy and it is a very serious crime.”

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The Road Ahead

Hillary Clinton faces likely losses in Wyoming on Saturday and Mississippi next week. The former is a function of her team’s utter inability or unwillingness to devote time and money to winning small caucus states. Would it kill them to do some direct mail? Or maybe send the candidate to these places? Apparently it would. (Query whether now wouldn’t be a good time for Clinton to demonstrate her management skills and show a determination to “be herself” by dumping Mark Penn, who seems to delight in telling the media he is not responsible for much of anything.)

Beyond that looms the large prize of Pennsylvania, where Hillary currently leads and also enjoys the support of Governor Ed Rendell. That will be where she makes her final push to shove Barack Obama off his pedestal and demonstrate that only she can win the big races. Between now and then expect her to set out to prove he cannot take a punch–by, of course, throwing a lot of punches at him.

Hillary Clinton faces likely losses in Wyoming on Saturday and Mississippi next week. The former is a function of her team’s utter inability or unwillingness to devote time and money to winning small caucus states. Would it kill them to do some direct mail? Or maybe send the candidate to these places? Apparently it would. (Query whether now wouldn’t be a good time for Clinton to demonstrate her management skills and show a determination to “be herself” by dumping Mark Penn, who seems to delight in telling the media he is not responsible for much of anything.)

Beyond that looms the large prize of Pennsylvania, where Hillary currently leads and also enjoys the support of Governor Ed Rendell. That will be where she makes her final push to shove Barack Obama off his pedestal and demonstrate that only she can win the big races. Between now and then expect her to set out to prove he cannot take a punch–by, of course, throwing a lot of punches at him.

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Not That Close

Those ever-faulty exit polls painted a false picture which drove much of the media coverage last night, suggesting the races were closer than they were. Hillary Clinton won Rhode Island and Ohio by double digits. In Rhode Island she netted 4 delegates and in the latter, she won by a margin of 62 to 46. (She lost a net of three delegates in Vermont.) Given the convoluted Texas caucus we won’t know the final tally in Texas but based on the primary itself, as of this morning she had netted 6 delegates.

But delegates, of course, are not what Clinton will talk about. She will talk about Democrats “just beginning to pay attention” and the “biggest prize” of Pennsylvania yet to come. For the first time in weeks she has the momentum–and if not the affection, at least the respect, of the media. Most importantly, she has a leg up in her effort to show Barack Obama has a glass jaw.

Those ever-faulty exit polls painted a false picture which drove much of the media coverage last night, suggesting the races were closer than they were. Hillary Clinton won Rhode Island and Ohio by double digits. In Rhode Island she netted 4 delegates and in the latter, she won by a margin of 62 to 46. (She lost a net of three delegates in Vermont.) Given the convoluted Texas caucus we won’t know the final tally in Texas but based on the primary itself, as of this morning she had netted 6 delegates.

But delegates, of course, are not what Clinton will talk about. She will talk about Democrats “just beginning to pay attention” and the “biggest prize” of Pennsylvania yet to come. For the first time in weeks she has the momentum–and if not the affection, at least the respect, of the media. Most importantly, she has a leg up in her effort to show Barack Obama has a glass jaw.

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The Spin Battle

The TV pundits are quick to remind us that Barack Obama leads in delegates and that, under the entirely obtuse caucus rules, he could actually get more delegates in Texas than Hillary Clinton. The headlines and the posture of these candidates, I suspect, will tell an entirely different story. She found her opening, which nicely coincides with the argument John McCain is making, about the lack of preparedness of her opponent. Now, she will add in another: he can’t even take a punch from me, how’s he going to go up against John McCain? A final thought: I am thinking there is no way to avoid a do-over of some type in Florida and Michigan at this point. The states could be decisive and Clinton has the momentum now to insist these states be counted in some fashion.

The TV pundits are quick to remind us that Barack Obama leads in delegates and that, under the entirely obtuse caucus rules, he could actually get more delegates in Texas than Hillary Clinton. The headlines and the posture of these candidates, I suspect, will tell an entirely different story. She found her opening, which nicely coincides with the argument John McCain is making, about the lack of preparedness of her opponent. Now, she will add in another: he can’t even take a punch from me, how’s he going to go up against John McCain? A final thought: I am thinking there is no way to avoid a do-over of some type in Florida and Michigan at this point. The states could be decisive and Clinton has the momentum now to insist these states be counted in some fashion.

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Hillary Wins Texas

And so the most interesting, the closest, and what will certainly be the hardest-fought primary race in the past forty years at least will go on. And on. And on. Here’s what’s most impressive: Hillary came back after the worst debate performance I’ve ever seen, in a debate watched by more people than any other in primary history.

And so the most interesting, the closest, and what will certainly be the hardest-fought primary race in the past forty years at least will go on. And on. And on. Here’s what’s most impressive: Hillary came back after the worst debate performance I’ve ever seen, in a debate watched by more people than any other in primary history.

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Oh no!

Chris Matthews is afraid that the Democrats are “getting rough” so an extended campaign might not be such a good idea. Isn’t his show called “Hardball“?

Chris Matthews is afraid that the Democrats are “getting rough” so an extended campaign might not be such a good idea. Isn’t his show called “Hardball“?

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