Commentary Magazine


Posts For: April 13, 2008

The Clintons In Their Element

Although this weekend was largely about Barack Obama’s meta-blunder, it did remind us that the Clintons are no walk in the park either.

First, there was Bill. In the midst of perhaps the most important weekend of his wife’s campaign, when she has the chance to finally turn the tables on her opponent (and bury forever in the news archives his latest mind-blowing set of lies about his wife’s Bosnian escapade), what does Bill Clinton do? Of all the topics he could raise (e.g. cultural elitism, phony protectionism, gun rights, immigration) suggested by Barack Obama’s blunder he chooses to talk about, you know, Bill. A Sunday news report relates the former President’s remarks:

“There’s been a lot of hoopla about who said what and who shot John in the last couple of days. But one of the thing that I thought was kind of overlooked in all this is that one more time, the campaigns opposite Hillary said, ‘well there really wasn’t any difference in the Clinton years and the Bush years. Rural Pennsylvania really didn’t do very well. Do you agree with that?”

With a rich selection of targets that might benefit Hillary, Bill chooses none of the above. Instead he latches onto the slur-in-passing on his reputation. There is no message control with him; it is just all about Bill 24/7, no matter what the circumstances. It’s enough to make you sympathize with her and her hapless campaign. Almost.

Then there is Hillary’s response. On a purely political level her team seems to have finally executed something effectively, flooding the zone with quotes and keeping the issue in the news. But this, it is now obvious, is the only way she can grab the nomination. Her intrinsic appeal is limited, a diminishing resource which evaporated in the gunfire of Bosnia. She cannot win; she can only hope to make Obama lose.

So she is beaming for the first time in months. She can now search and destroy and belittle her rookie opponent. That is what she does best. It is unclear if that is enough.

Although this weekend was largely about Barack Obama’s meta-blunder, it did remind us that the Clintons are no walk in the park either.

First, there was Bill. In the midst of perhaps the most important weekend of his wife’s campaign, when she has the chance to finally turn the tables on her opponent (and bury forever in the news archives his latest mind-blowing set of lies about his wife’s Bosnian escapade), what does Bill Clinton do? Of all the topics he could raise (e.g. cultural elitism, phony protectionism, gun rights, immigration) suggested by Barack Obama’s blunder he chooses to talk about, you know, Bill. A Sunday news report relates the former President’s remarks:

“There’s been a lot of hoopla about who said what and who shot John in the last couple of days. But one of the thing that I thought was kind of overlooked in all this is that one more time, the campaigns opposite Hillary said, ‘well there really wasn’t any difference in the Clinton years and the Bush years. Rural Pennsylvania really didn’t do very well. Do you agree with that?”

With a rich selection of targets that might benefit Hillary, Bill chooses none of the above. Instead he latches onto the slur-in-passing on his reputation. There is no message control with him; it is just all about Bill 24/7, no matter what the circumstances. It’s enough to make you sympathize with her and her hapless campaign. Almost.

Then there is Hillary’s response. On a purely political level her team seems to have finally executed something effectively, flooding the zone with quotes and keeping the issue in the news. But this, it is now obvious, is the only way she can grab the nomination. Her intrinsic appeal is limited, a diminishing resource which evaporated in the gunfire of Bosnia. She cannot win; she can only hope to make Obama lose.

So she is beaming for the first time in months. She can now search and destroy and belittle her rookie opponent. That is what she does best. It is unclear if that is enough.

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It’s All Gone

The radiant charm; the verbal agility; the promise of change; the post-racial unity; the deferential press; and most importantly, the vagueness of character and intent that sustained the whole façade. These were the hallmarks of Barack Obama’s run for the Democratic nomination, and bit-by-bit, associate-by-associate, gaffe-by-gaffe, the junior senator from Illinois has given all of it back. The extraordinary bounty that had made his campaign a nearly unstoppable force of nature is gone.

With last Sunday’s revelation—that he looks at smalltown America and finds armed, hate-filled, irredentist religious zealots—the last piece of the Obama puzzle fell into place. He is not, it turns out, an agent of change; he is a walking checklist of modern liberal inanities. Big government: check. Crippling taxes: check. Arrogance: check. Identity divisiveness: check. Moral superiority: check. Softness on enemies: check. Shakiness on Israel: check. Questionable patriotism: check.

Half a year ago, the formula for a serious journalistic portrait of Barack Obama was as follows: one extra long cosmetic description, one detailed childhood recap, some praise for his efforts as a memoirist, and a closing discussion of a nation poised for change. No one knew enough about the man’s politics to delve further. However, in the course of a few months he has created a resume of mistakes that’s left the content of those early articles looking as relevant as the lines on a printer test. Today’s Obama portrait is of a man embattled, a candidate whose repeatedly faulty judgment demands explanation.

Yet, the math is the math is the math, and as we know the superdelegates are his to lose. While they may now realize they’ve thrown in their lot with the dazzling candidate from a few months ago, turning their backs on the candidate who can’t stop fumbling today could cause a scandal—one perhaps even bigger than the scandals repeatedly served up by Hillary and Obama. However, it’s a scandal the party leadership may decide to weather, because the man who has at last filled out the empty suit has turned out to be very very beatable.

The radiant charm; the verbal agility; the promise of change; the post-racial unity; the deferential press; and most importantly, the vagueness of character and intent that sustained the whole façade. These were the hallmarks of Barack Obama’s run for the Democratic nomination, and bit-by-bit, associate-by-associate, gaffe-by-gaffe, the junior senator from Illinois has given all of it back. The extraordinary bounty that had made his campaign a nearly unstoppable force of nature is gone.

With last Sunday’s revelation—that he looks at smalltown America and finds armed, hate-filled, irredentist religious zealots—the last piece of the Obama puzzle fell into place. He is not, it turns out, an agent of change; he is a walking checklist of modern liberal inanities. Big government: check. Crippling taxes: check. Arrogance: check. Identity divisiveness: check. Moral superiority: check. Softness on enemies: check. Shakiness on Israel: check. Questionable patriotism: check.

Half a year ago, the formula for a serious journalistic portrait of Barack Obama was as follows: one extra long cosmetic description, one detailed childhood recap, some praise for his efforts as a memoirist, and a closing discussion of a nation poised for change. No one knew enough about the man’s politics to delve further. However, in the course of a few months he has created a resume of mistakes that’s left the content of those early articles looking as relevant as the lines on a printer test. Today’s Obama portrait is of a man embattled, a candidate whose repeatedly faulty judgment demands explanation.

Yet, the math is the math is the math, and as we know the superdelegates are his to lose. While they may now realize they’ve thrown in their lot with the dazzling candidate from a few months ago, turning their backs on the candidate who can’t stop fumbling today could cause a scandal—one perhaps even bigger than the scandals repeatedly served up by Hillary and Obama. However, it’s a scandal the party leadership may decide to weather, because the man who has at last filled out the empty suit has turned out to be very very beatable.

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“People Wants to Be Like Gaydamak”

Certainly the most colorful figure on Israel’s political landscape is Arkady Gaydamak, the Russian billionaire, owner of the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team, who made headlines during the Lebanon war when, using his own funds, he built a tent city for residents the beleaguered north, and then later repeated it for residents of barraged Sderot.

Today he made headlines again by donating $8 million to renovate the homes of Holocaust survivors. Though he has joined no political party, and speaks little Hebrew, he has set up his own movement called “Social Justice,” and the country is rife with speculation about when, how, and with whom he will enter the political ring. In the meantime, he’s made a mint in political capital by showing that one rich man can do a lot where bureaucracy fails. This, combined with his con
stant search for creative ways to stay in the limelight, will carry him well with Israel’s attention-deficit electorate.

This year, Gaydamak starred in a TV commercial advertising cell phones, where he danced and sang (sorry, no subtitles, but you get the point anyway). When asked by Israel television why a potential political leader would reduce himself thus, he responded in his uncertain English, “It’s about identification. People wants to see Gaydamak. People wants to be like Gaydamak.”

Certainly the most colorful figure on Israel’s political landscape is Arkady Gaydamak, the Russian billionaire, owner of the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team, who made headlines during the Lebanon war when, using his own funds, he built a tent city for residents the beleaguered north, and then later repeated it for residents of barraged Sderot.

Today he made headlines again by donating $8 million to renovate the homes of Holocaust survivors. Though he has joined no political party, and speaks little Hebrew, he has set up his own movement called “Social Justice,” and the country is rife with speculation about when, how, and with whom he will enter the political ring. In the meantime, he’s made a mint in political capital by showing that one rich man can do a lot where bureaucracy fails. This, combined with his con
stant search for creative ways to stay in the limelight, will carry him well with Israel’s attention-deficit electorate.

This year, Gaydamak starred in a TV commercial advertising cell phones, where he danced and sang (sorry, no subtitles, but you get the point anyway). When asked by Israel television why a potential political leader would reduce himself thus, he responded in his uncertain English, “It’s about identification. People wants to see Gaydamak. People wants to be like Gaydamak.”

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The Ultimate Test of American Leadership

Today, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said his country would announce a new diplomatic initiative soon. “The Islamic Republic of Iran is trying to come up with a proposed package in an effort to resolve regional and international problems in dialogue with opposing parties,” he stated. Mottaki implied that the “new orientation” would relate to Tehran’s nuclear program. The foreign minister’s words followed Saturday’s announcement that Gholamreza Aghazadeh, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, will meet with the IAEA’s Mohamed ElBaradei tomorrow in Vienna.

The two announcements come within days of Wednesday’s gathering in Shanghai of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, the P5 + 1. The group is expected to discuss sweetening incentives for Iran to drop its enrichment of uranium.

Are there any coincidences when it comes to the Iranian nuclear program? Yes, but this series of events is not one of them. Tehran knows it can buy itself at least another year by holding out hope at this time that there can be a peaceful resolution to the impasse. Therefore, the announcements of yesterday and today are, like all of its past offers, insincere.

This is not to say that Iranians cannot be talked out of their enrichment program. They can—but only when they know they have been defeated. At this moment, however, the mullahs appear to believe they are the ones who are prevailing. So, contrary to what the New York Times has just suggested, it is pointless to begin a new round of negotiations. On Friday, the paper stated that “Washington needs to make Iran a serious offer to talk about everything, including security assurances and diplomatic and economic relations if it is willing to give up its fuel program and cooperate fully with inspectors.”

What Washington really needs to do is make sure that Iran’s new diplomatic offensive does not succeed and that the P5+1 pushes through a tougher round of sanctions soon. President Bush has staked so much on cooperation with Beijing and Moscow in the past few years. Yet if the Chinese and Russians cannot cooperate on such a basic matter as Iran’s nuclear program when it is on the verge of creating a weapon, then it is pointless to maintain dialogue with them because nothing much else will matter.

It is, of course, unlikely that these two nations will reverse course at this time. So we are at one of those moments when conventional diplomacy is failing. When that happens—when what is necessary is no longer considered practical—the world often experiences uncertainty, turbulence, and death in great numbers.

If the Bush administration cannot change the course of events one more time, then we could travel from the best moment in history to the worst. This is, up to now, the ultimate test of American leadership.

Today, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said his country would announce a new diplomatic initiative soon. “The Islamic Republic of Iran is trying to come up with a proposed package in an effort to resolve regional and international problems in dialogue with opposing parties,” he stated. Mottaki implied that the “new orientation” would relate to Tehran’s nuclear program. The foreign minister’s words followed Saturday’s announcement that Gholamreza Aghazadeh, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, will meet with the IAEA’s Mohamed ElBaradei tomorrow in Vienna.

The two announcements come within days of Wednesday’s gathering in Shanghai of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, the P5 + 1. The group is expected to discuss sweetening incentives for Iran to drop its enrichment of uranium.

Are there any coincidences when it comes to the Iranian nuclear program? Yes, but this series of events is not one of them. Tehran knows it can buy itself at least another year by holding out hope at this time that there can be a peaceful resolution to the impasse. Therefore, the announcements of yesterday and today are, like all of its past offers, insincere.

This is not to say that Iranians cannot be talked out of their enrichment program. They can—but only when they know they have been defeated. At this moment, however, the mullahs appear to believe they are the ones who are prevailing. So, contrary to what the New York Times has just suggested, it is pointless to begin a new round of negotiations. On Friday, the paper stated that “Washington needs to make Iran a serious offer to talk about everything, including security assurances and diplomatic and economic relations if it is willing to give up its fuel program and cooperate fully with inspectors.”

What Washington really needs to do is make sure that Iran’s new diplomatic offensive does not succeed and that the P5+1 pushes through a tougher round of sanctions soon. President Bush has staked so much on cooperation with Beijing and Moscow in the past few years. Yet if the Chinese and Russians cannot cooperate on such a basic matter as Iran’s nuclear program when it is on the verge of creating a weapon, then it is pointless to maintain dialogue with them because nothing much else will matter.

It is, of course, unlikely that these two nations will reverse course at this time. So we are at one of those moments when conventional diplomacy is failing. When that happens—when what is necessary is no longer considered practical—the world often experiences uncertainty, turbulence, and death in great numbers.

If the Bush administration cannot change the course of events one more time, then we could travel from the best moment in history to the worst. This is, up to now, the ultimate test of American leadership.

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Ma Clinton

Who would have thought that the Wellesley grad, Yale Law School-trained Hillary Clinton would be a whiskey-chugging, pizza-chomping, duck-hunting, gun-lovin’ gal? What’s more, she doesn’t much like elites who “psychoanalyze or patronize” the good people of Pennsylvania. (No, she has not done a mind-meld with Laura Ingraham.)

Now conservatives might guffaw over her new-found appreciation for the Second Amendment, but there is something inarguably more down-to-earth ( and if not “normal” than at least “ordinary”) about Hillary Clinton than Obama. It has nothing to do with race or class (liberal bloggers want to remind us he was on scholarship to that tony Hawaii prep school) and everything to do with their life experiences. Clinton is a product of middle class, Midwestern parents and has spent a chunk of her adult life in Arkansas. She may not trust Americans to read a home loan document, but she knows them well enough to never let slip from her lips words of cultural condescension.

Obama seems to regard these Americans from afar as a case study in one of the sociology department’s offerings (“Fundamentalism in America 101″) at Harvard. One is left wondering if he knows any of the people he diagnoses.

So while some believe that only those mean Republicans could really go after Obama on his “radioactive personal associations, his liberal ideology, his exotic life story, his coolly academic and elitist style,” Clinton is coming awfully close to sounding those very same themes ( minus the “too liberal” part).

And if Obama was supposed to be the more attractive of the two candidates in the eyes of superdelegates from Red states, in part because he could broaden the party’s appeal beyond Blue enclaves, the RNC is doing its best to turn up the heat on those down-ticket Democrats. We will see if they are still so thrilled with the notion of Obama at the top of the ballot.

Who would have thought that the Wellesley grad, Yale Law School-trained Hillary Clinton would be a whiskey-chugging, pizza-chomping, duck-hunting, gun-lovin’ gal? What’s more, she doesn’t much like elites who “psychoanalyze or patronize” the good people of Pennsylvania. (No, she has not done a mind-meld with Laura Ingraham.)

Now conservatives might guffaw over her new-found appreciation for the Second Amendment, but there is something inarguably more down-to-earth ( and if not “normal” than at least “ordinary”) about Hillary Clinton than Obama. It has nothing to do with race or class (liberal bloggers want to remind us he was on scholarship to that tony Hawaii prep school) and everything to do with their life experiences. Clinton is a product of middle class, Midwestern parents and has spent a chunk of her adult life in Arkansas. She may not trust Americans to read a home loan document, but she knows them well enough to never let slip from her lips words of cultural condescension.

Obama seems to regard these Americans from afar as a case study in one of the sociology department’s offerings (“Fundamentalism in America 101″) at Harvard. One is left wondering if he knows any of the people he diagnoses.

So while some believe that only those mean Republicans could really go after Obama on his “radioactive personal associations, his liberal ideology, his exotic life story, his coolly academic and elitist style,” Clinton is coming awfully close to sounding those very same themes ( minus the “too liberal” part).

And if Obama was supposed to be the more attractive of the two candidates in the eyes of superdelegates from Red states, in part because he could broaden the party’s appeal beyond Blue enclaves, the RNC is doing its best to turn up the heat on those down-ticket Democrats. We will see if they are still so thrilled with the notion of Obama at the top of the ballot.

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The Other Holocaust Doctrine

Gordon and Noah have been duking it out below about Charles Krauthammer’s bold call for a presidential “Holocaust statement,” in which the President would declare that any nuclear attack on Israel would be seen as an attack on the US, and that there would be no “second Holocaust.”

Today’s New York Times carries an op-ed by Zev Chafets, a former advisor to Prime Minister Menachem Begin. It’s really worth reading. Chafets accepts Krauthammer’s opening premise, that Bush has reneged on his commitment to preventing Iran from going nuclear. Yet he sees Krauthammer’s conclusion–that we should move all our thoughts towards how to deter an already-nuclear Iran–as premature.

Chafets lays into Bush’s non-response to Iran’s claim of having put online another 6,000 centrifuges, calling it “the abashed silence of an American president whose bluff has been called in front of the entire world.” But his real point is that the ball is now in Israel’s court. He writes:

I’m not questioning American friendship. But even friendship has practical limits. Presidents change and policies change. George W. Bush, the greatest friend Israel has had in the White House, hasn’t been able to keep a… commitment to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. It is a good thing that Israel didn’t build its deterrence on that commitment.

What’s more, it is fair to say that Israel is not a weak country. It has developed a powerful set of strategic options. In the best case, it would be able to act on its own to degrade and retard the Iranian nuclear program as it did in Iraq (and, more recently, Syria). In a worse case, if the Iranians do get the bomb, Iranian leaders might be deterred by rational considerations. If so, Israel’s own arsenal — and its manifest willingness to respond to a nuclear attack — ought to suffice.

If, on the other hand, the Iranian leadership simply can’t resist the itch to “wipe Israel off the map” — or to make such a thing appear imminent — then it would be up to Israel to make its own calculations. What is the price of 100,000 dead in Tel Aviv? Or twice that? The cost to Iran would certainly be ghastly. It would be wrong for Israel to expect other nations to shoulder this moral and geopolitical responsibility.

Chafets cites Begin’s example: In 1981 the Prime Minister ordered the bombing of the Osirak nuclear facility in Iraq, an act universally denounced at the time, but with hindsight proved to be crucial in preventing a nuclear Saddam. In Begin’s view, the true lesson of the Holocaust was that Jews should never be dependent on others, even good friends, for their fundamental security. Now, Israel faces a possibly much graver threat, and again will have to bear the burden all on its own. As Chafets puts it, “Sovereignty comes with a price. Israel’s willingness to pay it is the only Holocaust doctrine that it can really rely on.”

Gordon and Noah have been duking it out below about Charles Krauthammer’s bold call for a presidential “Holocaust statement,” in which the President would declare that any nuclear attack on Israel would be seen as an attack on the US, and that there would be no “second Holocaust.”

Today’s New York Times carries an op-ed by Zev Chafets, a former advisor to Prime Minister Menachem Begin. It’s really worth reading. Chafets accepts Krauthammer’s opening premise, that Bush has reneged on his commitment to preventing Iran from going nuclear. Yet he sees Krauthammer’s conclusion–that we should move all our thoughts towards how to deter an already-nuclear Iran–as premature.

Chafets lays into Bush’s non-response to Iran’s claim of having put online another 6,000 centrifuges, calling it “the abashed silence of an American president whose bluff has been called in front of the entire world.” But his real point is that the ball is now in Israel’s court. He writes:

I’m not questioning American friendship. But even friendship has practical limits. Presidents change and policies change. George W. Bush, the greatest friend Israel has had in the White House, hasn’t been able to keep a… commitment to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. It is a good thing that Israel didn’t build its deterrence on that commitment.

What’s more, it is fair to say that Israel is not a weak country. It has developed a powerful set of strategic options. In the best case, it would be able to act on its own to degrade and retard the Iranian nuclear program as it did in Iraq (and, more recently, Syria). In a worse case, if the Iranians do get the bomb, Iranian leaders might be deterred by rational considerations. If so, Israel’s own arsenal — and its manifest willingness to respond to a nuclear attack — ought to suffice.

If, on the other hand, the Iranian leadership simply can’t resist the itch to “wipe Israel off the map” — or to make such a thing appear imminent — then it would be up to Israel to make its own calculations. What is the price of 100,000 dead in Tel Aviv? Or twice that? The cost to Iran would certainly be ghastly. It would be wrong for Israel to expect other nations to shoulder this moral and geopolitical responsibility.

Chafets cites Begin’s example: In 1981 the Prime Minister ordered the bombing of the Osirak nuclear facility in Iraq, an act universally denounced at the time, but with hindsight proved to be crucial in preventing a nuclear Saddam. In Begin’s view, the true lesson of the Holocaust was that Jews should never be dependent on others, even good friends, for their fundamental security. Now, Israel faces a possibly much graver threat, and again will have to bear the burden all on its own. As Chafets puts it, “Sovereignty comes with a price. Israel’s willingness to pay it is the only Holocaust doctrine that it can really rely on.”

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I Knew Ronald Reagan (A Very Little Bit), and Mr. Obama, You’re No Ronald Reagan

Jennifer, we obviously don’t know yet what the fallout from the “yahoos cling to their guns and religion and protectionism and bigotry” remark will be. But the fact Obama made it at all points to the danger for any American candidate who comes to believe he is the leader of a movement. Leaders of movements diagnose social ills. Candidacies for public office are extended job interviews, and Rule Number One of a job interview is Don’t Offend the Boss.

I wrote speeches for Ronald Reagan in the last year of his presidency, and what I discovered, reading through the archives of his addresses, was that he was never hortatory. He never told his audience what they “must” do; he did not even say what “we must do.” It was not his place to do so; he worked for the American people, he was not their boss. He did talk about what politicians must do or should do to fulfill their compact with the people who elected them, but he did not place himself in a position superior to his employers. It was his view, rhetorically, that the American people were the repository of wisdom and he was just trying to discern what they believed and act according to it.

Obama is often likened to Reagan, but the Obama movement promises something very different. In Michelle Obama’s words:

“Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism, that you put down your division, that you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones, that you push yourselves to be better, and that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual – uninvolved, uninformed.”

A campaign that believes its role is to “require you to work,” and is partially based on the demand “that you push yourselves to be better,” really does have it backwards. It’s the president who is “required to work,” who needs to “push himself to be better.” His role is not to analyze and address the shortcomings of the voter and the voter’s spiritual, political and ideological weaknesses, which is what Obama’s remark the other day portends. His role is to represent the voter. This is a crucial distinction, and if Obama is unable to make it, he will not become the president.

Jennifer, we obviously don’t know yet what the fallout from the “yahoos cling to their guns and religion and protectionism and bigotry” remark will be. But the fact Obama made it at all points to the danger for any American candidate who comes to believe he is the leader of a movement. Leaders of movements diagnose social ills. Candidacies for public office are extended job interviews, and Rule Number One of a job interview is Don’t Offend the Boss.

I wrote speeches for Ronald Reagan in the last year of his presidency, and what I discovered, reading through the archives of his addresses, was that he was never hortatory. He never told his audience what they “must” do; he did not even say what “we must do.” It was not his place to do so; he worked for the American people, he was not their boss. He did talk about what politicians must do or should do to fulfill their compact with the people who elected them, but he did not place himself in a position superior to his employers. It was his view, rhetorically, that the American people were the repository of wisdom and he was just trying to discern what they believed and act according to it.

Obama is often likened to Reagan, but the Obama movement promises something very different. In Michelle Obama’s words:

“Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism, that you put down your division, that you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones, that you push yourselves to be better, and that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual – uninvolved, uninformed.”

A campaign that believes its role is to “require you to work,” and is partially based on the demand “that you push yourselves to be better,” really does have it backwards. It’s the president who is “required to work,” who needs to “push himself to be better.” His role is not to analyze and address the shortcomings of the voter and the voter’s spiritual, political and ideological weaknesses, which is what Obama’s remark the other day portends. His role is to represent the voter. This is a crucial distinction, and if Obama is unable to make it, he will not become the president.

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But Aren’t They Narrow-Minded Bigots?

Barack Obama tries the “I’m sorry if you were offended, but I was really right” approach. Does he not understand what he said? (Even the New York Times could figure it out, quoting a former John Edwards’ advisor: “It could mean he’s rendered himself unelectable. This is a perfect example of why Democrats lose elections.”) Apparently Obama does not, and this is starting to sound familiar.

The Washington Post reports this about Barack Obama’s team:

They described Obama as frustrated with himself for word choices such as “cling” and references to hot-button issues including religion and guns, but also stunned at the uproar over what to him seemed a fundamental fact of American life.

Well there you have it: he’s shocked, shocked to hear that people might be upset about his theory that they are bitter and psychologically dependent on guns, religion, anti-immigrant sentiment and protectionism. (Again, his own devotion to the latter is based on what exactly?) The problem was the word “cling.” Had he used “grasp” or “find irrational refuge in” instead of “cling” the fall out would have been mild.

Well, it is hard to deny that this goes to the issue of his utter cluelessness about average Americans. Why don’t they get the brilliance of Rev. Wright and how would anyone mind that he sat in Wright’s pews for so long? Ah, they are judgmental and ignorant of their country’s own racial divisions. Why is everyone in a tizzy about his sage analysis of rural America when any Harvard Ph.D would echo it virtually verbatim? Ah, once again folks are just ignorant and defensive.

Give the man his due. I think most observers would acknowledge that Obama is entirely capable of assuming the presidency of any Ivy League institution. He understands its values and ethos and speaks its language. The notion of a “dignity promotion” for despotic régimes seems entirely credible in these places. He and the academic Left have got more dimensions of compatibilty than an eHarmony convention.

But what about the presidency of the rest of the country? He still doesn’t understand what’s the matter with the darn fools. (He has managed to make Hillary Clinton seem by comparison like salt of the earth and the best friend of Middle America.) He may have even lost the mainstream media. ( Ouch, ouch, ouch and ouch.) Obama seems ever to be talking past, or over the heads of, the masses. In short, he just may be too erudite and sophisticated for the likes of us.

Barack Obama tries the “I’m sorry if you were offended, but I was really right” approach. Does he not understand what he said? (Even the New York Times could figure it out, quoting a former John Edwards’ advisor: “It could mean he’s rendered himself unelectable. This is a perfect example of why Democrats lose elections.”) Apparently Obama does not, and this is starting to sound familiar.

The Washington Post reports this about Barack Obama’s team:

They described Obama as frustrated with himself for word choices such as “cling” and references to hot-button issues including religion and guns, but also stunned at the uproar over what to him seemed a fundamental fact of American life.

Well there you have it: he’s shocked, shocked to hear that people might be upset about his theory that they are bitter and psychologically dependent on guns, religion, anti-immigrant sentiment and protectionism. (Again, his own devotion to the latter is based on what exactly?) The problem was the word “cling.” Had he used “grasp” or “find irrational refuge in” instead of “cling” the fall out would have been mild.

Well, it is hard to deny that this goes to the issue of his utter cluelessness about average Americans. Why don’t they get the brilliance of Rev. Wright and how would anyone mind that he sat in Wright’s pews for so long? Ah, they are judgmental and ignorant of their country’s own racial divisions. Why is everyone in a tizzy about his sage analysis of rural America when any Harvard Ph.D would echo it virtually verbatim? Ah, once again folks are just ignorant and defensive.

Give the man his due. I think most observers would acknowledge that Obama is entirely capable of assuming the presidency of any Ivy League institution. He understands its values and ethos and speaks its language. The notion of a “dignity promotion” for despotic régimes seems entirely credible in these places. He and the academic Left have got more dimensions of compatibilty than an eHarmony convention.

But what about the presidency of the rest of the country? He still doesn’t understand what’s the matter with the darn fools. (He has managed to make Hillary Clinton seem by comparison like salt of the earth and the best friend of Middle America.) He may have even lost the mainstream media. ( Ouch, ouch, ouch and ouch.) Obama seems ever to be talking past, or over the heads of, the masses. In short, he just may be too erudite and sophisticated for the likes of us.

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