Commentary Magazine


Posts For: May 14, 2008

How Quickly They Forget

NARAL gave up on Hillary Clinton today and endorsed Barack Obama. It was only a year ago that pro-choice groups were targeting Obama for voting “present” on partial-birth abortion measures as a state senator. In fact, in the New Hampshire primary, Clinton used the abortion issue effectively, sending out mailers on these “present” votes.

How will this play out in the general election contest? If Obama were truly a moderate on abortion  favoring legal abortion, but approving waiting periods or parental consent measures) it might help him make some headway with moderate voters or even some socially conservative voters. But aside from his reticence to go on the record as a state senator, he’s been an absolutist on abortion, sharply criticizing the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the federal partial birth abortion ban. That will likely be more of a hindrance than a help with those Reagan Democrats.

And those “present” votes? I suspect the tactic of avoiding tough votes may not be a plus for Obama.

NARAL gave up on Hillary Clinton today and endorsed Barack Obama. It was only a year ago that pro-choice groups were targeting Obama for voting “present” on partial-birth abortion measures as a state senator. In fact, in the New Hampshire primary, Clinton used the abortion issue effectively, sending out mailers on these “present” votes.

How will this play out in the general election contest? If Obama were truly a moderate on abortion  favoring legal abortion, but approving waiting periods or parental consent measures) it might help him make some headway with moderate voters or even some socially conservative voters. But aside from his reticence to go on the record as a state senator, he’s been an absolutist on abortion, sharply criticizing the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the federal partial birth abortion ban. That will likely be more of a hindrance than a help with those Reagan Democrats.

And those “present” votes? I suspect the tactic of avoiding tough votes may not be a plus for Obama.

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Take It Back, Boehner

In a press release on May 12, House Republican Leader John Boehner said this:

Israel is a critical American ally and a beacon of democracy in the Middle East, not a ‘constant sore’ as Barack Obama claims. Obama’s latest remark, and his commitment to ‘opening a dialogue’ with sponsors of terrorism, echoes past statements by Jimmy Carter who once called Israel an ‘apartheid state.’ It’s another sign that Obama is part of the broken Washington Americans are rejecting.

In fact, Obama claimed no such thing, as a check of his interview with Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic demonstrates. Here’s the relevant passage:

JG: What do you make of Jimmy Carter’s suggestion that Israel resembles an apartheid state?
BO: I strongly reject the characterization. Israel is a vibrant democracy, the only one in the Middle East, and there’s no doubt that Israel and the Palestinians have tough issues to work out to get to the goal of two states living side by side in peace and security, but injecting a term like apartheid into the discussion doesn’t advance that goal. It’s emotionally loaded, historically inaccurate, and it’s not what I believe.
JG: If you become President, will you denounce settlements publicly?
BO: What I will say is what I’ve said previously. Settlements at this juncture are not helpful. Look, my interest is in solving this problem not only for Israel but for the United States.
JG: Do you think that Israel is a drag on America’s reputation overseas?
BO: No, no, no. But what I think is that this constant wound, that this constant sore, does infect all of our foreign policy. The lack of a resolution to this problem provides an excuse for anti-American militant jihadists to engage in inexcusable actions, and so we have a national-security interest in solving this, and I also believe that Israel has a security interest in solving this because I believe that the status quo is unsustainable.

In the full interview, Obama went out of his way to praise Israel several different times, in several different ways, and often eloquently. In fact, he answers “no, no, no” when asked if Israel is a “drag on America’s reputation overseas.” What Obama seems to be referring to as a “constant wound” and “constant sore” which “infect[s] all of our foreign policy” is, as best as I can tell, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (or, perhaps, Israel’s settlement policies more narrowly).

It’s perfectly acceptable if people want to criticize Obama for his comments. One could, for example, dispute Obama’s assertion that the Israeli-Palestinian issue “infect[s] all of our foreign policy.” There is a widespread view among many foreign policy elites that all the problems of the Middle East can be traced to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I believe that proposition is false and belied by history (see the Iran-Iraq war, Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, and Syria’s subjugation of Lebanon for starters).

In addition, jihadists don’t need the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as an excuse to kill Americans. Osama bin Laden’s fatwas, issued in the late 1990’s, were at least as concerned with our presence in Mecca and Medina and our policies toward Iraq as our policies toward Israel. Jihadists will certainly use our support for Israel as an excuse to attack us, but our mere existence will also do. That said, there are more than enough legitimate grounds on which to criticize Obama. It’s not necessary, and it’s wrong and dishonest, to tether him to claims he simply did not make. John Boehner should correct the record.

In a press release on May 12, House Republican Leader John Boehner said this:

Israel is a critical American ally and a beacon of democracy in the Middle East, not a ‘constant sore’ as Barack Obama claims. Obama’s latest remark, and his commitment to ‘opening a dialogue’ with sponsors of terrorism, echoes past statements by Jimmy Carter who once called Israel an ‘apartheid state.’ It’s another sign that Obama is part of the broken Washington Americans are rejecting.

In fact, Obama claimed no such thing, as a check of his interview with Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic demonstrates. Here’s the relevant passage:

JG: What do you make of Jimmy Carter’s suggestion that Israel resembles an apartheid state?
BO: I strongly reject the characterization. Israel is a vibrant democracy, the only one in the Middle East, and there’s no doubt that Israel and the Palestinians have tough issues to work out to get to the goal of two states living side by side in peace and security, but injecting a term like apartheid into the discussion doesn’t advance that goal. It’s emotionally loaded, historically inaccurate, and it’s not what I believe.
JG: If you become President, will you denounce settlements publicly?
BO: What I will say is what I’ve said previously. Settlements at this juncture are not helpful. Look, my interest is in solving this problem not only for Israel but for the United States.
JG: Do you think that Israel is a drag on America’s reputation overseas?
BO: No, no, no. But what I think is that this constant wound, that this constant sore, does infect all of our foreign policy. The lack of a resolution to this problem provides an excuse for anti-American militant jihadists to engage in inexcusable actions, and so we have a national-security interest in solving this, and I also believe that Israel has a security interest in solving this because I believe that the status quo is unsustainable.

In the full interview, Obama went out of his way to praise Israel several different times, in several different ways, and often eloquently. In fact, he answers “no, no, no” when asked if Israel is a “drag on America’s reputation overseas.” What Obama seems to be referring to as a “constant wound” and “constant sore” which “infect[s] all of our foreign policy” is, as best as I can tell, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (or, perhaps, Israel’s settlement policies more narrowly).

It’s perfectly acceptable if people want to criticize Obama for his comments. One could, for example, dispute Obama’s assertion that the Israeli-Palestinian issue “infect[s] all of our foreign policy.” There is a widespread view among many foreign policy elites that all the problems of the Middle East can be traced to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I believe that proposition is false and belied by history (see the Iran-Iraq war, Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, and Syria’s subjugation of Lebanon for starters).

In addition, jihadists don’t need the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as an excuse to kill Americans. Osama bin Laden’s fatwas, issued in the late 1990’s, were at least as concerned with our presence in Mecca and Medina and our policies toward Iraq as our policies toward Israel. Jihadists will certainly use our support for Israel as an excuse to attack us, but our mere existence will also do. That said, there are more than enough legitimate grounds on which to criticize Obama. It’s not necessary, and it’s wrong and dishonest, to tether him to claims he simply did not make. John Boehner should correct the record.

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Don’t Worry Your Pretty Little Head About a Thing

Tip for Barack Obama: don’t call women “sweetie.” Not ever. And especially not when you have to win more than 22% of women voters and overcome a lot of hard feelings among Hillary Clinton’s most ardent female supporters. Geez. You’d think the post-racial, post-partisan Agent of Change would be post-chauvinist, too.

Tip for Barack Obama: don’t call women “sweetie.” Not ever. And especially not when you have to win more than 22% of women voters and overcome a lot of hard feelings among Hillary Clinton’s most ardent female supporters. Geez. You’d think the post-racial, post-partisan Agent of Change would be post-chauvinist, too.

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About That 10 Percent . . .

Cinque Henderson has a piece at the New Republic that’s well worth a read. Henderson explains why, as a black American, he doesn’t support Barack Obama for President:

I disliked Obama almost instantly. I never believed the central premises of his autobiography or his campaign. He is fueled by precisely the same brand of personal ambition as Bill Clinton. But, where Clinton is damned as “Slick Willie,” Obama is hailed as a post-racial Messiah.

But Henderson’s (somewhat confused) argument runs deeper than this reactive distaste. His case against Obama amounts to an indictment of white America for its cluelessness and black America for its protective impulses:

We have arrived at the crux of the matter. So much of the educated white people’s love for Barack depends on educated white people’s complete ignorance of and distance from the rest of us. Barack is the black person they want the rest of us to be–half-white and loving, or “racially transcendent,” as the press loves to call him.

I suspect this is just right. Indeed such adoration for Barack Obama is based not only on fantastic assumptions about blacks, but on larger delusions about America and the world beyond. Blacks are not that black, whites are not that white: it’s the economic and political machinery of America that continues to create this polarity. Once Obama’s elected, that machinery will be broken. But the truth is that differences in skin color are rendered meaningless by a commitment to the guiding principles of our nation–not by the political rise of a single ethnically-mixed candidate.

Here’s Henderson on Obama’s black supporters:

It’s worth remembering that the majority of blacks still think O.J. Simpson is innocent. And, in times like these, when a black man is out front in the public eye, black people feel both proud and vulnerable and, as a result, scour the earth for evidence of racists plotting to bring him down, like an advance team ready to sound an alarm. Barack needed only a gesture, a quick sneer or nod in the direction of the Clintons’ hidden racism to avail himself of the twisted love that rescued O.J. and others like him and to smooth his path to victory, and, therefore, to salvage his candidacy. . . [H]e gave speeches across South Carolina that warned against being “hoodwinked” and “bamboozled” by the Clintons. His use of the phrase is resonant. It comes from a scene in Malcolm X, where Denzel Washington warns black people about the hidden evils of “the White Man” masquerading as a smiling politician: “Every election year, these politicians are sent up here to pacify us,” he says. “You’ve been hoodwinked. Bamboozled.”

[…]

As soon as I heard that Obama had quoted from Malcolm X like this, I knew that Obama would win South Carolina by a massive margin.

That minorities look out for their own isn’t news. And Henderson really trips himself up is in trying to maintain that most American blacks are both tribally motivated to fall for Obama’s use of Malcom X code words and nothing like the fringy anti-Americans of Jeremiah Wright’s church. Henderson writes:

As the son of a Baptist minister, I can attest that Wright is and was an extreme aberration from how the overwhelming majority of black Christians worship. In church, black people hear about Peter, Paul, Mary, and how to get into heaven. How to forgive. How to love. Not how to vote.

I have no reason to doubt that, but his Malcolm X argument seems overstated. Blacks don’t need cues from Spike Lee movies to feel protective of someone from their community.

Still and all, this is one of the most interesting discussions of race in America to come out of Barack Obama’s much-praised speech. But somehow I don’t think it’s quite what the Senator had in mind.

Cinque Henderson has a piece at the New Republic that’s well worth a read. Henderson explains why, as a black American, he doesn’t support Barack Obama for President:

I disliked Obama almost instantly. I never believed the central premises of his autobiography or his campaign. He is fueled by precisely the same brand of personal ambition as Bill Clinton. But, where Clinton is damned as “Slick Willie,” Obama is hailed as a post-racial Messiah.

But Henderson’s (somewhat confused) argument runs deeper than this reactive distaste. His case against Obama amounts to an indictment of white America for its cluelessness and black America for its protective impulses:

We have arrived at the crux of the matter. So much of the educated white people’s love for Barack depends on educated white people’s complete ignorance of and distance from the rest of us. Barack is the black person they want the rest of us to be–half-white and loving, or “racially transcendent,” as the press loves to call him.

I suspect this is just right. Indeed such adoration for Barack Obama is based not only on fantastic assumptions about blacks, but on larger delusions about America and the world beyond. Blacks are not that black, whites are not that white: it’s the economic and political machinery of America that continues to create this polarity. Once Obama’s elected, that machinery will be broken. But the truth is that differences in skin color are rendered meaningless by a commitment to the guiding principles of our nation–not by the political rise of a single ethnically-mixed candidate.

Here’s Henderson on Obama’s black supporters:

It’s worth remembering that the majority of blacks still think O.J. Simpson is innocent. And, in times like these, when a black man is out front in the public eye, black people feel both proud and vulnerable and, as a result, scour the earth for evidence of racists plotting to bring him down, like an advance team ready to sound an alarm. Barack needed only a gesture, a quick sneer or nod in the direction of the Clintons’ hidden racism to avail himself of the twisted love that rescued O.J. and others like him and to smooth his path to victory, and, therefore, to salvage his candidacy. . . [H]e gave speeches across South Carolina that warned against being “hoodwinked” and “bamboozled” by the Clintons. His use of the phrase is resonant. It comes from a scene in Malcolm X, where Denzel Washington warns black people about the hidden evils of “the White Man” masquerading as a smiling politician: “Every election year, these politicians are sent up here to pacify us,” he says. “You’ve been hoodwinked. Bamboozled.”

[…]

As soon as I heard that Obama had quoted from Malcolm X like this, I knew that Obama would win South Carolina by a massive margin.

That minorities look out for their own isn’t news. And Henderson really trips himself up is in trying to maintain that most American blacks are both tribally motivated to fall for Obama’s use of Malcom X code words and nothing like the fringy anti-Americans of Jeremiah Wright’s church. Henderson writes:

As the son of a Baptist minister, I can attest that Wright is and was an extreme aberration from how the overwhelming majority of black Christians worship. In church, black people hear about Peter, Paul, Mary, and how to get into heaven. How to forgive. How to love. Not how to vote.

I have no reason to doubt that, but his Malcolm X argument seems overstated. Blacks don’t need cues from Spike Lee movies to feel protective of someone from their community.

Still and all, this is one of the most interesting discussions of race in America to come out of Barack Obama’s much-praised speech. But somehow I don’t think it’s quite what the Senator had in mind.

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The Story Changes

First, the Left blogosphere insisted there was no Jewish problem for Barack Obama. Then the line was that if such a problem existed, it was irrational and based on false internet rumors about Obama’s secret Muslim past. The latest take? He doesn’t need the Jewish vote.

This Huffington Post column makes the case, even finding an unnamed Jewish fundraiser for Obama to pipe up: “Obama doesn’t need me and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.” The same article does acknowledge, by way of a Jerusalem Post column, that “a relatively moderate Republican candidate with rock-solid Israel-supporter credentials like John McCain may well reach or even surpass the Jewish-vote record for a GOP presidential contender–especially if his opponent is Barack Obama.”

There is an argument that this thesis is correct–if you believe Rep.Wexler is wrong, Florida is not at risk, and Jews don’t make up enough of the population to make a difference in New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, or any other state. And maybe that’s the calculation Obama’s team has made. I suspect John McCain’s team may have a different view of things.

First, the Left blogosphere insisted there was no Jewish problem for Barack Obama. Then the line was that if such a problem existed, it was irrational and based on false internet rumors about Obama’s secret Muslim past. The latest take? He doesn’t need the Jewish vote.

This Huffington Post column makes the case, even finding an unnamed Jewish fundraiser for Obama to pipe up: “Obama doesn’t need me and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.” The same article does acknowledge, by way of a Jerusalem Post column, that “a relatively moderate Republican candidate with rock-solid Israel-supporter credentials like John McCain may well reach or even surpass the Jewish-vote record for a GOP presidential contender–especially if his opponent is Barack Obama.”

There is an argument that this thesis is correct–if you believe Rep.Wexler is wrong, Florida is not at risk, and Jews don’t make up enough of the population to make a difference in New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, or any other state. And maybe that’s the calculation Obama’s team has made. I suspect John McCain’s team may have a different view of things.

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First Pins, Now Crosses

Remember all the fuss when Mike Huckabee put out a Christmas ad with a bookshelf in the background that media pundits were sure was a “cross”? There were plenty of howls. Well, Barack Obama’s latest ad, in the the form of direct mail, doesn’t leave anything to the imagination. The cross stares you right in the face. And there is plenty about his religious faith in the ad copy.

Surely People for the American Way, the ACLU, and other outspoken critics of mixing religion and politics must be on the case, right? No? Well, it’s like the flag pin: It’s for the little people. Obama’s media fans know their man is just putting on a show, you see. So it’s alright. It’s the New Politics!

Remember all the fuss when Mike Huckabee put out a Christmas ad with a bookshelf in the background that media pundits were sure was a “cross”? There were plenty of howls. Well, Barack Obama’s latest ad, in the the form of direct mail, doesn’t leave anything to the imagination. The cross stares you right in the face. And there is plenty about his religious faith in the ad copy.

Surely People for the American Way, the ACLU, and other outspoken critics of mixing religion and politics must be on the case, right? No? Well, it’s like the flag pin: It’s for the little people. Obama’s media fans know their man is just putting on a show, you see. So it’s alright. It’s the New Politics!

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Mugabe Crosses a Line

As if we needed any more evidence that Robert Mugabe will not leave office without a fight: yesterday, Mugabe’s security officers harassed a fact-finding group including the American, British and Japanese ambassadors attempting to interview people in hospitals who had been tortured by the Mugabe regime. Read this short account of the bravery of our men in Harare:

Kevin Stirr, the U.S. Embassy’s democracy and governance officer, was asked by a security agent what the group had been doing. “Looking at people who have been beaten,” he said. The Central Intelligence Organisation agent replied: “We are going to beat you thoroughly, too”, before turning away and returning to his car. Mr Stirr pulled open the door and shouted at him.

The two agents in the vehicle tried to flee, but James McGee, the U.S. Ambassador, stood in their path. When they tried to push him away with the car, he sat heavily on the bonnet. He went on to take photographs of the agents, who were trying to hide their faces.

Zimbabwean agents threatened to beat an American embassy officer and tried to run over the U.S. Ambassador with their car? If Mugabe is acting this way with Western diplomats, one can only imagine what he has in store for his own people.

As if we needed any more evidence that Robert Mugabe will not leave office without a fight: yesterday, Mugabe’s security officers harassed a fact-finding group including the American, British and Japanese ambassadors attempting to interview people in hospitals who had been tortured by the Mugabe regime. Read this short account of the bravery of our men in Harare:

Kevin Stirr, the U.S. Embassy’s democracy and governance officer, was asked by a security agent what the group had been doing. “Looking at people who have been beaten,” he said. The Central Intelligence Organisation agent replied: “We are going to beat you thoroughly, too”, before turning away and returning to his car. Mr Stirr pulled open the door and shouted at him.

The two agents in the vehicle tried to flee, but James McGee, the U.S. Ambassador, stood in their path. When they tried to push him away with the car, he sat heavily on the bonnet. He went on to take photographs of the agents, who were trying to hide their faces.

Zimbabwean agents threatened to beat an American embassy officer and tried to run over the U.S. Ambassador with their car? If Mugabe is acting this way with Western diplomats, one can only imagine what he has in store for his own people.

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Smear Redefined

Up until about three weeks ago, the definition of the word smear was a simple affair. As Webster’s states, there’s the noun, meaning An attempt to destroy someone’s reputation and the verb meaning To contaminate the reputation of. But ever since John McCain acknowledged the fact that Hamas’s political advisor Ahmed Yousuf endorsed Barack Obama, the word smear has morphed. The candidate of change has worked his audacious magic. Thus, the new meaning of smear: to question or criticize Barack Obama. Senator Obama proclaimed of McCain’s words, “This is a smear.” And, lo, it was so.

You can see how the word spread. When Edward Luttwak penned an op-ed in the New York Times posing legitimate questions about Obama’s being considered an apostate by Islamists, Ali Eteraz wrote:

Now there is a new Islam smear. This one says that Obama was a Muslim — and as a result, he is going to arouse the wrath of Muslims around the world who are going to want to kill him for apostasy (converting away from Islam, punishable by death).

When Mark Levin wrote the following at NRO’s Corner blog–

Obama made a point of not wearing the flag pin, knowing that a point would be made of it, just as he makes a point of not placing his hand over his heart during the playing of the National Anthem. I find this perplexing, although I won’t obsess over it. This is not the typical behavior of a presidential candidate.

–Andrew Sullivan responded:

These are lies, smears, untruths . . . NRO need[s] to issue corrections. And the Obama team needs to be more aggressive in countering these deliberate lies.

Perhaps Sullivan is building a case to change the meaning of lies and untruths, as well. If every criticism or challenge to Barack Obama is a smear, how does one oppose him? If facts become lies, how can he be made accountable for his actions? Or is Barack Obama in effect redefining opposition and accountability?

Up until about three weeks ago, the definition of the word smear was a simple affair. As Webster’s states, there’s the noun, meaning An attempt to destroy someone’s reputation and the verb meaning To contaminate the reputation of. But ever since John McCain acknowledged the fact that Hamas’s political advisor Ahmed Yousuf endorsed Barack Obama, the word smear has morphed. The candidate of change has worked his audacious magic. Thus, the new meaning of smear: to question or criticize Barack Obama. Senator Obama proclaimed of McCain’s words, “This is a smear.” And, lo, it was so.

You can see how the word spread. When Edward Luttwak penned an op-ed in the New York Times posing legitimate questions about Obama’s being considered an apostate by Islamists, Ali Eteraz wrote:

Now there is a new Islam smear. This one says that Obama was a Muslim — and as a result, he is going to arouse the wrath of Muslims around the world who are going to want to kill him for apostasy (converting away from Islam, punishable by death).

When Mark Levin wrote the following at NRO’s Corner blog–

Obama made a point of not wearing the flag pin, knowing that a point would be made of it, just as he makes a point of not placing his hand over his heart during the playing of the National Anthem. I find this perplexing, although I won’t obsess over it. This is not the typical behavior of a presidential candidate.

–Andrew Sullivan responded:

These are lies, smears, untruths . . . NRO need[s] to issue corrections. And the Obama team needs to be more aggressive in countering these deliberate lies.

Perhaps Sullivan is building a case to change the meaning of lies and untruths, as well. If every criticism or challenge to Barack Obama is a smear, how does one oppose him? If facts become lies, how can he be made accountable for his actions? Or is Barack Obama in effect redefining opposition and accountability?

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They Don’t Like Him In Florida

This article highlights the problems Barack Obama is having with Jewish voters in Florida and the resulting challenges this will pose for him in this key state. His supporter Rep. Robert Wexler gets blank stares when he tries to convince Jewish voters in Florida that Obama is the best candidate on Israel. One Democratic state senator candidly says: “They are very concerned, and we hear it constantly. It is very significant.” How important is this in the Florida race? Wexler concedes that it will be “very difficult” for Obama to win in Florida without strong support from the Jewish community.

And how significant is this in the larger scheme of things? The electoral math for Obama gets very hard if Florida (27 electoral votes) and Ohio (another problematic state with 20 votes) go Republican. You can talk about redrawing the electoral map, but there are only so many ways to get to 270.

So it may be time for Obama to stop accusing Jewish voters of being ill-informed and irrational and start explaining how his policies–including meeting with terrorist sponsor state Iran–will be in our and Israel’s best interests.

This article highlights the problems Barack Obama is having with Jewish voters in Florida and the resulting challenges this will pose for him in this key state. His supporter Rep. Robert Wexler gets blank stares when he tries to convince Jewish voters in Florida that Obama is the best candidate on Israel. One Democratic state senator candidly says: “They are very concerned, and we hear it constantly. It is very significant.” How important is this in the Florida race? Wexler concedes that it will be “very difficult” for Obama to win in Florida without strong support from the Jewish community.

And how significant is this in the larger scheme of things? The electoral math for Obama gets very hard if Florida (27 electoral votes) and Ohio (another problematic state with 20 votes) go Republican. You can talk about redrawing the electoral map, but there are only so many ways to get to 270.

So it may be time for Obama to stop accusing Jewish voters of being ill-informed and irrational and start explaining how his policies–including meeting with terrorist sponsor state Iran–will be in our and Israel’s best interests.

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Friedman’s New Cold War

“The next American president will inherit many foreign policy challenges, but surely one of the biggest will be the cold war,” writes Tom Friedman in this morning’s New York Times.  “Yes, the next president is going to be a cold-war president-but this cold war is with Iran.”

Clearly the Iranians see it as Friedman does.  To support his cold war thesis, he cites a Sunday editorial from Kayhan, an Iranian daily: “In the power struggle in the Middle East, there are only two sides: Iran and the United States.”  Yet just because Tehran sees us as its principal adversary does not mean that we have to view Tehran as ours.  And I believe that we should not.  After all, Friedman has violated Oscar Wilde’s first rule of international relations: “A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies.”

Once a nation chooses its enemy, it inevitably selects its friends.  If Iran were the Soviet Union, then we would naturally side with Tehran’s adversaries, the generally autocratic and corrupt Sunni Arab states.  Indeed, Friedman lists them as our allies in his “cold war.”  This makes perfect sense if the United States were, like England once was, just another offshore balancer.

Yet America is more than one of those.  If there is any justification for us to exercise power beyond our borders, it is because we stand for a set of important principles.  Because Iranian leaders oppose all that Americans believe-representative governance and free markets, for instance-they are by definition our foes.

And to defend our principles we should avoid the unsavory bargains that nations tend to make when they see themselves involved in global existential struggles.  Nothing undermines us more than failure to adhere to what we believe.  We can achieve short-term objectives with cynical arrangements-like supporting the Shah, for example-but we usually end up creating more problems than we solve.

Yes, we should oppose Iran today.  But we can do that best when it is in the context of an effort to defend values and international norms.  The goal for “Team America,” as Friedman calls us, is not to prevail over “Iran.”  It is to establish a just and peaceful international system-with a free and democratic Iran as a part of it.

“The next American president will inherit many foreign policy challenges, but surely one of the biggest will be the cold war,” writes Tom Friedman in this morning’s New York Times.  “Yes, the next president is going to be a cold-war president-but this cold war is with Iran.”

Clearly the Iranians see it as Friedman does.  To support his cold war thesis, he cites a Sunday editorial from Kayhan, an Iranian daily: “In the power struggle in the Middle East, there are only two sides: Iran and the United States.”  Yet just because Tehran sees us as its principal adversary does not mean that we have to view Tehran as ours.  And I believe that we should not.  After all, Friedman has violated Oscar Wilde’s first rule of international relations: “A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies.”

Once a nation chooses its enemy, it inevitably selects its friends.  If Iran were the Soviet Union, then we would naturally side with Tehran’s adversaries, the generally autocratic and corrupt Sunni Arab states.  Indeed, Friedman lists them as our allies in his “cold war.”  This makes perfect sense if the United States were, like England once was, just another offshore balancer.

Yet America is more than one of those.  If there is any justification for us to exercise power beyond our borders, it is because we stand for a set of important principles.  Because Iranian leaders oppose all that Americans believe-representative governance and free markets, for instance-they are by definition our foes.

And to defend our principles we should avoid the unsavory bargains that nations tend to make when they see themselves involved in global existential struggles.  Nothing undermines us more than failure to adhere to what we believe.  We can achieve short-term objectives with cynical arrangements-like supporting the Shah, for example-but we usually end up creating more problems than we solve.

Yes, we should oppose Iran today.  But we can do that best when it is in the context of an effort to defend values and international norms.  The goal for “Team America,” as Friedman calls us, is not to prevail over “Iran.”  It is to establish a just and peaceful international system-with a free and democratic Iran as a part of it.

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Hamas, Unrepentant

Remember, last month, when the credulosphere trembled in excitement at the thought that Hamas had given up its desire to destroy Israel? Khaled Meshaal muttered something about being reconciled to Israel, and the floodgates opened.

Gershom Gorenberg wrote long, breathless articles for the American Prospect and his blog announcing the good tidings, Ezra Klein wrote a shorter, dumber post earnestly heralding the “bombshell” in the peace process (if only the warmongers would notice!), Daniel Levy declared that Hamas now accepts Israel in pre-1967 borders, and the smug harrumphing about the reasonableness of Hamas pretty much foamed off your computer screen.

But killjoy, spoilsport, wet-blanket conservatives laughed at all of this: It is one thing to remain willing to pursue peace with honest interlocutors, and it is another altogether to behave like a desperate, manipulable fool. These thoughts came to mind today while reading the remarks of Mahmoud Zahar, one of Hamas’ highest-ranking officials, reported in the Jerusalem Post:

[We] “will continue to persecute the Zionists wherever they are, after we prove that the Zionist army can be defeated — contrary to what was believed in the past, that it is impossible to beat the Zionists.”

Speaking in the Gaza Strip, he went on to affirm Palestinian right of return, claiming that the “right of return of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians is closer than ever.”

“After we defeat the Zionists we will persecute them . . . we will persecute them to eternity, and the sun of the freedom and independence of the Palestinians will burn all of the Zionists,” he continued.

This will be rigorously ignored by Gorenberg, Klein, Levy et al. Nothing to see here, folks. Say, can I interest you in some diplomacy?

Remember, last month, when the credulosphere trembled in excitement at the thought that Hamas had given up its desire to destroy Israel? Khaled Meshaal muttered something about being reconciled to Israel, and the floodgates opened.

Gershom Gorenberg wrote long, breathless articles for the American Prospect and his blog announcing the good tidings, Ezra Klein wrote a shorter, dumber post earnestly heralding the “bombshell” in the peace process (if only the warmongers would notice!), Daniel Levy declared that Hamas now accepts Israel in pre-1967 borders, and the smug harrumphing about the reasonableness of Hamas pretty much foamed off your computer screen.

But killjoy, spoilsport, wet-blanket conservatives laughed at all of this: It is one thing to remain willing to pursue peace with honest interlocutors, and it is another altogether to behave like a desperate, manipulable fool. These thoughts came to mind today while reading the remarks of Mahmoud Zahar, one of Hamas’ highest-ranking officials, reported in the Jerusalem Post:

[We] “will continue to persecute the Zionists wherever they are, after we prove that the Zionist army can be defeated — contrary to what was believed in the past, that it is impossible to beat the Zionists.”

Speaking in the Gaza Strip, he went on to affirm Palestinian right of return, claiming that the “right of return of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians is closer than ever.”

“After we defeat the Zionists we will persecute them . . . we will persecute them to eternity, and the sun of the freedom and independence of the Palestinians will burn all of the Zionists,” he continued.

This will be rigorously ignored by Gorenberg, Klein, Levy et al. Nothing to see here, folks. Say, can I interest you in some diplomacy?

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Filling Cracks

CNN is reporting that 2,000 Chinese troops are rushing to plug “extremely dangerous” cracks in the Zipingku Dam, which stands about three miles upriver from the earthquake-ravaged Dujiangyan City. The endangered population of Dujiangyan City stands at about 630,000. If there’s a serious dam accident, the resulting devastation could immediately rival that of neighboring Burma, where the official death toll stands at about 40,000 from a typhoon that hit two weeks ago.

China’s dams present deadly problems of huge literal and figurative size. In 1975, Typhoon Nina hit China and the Banqiao Dam collapsed, destroying 60 more dams and killing almost 200,000 people. China’s own Water Resource Department claims that 30,000 dams in China are in “critical condition.” China keeps building newer and larger dams, while maintenance of the country’s older ones get neglected. Additionally, the rampant corruption of local governments enables huge sums allocated for dam maintenance to end up in the pockets of officials. Unchecked growth, without consideration for scale or infrastructural soundness, leaves the citizens of China unprotected in the event of unforeseeable circumstances. Let’s hope they plug this dam. But going forward, the Chinese government can’t hope to spot-fill cracks as a way of warding off catastrophe.

CNN is reporting that 2,000 Chinese troops are rushing to plug “extremely dangerous” cracks in the Zipingku Dam, which stands about three miles upriver from the earthquake-ravaged Dujiangyan City. The endangered population of Dujiangyan City stands at about 630,000. If there’s a serious dam accident, the resulting devastation could immediately rival that of neighboring Burma, where the official death toll stands at about 40,000 from a typhoon that hit two weeks ago.

China’s dams present deadly problems of huge literal and figurative size. In 1975, Typhoon Nina hit China and the Banqiao Dam collapsed, destroying 60 more dams and killing almost 200,000 people. China’s own Water Resource Department claims that 30,000 dams in China are in “critical condition.” China keeps building newer and larger dams, while maintenance of the country’s older ones get neglected. Additionally, the rampant corruption of local governments enables huge sums allocated for dam maintenance to end up in the pockets of officials. Unchecked growth, without consideration for scale or infrastructural soundness, leaves the citizens of China unprotected in the event of unforeseeable circumstances. Let’s hope they plug this dam. But going forward, the Chinese government can’t hope to spot-fill cracks as a way of warding off catastrophe.

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Independents

John McCain has been focusing on independent voters of late with his global warming message and attempts to highlight differences with George W. Bush on the economy (by backing a home mortgage bailout) and foreign policy (by stressing multilateralism). Both he and Barack Obama will have their challenges in making the case with independents.

I am as skeptical as the next person when it comes to focus groups (they are self-selecting and sound suspiciously too informed and too sound-bite savvy). But the one described here sounds reasonable. Obama’s biggest problem: convincing them he’s not a wacky Left wing elitist. McCain’s: convincing them he’s not another George W. Bush.

So what does Obama do? He starts wearing that flag lapel pin and throws in a lot of patriotic talk. And if he’s smart he’ll steer clear of Clinton as a VP. According to this focus group, she’s ballot box poison with independents, even if she might calm frayed nerves in the Democratic Party.

And what’s McCain’s best tactic? Lots of YouTube moments of bipartisan praise, stressing his record of making deals with Democrats, some full-out attacks on Bush’s mismanagement of the Iraq war and Katrina, and plenty of appeals on conservative cultural issues.

All this raises a question: What’s the silliest thing each could do?

There has been some buzz that Obama will go after Republican women by using the abortion issue. That, for a candidate who has high negatives among social conservatives and who can easily be painted as an extremist on the issue (e.g. he was quite vocal in his criticism of the Supreme Court’s partial birth abortion ruling, for example), could cause more problems than it solves.

For McCain, it would be relying on his biography to the exclusion of issues (voters do care about their own pocket-book concerns), and allowing his team’s new-found fixation on whining about media coverage to go unchecked (voters don’t care about the media, and working-class independent voters don’t like complainers).

John McCain has been focusing on independent voters of late with his global warming message and attempts to highlight differences with George W. Bush on the economy (by backing a home mortgage bailout) and foreign policy (by stressing multilateralism). Both he and Barack Obama will have their challenges in making the case with independents.

I am as skeptical as the next person when it comes to focus groups (they are self-selecting and sound suspiciously too informed and too sound-bite savvy). But the one described here sounds reasonable. Obama’s biggest problem: convincing them he’s not a wacky Left wing elitist. McCain’s: convincing them he’s not another George W. Bush.

So what does Obama do? He starts wearing that flag lapel pin and throws in a lot of patriotic talk. And if he’s smart he’ll steer clear of Clinton as a VP. According to this focus group, she’s ballot box poison with independents, even if she might calm frayed nerves in the Democratic Party.

And what’s McCain’s best tactic? Lots of YouTube moments of bipartisan praise, stressing his record of making deals with Democrats, some full-out attacks on Bush’s mismanagement of the Iraq war and Katrina, and plenty of appeals on conservative cultural issues.

All this raises a question: What’s the silliest thing each could do?

There has been some buzz that Obama will go after Republican women by using the abortion issue. That, for a candidate who has high negatives among social conservatives and who can easily be painted as an extremist on the issue (e.g. he was quite vocal in his criticism of the Supreme Court’s partial birth abortion ruling, for example), could cause more problems than it solves.

For McCain, it would be relying on his biography to the exclusion of issues (voters do care about their own pocket-book concerns), and allowing his team’s new-found fixation on whining about media coverage to go unchecked (voters don’t care about the media, and working-class independent voters don’t like complainers).

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Two Real Alternative Models of Development

In the backlash against the Bush administration’s (first-term) pro-democracy agenda, a lot of critics have been singing the praises of “alternative” models of development. Exhibits A and B are usually Russia and China, which have been prospering of late without such pesky inconveniences as free elections and independent judges.

But we tend to forget two other major rising powers, India and Brazil, which are solid democracies and whose economies have been picking up steam lately. The Wall Street Journal has a useful article on Brazil’s economic resurgence. The country, according to reporter Matt Moffett, is seeing its “greatest burst of prosperity . . . in three decades.”

The article goes on to note:

Brazil has enough money lying around that Monday it announced it would follow other booming countries like China and Persian Gulf oil states in setting up a sovereign-wealth fund, worth between $10 billion and $20 billion, to invest its excess cash.

Much of this new-found growth is a tribute to Brazil’s nominally leftist president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who has put in place pro-business policies which are attracting foreign investment. India is seeing a similar growth spurt because its government also is abandoning the socialist nostrums of the past. Both Brazil and India have a long way to go, but in the long run, they’re a better bet than Russia or China, whose long-term futures are clouded by the existence of illiberal regimes run by parasitic elites.

In the backlash against the Bush administration’s (first-term) pro-democracy agenda, a lot of critics have been singing the praises of “alternative” models of development. Exhibits A and B are usually Russia and China, which have been prospering of late without such pesky inconveniences as free elections and independent judges.

But we tend to forget two other major rising powers, India and Brazil, which are solid democracies and whose economies have been picking up steam lately. The Wall Street Journal has a useful article on Brazil’s economic resurgence. The country, according to reporter Matt Moffett, is seeing its “greatest burst of prosperity . . . in three decades.”

The article goes on to note:

Brazil has enough money lying around that Monday it announced it would follow other booming countries like China and Persian Gulf oil states in setting up a sovereign-wealth fund, worth between $10 billion and $20 billion, to invest its excess cash.

Much of this new-found growth is a tribute to Brazil’s nominally leftist president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who has put in place pro-business policies which are attracting foreign investment. India is seeing a similar growth spurt because its government also is abandoning the socialist nostrums of the past. Both Brazil and India have a long way to go, but in the long run, they’re a better bet than Russia or China, whose long-term futures are clouded by the existence of illiberal regimes run by parasitic elites.

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How Serious Is She?

Hillary Clinton said last night that “this race isn’t over.” But is she in it to win? Or only to maximize her potential bargaining leverage, satisfy her supporters, and keep her “I told you so” argument on the backburner for 2012? One way to find out is to see what she does in Oregon. She’s way behind there, and a big loss will wipe out whatever veneer of plausibility her campaign still has.

So if she really is determined to win, what should she do? Take a page from John McCain’s playbook and hammer Obama for voting for the much-reviled Bush-Cheney energy bill. That should play very well with super-liberal, super-Green Oregon voters.

Or she might re-run the “3 a.m.” ad with an update ripped from the headlines to point out Obama’s lack of foreign policy know-how. Alternatively, she could go back to quoting exit poll numbers, this time citing Obama’s shockingly poor West Virginia numbers. Maybe she could drop from airplanes the latest column by Maureen Dowd:

Obama is acting the diffident debutante, pretending not to care that he was given a raspberry by a state he will need in the fall. He was dismissed not only by the voters Hillary usually gets, but was also edged out in blocs that usually prefer him — the under-30 set, college graduates and affluent voters.

But somehow I expect that she won’t do any of these things, for fear of bringing down the wrath of the Democratic establishment and forever ruining her political future. If her dream of a comeback in 2012 is to play out, Obama must lose, but she can’t be seen as the cause.

That leaves her with her West Virginia “I’m in it for the little people” appeal, which won’t be much of a sell in Oregon. And so, I think, she will likely lose by a wide margin there. Then, in a few weeks, she will end the race (somehow, I predict, without “quitting,” a no-no in the Clinton household).

If she’s right and her continued presence does no obvious harm to Obama’s chances in the general election, everyone will kiss and make up. But if not, and she further smudges Obama’s luster in the next few weeks (for example, by beating him in a state she’s not “supposed to win”), no one in the Democratic party will be very happy.

Hillary Clinton said last night that “this race isn’t over.” But is she in it to win? Or only to maximize her potential bargaining leverage, satisfy her supporters, and keep her “I told you so” argument on the backburner for 2012? One way to find out is to see what she does in Oregon. She’s way behind there, and a big loss will wipe out whatever veneer of plausibility her campaign still has.

So if she really is determined to win, what should she do? Take a page from John McCain’s playbook and hammer Obama for voting for the much-reviled Bush-Cheney energy bill. That should play very well with super-liberal, super-Green Oregon voters.

Or she might re-run the “3 a.m.” ad with an update ripped from the headlines to point out Obama’s lack of foreign policy know-how. Alternatively, she could go back to quoting exit poll numbers, this time citing Obama’s shockingly poor West Virginia numbers. Maybe she could drop from airplanes the latest column by Maureen Dowd:

Obama is acting the diffident debutante, pretending not to care that he was given a raspberry by a state he will need in the fall. He was dismissed not only by the voters Hillary usually gets, but was also edged out in blocs that usually prefer him — the under-30 set, college graduates and affluent voters.

But somehow I expect that she won’t do any of these things, for fear of bringing down the wrath of the Democratic establishment and forever ruining her political future. If her dream of a comeback in 2012 is to play out, Obama must lose, but she can’t be seen as the cause.

That leaves her with her West Virginia “I’m in it for the little people” appeal, which won’t be much of a sell in Oregon. And so, I think, she will likely lose by a wide margin there. Then, in a few weeks, she will end the race (somehow, I predict, without “quitting,” a no-no in the Clinton household).

If she’s right and her continued presence does no obvious harm to Obama’s chances in the general election, everyone will kiss and make up. But if not, and she further smudges Obama’s luster in the next few weeks (for example, by beating him in a state she’s not “supposed to win”), no one in the Democratic party will be very happy.

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Was the Assassination Ban Covertly Repealed?

In 1981, Ronald Reagan promulgated Executive Order 12333, which, among other provisions, declared that “No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination.”

As I noted in the Weekly Standard last July, President Bush has the power to revoke it or modify it or supplant it by issuing a new executive order. Under certain circumstances, like an attack or an impending attack on the United States, such an amendment or new order need not be published in the Federal Register. It is possible, in other words, that Bush might already have qualified the ban in some instances and not let us or our adversaries know.

I have no idea if Bush has fiddled with the executive order after September 11. I do know that some of our adversaries are continuing not to play by Marquess of Queensberry rules.

Iran has been directing assassination operations in Iraq using trained snipers, in some cases killing Iraqi officials opposed to Iran, according to an officer who has recently served as a senior adviser to Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq.

The officer in question is Army Col. H.R. McMaster, who spoke yesterday at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington D.C.

Iran’s activities are “obvious to anyone who bothers to look into it,” and should no longer be “alleged,” he said in response to a question. Senior American military officials said last month that the U.S. military in Iraq has compiled a briefing with detailed evidence of Iran’s involvement in Iraq violence, but the briefing has yet to be made public.

Should the United States respond by assassinating the assassins and/or the taskmasters of the assassins? Or is that still against the rules?

In 1981, Ronald Reagan promulgated Executive Order 12333, which, among other provisions, declared that “No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination.”

As I noted in the Weekly Standard last July, President Bush has the power to revoke it or modify it or supplant it by issuing a new executive order. Under certain circumstances, like an attack or an impending attack on the United States, such an amendment or new order need not be published in the Federal Register. It is possible, in other words, that Bush might already have qualified the ban in some instances and not let us or our adversaries know.

I have no idea if Bush has fiddled with the executive order after September 11. I do know that some of our adversaries are continuing not to play by Marquess of Queensberry rules.

Iran has been directing assassination operations in Iraq using trained snipers, in some cases killing Iraqi officials opposed to Iran, according to an officer who has recently served as a senior adviser to Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq.

The officer in question is Army Col. H.R. McMaster, who spoke yesterday at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington D.C.

Iran’s activities are “obvious to anyone who bothers to look into it,” and should no longer be “alleged,” he said in response to a question. Senior American military officials said last month that the U.S. military in Iraq has compiled a briefing with detailed evidence of Iran’s involvement in Iraq violence, but the briefing has yet to be made public.

Should the United States respond by assassinating the assassins and/or the taskmasters of the assassins? Or is that still against the rules?

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No Golfgate Here

Yesterday, the following exchange occurred between President Bush and someone interviewing him from the Politico:

Q Mr. President, you haven’t been golfing in recent years. Is that related to Iraq?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, it really is. I don’t want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the Commander-in-Chief playing golf. I feel I owe it to the families to be as — to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal.

Q Mr. President, was there a particular moment or incident that brought you to that decision, or how did you come to that?

THE PRESIDENT: No, I remember when de Mello, who was at the U.N., got killed in Baghdad as a result of these murderers taking this good man’s life. And I was playing golf — I think I was in central Texas — and they pulled me off the golf course and I said, it’s just not worth it anymore to do.

Now, Presidential historian Robert Dallek is claiming Bush’s remarks “speak to his shallowness.” And added, “That’s his idea of sacrifice, to give up golf?”

Just imagine if Bush had said the opposite: “I think it’s important for the Commander-in-Chief to be able to take a break from the seriousness of war, to unwind and get some distance from the day-to-day challenges of leading a nation in combat. And golf is how I do that.” Think of the firestorm.

The most curious aspect of this incident is how anachronistic if feels to be analyzing the sitting President’s remarks about the war. With all-campaign-all-the-time media coverage, it’s easy to forget that the President is still there. It’s also easy to forget how flimsy were the objections to his every gesture and utterance. For what it’s worth, the President’s comments demonstrate compassion and moral seriousness. Dallek’s critique (echoed, unsurprisingly, in Iran) is shallow.

Yesterday, the following exchange occurred between President Bush and someone interviewing him from the Politico:

Q Mr. President, you haven’t been golfing in recent years. Is that related to Iraq?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, it really is. I don’t want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the Commander-in-Chief playing golf. I feel I owe it to the families to be as — to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal.

Q Mr. President, was there a particular moment or incident that brought you to that decision, or how did you come to that?

THE PRESIDENT: No, I remember when de Mello, who was at the U.N., got killed in Baghdad as a result of these murderers taking this good man’s life. And I was playing golf — I think I was in central Texas — and they pulled me off the golf course and I said, it’s just not worth it anymore to do.

Now, Presidential historian Robert Dallek is claiming Bush’s remarks “speak to his shallowness.” And added, “That’s his idea of sacrifice, to give up golf?”

Just imagine if Bush had said the opposite: “I think it’s important for the Commander-in-Chief to be able to take a break from the seriousness of war, to unwind and get some distance from the day-to-day challenges of leading a nation in combat. And golf is how I do that.” Think of the firestorm.

The most curious aspect of this incident is how anachronistic if feels to be analyzing the sitting President’s remarks about the war. With all-campaign-all-the-time media coverage, it’s easy to forget that the President is still there. It’s also easy to forget how flimsy were the objections to his every gesture and utterance. For what it’s worth, the President’s comments demonstrate compassion and moral seriousness. Dallek’s critique (echoed, unsurprisingly, in Iran) is shallow.

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Who’s Out Of Touch?

Watching MSNBC last night, I enjoyed the spectacle of Terry McAuliffe, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, arguing with Chris Matthews. McAuliffe insisted that the media had written Clinton off and was trying to shut down the race, while Matthews insisted the media would like nothing better than a race that would go all the way to the convention. Huh? Hasn’t every pundit and anchor on his network and all the others pronounced Clinton dead– since about March? It seems odd now to insist that they have not been trying desperately to sweep Clinton off the stage. And they say Clinton is in a world of denial.

But the media stampede to end the primary (whether you attribute it to Obama-infatuation or sheer boredom) only makes Barack Obama’s thumping yesterday seem worse. If the race is “over” and he still managed to lose this big, it must mean those voters really don’t like him (and they don’t care what the media says).

That said, will Obama win? Absent some huge intervening event, almost certainly, yes. He just hasn’t won yet. The media made the mistake of calling the game too soon. As a result, they’ve only helped embarrass their favorite-son candidate.

Watching MSNBC last night, I enjoyed the spectacle of Terry McAuliffe, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, arguing with Chris Matthews. McAuliffe insisted that the media had written Clinton off and was trying to shut down the race, while Matthews insisted the media would like nothing better than a race that would go all the way to the convention. Huh? Hasn’t every pundit and anchor on his network and all the others pronounced Clinton dead– since about March? It seems odd now to insist that they have not been trying desperately to sweep Clinton off the stage. And they say Clinton is in a world of denial.

But the media stampede to end the primary (whether you attribute it to Obama-infatuation or sheer boredom) only makes Barack Obama’s thumping yesterday seem worse. If the race is “over” and he still managed to lose this big, it must mean those voters really don’t like him (and they don’t care what the media says).

That said, will Obama win? Absent some huge intervening event, almost certainly, yes. He just hasn’t won yet. The media made the mistake of calling the game too soon. As a result, they’ve only helped embarrass their favorite-son candidate.

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