Commentary Magazine


Posts For: May 15, 2008

Why Experience Matters

Barack Obama and his advisors are trying their best to scoot away from the increasingly untenable position that Obama would personally meet–without preconditions–with the leaders of rogue states. But the statements are too numerous and  YouTube is too ubiquitious for him to hide the facts. And Hillary Clinton’s a witness to (or a victim of) his public, year-long insistence that this represented a new type of diplomacy.

So why is it significant that he is now attempting to reverse course without admitting it? Imagine if he were already President and he tried this. After stating in public settings and on official websites for a year that he would meet with Ahmedinejad without preconditions, he then announces “I never said that” or “Well, I didn’t mean no preconditions.” Would our relations with Iran be even worse? Would Iranian officials have grounds to claim they were lied to? Would our allies and enemies be baffled? Would our prestige in the world suffer?

Welcome to the new diplomacy.

Barack Obama and his advisors are trying their best to scoot away from the increasingly untenable position that Obama would personally meet–without preconditions–with the leaders of rogue states. But the statements are too numerous and  YouTube is too ubiquitious for him to hide the facts. And Hillary Clinton’s a witness to (or a victim of) his public, year-long insistence that this represented a new type of diplomacy.

So why is it significant that he is now attempting to reverse course without admitting it? Imagine if he were already President and he tried this. After stating in public settings and on official websites for a year that he would meet with Ahmedinejad without preconditions, he then announces “I never said that” or “Well, I didn’t mean no preconditions.” Would our relations with Iran be even worse? Would Iranian officials have grounds to claim they were lied to? Would our allies and enemies be baffled? Would our prestige in the world suffer?

Welcome to the new diplomacy.

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Coitus Uninterruptus (and Endless)

You may have heard about the impending release of the movie version of Sex and the City, the long-running HBO show about the travails of four women on the prowl in New York City. The show was actually quite inventive for a half-hour sitcom, since every episode managed to tell four separate stories in the course of 27 minutes, which is actually no small task (most sitcoms have one major plot and one minor plot per half hour). Sex and the City was compressed and therefore seemed to move like a freight train.

So it is horrifying to learn that the movie version of Sex and the City runs — get this — 2 hours and 25 minutes. That’s a whole lot of Kim Cattrall acting more like a drag queen than a woman. Way too much. Which reminds me of the comedian Mort Sahl’s line at the premiere of Otto Preminger’s movie version of Exodus, the story of Israel’s founding. As the movie hit the three-hour mark with no end in sight, Sahl stood up and shouted, “Otto! Let my people go!”

Sarah Jessica Parker! Let the women of America go!

You may have heard about the impending release of the movie version of Sex and the City, the long-running HBO show about the travails of four women on the prowl in New York City. The show was actually quite inventive for a half-hour sitcom, since every episode managed to tell four separate stories in the course of 27 minutes, which is actually no small task (most sitcoms have one major plot and one minor plot per half hour). Sex and the City was compressed and therefore seemed to move like a freight train.

So it is horrifying to learn that the movie version of Sex and the City runs — get this — 2 hours and 25 minutes. That’s a whole lot of Kim Cattrall acting more like a drag queen than a woman. Way too much. Which reminds me of the comedian Mort Sahl’s line at the premiere of Otto Preminger’s movie version of Exodus, the story of Israel’s founding. As the movie hit the three-hour mark with no end in sight, Sahl stood up and shouted, “Otto! Let my people go!”

Sarah Jessica Parker! Let the women of America go!

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The New Arrogance

Back in October, when Barack Obama told a crowd of 2,000 supporters, “We’ve had enough arrogance in this White House . . . We need something new!” did he mean we need the kind of humility that allows one to interpret a general statement about terrorism and appeasement, uttered in a foreign hall of government, as a direct attack on oneself?

When he wrote in his memoir, “[my mother] taught me to disdain the blend of ignorance and arrogance that too often characterized Americans abroad,” perhaps he meant such ignorance and arrogance are more acceptable when broadcast straight from U.S. soil?

In taking the preposterous leap that President Bush’s remarks in Israel were a veiled attack on his campaign, Barack Obama has demonstrated an arrogance of striking proportions. Supplanting national arrogance with a more concentrated personal variety is hardly a step towards global cordiality. But it does gel perfectly with the mindset of the post-Boomers who make up Obama’s base. (Pride in one’s country is so pre-Iraq.) Obama understands that it’s personal pride that counts.

He also has a way of contradicting his abstract pronouncements on utopian ideals with specific acts of uninspired selfishness. His grand gesture of embracing Jeremiah Wright fizzled when Wright proved a true liability. His claims to humility vanish when he thinks he hears his name whispered in the wind. Moreover, Obama’s supporters have a way of hanging in there with him, riding out the poetic wave until it’s a prosaic ripple. As has been noted in posts below, the New York Times and the Democratic Party wasted no time in seconding Obama’s indignation over the President’s remarks. And with that kind of unquestioning devotion, why wouldn’t he think everything uttered by every leader everywhere is about little old him.

Back in October, when Barack Obama told a crowd of 2,000 supporters, “We’ve had enough arrogance in this White House . . . We need something new!” did he mean we need the kind of humility that allows one to interpret a general statement about terrorism and appeasement, uttered in a foreign hall of government, as a direct attack on oneself?

When he wrote in his memoir, “[my mother] taught me to disdain the blend of ignorance and arrogance that too often characterized Americans abroad,” perhaps he meant such ignorance and arrogance are more acceptable when broadcast straight from U.S. soil?

In taking the preposterous leap that President Bush’s remarks in Israel were a veiled attack on his campaign, Barack Obama has demonstrated an arrogance of striking proportions. Supplanting national arrogance with a more concentrated personal variety is hardly a step towards global cordiality. But it does gel perfectly with the mindset of the post-Boomers who make up Obama’s base. (Pride in one’s country is so pre-Iraq.) Obama understands that it’s personal pride that counts.

He also has a way of contradicting his abstract pronouncements on utopian ideals with specific acts of uninspired selfishness. His grand gesture of embracing Jeremiah Wright fizzled when Wright proved a true liability. His claims to humility vanish when he thinks he hears his name whispered in the wind. Moreover, Obama’s supporters have a way of hanging in there with him, riding out the poetic wave until it’s a prosaic ripple. As has been noted in posts below, the New York Times and the Democratic Party wasted no time in seconding Obama’s indignation over the President’s remarks. And with that kind of unquestioning devotion, why wouldn’t he think everything uttered by every leader everywhere is about little old him.

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Re: The Obama Campaign Goes Completely Insane

I completely concur with John. The President’s speech was a beautiful, eloquent address celebrating the birth of the Jewish state. Here is the offending passage:

Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: “Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.” We have an obligation to call this what it is–the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.

Obama’s faux anger in reaction to Bush’s speech is ludicrous. For one thing, the President did not even mention Senator Obama in his speech. What the President was rebutting was a (fairly prevalent) cast of mind, one which is shared by Obama but by many others–including Jimmy Carter, who just returned from the region, as well as a people serving in Bush’s own State Department.

For Obama’s communications director to call the President’s remarks an “unprecedented political attack on foreign soil” is utter nonsense. More than that, though, Obama’s reaction is exactly the kind of “distraction” that he constantly complains about–even when the issues raised are legitimate ones to discuss (like his association with the Reverend Wright). To take a serious address like the one President Bush delivered in Israel today and shoehorn it into a campaign is exactly the kind of thing that drags down political discourse in America–and is the opposite of what Obama claims to represent.

With every passing week, it seems, the gap between what Obama says he is and how he acts is widening. His campaign’s latest attack looks contrived, petty, and stupid–unworthy even of our “old politics.”

I completely concur with John. The President’s speech was a beautiful, eloquent address celebrating the birth of the Jewish state. Here is the offending passage:

Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: “Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.” We have an obligation to call this what it is–the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.

Obama’s faux anger in reaction to Bush’s speech is ludicrous. For one thing, the President did not even mention Senator Obama in his speech. What the President was rebutting was a (fairly prevalent) cast of mind, one which is shared by Obama but by many others–including Jimmy Carter, who just returned from the region, as well as a people serving in Bush’s own State Department.

For Obama’s communications director to call the President’s remarks an “unprecedented political attack on foreign soil” is utter nonsense. More than that, though, Obama’s reaction is exactly the kind of “distraction” that he constantly complains about–even when the issues raised are legitimate ones to discuss (like his association with the Reverend Wright). To take a serious address like the one President Bush delivered in Israel today and shoehorn it into a campaign is exactly the kind of thing that drags down political discourse in America–and is the opposite of what Obama claims to represent.

With every passing week, it seems, the gap between what Obama says he is and how he acts is widening. His campaign’s latest attack looks contrived, petty, and stupid–unworthy even of our “old politics.”

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What Would He Talk To Them About?

John McCain just completed a blogger conference call. He began by referring to his speech this morning and by emphasizing that he sees that by 2013 we will have won in Iraq, meaning the government and military would be functioning and violence would be “sporadic.”

I asked McCain about President Bush’s comments in Israel and why the Democratic establishment and media had gone crazy over Bush’s warnings about the dangers of appeasement. McCain said that he took Bush at his word when he said that he wasn’t talking about Barack Obama specifically. He then explained that he suspected that the reaction was so “vociferous” because of concern about defending a policy that evidences the “highest degree of naivitee and inexperience” in pledging to sit down with the President of Iraq who calls Israel a “stinking corpse,” vows to wipe Israel off the map and supplies explosives which kill America’s military personnel in Iraq.

I also asked him about Lebanon and whether Obama’s plan to meet directly with Iran will improve the situation. He said that there is essentially a “proxy war” with Syria and Iran supporting Hezbollah and that the U.N. has done nothing to enforce its resolution calling for Hezbollah’s disarmament. Again, he took issue with the notion that we should hold presidential talks with Iran: ” What is it that he wants to talk about?” He queried whether it would be Iran’s belief that Israel is a stinking corpse or its commitment to destroy Israel. He summed up, saying he concluded from this that Obama lacked the “knowledge, experience or background” to defend our national security interests.

In response to the Weekly Standard’s Michael Goldfarb’s question as to what preconditions would be needed before he would talk to Iran’s leadership, McCain listed renunciation of its stated position to wipe out Israel, abandonment of its pursuit of nuclear weapons, a cessation of exporting of explosive devices which are killing Americans and a halt to sponsorship of terrorist organizations. He also noted that talks including Ambassador Crocker’s discussion with the Iranian Ambassador in Iraq have given us no reason to believe that Iran is interested in any of these items.

And what about the Obama campaign’s spin that Obama isn’t really promising unconditional talks? McCain was having none of it. He pointed to other flip flops by Obama on NAFTA and concluded that on this one (Iran) more recent comments suggesting that Obama really isn’t after all interested in direct talks without preconditons show a “very clear inconsistency” and a “contradiction” with his prior position.

In short, McCain made clear he believes meeting at the presidential level with Iran would merely “enhance their prestige” and that this policy position by Obama is a useful one in McCain’s own efforts to paint Obama as a dangerous novice in foreign affairs. It seems clear this will be a major point of debate in the general election.

John McCain just completed a blogger conference call. He began by referring to his speech this morning and by emphasizing that he sees that by 2013 we will have won in Iraq, meaning the government and military would be functioning and violence would be “sporadic.”

I asked McCain about President Bush’s comments in Israel and why the Democratic establishment and media had gone crazy over Bush’s warnings about the dangers of appeasement. McCain said that he took Bush at his word when he said that he wasn’t talking about Barack Obama specifically. He then explained that he suspected that the reaction was so “vociferous” because of concern about defending a policy that evidences the “highest degree of naivitee and inexperience” in pledging to sit down with the President of Iraq who calls Israel a “stinking corpse,” vows to wipe Israel off the map and supplies explosives which kill America’s military personnel in Iraq.

I also asked him about Lebanon and whether Obama’s plan to meet directly with Iran will improve the situation. He said that there is essentially a “proxy war” with Syria and Iran supporting Hezbollah and that the U.N. has done nothing to enforce its resolution calling for Hezbollah’s disarmament. Again, he took issue with the notion that we should hold presidential talks with Iran: ” What is it that he wants to talk about?” He queried whether it would be Iran’s belief that Israel is a stinking corpse or its commitment to destroy Israel. He summed up, saying he concluded from this that Obama lacked the “knowledge, experience or background” to defend our national security interests.

In response to the Weekly Standard’s Michael Goldfarb’s question as to what preconditions would be needed before he would talk to Iran’s leadership, McCain listed renunciation of its stated position to wipe out Israel, abandonment of its pursuit of nuclear weapons, a cessation of exporting of explosive devices which are killing Americans and a halt to sponsorship of terrorist organizations. He also noted that talks including Ambassador Crocker’s discussion with the Iranian Ambassador in Iraq have given us no reason to believe that Iran is interested in any of these items.

And what about the Obama campaign’s spin that Obama isn’t really promising unconditional talks? McCain was having none of it. He pointed to other flip flops by Obama on NAFTA and concluded that on this one (Iran) more recent comments suggesting that Obama really isn’t after all interested in direct talks without preconditons show a “very clear inconsistency” and a “contradiction” with his prior position.

In short, McCain made clear he believes meeting at the presidential level with Iran would merely “enhance their prestige” and that this policy position by Obama is a useful one in McCain’s own efforts to paint Obama as a dangerous novice in foreign affairs. It seems clear this will be a major point of debate in the general election.

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Not Making New Friends

In addition to the Emily’s List activists, many of NARAL‘s own members are mighty upset about NARAL’s decision to endorse Barack Obama and dump longtime ally Hillary Clinton. If you had to think up moves designed to enrage Clinton supporters and make the healing process harder for Democrats, you’d have put this one near the top.

Meanwhile, Obama had to apologize for his “sweetie” crack. But this was not an isolated incident. Remember, this was the candidate who used phrases like “when the claws come out” and “when she’s feeling down periodically she launches attacks” in reference to his opponent. When language like this is part of the vocabulary of a candidate (one who is so exquisitely articulate), it is worth asking if there is something going on here.

The language and tone of the media have become so condescending and disrespectful toward Clinton that, I think, Obama’s camp has picked it up. When “she-devil,” “everyone’s first wife,” and “Fatal Attraction” become acceptable means of description in the mainstream media, why would the candidate hesitate to use them himself ? In short, Obama’s media fan club — those open-minded and inclusive liberals — have systematically removed inhibitions about the use of startlingly sexist language.

I understand as well as the next person that politics is tough business, but let’s do some thought experiments. First, had Clinton or McCain or their teams used phrases which could be seen as disparaging African Americans, they’d have been vilified. Second, had a Republican done the “sweetie” and “claws” routine, every NOW representative worth her salt would be on the air calling for heads to roll.You want double standards? Got ‘em right here. In this wonderful post-partisan, post-racial era, someone forgot to tell the liberal media establishment and their beloved candidate that sexism is passé.

In addition to the Emily’s List activists, many of NARAL‘s own members are mighty upset about NARAL’s decision to endorse Barack Obama and dump longtime ally Hillary Clinton. If you had to think up moves designed to enrage Clinton supporters and make the healing process harder for Democrats, you’d have put this one near the top.

Meanwhile, Obama had to apologize for his “sweetie” crack. But this was not an isolated incident. Remember, this was the candidate who used phrases like “when the claws come out” and “when she’s feeling down periodically she launches attacks” in reference to his opponent. When language like this is part of the vocabulary of a candidate (one who is so exquisitely articulate), it is worth asking if there is something going on here.

The language and tone of the media have become so condescending and disrespectful toward Clinton that, I think, Obama’s camp has picked it up. When “she-devil,” “everyone’s first wife,” and “Fatal Attraction” become acceptable means of description in the mainstream media, why would the candidate hesitate to use them himself ? In short, Obama’s media fan club — those open-minded and inclusive liberals — have systematically removed inhibitions about the use of startlingly sexist language.

I understand as well as the next person that politics is tough business, but let’s do some thought experiments. First, had Clinton or McCain or their teams used phrases which could be seen as disparaging African Americans, they’d have been vilified. Second, had a Republican done the “sweetie” and “claws” routine, every NOW representative worth her salt would be on the air calling for heads to roll.You want double standards? Got ‘em right here. In this wonderful post-partisan, post-racial era, someone forgot to tell the liberal media establishment and their beloved candidate that sexism is passé.

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Klein’s Mad Again

Joe Klein is upset yet again–this time at Senator Joseph Lieberman. The source of his consternation is an interview Lieberman gave to Wolf Blitzer on CNN. When asked about a Hamas spokesman’s endorsement of Obama, Lieberman said that

John McCain obviously knows and has said that Senator Obama clearly doesn’t support any of the values or goals of Hamas. But the fact that the spokesperson for Hamas would say they would welcome the election of Senator Obama really does raise the question “Why?” and it suggests the difference between these two candidates.

According to Klein, Lieberman is

smearing Barack Obama re Hamas. He is entitled to his views about the Middle East, but for the past five years he has taken those Likudnik views a step beyond propriety–saying that those who disagree with him (i.e.–the Democratic Party, which nominated him for the Vice Presidency in 2000) are counseling “defeat” and “surrender.” And now this.  I wish Blitzer had been a bit more dogged and asked: “What could you possibly mean by that, Senator Lieberman–and please be specific. Why do you think Hamas “favors” Obama over McCain? What are you implying here, Senator?

Now one might believe Lieberman is wrong in what he said, but it is hardly a smear. In fact, Lieberman goes out of his way to stress that Obama does not share the values or goals of Hamas. His argument is a completely legitimate one: Obama would pursue policies that would (unintentionally) advance the aims of Hamas. It’s the flipside of an argument I presume Klein endorses: Bush’s policies–from Iraq to Guantanamo Bay to water-boarding–have helped the jihadists cause rather than hurt it.

It’s not a smear to make the argument that the policies of a President will have real-world consequences–in some instances making life easier for our enemies, and in some instances making life harder for our enemies. Is it unreasonable to conclude that the leaders of the Soviet Union were rooting for Carter in 1980 and Mondale in 1984?

Likewise, it’s perfectly legitimate to argue that the policy Barack Obama embraces would lead to an American surrender and defeat in Iraq–just as it’s perfectly legitimate to argue that McCain’s policies would harm American interests. Political campaigns are supposed to be about such matters.

This is all part of what is becoming an increasingly tiresome reflex within the media and which Klein embodies as well as anyone. When Lanny Davis said that Obama’s relationship to Jeremiah Wright was a legitimate, troubling issue, Klein accused Davis of “spreading the poison.” Now Lieberman’s argument that it’s worth asking why Hamas would rather see Obama than McCain as President is a “smear.” And next week if Lindsey Graham criticizes Obama’s willingness to meet with President Ahmadinejad without preconditions, I suppose we can expect Klein to charge Graham with “character assassination.”

For a fellow who likes to rip the hide off of his critics, Klein has developed some fairly thin skin. Years ago Bob Dole asked, “Where’s the outrage?” The answer, is appears, can be found in the writing of Joe Klein. Outrage seems to be a perennial state for him these days.

Joe Klein is upset yet again–this time at Senator Joseph Lieberman. The source of his consternation is an interview Lieberman gave to Wolf Blitzer on CNN. When asked about a Hamas spokesman’s endorsement of Obama, Lieberman said that

John McCain obviously knows and has said that Senator Obama clearly doesn’t support any of the values or goals of Hamas. But the fact that the spokesperson for Hamas would say they would welcome the election of Senator Obama really does raise the question “Why?” and it suggests the difference between these two candidates.

According to Klein, Lieberman is

smearing Barack Obama re Hamas. He is entitled to his views about the Middle East, but for the past five years he has taken those Likudnik views a step beyond propriety–saying that those who disagree with him (i.e.–the Democratic Party, which nominated him for the Vice Presidency in 2000) are counseling “defeat” and “surrender.” And now this.  I wish Blitzer had been a bit more dogged and asked: “What could you possibly mean by that, Senator Lieberman–and please be specific. Why do you think Hamas “favors” Obama over McCain? What are you implying here, Senator?

Now one might believe Lieberman is wrong in what he said, but it is hardly a smear. In fact, Lieberman goes out of his way to stress that Obama does not share the values or goals of Hamas. His argument is a completely legitimate one: Obama would pursue policies that would (unintentionally) advance the aims of Hamas. It’s the flipside of an argument I presume Klein endorses: Bush’s policies–from Iraq to Guantanamo Bay to water-boarding–have helped the jihadists cause rather than hurt it.

It’s not a smear to make the argument that the policies of a President will have real-world consequences–in some instances making life easier for our enemies, and in some instances making life harder for our enemies. Is it unreasonable to conclude that the leaders of the Soviet Union were rooting for Carter in 1980 and Mondale in 1984?

Likewise, it’s perfectly legitimate to argue that the policy Barack Obama embraces would lead to an American surrender and defeat in Iraq–just as it’s perfectly legitimate to argue that McCain’s policies would harm American interests. Political campaigns are supposed to be about such matters.

This is all part of what is becoming an increasingly tiresome reflex within the media and which Klein embodies as well as anyone. When Lanny Davis said that Obama’s relationship to Jeremiah Wright was a legitimate, troubling issue, Klein accused Davis of “spreading the poison.” Now Lieberman’s argument that it’s worth asking why Hamas would rather see Obama than McCain as President is a “smear.” And next week if Lindsey Graham criticizes Obama’s willingness to meet with President Ahmadinejad without preconditions, I suppose we can expect Klein to charge Graham with “character assassination.”

For a fellow who likes to rip the hide off of his critics, Klein has developed some fairly thin skin. Years ago Bob Dole asked, “Where’s the outrage?” The answer, is appears, can be found in the writing of Joe Klein. Outrage seems to be a perennial state for him these days.

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We’re the Real Enemy

Last year, barely a month after the UN Security Council had approved Res. 1747, instituting new sanctions against Iran, Austrian energy giant, OMV, signed the biggest energy deal to date ($22 billion) with the Islamic Republic.

The deal was the focus of attention at yesterday’s OMV annual shareholders’ meeting. Questioned about the soundness–moral and otherwise–of his company’s natural gas deal with Iran, OMV CEO Wolfgang Ruttenstorfer replied that “The details are to be negotiated” and there is “no foreseeable result” regarding the implementation of the deal, according to a Jerusalem Post article. OMV potentially faces obstacles and pressures from the UN and the U.S.

However, added Ruttenstorfer, things might change. According to the Post, Ruttenstorfer thinks “time is an ally.” Not, as you might hope, because he believes that with time a new, non-oppressive regime might rise in Tehran. No, the kind of political change OMV hopes for is in the U.S., so that OMV can proceed unhindered in its lucrative deal–even if such a deal will strengthen an oppressive regime with hazardous nuclear ambitions.

The Austrian government owns 31.5 percent of OMV. It’s regrettable that a nominal U.S. ally did not oppose OMV’s deal with Iran. For some in Europe, evidently, the real threat to European interests is not Iran but America.

Last year, barely a month after the UN Security Council had approved Res. 1747, instituting new sanctions against Iran, Austrian energy giant, OMV, signed the biggest energy deal to date ($22 billion) with the Islamic Republic.

The deal was the focus of attention at yesterday’s OMV annual shareholders’ meeting. Questioned about the soundness–moral and otherwise–of his company’s natural gas deal with Iran, OMV CEO Wolfgang Ruttenstorfer replied that “The details are to be negotiated” and there is “no foreseeable result” regarding the implementation of the deal, according to a Jerusalem Post article. OMV potentially faces obstacles and pressures from the UN and the U.S.

However, added Ruttenstorfer, things might change. According to the Post, Ruttenstorfer thinks “time is an ally.” Not, as you might hope, because he believes that with time a new, non-oppressive regime might rise in Tehran. No, the kind of political change OMV hopes for is in the U.S., so that OMV can proceed unhindered in its lucrative deal–even if such a deal will strengthen an oppressive regime with hazardous nuclear ambitions.

The Austrian government owns 31.5 percent of OMV. It’s regrettable that a nominal U.S. ally did not oppose OMV’s deal with Iran. For some in Europe, evidently, the real threat to European interests is not Iran but America.

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Stepping Up Their Game

The McCain camp was wary, while the Democratic primary still looked undecided, of taking on Barack Obama too forcefully. Yes on Hamas and Bill Ayers, no on Reverend Wright, with not much fire directed at some of the recent Obama gaffes. Now that the primary is drawing to an end, the McCain camp may be stepping up its rhetoric, and the rules of engagement are being set.

After the John Edwards endorsement event in Michigan last night, the McCain camp put out a statement which took Obama to task in some of its strongest language to date:

Whether it’s Senator Obama’s pledges to raise taxes on millions of hardworking families or his senseless foreign policy of meeting with anti-American regimes abroad, he shows a lack of judgment that voters will reject.

Staffers also sent out some stats from their research files detailing the lack of bipartisanship in Obama’s record, in advance of McCain’s speech today on bipartisanship.

Likewise, when Obama’s communications director Robert Gibbs tried to hedge on Obama’s position that he will meet directly with state sponsors of terrorism (“Let’s not confuse precondition with preparation,” he told John Roberts during a CNN interview), the McCain team struck back. With plenty of YouTube material and Obama’s own website detailing the candidate’s repeated determination to meet with rogue states’ leaders without preconditions, it wasn’t hard to show that Obama’s spokesman had been engaging in old-style double talk.

McCain’s people will need to do more of this if they are going to force Obama to define what “change” is and make clear exactly what policies he has in store. Allowing Obama to escape scrutiny in a media environment already shown to be excessively deferential to the Agent of Change would be a grave and even fatal error: It’s one Hillary Clinton made for all of 2007.

The McCain camp was wary, while the Democratic primary still looked undecided, of taking on Barack Obama too forcefully. Yes on Hamas and Bill Ayers, no on Reverend Wright, with not much fire directed at some of the recent Obama gaffes. Now that the primary is drawing to an end, the McCain camp may be stepping up its rhetoric, and the rules of engagement are being set.

After the John Edwards endorsement event in Michigan last night, the McCain camp put out a statement which took Obama to task in some of its strongest language to date:

Whether it’s Senator Obama’s pledges to raise taxes on millions of hardworking families or his senseless foreign policy of meeting with anti-American regimes abroad, he shows a lack of judgment that voters will reject.

Staffers also sent out some stats from their research files detailing the lack of bipartisanship in Obama’s record, in advance of McCain’s speech today on bipartisanship.

Likewise, when Obama’s communications director Robert Gibbs tried to hedge on Obama’s position that he will meet directly with state sponsors of terrorism (“Let’s not confuse precondition with preparation,” he told John Roberts during a CNN interview), the McCain team struck back. With plenty of YouTube material and Obama’s own website detailing the candidate’s repeated determination to meet with rogue states’ leaders without preconditions, it wasn’t hard to show that Obama’s spokesman had been engaging in old-style double talk.

McCain’s people will need to do more of this if they are going to force Obama to define what “change” is and make clear exactly what policies he has in store. Allowing Obama to escape scrutiny in a media environment already shown to be excessively deferential to the Agent of Change would be a grave and even fatal error: It’s one Hillary Clinton made for all of 2007.

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Proper Promotions

An unusual amount of interest has attended the army’s latest promotion list to brigadier general because of a perception that, up until recently, the army was still operating a peacetime personnel system even in wartime. There seemed to be little correlation between battlefield success in Iraq or Afghanistan and the promotion process. Some outstanding officers, such as Colonels H.R. McMaster and Peter Mansoor, had been passed over by previous boards even though they were integral to the greater success we’ve been having in Iraq. (Mansoor got tired of the whole process and decided to accept a tenured professor’s job teaching military history at Ohio State–a great consolation prize.)

But now, reports the Washington Post, McMaster and some other battle-tested leaders–including Colonel Sean McFarland, who engineered the amazing turnaround in Ramadi, and Colonel Ken Tovo, who has distinguished himself over multiple tours as a Special Forces officer in Iraq–will get overdue promotions to brigadier general. These promotions–if in fact they actually occur; the Army has said nothing publicly yet–will be the result of an unusual decision by the Army chief of staff George Casey and Army Secretary Peter Geren to ask David Petraeus to take a brief break from his duties in Iraq to chair the promotion board. Other officers with considerable Iraq experience on the board included Lieutenant General Stanley A. McChrystal, who has headed the Joint Special Operations Command (home of our Tier 1 commandos), and Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, who served two tours in Iraq.

The (rumored) decisions of this promotion board mean that some of the army’s great innovators in counterinsurgency are being put into influential positions where they will be able to shape the future course of the armed forces. That’s good news not only for these officers and their families, but also for everyone who worries about whether our military can adapt to the challenges ahead.

An unusual amount of interest has attended the army’s latest promotion list to brigadier general because of a perception that, up until recently, the army was still operating a peacetime personnel system even in wartime. There seemed to be little correlation between battlefield success in Iraq or Afghanistan and the promotion process. Some outstanding officers, such as Colonels H.R. McMaster and Peter Mansoor, had been passed over by previous boards even though they were integral to the greater success we’ve been having in Iraq. (Mansoor got tired of the whole process and decided to accept a tenured professor’s job teaching military history at Ohio State–a great consolation prize.)

But now, reports the Washington Post, McMaster and some other battle-tested leaders–including Colonel Sean McFarland, who engineered the amazing turnaround in Ramadi, and Colonel Ken Tovo, who has distinguished himself over multiple tours as a Special Forces officer in Iraq–will get overdue promotions to brigadier general. These promotions–if in fact they actually occur; the Army has said nothing publicly yet–will be the result of an unusual decision by the Army chief of staff George Casey and Army Secretary Peter Geren to ask David Petraeus to take a brief break from his duties in Iraq to chair the promotion board. Other officers with considerable Iraq experience on the board included Lieutenant General Stanley A. McChrystal, who has headed the Joint Special Operations Command (home of our Tier 1 commandos), and Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, who served two tours in Iraq.

The (rumored) decisions of this promotion board mean that some of the army’s great innovators in counterinsurgency are being put into influential positions where they will be able to shape the future course of the armed forces. That’s good news not only for these officers and their families, but also for everyone who worries about whether our military can adapt to the challenges ahead.

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The New York Times and the Democratic Party Join Obama in Going Completely Insane

“Bush Issues Veiled Attack on Obama,” declares the lead story on the New York Times website, even though the article notes: “Mr. Bush did not mention Mr. Obama by name, and the White House said his remarks were not aimed at the senator.” Nonetheless its lead paragraph simply states it as though it were gospel truth: “President Bush used a speech to the Israeli Parliament on Thursday to issue a veiled rebuke to Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential contender, who has argued that the United States should negotiate with countries like Iran and Syria.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Rahm Emanuel declares: “For this White House, partisan politics now begins at the water’s edge… Does the president have no shame?”

And Howard Dean, head of the DNC: “If John McCain is really serious about being a different kind of Republican, he’ll denounce these remarks in the strongest terms possible.”

Just for the record, and again, here’s what Bush said:

Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: “Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.” We have an obligation to call this what it is – the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.

As I said earlier, this is what might be called anti-terror boilerplate. Bush is criticizing a mindset, one that has had purchase even within his own administration. But come on. Democrats criticizing Bush for supposedly criticizing an American politician outside the borders of the United States? When untold numbers of them have done the same thing over the past seven years? Is this some kind of sick joke?

“Bush Issues Veiled Attack on Obama,” declares the lead story on the New York Times website, even though the article notes: “Mr. Bush did not mention Mr. Obama by name, and the White House said his remarks were not aimed at the senator.” Nonetheless its lead paragraph simply states it as though it were gospel truth: “President Bush used a speech to the Israeli Parliament on Thursday to issue a veiled rebuke to Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential contender, who has argued that the United States should negotiate with countries like Iran and Syria.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Rahm Emanuel declares: “For this White House, partisan politics now begins at the water’s edge… Does the president have no shame?”

And Howard Dean, head of the DNC: “If John McCain is really serious about being a different kind of Republican, he’ll denounce these remarks in the strongest terms possible.”

Just for the record, and again, here’s what Bush said:

Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: “Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.” We have an obligation to call this what it is – the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.

As I said earlier, this is what might be called anti-terror boilerplate. Bush is criticizing a mindset, one that has had purchase even within his own administration. But come on. Democrats criticizing Bush for supposedly criticizing an American politician outside the borders of the United States? When untold numbers of them have done the same thing over the past seven years? Is this some kind of sick joke?

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The “Q” Word

Call it irrational. Call it unrealistic. But Hillary Clinton has her view of how this is going to end, and it won’t be as result of her “quitting.” John has noted that quitting is anathema to the Clintons, who until now have never been beaten, let alone left any place voluntarily. It’s always worked for them to just keep going. It won’t work this time, absent some cataclysmic event, but she still isn’t . . . you know, quitting. She explained in an interview last night:

I don’t believe in quitting. I don’t believe in being pushed out. I feel I have a bond with the nearly 17 million people who have voted for me, and the million more who have expressed support for me or contributed to me or come out to see me. And I think that having a nominee is something we will get to. We’re not, you know, we’re not going to miss that opportunity. We will have a nominee, but only after everyone has had a chance to vote.

So perhaps the media should stop fretting over when and if she’ll quit and why she’s doing it and who it hurts or helps. They could, for a change, just tell us what actually happens every day, not what doesn’t happen or what they think is going to happen soon enough. Wow: this could revolutionize campaign coverage.

Call it irrational. Call it unrealistic. But Hillary Clinton has her view of how this is going to end, and it won’t be as result of her “quitting.” John has noted that quitting is anathema to the Clintons, who until now have never been beaten, let alone left any place voluntarily. It’s always worked for them to just keep going. It won’t work this time, absent some cataclysmic event, but she still isn’t . . . you know, quitting. She explained in an interview last night:

I don’t believe in quitting. I don’t believe in being pushed out. I feel I have a bond with the nearly 17 million people who have voted for me, and the million more who have expressed support for me or contributed to me or come out to see me. And I think that having a nominee is something we will get to. We’re not, you know, we’re not going to miss that opportunity. We will have a nominee, but only after everyone has had a chance to vote.

So perhaps the media should stop fretting over when and if she’ll quit and why she’s doing it and who it hurts or helps. They could, for a change, just tell us what actually happens every day, not what doesn’t happen or what they think is going to happen soon enough. Wow: this could revolutionize campaign coverage.

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The Obama Campaign Goes Completely Insane

If you look a few posts below, you will find the text of President Bush’s powerful and moving speech to the Knesset today. In the course of it, he says something very general:

Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: “Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.” We have an obligation to call this what it is – the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.

Bush here is arguing in very broad brush against a generally meliorist view of foreign policy — one, moreover, that is held by many people who work inside his own government. For some reason, people who work for the almost-certain nominee of the Democratic party have decided that Bush was attacking him. As Kate Phillips writes on the New York Times website:

In a telephone interview on CNN just a few minutes ago, Robert Gibbs, the communications director for Senator Barack Obama, called Mr. Bush’s remarks “astonishing” and an “unprecendented political attack on foreign soil.”

An “unprecedented attack on foreign soil”? That is completely deranged. Not only did Bush not mention Obama by name, it is doubtful he or his people were thinking about Obama. The argument that negotiating with terrorists is appeasement akin to Europe’s appeasement of Hitler is a standard view among hawks on the Right — decades old, dating back even before Barry Obama found the audacity to hope in the pews of Jeremiah Wright’s church. It is exactly the sort of thing a man with Bush’s politics would say in a speech before the Knesset, whether Obama had run for president or not.

The Obama campaign has even issued a statement on the matter in Obama’s name:

It is sad that President Bush would use a speech to the Knesset on the 60th anniversary of Israel’s independence to launch a false political attack. It is time to turn the page on eight years of policies that have strengthened Iran and failed to secure America or our ally Israel. Instead of tough talk and no action, we need to do what Kennedy, Nixon and Reagan did and use all elements of American power – including tough, principled, and direct diplomacy – to pressure countries like Iran and Syria. George Bush knows that I have never supported engagement with terrorists, and the President’s extraordinary politicization of foreign policy and the politics of fear do nothing to secure the American people or our stalwart ally Israel.

I’m not sure what this all says about Obama. Is this smart politics, getting his base riled up on his behalf? Is he trying to use Bush as a wedge to make the case to the Jewish community in the United States that the bad man in the White House is mischaracterizing him and therefore Jews should like him more? Is he trying, for the millionth time, to rule any criticism of himself out of reasonable bounds by complaining about something that isn’t even criticism of him?

Or is this just another example of Obama’s thin-skinned-ness?

If you look a few posts below, you will find the text of President Bush’s powerful and moving speech to the Knesset today. In the course of it, he says something very general:

Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: “Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.” We have an obligation to call this what it is – the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.

Bush here is arguing in very broad brush against a generally meliorist view of foreign policy — one, moreover, that is held by many people who work inside his own government. For some reason, people who work for the almost-certain nominee of the Democratic party have decided that Bush was attacking him. As Kate Phillips writes on the New York Times website:

In a telephone interview on CNN just a few minutes ago, Robert Gibbs, the communications director for Senator Barack Obama, called Mr. Bush’s remarks “astonishing” and an “unprecendented political attack on foreign soil.”

An “unprecedented attack on foreign soil”? That is completely deranged. Not only did Bush not mention Obama by name, it is doubtful he or his people were thinking about Obama. The argument that negotiating with terrorists is appeasement akin to Europe’s appeasement of Hitler is a standard view among hawks on the Right — decades old, dating back even before Barry Obama found the audacity to hope in the pews of Jeremiah Wright’s church. It is exactly the sort of thing a man with Bush’s politics would say in a speech before the Knesset, whether Obama had run for president or not.

The Obama campaign has even issued a statement on the matter in Obama’s name:

It is sad that President Bush would use a speech to the Knesset on the 60th anniversary of Israel’s independence to launch a false political attack. It is time to turn the page on eight years of policies that have strengthened Iran and failed to secure America or our ally Israel. Instead of tough talk and no action, we need to do what Kennedy, Nixon and Reagan did and use all elements of American power – including tough, principled, and direct diplomacy – to pressure countries like Iran and Syria. George Bush knows that I have never supported engagement with terrorists, and the President’s extraordinary politicization of foreign policy and the politics of fear do nothing to secure the American people or our stalwart ally Israel.

I’m not sure what this all says about Obama. Is this smart politics, getting his base riled up on his behalf? Is he trying to use Bush as a wedge to make the case to the Jewish community in the United States that the bad man in the White House is mischaracterizing him and therefore Jews should like him more? Is he trying, for the millionth time, to rule any criticism of himself out of reasonable bounds by complaining about something that isn’t even criticism of him?

Or is this just another example of Obama’s thin-skinned-ness?

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Why The “But”?

From today’s New York Times:

Mr. Bush likes to say he is the first American president to call for a “two-state solution,” of Palestinians and Israelis living side by side in peace. But his three-day visit here, timed to coincide with the 60th birthday celebration, is also reinforcing the impression among Palestinians that he is too closely allied with Israel.

Why “But”? President Bush’s endorsement of a two-state solution is one of the very indicators of his alliance with Israel. He wants to see two viable states emerge from this process. And Israel has been indefatigable in its commitment to a two-state solution, even as Iranian-made rockets launched in Gaza hit shopping centers and homes in Ashkelon and Sderot and the Strip enters its third year under the leadership of a party created to destroy the Jewish state. The only people who could object to George Bush’s pledge to stand by Israel are those opposed to a two-state solution.

Perhaps a visit to the grave of the kleptocrat who turned the hope of Palestinian well-being into a cruel multi-generational farce would rehabilitate George Bush’s image. Nothing less than full prostration before the advocates of a second Holocaust, it seems, will satisfy such complaints.

From today’s New York Times:

Mr. Bush likes to say he is the first American president to call for a “two-state solution,” of Palestinians and Israelis living side by side in peace. But his three-day visit here, timed to coincide with the 60th birthday celebration, is also reinforcing the impression among Palestinians that he is too closely allied with Israel.

Why “But”? President Bush’s endorsement of a two-state solution is one of the very indicators of his alliance with Israel. He wants to see two viable states emerge from this process. And Israel has been indefatigable in its commitment to a two-state solution, even as Iranian-made rockets launched in Gaza hit shopping centers and homes in Ashkelon and Sderot and the Strip enters its third year under the leadership of a party created to destroy the Jewish state. The only people who could object to George Bush’s pledge to stand by Israel are those opposed to a two-state solution.

Perhaps a visit to the grave of the kleptocrat who turned the hope of Palestinian well-being into a cruel multi-generational farce would rehabilitate George Bush’s image. Nothing less than full prostration before the advocates of a second Holocaust, it seems, will satisfy such complaints.

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Re: Bush and Blah Blah Blah

I have to disagree with you, David. President Bush’s current visit to the Middle East has a remarkably different feel from his trip to the region earlier this year–and not just because he’s foregoing photo-ops with unsheathed swords. Indeed, whereas Bush’s January jaunt overwhelmingly focused on bolstering a flimsy Arab coalition against Iran through an even shakier Israeli-Palestinian peace process, he has spent far more time practicing public diplomacy this time around. Insofar as preaching peace and democracy to dictators that have long undermined both was always a total waste of time, this is a welcome–and long overdue–development.

The high point in this public outreach campaign came yesterday in Jerusalem. While addressing a conference commemorating the 60th anniversary of Israel’s founding, President Bush declared American support for Israel in no uncertain terms. The speech was remarkable for its utter friendliness: Bush saluted Israeli democracy, joked about its contentious political culture, and said that he was “thrilled to be here with one of America’s greatest friends”–without a single mention of the Palestinians.

If Bush’s Annapolis pet-project has any chance of succeeding before he leaves office, this is precisely what Israelis need to hear. Historically, Israeli leaders have been most willing to compromise with their adversaries when American support is unambiguously strongest. In this vein, Bush’s speech beautifully set the stage for the more serious address he will deliver before the Knesset today, in which he will “talk about the day when … every child in the Middle East can live in peace and live in freedom”-in other words, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. As Israelis are deeply skeptical of this process, Bush’s strong display of support should provide some reassurance.

Sadly, Bush has been unable to replicate his success before Israelis when addressing Arab publics. The latest failure came Monday, when an interviewer from Egypt’s Dream TV asked Bush to respond to Jimmy Carter’s assertion that the Palestinians had suffered more than the Israelis; Bush responded:

Well, everybody has got their opinions. I just happen to believe that I’m in a position to help move the definition of a state, which will help solve the problem in the long run. I’m the first President ever to have articulated a two-state solution, two states living side by side in peace. And my only thing I want to tell your listeners is that I’m going to drive hard, along with Secretary Rice and other people in my administration, to see if we can’t get the Palestinians and Israelis to agree on what that state will look like.

Here, Bush missed an opportunity to say what the Palestinians need to hear. Just as Israelis needed to hear that the United States stood firmly behind it, Palestinians need to hear that we feel their pain–and are committed to doing something about it. Instead, by reverting to the uninspired tropes of the two-state solution, Bush gave the Palestinians–already deeply skeptical of the peace process–another reason to either roll their eyes or turn off the television.

I have to disagree with you, David. President Bush’s current visit to the Middle East has a remarkably different feel from his trip to the region earlier this year–and not just because he’s foregoing photo-ops with unsheathed swords. Indeed, whereas Bush’s January jaunt overwhelmingly focused on bolstering a flimsy Arab coalition against Iran through an even shakier Israeli-Palestinian peace process, he has spent far more time practicing public diplomacy this time around. Insofar as preaching peace and democracy to dictators that have long undermined both was always a total waste of time, this is a welcome–and long overdue–development.

The high point in this public outreach campaign came yesterday in Jerusalem. While addressing a conference commemorating the 60th anniversary of Israel’s founding, President Bush declared American support for Israel in no uncertain terms. The speech was remarkable for its utter friendliness: Bush saluted Israeli democracy, joked about its contentious political culture, and said that he was “thrilled to be here with one of America’s greatest friends”–without a single mention of the Palestinians.

If Bush’s Annapolis pet-project has any chance of succeeding before he leaves office, this is precisely what Israelis need to hear. Historically, Israeli leaders have been most willing to compromise with their adversaries when American support is unambiguously strongest. In this vein, Bush’s speech beautifully set the stage for the more serious address he will deliver before the Knesset today, in which he will “talk about the day when … every child in the Middle East can live in peace and live in freedom”-in other words, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. As Israelis are deeply skeptical of this process, Bush’s strong display of support should provide some reassurance.

Sadly, Bush has been unable to replicate his success before Israelis when addressing Arab publics. The latest failure came Monday, when an interviewer from Egypt’s Dream TV asked Bush to respond to Jimmy Carter’s assertion that the Palestinians had suffered more than the Israelis; Bush responded:

Well, everybody has got their opinions. I just happen to believe that I’m in a position to help move the definition of a state, which will help solve the problem in the long run. I’m the first President ever to have articulated a two-state solution, two states living side by side in peace. And my only thing I want to tell your listeners is that I’m going to drive hard, along with Secretary Rice and other people in my administration, to see if we can’t get the Palestinians and Israelis to agree on what that state will look like.

Here, Bush missed an opportunity to say what the Palestinians need to hear. Just as Israelis needed to hear that the United States stood firmly behind it, Palestinians need to hear that we feel their pain–and are committed to doing something about it. Instead, by reverting to the uninspired tropes of the two-state solution, Bush gave the Palestinians–already deeply skeptical of the peace process–another reason to either roll their eyes or turn off the television.

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“Citizens of Israel: Masada shall never fall again, and America will be at your side.”

What follows is the text of President Bush’s speech today in Jerusalem:

 President Peres and Mr. Prime Minister, Madam Speaker, thank very much for hosting this special session. President Beinish, Leader of the Opposition Netanyahu, Ministers, members of the Knesset, distinguished guests: Shalom. Laura and I are thrilled to be back in Israel. We have been deeply moved by the celebrations of the past two days. And this afternoon, I am honored to stand before one of the world’s great democratic assemblies and convey the wishes of the American people with these words: Yom Ha’atzmaut Sameach.

It is a rare privilege for the American President to speak to the Knesset. Although the Prime Minister told me there is something even rarer — to have just one person in this chamber speaking at a time. My only regret is that one of Israel’s greatest leaders is not here to share this moment. He is a warrior for the ages, a man of peace, a friend. The prayers of the American people are with Ariel Sharon.

We gather to mark a momentous occasion. Sixty years ago in Tel Aviv, David Ben-Gurion proclaimed Israel’s independence, founded on the “natural right of the Jewish people to be masters of their own fate.” What followed was more than the establishment of a new country. It was the redemption of an ancient promise given to Abraham and Moses and David — a homeland for the chosen people Eretz Yisrael.

Eleven minutes later, on the orders of President Harry Truman, the United States was proud to be the first nation to recognize Israel’s independence. And on this landmark anniversary, America is proud to be Israel’s closest ally and best friend in the world.

The alliance between our governments is unbreakable, yet the source of our friendship runs deeper than any treaty. It is grounded in the shared spirit of our people, the bonds of the Book, the ties of the soul. When William Bradford stepped off the Mayflower in 1620, he quoted the words of Jeremiah: “Come let us declare in Zion the word of God.” The founders of my country saw a new promised land and bestowed upon their towns names like Bethlehem and New Canaan. And in time, many Americans became passionate advocates for a Jewish state.

Centuries of suffering and sacrifice would pass before the dream was fulfilled. The Jewish people endured the agony of the pogroms, the tragedy of the Great War, and the horror of the Holocaust — what Elie Wiesel called “the kingdom of the night.” Soulless men took away lives and broke apart families. Yet they could not take away the spirit of the Jewish people, and they could not break the promise of God. When news of Israel’s freedom finally arrived, Golda Meir, a fearless woman raised in Wisconsin, could summon only tears. She later said: “For two thousand years we have waited for our deliverance. Now that it is here it is so great and wonderful that it surpasses human words.”

The joy of independence was tempered by the outbreak of battle, a struggle that has continued for six decades. Yet in spite of the violence, in defiance of the threats, Israel has built a thriving democracy in the heart of the Holy Land. You have welcomed immigrants from the four corners of the Earth. You have forged a free and modern society based on the love of liberty, a passion for justice, and a respect for human dignity. You have worked tirelessly for peace. You have fought valiantly for freedom.

My country’s admiration for Israel does not end there. When Americans look at Israel, we see a pioneer spirit that worked an agricultural miracle and now leads a high-tech revolution. We see world-class universities and a global leader in business and innovation and the arts. We see a resource more valuable than oil or gold: the talent and determination of a free people who refuse to let any obstacle stand in the way of their destiny.

I have been fortunate to see the character of Israel up close. I have touched the Western Wall, seen the sun reflected in the Sea of Galilee, I have prayed at Yad Vashem. And earlier today, I visited Masada, an inspiring monument to courage and sacrifice. At this historic site, Israeli soldiers swear an oath: “Masada shall never fall again.” Citizens of Israel: Masada shall never fall again, and America will be at your side.

This anniversary is a time to reflect on the past. It’s also an opportunity to look to the future. As we go forward, our alliance will be guided by clear principles — shared convictions rooted in moral clarity and unswayed by popularity polls or the shifting opinions of international elites.

We believe in the matchless value of every man, woman, and child. So we insist that the people of Israel have the right to a decent, normal, and peaceful life, just like the citizens of every other nation.

We believe that democracy is the only way to ensure human rights. So we consider it a source of shame that the United Nations routinely passes more human rights resolutions against the freest democracy in the Middle East than any other nation in the world.

We believe that religious liberty is fundamental to a civilized society. So we condemn anti-Semitism in all forms — whether by those who openly question Israel’s right to exist, or by others who quietly excuse them.

We believe that free people should strive and sacrifice for peace. So we applaud the courageous choices Israeli’s leaders have made. We also believe that nations have a right to defend themselves and that no nation should ever be forced to negotiate with killers pledged to its destruction.

We believe that targeting innocent lives to achieve political objectives is always and everywhere wrong. So we stand together against terror and extremism, and we will never let down our guard or lose our resolve.

The fight against terror and extremism is the defining challenge of our time. It is more than a clash of arms. It is a clash of visions, a great ideological struggle. On the one side are those who defend the ideals of justice and dignity with the power of reason and truth. On the other side are those who pursue a narrow vision of cruelty and control by committing murder, inciting fear, and spreading lies.

Read More

What follows is the text of President Bush’s speech today in Jerusalem:

 President Peres and Mr. Prime Minister, Madam Speaker, thank very much for hosting this special session. President Beinish, Leader of the Opposition Netanyahu, Ministers, members of the Knesset, distinguished guests: Shalom. Laura and I are thrilled to be back in Israel. We have been deeply moved by the celebrations of the past two days. And this afternoon, I am honored to stand before one of the world’s great democratic assemblies and convey the wishes of the American people with these words: Yom Ha’atzmaut Sameach.

It is a rare privilege for the American President to speak to the Knesset. Although the Prime Minister told me there is something even rarer — to have just one person in this chamber speaking at a time. My only regret is that one of Israel’s greatest leaders is not here to share this moment. He is a warrior for the ages, a man of peace, a friend. The prayers of the American people are with Ariel Sharon.

We gather to mark a momentous occasion. Sixty years ago in Tel Aviv, David Ben-Gurion proclaimed Israel’s independence, founded on the “natural right of the Jewish people to be masters of their own fate.” What followed was more than the establishment of a new country. It was the redemption of an ancient promise given to Abraham and Moses and David — a homeland for the chosen people Eretz Yisrael.

Eleven minutes later, on the orders of President Harry Truman, the United States was proud to be the first nation to recognize Israel’s independence. And on this landmark anniversary, America is proud to be Israel’s closest ally and best friend in the world.

The alliance between our governments is unbreakable, yet the source of our friendship runs deeper than any treaty. It is grounded in the shared spirit of our people, the bonds of the Book, the ties of the soul. When William Bradford stepped off the Mayflower in 1620, he quoted the words of Jeremiah: “Come let us declare in Zion the word of God.” The founders of my country saw a new promised land and bestowed upon their towns names like Bethlehem and New Canaan. And in time, many Americans became passionate advocates for a Jewish state.

Centuries of suffering and sacrifice would pass before the dream was fulfilled. The Jewish people endured the agony of the pogroms, the tragedy of the Great War, and the horror of the Holocaust — what Elie Wiesel called “the kingdom of the night.” Soulless men took away lives and broke apart families. Yet they could not take away the spirit of the Jewish people, and they could not break the promise of God. When news of Israel’s freedom finally arrived, Golda Meir, a fearless woman raised in Wisconsin, could summon only tears. She later said: “For two thousand years we have waited for our deliverance. Now that it is here it is so great and wonderful that it surpasses human words.”

The joy of independence was tempered by the outbreak of battle, a struggle that has continued for six decades. Yet in spite of the violence, in defiance of the threats, Israel has built a thriving democracy in the heart of the Holy Land. You have welcomed immigrants from the four corners of the Earth. You have forged a free and modern society based on the love of liberty, a passion for justice, and a respect for human dignity. You have worked tirelessly for peace. You have fought valiantly for freedom.

My country’s admiration for Israel does not end there. When Americans look at Israel, we see a pioneer spirit that worked an agricultural miracle and now leads a high-tech revolution. We see world-class universities and a global leader in business and innovation and the arts. We see a resource more valuable than oil or gold: the talent and determination of a free people who refuse to let any obstacle stand in the way of their destiny.

I have been fortunate to see the character of Israel up close. I have touched the Western Wall, seen the sun reflected in the Sea of Galilee, I have prayed at Yad Vashem. And earlier today, I visited Masada, an inspiring monument to courage and sacrifice. At this historic site, Israeli soldiers swear an oath: “Masada shall never fall again.” Citizens of Israel: Masada shall never fall again, and America will be at your side.

This anniversary is a time to reflect on the past. It’s also an opportunity to look to the future. As we go forward, our alliance will be guided by clear principles — shared convictions rooted in moral clarity and unswayed by popularity polls or the shifting opinions of international elites.

We believe in the matchless value of every man, woman, and child. So we insist that the people of Israel have the right to a decent, normal, and peaceful life, just like the citizens of every other nation.

We believe that democracy is the only way to ensure human rights. So we consider it a source of shame that the United Nations routinely passes more human rights resolutions against the freest democracy in the Middle East than any other nation in the world.

We believe that religious liberty is fundamental to a civilized society. So we condemn anti-Semitism in all forms — whether by those who openly question Israel’s right to exist, or by others who quietly excuse them.

We believe that free people should strive and sacrifice for peace. So we applaud the courageous choices Israeli’s leaders have made. We also believe that nations have a right to defend themselves and that no nation should ever be forced to negotiate with killers pledged to its destruction.

We believe that targeting innocent lives to achieve political objectives is always and everywhere wrong. So we stand together against terror and extremism, and we will never let down our guard or lose our resolve.

The fight against terror and extremism is the defining challenge of our time. It is more than a clash of arms. It is a clash of visions, a great ideological struggle. On the one side are those who defend the ideals of justice and dignity with the power of reason and truth. On the other side are those who pursue a narrow vision of cruelty and control by committing murder, inciting fear, and spreading lies.

This struggle is waged with the technology of the 21st century, but at its core it is an ancient battle between good and evil. The killers claim the mantle of Islam, but they are not religious men. No one who prays to the God of Abraham could strap a suicide vest to an innocent child, or blow up guiltless guests at a Passover Seder, or fly planes into office buildings filled with unsuspecting workers. In truth, the men who carry out these savage acts serve no higher goal than their own desire for power. They accept no God before themselves. And they reserve a special hatred for the most ardent defenders of liberty, including Americans and Israelis.

And that is why the founding charter of Hamas calls for the “elimination” of Israel. And that is why the followers of Hezbollah chant “Death to Israel, Death to America!” That is why Osama bin Laden teaches that “the killing of Jews and Americans is one of the biggest duties.” And that is why the President of Iran dreams of returning the Middle East to the Middle Ages and calls for Israel to be wiped off the map.

There are good and decent people who cannot fathom the darkness in these men and try to explain away their words. It’s natural, but it is deadly wrong. As witnesses to evil in the past, we carry a solemn responsibility to take these words seriously. Jews and Americans have seen the consequences of disregarding the words of leaders who espouse hatred. And that is a mistake the world must not repeat in the 21st century.

Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: “Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.” We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.

Some people suggest if the United States would just break ties with Israel, all our problems in the Middle East would go away. This is a tired argument that buys into the propaganda of the enemies of peace, and America utterly rejects it. Israel’s population may be just over 7 million. But when you confront terror and evil, you are 307 million strong, because the United States of America stands with you.

America stands with you in breaking up terrorist networks and denying the extremists sanctuary. America stands with you in firmly opposing Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions. Permitting the world’s leading sponsor of terror to possess the world’s deadliest weapons would be an unforgivable betrayal for future generations. For the sake of peace, the world must not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.

Ultimately, to prevail in this struggle, we must offer an alternative to the ideology of the extremists by extending our vision of justice and tolerance and freedom and hope. These values are the self-evident right of all people, of all religions, in all the world because they are a gift from the Almighty God. Securing these rights is also the surest way to secure peace. Leaders who are accountable to their people will not pursue endless confrontation and bloodshed. Young people with a place in their society and a voice in their future are less likely to search for meaning in radicalism. Societies where citizens can express their conscience and worship their God will not export violence, they will be partners in peace.

The fundamental insight, that freedom yields peace, is the great lesson of the 20th century. Now our task is to apply it to the 21st. Nowhere is this work more urgent than here in the Middle East. We must stand with the reformers working to break the old patterns of tyranny and despair. We must give voice to millions of ordinary people who dream of a better life in a free society. We must confront the moral relativism that views all forms of government as equally acceptable and thereby consigns whole societies to slavery. Above all, we must have faith in our values and ourselves and confidently pursue the expansion of liberty as the path to a peaceful future.

That future will be a dramatic departure from the Middle East of today. So as we mark 60 years from Israel’s founding, let us try to envision the region 60 years from now. This vision is not going to arrive easily or overnight; it will encounter violent resistance. But if we and future Presidents and future Knessets maintain our resolve and have faith in our ideals, here is the Middle East that we can see:

Israel will be celebrating the 120th anniversary as one of the world’s great democracies, a secure and flourishing homeland for the Jewish people. The Palestinian people will have the homeland they have long dreamed of and deserved — a democratic state that is governed by law, and respects human rights, and rejects terror. From Cairo to Riyadh to Baghdad and Beirut, people will live in free and independent societies, where a desire for peace is reinforced by ties of diplomacy and tourism and trade. Iran and Syria will be peaceful nations, with today’s oppression a distant memory and where people are free to speak their minds and develop their God-given talents. Al Qaeda and Hezbollah and Hamas will be defeated, as Muslims across the region recognize the emptiness of the terrorists’ vision and the injustice of their cause.

Overall, the Middle East will be characterized by a new period of tolerance and integration. And this doesn’t mean that Israel and its neighbors will be best of friends. But when leaders across the region answer to their people, they will focus their energies on schools and jobs, not on rocket attacks and suicide bombings. With this change, Israel will open a new hopeful chapter in which its people can live a normal life, and the dream of Herzl and the founders of 1948 can be fully and finally realized.

This is a bold vision, and some will say it can never be achieved. But think about what we have witnessed in our own time. When Europe was destroying itself through total war and genocide, it was difficult to envision a continent that six decades later would be free and at peace. When Japanese pilots were flying suicide missions into American battleships, it seemed impossible that six decades later Japan would be a democracy, a lynchpin of security in Asia, and one of America’s closest friends. And when waves of refugees arrived here in the desert with nothing, surrounded by hostile armies, it was almost unimaginable that Israel would grow into one of the freest and most successful nations on the earth.

Yet each one of these transformations took place. And a future of transformation is possible in the Middle East, so long as a new generation of leaders has the courage to defeat the enemies of freedom, to make the hard choices necessary for peace, and stand firm on the solid rock of universal values.

Sixty years ago, on the eve of Israel’s independence, the last British soldiers departing Jerusalem stopped at a building in the Jewish quarter of the Old City. An officer knocked on the door and met a senior rabbi. The officer presented him with a short iron bar — the key to the Zion Gate — and said it was the first time in 18 centuries that a key to the gates of Jerusalem had belonged to a Jew. His hands trembling, the rabbi offered a prayer of thanksgiving to God, “Who had granted us life and permitted us to reach this day.” Then he turned to the officer, and uttered the words Jews had awaited for so long: “I accept this key in the name of my people.”

Over the past six decades, the Jewish people have established a state that would make that humble rabbi proud. You have raised a modern society in the Promised Land, a light unto the nations that preserves the legacy of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. And you have built a mighty democracy that will endure forever and can always count on the United States of America to be at your side. God bless.

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Blah Blah Blah with Bush

I would like readers to know that my skepticism about Bush’s present visit to Jerusalem does not stem from resentment for the traffic snarls that threaten my peace-seeking efforts to drive my kids to school on time. Nor does it come from the kitsch that flowed from the Israel Convention Center last night, as two childrens’ choirs, one on site and the other in Maryland, celebrated the Israel-U.S. alliance in the presence of world leaders by unfathomably and simultaneously singing the Beatles’ Let it Be and Naomi Shemer’s Lu Yehi, which was written after the 1973 war in conscious echoing of the Liverpudlians’ swan song.

I sometimes wish that international politics were less, er, full of it. When you hear Olmert declaring significant progress being made in talks with Palestinians and a bewildered Saeb Erekat responding that he has no idea what Olmert’s talking about, and you find yourself believing the Palestinians, then you know what I mean. Or when Bush describes Olmert as “an honest man,” something that virtually no Israeli believes any more. Or when Israeli leaders respond to yesterday’s rocket attack on an Ashkelon shopping mall (it was an Iranian-made rocket, for those of you keeping score), which injured dozens, by declaring yet again that Israel will not stand idly by while blah blah blah . . . Perhaps I should just stop reading the stuff and go back to comics.

There is, of course, a good reason why international politics is so often a swamp of dissimulation. (It’s not diplomatic to use the word “lies.”) It is because politicians are accountable to people back home, and the farther away something is, the harder it is for the real bosses — the voters — to tell truth from fiction. Who among Bush’s voters really cares, or really knows, whether Olmert is an honest guy? Back home, it makes Bush look like a generous spirit; over here, it makes him look complicit in the deterioration of politics and the loss of values in the Jewish state.

Oh, well. Israelis, for their part, have grown numb to the whole thing. They’re busy as usual, dealing with casualties and trying to put their elected officials behind bars.

I would like readers to know that my skepticism about Bush’s present visit to Jerusalem does not stem from resentment for the traffic snarls that threaten my peace-seeking efforts to drive my kids to school on time. Nor does it come from the kitsch that flowed from the Israel Convention Center last night, as two childrens’ choirs, one on site and the other in Maryland, celebrated the Israel-U.S. alliance in the presence of world leaders by unfathomably and simultaneously singing the Beatles’ Let it Be and Naomi Shemer’s Lu Yehi, which was written after the 1973 war in conscious echoing of the Liverpudlians’ swan song.

I sometimes wish that international politics were less, er, full of it. When you hear Olmert declaring significant progress being made in talks with Palestinians and a bewildered Saeb Erekat responding that he has no idea what Olmert’s talking about, and you find yourself believing the Palestinians, then you know what I mean. Or when Bush describes Olmert as “an honest man,” something that virtually no Israeli believes any more. Or when Israeli leaders respond to yesterday’s rocket attack on an Ashkelon shopping mall (it was an Iranian-made rocket, for those of you keeping score), which injured dozens, by declaring yet again that Israel will not stand idly by while blah blah blah . . . Perhaps I should just stop reading the stuff and go back to comics.

There is, of course, a good reason why international politics is so often a swamp of dissimulation. (It’s not diplomatic to use the word “lies.”) It is because politicians are accountable to people back home, and the farther away something is, the harder it is for the real bosses — the voters — to tell truth from fiction. Who among Bush’s voters really cares, or really knows, whether Olmert is an honest guy? Back home, it makes Bush look like a generous spirit; over here, it makes him look complicit in the deterioration of politics and the loss of values in the Jewish state.

Oh, well. Israelis, for their part, have grown numb to the whole thing. They’re busy as usual, dealing with casualties and trying to put their elected officials behind bars.

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You Can Spot This One

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, in a speech yesterday, came out in favor of using a “combination of incentives and pressure to engage Iran.” He spoke favorably of Thomas Friedman’s May 14 column, in which Friedman wrote that

[T]he right question for the next president isn’t whether we talk or don’t talk. It’s whether we have leverage or don’t have leverage. When you have leverage, talk. When you don’t have leverage, get some — by creating economic, diplomatic or military incentives and pressures that the other side finds too tempting or frightening to ignore.

You can see it coming, right? The Post tosses in the line that Barack Obama has “said that talks with Iran on a range of issues might be useful.” The implication is clear: Obama is in the foreign policy mainstream. It’s McCain who’s out to lunch.

Of course, Obama’s proposal to talk at a presidential level with Iran without preconditions is the opposite of what Gates is proposing. The “leverage” which Friedman suggests we get before speaking is nonexistent in Obama’s scheme: he’ll talk to Ahmejinedad personally, regardless of whatever leverage we have aquired.

But be forewarned: that distinction will be utterly glossed over in the debate we are about to have. It’s up to the McCain camp to explain why talking without preconditions (at the Presidential level) is counterproductive without that all important leverage Friedman tells us to go acquire.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, in a speech yesterday, came out in favor of using a “combination of incentives and pressure to engage Iran.” He spoke favorably of Thomas Friedman’s May 14 column, in which Friedman wrote that

[T]he right question for the next president isn’t whether we talk or don’t talk. It’s whether we have leverage or don’t have leverage. When you have leverage, talk. When you don’t have leverage, get some — by creating economic, diplomatic or military incentives and pressures that the other side finds too tempting or frightening to ignore.

You can see it coming, right? The Post tosses in the line that Barack Obama has “said that talks with Iran on a range of issues might be useful.” The implication is clear: Obama is in the foreign policy mainstream. It’s McCain who’s out to lunch.

Of course, Obama’s proposal to talk at a presidential level with Iran without preconditions is the opposite of what Gates is proposing. The “leverage” which Friedman suggests we get before speaking is nonexistent in Obama’s scheme: he’ll talk to Ahmejinedad personally, regardless of whatever leverage we have aquired.

But be forewarned: that distinction will be utterly glossed over in the debate we are about to have. It’s up to the McCain camp to explain why talking without preconditions (at the Presidential level) is counterproductive without that all important leverage Friedman tells us to go acquire.

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Analysis For Dummies

In China’s Great Cultural Revolution, landlords and other capitalist roaders were paraded through the streets wearing dunce caps. The 20,000 analysts in the U.S. intelligence community whose job it is to make sense of the world for the U.S. government are all now compelled to “wear cards around their necks reminding them to remain ‘independent of political considerations.’”

That, at least, is what the Los Angeles Times reports today in a lengthy puff piece about Thomas Fingar, the director of analysis at the ODNI and the fellow who drafted the egregious National Intelligence Estimate of last December that stated, misleadingly, that Iran had halted its nuclear-weapons program in 2003.

The article also describes some of the training new analysts are given in a six-week course called Analysis 101.

During a recent class in northern Virginia, students from a dozen agencies formed teams to work on a war scenario. It was their first day of class, but many seemed to have arrived having absorbed the lessons of Iraq.

Dissent was encouraged. Attempts to goad students into policy debates were rebuffed. As one young analyst went through the mock exercise of briefing a general who was considering an invasion, she offered a pointed warning.

“Once you go into a country and take it over,” she said, “it would be best to have a plan.”

Perhaps a better name for the course is “Analysis for Dummies.”

There are some outstanding people in the U.S. intelligence community, and the fact that we have not been hit a second time after September 11 is testimony to their achievement.

But the stars appear to be those doing operational work, keeping the terrorist watch lists in order, running covert operations, and managing drones armed with Hellfire missiles in places like Waziristan.

Analysis remains a chronic weak spot; the products of this side of the intelligence house are typically either irrelevant or wrong. Indeed, the more one learns about what is going on there, the more convinced one becomes that the CIA and other spy agencies should be concentrating their efforts on purchasing (they are available for a good price in China) 20,000 dunce caps. These would be a good complement to the cards analysts are now required to wear around their necks. Fingar — and his deputy Richard Immerman – should be at the head of the parade.

In China’s Great Cultural Revolution, landlords and other capitalist roaders were paraded through the streets wearing dunce caps. The 20,000 analysts in the U.S. intelligence community whose job it is to make sense of the world for the U.S. government are all now compelled to “wear cards around their necks reminding them to remain ‘independent of political considerations.’”

That, at least, is what the Los Angeles Times reports today in a lengthy puff piece about Thomas Fingar, the director of analysis at the ODNI and the fellow who drafted the egregious National Intelligence Estimate of last December that stated, misleadingly, that Iran had halted its nuclear-weapons program in 2003.

The article also describes some of the training new analysts are given in a six-week course called Analysis 101.

During a recent class in northern Virginia, students from a dozen agencies formed teams to work on a war scenario. It was their first day of class, but many seemed to have arrived having absorbed the lessons of Iraq.

Dissent was encouraged. Attempts to goad students into policy debates were rebuffed. As one young analyst went through the mock exercise of briefing a general who was considering an invasion, she offered a pointed warning.

“Once you go into a country and take it over,” she said, “it would be best to have a plan.”

Perhaps a better name for the course is “Analysis for Dummies.”

There are some outstanding people in the U.S. intelligence community, and the fact that we have not been hit a second time after September 11 is testimony to their achievement.

But the stars appear to be those doing operational work, keeping the terrorist watch lists in order, running covert operations, and managing drones armed with Hellfire missiles in places like Waziristan.

Analysis remains a chronic weak spot; the products of this side of the intelligence house are typically either irrelevant or wrong. Indeed, the more one learns about what is going on there, the more convinced one becomes that the CIA and other spy agencies should be concentrating their efforts on purchasing (they are available for a good price in China) 20,000 dunce caps. These would be a good complement to the cards analysts are now required to wear around their necks. Fingar — and his deputy Richard Immerman – should be at the head of the parade.

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Obama’s Map

I agree with Jennifer that if Obama cannot win Florida – and the high percentage of retired military there would seem to make his inability to win there a certainty – the electoral college map is much more difficult for him. To beat McCain without Florida, Obama needs to win the states that Bush won in 2004 by a margin of fewer than 5 points. Yet that turns out to be most of the places where Obama has had problems with his own party, like Ohio — or New Mexico, Nevada, and Missouri, where he essentially split the vote with Clinton. He also needs to worry about protecting those states that Kerry won in ’04 by small margins: New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, or Michigan, which haven’t exactly been hothouses of Obamamania. True, Obama has pickup opportunities in Colorado, New Mexico, Iowa, and Nevada. But all the math suggests this could be a close race that tosses out a lot of the old red/blue assumptions.

Whatever your conclusion, it should be clear to serious students of the electoral college that the presidential race is really focused on about ten battleground states. The fact that Obama had a huge win in North Carolina is essentially irrelevant in November, something that Newsweek, “Good Morning America,” et al. never seem to get.

I agree with Jennifer that if Obama cannot win Florida – and the high percentage of retired military there would seem to make his inability to win there a certainty – the electoral college map is much more difficult for him. To beat McCain without Florida, Obama needs to win the states that Bush won in 2004 by a margin of fewer than 5 points. Yet that turns out to be most of the places where Obama has had problems with his own party, like Ohio — or New Mexico, Nevada, and Missouri, where he essentially split the vote with Clinton. He also needs to worry about protecting those states that Kerry won in ’04 by small margins: New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, or Michigan, which haven’t exactly been hothouses of Obamamania. True, Obama has pickup opportunities in Colorado, New Mexico, Iowa, and Nevada. But all the math suggests this could be a close race that tosses out a lot of the old red/blue assumptions.

Whatever your conclusion, it should be clear to serious students of the electoral college that the presidential race is really focused on about ten battleground states. The fact that Obama had a huge win in North Carolina is essentially irrelevant in November, something that Newsweek, “Good Morning America,” et al. never seem to get.

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