Commentary Magazine


Posts For: May 17, 2008

Apology Time, Or Not

Mike Huckabee made a remarkably stupid joke at the NRA convention about Barack Obama. To no one’s surprise, he apologized within twenty-four hours.

Senator Tom Harkin criticized John McCain for his and his family’s apparently excessive time in military service:

“I think he’s trapped in that . . .Everything is looked at from his life experiences, from always having been in the military, and I think that can be pretty dangerous. . . [I]t’s one thing to have been drafted and served, but another thing when you come from generations of military people and that’s just how you’re steeped, how you’ve learned, how you’ve grown up. . . I just want to be very clear there’s nothing wrong with a career in the military . . . But now McCain is running for a higher office. He’s running for commander in chief, and our Constitution says that should be a civilian. And in some ways, I think it would be nice if that commander in chief had some military background, but I don’t know if they need a whole lot.”

Yes, I suppose it would have been far better had George Washington and Dwight D. Eisenhower not had all that military training. So far, nothing from either Harkin or the presumptive Democratic nominee apologizing for impugning all that service to America.

The Left’s reflexive disdain for all things military has not endeared them to average Americans in the past. Obama, who let Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s jibe at McCain’s military service go without a direct rebuke, should decide if he wants to perpetuate this error. For a candidate who has generated concern about his willingness to express patriotic emotion (and who seems divorced at times from the cultural values held by millions of Americans), it might be a good idea for him to start repudiating these comments.

Oh, I forgot . . . absent an appearance at the National Press Club by the offending speaker, he doesn’t do repudiation.

Mike Huckabee made a remarkably stupid joke at the NRA convention about Barack Obama. To no one’s surprise, he apologized within twenty-four hours.

Senator Tom Harkin criticized John McCain for his and his family’s apparently excessive time in military service:

“I think he’s trapped in that . . .Everything is looked at from his life experiences, from always having been in the military, and I think that can be pretty dangerous. . . [I]t’s one thing to have been drafted and served, but another thing when you come from generations of military people and that’s just how you’re steeped, how you’ve learned, how you’ve grown up. . . I just want to be very clear there’s nothing wrong with a career in the military . . . But now McCain is running for a higher office. He’s running for commander in chief, and our Constitution says that should be a civilian. And in some ways, I think it would be nice if that commander in chief had some military background, but I don’t know if they need a whole lot.”

Yes, I suppose it would have been far better had George Washington and Dwight D. Eisenhower not had all that military training. So far, nothing from either Harkin or the presumptive Democratic nominee apologizing for impugning all that service to America.

The Left’s reflexive disdain for all things military has not endeared them to average Americans in the past. Obama, who let Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s jibe at McCain’s military service go without a direct rebuke, should decide if he wants to perpetuate this error. For a candidate who has generated concern about his willingness to express patriotic emotion (and who seems divorced at times from the cultural values held by millions of Americans), it might be a good idea for him to start repudiating these comments.

Oh, I forgot . . . absent an appearance at the National Press Club by the offending speaker, he doesn’t do repudiation.

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Does Nancy Pelosi Believe In The Surge?

Well, look who’s reconciled to reconciliation. Today, Nancy Pelosi met with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Mosul and–according to the AP, the Speaker of the House, “welcomed Iraq’s progress in passing a budget as well as oil legislation, and a bill paving the way for the provincial elections in the fall that are expected to more equitably redistribute power among local officials.”

“We’re assured the elections will happen here, they will be transparent, they will be inclusive and they will take Iraq closer to the reconciliation we all want it to have,” said Pelosi.

In February, she had said, “The purpose of the surge was to create a secure time for the government of Iraq to make the political change to bring reconciliation to Iraq. They have not done that.”

Some questions: Does this mean that the surge worked? And if so, does this mean Pelosi–gasp!–disagrees with Barack Obama, who has been against the surge from its inception? And when Nancy Pelosi returns home and speaks before the House about her experience in Iraq, will we finally see a change from the lockstep posturing that keeps the Democrats aligned with Obama on every last detail?

Well, look who’s reconciled to reconciliation. Today, Nancy Pelosi met with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Mosul and–according to the AP, the Speaker of the House, “welcomed Iraq’s progress in passing a budget as well as oil legislation, and a bill paving the way for the provincial elections in the fall that are expected to more equitably redistribute power among local officials.”

“We’re assured the elections will happen here, they will be transparent, they will be inclusive and they will take Iraq closer to the reconciliation we all want it to have,” said Pelosi.

In February, she had said, “The purpose of the surge was to create a secure time for the government of Iraq to make the political change to bring reconciliation to Iraq. They have not done that.”

Some questions: Does this mean that the surge worked? And if so, does this mean Pelosi–gasp!–disagrees with Barack Obama, who has been against the surge from its inception? And when Nancy Pelosi returns home and speaks before the House about her experience in Iraq, will we finally see a change from the lockstep posturing that keeps the Democrats aligned with Obama on every last detail?

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Method to the Madness

On Thursday, I said I thought the Obama campaign had gone “insane” by reacting to President Bush’s speech to the Israeli Knesset by misinterpreting a general discussion of appeasement as a personal attack. Two days of feverish press coverage have led me to consider the possibility that this was a cynical political play by Obama and his people, with three purposes.

First, they wanted to signal they won’t let any negative remark by any Republican go unanswered, and that includes remarks that don’t actually require an answer. Nonetheless, by convincing fellow Democrats that they will “not be Swift-boated,” they are attempting to address a lunatic concern of Democrats, which is that they are just not tough enough and Republicans are savage, mouth-breathing gutter fighters.

Second, despite the loathing all Democrats have for George W. Bush, he is the president and therefore the most important political figure in the world. The assertion that Bush has decided to take Obama on directly therefore elevates Obama to Bush’s level, making him a peer of the president’s and therefore more plausible as president himself.

Third, by creating a one-on-one confrontation with Bush, Obama is trying to complete his entirely successful effort to convince the mainstream media that the primary confrontation with Hillary Clinton is at an end.

So if you view this incident as a cynical political play, it was sensationally effective, and indicates just how formidable a candidate Obama is — in large measure because the media are so firmly in lockstep behind him that they simply follow his lead.

But it’s still meshugah.

On Thursday, I said I thought the Obama campaign had gone “insane” by reacting to President Bush’s speech to the Israeli Knesset by misinterpreting a general discussion of appeasement as a personal attack. Two days of feverish press coverage have led me to consider the possibility that this was a cynical political play by Obama and his people, with three purposes.

First, they wanted to signal they won’t let any negative remark by any Republican go unanswered, and that includes remarks that don’t actually require an answer. Nonetheless, by convincing fellow Democrats that they will “not be Swift-boated,” they are attempting to address a lunatic concern of Democrats, which is that they are just not tough enough and Republicans are savage, mouth-breathing gutter fighters.

Second, despite the loathing all Democrats have for George W. Bush, he is the president and therefore the most important political figure in the world. The assertion that Bush has decided to take Obama on directly therefore elevates Obama to Bush’s level, making him a peer of the president’s and therefore more plausible as president himself.

Third, by creating a one-on-one confrontation with Bush, Obama is trying to complete his entirely successful effort to convince the mainstream media that the primary confrontation with Hillary Clinton is at an end.

So if you view this incident as a cynical political play, it was sensationally effective, and indicates just how formidable a candidate Obama is — in large measure because the media are so firmly in lockstep behind him that they simply follow his lead.

But it’s still meshugah.

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What If John Edwards Doesn’t Help?

Kentucky’s primary is Tuesday. Let’s say for sake of argument that the polls there, as they were in West Virginia, are accurate (or even underestimate Hillary’s lead). We then will see a big win for already-declared loser Clinton and another round of rather horrid exit polls for Obama. And there won’t be a John Edwards endorsement the next day to distract the media.

Ah, but there will be the Oregon results, you say. True enough, but that’s not exactly where the general election is going to be decided. The nagging issue which will continue to vex Democrats will be: where are those 270 electoral votes going to come from? So far the polls say it won’t be from Red states like Kansas, Florida, or Ohio (or states like Arkansas, which Clinton would put in play).

Where is the new majority for Obama and what states with enough votes will be put in play? It may be too late for Clinton, but the question she posed about the viability of Obama’s coalition remains.

Kentucky’s primary is Tuesday. Let’s say for sake of argument that the polls there, as they were in West Virginia, are accurate (or even underestimate Hillary’s lead). We then will see a big win for already-declared loser Clinton and another round of rather horrid exit polls for Obama. And there won’t be a John Edwards endorsement the next day to distract the media.

Ah, but there will be the Oregon results, you say. True enough, but that’s not exactly where the general election is going to be decided. The nagging issue which will continue to vex Democrats will be: where are those 270 electoral votes going to come from? So far the polls say it won’t be from Red states like Kansas, Florida, or Ohio (or states like Arkansas, which Clinton would put in play).

Where is the new majority for Obama and what states with enough votes will be put in play? It may be too late for Clinton, but the question she posed about the viability of Obama’s coalition remains.

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