Commentary Magazine


Posts For: July 13, 2008

Back To The Strike Force?

The McCain team is pounding  Barack Obama’s not-so-clear journey away from his 16-month absolute troop withdrawal plan. The Obama team response is odd. Is Obama back to the “strike force“? Talking about a “residual force” (in what numbers?) and a “discrete mission” (what mission exactly would that be?) sounds like he really isn’t intent on embracing the surge and doing what is needed to transition to a functioning and independent Iraq.

It sounds like a stall, and may simply give more ammunition to the McCain camp to contend that Obama is searching around for reasons to adopt a new plan while the military and even many in the MSM have figured out it is a new ballgame in Iraq thanks to the surge.

Other than abject fear of his left-wing base, it is hard to find out why he is slow-walking himself from one position to another. Sometimes it is better just to rip the band-aid off all at once. Otherwise, people will suspect you lack leadership and political courage.

The McCain team is pounding  Barack Obama’s not-so-clear journey away from his 16-month absolute troop withdrawal plan. The Obama team response is odd. Is Obama back to the “strike force“? Talking about a “residual force” (in what numbers?) and a “discrete mission” (what mission exactly would that be?) sounds like he really isn’t intent on embracing the surge and doing what is needed to transition to a functioning and independent Iraq.

It sounds like a stall, and may simply give more ammunition to the McCain camp to contend that Obama is searching around for reasons to adopt a new plan while the military and even many in the MSM have figured out it is a new ballgame in Iraq thanks to the surge.

Other than abject fear of his left-wing base, it is hard to find out why he is slow-walking himself from one position to another. Sometimes it is better just to rip the band-aid off all at once. Otherwise, people will suspect you lack leadership and political courage.

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Seditious Conversations in Iran

Today, Iranian state television is reporting that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would consider an American request to open a diplomatic office in Tehran.  Iran’s officials have been debating whether to allow such an outpost in part because the Washington Post in late June broke the story that U.S. diplomats were thinking of making a request to establish an interest section there.  Iran currently has its own interest section in Washington, run out of the Pakistani embassy.

Will the State Department preempt the fierce McCain-Obama debate on talking with the mullahs by going out on its own and setting up an office in Iran?  And why open a channel when we severed relations in 1979 after Iranians took over our embassy and held our diplomats hostage?

It’s all about regime change.  “We’re always looking for ways to be able to reach out to the Iranian people,” said Tom Casey, State Department deputy spokesman, last month.  Arthur Waldron suggests we open our door, offer pistachios (with a little whisky for those so inclined), and listen to Iranians who want to talk.  This, he argues persuasively, will drive the country’s theocrats nuts.  Most Iranians have a good image of the United States, notes Time‘s Azadeh Moaveni.  Why?  There are various reasons, but perhaps the most interesting is that they detest their leaders and their leaders detest us.

Washington has used its interest section in Havana to reach out to Cubans, even installing a Times Square-like moving electronic sign that aggravated Fidel Castro to no end.  Why shouldn’t we also do all we can to irritate the ayatollahs through an office in their capital?

Of course, talking to the common folk in Tehran will not by itself bring down the theocracy.  Yet it could be one of our most effective tools in undermining a government that considers us an enemy.  In any event, an American interest section in Tehran will be one more thing for the country’s insecure leaders to worry about.  And who knows, maybe even a few of them will end up in line to get a Scotch-and perhaps to defect to the greatest nation on earth.

Today, Iranian state television is reporting that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would consider an American request to open a diplomatic office in Tehran.  Iran’s officials have been debating whether to allow such an outpost in part because the Washington Post in late June broke the story that U.S. diplomats were thinking of making a request to establish an interest section there.  Iran currently has its own interest section in Washington, run out of the Pakistani embassy.

Will the State Department preempt the fierce McCain-Obama debate on talking with the mullahs by going out on its own and setting up an office in Iran?  And why open a channel when we severed relations in 1979 after Iranians took over our embassy and held our diplomats hostage?

It’s all about regime change.  “We’re always looking for ways to be able to reach out to the Iranian people,” said Tom Casey, State Department deputy spokesman, last month.  Arthur Waldron suggests we open our door, offer pistachios (with a little whisky for those so inclined), and listen to Iranians who want to talk.  This, he argues persuasively, will drive the country’s theocrats nuts.  Most Iranians have a good image of the United States, notes Time‘s Azadeh Moaveni.  Why?  There are various reasons, but perhaps the most interesting is that they detest their leaders and their leaders detest us.

Washington has used its interest section in Havana to reach out to Cubans, even installing a Times Square-like moving electronic sign that aggravated Fidel Castro to no end.  Why shouldn’t we also do all we can to irritate the ayatollahs through an office in their capital?

Of course, talking to the common folk in Tehran will not by itself bring down the theocracy.  Yet it could be one of our most effective tools in undermining a government that considers us an enemy.  In any event, an American interest section in Tehran will be one more thing for the country’s insecure leaders to worry about.  And who knows, maybe even a few of them will end up in line to get a Scotch-and perhaps to defect to the greatest nation on earth.

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Well, Austan?

Barack Obama’s foreign policy and military advisors weren’t the only ones wrong about the prospects of the surge succeeding. So too was his economic advisor, economist Austan Goolsbee of the University of Chicago. On November 11, 2007, he published a column in the New York Times citing research by an MIT professor to conclude “that the bond market – which, historically, has often been an early indicator of the demise of a political system – was pessimistic about the Iraqi government’s chances for survival.” The evidence for this was the fact that Iraq’s dollar-denominated bonds were trading at a huge discount from their face value.

Goolsbee went on to praise “the prescience of financial markets.” Only in this case they haven’t turned out to be so prescient after all. The surge, as we know, has succeeded spectacularly. As a result the risk premium on Iraq’s bonds has fallen from nearly 7.0% in August 2007 to around 4.8% last month. Citigroup even released a research note in April which, according to Reuters, concluded that “Iraq is proving an oasis for investors battered by global financial turmoil” and that the “cost of insuring Iraq’s bonds against default has fallen so sharply that they now costs less to insure than Venezuelan debt.”

Not surprisingly there has not been a word about the improvement in outlook for Iraq’s bonds from Professor Goolsbee or the New York Times. Just one more reason why the analysis emanating from the Obama campaign and the MSM as regards to Iraq deserves to be devalued by the public. (Full disclosure: I’m a foreign policy adviser to Senator McCain, whose prescience has been fully vindicated by events in Iraq.)

Barack Obama’s foreign policy and military advisors weren’t the only ones wrong about the prospects of the surge succeeding. So too was his economic advisor, economist Austan Goolsbee of the University of Chicago. On November 11, 2007, he published a column in the New York Times citing research by an MIT professor to conclude “that the bond market – which, historically, has often been an early indicator of the demise of a political system – was pessimistic about the Iraqi government’s chances for survival.” The evidence for this was the fact that Iraq’s dollar-denominated bonds were trading at a huge discount from their face value.

Goolsbee went on to praise “the prescience of financial markets.” Only in this case they haven’t turned out to be so prescient after all. The surge, as we know, has succeeded spectacularly. As a result the risk premium on Iraq’s bonds has fallen from nearly 7.0% in August 2007 to around 4.8% last month. Citigroup even released a research note in April which, according to Reuters, concluded that “Iraq is proving an oasis for investors battered by global financial turmoil” and that the “cost of insuring Iraq’s bonds against default has fallen so sharply that they now costs less to insure than Venezuelan debt.”

Not surprisingly there has not been a word about the improvement in outlook for Iraq’s bonds from Professor Goolsbee or the New York Times. Just one more reason why the analysis emanating from the Obama campaign and the MSM as regards to Iraq deserves to be devalued by the public. (Full disclosure: I’m a foreign policy adviser to Senator McCain, whose prescience has been fully vindicated by events in Iraq.)

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Should Have Been X, but Is Y

Over at Alarming News, Karol Sheinin has various guest bloggers weighing on who they had wanted to vote for as opposed to who they’ve ended up supporting. The series kicks off with Karol’s own switcheroo. Check it out.

Over at Alarming News, Karol Sheinin has various guest bloggers weighing on who they had wanted to vote for as opposed to who they’ve ended up supporting. The series kicks off with Karol’s own switcheroo. Check it out.

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Ron Paul and J Street, Together At Last

Ron Paul (to be charitable) is an isolationist who believes that the basic problem with American foreign policy is, alas, America, whereas the lobbying group J Street seeks greater American pressure on Israel to compel it to make concessions to its enemies. On the surface, Paul and J Street appear to represent diametrically opposite ideologies. But they are unified in the realm of premises, in the belief that their own sides, America and Israel, are the essential troublemakers in the world. They differ only in the method of redemption.

Ron Paul took to the floor of the House on Thursday to announce his joining of the Hands Off Iran! coalition, which is united in mendacious opposition to a non-binding House resolution that calls for tightened sanctions on Iran. (Paul & Co. claim that this resolution demands a blockade of Iran, which would be an act of war.) Naturally, Paul quoted from J Street material which cannot even bring itself to endorse the meager UN Security Council sanctions that are already in effect on Iran. J Street instead calls for “smart, tough diplomacy,” although what that entails is never elaborated upon.

In his presentation, Paul also argues that Iran’s ballistic missile show on Wednesday was Israel’s fault, that Iran is not in violation of the IAEA or the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and that Iran’s strategic goal is only the wish to defend itself from the real belligerents in the world, America and Israel. A marvelous presentation that should make J Street proud. Watch it all below.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1y47K29J1o[/youtube]

Ron Paul (to be charitable) is an isolationist who believes that the basic problem with American foreign policy is, alas, America, whereas the lobbying group J Street seeks greater American pressure on Israel to compel it to make concessions to its enemies. On the surface, Paul and J Street appear to represent diametrically opposite ideologies. But they are unified in the realm of premises, in the belief that their own sides, America and Israel, are the essential troublemakers in the world. They differ only in the method of redemption.

Ron Paul took to the floor of the House on Thursday to announce his joining of the Hands Off Iran! coalition, which is united in mendacious opposition to a non-binding House resolution that calls for tightened sanctions on Iran. (Paul & Co. claim that this resolution demands a blockade of Iran, which would be an act of war.) Naturally, Paul quoted from J Street material which cannot even bring itself to endorse the meager UN Security Council sanctions that are already in effect on Iran. J Street instead calls for “smart, tough diplomacy,” although what that entails is never elaborated upon.

In his presentation, Paul also argues that Iran’s ballistic missile show on Wednesday was Israel’s fault, that Iran is not in violation of the IAEA or the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and that Iran’s strategic goal is only the wish to defend itself from the real belligerents in the world, America and Israel. A marvelous presentation that should make J Street proud. Watch it all below.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1y47K29J1o[/youtube]

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Not Even Trying

Abe has pointed to one technique of the spin-factory at New York Times. But Sunday’s front story page is a doozy. It is about a potential early reduction in forces in Iraq. Well, this sounds promising. There is some discussion about the need for more forces in Afghanistan. There is this:

But the political benefit might go more to Mr. McCain than Mr. Obama. Mr. McCain is an avid supporter of the current strategy in Iraq. Any reduction would indicate that that strategy has worked and could defuse antiwar sentiment among voters.

But wait. What is missing? It is not just that a reduction would “indicate” that the surge has worked; it has worked. You see more is at work than just a clever trick by the McCain team to “defuse antiwar sentiment.” The Times does quote Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to the effect that “[a]s the Iraqi security forces get stronger and get better, then we will be able to continue drawing down our troops in the future.” But how exactly did we reach that point? It seems a mystery to the Times. Could it be that the Bush strategy worked?

Even more curious: the Times states that McCain is an “avid supporter” of the current strategy, but is silent on Obama’s opposition. You could read the entire story without seeing any mention that Obama opposed the surge, has still refused to recognize its benefits (well, that would mean the Times would have to connect the dots too, I suppose) or that the draw-down in forces is precisely what the Bush administration’s policy aimed to achieve.

It was almost as if the reporter was given a near-impossible assignment: write a story on potential troop reductions in Iraq, but don’t credit McCain or the Bush administration and don’t let on that Obama opposed it all along. Well, wouldn’t you know–he pulled it off!

Abe has pointed to one technique of the spin-factory at New York Times. But Sunday’s front story page is a doozy. It is about a potential early reduction in forces in Iraq. Well, this sounds promising. There is some discussion about the need for more forces in Afghanistan. There is this:

But the political benefit might go more to Mr. McCain than Mr. Obama. Mr. McCain is an avid supporter of the current strategy in Iraq. Any reduction would indicate that that strategy has worked and could defuse antiwar sentiment among voters.

But wait. What is missing? It is not just that a reduction would “indicate” that the surge has worked; it has worked. You see more is at work than just a clever trick by the McCain team to “defuse antiwar sentiment.” The Times does quote Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to the effect that “[a]s the Iraqi security forces get stronger and get better, then we will be able to continue drawing down our troops in the future.” But how exactly did we reach that point? It seems a mystery to the Times. Could it be that the Bush strategy worked?

Even more curious: the Times states that McCain is an “avid supporter” of the current strategy, but is silent on Obama’s opposition. You could read the entire story without seeing any mention that Obama opposed the surge, has still refused to recognize its benefits (well, that would mean the Times would have to connect the dots too, I suppose) or that the draw-down in forces is precisely what the Bush administration’s policy aimed to achieve.

It was almost as if the reporter was given a near-impossible assignment: write a story on potential troop reductions in Iraq, but don’t credit McCain or the Bush administration and don’t let on that Obama opposed it all along. Well, wouldn’t you know–he pulled it off!

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Is a freewheeling setting so daunting for Barack Obama that he would stiff six thousand of servicemen and their families? The McCain team no doubt is happy that Obama isn’t making much of an effort to earn the trust of the military and, to boot, has breathed new life into the story about him snubbing the townhall concept.

Here’s one way to get conservative pundits to defend Wall-E. Enough with the umbrage-taking, already.

Here is a good question: “Do Democrats only honor a military record when their nominee happens to be a veteran?”

David Broder lets on that Obama has left no footprints: “No one in recent decades has emerged as the party standard-bearer from so truncated a political career: four years in the U.S. Senate, during which he has yet to lead on any major domestic or foreign policy issue, preceded by largely anonymous service in the Illinois state Senate. ”

After chiding him (“everything he is and does is cultivated”) Maureen Dowd advises Obama to stop “whining.” It is a little scary when Times columnists sound like the Right blogosphere.

Helpful pundits give Obama plenty of encouragement to take on teachers’ unions. But what about the other unions? Does does he really need to oppose secret ballot elections and the rest of the Big Labor wish list?

Yeah, bullying disaffected Democrats sounds like a grand idea: tell them that their concerns about Obama’s flip-flopping are “childish” and suggest that if Hillary Clinton supporters “go off in a snit when their candidate loses the nomination, that will suggest that they aren’t really in this out of progressive passion–they just find politics an amusing hobby, like racehorses or yachts.” Who could resist such a charming entreaty?

The lesson of the surge from Michael Barone: “Stand fast. Put the right men in charge. And never doubt the capacity of the men and women of the American military, when given the right orders, to perform far better than the experts predict.” (And to do that, you need a President with an extraordinary ability to screen out media and Congressional wailing and even the short term political concerns of his own party.)

What better encapsulation of the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the Left: “Calling every petty regional dictator ‘evil ‘ is ultimately counterproductive by coarsening our political discourse and dehumanizing our opponents.” Those on the Left are beyond redemption when they can’t agree even to this indictment of Iran: “The Iranian regime epitomizes evil on all social and political fronts. From its draconian punishment of women and homosexuals to its aggressive anti-Semitism (to highlight a few offenses), Iran must be stopped from having the political and military leverage that comes with the acquisition of a nuclear weapon program.”

If you can get by the inexplicable assertion that MSNBC is “an improvement over Fox” in maintaining journalistic credibility, this is an interesting read on why Tim Russert stood out as a “responsible adult” (largely, because he was “[s]urrounded by the new-style gang of smirking, eye-rolling, jabbering commentator-newsmen”). The Eddie Haskell reference alone makes it worth the read.

Is a freewheeling setting so daunting for Barack Obama that he would stiff six thousand of servicemen and their families? The McCain team no doubt is happy that Obama isn’t making much of an effort to earn the trust of the military and, to boot, has breathed new life into the story about him snubbing the townhall concept.

Here’s one way to get conservative pundits to defend Wall-E. Enough with the umbrage-taking, already.

Here is a good question: “Do Democrats only honor a military record when their nominee happens to be a veteran?”

David Broder lets on that Obama has left no footprints: “No one in recent decades has emerged as the party standard-bearer from so truncated a political career: four years in the U.S. Senate, during which he has yet to lead on any major domestic or foreign policy issue, preceded by largely anonymous service in the Illinois state Senate. ”

After chiding him (“everything he is and does is cultivated”) Maureen Dowd advises Obama to stop “whining.” It is a little scary when Times columnists sound like the Right blogosphere.

Helpful pundits give Obama plenty of encouragement to take on teachers’ unions. But what about the other unions? Does does he really need to oppose secret ballot elections and the rest of the Big Labor wish list?

Yeah, bullying disaffected Democrats sounds like a grand idea: tell them that their concerns about Obama’s flip-flopping are “childish” and suggest that if Hillary Clinton supporters “go off in a snit when their candidate loses the nomination, that will suggest that they aren’t really in this out of progressive passion–they just find politics an amusing hobby, like racehorses or yachts.” Who could resist such a charming entreaty?

The lesson of the surge from Michael Barone: “Stand fast. Put the right men in charge. And never doubt the capacity of the men and women of the American military, when given the right orders, to perform far better than the experts predict.” (And to do that, you need a President with an extraordinary ability to screen out media and Congressional wailing and even the short term political concerns of his own party.)

What better encapsulation of the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the Left: “Calling every petty regional dictator ‘evil ‘ is ultimately counterproductive by coarsening our political discourse and dehumanizing our opponents.” Those on the Left are beyond redemption when they can’t agree even to this indictment of Iran: “The Iranian regime epitomizes evil on all social and political fronts. From its draconian punishment of women and homosexuals to its aggressive anti-Semitism (to highlight a few offenses), Iran must be stopped from having the political and military leverage that comes with the acquisition of a nuclear weapon program.”

If you can get by the inexplicable assertion that MSNBC is “an improvement over Fox” in maintaining journalistic credibility, this is an interesting read on why Tim Russert stood out as a “responsible adult” (largely, because he was “[s]urrounded by the new-style gang of smirking, eye-rolling, jabbering commentator-newsmen”). The Eddie Haskell reference alone makes it worth the read.

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Speaking Frankly to Chinese Autocrats

Yesterday, Beijing defended its Friday veto of a UN Security Council resolution that would have imposed an arms embargo on Zimbabwe and financial and travel restrictions on President Robert Mugabe and 13 other officials.  “Under present conditions, passing a sanctions resolution against Zimbabwe would not help to encourage the various factions there to engage in political dialogue and negotiations and achieve results,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao.  “On the contrary, it would further complicate conditions.”

In fact, Zimbabwe’s conditions need more complication.  The odious Mugabe has been able to settle the situation in his country after he stole the presidency from opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the March 29 election and the June 27 run-off.  Dialogue, as we have seen during the past several weeks, will be ineffective in restoring any semblance of democracy.  Mugabe will step aside only when he is forced to do so.  Beijing has backed the autocrat to the hilt, thereby rendering the UN ineffective.

If Beijing can be resolute, why can’t the United States?  Washington, which sponsored the sanctions resolution, has been meek after its defeat at the Security Council.  The most that Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to the global body, could say is that Beijing’s veto was “disturbing.”

Yet what is even more disturbing is Washington’s inability these days to confront the Chinese for their irresponsible behavior at the UN and other international settings.  And the problem starts at the top of the American political order.  Earlier this month, President Bush said he was going to the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics so that he could be in a position to “speak frankly” to the Chinese leaders.

Well, Mr. President, let me speak frankly to you.  You don’t need to wait a month and travel half way around the world to have a candid conversation.  I am sure your office has a telephone that can reach the Chinese capital.  Now is the time for a harsh word or two for the unrepentant autocrats who rule from Beijing.

If you won’t do that for Zimbabwe’s long-suffering people, Mr. President, at least do that for yourself.  Your inability to stand up to Chinese despots makes you look weak-and undermines your ability to accomplish important items on your foreign policy agenda.

Yesterday, Beijing defended its Friday veto of a UN Security Council resolution that would have imposed an arms embargo on Zimbabwe and financial and travel restrictions on President Robert Mugabe and 13 other officials.  “Under present conditions, passing a sanctions resolution against Zimbabwe would not help to encourage the various factions there to engage in political dialogue and negotiations and achieve results,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao.  “On the contrary, it would further complicate conditions.”

In fact, Zimbabwe’s conditions need more complication.  The odious Mugabe has been able to settle the situation in his country after he stole the presidency from opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the March 29 election and the June 27 run-off.  Dialogue, as we have seen during the past several weeks, will be ineffective in restoring any semblance of democracy.  Mugabe will step aside only when he is forced to do so.  Beijing has backed the autocrat to the hilt, thereby rendering the UN ineffective.

If Beijing can be resolute, why can’t the United States?  Washington, which sponsored the sanctions resolution, has been meek after its defeat at the Security Council.  The most that Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to the global body, could say is that Beijing’s veto was “disturbing.”

Yet what is even more disturbing is Washington’s inability these days to confront the Chinese for their irresponsible behavior at the UN and other international settings.  And the problem starts at the top of the American political order.  Earlier this month, President Bush said he was going to the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics so that he could be in a position to “speak frankly” to the Chinese leaders.

Well, Mr. President, let me speak frankly to you.  You don’t need to wait a month and travel half way around the world to have a candid conversation.  I am sure your office has a telephone that can reach the Chinese capital.  Now is the time for a harsh word or two for the unrepentant autocrats who rule from Beijing.

If you won’t do that for Zimbabwe’s long-suffering people, Mr. President, at least do that for yourself.  Your inability to stand up to Chinese despots makes you look weak-and undermines your ability to accomplish important items on your foreign policy agenda.

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Goodbye, Tony Snow

I saw Tony Snow for the last time a couple of months ago. I had boarded a plane from San Francisco to Dulles and had my head buried in a book, when I felt someone hit me on the head with a rolled up newspaper. I looked up, ready to pick a fight, and there was Tony grinning in the aisle. He talked my seatmate into switching seats and we rode back to Washington, catching up on old times. He looked good, much better than he had appeared last time I’d seen him on TV, but he admitted he was dead tired. He’d been on an extended speaking tour, was going to be back home for only one day, and ready to head out again for what he said was his last commitment.

We talked about his health, and I gave him motherly advice about how he had to slow down. He smiled and promised he was going to take it easy after the next trip. But it was clear to me that what he was really saying was that he had to do as much paid speaking as he could right then in order to provide for his family when he was gone. He wasn’t morbid about it–in fact, Tony had one of the most optimistic personalities of anyone I’ve ever known. He was just congenitally cheerful.

I first met Tony when I was staff director of the US Civil Rights Commission in the Reagan administration and he was a young writer for the Detroit News. Over the years, Tony was generous in ways few people in his profession are. When USA Today decided to add a stable of four regular opinion writers to its editorial page, Tony recommended me as the other conservative. We wrote for the paper once a week for a couple of years, and then the paper decided to change format. Tony picked up on the gossip long before I did and called to warn me to start looking elsewhere to place my column and recommended Creators Syndicate, where I ended up. Tony was very good at promoting himself, but that never translated into stabbing the other guy in the back to get ahead. Truly, there aren’t many like him in the world of ambition that is Washington.

He was just an all-around nice guy who loved his work, loved his family, and seemed to enjoy each day he was given. Those days were all too short, and we will all miss him

I saw Tony Snow for the last time a couple of months ago. I had boarded a plane from San Francisco to Dulles and had my head buried in a book, when I felt someone hit me on the head with a rolled up newspaper. I looked up, ready to pick a fight, and there was Tony grinning in the aisle. He talked my seatmate into switching seats and we rode back to Washington, catching up on old times. He looked good, much better than he had appeared last time I’d seen him on TV, but he admitted he was dead tired. He’d been on an extended speaking tour, was going to be back home for only one day, and ready to head out again for what he said was his last commitment.

We talked about his health, and I gave him motherly advice about how he had to slow down. He smiled and promised he was going to take it easy after the next trip. But it was clear to me that what he was really saying was that he had to do as much paid speaking as he could right then in order to provide for his family when he was gone. He wasn’t morbid about it–in fact, Tony had one of the most optimistic personalities of anyone I’ve ever known. He was just congenitally cheerful.

I first met Tony when I was staff director of the US Civil Rights Commission in the Reagan administration and he was a young writer for the Detroit News. Over the years, Tony was generous in ways few people in his profession are. When USA Today decided to add a stable of four regular opinion writers to its editorial page, Tony recommended me as the other conservative. We wrote for the paper once a week for a couple of years, and then the paper decided to change format. Tony picked up on the gossip long before I did and called to warn me to start looking elsewhere to place my column and recommended Creators Syndicate, where I ended up. Tony was very good at promoting himself, but that never translated into stabbing the other guy in the back to get ahead. Truly, there aren’t many like him in the world of ambition that is Washington.

He was just an all-around nice guy who loved his work, loved his family, and seemed to enjoy each day he was given. Those days were all too short, and we will all miss him

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Makes No Difference to Moran

What’s the difference between Iran, the United States, and Israel? Not much, according to Representative Jim Moran (D-VA).

Asked by host Bruce DePuyt about his “reaction to the missile tests this week,” Moran said his reaction “is the same as my reaction to Israel’s provocative display about a week earlier.”

The Politico article goes on:

Last month, The New York Times reported that Israel carried out a military drill over the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Israeli officials have not publicly commented on the exercise, but have expressed serious concerns about Iran’s nuclear program.

“This is saber rattling, and I don’t think it’s responsible or productive for either party, and I don’t think we should be threatened,” Moran said. “We should all sit down and be more adult about this. Iran does not have a nuclear weapon. Iran is very unlikely to attack Israel, there’s no one else in the region that they would have any reason to attack.”

“This is wrong and immature for Iran,” Moran said later, “it’s wrong and immature for the United States, and to some extent Israel to be engaging in this kind of counterproductive saber rattling.

Moran is simply unable to condemn Iran without condemning America and Israel, too. The Congressman, as his comments indicate, demonstrates a blatant disregard for fact: Iran poses a real existential threat to Israel. What makes its zealous quest for nuclear power frightening is the same reason that Iran must be called what it is: evil. The president of Iran prays for the concomitant death of Jews and destruction of Israel. So for Moran to equate Israel and America with Iran is to suggest that the three have committed just as egregious actions.

Sadly, Moran’s mistake is not exclusive to him; it’s indicative of broader trends of thinking among a certain segment of the Left. This radical sect (like its magazine of opinion, which James Kirchick wrote about earlier this week) has strayed far from its roots.

What’s the difference between Iran, the United States, and Israel? Not much, according to Representative Jim Moran (D-VA).

Asked by host Bruce DePuyt about his “reaction to the missile tests this week,” Moran said his reaction “is the same as my reaction to Israel’s provocative display about a week earlier.”

The Politico article goes on:

Last month, The New York Times reported that Israel carried out a military drill over the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Israeli officials have not publicly commented on the exercise, but have expressed serious concerns about Iran’s nuclear program.

“This is saber rattling, and I don’t think it’s responsible or productive for either party, and I don’t think we should be threatened,” Moran said. “We should all sit down and be more adult about this. Iran does not have a nuclear weapon. Iran is very unlikely to attack Israel, there’s no one else in the region that they would have any reason to attack.”

“This is wrong and immature for Iran,” Moran said later, “it’s wrong and immature for the United States, and to some extent Israel to be engaging in this kind of counterproductive saber rattling.

Moran is simply unable to condemn Iran without condemning America and Israel, too. The Congressman, as his comments indicate, demonstrates a blatant disregard for fact: Iran poses a real existential threat to Israel. What makes its zealous quest for nuclear power frightening is the same reason that Iran must be called what it is: evil. The president of Iran prays for the concomitant death of Jews and destruction of Israel. So for Moran to equate Israel and America with Iran is to suggest that the three have committed just as egregious actions.

Sadly, Moran’s mistake is not exclusive to him; it’s indicative of broader trends of thinking among a certain segment of the Left. This radical sect (like its magazine of opinion, which James Kirchick wrote about earlier this week) has strayed far from its roots.

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Olmert Plays with Words

According to news reports, Israel is on the verge of finalizing a prisoner exchange with Hezbollah, the implementation of which is anticipated to take place next Wednesday. As Haaretz reports,

[o]ne possible obstacle to the cabinet’s approval is the terms of the current deal, which go against promises the state made to Arad’s family when it redeemed Elhanan Tenenbaum in 2004 – not to release Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar without also obtaining substantive information about Arad’s fate.

To keep its word to Arad’s family, this government now has three options:  the first would be to keep the promise and, in the wake of Hezbollah’s vague report on Arad’s fate, call the whole thing off. The second would be to explain to the Arad family that the imperatives of state demand the return of Israel’s captive soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, dead or alive, even if the cost is breaking a promise made four years ago to the Arad family. Then of course, there is the third option – stick to the deal with Hezbollah and challenge the meaning of the word “substantive,” thereby pretending that this government kept all its commitments.

The first choice might consign Regev and Goldwasser – or their remains – to the same fate of Arad. The second choice would give those two families a peace of mind which this very same act might forever deny to the Arad family. And the third course of action would be spin.

Which course of action do you think Olmert will embrace? I suspect playing with words will be it.

According to news reports, Israel is on the verge of finalizing a prisoner exchange with Hezbollah, the implementation of which is anticipated to take place next Wednesday. As Haaretz reports,

[o]ne possible obstacle to the cabinet’s approval is the terms of the current deal, which go against promises the state made to Arad’s family when it redeemed Elhanan Tenenbaum in 2004 – not to release Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar without also obtaining substantive information about Arad’s fate.

To keep its word to Arad’s family, this government now has three options:  the first would be to keep the promise and, in the wake of Hezbollah’s vague report on Arad’s fate, call the whole thing off. The second would be to explain to the Arad family that the imperatives of state demand the return of Israel’s captive soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, dead or alive, even if the cost is breaking a promise made four years ago to the Arad family. Then of course, there is the third option – stick to the deal with Hezbollah and challenge the meaning of the word “substantive,” thereby pretending that this government kept all its commitments.

The first choice might consign Regev and Goldwasser – or their remains – to the same fate of Arad. The second choice would give those two families a peace of mind which this very same act might forever deny to the Arad family. And the third course of action would be spin.

Which course of action do you think Olmert will embrace? I suspect playing with words will be it.

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Far Left

In this unintentionally amusing account, the New York Times finds some liberals dismayed about Barack Obama’s lurch to the center and then disparages them as a bunch of left-wing kooks, far out of the mainstream. Well, it would have been nice if the Times had so identified such voters during the campaign, when they were swooning at rallies and touting Obama’s virtues. Moreover, the Times nicely omits mention of its own reporters and columnists who have lambasted the flip-flopping. Can they also be discounted as hopelessly out of the mainstream?

The problem, of course, is not just that his far-left fan base is peeved. Yes, that is a potential problem which may adversely affect small donations, enthusiasm and volunteerism. But the real issue is those voters who are in play — the moderate and nonideological voters who thought Obama was new and different. The death of the New Politics meme is potentially more damaging to Obama’s ability to attract those voters than to keep die-hard liberals in the fold.

And indeed his plunge in the Newsweek poll is largely based on his collapse in support among independent voters. Noteworthy is that the large number number of voters who see his flip-flops as politically motivated.

So, rather than find far Left supporters, insult them, and marginalize their importance, the Times might do better to interview some genuine undecided voters and ask them if all the flip-floppery has been a turn off. That might be a more helpful way to measure the degree to which Obama has poisoned his own well of goodwill with voters.

In this unintentionally amusing account, the New York Times finds some liberals dismayed about Barack Obama’s lurch to the center and then disparages them as a bunch of left-wing kooks, far out of the mainstream. Well, it would have been nice if the Times had so identified such voters during the campaign, when they were swooning at rallies and touting Obama’s virtues. Moreover, the Times nicely omits mention of its own reporters and columnists who have lambasted the flip-flopping. Can they also be discounted as hopelessly out of the mainstream?

The problem, of course, is not just that his far-left fan base is peeved. Yes, that is a potential problem which may adversely affect small donations, enthusiasm and volunteerism. But the real issue is those voters who are in play — the moderate and nonideological voters who thought Obama was new and different. The death of the New Politics meme is potentially more damaging to Obama’s ability to attract those voters than to keep die-hard liberals in the fold.

And indeed his plunge in the Newsweek poll is largely based on his collapse in support among independent voters. Noteworthy is that the large number number of voters who see his flip-flops as politically motivated.

So, rather than find far Left supporters, insult them, and marginalize their importance, the Times might do better to interview some genuine undecided voters and ask them if all the flip-floppery has been a turn off. That might be a more helpful way to measure the degree to which Obama has poisoned his own well of goodwill with voters.

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Obama’s Speaker’s Block

Barack Obama now sheepishly admits what I pointed out two days ago: The man who scolded Americans for speaking English exclusively — speaks English exclusively: “I know because I don’t speak a foreign language. It’s embarrassing!” he said.

But hey, when you pander, it’s the thought that counts. It’s worth noting that there is no “change” to be found in Obama’s empty championing of American bilingualism. In 2002, Bill Clinton said, “I hope very much that I’m the last president in American history who can’t speak Spanish.” You have to give it to Bill. With some clever phraseology he managed in the space of a sentence to successfully convey what Obama turned into a problematic soundbite, and did so while promising nothing and acknowledging his own limitations.

The point is Obama now stumbles on the gimmes, the rhetorical staples that have been the Left’s bread and butter since the 1960’s. He seems to be suffering from the oratorical equivalent of writer’s block. His shifting positions have left him not knowing quite what to say, and as a result he’s losing touch with how to say anything. He now backs away from previous pronouncements, calling them, “overheated,” while failing to introduce anything new and “leg-tingling” into the mix. If the primary was Obama’s precocious debut masterpiece, might the general election be turning into his sophomore jinx?

Barack Obama now sheepishly admits what I pointed out two days ago: The man who scolded Americans for speaking English exclusively — speaks English exclusively: “I know because I don’t speak a foreign language. It’s embarrassing!” he said.

But hey, when you pander, it’s the thought that counts. It’s worth noting that there is no “change” to be found in Obama’s empty championing of American bilingualism. In 2002, Bill Clinton said, “I hope very much that I’m the last president in American history who can’t speak Spanish.” You have to give it to Bill. With some clever phraseology he managed in the space of a sentence to successfully convey what Obama turned into a problematic soundbite, and did so while promising nothing and acknowledging his own limitations.

The point is Obama now stumbles on the gimmes, the rhetorical staples that have been the Left’s bread and butter since the 1960’s. He seems to be suffering from the oratorical equivalent of writer’s block. His shifting positions have left him not knowing quite what to say, and as a result he’s losing touch with how to say anything. He now backs away from previous pronouncements, calling them, “overheated,” while failing to introduce anything new and “leg-tingling” into the mix. If the primary was Obama’s precocious debut masterpiece, might the general election be turning into his sophomore jinx?

Read Less




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