Commentary Magazine


Posts For: July 17, 2008

Have A Nice Trip

The McCain has put out a web ad documenting the twists and turns in Barack Obama’s Iraq policy positions. What is so unnerving is the implacability with which he puts forth not just new positions, but false explanations of his old positions. Perhaps the most damaging and embarrassing to Obama are the clips of the presser in which Obama tries to explain his “strike force.” There is a reason perhaps why he isn’t doing town halls.

The McCain team also jacked up the volume in other ways, putting out a memo accusing Obama of playing politics with the Iraq war. Then it held an afternoon blogger conference call today with Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and McCain campaign blogger Michael Goldfarb. Blackburn began with a pitch for Obama to listen to the troops who will “tell him they are fighting the enemy” and that the surge has allowed the Iraqi government to increase its “stability, popularity and relevance.” Goldfarb reiterated that Obama judgment “was so misguided on the surge” and echoed the call for Obama to listen to those in command there, rather than rely on his pre-existing views which Goldfarb said he had tried to “set in stone” with his op-ed and speech this week.

Other highlights: 1) The McCain camp contends that the Obama camp’s attacks while McCain was overseas in Colombia “set the mode” that criticism and contrast ads are fair game when one candidate is out of the country and the McCain camp has “no reservation” about doing the same next week; 2) the only way, Goldfarb says, that the Bush administration’s policy could move closer to Obama’s is if “Ahmadinejad showed up in Crawford for a barbecue” and that McCain is in favor of low level, multilateral negotiating efforts, but the Europeans are very concerned about Obama’s no-preconditions posture; 3) as for whether the media star parade following Obama but not McCain overseas is unfair or just covering a big story, Goldfarb — with tongue firmly planted in cheek — said it was understandable the press would want to cover someone with a very thin policy record and who had spend very little time overseas except “as a kid” and that Obama had already heightened controversy over the Brandenburg Gate flap.

I asked about the difference between the candidates’ statements on the release of the Israelis’ bodies and the murderer of the Haran family. Goldfarb declined to comment on Obama’s failure to mention the murders or issuance of any condemnation, but reiterated that McCain considered the conduct of Hamas and Hezbollah to be “egregious” and had called for the release of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier still in the hands of Hamas.

I also asked about Obama’s position that Iraq was irrelevant to Afghanistan. Goldfarb  argued that Osama bin Laden and General Petraeus agree it is “central in the war on terror” and that one can “just look at the map” to see that Iraq is “in the heart of the Muslim world.” He reminded the press that ABC’s report found that the 16-month withdrawal plan is “absolutely dangerous.” After Blackburn reiterated that Obama “does not understand the regional threat,” Goldfarb commented that the only one who was distracted from Afghanistan was Obama who had declined to hold hearings on the subject.

The McCain has put out a web ad documenting the twists and turns in Barack Obama’s Iraq policy positions. What is so unnerving is the implacability with which he puts forth not just new positions, but false explanations of his old positions. Perhaps the most damaging and embarrassing to Obama are the clips of the presser in which Obama tries to explain his “strike force.” There is a reason perhaps why he isn’t doing town halls.

The McCain team also jacked up the volume in other ways, putting out a memo accusing Obama of playing politics with the Iraq war. Then it held an afternoon blogger conference call today with Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and McCain campaign blogger Michael Goldfarb. Blackburn began with a pitch for Obama to listen to the troops who will “tell him they are fighting the enemy” and that the surge has allowed the Iraqi government to increase its “stability, popularity and relevance.” Goldfarb reiterated that Obama judgment “was so misguided on the surge” and echoed the call for Obama to listen to those in command there, rather than rely on his pre-existing views which Goldfarb said he had tried to “set in stone” with his op-ed and speech this week.

Other highlights: 1) The McCain camp contends that the Obama camp’s attacks while McCain was overseas in Colombia “set the mode” that criticism and contrast ads are fair game when one candidate is out of the country and the McCain camp has “no reservation” about doing the same next week; 2) the only way, Goldfarb says, that the Bush administration’s policy could move closer to Obama’s is if “Ahmadinejad showed up in Crawford for a barbecue” and that McCain is in favor of low level, multilateral negotiating efforts, but the Europeans are very concerned about Obama’s no-preconditions posture; 3) as for whether the media star parade following Obama but not McCain overseas is unfair or just covering a big story, Goldfarb — with tongue firmly planted in cheek — said it was understandable the press would want to cover someone with a very thin policy record and who had spend very little time overseas except “as a kid” and that Obama had already heightened controversy over the Brandenburg Gate flap.

I asked about the difference between the candidates’ statements on the release of the Israelis’ bodies and the murderer of the Haran family. Goldfarb declined to comment on Obama’s failure to mention the murders or issuance of any condemnation, but reiterated that McCain considered the conduct of Hamas and Hezbollah to be “egregious” and had called for the release of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier still in the hands of Hamas.

I also asked about Obama’s position that Iraq was irrelevant to Afghanistan. Goldfarb  argued that Osama bin Laden and General Petraeus agree it is “central in the war on terror” and that one can “just look at the map” to see that Iraq is “in the heart of the Muslim world.” He reminded the press that ABC’s report found that the 16-month withdrawal plan is “absolutely dangerous.” After Blackburn reiterated that Obama “does not understand the regional threat,” Goldfarb commented that the only one who was distracted from Afghanistan was Obama who had declined to hold hearings on the subject.

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If You Want to See. . .

. . . a demented attempt at creating an equivalence between Israeli society and those in Lebanon who are celebrating the deeds of Samir Kuntar, just click here. The post is written by someone named Brian Ulrich, and as I understand it, his foreign-policy blog is quite popular on the left.

. . . a demented attempt at creating an equivalence between Israeli society and those in Lebanon who are celebrating the deeds of Samir Kuntar, just click here. The post is written by someone named Brian Ulrich, and as I understand it, his foreign-policy blog is quite popular on the left.

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Was It Worth It?

NOW Lebanon, the pro-March 14 newspaper, has a poignant editorial today, one which takes the form only of a table. On one side are Lebanon’s net gains, and on the other side its net losses. It is a stark reminder of the destruction Hezbollah has brought on the country in exchange for five living terrorists. But there is a very important item missing from the “net losses” column, one whose absence is telling: the intangible yet very real psychic toll that the past few days’ terror-worship has taken, and will continue to take, on the country. Click here for the editorial.

NOW Lebanon, the pro-March 14 newspaper, has a poignant editorial today, one which takes the form only of a table. On one side are Lebanon’s net gains, and on the other side its net losses. It is a stark reminder of the destruction Hezbollah has brought on the country in exchange for five living terrorists. But there is a very important item missing from the “net losses” column, one whose absence is telling: the intangible yet very real psychic toll that the past few days’ terror-worship has taken, and will continue to take, on the country. Click here for the editorial.

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The Politics Of Apocalypse

From today’s speech by Al Gore:

The survival of the United States of America as we know it is at risk. And even more – if more should be required – the future of human civilization is at stake. I don’t remember a time in our country when so many things seemed to be going so wrong simultaneously. Our economy is in terrible shape and getting worse, gasoline prices are increasing dramatically, and so are electricity rates. Jobs are being outsourced. Home mortgages are in trouble. Banks, automobile companies and other institutions we depend upon are under growing pressure. Distinguished senior business leaders are telling us that this is just the beginning unless we find the courage to make some major changes quickly.

And the media labels the Right’s talking points “the politics of fear”?

From today’s speech by Al Gore:

The survival of the United States of America as we know it is at risk. And even more – if more should be required – the future of human civilization is at stake. I don’t remember a time in our country when so many things seemed to be going so wrong simultaneously. Our economy is in terrible shape and getting worse, gasoline prices are increasing dramatically, and so are electricity rates. Jobs are being outsourced. Home mortgages are in trouble. Banks, automobile companies and other institutions we depend upon are under growing pressure. Distinguished senior business leaders are telling us that this is just the beginning unless we find the courage to make some major changes quickly.

And the media labels the Right’s talking points “the politics of fear”?

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Not A Peep

Compare the statements from Barack Obama and John McCain on Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. Obama is filled with sympathy for the “tragedy.” What was this–a forest fire? You would never know that these men had been kidnapped and murdered. Is Obama so lacking a moral compass that he cannot discern evil? Or so fearful of being disliked?

A natural disaster is a tragedy. This was, both with regard to the slain Israelis and the returned Lebanese murderer, another episode of vicious criminality. Obama could not bring himself to identify the egregious behavior of Israel’s enemies or of the larger meaning of the outrage. John McCain gets closer to the point:

“I wish to extend my deepest condolences to the families of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. When I met the Regev and Goldwasser families in Israel, I was moved by their profound love for their sons, who were kidnapped by Hezbollah in the summer of 2006. Now we know that Eldad and Ehud made the ultimate sacrifice for the country they served and loved. In spite of this tragic loss, Israel and the United States will remain united in their struggle against terrorism. The continuing attacks on Israel by Hezbollah, Hamas, and other terrorist groups supported by state sponsors of terror like Syria and Iran pose a severe threat to Israel. Our democratic ally is under siege, and these two deaths are just the latest in a long line of brave Israelis who have been killed by vicious terrorists. Though we mourn the loss of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, we are reminded by this that we must never waver in our support for Israel, and we continue to demand the re lease of Gilad Shalit, taken captive by Hamas and held illegally since the summer of 2006.”

I think Marty Peretz said it best. If people want an explanation of why some doubt whether Obama “gets it” on Israel, this is Exhibit “A.”

Compare the statements from Barack Obama and John McCain on Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. Obama is filled with sympathy for the “tragedy.” What was this–a forest fire? You would never know that these men had been kidnapped and murdered. Is Obama so lacking a moral compass that he cannot discern evil? Or so fearful of being disliked?

A natural disaster is a tragedy. This was, both with regard to the slain Israelis and the returned Lebanese murderer, another episode of vicious criminality. Obama could not bring himself to identify the egregious behavior of Israel’s enemies or of the larger meaning of the outrage. John McCain gets closer to the point:

“I wish to extend my deepest condolences to the families of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. When I met the Regev and Goldwasser families in Israel, I was moved by their profound love for their sons, who were kidnapped by Hezbollah in the summer of 2006. Now we know that Eldad and Ehud made the ultimate sacrifice for the country they served and loved. In spite of this tragic loss, Israel and the United States will remain united in their struggle against terrorism. The continuing attacks on Israel by Hezbollah, Hamas, and other terrorist groups supported by state sponsors of terror like Syria and Iran pose a severe threat to Israel. Our democratic ally is under siege, and these two deaths are just the latest in a long line of brave Israelis who have been killed by vicious terrorists. Though we mourn the loss of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, we are reminded by this that we must never waver in our support for Israel, and we continue to demand the re lease of Gilad Shalit, taken captive by Hamas and held illegally since the summer of 2006.”

I think Marty Peretz said it best. If people want an explanation of why some doubt whether Obama “gets it” on Israel, this is Exhibit “A.”

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Just A Thought

“Everyone I know hopes that Barack Obama will win the presidential election.” This line appears not in a far-Left blog, but in an op-ed in today’s New York Times. It is written without irony. The author, the novelist Christopher Peters, was born and lives in Germany, and wrote the piece in German. In it, he calls into question German chancellor Angela Merkel’s opposition to Obama’s plan to speak at Brandenburg Gate.

Merkel, he contends, is driven by a “psychological” problem that causes her to like John McCain. She grew up in Soviet-dominated East Germany, you see, and like so many other leaders from Eastern Bloc countries today, she seems to have an irrational appreciation for the American Right. “The fear of being threatened by the ‘evil empire’ still runs deep in those who lived under Soviet domination,” Peters writes,”and that fear may well be connected with a longing for the ‘strong, good’ leader who will provide protection.”

Never mind the fact that Western European countries, like France and Italy, occasionally elect leaders who share Merkel’s psychosis. And never mind the serious problem I have with people who are so convinced of their beliefs that they dismiss their political opponents as psychologically troubled. The question I have is: Why is the New York Times willing to publish the opinion of someone who does not know a single person with differing political opinions from his own? Think about it: Not at work, not at the gym, not in his extended circle of friends — the man does not ever hear a single pro-McCain voice. Somehow this reminds me of the New Yorker fiasco of this past week: A publication so insulated from the world of conflicting ideas that its editors come to assume that no outsider is even reading it. Let’s see if their ombudsman has something to say on this one.

“Everyone I know hopes that Barack Obama will win the presidential election.” This line appears not in a far-Left blog, but in an op-ed in today’s New York Times. It is written without irony. The author, the novelist Christopher Peters, was born and lives in Germany, and wrote the piece in German. In it, he calls into question German chancellor Angela Merkel’s opposition to Obama’s plan to speak at Brandenburg Gate.

Merkel, he contends, is driven by a “psychological” problem that causes her to like John McCain. She grew up in Soviet-dominated East Germany, you see, and like so many other leaders from Eastern Bloc countries today, she seems to have an irrational appreciation for the American Right. “The fear of being threatened by the ‘evil empire’ still runs deep in those who lived under Soviet domination,” Peters writes,”and that fear may well be connected with a longing for the ‘strong, good’ leader who will provide protection.”

Never mind the fact that Western European countries, like France and Italy, occasionally elect leaders who share Merkel’s psychosis. And never mind the serious problem I have with people who are so convinced of their beliefs that they dismiss their political opponents as psychologically troubled. The question I have is: Why is the New York Times willing to publish the opinion of someone who does not know a single person with differing political opinions from his own? Think about it: Not at work, not at the gym, not in his extended circle of friends — the man does not ever hear a single pro-McCain voice. Somehow this reminds me of the New Yorker fiasco of this past week: A publication so insulated from the world of conflicting ideas that its editors come to assume that no outsider is even reading it. Let’s see if their ombudsman has something to say on this one.

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Joe Biden

He doesn’t compare to Hillary Clinton in the sheer volume of material which his primary utterances now provide to the McCain camp, but Joe Biden is the gift that does keep giving. The last is the flap over his defense of Barack Obama’s position and record on Afghanistan. But his real contribution is as a depository of bad ideas and ill-conceived advice on Iraq. His forced partition idea (and the doggedness with which he pursued it) rank among the cherished memories. Peter has already compiled chapter and verse on Biden’s follies.

But he did after all vote for the war. And then he opposed the Kyl-Lieberman amendment, which Obama used to think was a bad idea but now thinks is a good idea. (And if there is any doubt, this helpful interview will set you straight on their contention at the time that Kyl-Lieberman was “counterproductive.”) So maybe Obama can shunt him off to the side as one of those unofficial advisors that really doesn’t share his views. We can hope.

He doesn’t compare to Hillary Clinton in the sheer volume of material which his primary utterances now provide to the McCain camp, but Joe Biden is the gift that does keep giving. The last is the flap over his defense of Barack Obama’s position and record on Afghanistan. But his real contribution is as a depository of bad ideas and ill-conceived advice on Iraq. His forced partition idea (and the doggedness with which he pursued it) rank among the cherished memories. Peter has already compiled chapter and verse on Biden’s follies.

But he did after all vote for the war. And then he opposed the Kyl-Lieberman amendment, which Obama used to think was a bad idea but now thinks is a good idea. (And if there is any doubt, this helpful interview will set you straight on their contention at the time that Kyl-Lieberman was “counterproductive.”) So maybe Obama can shunt him off to the side as one of those unofficial advisors that really doesn’t share his views. We can hope.

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The Celebrification of the Presidency

Below is the text of an email I just received from the Democratic National Committee:

Friend –

I’m out here in Denver, Colorado visiting the site of the Democratic National Convention, and there is excitement in the mountain air.

Folks are working hard on Barack’s plan for a truly open convention. It will be a historic event, and you can be a part of it.

If you make a donation in any amount before midnight on July 31st, you could be selected to travel to Denver for the last two days of the convention, including the final event — Barack’s acceptance of the Democratic nomination for President before 75,000 people.
Ten supporters will be selected from all over the country, and each will be able to bring one guest. We’ll provide airfare, accommodations, and two days of convention activities — including a private meeting with Barack before his historic speech.

Our team shot a short video of the stadium to give you a sense of the event. Watch the video and make a donation of $25 today, and you could go Backstage with Barack:

https://donate.barackobama.com/backstage

Supporters like you are the reason this campaign has been possible. We are thrilled that some of you will be able to celebrate what you accomplished with us in Denver.

But we have a long way to go, and Barack can’t do this without you.

Thanks,
Steve

Steve Hildebrand
Deputy Campaign Manager
Obama for America

Since when have presidential candidates been referred to merely by their first names? And has a campaign ever offered potential contributors a prize vacation package to a party convention, replete with a “private meeting” with the candidate before his “historic speech?”

I had always known that the Obama campaign has subsisted, to a large extent, on the celebrity power of its candidate. But this brings the vacuousness to a new level.

Below is the text of an email I just received from the Democratic National Committee:

Friend –

I’m out here in Denver, Colorado visiting the site of the Democratic National Convention, and there is excitement in the mountain air.

Folks are working hard on Barack’s plan for a truly open convention. It will be a historic event, and you can be a part of it.

If you make a donation in any amount before midnight on July 31st, you could be selected to travel to Denver for the last two days of the convention, including the final event — Barack’s acceptance of the Democratic nomination for President before 75,000 people.
Ten supporters will be selected from all over the country, and each will be able to bring one guest. We’ll provide airfare, accommodations, and two days of convention activities — including a private meeting with Barack before his historic speech.

Our team shot a short video of the stadium to give you a sense of the event. Watch the video and make a donation of $25 today, and you could go Backstage with Barack:

https://donate.barackobama.com/backstage

Supporters like you are the reason this campaign has been possible. We are thrilled that some of you will be able to celebrate what you accomplished with us in Denver.

But we have a long way to go, and Barack can’t do this without you.

Thanks,
Steve

Steve Hildebrand
Deputy Campaign Manager
Obama for America

Since when have presidential candidates been referred to merely by their first names? And has a campaign ever offered potential contributors a prize vacation package to a party convention, replete with a “private meeting” with the candidate before his “historic speech?”

I had always known that the Obama campaign has subsisted, to a large extent, on the celebrity power of its candidate. But this brings the vacuousness to a new level.

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What About This War?

Yesterday, Barack Obama tried on his most unconvincing costume–that of commander-in-chief–giving a national security speech at Purdue University and submitting his plan to keep America safe:

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee also released a nine-page document on “Confronting 21st Century Threats,” in which his campaign said the White House, Congress and some U.S. allies had succumbed to a mind-set of “conventional thinking [that] has failed to adapt to a world of new threats.”

If Obama is so concerned with the rigidity of old school approaches, why did he try to stifle the most radical shift in national security thinking–the Petraeus plan–in recent U.S. history? Moreover, why has he vowed to “slow our development of future combat systems”? And his immediate reaction to the arrival of 21st Century threats was as conventional as they come: understand the despair of the enemy.

Here’s more on Obama’s Patton moment:

“The danger . . . is that we are constantly fighting the last war, responding to the threats that have come to fruition, instead of staying one step ahead of the threats,” Obama said.

This very line about staying one step ahead is itself a leap backward. Mr. Unconventional cribbed it from Hillary Clinton who said it about a year ago:

We can’t be fighting the last war. We have to keep preparing to fight the new war. We have to win.

Hillary employed that meaningless trope to defend her contention that while the surge was working, it was somehow too late to try to win in Iraq. Since Obama has now caught up to Hillary Clinton’s year-old Iraq stance, who knows? Maybe a year from now he’ll be touting John McCain’s current plan.

For clarity’s sake: If Obama is going to float this “last war” nonsense, then the first place we should be leaving is Afghanistan because that’s been the last war longer than Iraq has. Moreover, if he’s so keen on preparing for the next war he might want to come up with a few ideas about how to deal with an armed and dangerous Iran. But, of course, the only “last war” that Democrats want to abandon is also the only one we’re winning–in Iraq.

Yesterday, Barack Obama tried on his most unconvincing costume–that of commander-in-chief–giving a national security speech at Purdue University and submitting his plan to keep America safe:

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee also released a nine-page document on “Confronting 21st Century Threats,” in which his campaign said the White House, Congress and some U.S. allies had succumbed to a mind-set of “conventional thinking [that] has failed to adapt to a world of new threats.”

If Obama is so concerned with the rigidity of old school approaches, why did he try to stifle the most radical shift in national security thinking–the Petraeus plan–in recent U.S. history? Moreover, why has he vowed to “slow our development of future combat systems”? And his immediate reaction to the arrival of 21st Century threats was as conventional as they come: understand the despair of the enemy.

Here’s more on Obama’s Patton moment:

“The danger . . . is that we are constantly fighting the last war, responding to the threats that have come to fruition, instead of staying one step ahead of the threats,” Obama said.

This very line about staying one step ahead is itself a leap backward. Mr. Unconventional cribbed it from Hillary Clinton who said it about a year ago:

We can’t be fighting the last war. We have to keep preparing to fight the new war. We have to win.

Hillary employed that meaningless trope to defend her contention that while the surge was working, it was somehow too late to try to win in Iraq. Since Obama has now caught up to Hillary Clinton’s year-old Iraq stance, who knows? Maybe a year from now he’ll be touting John McCain’s current plan.

For clarity’s sake: If Obama is going to float this “last war” nonsense, then the first place we should be leaving is Afghanistan because that’s been the last war longer than Iraq has. Moreover, if he’s so keen on preparing for the next war he might want to come up with a few ideas about how to deal with an armed and dangerous Iran. But, of course, the only “last war” that Democrats want to abandon is also the only one we’re winning–in Iraq.

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What An Outrage!

The Washington Post blares a pseudo-scandalous headline: “Administration Wanted Loyalist As Justice Dept. Legal Adviser.” One can debate the contribution and wisdom of John Yoo and Jack L. Goldsmith, Justice Department lawyers who are the focus of the story, but somewhere in the Alberto Gonzales scandalmongering we — or the media — lost track of the ball. Some basics: the Justice Department is part of the Executive Branch, not some roving independent prosecutorial body responsible to no one. The President not only has the right but the obligation to pick who he wants in key roles.

All administrations pick their top cabinet officials and, yes, even their U.S. attorneys. They get evaluated on how well those picks perform and history will judge the contributions of both Goldsmith and Yoo. Democrats raised the notion that Gonzales’ replacement for Attorney General should somehow be “independent” and the media bought that hook, line, and sinker. What you do want is someone who will provide excellent independent judgment, which Judge Michael Mukasey has done in spades, but the idea that the White House shouldn’t have the final say in its own departments is beyond silly.

I am sure the media will get over the mock indignation instantaneously should Obama be elected. Then we’ll hear plenty about how important it is for the President to shape a loyal, unified, and ideologically compatible administration to carry out the President’s policies. Sort of like what the Constitution had in mind, huh?

The Washington Post blares a pseudo-scandalous headline: “Administration Wanted Loyalist As Justice Dept. Legal Adviser.” One can debate the contribution and wisdom of John Yoo and Jack L. Goldsmith, Justice Department lawyers who are the focus of the story, but somewhere in the Alberto Gonzales scandalmongering we — or the media — lost track of the ball. Some basics: the Justice Department is part of the Executive Branch, not some roving independent prosecutorial body responsible to no one. The President not only has the right but the obligation to pick who he wants in key roles.

All administrations pick their top cabinet officials and, yes, even their U.S. attorneys. They get evaluated on how well those picks perform and history will judge the contributions of both Goldsmith and Yoo. Democrats raised the notion that Gonzales’ replacement for Attorney General should somehow be “independent” and the media bought that hook, line, and sinker. What you do want is someone who will provide excellent independent judgment, which Judge Michael Mukasey has done in spades, but the idea that the White House shouldn’t have the final say in its own departments is beyond silly.

I am sure the media will get over the mock indignation instantaneously should Obama be elected. Then we’ll hear plenty about how important it is for the President to shape a loyal, unified, and ideologically compatible administration to carry out the President’s policies. Sort of like what the Constitution had in mind, huh?

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Is He Your Hero?

Having laid the two kidnapped soldiers to rest, Israelis are expressing increasing outrage over the deal with Hezbollah that let free Samir Kuntar, a Lebanese whom Israel was holding for his having murdered members of the Haran family in April 1979. Today’s Ynet has a piece by noted author Naomi Ragen, in which she calls for the death penalty for terrorists. (Israel does not have the death penalty, except for Nazi war criminals.) Other like-minded pieces appearing in the Israeli media can be found here, here, and here.

Part of the problem is the major heyday that Hezbollah is having with Kuntar. Lest anyone think he may have repented for his gruesome crimes, Kuntar has been paraded around Lebanon, today visiting the graves of fallen terrorists and avowing to continue the legacy of Imad Mughniyeh, Hezbollah’s number two who was killed in Damascus earlier this year. “We swear to God . . . ,” Kuntar said at Mughniyeh’s grave, “to continue on your same path and not to retreat until we achieve the same stature that Allah bestowed on you.”

Meanwhile, the Lebanon war has reached one of the most unforgiving of battlefields: YouTube. Here is the Israeli foreign ministry’s contribution about Samir Kuntar, entitled, “Is He Your Hero?” Not the smoothest presentation perhaps. But at least they’re trying.

Having laid the two kidnapped soldiers to rest, Israelis are expressing increasing outrage over the deal with Hezbollah that let free Samir Kuntar, a Lebanese whom Israel was holding for his having murdered members of the Haran family in April 1979. Today’s Ynet has a piece by noted author Naomi Ragen, in which she calls for the death penalty for terrorists. (Israel does not have the death penalty, except for Nazi war criminals.) Other like-minded pieces appearing in the Israeli media can be found here, here, and here.

Part of the problem is the major heyday that Hezbollah is having with Kuntar. Lest anyone think he may have repented for his gruesome crimes, Kuntar has been paraded around Lebanon, today visiting the graves of fallen terrorists and avowing to continue the legacy of Imad Mughniyeh, Hezbollah’s number two who was killed in Damascus earlier this year. “We swear to God . . . ,” Kuntar said at Mughniyeh’s grave, “to continue on your same path and not to retreat until we achieve the same stature that Allah bestowed on you.”

Meanwhile, the Lebanon war has reached one of the most unforgiving of battlefields: YouTube. Here is the Israeli foreign ministry’s contribution about Samir Kuntar, entitled, “Is He Your Hero?” Not the smoothest presentation perhaps. But at least they’re trying.

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Money, Money

Well the Obama campaign need not press the panic button yet on money — they did raise $52M in June. It is not close to the $100M some predicted, but they stay competitive with the John McCain/GOP combined fundraising. Wait? Stay competitive? They were supposed to have a big money advantage. But who needs fundraising when you have a media entourage in tow. At some point both sides have “enough” and can probably get their message out and organize their troops. What is clear is that Obama has a ton more people and lots more infrastructure set up at this point.

Is he burning money like there’s no tomorrow or putting together the most finely tuned campaign machine ever? McCain is certainly not spending gobs of money or employing legions of staffers at this point. Is Obama spending money like a drunken sailor or wisely building the most awesome campaign machine in history? We’ll find out on Election Day. It’s not the number of field offices but the number of votes that counts.

Well the Obama campaign need not press the panic button yet on money — they did raise $52M in June. It is not close to the $100M some predicted, but they stay competitive with the John McCain/GOP combined fundraising. Wait? Stay competitive? They were supposed to have a big money advantage. But who needs fundraising when you have a media entourage in tow. At some point both sides have “enough” and can probably get their message out and organize their troops. What is clear is that Obama has a ton more people and lots more infrastructure set up at this point.

Is he burning money like there’s no tomorrow or putting together the most finely tuned campaign machine ever? McCain is certainly not spending gobs of money or employing legions of staffers at this point. Is Obama spending money like a drunken sailor or wisely building the most awesome campaign machine in history? We’ll find out on Election Day. It’s not the number of field offices but the number of votes that counts.

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Creeping Cravenness

Yesterday, Admiral Timothy Keating, head of the U.S. Pacific Command, publicly acknowledged that the United States had frozen arms sales to Taiwan. Last year, Taipei asked Washington to sell advanced versions of Lockheed Martin’s F-16 fighter. Keating cited improving ties between Beijing and the island republic as a reason for the denial of Taipei’s request. In view of China’s rapid and sustained modernization of its military, Washington’s refusal to sell the planes is probably a violation of the Taiwan Relations Act, which requires the United States to sell military equipment based “solely” upon one consideration: “the needs of Taiwan.” The admiral also admitted that the Navy had regularly consulted Beijing on weapons sales. The consultations are a possible violation of the Act, but they are clearly in contravention of President Reagan’s Six Assurances of 1982.

In the wake of Keating’s remarks, the State Department is expected to issue a press statement today on the matter. We don’t have to wait for the statement to know what’s going on. As the Heritage Foundation’s John Tkacik said, “The Bush administration has abandoned all commitments to defend Taiwan’s democracy.”

Dictatorial Beijing has always complained of America selling arms to democratic Taiwan, but finally the Chinese have found a compliant American president. The man who once said he would do whatever it took to defend Taiwan now says “yes” to whatever Chinese autocrats demand. On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned of “creeping militarization” of American foreign policy. That’s not the problem, Mr. Secretary. If there’s anything you should be worried about, especially after Keating’s admissions yesterday, is your administration’s creeping cravenness.

Yesterday, Admiral Timothy Keating, head of the U.S. Pacific Command, publicly acknowledged that the United States had frozen arms sales to Taiwan. Last year, Taipei asked Washington to sell advanced versions of Lockheed Martin’s F-16 fighter. Keating cited improving ties between Beijing and the island republic as a reason for the denial of Taipei’s request. In view of China’s rapid and sustained modernization of its military, Washington’s refusal to sell the planes is probably a violation of the Taiwan Relations Act, which requires the United States to sell military equipment based “solely” upon one consideration: “the needs of Taiwan.” The admiral also admitted that the Navy had regularly consulted Beijing on weapons sales. The consultations are a possible violation of the Act, but they are clearly in contravention of President Reagan’s Six Assurances of 1982.

In the wake of Keating’s remarks, the State Department is expected to issue a press statement today on the matter. We don’t have to wait for the statement to know what’s going on. As the Heritage Foundation’s John Tkacik said, “The Bush administration has abandoned all commitments to defend Taiwan’s democracy.”

Dictatorial Beijing has always complained of America selling arms to democratic Taiwan, but finally the Chinese have found a compliant American president. The man who once said he would do whatever it took to defend Taiwan now says “yes” to whatever Chinese autocrats demand. On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned of “creeping militarization” of American foreign policy. That’s not the problem, Mr. Secretary. If there’s anything you should be worried about, especially after Keating’s admissions yesterday, is your administration’s creeping cravenness.

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Why So Nervous?

It is not just that Barack Obama is incapable of planning an overseas trip without creating hurt feelings among those whom he is going to convince to adore us. It is what follows once he arrives that may be really scary. This devastating account of the Barack Obama summer abroad plans gives some insight into the dilemma: how to avoid a gaffe in unscripted moments on the international stage. Solution: Don’t have any. An unnamed official lets us in on this morsel:

“Look for carefully scripted statements and comments,” says a senior Democratic insider. “I doubt he will be drawn into detailed discussions of sensitive topics with the media.”

But more shocking is this:

One big challenge for Obama will be how to handle his expected discussions with Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. troops in Iraq during the troop surge that has helped lessen violence in the country. (Petraeus is widely considered the architect of the surge policy.) What Obama advisers want to avoid is a situation where Petraeus undermines the presumptive Democratic candidate’s stated policy—such as by saying a phased withdrawal would jeopardize the hard-won gains of U.S. troops, ignore their sacrifices, and put the future of Iraq at risk. “That would reverberate around the country in a negative way,” says the Democratic insider.

Yeah, we can’t have the commander of forces telling Obama something that’s contrary to his pre-set misinformed views, can we? I can’t recall another situation in which a campaign approached its candidate’s contact with the real world with such trepidation. (Dan Senor has some excellent suggestions for the itinerary in Iraq which of course would violate the trip’s cardinal rule: do not encounter reality.) It is rather amusing that the man who says we should be more internationalist in outlook and speak other languages is the picture of the ugly American tourist, someone who doesn’t really want any authentic contact with the countries he is visiting.

But of course the trip can’t be held under laboratory conditions. Here is a startlingly candid take from the New York Times. What do Iraqis think of Obama’s withdrawal plan in Iraq?

“Very difficult,” he [an Iraqi general] said, shaking his head. “Any army would love to work without any help, but let me be honest: for now, we don’t have that ability.” Thus in a few brisk sentences, the general summed up the conflicting emotions about Mr. Obama in Iraq, the place outside America with perhaps the most riding on its relationship with him.There was, as Mr. Obama prepared to visit here, excitement over a man who is the anti-Bush in almost every way: a Democrat who opposed a war that many Iraqis feel devastated their nation. And many in the political elite recognize that Mr. Obama shares their hope for a more rapid withdrawal of American forces from Iraq. But his support for troop withdrawal cuts both ways, reflecting a deep internal quandary in Iraq: for many middle-class Iraqis, affection for Mr. Obama is tempered by worry that his proposal could lead to chaos in a nation already devastated by war. Many Iraqis also acknowledge that security gains in recent months were achieved partly by the buildup of American troops, which Mr. Obama opposed and his presumptive Republican opponent, Senator John McCain, supported.

I suppose you can’t please all of the countries all of the time.

And what happens if Obama gets to be President? Will his entire presidency need to be reduced to a detailed script complete with stage directions? (“Shake but don’t kiss leader of X. Keep all discussion limited to the weather and everyone’s health.”) And then there is the tricky part about how to get the military to conceal information and not embarrass the commander-in-chief.

If the blogger fan club is going to insist that the Obama campaign be used as a proxy for an Obama presidency (look how stress-free they are!), it is only fair to examine this trip for clues about his preparedness and skill-level as well. Forget about the 3 a.m. phone call — can he handle a lunch at noon or a 7 p.m. dinner meeting? What if a man on the street in Baghdad wants to plead with him to keep American forces there? The mind reels.

It is not just that Barack Obama is incapable of planning an overseas trip without creating hurt feelings among those whom he is going to convince to adore us. It is what follows once he arrives that may be really scary. This devastating account of the Barack Obama summer abroad plans gives some insight into the dilemma: how to avoid a gaffe in unscripted moments on the international stage. Solution: Don’t have any. An unnamed official lets us in on this morsel:

“Look for carefully scripted statements and comments,” says a senior Democratic insider. “I doubt he will be drawn into detailed discussions of sensitive topics with the media.”

But more shocking is this:

One big challenge for Obama will be how to handle his expected discussions with Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. troops in Iraq during the troop surge that has helped lessen violence in the country. (Petraeus is widely considered the architect of the surge policy.) What Obama advisers want to avoid is a situation where Petraeus undermines the presumptive Democratic candidate’s stated policy—such as by saying a phased withdrawal would jeopardize the hard-won gains of U.S. troops, ignore their sacrifices, and put the future of Iraq at risk. “That would reverberate around the country in a negative way,” says the Democratic insider.

Yeah, we can’t have the commander of forces telling Obama something that’s contrary to his pre-set misinformed views, can we? I can’t recall another situation in which a campaign approached its candidate’s contact with the real world with such trepidation. (Dan Senor has some excellent suggestions for the itinerary in Iraq which of course would violate the trip’s cardinal rule: do not encounter reality.) It is rather amusing that the man who says we should be more internationalist in outlook and speak other languages is the picture of the ugly American tourist, someone who doesn’t really want any authentic contact with the countries he is visiting.

But of course the trip can’t be held under laboratory conditions. Here is a startlingly candid take from the New York Times. What do Iraqis think of Obama’s withdrawal plan in Iraq?

“Very difficult,” he [an Iraqi general] said, shaking his head. “Any army would love to work without any help, but let me be honest: for now, we don’t have that ability.” Thus in a few brisk sentences, the general summed up the conflicting emotions about Mr. Obama in Iraq, the place outside America with perhaps the most riding on its relationship with him.There was, as Mr. Obama prepared to visit here, excitement over a man who is the anti-Bush in almost every way: a Democrat who opposed a war that many Iraqis feel devastated their nation. And many in the political elite recognize that Mr. Obama shares their hope for a more rapid withdrawal of American forces from Iraq. But his support for troop withdrawal cuts both ways, reflecting a deep internal quandary in Iraq: for many middle-class Iraqis, affection for Mr. Obama is tempered by worry that his proposal could lead to chaos in a nation already devastated by war. Many Iraqis also acknowledge that security gains in recent months were achieved partly by the buildup of American troops, which Mr. Obama opposed and his presumptive Republican opponent, Senator John McCain, supported.

I suppose you can’t please all of the countries all of the time.

And what happens if Obama gets to be President? Will his entire presidency need to be reduced to a detailed script complete with stage directions? (“Shake but don’t kiss leader of X. Keep all discussion limited to the weather and everyone’s health.”) And then there is the tricky part about how to get the military to conceal information and not embarrass the commander-in-chief.

If the blogger fan club is going to insist that the Obama campaign be used as a proxy for an Obama presidency (look how stress-free they are!), it is only fair to examine this trip for clues about his preparedness and skill-level as well. Forget about the 3 a.m. phone call — can he handle a lunch at noon or a 7 p.m. dinner meeting? What if a man on the street in Baghdad wants to plead with him to keep American forces there? The mind reels.

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You Don’t Have to Tell Us

Today, in the New York Post Ralph Peters writes of an attack on Iran

If forced to strike, we have to do it right. When safe-at-home ideologues bluster, “Just bomb ‘em,” they haven’t a clue how complex this problem is.

No serious person inserts the word “just” in that formulation. And that’s where Peters goes wrong in his otherwise excellent military analysis. He’s going after neoconservatives who’ve written and spoken out in support of an attack on Iran as if they’ve reached their conclusions based on no more than a throb of hatred for the mullahs. The truth is that people who see an attack on Iran as the best of a miserable array of choices have been trying to push the complex issues of such an attack into the public forum for a while. What better way to achieve success in such a challenging and ugly undertaking?

Ralph Peters lays out a bullet-point list of an attack’s challenges in his piece today, and that list is thoughtful. But COMMENTARY editor Gabriel Schoenfeld, for example, went into even greater detail about only one such challenge (Iran’s underground facilities) nearly a month ago in a piece in the Weekly Standard.

Today, Peters writes

Gimme-my-war chumps of the sort who believed “dissident” Ahmed Chalabi on Iraq insist that, if we weaken the Tehran regime by attacking, the Iranian people will overthrow it.

Utterly wrong.

“Insist”? In the “The Case for Bombing Iran” from the June 2007 issue of COMMENTARY, Norman Podhoretz merely mentions that bombing Iran “might even lead to the overthrow of the mullahs.” Sure, others, such as Michael Ledeen are more hopeful about internal anti-regime resistance, and that’s because, pace Peters, there is a plurality of opinions among neoconservatives on this and many other issues.

Peters’s checklist of retaliatory and resultant catastrophes was more-or-less summed up by Podhoretz in the February 2008 follow up piece “Stopping Iran: Why the Case for Military Action Still Stands,”

In the worst case of this latter scenario, Iran would retaliate by increasing the trouble it is already making for us in Iraq and by attacking Israel with missiles armed with non-nuclear warheads but possibly containing biological and/or chemical weapons. There would also be a vast increase in the price of oil, with catastrophic consequences for every economy in the world, very much including our own. And there would be a deafening outcry from one end of the earth to the other against the inescapable civilian casualties.

But when one who supports an attack on Iran cites such horrors, they’re considered cold-hearted hawks. When a supposed realist like Peters does so, they think they’re giving the world a wake-up call.

Ralph Peters’s column lays out some very sobering details about what’s involved in an attack on Iran and his larger point, that there can be no half-measures, is critical. And if the voices cited above had been heeded earlier, we might now be looking at a slightly more workable situation. But Peters mistakenly believes neoconservatives are of one dangerously oversimplified mind on the matter. Which makes him, in this regard, a bit of a “clueless” “ideologue” himself.

Today, in the New York Post Ralph Peters writes of an attack on Iran

If forced to strike, we have to do it right. When safe-at-home ideologues bluster, “Just bomb ‘em,” they haven’t a clue how complex this problem is.

No serious person inserts the word “just” in that formulation. And that’s where Peters goes wrong in his otherwise excellent military analysis. He’s going after neoconservatives who’ve written and spoken out in support of an attack on Iran as if they’ve reached their conclusions based on no more than a throb of hatred for the mullahs. The truth is that people who see an attack on Iran as the best of a miserable array of choices have been trying to push the complex issues of such an attack into the public forum for a while. What better way to achieve success in such a challenging and ugly undertaking?

Ralph Peters lays out a bullet-point list of an attack’s challenges in his piece today, and that list is thoughtful. But COMMENTARY editor Gabriel Schoenfeld, for example, went into even greater detail about only one such challenge (Iran’s underground facilities) nearly a month ago in a piece in the Weekly Standard.

Today, Peters writes

Gimme-my-war chumps of the sort who believed “dissident” Ahmed Chalabi on Iraq insist that, if we weaken the Tehran regime by attacking, the Iranian people will overthrow it.

Utterly wrong.

“Insist”? In the “The Case for Bombing Iran” from the June 2007 issue of COMMENTARY, Norman Podhoretz merely mentions that bombing Iran “might even lead to the overthrow of the mullahs.” Sure, others, such as Michael Ledeen are more hopeful about internal anti-regime resistance, and that’s because, pace Peters, there is a plurality of opinions among neoconservatives on this and many other issues.

Peters’s checklist of retaliatory and resultant catastrophes was more-or-less summed up by Podhoretz in the February 2008 follow up piece “Stopping Iran: Why the Case for Military Action Still Stands,”

In the worst case of this latter scenario, Iran would retaliate by increasing the trouble it is already making for us in Iraq and by attacking Israel with missiles armed with non-nuclear warheads but possibly containing biological and/or chemical weapons. There would also be a vast increase in the price of oil, with catastrophic consequences for every economy in the world, very much including our own. And there would be a deafening outcry from one end of the earth to the other against the inescapable civilian casualties.

But when one who supports an attack on Iran cites such horrors, they’re considered cold-hearted hawks. When a supposed realist like Peters does so, they think they’re giving the world a wake-up call.

Ralph Peters’s column lays out some very sobering details about what’s involved in an attack on Iran and his larger point, that there can be no half-measures, is critical. And if the voices cited above had been heeded earlier, we might now be looking at a slightly more workable situation. But Peters mistakenly believes neoconservatives are of one dangerously oversimplified mind on the matter. Which makes him, in this regard, a bit of a “clueless” “ideologue” himself.

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Re: Race and the Times

Linda, you’re right, of course. But it is all a matter of degree. In a losing effort John Kerry at least cleared the 40% mark with white voters. If Barack Obma is going to do even worse than previous Democratic contenders, he will have to do that much better with women, older voters, Hispanics, blue collar voters, etc. Can he do that? Sure, but the Obama camp is clearly nervous about further erosion among white voters and the perception from other groups (e.g. Hispanics) that he is not a candidate with broader appeal.

Linda, you’re right, of course. But it is all a matter of degree. In a losing effort John Kerry at least cleared the 40% mark with white voters. If Barack Obma is going to do even worse than previous Democratic contenders, he will have to do that much better with women, older voters, Hispanics, blue collar voters, etc. Can he do that? Sure, but the Obama camp is clearly nervous about further erosion among white voters and the perception from other groups (e.g. Hispanics) that he is not a candidate with broader appeal.

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Abbas: More of the Same

During his three-and-a-half-year tenure as Palestinian Authority president, the Bush administration has constantly given Mahmoud Abbas the benefit of doubt for each of his costly failures. This is because Abbas has long represented the Great Palestinian Hope–the tie-wearing, post-Arafat diplomat who, if just given enough support, might reign in terrorist organizations, achieve peace with Israel, and bolster a somewhat imagined Arab front against Iran. In this vein, virtually every Abbas faux pas–his conditions-free ceasefires with Hamas, his insistence on including Hamas in the parliamentary elections, and Fatah’s miserable performance during the 2007 Gaza coup–has been excused as the consequence of political weakness that is simply beyond Abbas’s control.

Well, here’s something that’s very much within Abbas’s control: his mouth. Today, as Israel received two black coffins in exchange for a notorious–and very much alive–murderer, Abbas took the opportunity to “offer congratulations to the family of Samir Kuntar, the chief of Arab prisoners.” With this remark, Abbas demonstrated that, far from being the Great Palestinian Hope, he is merely the latest Palestinian leader who sees glorifying terrorists–and reaching out to their families–as an acceptable, if not principled, political strategy.

Today, Palestinians in Hamas-controlled Gaza handed out candies to celebrate Kuntar’s release. Abbas’ warm words for Kuntar raise the following question: would the reaction have been any different if Fatah controlled Gaza? In turn, perhaps the time has come for all parties committed to Israeli-Palestinian peace to commence the search for the next Great Palestinian Hope–a leader who, at the very least, is brave enough to withhold praise for a terrorist convicted of smashing a four-year-old girl’s skull. In particular, the United States can no longer afford to waste diplomatic resources on a Palestinian leader who offers more of the same.

During his three-and-a-half-year tenure as Palestinian Authority president, the Bush administration has constantly given Mahmoud Abbas the benefit of doubt for each of his costly failures. This is because Abbas has long represented the Great Palestinian Hope–the tie-wearing, post-Arafat diplomat who, if just given enough support, might reign in terrorist organizations, achieve peace with Israel, and bolster a somewhat imagined Arab front against Iran. In this vein, virtually every Abbas faux pas–his conditions-free ceasefires with Hamas, his insistence on including Hamas in the parliamentary elections, and Fatah’s miserable performance during the 2007 Gaza coup–has been excused as the consequence of political weakness that is simply beyond Abbas’s control.

Well, here’s something that’s very much within Abbas’s control: his mouth. Today, as Israel received two black coffins in exchange for a notorious–and very much alive–murderer, Abbas took the opportunity to “offer congratulations to the family of Samir Kuntar, the chief of Arab prisoners.” With this remark, Abbas demonstrated that, far from being the Great Palestinian Hope, he is merely the latest Palestinian leader who sees glorifying terrorists–and reaching out to their families–as an acceptable, if not principled, political strategy.

Today, Palestinians in Hamas-controlled Gaza handed out candies to celebrate Kuntar’s release. Abbas’ warm words for Kuntar raise the following question: would the reaction have been any different if Fatah controlled Gaza? In turn, perhaps the time has come for all parties committed to Israeli-Palestinian peace to commence the search for the next Great Palestinian Hope–a leader who, at the very least, is brave enough to withhold praise for a terrorist convicted of smashing a four-year-old girl’s skull. In particular, the United States can no longer afford to waste diplomatic resources on a Palestinian leader who offers more of the same.

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How’s That Minimum Wage Hike Working, Speaker Pelosi?

Soon after Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi assumed office, she claimed one of her first victories. At last, low income wage earners were rescued with the passage of an amended Fair Labor Standards Act (or the Fair Pay Act of 2007). Instead of making, at minimum, $5.15 an hour, earners across the nation had to be paid at least $5.85 an hour. Soon to come, however, on July 24, 2008, American wage earners will have to earn no less than $6.55 per hour of labor (and again, on July 24, 2009, the minimum will be raised to $7.25 an hour).

In arguing for passage of the bill, one that many democrats were keen to see succeed, Speaker Pelosi proudly told a crowded National Press Club that “We have begun to make America’s families more economically secure, by raising the minimum wage . . . ”

And later, when the bill finally made it through Congress, Speaker Pelosi was more than eager to praise her own success:

This is a day that signals change . . . It’s not enough, but it’s a great start. And it’s part of a progressive agenda for economic growth in our country that talks about rewarding work, about educating our people . . . This is about the future, it’s about fairness, and it’s about having many more Americans participate in the economic success of our country, where our prosperity is shared because of a progressive economic agenda.

Since the second leg of the minimum wage hike is about to go into effect, and since we are in the middle of presidential and congressional election season that has to a great extent focused on the state of the economy, one cannot help wondering what Speaker Pelosi and the rest of her Democratic cronies have to say about the success of their “progressive economic agenda.” Here is a sampling of Speaker Pelosi’s recent remarks:

• “We will be proceeding with another stimulus package.”

Legislative intervention is required “to assist consumers and strengthen the economy.”

• “The president has for a long time been in denial on the state of the economy … I don’t think that we have that amount of time … There are indications that this downturn is steeper than it was when we created the first stimulus package.”

• “The purchasing power of the American income is going down.”

• “Democrats in Congress are striving to work in a bipartisan way to address the nation’s serious economic challenges. Our nation has had six straight months of job losses, and we cannot afford any delay in making progress to create jobs and rebuild the American economy.”

Unsurprisingly, I was unable to find any remark from her tying the state of the economy to minimum wage. Of course, personal responsibility isn’t a trait coveted by Democrats; instead, as recently as a couple of weeks ago, Speaker Pelosi still calls the legislation a “victory.”

Soon after Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi assumed office, she claimed one of her first victories. At last, low income wage earners were rescued with the passage of an amended Fair Labor Standards Act (or the Fair Pay Act of 2007). Instead of making, at minimum, $5.15 an hour, earners across the nation had to be paid at least $5.85 an hour. Soon to come, however, on July 24, 2008, American wage earners will have to earn no less than $6.55 per hour of labor (and again, on July 24, 2009, the minimum will be raised to $7.25 an hour).

In arguing for passage of the bill, one that many democrats were keen to see succeed, Speaker Pelosi proudly told a crowded National Press Club that “We have begun to make America’s families more economically secure, by raising the minimum wage . . . ”

And later, when the bill finally made it through Congress, Speaker Pelosi was more than eager to praise her own success:

This is a day that signals change . . . It’s not enough, but it’s a great start. And it’s part of a progressive agenda for economic growth in our country that talks about rewarding work, about educating our people . . . This is about the future, it’s about fairness, and it’s about having many more Americans participate in the economic success of our country, where our prosperity is shared because of a progressive economic agenda.

Since the second leg of the minimum wage hike is about to go into effect, and since we are in the middle of presidential and congressional election season that has to a great extent focused on the state of the economy, one cannot help wondering what Speaker Pelosi and the rest of her Democratic cronies have to say about the success of their “progressive economic agenda.” Here is a sampling of Speaker Pelosi’s recent remarks:

• “We will be proceeding with another stimulus package.”

Legislative intervention is required “to assist consumers and strengthen the economy.”

• “The president has for a long time been in denial on the state of the economy … I don’t think that we have that amount of time … There are indications that this downturn is steeper than it was when we created the first stimulus package.”

• “The purchasing power of the American income is going down.”

• “Democrats in Congress are striving to work in a bipartisan way to address the nation’s serious economic challenges. Our nation has had six straight months of job losses, and we cannot afford any delay in making progress to create jobs and rebuild the American economy.”

Unsurprisingly, I was unable to find any remark from her tying the state of the economy to minimum wage. Of course, personal responsibility isn’t a trait coveted by Democrats; instead, as recently as a couple of weeks ago, Speaker Pelosi still calls the legislation a “victory.”

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Re: Race and the Times

Jennifer, I agree that Obama has a problem wooing white voters, as the Times piece pointed out, but it’s not much more severe than John Kerry’s problem in 2004, when he won only 41% of white votes. Democrats have been struggling with white voters for years. The Democrats have become the party of blacks, Hispanics (though that constituency has proved somewhat fickle), union members, and single white women. Obama’s anemic support among whites is just a continuation of a long-simmering predicament.

Jennifer, I agree that Obama has a problem wooing white voters, as the Times piece pointed out, but it’s not much more severe than John Kerry’s problem in 2004, when he won only 41% of white votes. Democrats have been struggling with white voters for years. The Democrats have become the party of blacks, Hispanics (though that constituency has proved somewhat fickle), union members, and single white women. Obama’s anemic support among whites is just a continuation of a long-simmering predicament.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Now this sounds fun. Is karate-bowling next?

I voted “B.” But make up your own mind.

Marty Peretz returns from Israel convinced “the peace effort is not founded in reality in that its partners are crazed fanatics, nothing less and maybe even more.” Do you think Obama’s trip will be as enlightening?

First utter clarity on Iraq. And now impeccable logic on Freddie-Fannie. (Why is it again that we are raising the conforming loan limit when borrowers already have proven they take on too much debt?) Throw in some spot-on legal analysis, and what isn’t there to like about the Washington Post’s editorial page?

This can’t be right: getting advice on the mortgage crisis from Franklin Raines would be like getting advice from Chuck Hagel on Iraq. Oh. I see.

Hillary Clinton was right about one thing: winning some of those Red state primaries didn’t mean much (other than earn her opponent the nomination, of course.)

It is well and good to chide us about fighting the “last war” but what about fighting the current ones?

Susan Rice attempts to explain why the speech preceded the trip: he’s apparently open to learning only small things. (What if someone tells him his conception of Iraqi political progress is two years out of date? What if Petraeus tells him we are on the verge of a substantial victory against Al Qaeda?) It must be embarrassing to defend willful ignorance.

Actually what is embarrassing is this intellectually dishonest rebuttal to the Washington Post. Did the Post editors really discount Afghanistan? Or did they commend Barack Obama to realistically fighting and winning on both fronts? Maybe we will have an unsuual endorsement from the Post this year.

My first thought about these two potential VP picks: if either one topped the ticket he’d be leading by 20 points. My second thought: to have gotten to the top of the ticket he’d have had to contort himself into the darling of the netroots and be just about where Obama is (minus the experience problem).

Now this sounds fun. Is karate-bowling next?

I voted “B.” But make up your own mind.

Marty Peretz returns from Israel convinced “the peace effort is not founded in reality in that its partners are crazed fanatics, nothing less and maybe even more.” Do you think Obama’s trip will be as enlightening?

First utter clarity on Iraq. And now impeccable logic on Freddie-Fannie. (Why is it again that we are raising the conforming loan limit when borrowers already have proven they take on too much debt?) Throw in some spot-on legal analysis, and what isn’t there to like about the Washington Post’s editorial page?

This can’t be right: getting advice on the mortgage crisis from Franklin Raines would be like getting advice from Chuck Hagel on Iraq. Oh. I see.

Hillary Clinton was right about one thing: winning some of those Red state primaries didn’t mean much (other than earn her opponent the nomination, of course.)

It is well and good to chide us about fighting the “last war” but what about fighting the current ones?

Susan Rice attempts to explain why the speech preceded the trip: he’s apparently open to learning only small things. (What if someone tells him his conception of Iraqi political progress is two years out of date? What if Petraeus tells him we are on the verge of a substantial victory against Al Qaeda?) It must be embarrassing to defend willful ignorance.

Actually what is embarrassing is this intellectually dishonest rebuttal to the Washington Post. Did the Post editors really discount Afghanistan? Or did they commend Barack Obama to realistically fighting and winning on both fronts? Maybe we will have an unsuual endorsement from the Post this year.

My first thought about these two potential VP picks: if either one topped the ticket he’d be leading by 20 points. My second thought: to have gotten to the top of the ticket he’d have had to contort himself into the darling of the netroots and be just about where Obama is (minus the experience problem).

Read Less




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