Commentary Magazine


Posts For: July 18, 2008

This Is What Happens

When you decide and speechify first, and get input later, you sometimes run into problems. This interview with General Petraeus provides the first of many potentially embarrassing conflicts between Barack Obama’s politically motivated timetable plan and and the fact-driven objectives of the commanders on the ground. Notice how the assumption even among the MSM is that the surge has worked. Hearing Mitchell explain that it is not a good idea to give the enemy a fixed timetable is a welcome, albeit exceptionally tardy, acknowledgment of reality by the mainstream press.

So what does Obama say? Thanks but no thanks, General? What Andrea Mitchell didn’t ask in this interview was whether Petraeus agrees that Iraq is irrelevant to and a distraction from the “real” war on terror. Hopefully, someone will ask that question and, if the answer differs from Obama’s take, ask Obama why he is immune to input from those who have been dealing with the enemy.

And if that isn’t enough to make Obama squirm, the McCain team has a bon voyage present in the form of a tough new TV ad.

My main reaction: did Obama imagine he was going to force Petraeus and others from continuing to voice opinions utterly at odds with Obama’s political position? If so, it was a grave error.

When you decide and speechify first, and get input later, you sometimes run into problems. This interview with General Petraeus provides the first of many potentially embarrassing conflicts between Barack Obama’s politically motivated timetable plan and and the fact-driven objectives of the commanders on the ground. Notice how the assumption even among the MSM is that the surge has worked. Hearing Mitchell explain that it is not a good idea to give the enemy a fixed timetable is a welcome, albeit exceptionally tardy, acknowledgment of reality by the mainstream press.

So what does Obama say? Thanks but no thanks, General? What Andrea Mitchell didn’t ask in this interview was whether Petraeus agrees that Iraq is irrelevant to and a distraction from the “real” war on terror. Hopefully, someone will ask that question and, if the answer differs from Obama’s take, ask Obama why he is immune to input from those who have been dealing with the enemy.

And if that isn’t enough to make Obama squirm, the McCain team has a bon voyage present in the form of a tough new TV ad.

My main reaction: did Obama imagine he was going to force Petraeus and others from continuing to voice opinions utterly at odds with Obama’s political position? If so, it was a grave error.

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They Pledge Allegiance

The shamelessness of the UN is no secret, but even its bureaucrats should have the good sense not to get caught on camera. Click here to view UNIFIL’s peacekeepers saluting the passing coffins of Hezbollah and Palestinian terrorists returned to Beirut as part of the prisoner swap with Israel. Notice they seem also to be saluting the image of virgin-bound Imad Mughniya – the mastermind of the U.S. Marines barracks suicide bombing that cost the lives of 241 soldiers in 1983.

If we needed confirmation that UNFIL’s implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 is worse than ineffective, we now have it. The only questions left are: how long until the next war? And will peacekeepers clear the way for the advancing armies or will they provide, as in the past, cover and excuses for the people they are now saluting?

The shamelessness of the UN is no secret, but even its bureaucrats should have the good sense not to get caught on camera. Click here to view UNIFIL’s peacekeepers saluting the passing coffins of Hezbollah and Palestinian terrorists returned to Beirut as part of the prisoner swap with Israel. Notice they seem also to be saluting the image of virgin-bound Imad Mughniya – the mastermind of the U.S. Marines barracks suicide bombing that cost the lives of 241 soldiers in 1983.

If we needed confirmation that UNFIL’s implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 is worse than ineffective, we now have it. The only questions left are: how long until the next war? And will peacekeepers clear the way for the advancing armies or will they provide, as in the past, cover and excuses for the people they are now saluting?

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But Seriously. . .

Ed Begley Jr., actor and super-Green advocate, has sometimes been the subject of derision, and even a TV series on his excessive devotion to environmentalism. But let’s give him credit; he walks the walk:

Begley’s been driving an electric car since 1970. He recharges the current one, a Toyota RAV4, with the solar panels that provide all the electricity for his modest, two-bedroom home in sunny Studio City, Calif. He grows his own veggies and cooks them in a solar oven. He even powers his toaster with a stationary bike.

That’s a far cry from many of the folks praising Al Gore but living in 40,000 square foot homes. That is why this video is getting lots of laughs: hypocrisy, especially at gargantuan levels by oblivious do-gooders is always fun. But there is a point to highlighting the hypocrisy that goes beyond trying to knock the ultra-Green set off their high horse and debunk their more extreme rhetoric. (It is good for that too, of course.)

The point of the hypocrisy-watch is to illustrate that the message of self-sacrifice and personal deprivation, even among the super rich and educated, is very hard to put into practice. Put differently, the notion that you can get millions and millions of people not only to inconvenience themselves minimally but to alter radically their life styles is probably not realistic. In fact, it is a fantasy. That suggests that hectoring and forcing people of modest means to undergo more sacrifice (yeah, $8 gas is a great idea) is a losing proposition.

So until everyone uses home exercise equipment to cook breakfast it might be a good idea to set our sites on more modest conservation efforts and look at some real options on the production side. (While in Europe Obama might want to check out how successful nuclear power has been.)

Ed Begley Jr., actor and super-Green advocate, has sometimes been the subject of derision, and even a TV series on his excessive devotion to environmentalism. But let’s give him credit; he walks the walk:

Begley’s been driving an electric car since 1970. He recharges the current one, a Toyota RAV4, with the solar panels that provide all the electricity for his modest, two-bedroom home in sunny Studio City, Calif. He grows his own veggies and cooks them in a solar oven. He even powers his toaster with a stationary bike.

That’s a far cry from many of the folks praising Al Gore but living in 40,000 square foot homes. That is why this video is getting lots of laughs: hypocrisy, especially at gargantuan levels by oblivious do-gooders is always fun. But there is a point to highlighting the hypocrisy that goes beyond trying to knock the ultra-Green set off their high horse and debunk their more extreme rhetoric. (It is good for that too, of course.)

The point of the hypocrisy-watch is to illustrate that the message of self-sacrifice and personal deprivation, even among the super rich and educated, is very hard to put into practice. Put differently, the notion that you can get millions and millions of people not only to inconvenience themselves minimally but to alter radically their life styles is probably not realistic. In fact, it is a fantasy. That suggests that hectoring and forcing people of modest means to undergo more sacrifice (yeah, $8 gas is a great idea) is a losing proposition.

So until everyone uses home exercise equipment to cook breakfast it might be a good idea to set our sites on more modest conservation efforts and look at some real options on the production side. (While in Europe Obama might want to check out how successful nuclear power has been.)

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Was It Something He Said?

This must rank as one of the least surprising headlines of this election cycle. It wasn’t very hard to predict that voters who: 1) are opposed to gay marriage and abortion and 2) overwhelmingly think military strength is the best way to ensure peace and that the U.S. made the right choice going to war in Iraq just aren’t going to like Barack Obama. He can share all the faith stories he likes, but biography isn’t necessarily the ticket for a candidate who had Reverend Wright as his spiritual mentor for twenty years.

Following the 2004 election there were a spate of symposia and lots of buzz among Democrats about how to appeal to “values” voters. Yes, it is a good idea not to disparage religion and, yes, it is good to show respect for voters who have deeply-held beliefs on abortion. But it turns out these voters actually care about the candidates’ positions and world outlook. When you think about it, devout people who organize their lives based on religious principles are the last people who are going to be swayed by sweet talk and atmospherics.

John McCain may worry about getting value voters to turn out, but he probably doesn’t have to worry much about the ones who actually show up on election day.

This must rank as one of the least surprising headlines of this election cycle. It wasn’t very hard to predict that voters who: 1) are opposed to gay marriage and abortion and 2) overwhelmingly think military strength is the best way to ensure peace and that the U.S. made the right choice going to war in Iraq just aren’t going to like Barack Obama. He can share all the faith stories he likes, but biography isn’t necessarily the ticket for a candidate who had Reverend Wright as his spiritual mentor for twenty years.

Following the 2004 election there were a spate of symposia and lots of buzz among Democrats about how to appeal to “values” voters. Yes, it is a good idea not to disparage religion and, yes, it is good to show respect for voters who have deeply-held beliefs on abortion. But it turns out these voters actually care about the candidates’ positions and world outlook. When you think about it, devout people who organize their lives based on religious principles are the last people who are going to be swayed by sweet talk and atmospherics.

John McCain may worry about getting value voters to turn out, but he probably doesn’t have to worry much about the ones who actually show up on election day.

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Condoleezza’s Descent

This is the kind of gobbledygook that ends up coming out of the mouths of those who pretend not to negotiate while negotiating:

The signal that we are sending, that we fully support the track that Iran could take for a better relationship with the international community, is one that the United States stands fully behind.

Condoleezza Rice served up that baffling word salad today in defense of State Department official William Burns’s trip to engage in multi-party talks with Iran. But even the gibberish about signaling that we support what could happen, etc. is better than this:

Asked whether the decision to send Burns was inspired by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s call for Washington to speak directly with Iran, Rice avoided answering the question directly.

In fairness to the Secretary of State, this is Reuters reporting, and the idea that Barack Obama is now giving the State Department its marching orders is a little far-fetched.

Isn’t it?

This is the kind of gobbledygook that ends up coming out of the mouths of those who pretend not to negotiate while negotiating:

The signal that we are sending, that we fully support the track that Iran could take for a better relationship with the international community, is one that the United States stands fully behind.

Condoleezza Rice served up that baffling word salad today in defense of State Department official William Burns’s trip to engage in multi-party talks with Iran. But even the gibberish about signaling that we support what could happen, etc. is better than this:

Asked whether the decision to send Burns was inspired by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s call for Washington to speak directly with Iran, Rice avoided answering the question directly.

In fairness to the Secretary of State, this is Reuters reporting, and the idea that Barack Obama is now giving the State Department its marching orders is a little far-fetched.

Isn’t it?

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Real Men

This is an amusing list of reasons why Barack Obama is a tough sell with men. But as Linda pointed out with regard to white voters, this is not a problem unique to Obama. Exit polls show that among Democrats in recent elections only Bill Clinton has been competitive with male voters.

Sure, Obama may seem to be the caricature of a liberal elite. And his preference for “talk” as a principle tool of foreign policy and his lack of familiarity with the military don’t exactly make him a macho figure, a guy’s guy in the way McCain is. But when all is said and done most men don’t vote for Democrats for president. (The same is true for pet owners and married voters, apparently.)

That is not to say that the candidates can’t impact these trends around the margins –hence, McCain’s push to capture disaffected female voters who previously supported Hillary Clinton. And Obama’s push for blue collar voters certainly will aim to appeal to both men and women with a populist economic message. But on Election Day chances are that men, like they have done with remarkable consistency for 28 years, will be voting Republican.

This is an amusing list of reasons why Barack Obama is a tough sell with men. But as Linda pointed out with regard to white voters, this is not a problem unique to Obama. Exit polls show that among Democrats in recent elections only Bill Clinton has been competitive with male voters.

Sure, Obama may seem to be the caricature of a liberal elite. And his preference for “talk” as a principle tool of foreign policy and his lack of familiarity with the military don’t exactly make him a macho figure, a guy’s guy in the way McCain is. But when all is said and done most men don’t vote for Democrats for president. (The same is true for pet owners and married voters, apparently.)

That is not to say that the candidates can’t impact these trends around the margins –hence, McCain’s push to capture disaffected female voters who previously supported Hillary Clinton. And Obama’s push for blue collar voters certainly will aim to appeal to both men and women with a populist economic message. But on Election Day chances are that men, like they have done with remarkable consistency for 28 years, will be voting Republican.

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Is the Bush Administration Crumbling?

Is the Bush administration crumbling? Asia experts Liu Kin-ming and June Teufel Dreyer, in postings on the Taiwan Policy Forum listserv today, ask a pertinent question.

The answer, unfortunately, is “yes.” An exhausted Dubya is now doing everything he once said he would not. The President, for example, is rewarding North Korea prior to surrender of its nuclear weapons. On Wednesday, the administration agreed to talk with Iran even though the Islamic Republic is continuing to enrich uranium and undoubtedly maintaining a covert bomb program. And on the same day, it was revealed that the Bush White House is undermining democratic Taiwan to please communist China by refusing to sell the former defensive weapons. Next month, the President will be joining the likes of Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe to honor Chinese autocrats at the opening ceremony of an event recently described as the “Totalitarian Olympics.”

Mr. Bush probably won’t have to sit next to Sudan’s Omar Bashir–seating is said to be alphabetical for attending heads of state–only because the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on Monday asked for an arrest warrant for the genocidal ruler.

The American leader who believes so much in freedom and democracy has done more than any autocrat to support the strengthening coalition of authoritarian states. Getting little in return, Bush is yielding on almost every request from Beijing and most of them from Moscow. In doing so, he is abandoning American allies and undermining critical American goals. By reversing course on major initiatives, he is eroding American credibility. Now, it seems every foreign policy of the Bush administration is, well, Kerryesque.

Some will argue that the President’s recent radical turns are only recognizing reality because Russia and China have been frustrating American initiatives. As an initial matter, it was Bush administration policy that helped put these two authoritarian giants into positions from where they could bedevil America and the rest of the international community. Yet more important, the President’s policy changes come too late to be effective. Now, even if they are the right approaches–and I do not think they are–they can only make the United States appear weak and irresolute. It would have been preferable for the administration to have stuck to its principled stands, which at least had the possibility of leading to enduring solutions, especially if they would have been continued by the next administration.

The President should have realized that, so close to the end of his term, the best he could do was to cause no further harm. Yet we are now witnessing policy disarray in a White House that has lost its confidence and bearings.

Is the Bush administration crumbling? Asia experts Liu Kin-ming and June Teufel Dreyer, in postings on the Taiwan Policy Forum listserv today, ask a pertinent question.

The answer, unfortunately, is “yes.” An exhausted Dubya is now doing everything he once said he would not. The President, for example, is rewarding North Korea prior to surrender of its nuclear weapons. On Wednesday, the administration agreed to talk with Iran even though the Islamic Republic is continuing to enrich uranium and undoubtedly maintaining a covert bomb program. And on the same day, it was revealed that the Bush White House is undermining democratic Taiwan to please communist China by refusing to sell the former defensive weapons. Next month, the President will be joining the likes of Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe to honor Chinese autocrats at the opening ceremony of an event recently described as the “Totalitarian Olympics.”

Mr. Bush probably won’t have to sit next to Sudan’s Omar Bashir–seating is said to be alphabetical for attending heads of state–only because the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on Monday asked for an arrest warrant for the genocidal ruler.

The American leader who believes so much in freedom and democracy has done more than any autocrat to support the strengthening coalition of authoritarian states. Getting little in return, Bush is yielding on almost every request from Beijing and most of them from Moscow. In doing so, he is abandoning American allies and undermining critical American goals. By reversing course on major initiatives, he is eroding American credibility. Now, it seems every foreign policy of the Bush administration is, well, Kerryesque.

Some will argue that the President’s recent radical turns are only recognizing reality because Russia and China have been frustrating American initiatives. As an initial matter, it was Bush administration policy that helped put these two authoritarian giants into positions from where they could bedevil America and the rest of the international community. Yet more important, the President’s policy changes come too late to be effective. Now, even if they are the right approaches–and I do not think they are–they can only make the United States appear weak and irresolute. It would have been preferable for the administration to have stuck to its principled stands, which at least had the possibility of leading to enduring solutions, especially if they would have been continued by the next administration.

The President should have realized that, so close to the end of his term, the best he could do was to cause no further harm. Yet we are now witnessing policy disarray in a White House that has lost its confidence and bearings.

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Where’d I Put That Health Care Policy?

David Brooks gives some advice to John McCain: more Benjamin Disraeli and Teddy Roosevelt. He writes:

John McCain’s challenge is to recreate this model. He will never get as many cheers in Germany as Barack Obama, but for a century his family has embodied American heroism. He will never seem as young and forward-leaning as his opponent, but he did have his values formed in an age that people now look back to with respect. The high point of his campaign, so far, has been his energy policy, which is comprehensive and bold, but does not try to turn us into a nation of bicyclists. It does not view America’s energy-intense economy as a sign of sinfulness. If McCain is going to win this election, it will because he can communicate an essential truth — that people in a great and successful nation do not want change for its own sake. But they do realize that it’s only through careful reform that they can preserve what they and their ancestors have so laboriously built.

Now, in fairness to McCain, there is a lot of this already present. But like a chronically messy office worker, neither he nor anyone else can find it on the desk heaped with lots of other junk. McCain has stressed school choice and he has a very innovative health care policy. But how many voters know McCain even has a health care policy?

So I don’t think he is lacking in attractive policy ideas (other than a new tax plan which doesn’t have the words “Bush tax cuts” in it). What he doesn’t have is a manageable way to package and explain what he is offering. He needs the equivalent of one of those companies that comes in to organize your office or home so you can actually find things and make use of what you have.

In lieu of a closet organizer for McCain, I’d suggest he steal a tactic from Rudy Giuliani (who stole it from Newt Gingrich). Get a medium to short list of policy objectives, put them on a card or a pledge and talk about them every day. And give it a name that has “reform” in it. McCain, as he showed on energy policy, is not without ideas. And he’s better at staying on message with improved focus from his communications team. But he does need to put everything within reach and get rid of the clutter.

If he can do that, this will really be a race.

David Brooks gives some advice to John McCain: more Benjamin Disraeli and Teddy Roosevelt. He writes:

John McCain’s challenge is to recreate this model. He will never get as many cheers in Germany as Barack Obama, but for a century his family has embodied American heroism. He will never seem as young and forward-leaning as his opponent, but he did have his values formed in an age that people now look back to with respect. The high point of his campaign, so far, has been his energy policy, which is comprehensive and bold, but does not try to turn us into a nation of bicyclists. It does not view America’s energy-intense economy as a sign of sinfulness. If McCain is going to win this election, it will because he can communicate an essential truth — that people in a great and successful nation do not want change for its own sake. But they do realize that it’s only through careful reform that they can preserve what they and their ancestors have so laboriously built.

Now, in fairness to McCain, there is a lot of this already present. But like a chronically messy office worker, neither he nor anyone else can find it on the desk heaped with lots of other junk. McCain has stressed school choice and he has a very innovative health care policy. But how many voters know McCain even has a health care policy?

So I don’t think he is lacking in attractive policy ideas (other than a new tax plan which doesn’t have the words “Bush tax cuts” in it). What he doesn’t have is a manageable way to package and explain what he is offering. He needs the equivalent of one of those companies that comes in to organize your office or home so you can actually find things and make use of what you have.

In lieu of a closet organizer for McCain, I’d suggest he steal a tactic from Rudy Giuliani (who stole it from Newt Gingrich). Get a medium to short list of policy objectives, put them on a card or a pledge and talk about them every day. And give it a name that has “reform” in it. McCain, as he showed on energy policy, is not without ideas. And he’s better at staying on message with improved focus from his communications team. But he does need to put everything within reach and get rid of the clutter.

If he can do that, this will really be a race.

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Re: Three Hundred

Jennifer, the possibilities here are endless for, I dunno, internet-video satire. I’m thinking of the movie 300, about the battle of Thermopylae:

Persians Iranians: We will blot out the sun with missiles!
Obama’s 300 foreign policy advisers: Then we shall negotiate in the shade!

Etc.

Jennifer, the possibilities here are endless for, I dunno, internet-video satire. I’m thinking of the movie 300, about the battle of Thermopylae:

Persians Iranians: We will blot out the sun with missiles!
Obama’s 300 foreign policy advisers: Then we shall negotiate in the shade!

Etc.

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There Is a Way to Make Fun of Obama

Earlier this week the New York Times published a story in which it asked, “What’s so funny about Barack Obama? Apparently not very much, at least not yet.” There has been little humor directed at Mr. Obama, we learn, from the likes of Jay Leno, David Letterman, Conan O’Brien and Jon Stewart. The conceit of the story is that Obama is unmockable.

Leave it to Charles Krauthammer to do what others cannot. In a brilliant column on Obama’s vanity, Krauthammer, playing off of Obama’s victory speech upon winning the nomination, in which Obama declared it a great turning point in history and when, among other achievements, “the rise of the oceans began to slow,” writes

Obama may think he’s King Canute, but the good king ordered the tides to halt precisely to refute sycophantic aides who suggested that he had such power. Obama has no such modesty.

Krauthammer concludes his column this way:

For the first few months of the campaign, the question about Obama was: Who is he? The question now is: Who does he think he is? We are getting to know. Redeemer of our uninvolved, uninformed lives. Lord of the seas. And more. As he said on victory night, his rise marks the moment when “our planet began to heal.” As I recall — I’m no expert on this — Jesus practiced his healing just on the sick. Obama operates on a larger canvas.

Let’s see, now; in Barack Obama, we have a man who is prickly, seemingly humorless, and stunningly arrogant (even for a political figure). He has a legislative record that places him on the outer (liberal) fringes of American politics. He’s been associated with radical figures like Jeremiah Wright, Jr. and William Ayers and got a sweetheart housing deal from the convicted felon Tony Rezko. He has moved away from his past positions at a pace that makes Bill Clinton look like a rock of consistency. And Obama apparently views himself, at least in some respects, as more than a Messiah.

Gosh, you’d think in all of that there might be some material for Jon Stewart to work with. On the other hand, I suppose it’s hard to poke fun of someone with whom you’re utterly enchanted. Comedians who have fallen in love often aren’t very funny.

Earlier this week the New York Times published a story in which it asked, “What’s so funny about Barack Obama? Apparently not very much, at least not yet.” There has been little humor directed at Mr. Obama, we learn, from the likes of Jay Leno, David Letterman, Conan O’Brien and Jon Stewart. The conceit of the story is that Obama is unmockable.

Leave it to Charles Krauthammer to do what others cannot. In a brilliant column on Obama’s vanity, Krauthammer, playing off of Obama’s victory speech upon winning the nomination, in which Obama declared it a great turning point in history and when, among other achievements, “the rise of the oceans began to slow,” writes

Obama may think he’s King Canute, but the good king ordered the tides to halt precisely to refute sycophantic aides who suggested that he had such power. Obama has no such modesty.

Krauthammer concludes his column this way:

For the first few months of the campaign, the question about Obama was: Who is he? The question now is: Who does he think he is? We are getting to know. Redeemer of our uninvolved, uninformed lives. Lord of the seas. And more. As he said on victory night, his rise marks the moment when “our planet began to heal.” As I recall — I’m no expert on this — Jesus practiced his healing just on the sick. Obama operates on a larger canvas.

Let’s see, now; in Barack Obama, we have a man who is prickly, seemingly humorless, and stunningly arrogant (even for a political figure). He has a legislative record that places him on the outer (liberal) fringes of American politics. He’s been associated with radical figures like Jeremiah Wright, Jr. and William Ayers and got a sweetheart housing deal from the convicted felon Tony Rezko. He has moved away from his past positions at a pace that makes Bill Clinton look like a rock of consistency. And Obama apparently views himself, at least in some respects, as more than a Messiah.

Gosh, you’d think in all of that there might be some material for Jon Stewart to work with. On the other hand, I suppose it’s hard to poke fun of someone with whom you’re utterly enchanted. Comedians who have fallen in love often aren’t very funny.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Is New Yorker-gate turning into Bittergate? A smart commentator writes: “Voters in Midwestern and Rust Belt states, among others, are plenty familiar with the concepts of irony and satire. They rarely confuse it with truth or fact. They get it. They don’t need subtitles or flow charts.” Or maybe it’s Gore-itis. (“Obama’s at risk of falling into the same personality straitjacket that, rightly or wrongly, bound Gore and Kerry as humor-challenged, stiff and incapable of self-mockery.”) Others think so too.

This is a howler. Some inconvenient truths.

Once more the Washington Post editors get it right –this time on the Olympics.

Charles Krauthammer agrees with the light-footprint problem. Which explains why Obama exaggerates his meager accomplishments.

As useless gestures go, John McCain’s visit to the NAACP is getting some pretty good reviews. And there is another group that likes a townhall-style Q and A.

Total failure,” says Nancy Pelosi? That would be like taking a jillion failing votes to cut off funding for Iraq, creating a gap in terrorism surveillance only to cave months later, and sporting a favorability rating half of George W. Bush’s.

Yeah, bullying people into voting for Obama by playing the race card is just the ticket to change these numbers, right?

Jamie Sneider has a persuasive answer to my question as to whether Obama’s campaign is spending too much. And if campaigns are supposed to foreshadow presidencies, shouldn’t we want the spendthrift model instead?

Regardless of whether they help beat Al Franken, catchy ads opposing abolition of secret ballots for union elections should get some kudos. Making an obtuse issue understandable and explaining why Big Labor is anti-democratic are two tough things to. The ads succeed at both. The McCain team would be smart to make this an issue. (Isn’t this special interest politics run amok?)

It is hard to quibble with this on the bailout mania. (h/t Phil Klein) What happened to the time that Democrats defended little guys who worked hard and played by the rules? Now they make those people (otherwise known as taxpayers) absorb the cost of the bad decisions by other people (lenders, shareholders, irresponsible homebuyers). And frankly Republicans are no better.

You can add Michelle to the list of things we can’t criticize. That’s okay, I suppose, so long as she doesn’t act as a surrogate and doesn’t campaign for him. Oh, and her employer gives back the $1M earmark.

Is New Yorker-gate turning into Bittergate? A smart commentator writes: “Voters in Midwestern and Rust Belt states, among others, are plenty familiar with the concepts of irony and satire. They rarely confuse it with truth or fact. They get it. They don’t need subtitles or flow charts.” Or maybe it’s Gore-itis. (“Obama’s at risk of falling into the same personality straitjacket that, rightly or wrongly, bound Gore and Kerry as humor-challenged, stiff and incapable of self-mockery.”) Others think so too.

This is a howler. Some inconvenient truths.

Once more the Washington Post editors get it right –this time on the Olympics.

Charles Krauthammer agrees with the light-footprint problem. Which explains why Obama exaggerates his meager accomplishments.

As useless gestures go, John McCain’s visit to the NAACP is getting some pretty good reviews. And there is another group that likes a townhall-style Q and A.

Total failure,” says Nancy Pelosi? That would be like taking a jillion failing votes to cut off funding for Iraq, creating a gap in terrorism surveillance only to cave months later, and sporting a favorability rating half of George W. Bush’s.

Yeah, bullying people into voting for Obama by playing the race card is just the ticket to change these numbers, right?

Jamie Sneider has a persuasive answer to my question as to whether Obama’s campaign is spending too much. And if campaigns are supposed to foreshadow presidencies, shouldn’t we want the spendthrift model instead?

Regardless of whether they help beat Al Franken, catchy ads opposing abolition of secret ballots for union elections should get some kudos. Making an obtuse issue understandable and explaining why Big Labor is anti-democratic are two tough things to. The ads succeed at both. The McCain team would be smart to make this an issue. (Isn’t this special interest politics run amok?)

It is hard to quibble with this on the bailout mania. (h/t Phil Klein) What happened to the time that Democrats defended little guys who worked hard and played by the rules? Now they make those people (otherwise known as taxpayers) absorb the cost of the bad decisions by other people (lenders, shareholders, irresponsible homebuyers). And frankly Republicans are no better.

You can add Michelle to the list of things we can’t criticize. That’s okay, I suppose, so long as she doesn’t act as a surrogate and doesn’t campaign for him. Oh, and her employer gives back the $1M earmark.

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The Ugly Truth about March 14

The “March 14″ movement is a political vehicle for Lebanon’s liberals, democrats, free-market capitalists, human rights activists, and those who want an exit from the seemingly endless war with the “Zionist entity.” Unfortunately, that is not all it is. It’s also a political vehicle for hard-line Sunni Arab Nationalists and other political retrogrades who only oppose Hezbollah and the Syrian Baath regime because they hate Shias and Alawites as much as they hate Jews.

My colleague Noah Pollak is rightly horrified by the death worship on display in Beirut this week after Israel released the child-murdering terrorist ghoul Samir Kuntar to Hezbollah in exchange for the dead bodies of two kidnapped soldiers. “Lebanon’s March 14th movement cast itself into an abyss of moral depravity that the bloc’s supporters — myself included — never thought possible,” he wrote. I’m sorry to say this–I’m a March 14 supporter, too–but I’m a bit less surprised, if not less repulsed, by this recent turn of events.

Read the rest of this COMMENTARY web exclusive here.

The “March 14″ movement is a political vehicle for Lebanon’s liberals, democrats, free-market capitalists, human rights activists, and those who want an exit from the seemingly endless war with the “Zionist entity.” Unfortunately, that is not all it is. It’s also a political vehicle for hard-line Sunni Arab Nationalists and other political retrogrades who only oppose Hezbollah and the Syrian Baath regime because they hate Shias and Alawites as much as they hate Jews.

My colleague Noah Pollak is rightly horrified by the death worship on display in Beirut this week after Israel released the child-murdering terrorist ghoul Samir Kuntar to Hezbollah in exchange for the dead bodies of two kidnapped soldiers. “Lebanon’s March 14th movement cast itself into an abyss of moral depravity that the bloc’s supporters — myself included — never thought possible,” he wrote. I’m sorry to say this–I’m a March 14 supporter, too–but I’m a bit less surprised, if not less repulsed, by this recent turn of events.

Read the rest of this COMMENTARY web exclusive here.

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Every War a Fiasco

A couple of days ago I wrote a post demonstrating that Barack Obama’s (and the Left’s) essential arguments for leaving Iraq could just as easily be made in defense of a withdrawal from present-day Afghanistan. Ultimately, my point was that the arguments were wrong (premature and ideologically bankrupt) in regard to Iraq and they would be wrong if applied to Afghanistan.

But what I meant as an ironic comparison intended to expose the hypocrisy and moral fluidity of the anti-war crowd is already on offer, without irony, as policy advice in those circles. From Rory Stewart’s article “How to Save Afghanistan” in Time magazine:

So what exactly should we do about Afghanistan now? First, the West should not increase troop numbers. In time, NATO allies, such as Germany and Holland, will probably want to draw down their numbers, and they should be allowed to do so. We face pressing challenges elsewhere. If we are worried about terrorism, Pakistan is more important than Afghanistan; if we are worried about regional stability, then Egypt, Iran or even Lebanon is more important; if we are worried about poverty, Africa is more important. A troop increase is likely to inflame Afghan nationalism because Afghans are more anti-foreign than we acknowledge and the support for our presence in the insurgency areas is declining. The Taliban, which was a largely discredited and backward movement, gains support by portraying itself as fighting for Islam and Afghanistan against a foreign military occupation.

Nor should we increase our involvement in government and the economy. The more responsibility we take in Afghanistan, the more we undermine the credibility and responsibility of the Afghan government and encourage it to act irresponsibly. Our claims that Afghanistan is the “front line in the war on terror” and that “failure is not an option” have convinced the Afghan government that we need it more than it needs us. The worse things become, the more assistance it seems to receive. This is not an incentive to reform. Increasing our commitment to Afghanistan gives us no leverage over the government.

Afghans increasingly blame us for the problems in the country: the evening news is dominated by stories of wasted development aid. The government claims that in 2007, $1.3 billion out of $3.5 billion of aid was spent on international consultants, some of whom received more than $1,000 a day and whose policy papers are often ignored by Afghan civil servants and are invisible to the population. Our lack of success despite our wealth and technology convinces ordinary Afghans to believe in conspiracy theories. . .

Sound familiar? This is the palette, settled on during Iraq, that will dog the U.S.’s upcoming military endeavors for the foreseeable future. America is an ally-less, blundering affront to native populations — a bullying terror-magnet that should stay out of every foreign conflict, period. It no longer matters if a cause is critical or just. In fact, we now know from the silence and denial in the media and on Capitol Hill about present-day Iraq that it no longer matters if America wins its wars. It only matters that we don’t have them.

The disconnect between Americans’ cushy civilian perceptions and global reality has never been so hazardously unbridgeable. We have a brazen Taliban roaming free, killing coalition troops and gaining strength. We have in Iran a doomsday cult with the power of a state on an inexorable path toward nuclear weapons. We have in Iraq the tangible hope of a newly free country, a critical ally in the heart of the Muslim world. And we have an American populace eager to turn their backs on all three and get down to the business of forgetting that we live in a world on the brink.

A couple of days ago I wrote a post demonstrating that Barack Obama’s (and the Left’s) essential arguments for leaving Iraq could just as easily be made in defense of a withdrawal from present-day Afghanistan. Ultimately, my point was that the arguments were wrong (premature and ideologically bankrupt) in regard to Iraq and they would be wrong if applied to Afghanistan.

But what I meant as an ironic comparison intended to expose the hypocrisy and moral fluidity of the anti-war crowd is already on offer, without irony, as policy advice in those circles. From Rory Stewart’s article “How to Save Afghanistan” in Time magazine:

So what exactly should we do about Afghanistan now? First, the West should not increase troop numbers. In time, NATO allies, such as Germany and Holland, will probably want to draw down their numbers, and they should be allowed to do so. We face pressing challenges elsewhere. If we are worried about terrorism, Pakistan is more important than Afghanistan; if we are worried about regional stability, then Egypt, Iran or even Lebanon is more important; if we are worried about poverty, Africa is more important. A troop increase is likely to inflame Afghan nationalism because Afghans are more anti-foreign than we acknowledge and the support for our presence in the insurgency areas is declining. The Taliban, which was a largely discredited and backward movement, gains support by portraying itself as fighting for Islam and Afghanistan against a foreign military occupation.

Nor should we increase our involvement in government and the economy. The more responsibility we take in Afghanistan, the more we undermine the credibility and responsibility of the Afghan government and encourage it to act irresponsibly. Our claims that Afghanistan is the “front line in the war on terror” and that “failure is not an option” have convinced the Afghan government that we need it more than it needs us. The worse things become, the more assistance it seems to receive. This is not an incentive to reform. Increasing our commitment to Afghanistan gives us no leverage over the government.

Afghans increasingly blame us for the problems in the country: the evening news is dominated by stories of wasted development aid. The government claims that in 2007, $1.3 billion out of $3.5 billion of aid was spent on international consultants, some of whom received more than $1,000 a day and whose policy papers are often ignored by Afghan civil servants and are invisible to the population. Our lack of success despite our wealth and technology convinces ordinary Afghans to believe in conspiracy theories. . .

Sound familiar? This is the palette, settled on during Iraq, that will dog the U.S.’s upcoming military endeavors for the foreseeable future. America is an ally-less, blundering affront to native populations — a bullying terror-magnet that should stay out of every foreign conflict, period. It no longer matters if a cause is critical or just. In fact, we now know from the silence and denial in the media and on Capitol Hill about present-day Iraq that it no longer matters if America wins its wars. It only matters that we don’t have them.

The disconnect between Americans’ cushy civilian perceptions and global reality has never been so hazardously unbridgeable. We have a brazen Taliban roaming free, killing coalition troops and gaining strength. We have in Iran a doomsday cult with the power of a state on an inexorable path toward nuclear weapons. We have in Iraq the tangible hope of a newly free country, a critical ally in the heart of the Muslim world. And we have an American populace eager to turn their backs on all three and get down to the business of forgetting that we live in a world on the brink.

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A Sign Of The Times

When I saw this headline, “Pope Warns on Environment,” I automatically assumed the story was about Al Gore . . .

When I saw this headline, “Pope Warns on Environment,” I automatically assumed the story was about Al Gore . . .

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Re: If You Want to See . . .

Noah, perhaps Ulrich should hear what Samir Kuntar himself has to say today. Alongside his venomous hatred of Israel is not a small amount of envy. Here’s what he told Al-Manar TV on Thursday:

I’m jealous of the Zionists, who don’t spare any effort in bringing back captured soldiers or soldiers’ bodies… Seriously, we are jealous of our enemy and its care for a corpse and how it goes to the end of the world in order to return it, and of its concerns for captives and how it will go to the very edge to bring them back.

There’s something to what he’s saying. The reason Ulrich is wrong is that Kuntar was no hostage, but a convicted murderer. The most important reason why Israel is willing to undertake a deal that on the face of it is so bad, is to send a clear message to its own soldiers heading out to battle: Fight with all you’ve got, and we’ll do whatever it takes to make sure you come home.

Of course, winning the war would have been better…

Noah, perhaps Ulrich should hear what Samir Kuntar himself has to say today. Alongside his venomous hatred of Israel is not a small amount of envy. Here’s what he told Al-Manar TV on Thursday:

I’m jealous of the Zionists, who don’t spare any effort in bringing back captured soldiers or soldiers’ bodies… Seriously, we are jealous of our enemy and its care for a corpse and how it goes to the end of the world in order to return it, and of its concerns for captives and how it will go to the very edge to bring them back.

There’s something to what he’s saying. The reason Ulrich is wrong is that Kuntar was no hostage, but a convicted murderer. The most important reason why Israel is willing to undertake a deal that on the face of it is so bad, is to send a clear message to its own soldiers heading out to battle: Fight with all you’ve got, and we’ll do whatever it takes to make sure you come home.

Of course, winning the war would have been better…

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Making It Tougher

Not many pundits think it was smart of Barack Obama to try to lock in his position before going to Iraq. The Wall Street Journal casts Obama’s Iraq positioning as a failure of judgment:

Mr. Obama has made a central basis of his candidacy the “judgment” he showed in opposing the Iraq war in 2002, even if it was a risk-free position to take as an Illinois state senator. The claim helped him win the Democratic primaries. But the 2007 surge debate is the single most important strategic judgment he has had to make on the more serious stage as a Presidential candidate. He vocally opposed the surge, and events have since vindicated Mr. Bush. Without the surge and a new counterinsurgency strategy, the U.S. would have suffered a humiliating defeat in Iraq. . . Mr. Obama does promise to “consult with commanders on the ground and the Iraqi government” in implementing his plans. But he would have shown more sincerity on this score had he postponed Tuesday’s address until after he visited Iraq and had a chance to speak with those generals and Iraqis. The timing of his speech made it appear not that he is open to what General David Petraeus tells him, but that he wants to limit the General’s military options.Mr. Bush has often been criticized for refusing to admit his Iraq mistakes, but he proved that wrong in ordering the surge that reversed his policy and is finally winning the war. The next President will now take office with the U.S. in a far better security position than 18 months ago. Mr. Obama could help his own claim to be Commander in Chief, and ease doubts about his judgment, if he admits that Mr. Bush was right.

But maybe the issues is one of nerve. David Paul Kuhn, also in the Journal, questions the timing of Obama’s policy flip-flops, positing that he should have shifted earlier on the host of issues he has only recently revised and trusted the Democratic base to follow him. He writes:

Mr. Obama would have been braver and shrewder if he shifted to the center on some issues months ago. As early as mid-February he had the electoral math to assure the nomination. He could have then taken one big and bold stance that would have irked and even infuriated some liberals. If he had done so, he would have remained politically alive, offered evidence he was larger than liberalism and thus improved his general election positioning. He would also look brave. After all, despite John McCain’s shifts on issues like taxes, Mr. Obama has long known he would face the man who built his franchise on grit.

Well, this is equally true of Iraq. If Obama had let on during the primary that he understood and appreciated the success of the surge he likely still would have won the nomination, but he would have taken some heat. Even now, with the nomination in hand, he seems utterly incapable of challenging the deeply held beliefs of the netroots (e.g. nothing has been gained in Iraq, no political progress has been had, Al Qaeda hasn’t been wounded) rather than face up to reality. Unless he is entirely shielded from reality he must know that much of what he says, including the irrelevancy of Iraq to the wider war against Al Qaeda, is just poppycock.

So while his former opposition to the surge might be characterized as the result of poor judgment, his current disinclination to modify his now-proven faulty views and challenge his own party smacks of political cowardice. If he wants to prove the critics wrong, he’ll ask some real questions of commanders on the ground and the Iraqi leaders. Then he’ll use that information to seriously re-examine the policy fantasyland he has constructed for himself. He made that nearly impossible by his behavior this week, which maybe was the point. What better way to avoid the temptation to reconcile with reality than to fix your views in the New York Times and a major policy speech?

Not many pundits think it was smart of Barack Obama to try to lock in his position before going to Iraq. The Wall Street Journal casts Obama’s Iraq positioning as a failure of judgment:

Mr. Obama has made a central basis of his candidacy the “judgment” he showed in opposing the Iraq war in 2002, even if it was a risk-free position to take as an Illinois state senator. The claim helped him win the Democratic primaries. But the 2007 surge debate is the single most important strategic judgment he has had to make on the more serious stage as a Presidential candidate. He vocally opposed the surge, and events have since vindicated Mr. Bush. Without the surge and a new counterinsurgency strategy, the U.S. would have suffered a humiliating defeat in Iraq. . . Mr. Obama does promise to “consult with commanders on the ground and the Iraqi government” in implementing his plans. But he would have shown more sincerity on this score had he postponed Tuesday’s address until after he visited Iraq and had a chance to speak with those generals and Iraqis. The timing of his speech made it appear not that he is open to what General David Petraeus tells him, but that he wants to limit the General’s military options.Mr. Bush has often been criticized for refusing to admit his Iraq mistakes, but he proved that wrong in ordering the surge that reversed his policy and is finally winning the war. The next President will now take office with the U.S. in a far better security position than 18 months ago. Mr. Obama could help his own claim to be Commander in Chief, and ease doubts about his judgment, if he admits that Mr. Bush was right.

But maybe the issues is one of nerve. David Paul Kuhn, also in the Journal, questions the timing of Obama’s policy flip-flops, positing that he should have shifted earlier on the host of issues he has only recently revised and trusted the Democratic base to follow him. He writes:

Mr. Obama would have been braver and shrewder if he shifted to the center on some issues months ago. As early as mid-February he had the electoral math to assure the nomination. He could have then taken one big and bold stance that would have irked and even infuriated some liberals. If he had done so, he would have remained politically alive, offered evidence he was larger than liberalism and thus improved his general election positioning. He would also look brave. After all, despite John McCain’s shifts on issues like taxes, Mr. Obama has long known he would face the man who built his franchise on grit.

Well, this is equally true of Iraq. If Obama had let on during the primary that he understood and appreciated the success of the surge he likely still would have won the nomination, but he would have taken some heat. Even now, with the nomination in hand, he seems utterly incapable of challenging the deeply held beliefs of the netroots (e.g. nothing has been gained in Iraq, no political progress has been had, Al Qaeda hasn’t been wounded) rather than face up to reality. Unless he is entirely shielded from reality he must know that much of what he says, including the irrelevancy of Iraq to the wider war against Al Qaeda, is just poppycock.

So while his former opposition to the surge might be characterized as the result of poor judgment, his current disinclination to modify his now-proven faulty views and challenge his own party smacks of political cowardice. If he wants to prove the critics wrong, he’ll ask some real questions of commanders on the ground and the Iraqi leaders. Then he’ll use that information to seriously re-examine the policy fantasyland he has constructed for himself. He made that nearly impossible by his behavior this week, which maybe was the point. What better way to avoid the temptation to reconcile with reality than to fix your views in the New York Times and a major policy speech?

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Hezbollah’s Sadism

Words fail me:

Rabbi Yisrael Weiss, former Chief Rabbi of the IDF, who was present during the transfer of the fallen soldiers yesterday, said that “the verification process yesterday was very slow, because, if we thought the enemy was cruel to the living and the dead, we were surprised, when we opened the caskets, to discover just how cruel. And I’ll leave it at that.”

Words fail me:

Rabbi Yisrael Weiss, former Chief Rabbi of the IDF, who was present during the transfer of the fallen soldiers yesterday, said that “the verification process yesterday was very slow, because, if we thought the enemy was cruel to the living and the dead, we were surprised, when we opened the caskets, to discover just how cruel. And I’ll leave it at that.”

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Three Hundred??

Barack Obama has 300 advisors on foreign policy. What?? That includes the Winnie-the Pooh fellow and 299 other “experts” who, we are led to believe, didn’t catch Obama’s “syntax” error on “undivided Jerusalem.” Did not one of the 300 know about the history of presidential summitry? And none of them thought it might have saved a heap of trouble for Obama if once during his primary campaign he had a briefing with General Petraeus or trip to Iraq?

One of several things is going on. One possibility: this unwieldy and bloated operation is utterly ineffective and doesn’t prevent or catch errors. There are lots of them, but they aren’t very good, even according to other Democrats. Or: they are there for window dressing to provide the patina of national security expertise when, in fact, the major foreign policy objectives are really driven by domestic ideology (e.g. we can’t admit Iraq has anything to do with Al Qaeda or the netroot will go nuts).

Morton Kondracke seems to favor the second as a working hypothesis. In a must-read column he writes:

Every voter understands the simple principle that you don’t make up your mind about something until you have checked the facts — but this week Obama declared he will stick to his predetermined troop- withdrawal schedule no matter what he might learn on his forthcoming trip to Iraq. The only reasonable explanation for his rigidity is that he’s hemmed in by the overwhelming demand of the Democratic base — and left-wing bloggers above all — that he not backtrack on the central promise of his campaign: to end the war. . . .But he couldn’t bring himself to admit that he was wrong about the surge, which has manifestly reduced violence and has opened the way for significant Iraqi political and military progress. As the State Department reported this month, the Iraqi government is making progress on 15 of the 18 political benchmarks set for it by Congress. A majority of Iraqi provinces are now the military responsibility of Iraqi forces. Obama, while tipping his hat to the performance of the U.S. military, continued to dismiss any evidence of political progress. He and aides act as though the Sunni turn against al-Qaida in Iraq and the government’s suppression of Shiite militias just happened — neglecting the security provided by the surge. Obama’s tack, if persisted in after his trip, opens him up to devastating McCain commercials using Obama on videotape predicting that the surge would fail alongside Iraqi testimonials that it was essential to free their country from al-Qaida atrocities. Obama was wrong to say that Iraq “is not and never was the central front in the war on terrorism.” It certainly was, for awhile, when Osama bin Laden was urging Islamicists to go there to achieve martyrdom killing Americans.

Most troubling is the possibility that the performance of the campaign’s foreign policy apparatus is a preview of the Obama administration’s foreign policy apparatus. There are apparently hundreds (if not thousands) of folks waiting to join the State and Defense Departments who hold beliefs that defy evidence and logic. They honestly believe that Iraq is unimportant, unconditional direct talks with Iran will unlock the promise of world peace, we can talk up protectionism at home without scaring our trading partners, and the less input from military commanders in war zones the better.

Take your pick as to which theory makes the most sense. But 300? I guess it takes a lot of people to script a foreign trip so tightly that there is no room for a gaffe.

Barack Obama has 300 advisors on foreign policy. What?? That includes the Winnie-the Pooh fellow and 299 other “experts” who, we are led to believe, didn’t catch Obama’s “syntax” error on “undivided Jerusalem.” Did not one of the 300 know about the history of presidential summitry? And none of them thought it might have saved a heap of trouble for Obama if once during his primary campaign he had a briefing with General Petraeus or trip to Iraq?

One of several things is going on. One possibility: this unwieldy and bloated operation is utterly ineffective and doesn’t prevent or catch errors. There are lots of them, but they aren’t very good, even according to other Democrats. Or: they are there for window dressing to provide the patina of national security expertise when, in fact, the major foreign policy objectives are really driven by domestic ideology (e.g. we can’t admit Iraq has anything to do with Al Qaeda or the netroot will go nuts).

Morton Kondracke seems to favor the second as a working hypothesis. In a must-read column he writes:

Every voter understands the simple principle that you don’t make up your mind about something until you have checked the facts — but this week Obama declared he will stick to his predetermined troop- withdrawal schedule no matter what he might learn on his forthcoming trip to Iraq. The only reasonable explanation for his rigidity is that he’s hemmed in by the overwhelming demand of the Democratic base — and left-wing bloggers above all — that he not backtrack on the central promise of his campaign: to end the war. . . .But he couldn’t bring himself to admit that he was wrong about the surge, which has manifestly reduced violence and has opened the way for significant Iraqi political and military progress. As the State Department reported this month, the Iraqi government is making progress on 15 of the 18 political benchmarks set for it by Congress. A majority of Iraqi provinces are now the military responsibility of Iraqi forces. Obama, while tipping his hat to the performance of the U.S. military, continued to dismiss any evidence of political progress. He and aides act as though the Sunni turn against al-Qaida in Iraq and the government’s suppression of Shiite militias just happened — neglecting the security provided by the surge. Obama’s tack, if persisted in after his trip, opens him up to devastating McCain commercials using Obama on videotape predicting that the surge would fail alongside Iraqi testimonials that it was essential to free their country from al-Qaida atrocities. Obama was wrong to say that Iraq “is not and never was the central front in the war on terrorism.” It certainly was, for awhile, when Osama bin Laden was urging Islamicists to go there to achieve martyrdom killing Americans.

Most troubling is the possibility that the performance of the campaign’s foreign policy apparatus is a preview of the Obama administration’s foreign policy apparatus. There are apparently hundreds (if not thousands) of folks waiting to join the State and Defense Departments who hold beliefs that defy evidence and logic. They honestly believe that Iraq is unimportant, unconditional direct talks with Iran will unlock the promise of world peace, we can talk up protectionism at home without scaring our trading partners, and the less input from military commanders in war zones the better.

Take your pick as to which theory makes the most sense. But 300? I guess it takes a lot of people to script a foreign trip so tightly that there is no room for a gaffe.

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Obama in Ramallah

We learn today from the AFP that next week, during his trip to the Middle East, Barack Obama plans on visiting Ramallah to meet with Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority. Here is a question that would be appropriate for Obama to ask Abbas:

President Abbas, last week you cheered the release of Samir Kuntar, a man who murdered an Israeli family. You congratulated Hezbollah on its ability to extort the release of Kuntar by abducting Israelis, and your party, Fatah, organized celebrations across the West Bank. Your spokesmen and advisers likewise hailed the release of this child-killer as a great victory for the Palestinian cause. Given your behavior last week, why should the United States believe you when you say that Palestinians wish to live peacefully alongside Israel? Why should the United States continue giving your government money and diplomatic support when you have never passed up an opportunity to celebrate the murder, and the murderers, of Israelis?

Will Obama pose such questions? It’s almost unimaginable.

We learn today from the AFP that next week, during his trip to the Middle East, Barack Obama plans on visiting Ramallah to meet with Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority. Here is a question that would be appropriate for Obama to ask Abbas:

President Abbas, last week you cheered the release of Samir Kuntar, a man who murdered an Israeli family. You congratulated Hezbollah on its ability to extort the release of Kuntar by abducting Israelis, and your party, Fatah, organized celebrations across the West Bank. Your spokesmen and advisers likewise hailed the release of this child-killer as a great victory for the Palestinian cause. Given your behavior last week, why should the United States believe you when you say that Palestinians wish to live peacefully alongside Israel? Why should the United States continue giving your government money and diplomatic support when you have never passed up an opportunity to celebrate the murder, and the murderers, of Israelis?

Will Obama pose such questions? It’s almost unimaginable.

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