Commentary Magazine


Posts For: July 24, 2008

Beyond The Pale

Joe Klein’s latest offering is replete with material for others to dissect. But the following passage reveals, if there were any doubt, that his venom for Jews (or Jews who hold certain views) has clouded his political analysis. He declares:

McCain hasn’t said he was for regime change, but he has rattled sabers noisily, joked about bomb-bomb-bombing Iran and surrounded himself with, and been funded by, Jewish neoconservatives who believe Iran is a threat to Israel’s existence.

Aside from the entire lack of factual support for the notion that McCain is funded by or “surrounded” by Jews, this is rank anti-Semitism of the worst kind, the type of conspiracy theory used for centuries to portray Jews as controlling levers of power behind the scenes. The notion that McCain is surrounded or funded by Jews is preposterous on its face and belies the same conspiratorial paranoia that has motivated the proponents of the Jewish Lobby myth for years.

Let me be clear. Despite the fact he intends, one supposes, to bolster Barack Obama’s candidacy with these statements, I in no way attribute Klein’s views to Obama or to many other Obama supporters. While I take strong exception to many of Obama’s views I do not for a moment believe he adopts or condones this rancor from his supporter in the media. One does, however, wonder why Time permits this line of attack against Jews to continue and why the entire MSM turns a blind eye to such venal bigotry, which if directed against any other minority, would be grounds for professional ostracism.

Joe Klein’s latest offering is replete with material for others to dissect. But the following passage reveals, if there were any doubt, that his venom for Jews (or Jews who hold certain views) has clouded his political analysis. He declares:

McCain hasn’t said he was for regime change, but he has rattled sabers noisily, joked about bomb-bomb-bombing Iran and surrounded himself with, and been funded by, Jewish neoconservatives who believe Iran is a threat to Israel’s existence.

Aside from the entire lack of factual support for the notion that McCain is funded by or “surrounded” by Jews, this is rank anti-Semitism of the worst kind, the type of conspiracy theory used for centuries to portray Jews as controlling levers of power behind the scenes. The notion that McCain is surrounded or funded by Jews is preposterous on its face and belies the same conspiratorial paranoia that has motivated the proponents of the Jewish Lobby myth for years.

Let me be clear. Despite the fact he intends, one supposes, to bolster Barack Obama’s candidacy with these statements, I in no way attribute Klein’s views to Obama or to many other Obama supporters. While I take strong exception to many of Obama’s views I do not for a moment believe he adopts or condones this rancor from his supporter in the media. One does, however, wonder why Time permits this line of attack against Jews to continue and why the entire MSM turns a blind eye to such venal bigotry, which if directed against any other minority, would be grounds for professional ostracism.

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Whatever Happened to Liberal Humor?

The brouhaha over last week’s New Yorker cover illustration of the Obamas as the epitome of terrorist chic extended well beyond the abbreviated news cycle to which we’ve become accustomed.

A New York Times article (which fortuitously appeared the day after the offending New Yorker issue hit newsstands) on the inability or unwillingness of television comedy writers to find anything humorous about Barack Obama was followed 24 hours later by a worried Maureen Dowd ruminating on the Times‘s op-ed page about the cosmic implications of a potentially thin-skinned President Obama, and by the end of the week the debate over the Meaning of It All was in full throttle.

The reaction of most liberals ranged from the usual indignant screeching about racism and jingoism to the equally familiar condescension toward benighted conservatives: “Sure, we intelligent blue-staters get the intended joke, but what about all the rubes in the heartland — the numbskulls who’ve never even heard of, much less read, the New Yorker?”

As the controversy played itself out, it became increasingly obvious that we were witness to a massive case of collective projection. Because if one thing has been evident about American politics over the past several decades, it’s that the left lost its funny bone somewhere between the Tet Offensive and the Nixon reelection landslide — and hasn’t found it since.

While R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. and P.J. O’Rourke and Andrew Ferguson and Rush Limbaugh and a host of others were giving the lie to the caricature of conservatives as uptight Pecksniffs, the counterculture’s Politics of Rage was evolving into a more sedate, more deadly political correctness, effectively killing off liberal humor.

Once upon a happier time, liberals prided themselves on maintaining a certain detached bemusement. Recognizing – and lampooning – the foibles of even one’s own idols and icons was considered a sign of sophistication, bestowing on its practitioners, deservedly or not, an élan of witty bonhomie.

In Revel With a Cause: Liberal Satire in Postwar America (University of Chicago Press), Stephen Kercher paints a portrait of liberal comedians tweaking liberal and conservative politicians with almost equal verve. Liberal audiences lapped it all up (though not all liberal pols were necessarily amused – Mort Sahl’s jokes at the expense of the Kennedys led to his being blackballed, with the owner of a Los Angeles nightclub telling Sahl he’d been warned “the White House would be offended if I hired you and I’d be audited on my income tax” and another club owner stating that his refusal to cut Sahl loose led to an IRS audit and his being put out of business).

The 1960′s in particular were a golden age of liberal humor, but Lenny Bruce was as likely to excoriate liberal hypocrisy as he was to score conventional morality; the writers of the mid-‘60s political satire television program “That Was the Week That Was” hardly spared their fellow liberals from ridicule; and even as politics took on a more apocalyptical tone in the late ‘60s, shows like “Laugh-In” and “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour,” while decidedly liberal in tone, were equal-opportunity offenders.

To better appreciate how things have changed, consider the following bit of commentary delivered by the legendary radio humorist Jean Shepherd, a self-described liberal, during the 1960 presidential campaign, and ask yourself who would be a better bet to jest in such terms today, a liberal or a conservative:

If you have any politically minded type friends, you know — the indignant Liberal or the shell-bound Reactionary — they both talk exactly the same, because underneath, underneath that simple, homespun exterior, there’ll always beat the heart of a true Neanderthal. Doesn’t make any difference what direction it takes, you know?…If you ever really were going to chase the money changers out of the temple, daddy, there would be no temple anymore.

The brouhaha over last week’s New Yorker cover illustration of the Obamas as the epitome of terrorist chic extended well beyond the abbreviated news cycle to which we’ve become accustomed.

A New York Times article (which fortuitously appeared the day after the offending New Yorker issue hit newsstands) on the inability or unwillingness of television comedy writers to find anything humorous about Barack Obama was followed 24 hours later by a worried Maureen Dowd ruminating on the Times‘s op-ed page about the cosmic implications of a potentially thin-skinned President Obama, and by the end of the week the debate over the Meaning of It All was in full throttle.

The reaction of most liberals ranged from the usual indignant screeching about racism and jingoism to the equally familiar condescension toward benighted conservatives: “Sure, we intelligent blue-staters get the intended joke, but what about all the rubes in the heartland — the numbskulls who’ve never even heard of, much less read, the New Yorker?”

As the controversy played itself out, it became increasingly obvious that we were witness to a massive case of collective projection. Because if one thing has been evident about American politics over the past several decades, it’s that the left lost its funny bone somewhere between the Tet Offensive and the Nixon reelection landslide — and hasn’t found it since.

While R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. and P.J. O’Rourke and Andrew Ferguson and Rush Limbaugh and a host of others were giving the lie to the caricature of conservatives as uptight Pecksniffs, the counterculture’s Politics of Rage was evolving into a more sedate, more deadly political correctness, effectively killing off liberal humor.

Once upon a happier time, liberals prided themselves on maintaining a certain detached bemusement. Recognizing – and lampooning – the foibles of even one’s own idols and icons was considered a sign of sophistication, bestowing on its practitioners, deservedly or not, an élan of witty bonhomie.

In Revel With a Cause: Liberal Satire in Postwar America (University of Chicago Press), Stephen Kercher paints a portrait of liberal comedians tweaking liberal and conservative politicians with almost equal verve. Liberal audiences lapped it all up (though not all liberal pols were necessarily amused – Mort Sahl’s jokes at the expense of the Kennedys led to his being blackballed, with the owner of a Los Angeles nightclub telling Sahl he’d been warned “the White House would be offended if I hired you and I’d be audited on my income tax” and another club owner stating that his refusal to cut Sahl loose led to an IRS audit and his being put out of business).

The 1960′s in particular were a golden age of liberal humor, but Lenny Bruce was as likely to excoriate liberal hypocrisy as he was to score conventional morality; the writers of the mid-‘60s political satire television program “That Was the Week That Was” hardly spared their fellow liberals from ridicule; and even as politics took on a more apocalyptical tone in the late ‘60s, shows like “Laugh-In” and “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour,” while decidedly liberal in tone, were equal-opportunity offenders.

To better appreciate how things have changed, consider the following bit of commentary delivered by the legendary radio humorist Jean Shepherd, a self-described liberal, during the 1960 presidential campaign, and ask yourself who would be a better bet to jest in such terms today, a liberal or a conservative:

If you have any politically minded type friends, you know — the indignant Liberal or the shell-bound Reactionary — they both talk exactly the same, because underneath, underneath that simple, homespun exterior, there’ll always beat the heart of a true Neanderthal. Doesn’t make any difference what direction it takes, you know?…If you ever really were going to chase the money changers out of the temple, daddy, there would be no temple anymore.

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The Crazy Train to J Street

What’s Next for J Street is the title of an interview with Jeremy Ben-Ami, J Street’s founder, that appears at The American Prospect. And after reading it one can safely answer the question: what’s next for J Street is the continued dissemination of false information. Says Ben-Ami:

We will have to show that more American Jews actually agree with J Street’s agenda, that our policies are actually the better policy, supported by people in Israel, and that kind of debate I’m more than happy to have.

On its website, J Street advocates for the Arab Peace Initiative, which offers Israel normal diplomatic relations with the Arab world in exchange for withdrawal from the Golan Heights, withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders, and acquiescence to the “right of return” of the millions of descendants of the Arabs who left Israel in the 1948 war. This would demographically destroy Israel as a Jewish state. I risk insulting the intelligence of contentions readers by even bothering to point out that the Arab Peace Initiative has virtually no support whatsoever among Jews in Israel and America. But there it is, on J Street’s website.

Back to Ben-Ami:

We came out and said strongly at the time of the AIPAC conference that an issue like Jerusalem should not be a political football. It’s inappropriate to try to use an issue like that, which is so sensitive and so important, which should be left to the parties to decide, and inject it into American politics to make a political point.

But J Street’s own policy paper on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict explicitly endorses the division of Jerusalem. Ben-Ami is either unaware of the contents of his own website, or is being duplicitous. He continues:

The majority of American Jews agree with the positions of J Street, and it’s a safe bet that we’re going to continue to try to convince candidates that they will actually score political points by articulating a vision more in line with J Street than in line with what has traditionally been assumed to be necessary to say.

As our own Jamie Kirchick noted in his New Republic piece on J Street, this, too, simply is not true. As Jamie wrote,

According to the same AJC survey cited by J Street supporters, nearly three-quarters of American Jews do not believe that Israel can “achieve peace with a Hamas-led, Palestinian government,” as J Street’s founder advocates. What’s more, 55 percent believe that negotiations between Olmert and Abbas “cannot lead to peace in the foreseeable future.” And a whopping 82 percent agree with the following statement: “The goal of the Arabs is not the return of occupied territories but rather the destruction of Israel.”

Finally, J Street has jumped on board the crazy train with a group of fanatics — M.J. Rosenberg, NIAC, Ron Paul, Pat Buchanan, etc. — who insist that a non-binding House resolution calling for stronger sanctions on Iran actually demands a naval blockade. J Street is so dedicated to propagating this lie that it has created an online petition to enlist the signatures of its members.

J Street will continue to be an object of ridicule so long as the group insists on trying to maintain such a laughably unconvincing disparity between its actual agenda, and what it claims about its agenda.

What’s Next for J Street is the title of an interview with Jeremy Ben-Ami, J Street’s founder, that appears at The American Prospect. And after reading it one can safely answer the question: what’s next for J Street is the continued dissemination of false information. Says Ben-Ami:

We will have to show that more American Jews actually agree with J Street’s agenda, that our policies are actually the better policy, supported by people in Israel, and that kind of debate I’m more than happy to have.

On its website, J Street advocates for the Arab Peace Initiative, which offers Israel normal diplomatic relations with the Arab world in exchange for withdrawal from the Golan Heights, withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders, and acquiescence to the “right of return” of the millions of descendants of the Arabs who left Israel in the 1948 war. This would demographically destroy Israel as a Jewish state. I risk insulting the intelligence of contentions readers by even bothering to point out that the Arab Peace Initiative has virtually no support whatsoever among Jews in Israel and America. But there it is, on J Street’s website.

Back to Ben-Ami:

We came out and said strongly at the time of the AIPAC conference that an issue like Jerusalem should not be a political football. It’s inappropriate to try to use an issue like that, which is so sensitive and so important, which should be left to the parties to decide, and inject it into American politics to make a political point.

But J Street’s own policy paper on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict explicitly endorses the division of Jerusalem. Ben-Ami is either unaware of the contents of his own website, or is being duplicitous. He continues:

The majority of American Jews agree with the positions of J Street, and it’s a safe bet that we’re going to continue to try to convince candidates that they will actually score political points by articulating a vision more in line with J Street than in line with what has traditionally been assumed to be necessary to say.

As our own Jamie Kirchick noted in his New Republic piece on J Street, this, too, simply is not true. As Jamie wrote,

According to the same AJC survey cited by J Street supporters, nearly three-quarters of American Jews do not believe that Israel can “achieve peace with a Hamas-led, Palestinian government,” as J Street’s founder advocates. What’s more, 55 percent believe that negotiations between Olmert and Abbas “cannot lead to peace in the foreseeable future.” And a whopping 82 percent agree with the following statement: “The goal of the Arabs is not the return of occupied territories but rather the destruction of Israel.”

Finally, J Street has jumped on board the crazy train with a group of fanatics — M.J. Rosenberg, NIAC, Ron Paul, Pat Buchanan, etc. — who insist that a non-binding House resolution calling for stronger sanctions on Iran actually demands a naval blockade. J Street is so dedicated to propagating this lie that it has created an online petition to enlist the signatures of its members.

J Street will continue to be an object of ridicule so long as the group insists on trying to maintain such a laughably unconvincing disparity between its actual agenda, and what it claims about its agenda.

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Not the Right Audience

There is more good news for McCain in this Fox poll, which shows him down just one point nationally in a straight head-to-head match up. The most telling number: McCain has 86% of Republicans while Obama has only 75% of Democrats. Luckily for McCain the electorate is not composed entirely of cable news pundits.

And the “we are the world” speech may not help matters. McCain sees an opening, putting out this: “While Barack Obama took a premature victory lap today in the heart of Berlin, proclaiming himself a ‘citizen of the world,’ John McCain continued to make his case to the American citizens who will decide this election.” And his spokesman got in a jibe that “It is never ‘inappropriate’ to visit our men and women in the military.” I’m betting the Obama camp wished they could have today to do over a bit differently. For starters, even the media has figured out the problem of the day.

There is more good news for McCain in this Fox poll, which shows him down just one point nationally in a straight head-to-head match up. The most telling number: McCain has 86% of Republicans while Obama has only 75% of Democrats. Luckily for McCain the electorate is not composed entirely of cable news pundits.

And the “we are the world” speech may not help matters. McCain sees an opening, putting out this: “While Barack Obama took a premature victory lap today in the heart of Berlin, proclaiming himself a ‘citizen of the world,’ John McCain continued to make his case to the American citizens who will decide this election.” And his spokesman got in a jibe that “It is never ‘inappropriate’ to visit our men and women in the military.” I’m betting the Obama camp wished they could have today to do over a bit differently. For starters, even the media has figured out the problem of the day.

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Hayes the Humorist

Observing the 10th anniversary of MoveOn.org, The Nation‘s Christopher Hayes observes:

This year, MoveOn turns ten. News of the organization’s advanced age tends to elicit the same startled response as word of a childhood star’s divorce.

In other words, trivial interest followed by utter indifference? I have a feeling this isn’t the sentiment Hayes was aiming at. And Hayes’s next attempt at elevated writing falls equally flat. Describing MoveOn’s Executive Director Eli Pariser, he writes:

In person, he’s so preternaturally calm one almost feels he might be some kind of reincarnated lama.

Fawn much?

Observing the 10th anniversary of MoveOn.org, The Nation‘s Christopher Hayes observes:

This year, MoveOn turns ten. News of the organization’s advanced age tends to elicit the same startled response as word of a childhood star’s divorce.

In other words, trivial interest followed by utter indifference? I have a feeling this isn’t the sentiment Hayes was aiming at. And Hayes’s next attempt at elevated writing falls equally flat. Describing MoveOn’s Executive Director Eli Pariser, he writes:

In person, he’s so preternaturally calm one almost feels he might be some kind of reincarnated lama.

Fawn much?

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Worst Excuse Ever

The excuse the Barack Obama camp has come up with for not visiting the troops in Germany ranks up there with “The German Shepherd ate my homework.” Robert Gibbs explains: “The senator decided out of respect for these servicemen and women that it would be inappropriate to make a stop to visit troops at a U.S. military facility as part of a trip funded by the campaign.” Yeah, that’ll fly.

It is okay to meet with foreign leaders, okay to use troops for props in Afghanistan, and okay to speak to tens of thousands of foreigners as part of his Magical Mystery Tour, but he wouldn’t use campaign funds (remember, these are private funds) to visit soldiers. On what planet does this make sense? Will he be avoiding all military installations at home? (Maybe so!)

I would put money on this: there are more undecided voters who will be annoyed at disregard for the troops than who will be impressed with Obama’s campaign speech in Berlin. He really isn’t running for president of the “world,” and when he forgets that, it is a problem for him. Even his friends in the blogosphere are fretting about that.

The excuse the Barack Obama camp has come up with for not visiting the troops in Germany ranks up there with “The German Shepherd ate my homework.” Robert Gibbs explains: “The senator decided out of respect for these servicemen and women that it would be inappropriate to make a stop to visit troops at a U.S. military facility as part of a trip funded by the campaign.” Yeah, that’ll fly.

It is okay to meet with foreign leaders, okay to use troops for props in Afghanistan, and okay to speak to tens of thousands of foreigners as part of his Magical Mystery Tour, but he wouldn’t use campaign funds (remember, these are private funds) to visit soldiers. On what planet does this make sense? Will he be avoiding all military installations at home? (Maybe so!)

I would put money on this: there are more undecided voters who will be annoyed at disregard for the troops than who will be impressed with Obama’s campaign speech in Berlin. He really isn’t running for president of the “world,” and when he forgets that, it is a problem for him. Even his friends in the blogosphere are fretting about that.

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Why Closer?

Despite the Barack Obama audacity festival, voters in battleground states apparently are not impressed. Polls go up and down and I’ve warned that excessive optimism or pessimism based on one poll, or set of polls, is unwise. But it really isn’t that hard to figure out why things might move in John McCain’s favor over the last couple of weeks. If you spend two weeks talking about national security and the surge, and toss in a good energy ad campaign by the McCain team that’s the best possible atmosphere for John McCain.

The real problem for McCain may be that the whole campaign can’t be kept on those issues. McCain would likely be thrilled if he could keep Obama in a verbal jousting match over Iraq . He’d be happy to keep the focus Obama’s peculiar continued aversion to the surge. McCain would be even happier to make energy the number one domestic issue.

Energy may be climbing the ranks of important issues for voters, but it will be a struggle to make that the make-or-break domestic issue. When the discussion turns to a general debate about the economy and health care, McCain will have to find the same level of interest and focus he has brought to the debate over national security and energy.

As with national security and energy policy, McCain’s best bet is likely to keep the focus on what Obama is proposing. On the economy, it is a whole lot of income distribution (both in the form of social spending and tax hikes), but not much wealth creation. McCain better figure out a way to convince Americans that Obama’s economic ideas are as out of touch with the longterm needs of the country and voters’ self-interests as his aversion to domestic energy development. Otherwise those poll numbers won’t stay close for long.

Despite the Barack Obama audacity festival, voters in battleground states apparently are not impressed. Polls go up and down and I’ve warned that excessive optimism or pessimism based on one poll, or set of polls, is unwise. But it really isn’t that hard to figure out why things might move in John McCain’s favor over the last couple of weeks. If you spend two weeks talking about national security and the surge, and toss in a good energy ad campaign by the McCain team that’s the best possible atmosphere for John McCain.

The real problem for McCain may be that the whole campaign can’t be kept on those issues. McCain would likely be thrilled if he could keep Obama in a verbal jousting match over Iraq . He’d be happy to keep the focus Obama’s peculiar continued aversion to the surge. McCain would be even happier to make energy the number one domestic issue.

Energy may be climbing the ranks of important issues for voters, but it will be a struggle to make that the make-or-break domestic issue. When the discussion turns to a general debate about the economy and health care, McCain will have to find the same level of interest and focus he has brought to the debate over national security and energy.

As with national security and energy policy, McCain’s best bet is likely to keep the focus on what Obama is proposing. On the economy, it is a whole lot of income distribution (both in the form of social spending and tax hikes), but not much wealth creation. McCain better figure out a way to convince Americans that Obama’s economic ideas are as out of touch with the longterm needs of the country and voters’ self-interests as his aversion to domestic energy development. Otherwise those poll numbers won’t stay close for long.

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It’s Going To Make The Seal Seem Restrained. . .

Now comes word Barack Obama is transitioning to the White House. It would be one thing if it were isolated, but it is not, of course. The only thing worse could be leading a rock concert-sized crowd of Germans and ditching American soliders. Oh, wait.

How could he and/or his staff get so out of kilter? They read and watch the MSM, no doubt. They live in a cocoon of Obama-mania largely of their own creation. And when they go a step too far, there is no one there to say “Stop. Think about this.” Will Americans be turned off? Only voters who question what he’s done to deserve the acclaim, place a high value in lots of accomplishments, distrust popular culture and aren’t sure who this guy is. That would be blue-collar swing voters. And that’s the rub. The folks who will be wowed by the show in Germany and lap up the media coverage are likely already in his camp. It’s the others who are the problem. And the latest editions to the album of Obama arrogance won’t help.

Now comes word Barack Obama is transitioning to the White House. It would be one thing if it were isolated, but it is not, of course. The only thing worse could be leading a rock concert-sized crowd of Germans and ditching American soliders. Oh, wait.

How could he and/or his staff get so out of kilter? They read and watch the MSM, no doubt. They live in a cocoon of Obama-mania largely of their own creation. And when they go a step too far, there is no one there to say “Stop. Think about this.” Will Americans be turned off? Only voters who question what he’s done to deserve the acclaim, place a high value in lots of accomplishments, distrust popular culture and aren’t sure who this guy is. That would be blue-collar swing voters. And that’s the rub. The folks who will be wowed by the show in Germany and lap up the media coverage are likely already in his camp. It’s the others who are the problem. And the latest editions to the album of Obama arrogance won’t help.

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Letters, We Got Letters

Almost as amusing as the New Yorker’s Obama cover last week are the (unintentionally) amusing letters the magazine received in response. First up is Rusel DeMaria of Grants Pass, Oregon. While calling the cover “inartful,” he scolds the magazine because Blitt’s illustration

provides ammunition to further the very thing that it satirizes, and that is potentially very damaging to a worthy candidate. If you want to illustrate the politics of fear, then use something that really describes it: those who are the real fearmongers—not the victims of their atrocious lies.

Far be it from me to tell the New Yorker editors what their purposes ought be as journalists and cultural critics, but last time I checked, trying to help the political prospects of a “worthy candidate” were not (at least ostensibly) among them. That a magazine ought be part and parcel of the Obama message is shared by Lewis R. Colon Jr. of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, who writes:

Will many voters not get the joke? Sure. But the cover should be used as a weapon against the lies that Blitt so skillfully portrays.

I’m sure Barry Blitt will appreciate Mr. Colon’s telling him what function his artwork “should” serve.

The subtle humor of the cover is too much for Adam L. Dyson of Hollywood, Maryland, who rules:

Our country is simply not ready for this progressive idea of satire. It assumes that the often hidden feelings regarding race relations in this country have improved to the point where this type of (I must say creative) cartoon can be seen for what it is, rather than as another deployment of the (all-encompassing) fear that many white Americans have in relation to people of color. African-Americans see this as a terrible portrayal of two American icons in the making. I appreciate The New Yorker’s sense of humor, but the timing could not have been worse.

From now on, when I wish to know what African-Americans think about anything, I will write Mr. Dyson a letter–seeing that he speaks for all of them.

Almost as amusing as the New Yorker’s Obama cover last week are the (unintentionally) amusing letters the magazine received in response. First up is Rusel DeMaria of Grants Pass, Oregon. While calling the cover “inartful,” he scolds the magazine because Blitt’s illustration

provides ammunition to further the very thing that it satirizes, and that is potentially very damaging to a worthy candidate. If you want to illustrate the politics of fear, then use something that really describes it: those who are the real fearmongers—not the victims of their atrocious lies.

Far be it from me to tell the New Yorker editors what their purposes ought be as journalists and cultural critics, but last time I checked, trying to help the political prospects of a “worthy candidate” were not (at least ostensibly) among them. That a magazine ought be part and parcel of the Obama message is shared by Lewis R. Colon Jr. of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, who writes:

Will many voters not get the joke? Sure. But the cover should be used as a weapon against the lies that Blitt so skillfully portrays.

I’m sure Barry Blitt will appreciate Mr. Colon’s telling him what function his artwork “should” serve.

The subtle humor of the cover is too much for Adam L. Dyson of Hollywood, Maryland, who rules:

Our country is simply not ready for this progressive idea of satire. It assumes that the often hidden feelings regarding race relations in this country have improved to the point where this type of (I must say creative) cartoon can be seen for what it is, rather than as another deployment of the (all-encompassing) fear that many white Americans have in relation to people of color. African-Americans see this as a terrible portrayal of two American icons in the making. I appreciate The New Yorker’s sense of humor, but the timing could not have been worse.

From now on, when I wish to know what African-Americans think about anything, I will write Mr. Dyson a letter–seeing that he speaks for all of them.

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Sort of Like Someone We Know

USA Today’s editors, no defenders of the Iraq war itself, are frustrated with Barack Obama. They write:

Why then can’t Obama bring himself to acknowledge the surge worked better than he and other skeptics, including this page, thought it would? What does that stubbornness say about the kind of president he’d be? In recent comments, the Democratic presidential candidate has grudgingly conceded that the troops helped lessen the violence, but he has insisted that the surge was a dubious policy because it allowed the situation in Afghanistan to deteriorate and failed to produce political breakthroughs in Iraq. Even knowing the outcome, he told CBS News Tuesday, he still wouldn’t have supported the idea. That’s hard to fathom. Even if you believe that the invasion of Iraq was a grievous error — and it was — the U.S. should still make every effort to leave behind a stable situation. Obama seems stuck in the first part of that thought process, repeatedly proclaiming that he was right to oppose the war and disparaging worthwhile efforts to fix the mess it created. . .The great irony, of course, is that the success of the surge has made Obama’s plan to withdraw combat troops in 16 months far more plausible than when he proposed it. Another irony is that while Obama downplays the effectiveness of the surge in Iraq, he is urging a similar tactic now in Afghanistan. . . . Americans don’t expect their president to be right all the time. They do expect him to change course when he’s proved wrong.

This reminds us that despite the hoopla of this week the results of the trip may in the end prove disastrous for Obama. It is not unlike the 2004 debate in which George W. Bush performed poorly, but John Kerry let slip that America’s actions should pass the “international test.” It proved to be a mistake of significant proportion– confirming Kerry was an international elitist, who viewed himself as responsible to world opinion and unduly enamored of institutions like the U.N. which tend to spout anti-American tripe. The entire MSM missed the substantive point and the potential impact on average voters because they were carried away with Bush’s irritated demeanor and generally underwhelming performance.

The Left can meltdown all they like, but that is the state of play and the position their favorite candidate has chosen (for now at least). I find it hard to believe that average voters will like a candidate who picked a losing strategy, won’t admit he’s wrong and is displeased we didn’t follow his advice. Obama has been running against a cartoon version of a president who won’t admit error and won’t change his ways. But Bush did adapt. Obama did not and still is sorry the surge was implemented. It is an unsustainable posture if he sticks with it. The Left is in meltdown because they suspect a gaffe of enormous proportions.

USA Today’s editors, no defenders of the Iraq war itself, are frustrated with Barack Obama. They write:

Why then can’t Obama bring himself to acknowledge the surge worked better than he and other skeptics, including this page, thought it would? What does that stubbornness say about the kind of president he’d be? In recent comments, the Democratic presidential candidate has grudgingly conceded that the troops helped lessen the violence, but he has insisted that the surge was a dubious policy because it allowed the situation in Afghanistan to deteriorate and failed to produce political breakthroughs in Iraq. Even knowing the outcome, he told CBS News Tuesday, he still wouldn’t have supported the idea. That’s hard to fathom. Even if you believe that the invasion of Iraq was a grievous error — and it was — the U.S. should still make every effort to leave behind a stable situation. Obama seems stuck in the first part of that thought process, repeatedly proclaiming that he was right to oppose the war and disparaging worthwhile efforts to fix the mess it created. . .The great irony, of course, is that the success of the surge has made Obama’s plan to withdraw combat troops in 16 months far more plausible than when he proposed it. Another irony is that while Obama downplays the effectiveness of the surge in Iraq, he is urging a similar tactic now in Afghanistan. . . . Americans don’t expect their president to be right all the time. They do expect him to change course when he’s proved wrong.

This reminds us that despite the hoopla of this week the results of the trip may in the end prove disastrous for Obama. It is not unlike the 2004 debate in which George W. Bush performed poorly, but John Kerry let slip that America’s actions should pass the “international test.” It proved to be a mistake of significant proportion– confirming Kerry was an international elitist, who viewed himself as responsible to world opinion and unduly enamored of institutions like the U.N. which tend to spout anti-American tripe. The entire MSM missed the substantive point and the potential impact on average voters because they were carried away with Bush’s irritated demeanor and generally underwhelming performance.

The Left can meltdown all they like, but that is the state of play and the position their favorite candidate has chosen (for now at least). I find it hard to believe that average voters will like a candidate who picked a losing strategy, won’t admit he’s wrong and is displeased we didn’t follow his advice. Obama has been running against a cartoon version of a president who won’t admit error and won’t change his ways. But Bush did adapt. Obama did not and still is sorry the surge was implemented. It is an unsustainable posture if he sticks with it. The Left is in meltdown because they suspect a gaffe of enormous proportions.

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Ban Chinese Athletes, Too!

This morning, the International Olympic Committee banned Iraq from this year’s Games. A squabble over the composition of the Iraqi Olympic Committee means that seven athletes-two rowers, two sprinters, one archer, one weightlifter, and one judo competitor-will not be going to Beijing next month.

In May, the Iraqi government had dismissed members of the country’s committee over corruption and other charges. As a result, the IOC imposed the ban on the seven athletes because of what it called political interference in sports. Rule 28 of Chapter 4 of the charter of the international organization requires all national Olympic committees to be free from political influence.

I think that’s a great rule. So why hasn’t the IOC applied the same prohibition to China and banned Chinese athletes from the Beijing Games? In a China where everything is considered political-the nation’s collectivized leadership still adheres to Mao’s guiding principle of putting politics “in command” of all aspects of society-it is not possible to have national organizations independent of the will of the Communist Party. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the Party runs the Chinese Olympic Committee and BOCOG, the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, just as it runs every other official organization in the one-party state.

So please join me in thanking the International Olympic Committee for reminding us that only democracies have real political lives-and only they can be punished for breaking rules.

This morning, the International Olympic Committee banned Iraq from this year’s Games. A squabble over the composition of the Iraqi Olympic Committee means that seven athletes-two rowers, two sprinters, one archer, one weightlifter, and one judo competitor-will not be going to Beijing next month.

In May, the Iraqi government had dismissed members of the country’s committee over corruption and other charges. As a result, the IOC imposed the ban on the seven athletes because of what it called political interference in sports. Rule 28 of Chapter 4 of the charter of the international organization requires all national Olympic committees to be free from political influence.

I think that’s a great rule. So why hasn’t the IOC applied the same prohibition to China and banned Chinese athletes from the Beijing Games? In a China where everything is considered political-the nation’s collectivized leadership still adheres to Mao’s guiding principle of putting politics “in command” of all aspects of society-it is not possible to have national organizations independent of the will of the Communist Party. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the Party runs the Chinese Olympic Committee and BOCOG, the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, just as it runs every other official organization in the one-party state.

So please join me in thanking the International Olympic Committee for reminding us that only democracies have real political lives-and only they can be punished for breaking rules.

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Re: Another Code Word

To add to your point, Jennifer, one of the first lessons the kids are hopefully taught on the first day of Arab World 101 is that you never take the public statements of Middle East leaders at face value. There are things said for western consumption, regional consumption, and domestic consumption. And then there is the the truth, which does occasionally coincide with public statements, but which is far more frequently than in western democracies spoken in private.

These thoughts come to mind after hearing about how King Abdullah of Jordan told Barack Obama that he would like the United States to pursue a more “even-handed” policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is, by Arab standards, a tremendously mild, even helpful, way to put it. But King Abdullah really isn’t interested in American even-handedness. What he actually cares about is the danger that Palestinian radicalism poses to his regime, specifically the threat of a Hamas takeover of the West Bank. Abdullah is all for even-handedness right up until the moment the IDF stops arresting the people who would like to turn Jordan into a recruitment resource, logistics hub, and staging area for attacks on Israel. Then he would panic.

To add to your point, Jennifer, one of the first lessons the kids are hopefully taught on the first day of Arab World 101 is that you never take the public statements of Middle East leaders at face value. There are things said for western consumption, regional consumption, and domestic consumption. And then there is the the truth, which does occasionally coincide with public statements, but which is far more frequently than in western democracies spoken in private.

These thoughts come to mind after hearing about how King Abdullah of Jordan told Barack Obama that he would like the United States to pursue a more “even-handed” policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is, by Arab standards, a tremendously mild, even helpful, way to put it. But King Abdullah really isn’t interested in American even-handedness. What he actually cares about is the danger that Palestinian radicalism poses to his regime, specifically the threat of a Hamas takeover of the West Bank. Abdullah is all for even-handedness right up until the moment the IDF stops arresting the people who would like to turn Jordan into a recruitment resource, logistics hub, and staging area for attacks on Israel. Then he would panic.

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Thank Goodness for Democrats

Just when you think the Republican party cannot get more inept, its candidate less exciting and its “brand” any worse along come the Democrats to remind you that politics is graded on a curve. You only have to be better than the other guy. While Barack Obama is whooping it up in Europe, his party’s leaders are taking their troops over the cliff. The Wall Street Journal editors note:

Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and other liberal leaders on Capitol Hill are gripped by cold-sweat terror. If they permit a vote on offshore drilling, they know they will lose when Blue Dogs and oil-patch Democrats defect to the GOP position of increasing domestic energy production. So the last failsafe is to shut down Congress. . . She and Mr. Reid are cornered by substance. The upward pressure on oil prices is caused by rising world-wide consumption and limited growth in supplies. Yet at least 65% of America’s undiscovered, recoverable oil, and 40% of its natural gas, is hostage to the Congressional drilling moratorium. The Democratic leadership is trying to smother any awareness of their responsibility for high prices. They are also trying to quash a revolt among Democrats who realize that the country is still dependent on fossil fuels, no matter how loudly quasimystical environmentalists like Al Gore claim otherwise.

This is what is known in politics as a gift. The McCain team, if unable to make hay of this, is really beyond hope. This has all the component parts of a winning issue: the topic matters to voters, there is a gulf between the Washington insiders/Gore elites and average voters, McCain already has made headway, Obama has dug in on an unpopular position, and Obama is out of the country being feted by people paying $8 for a gallon of gas. And while McCain is at it he should remember a short, unattractive, gray man who pulled off an historic upset running against a Do-Nothing Congress.

Just when you think the Republican party cannot get more inept, its candidate less exciting and its “brand” any worse along come the Democrats to remind you that politics is graded on a curve. You only have to be better than the other guy. While Barack Obama is whooping it up in Europe, his party’s leaders are taking their troops over the cliff. The Wall Street Journal editors note:

Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and other liberal leaders on Capitol Hill are gripped by cold-sweat terror. If they permit a vote on offshore drilling, they know they will lose when Blue Dogs and oil-patch Democrats defect to the GOP position of increasing domestic energy production. So the last failsafe is to shut down Congress. . . She and Mr. Reid are cornered by substance. The upward pressure on oil prices is caused by rising world-wide consumption and limited growth in supplies. Yet at least 65% of America’s undiscovered, recoverable oil, and 40% of its natural gas, is hostage to the Congressional drilling moratorium. The Democratic leadership is trying to smother any awareness of their responsibility for high prices. They are also trying to quash a revolt among Democrats who realize that the country is still dependent on fossil fuels, no matter how loudly quasimystical environmentalists like Al Gore claim otherwise.

This is what is known in politics as a gift. The McCain team, if unable to make hay of this, is really beyond hope. This has all the component parts of a winning issue: the topic matters to voters, there is a gulf between the Washington insiders/Gore elites and average voters, McCain already has made headway, Obama has dug in on an unpopular position, and Obama is out of the country being feted by people paying $8 for a gallon of gas. And while McCain is at it he should remember a short, unattractive, gray man who pulled off an historic upset running against a Do-Nothing Congress.

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We Hardly Knew Ye

The only downside to Matthew Yglesias’s demotion from his perch at the Atlantic to ThinkProgress, the blog of the Center for American Progress, is that his abject silliness will now be on display to a smaller audience. Take, for instance, this post yesterday, on Robert Novak’s recent car accident:

This isn’t the first time Novak’s gotten in trouble with criminal driving. Fortunately, the 66 year-old man Novak hit has only minor injuries, which means Novak will probably only see a minor penalty. And that’s too bad. The penalties for this stuff ought to be much stiffer. Morally speaking, what Novak was doing here is no better than walking down a crowded street with his handgun, firing off .22 rounds at random. “He’s not dead, that’s the main thing,” says Novak but that’s just a coincidence.

I hate, incidentally, that coverage of this is using the euphemism that Novak is known as an “aggressive” driver. He’s a criminal. Cars are large, heavy, fast-moving objects that share space with delicate flesh-and-blood human beings — piloting them in an illegal manner is serious wrongdoing.

I hold no brief for Robert Novak. But how is reckless “piloting” (put down the thesaurus, Matt) of a vehicle in any way comparable to “walking down a crowded street with [a] handgun, firing off .22 rounds at random?” And if aggressive driving qualifies Novak as a “sociopath,” then what, “morally speaking,” do causing and then leaving the scene of a fatal car accident make Ted Kennedy? I await Yglesias’s condemnation of the senior Senator from Massachusetts.

The only downside to Matthew Yglesias’s demotion from his perch at the Atlantic to ThinkProgress, the blog of the Center for American Progress, is that his abject silliness will now be on display to a smaller audience. Take, for instance, this post yesterday, on Robert Novak’s recent car accident:

This isn’t the first time Novak’s gotten in trouble with criminal driving. Fortunately, the 66 year-old man Novak hit has only minor injuries, which means Novak will probably only see a minor penalty. And that’s too bad. The penalties for this stuff ought to be much stiffer. Morally speaking, what Novak was doing here is no better than walking down a crowded street with his handgun, firing off .22 rounds at random. “He’s not dead, that’s the main thing,” says Novak but that’s just a coincidence.

I hate, incidentally, that coverage of this is using the euphemism that Novak is known as an “aggressive” driver. He’s a criminal. Cars are large, heavy, fast-moving objects that share space with delicate flesh-and-blood human beings — piloting them in an illegal manner is serious wrongdoing.

I hold no brief for Robert Novak. But how is reckless “piloting” (put down the thesaurus, Matt) of a vehicle in any way comparable to “walking down a crowded street with [a] handgun, firing off .22 rounds at random?” And if aggressive driving qualifies Novak as a “sociopath,” then what, “morally speaking,” do causing and then leaving the scene of a fatal car accident make Ted Kennedy? I await Yglesias’s condemnation of the senior Senator from Massachusetts.

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The Cairo Files: Egypt and the Internet

Eric Trager has returned to the States from a trip to Egypt, where he met with democracy advocates and their opponents, investigated media culture, and examined other aspects of contemporary Egyptian political life. This is the first in a series of posts on his trip there.

Among the plethora of traditional coffee shops throughout Cairo, a number of much more expensive, Starbucks-like chains have arisen in recent years. In addition to providing air-conditioning, cleaner amenities, and a greater variety of food and drink offerings, these chains invariably provide free wireless Internet service. For this reason, upon arriving in Egypt on the evening of July 2nd, my first stop was to the Cilantro location near the American University in Cairo, where I hoped to check my e-mail and call my wife via Skype. When I lived in Cairo during the 2006-2007 academic year, Cilantro had been a common destination for this purpose.

But when I arrived at Cilantro, I noticed a major change. Rather than simply turning on my computer and automatically connecting to the network, I now had to register my computer through MobiNil – one of Egypt’s leading telecommunications companies – by providing my e-mail address, as well as a secret access code from the back of a complimentary scratch-off card. Each access code was good for two hours of Internet use, after which I had to log in again using a new access code. As I made my way to similar coffee shops throughout Cairo during my stay, I found that all of them had adopted identical Internet policies, with their networks requiring users to register with MobiNil for two-hour increments of service.

As I soon found out, however, this was no coincidence. According to a source with a high-ranking contact at MobiNil, these coffee shops are suddenly regulating use of their networks as a consequence of governmental pressures. Apparently, in the aftermath of the regime’s arrest and torture of several dissident bloggers, Egyptian bloggers began using the open networks formerly available at these coffee shops to upload posts anonymously. As a handful of upscale Cairo coffee shops emerged as an unlikely frontline between the Egyptian government and its domestic opponents, the state’s security service located a new mechanism for tracking and stifling its web-based critics.

The takeaway is simple: even while it fails to provide its citizens with adequate health, education, and other key services, the Egyptian government is disturbingly agile when it comes to adapting new strategies for addressing new sources of opposition. Such is the skill set of a truly authoritarian regime.

Eric Trager has returned to the States from a trip to Egypt, where he met with democracy advocates and their opponents, investigated media culture, and examined other aspects of contemporary Egyptian political life. This is the first in a series of posts on his trip there.

Among the plethora of traditional coffee shops throughout Cairo, a number of much more expensive, Starbucks-like chains have arisen in recent years. In addition to providing air-conditioning, cleaner amenities, and a greater variety of food and drink offerings, these chains invariably provide free wireless Internet service. For this reason, upon arriving in Egypt on the evening of July 2nd, my first stop was to the Cilantro location near the American University in Cairo, where I hoped to check my e-mail and call my wife via Skype. When I lived in Cairo during the 2006-2007 academic year, Cilantro had been a common destination for this purpose.

But when I arrived at Cilantro, I noticed a major change. Rather than simply turning on my computer and automatically connecting to the network, I now had to register my computer through MobiNil – one of Egypt’s leading telecommunications companies – by providing my e-mail address, as well as a secret access code from the back of a complimentary scratch-off card. Each access code was good for two hours of Internet use, after which I had to log in again using a new access code. As I made my way to similar coffee shops throughout Cairo during my stay, I found that all of them had adopted identical Internet policies, with their networks requiring users to register with MobiNil for two-hour increments of service.

As I soon found out, however, this was no coincidence. According to a source with a high-ranking contact at MobiNil, these coffee shops are suddenly regulating use of their networks as a consequence of governmental pressures. Apparently, in the aftermath of the regime’s arrest and torture of several dissident bloggers, Egyptian bloggers began using the open networks formerly available at these coffee shops to upload posts anonymously. As a handful of upscale Cairo coffee shops emerged as an unlikely frontline between the Egyptian government and its domestic opponents, the state’s security service located a new mechanism for tracking and stifling its web-based critics.

The takeaway is simple: even while it fails to provide its citizens with adequate health, education, and other key services, the Egyptian government is disturbingly agile when it comes to adapting new strategies for addressing new sources of opposition. Such is the skill set of a truly authoritarian regime.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

The Left is in a meltdown over the accusation by the McCain camp that Barack Obama doesn’t care about losing a war. What Ann Althouse (h/t Glenn Reynolds) says is true: it’s fair to conclude Obama would rather lose in Iraq than sacrifice his netroot support since he says he still wishes, even after seeing the success of the surge, that we hadn’t done it. The alternative explanation is that Obama believes we miraculously would have reached the same result without additional American troops. Does anyone believe that?

People pay for it? This is the very same paper which is always outraged to learn that failing companies are still paying mega-salaries to incompetent executives.

Why is it so surprising that MSM outlets don’t carry the news? Heck, they didn’t carry the reversal of our fortunes in a war for months and months.

Spot the similarities between Colombia and Iraq: Improved security gives political institutions time to take root and increases the confidence of democratically elected officials while bold military action pays off. And you risk slipping back into chaos if you lift security-enhancing efforts before the country “has control of its borders, and police departments, municipal governments and other government services are firmly established in all areas.” Engaging in direct talks with the sponsors of the terrorists wasn’t the key, strangely enough.

Vague” doesn’t begin to describe it.

Really, what reason (other than to kowtow to Big Labor) is there for opposing the Colombia Free Trade Agreement? If ever there was a test as to whether a candidate can shove a special interest group aside in the name of national security and basic fair play, this is it.

Didn’t think it was possible for the MSM to look more immature, unserious, and frenzied than they have been covering the Obama Travels the Globe? Look here.

It’s not a convincing defense of Obama’s pro-Israel bona fides to say he sounds like Condi Rice. Really, people need to keep up.

Imagine if George W. Bush said something this illogical and inarticulate: “So the point that I was making at the time was that the political dynamic was the driving force between that sectarian violence. And we could try to keep a lid on it, but if these underlining dynamic continued to bubble up and explode the way they were, then we would be in a difficult situation. I am glad that in fact those political dynamic shifted at the same time that our troops did outstanding work.” And isn’t it amazing how the “political dynamic” changed at the very same time our troops were doing an outstanding job? Like magic.

McCain’s take is in this must-read interview. The nub: “[T]he point is that we are responsible for our records. I was right; Senator Obama was wrong. So, therefore, I think that I have more credibility on what the future should be, as opposed to Senator Obama, who, if he would’ve had his way, we would be very likely be involved in a wider war today if we’d have done what he wanted to do.” What about this isn’t correct?

The serial resume padder strikes again! For a guy who says Washington experience isn’t important he sure invents a lot of Washington experience.

What in the world gives Barack Obama the sense that the “window of opportunity” is open at all? Wasn’t that the mistake Dennis Ross acknowledged in Bill Clinton’s final push for a peace agreement — misinterpreting the readiness and ability of Israel’s negotiating “partner”? Are we to believe the Palestinians (Abbas? Hamas? Who are we even talking about now?) are more ready now to make a deal?

Ehud Olmert shared tips with Barack Obama about the peace process. Beyond irony. Beyond belief. (“First you manage not to win a war. Then you reward venal behavior with great symbolic steps like a prisoner exchange.”) Come to think of it, I’m sure they got along just fine. Let’s hope Olmert isn’t giving him tips about clean government.

Yeah, it really adds to the credibility of the “we’re not going over the top” argument when he also defends putting the most vociforous Obama fans in “straight news” roles. Puleez.

I think this headline needs updating.

Aside from getting his facts wrong, what is Wesley Clark doing still “surrogating” — hasn’t he done enough damage?

The Left is in a meltdown over the accusation by the McCain camp that Barack Obama doesn’t care about losing a war. What Ann Althouse (h/t Glenn Reynolds) says is true: it’s fair to conclude Obama would rather lose in Iraq than sacrifice his netroot support since he says he still wishes, even after seeing the success of the surge, that we hadn’t done it. The alternative explanation is that Obama believes we miraculously would have reached the same result without additional American troops. Does anyone believe that?

People pay for it? This is the very same paper which is always outraged to learn that failing companies are still paying mega-salaries to incompetent executives.

Why is it so surprising that MSM outlets don’t carry the news? Heck, they didn’t carry the reversal of our fortunes in a war for months and months.

Spot the similarities between Colombia and Iraq: Improved security gives political institutions time to take root and increases the confidence of democratically elected officials while bold military action pays off. And you risk slipping back into chaos if you lift security-enhancing efforts before the country “has control of its borders, and police departments, municipal governments and other government services are firmly established in all areas.” Engaging in direct talks with the sponsors of the terrorists wasn’t the key, strangely enough.

Vague” doesn’t begin to describe it.

Really, what reason (other than to kowtow to Big Labor) is there for opposing the Colombia Free Trade Agreement? If ever there was a test as to whether a candidate can shove a special interest group aside in the name of national security and basic fair play, this is it.

Didn’t think it was possible for the MSM to look more immature, unserious, and frenzied than they have been covering the Obama Travels the Globe? Look here.

It’s not a convincing defense of Obama’s pro-Israel bona fides to say he sounds like Condi Rice. Really, people need to keep up.

Imagine if George W. Bush said something this illogical and inarticulate: “So the point that I was making at the time was that the political dynamic was the driving force between that sectarian violence. And we could try to keep a lid on it, but if these underlining dynamic continued to bubble up and explode the way they were, then we would be in a difficult situation. I am glad that in fact those political dynamic shifted at the same time that our troops did outstanding work.” And isn’t it amazing how the “political dynamic” changed at the very same time our troops were doing an outstanding job? Like magic.

McCain’s take is in this must-read interview. The nub: “[T]he point is that we are responsible for our records. I was right; Senator Obama was wrong. So, therefore, I think that I have more credibility on what the future should be, as opposed to Senator Obama, who, if he would’ve had his way, we would be very likely be involved in a wider war today if we’d have done what he wanted to do.” What about this isn’t correct?

The serial resume padder strikes again! For a guy who says Washington experience isn’t important he sure invents a lot of Washington experience.

What in the world gives Barack Obama the sense that the “window of opportunity” is open at all? Wasn’t that the mistake Dennis Ross acknowledged in Bill Clinton’s final push for a peace agreement — misinterpreting the readiness and ability of Israel’s negotiating “partner”? Are we to believe the Palestinians (Abbas? Hamas? Who are we even talking about now?) are more ready now to make a deal?

Ehud Olmert shared tips with Barack Obama about the peace process. Beyond irony. Beyond belief. (“First you manage not to win a war. Then you reward venal behavior with great symbolic steps like a prisoner exchange.”) Come to think of it, I’m sure they got along just fine. Let’s hope Olmert isn’t giving him tips about clean government.

Yeah, it really adds to the credibility of the “we’re not going over the top” argument when he also defends putting the most vociforous Obama fans in “straight news” roles. Puleez.

I think this headline needs updating.

Aside from getting his facts wrong, what is Wesley Clark doing still “surrogating” — hasn’t he done enough damage?

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When Is Too Much, Too Much?

Ross Douthat mulls:

I’d really like to know which genius on the Obama campaign thought it would be a good idea to have their candidate conduct a major campaign rally in Europe with three months to go till the election and their candidate, despite an incredibly favorable climate and a fumbling opponent, still clinging to a 2-4 point lead in the polls?. . . But photo ops are one thing, Beatlemania-style rallies are quite another – and having your candidate appear in front of tens of thousands of adoring European fans when your campaign’s biggest problem, as John Judis puts it today, is that “Obama remains the ‘mysterious stranger’ rather than the ‘American Adam’ to too many voters who are put off rather than attracted by his race and exotic background” strikes me as the height of political folly.

As to the first point, I think it quite obvious after the faux seal, the screaming domestic mob scenes complete with fainting Obama gals, the planned ten-year presidency, and all the other arrogance indicators, that the “genius” is the Great Obama himself. Either that, or he’s a powerless pawn in the greatest scheme ever in American politics to create (without the candidate’s consent) a political cult. America is just too small for Him, and the natural extension of his egomania is to go international.

As to the second, there is always the danger that some voters will be turned off by the love-fest with European throngs: bragging about international popularity didn’t get John Kerry very far. (John McCain is obviously trying to play off this with his domestic “Berlin” radio blitz.) I find it hard to figure out which voters are going to be moved by a massive show of affection by Germans for Obama. Voters who think he’s “not one of us” are going to be irked and the folks who are genuinely concerned about foreign policy smarts and credentials aren’t necessarily going to be wowed by a mass rally.

So who exactly is this supposed to grab? The media’s attention, of course. But I think he already has that constituency sewn up.

Ross Douthat mulls:

I’d really like to know which genius on the Obama campaign thought it would be a good idea to have their candidate conduct a major campaign rally in Europe with three months to go till the election and their candidate, despite an incredibly favorable climate and a fumbling opponent, still clinging to a 2-4 point lead in the polls?. . . But photo ops are one thing, Beatlemania-style rallies are quite another – and having your candidate appear in front of tens of thousands of adoring European fans when your campaign’s biggest problem, as John Judis puts it today, is that “Obama remains the ‘mysterious stranger’ rather than the ‘American Adam’ to too many voters who are put off rather than attracted by his race and exotic background” strikes me as the height of political folly.

As to the first point, I think it quite obvious after the faux seal, the screaming domestic mob scenes complete with fainting Obama gals, the planned ten-year presidency, and all the other arrogance indicators, that the “genius” is the Great Obama himself. Either that, or he’s a powerless pawn in the greatest scheme ever in American politics to create (without the candidate’s consent) a political cult. America is just too small for Him, and the natural extension of his egomania is to go international.

As to the second, there is always the danger that some voters will be turned off by the love-fest with European throngs: bragging about international popularity didn’t get John Kerry very far. (John McCain is obviously trying to play off this with his domestic “Berlin” radio blitz.) I find it hard to figure out which voters are going to be moved by a massive show of affection by Germans for Obama. Voters who think he’s “not one of us” are going to be irked and the folks who are genuinely concerned about foreign policy smarts and credentials aren’t necessarily going to be wowed by a mass rally.

So who exactly is this supposed to grab? The media’s attention, of course. But I think he already has that constituency sewn up.

Read Less




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