Commentary Magazine


Posts For: July 27, 2008

Gaza Heat

Over the weekend a bomb went off on a Gaza City beach, killing 6 people, including 5 members of Hamas. But it was not an IDF attack; rather, the prime suspects are members of Fatah, the organization currently in charge in the West Bank. In response, Hamas rounded up as many as 200 Fatah operatives in the Gaza strip — a move that in turn triggered the arrests of about 30 Hamas people, including 2 officials, in the West Bank.

Perhaps there is nothing new here, except that to use the word “crackdown” when the crackers are Hamas and the crackees are loyalists to PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas suggests how far we have come in accepting Hamas rule in Gaza as a fait accompli. There really are two Palestinian governments now, two authorities. So please, speak not of a “Palestinian State” happening any time soon. Right now it looks like there will be two of them, or none at all.

Over the weekend a bomb went off on a Gaza City beach, killing 6 people, including 5 members of Hamas. But it was not an IDF attack; rather, the prime suspects are members of Fatah, the organization currently in charge in the West Bank. In response, Hamas rounded up as many as 200 Fatah operatives in the Gaza strip — a move that in turn triggered the arrests of about 30 Hamas people, including 2 officials, in the West Bank.

Perhaps there is nothing new here, except that to use the word “crackdown” when the crackers are Hamas and the crackees are loyalists to PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas suggests how far we have come in accepting Hamas rule in Gaza as a fait accompli. There really are two Palestinian governments now, two authorities. So please, speak not of a “Palestinian State” happening any time soon. Right now it looks like there will be two of them, or none at all.

Read Less

The Latest Utterance

The MSM seems to be taking Barack Obama at his word, or at least holding him to his word, that he’s now for a “conditions-based” withdrawal scheme. It sure is “getting squishier and squishier.” And then in front of minority journalists Obama sounded like he was channeling George W. Bush and John McCain:

One of the most important things for the next president is to work with the commanders on the ground, to find the right strategy to go after the central front on terror, go after Al Qaeda, go after the Taliban while maintaining some of the gains that have been made in Iraq.

It is interesting to note that the right blogosphere, but not the left, is buzzing about this. (Or maybe the Left takes Sunday off.)

I suspect the latter is mulling which excuse they should employ: Is Obama brilliantly adapting to what he saw on his trip and accepting the advice of General Petraeus? (The “I’m boss and he’s just a little picture guy” was just a head fake, in this scenario.) Or is he all-seeing/all-knowing and foresees that in 16 months we will arrive at the perfect point at which conditions allow our withdrawal? Or (adopting my view) is he a canny post-modernist whose words have no fixed meaning but show the brilliance of his mind? Or maybe it’s all consistent in the Great Mind ? (An “absolute schedule for withdrawal of troops” never meant that 70,000 couldn’t be redubbed a “residual force” and left for 20, 50, make it a hundred years. Oh gosh, that does sound an awful lot like . . .)

Actually, if the Left weren’t shilling so hard they’d be in whiplash. Their candidate spent a week before the trip defending his fixed timetable and a week overseas defending it over the objections of our near-victorious general. He drew Prime Minister Maliki into domestic politics to bolster his own view. He did a yeoman’s job of defending the netroot worldview: the surge was a waste, we shouldn’t have done it, we can leave according to a fixed schedule, etc. If he is going to drop it now this is going to make the catfight over FISA look like a beach party.

But then again, perhaps the Left is so desperate to elect their man that they, like the populace in 1984, will simply accept the last utterance and ignore that it directly contradicts what came before it — the entire communications and policy effort of the last two weeks, not to mention the last 18 months of the campaign. One wonders if anyone on the Left will have the temerity to ask: why should we trust this guy?

The MSM seems to be taking Barack Obama at his word, or at least holding him to his word, that he’s now for a “conditions-based” withdrawal scheme. It sure is “getting squishier and squishier.” And then in front of minority journalists Obama sounded like he was channeling George W. Bush and John McCain:

One of the most important things for the next president is to work with the commanders on the ground, to find the right strategy to go after the central front on terror, go after Al Qaeda, go after the Taliban while maintaining some of the gains that have been made in Iraq.

It is interesting to note that the right blogosphere, but not the left, is buzzing about this. (Or maybe the Left takes Sunday off.)

I suspect the latter is mulling which excuse they should employ: Is Obama brilliantly adapting to what he saw on his trip and accepting the advice of General Petraeus? (The “I’m boss and he’s just a little picture guy” was just a head fake, in this scenario.) Or is he all-seeing/all-knowing and foresees that in 16 months we will arrive at the perfect point at which conditions allow our withdrawal? Or (adopting my view) is he a canny post-modernist whose words have no fixed meaning but show the brilliance of his mind? Or maybe it’s all consistent in the Great Mind ? (An “absolute schedule for withdrawal of troops” never meant that 70,000 couldn’t be redubbed a “residual force” and left for 20, 50, make it a hundred years. Oh gosh, that does sound an awful lot like . . .)

Actually, if the Left weren’t shilling so hard they’d be in whiplash. Their candidate spent a week before the trip defending his fixed timetable and a week overseas defending it over the objections of our near-victorious general. He drew Prime Minister Maliki into domestic politics to bolster his own view. He did a yeoman’s job of defending the netroot worldview: the surge was a waste, we shouldn’t have done it, we can leave according to a fixed schedule, etc. If he is going to drop it now this is going to make the catfight over FISA look like a beach party.

But then again, perhaps the Left is so desperate to elect their man that they, like the populace in 1984, will simply accept the last utterance and ignore that it directly contradicts what came before it — the entire communications and policy effort of the last two weeks, not to mention the last 18 months of the campaign. One wonders if anyone on the Left will have the temerity to ask: why should we trust this guy?

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

More good news from Iraq. Are we to believe this too is just a happy coincidence, unrelated to the surge?

Maureen Dowd lets on: “Being a Citizen of the World has its downsides.” (Have you noticed how MSM and conservative journalists now use capitalization to mock The Great One?)

Here’s a silly headline. I think Obama already has 90% of the black vote.

The McCain camp successfully introduced two story lines: Obama snubbed the troops and he has too many excuses.

The mainstream press figures out energy policy is working in the Republicans’ favor. Wow, who’d have thought? (Maybe it was weeks of polls showing three-quarters of voters favor domestic drilling.) But you have to love the phrasing: “Because most Democrats, including Sen. Barack Obama, are opposed to increased drilling, McCain and the GOP have already begun casting their rivals as unconcerned about gas prices and unwilling to wean the country from foreign oil.” (Just “casting”? Really, wasn’t it Obama who said he wouldn’t have minded the price hike if it had been more gradual?)

“Arrogant” and “taking the election for granted”? Even the New York Times is wondering. Such fickle friends the MSM folks are — throw you the ticker tape parade and then criticize the litter.

I’m not sure this sort of thing works like it used to. Maybe it marginally helps with turnout but Obama isn’t going to be “boxed” on social issues — he’s already said where he is on gay marriage and evangelicals aren’t buying him anyway.

Even friendly reporters have noted the latest new (but is it really new or just temporary) Obama position on troop withdrawal. I think it’s easier to start making a list of things Obama has not shifted on: raising marginal income tax rates, spending gobs on health care and opposing domestic oil drilling. Wow, how fortunate for McCain that Obama’s firm positions are also doctrinaire liberal ones.

More good news from Iraq. Are we to believe this too is just a happy coincidence, unrelated to the surge?

Maureen Dowd lets on: “Being a Citizen of the World has its downsides.” (Have you noticed how MSM and conservative journalists now use capitalization to mock The Great One?)

Here’s a silly headline. I think Obama already has 90% of the black vote.

The McCain camp successfully introduced two story lines: Obama snubbed the troops and he has too many excuses.

The mainstream press figures out energy policy is working in the Republicans’ favor. Wow, who’d have thought? (Maybe it was weeks of polls showing three-quarters of voters favor domestic drilling.) But you have to love the phrasing: “Because most Democrats, including Sen. Barack Obama, are opposed to increased drilling, McCain and the GOP have already begun casting their rivals as unconcerned about gas prices and unwilling to wean the country from foreign oil.” (Just “casting”? Really, wasn’t it Obama who said he wouldn’t have minded the price hike if it had been more gradual?)

“Arrogant” and “taking the election for granted”? Even the New York Times is wondering. Such fickle friends the MSM folks are — throw you the ticker tape parade and then criticize the litter.

I’m not sure this sort of thing works like it used to. Maybe it marginally helps with turnout but Obama isn’t going to be “boxed” on social issues — he’s already said where he is on gay marriage and evangelicals aren’t buying him anyway.

Even friendly reporters have noted the latest new (but is it really new or just temporary) Obama position on troop withdrawal. I think it’s easier to start making a list of things Obama has not shifted on: raising marginal income tax rates, spending gobs on health care and opposing domestic oil drilling. Wow, how fortunate for McCain that Obama’s firm positions are also doctrinaire liberal ones.

Read Less

Just Words

The McCain camp is circulating this exchange from a Newsweek interview:

RICHARD WOLFFE: “You’ve been talking about those limited missions for a long time. Having gone there and talked to both diplomatic and military folks, do you have a clearer idea of how big a force you’d need to leave behind to fulfill all those functions?”

BARACK OBAMA: “I do think that’s entirely conditions-based. It’s hard to anticipate where we may be six months from now, or a year from now, or a year and a half from now.”

McCain foreign policy advisor Randy Scheunemann then put out a statement declaring:

“Today Barack Obama finally abandoned his dangerous insistence on an unconditional withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq by making clear that for the foreseeable future, troop levels in Iraq will be ‘entirely conditions based.’ We welcome this latest shift in Senator Obama’s position, but it is obvious that it was only a lack of experience and judgment that kept him from arriving at this position sooner. . . Now that Obama has finally met with General Petraeus, it appears that he has also come to the conclusion that troop levels in Iraq must be based on the conditions on the ground.”

After attempting to lay claim to Prime Minister Maliki’s support for a 16-month timetable did Obama really throw in the towel and concede McCain was right on a conditions-based withdrawal? Perhaps, but I think this is more likely the latest example of his propensity for sloppy, unfocused language. Jerusalem is “undivided” — or then again, maybe not. He throws around words and phrases, devoid of real analytical understanding and offered whenever the moment seems right. Others have explained that Obama’s infatuation with words does not betray a consistent, logical or factually-grounded intellectual bent.

But what does it mean? And what does he believe? It is unknowable which version of his verbage is sincere, which is made in error and which he intends to follow.

It is irrational, you say, for him to acknowledge the surge has reduced violence, but to maintain his opposition to it. It makes no sense, others point out, to grouse that insufficient political progress has been made but to laud Maliki as the sovereign leader of not just Iraq, but “the decider” of American troop presence. You wonder how he can express fidelity to Israel’s survival but shrink from criticizing barbarism directed at Israeli children and innocents.

But you forget: it is just words. He seeks to impress, to woo, to lure, and to ingratiate and any old phrase will do. If he’s come around on the surge, that would be delightful. But don’t bet on it. He’ll be back with something new tomorrow.

The McCain camp is circulating this exchange from a Newsweek interview:

RICHARD WOLFFE: “You’ve been talking about those limited missions for a long time. Having gone there and talked to both diplomatic and military folks, do you have a clearer idea of how big a force you’d need to leave behind to fulfill all those functions?”

BARACK OBAMA: “I do think that’s entirely conditions-based. It’s hard to anticipate where we may be six months from now, or a year from now, or a year and a half from now.”

McCain foreign policy advisor Randy Scheunemann then put out a statement declaring:

“Today Barack Obama finally abandoned his dangerous insistence on an unconditional withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq by making clear that for the foreseeable future, troop levels in Iraq will be ‘entirely conditions based.’ We welcome this latest shift in Senator Obama’s position, but it is obvious that it was only a lack of experience and judgment that kept him from arriving at this position sooner. . . Now that Obama has finally met with General Petraeus, it appears that he has also come to the conclusion that troop levels in Iraq must be based on the conditions on the ground.”

After attempting to lay claim to Prime Minister Maliki’s support for a 16-month timetable did Obama really throw in the towel and concede McCain was right on a conditions-based withdrawal? Perhaps, but I think this is more likely the latest example of his propensity for sloppy, unfocused language. Jerusalem is “undivided” — or then again, maybe not. He throws around words and phrases, devoid of real analytical understanding and offered whenever the moment seems right. Others have explained that Obama’s infatuation with words does not betray a consistent, logical or factually-grounded intellectual bent.

But what does it mean? And what does he believe? It is unknowable which version of his verbage is sincere, which is made in error and which he intends to follow.

It is irrational, you say, for him to acknowledge the surge has reduced violence, but to maintain his opposition to it. It makes no sense, others point out, to grouse that insufficient political progress has been made but to laud Maliki as the sovereign leader of not just Iraq, but “the decider” of American troop presence. You wonder how he can express fidelity to Israel’s survival but shrink from criticizing barbarism directed at Israeli children and innocents.

But you forget: it is just words. He seeks to impress, to woo, to lure, and to ingratiate and any old phrase will do. If he’s come around on the surge, that would be delightful. But don’t bet on it. He’ll be back with something new tomorrow.

Read Less




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.