Commentary Magazine


Posts For: July 2008

The End for Olmert

The Israeli prime minister just concluded a surprise press conference in which he announced that he will not run in the September Kadima primary. Carl in Jerusalem liveblogged Olmert’s appearance and provides a rough English translation.

The Israeli prime minister just concluded a surprise press conference in which he announced that he will not run in the September Kadima primary. Carl in Jerusalem liveblogged Olmert’s appearance and provides a rough English translation.

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Stating the Obvious in Pakistan

The C.I.A. has shown Islamabad evidence of what Islamabad knows better than the C.I.A. Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is intimately involved with al Qaeda-related operatives in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Specifically, the Directorate for the ISI has strong ties to Maulavi Jaluddin Haqqani’s militant network. The Haqqani group, among others, is responsible for the recent up-tick in violence in Afghanistan.

There is nothing new here. The ISI’s jihadist connections have threatened Pakistan’s stability for many years, and in turn have kept that country’s leadership from fully complying with U.S. demands to crack down on terrorism. The various attempts on President Musharraf’s life are believed at least to have been made possible by members of the ISI and that inescapable threat certainly contributed to Musharraf’s ultimate ineffectiveness. Not only is the ISI supporting terrorism in the tribal areas, but they’re doing the same in India and Iran. Pakistan’s new civilian government seems willing to do something about it, but not quite motivated. The Pakistani military is making every effort to keep the ISI under their control and safe from government intervention.

The question is: what is the U.S. going to do about it?

Intelligence agents show documentation while jihadists based in the tribal region continue to kill Americans in Afghanistan. Shall we simply ask Islamabad more earnestly for help? Somehow American foreign policy has devolved into making requests and living with rejections. At the same time, we’re forced to play whack-a-mole and suffer a scolding for every piecemeal effort. On Monday an unmanned U.S. drone took out al Qaeda biological weapons expert Abu Khabab al-Masri in the tribal region and before the day was done Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani expressed his dismay, even though the U.S. has express permission to take out high level targets with drones.

John McCain and Barack Obama offer the exact same boasts about their willingness to take out targets inside Pakistan, but what’s to be done about Islamabad’s compliance? McCain simply asserts that he has a better relationship with Pakistan’s leadership than Obama does. Obama, for his part, has a disastrous idea. He wants to reward Pakistan by tripling our non-military aid to that country. Consider the absurdity: Obama wants to increase aid to Pakistan’s citizens in the hope that the country’s rogue intelligence community will cooperate with America and turn on themselves.

Asking and giving does not diplomacy make. How’s this novel idea: Instead of tripling aid to Pakistan, let’s cut it way back and set some conditions with the reasonable civilian government. If they make genuine progress in cracking down on the ISI, American beneficence gets boosted to unprecedented levels. And then the U.S. can begin training Pakistan’s Frontier Corps as true anti-terrorism soldiers. If not, Pakistan will continue to feel the pain. Anything is better than asking and giving while troops are under fire. The U.S. has leverage by virtue of being the U.S. Washington has either forgotten this fact or forgotten how to use it.

The C.I.A. has shown Islamabad evidence of what Islamabad knows better than the C.I.A. Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is intimately involved with al Qaeda-related operatives in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Specifically, the Directorate for the ISI has strong ties to Maulavi Jaluddin Haqqani’s militant network. The Haqqani group, among others, is responsible for the recent up-tick in violence in Afghanistan.

There is nothing new here. The ISI’s jihadist connections have threatened Pakistan’s stability for many years, and in turn have kept that country’s leadership from fully complying with U.S. demands to crack down on terrorism. The various attempts on President Musharraf’s life are believed at least to have been made possible by members of the ISI and that inescapable threat certainly contributed to Musharraf’s ultimate ineffectiveness. Not only is the ISI supporting terrorism in the tribal areas, but they’re doing the same in India and Iran. Pakistan’s new civilian government seems willing to do something about it, but not quite motivated. The Pakistani military is making every effort to keep the ISI under their control and safe from government intervention.

The question is: what is the U.S. going to do about it?

Intelligence agents show documentation while jihadists based in the tribal region continue to kill Americans in Afghanistan. Shall we simply ask Islamabad more earnestly for help? Somehow American foreign policy has devolved into making requests and living with rejections. At the same time, we’re forced to play whack-a-mole and suffer a scolding for every piecemeal effort. On Monday an unmanned U.S. drone took out al Qaeda biological weapons expert Abu Khabab al-Masri in the tribal region and before the day was done Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani expressed his dismay, even though the U.S. has express permission to take out high level targets with drones.

John McCain and Barack Obama offer the exact same boasts about their willingness to take out targets inside Pakistan, but what’s to be done about Islamabad’s compliance? McCain simply asserts that he has a better relationship with Pakistan’s leadership than Obama does. Obama, for his part, has a disastrous idea. He wants to reward Pakistan by tripling our non-military aid to that country. Consider the absurdity: Obama wants to increase aid to Pakistan’s citizens in the hope that the country’s rogue intelligence community will cooperate with America and turn on themselves.

Asking and giving does not diplomacy make. How’s this novel idea: Instead of tripling aid to Pakistan, let’s cut it way back and set some conditions with the reasonable civilian government. If they make genuine progress in cracking down on the ISI, American beneficence gets boosted to unprecedented levels. And then the U.S. can begin training Pakistan’s Frontier Corps as true anti-terrorism soldiers. If not, Pakistan will continue to feel the pain. Anything is better than asking and giving while troops are under fire. The U.S. has leverage by virtue of being the U.S. Washington has either forgotten this fact or forgotten how to use it.

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Three Problems

The Obama team is facing three competing, but equally problematic (and connected) negative storylines. The first is The Ego. You have to love their initial defense: well he really is the symbol of America. Then they went with “the mean Republicans took it out of context.” Actually it was the Washington Post and really, even in some broader context who says things like ““I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions”? Well, other than Him. (And as Dean Barnett points out, the “context” doesn’t really help.)

Needless to say the MSM sees the danger looming. First Read (covering “the hubris factor“) explains that “this narrative has been ready to explode at some point and even a misreported quote was enough to spark this arrogance watch. Some see him violating the cardinal sin of politics, acting as if this campaign is about him.”

And now the McCain team decides to go full throttle: mocking and exposing the emptiness of “celebrity” status. Once again, it turns out that Obama is funny, or at least can be made fun of.

Second storyline: those female Hillary Clinton supporters are not agog over Obama. The question remains: Will they sit home? Vote for McCain? But it seems that the Ego Problem exacerbates the Women Problem. These gals, after all, were the ones who rolled their eyes with Hillary Clinton and nodded their heads when she lambasted his goo-goo rhetoric as “just words.” They don’t really like the King of the World shtick. So the more the Ego meme takes hold, the worse the problem for him with luring the working class, middle-aged Hillary set.

Final storyline: his New Politics theme is deader than dead. First came the campaign finance switcheroo and all the flip-flops. Now it turns out that the “little people” he’s taking donations from include some lobbyists. So, he doesn’t really talk about New Politics anymore because it fails the plausibility test. That might be alright (since many didn’t know what the New Politics meant anyway), but what is the replacement theme? Right now it’s the Ego. In short he’s lost his essential message, or one of them ( the other being: “Bad George W. Bush. McCain=Bush. Vote for Me.”), and he’s not talking about much else.

So maybe all this was inevitable. And you can’t argue that the McCain camp isn’t doing its job and fanning the flames. But it sure does seem a long time ago that the entire MSM was in a state of rapture over the trip.

The Obama team is facing three competing, but equally problematic (and connected) negative storylines. The first is The Ego. You have to love their initial defense: well he really is the symbol of America. Then they went with “the mean Republicans took it out of context.” Actually it was the Washington Post and really, even in some broader context who says things like ““I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions”? Well, other than Him. (And as Dean Barnett points out, the “context” doesn’t really help.)

Needless to say the MSM sees the danger looming. First Read (covering “the hubris factor“) explains that “this narrative has been ready to explode at some point and even a misreported quote was enough to spark this arrogance watch. Some see him violating the cardinal sin of politics, acting as if this campaign is about him.”

And now the McCain team decides to go full throttle: mocking and exposing the emptiness of “celebrity” status. Once again, it turns out that Obama is funny, or at least can be made fun of.

Second storyline: those female Hillary Clinton supporters are not agog over Obama. The question remains: Will they sit home? Vote for McCain? But it seems that the Ego Problem exacerbates the Women Problem. These gals, after all, were the ones who rolled their eyes with Hillary Clinton and nodded their heads when she lambasted his goo-goo rhetoric as “just words.” They don’t really like the King of the World shtick. So the more the Ego meme takes hold, the worse the problem for him with luring the working class, middle-aged Hillary set.

Final storyline: his New Politics theme is deader than dead. First came the campaign finance switcheroo and all the flip-flops. Now it turns out that the “little people” he’s taking donations from include some lobbyists. So, he doesn’t really talk about New Politics anymore because it fails the plausibility test. That might be alright (since many didn’t know what the New Politics meant anyway), but what is the replacement theme? Right now it’s the Ego. In short he’s lost his essential message, or one of them ( the other being: “Bad George W. Bush. McCain=Bush. Vote for Me.”), and he’s not talking about much else.

So maybe all this was inevitable. And you can’t argue that the McCain camp isn’t doing its job and fanning the flames. But it sure does seem a long time ago that the entire MSM was in a state of rapture over the trip.

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Thou Shalt Not

After scolding Republicans for the wacky notion that we should develop our domestic oil reserves Thomas Friedman questions Barack Obama’s sincerity and motives with regard to Iraq and Afghanistan. Friedman writes:

For many Democrats, Afghanistan was always the “good war,” as opposed to Iraq. I think Barack Obama needs to ask himself honestly: “Am I for sending more troops to Afghanistan because I really think we can win there, because I really think that that will bring an end to terrorism, or am I just doing it because to get elected in America, post-9/11, I have to be for winning some war?”The truth is Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Pakistan are just different fronts in the same war.

Friedman goes on to doubt the efficacy of sending more troops to Afghanistan and ends with a warning:

Before Democrats adopt “More Troops to Afghanistan” as their bumper sticker, they need to make sure it’s a strategy for winning a war — not an election.

Friedman has violated two of the main Shalt Nots in the Barack Obama Rules of Permissible Criticism. (These must be published somewhere. After all, infractions are regularly called with a shrill whistle from Chuck Hagel, or with a severe tut-tut from a liberal cable TV pundit expressing “disappointment” that John McCain would go so “low” as to violate what everyone agrees are the appropriate parameters of Obama criticism.)

First, Friedman impugned the Great Man’s motives. He pointed to the lunacy of supporting a war against al Qaeda in one country, but not the other. Friedman inferred not that Obama is behaving illogically (because he assumes Obama is a logical fellow), but rather that he must be acting out of base motives (or self-deception) to win an election. McCain has been called for multiple personal fouls on that one. I imagine Friedman’s letter of reprimand from the Defenders of Obama will be coming forthwith: Thou Shall Not Question His Pristine Motives.

Second, Friedman casts doubt on the notion that Iraq doesn’t matter and that it is irrelevant to the outcome in Afghanistan. That is hogwash in netroot land. Iraq is beside the point, didn’t he hear? We should have been using that money for domestic spending or in Afghanistan against the same enemy which was running rampant in Iraq pre-surge. So Friedman has clearly overstepped: Thou Shall Not Point Out Facts (e.g. the same enemy is in both places).

It is, of course, on these very points and others that John McCain has been vilified by the liberal pundits and Left blogosphere. Ironically Friedman’s paper does just that as the New York Times editors excoriate McCain for many sins (e.g. Thou Shall Not Point Out His Snubs of Soldiers). But, as Freidman aptly demonstrates, there is plenty of reason for McCain to argue that his opponent is not operating in good faith. As McCain himself explained yesterday:

On Iraq, Barack Obama says he wants peace, but even today he opposes the strategy of the surge that succeeded in Iraq and will succeed in Afghanistan. No rational person could see the progress we’ve made in the last year and a half, and not recognize that the surge, and the brave Americans who made it work, rescued us from a terribly dangerous defeat and put us on the road to victory. I don’t question his patriotism. This country has been as good to Senator Obama as it has been to me, and I’m sure he loves it. He just doesn’t understand how our defeat in Iraq would have left al Qaeda with a base to prepare attacks against us; increased Iranian power in the region; and threatened to draw other countries in the Middle East into a wider war that would have demanded even greater sacrifices from us. He didn’t see the danger in his policy, and so he thinks Iraq was just another issue to play politics with. Just like he doesn’t see that his policy of unconditional withdrawal before we are certain Iraqis can protect the gains we have achieved at the cost of American blood and treasure could result in in renewed violence and a third Iraq war.

Now it is not surprising that Obama supporters, the Times chief among them, don’t like the arguments offered by McCain. But frankly there is nothing inappropriate or outlandish about his making them. And as Friedman points out, there’s plenty of reason to question Obama sincerity and motives in pursing arguments that are so entirely divorced from reality.

After scolding Republicans for the wacky notion that we should develop our domestic oil reserves Thomas Friedman questions Barack Obama’s sincerity and motives with regard to Iraq and Afghanistan. Friedman writes:

For many Democrats, Afghanistan was always the “good war,” as opposed to Iraq. I think Barack Obama needs to ask himself honestly: “Am I for sending more troops to Afghanistan because I really think we can win there, because I really think that that will bring an end to terrorism, or am I just doing it because to get elected in America, post-9/11, I have to be for winning some war?”The truth is Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Pakistan are just different fronts in the same war.

Friedman goes on to doubt the efficacy of sending more troops to Afghanistan and ends with a warning:

Before Democrats adopt “More Troops to Afghanistan” as their bumper sticker, they need to make sure it’s a strategy for winning a war — not an election.

Friedman has violated two of the main Shalt Nots in the Barack Obama Rules of Permissible Criticism. (These must be published somewhere. After all, infractions are regularly called with a shrill whistle from Chuck Hagel, or with a severe tut-tut from a liberal cable TV pundit expressing “disappointment” that John McCain would go so “low” as to violate what everyone agrees are the appropriate parameters of Obama criticism.)

First, Friedman impugned the Great Man’s motives. He pointed to the lunacy of supporting a war against al Qaeda in one country, but not the other. Friedman inferred not that Obama is behaving illogically (because he assumes Obama is a logical fellow), but rather that he must be acting out of base motives (or self-deception) to win an election. McCain has been called for multiple personal fouls on that one. I imagine Friedman’s letter of reprimand from the Defenders of Obama will be coming forthwith: Thou Shall Not Question His Pristine Motives.

Second, Friedman casts doubt on the notion that Iraq doesn’t matter and that it is irrelevant to the outcome in Afghanistan. That is hogwash in netroot land. Iraq is beside the point, didn’t he hear? We should have been using that money for domestic spending or in Afghanistan against the same enemy which was running rampant in Iraq pre-surge. So Friedman has clearly overstepped: Thou Shall Not Point Out Facts (e.g. the same enemy is in both places).

It is, of course, on these very points and others that John McCain has been vilified by the liberal pundits and Left blogosphere. Ironically Friedman’s paper does just that as the New York Times editors excoriate McCain for many sins (e.g. Thou Shall Not Point Out His Snubs of Soldiers). But, as Freidman aptly demonstrates, there is plenty of reason for McCain to argue that his opponent is not operating in good faith. As McCain himself explained yesterday:

On Iraq, Barack Obama says he wants peace, but even today he opposes the strategy of the surge that succeeded in Iraq and will succeed in Afghanistan. No rational person could see the progress we’ve made in the last year and a half, and not recognize that the surge, and the brave Americans who made it work, rescued us from a terribly dangerous defeat and put us on the road to victory. I don’t question his patriotism. This country has been as good to Senator Obama as it has been to me, and I’m sure he loves it. He just doesn’t understand how our defeat in Iraq would have left al Qaeda with a base to prepare attacks against us; increased Iranian power in the region; and threatened to draw other countries in the Middle East into a wider war that would have demanded even greater sacrifices from us. He didn’t see the danger in his policy, and so he thinks Iraq was just another issue to play politics with. Just like he doesn’t see that his policy of unconditional withdrawal before we are certain Iraqis can protect the gains we have achieved at the cost of American blood and treasure could result in in renewed violence and a third Iraq war.

Now it is not surprising that Obama supporters, the Times chief among them, don’t like the arguments offered by McCain. But frankly there is nothing inappropriate or outlandish about his making them. And as Friedman points out, there’s plenty of reason to question Obama sincerity and motives in pursing arguments that are so entirely divorced from reality.

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Milbank Goes There

The same Washington Post reporter/columnist who boasts that the National Review describes him as, “The most anti-Bush reporter currently assigned to the White House by a major news organization,” has a heavy-hitting column (already touched on by Jennifer here) accusing Senator Barack Obama of “becoming [his party's] presumptuous nominee.” It’s a charge levied every few days (the most persuasive piece of late was Charles Krauthammer’s), but it has to hurt more coming from a member of Obama’s choir.

Dana Milbank’s underlying criticism is that Obama’s actions share a peculiar similarity to George W. Bush’s and Dick Cheney’s. Obama commands a “presidential-style” that slows traffic, shuts down hallways, and attracts action-halting attention. Also, Obama has high profile meetings, conducts business in secrecy, frequently reveals his “inexperience,” and has too much “pride.” Milbank’s greatest complaint, however, is about the way the Obama campaign locks out the press.

Obama has run his candidacy on a single issue: his rhetoric suggests that he is campaigning as the anti-Bush candidate. With President Bush’s approval ratings in the pits, it’s an altogether sensible campaign strategy. But if Milbank’s critique is to be taken seriously, what does it say about the all those voting for Obama? If they hated Bush’s tactics, why do they let them slide in Obama? Perhaps the President’s supposedly sinister modus operandi was never really that objectionable after all.

The same Washington Post reporter/columnist who boasts that the National Review describes him as, “The most anti-Bush reporter currently assigned to the White House by a major news organization,” has a heavy-hitting column (already touched on by Jennifer here) accusing Senator Barack Obama of “becoming [his party's] presumptuous nominee.” It’s a charge levied every few days (the most persuasive piece of late was Charles Krauthammer’s), but it has to hurt more coming from a member of Obama’s choir.

Dana Milbank’s underlying criticism is that Obama’s actions share a peculiar similarity to George W. Bush’s and Dick Cheney’s. Obama commands a “presidential-style” that slows traffic, shuts down hallways, and attracts action-halting attention. Also, Obama has high profile meetings, conducts business in secrecy, frequently reveals his “inexperience,” and has too much “pride.” Milbank’s greatest complaint, however, is about the way the Obama campaign locks out the press.

Obama has run his candidacy on a single issue: his rhetoric suggests that he is campaigning as the anti-Bush candidate. With President Bush’s approval ratings in the pits, it’s an altogether sensible campaign strategy. But if Milbank’s critique is to be taken seriously, what does it say about the all those voting for Obama? If they hated Bush’s tactics, why do they let them slide in Obama? Perhaps the President’s supposedly sinister modus operandi was never really that objectionable after all.

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Re: Anecdotes

As Daniel points out, Barack Obama left no trail as a law professor. But if you weren’t surprised that Barack Obama got through his stint as head of Harvard’s Law Review without writing anything , weren’t surprised that he didn’t accomplish much as a community organizer and know he has no legislative achievement from his brief tenure in the Senate, you won’t be shocked to learn that he left no footprints as a lecturer at University of Chicago’s Law School. Sure, the students loved him and became “groupies” ( you couldn’t make this up, really), but the other adults noticed that he did not engage intellectually and never put his own views to the test of vigorous debate with his peers.

Why this recurrent pattern of non-achievement and invisibility? For one thing, Obama never stayed in one spot very long. If you are continually looking ahead, plotting your next move you don’t have much time or incentive to devote yourself and your full energies to mastering your current job. For another, if you take a position you are likely not to please everyone. And we know that more than anything else Obama craves and thrives on adoration and has searched much of his life for acceptance. Once you voice a view, people will disagree. You won’t be a uniter and you won’t be universally loved. And finally, if you put out your views, whether in writing or verbally, you will be subject to scrutiny. People may find your logic wanting or your ideas outmoded. And then (and years later) you will be held to account for the positions you took.

So it should hardly come as a surprise that Obama has left no trail. (And you can understand why he is a bit sensitive about the topic of his own accomplishments.) But with that comes a host of questions. Is he capable or just glib? Can he put words in action or stand up to hostile forces? And is he out to improve and better those around him or just self-promote? We have never had a major candidate so close to the presidency who not only lacked a record of any note, but who seemed to have made an art form of not having one. It is extraordinary and deeply troubling.

As Daniel points out, Barack Obama left no trail as a law professor. But if you weren’t surprised that Barack Obama got through his stint as head of Harvard’s Law Review without writing anything , weren’t surprised that he didn’t accomplish much as a community organizer and know he has no legislative achievement from his brief tenure in the Senate, you won’t be shocked to learn that he left no footprints as a lecturer at University of Chicago’s Law School. Sure, the students loved him and became “groupies” ( you couldn’t make this up, really), but the other adults noticed that he did not engage intellectually and never put his own views to the test of vigorous debate with his peers.

Why this recurrent pattern of non-achievement and invisibility? For one thing, Obama never stayed in one spot very long. If you are continually looking ahead, plotting your next move you don’t have much time or incentive to devote yourself and your full energies to mastering your current job. For another, if you take a position you are likely not to please everyone. And we know that more than anything else Obama craves and thrives on adoration and has searched much of his life for acceptance. Once you voice a view, people will disagree. You won’t be a uniter and you won’t be universally loved. And finally, if you put out your views, whether in writing or verbally, you will be subject to scrutiny. People may find your logic wanting or your ideas outmoded. And then (and years later) you will be held to account for the positions you took.

So it should hardly come as a surprise that Obama has left no trail. (And you can understand why he is a bit sensitive about the topic of his own accomplishments.) But with that comes a host of questions. Is he capable or just glib? Can he put words in action or stand up to hostile forces? And is he out to improve and better those around him or just self-promote? We have never had a major candidate so close to the presidency who not only lacked a record of any note, but who seemed to have made an art form of not having one. It is extraordinary and deeply troubling.

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The AFP Outs Livni

The headline of the Agence France Presse story: “Israeli foreign minister admits she was Mossad agent.” A confession! But this has never been a secret: it was discussed at length, for example, by Livni herself more than a year ago in the cover story of an obscure publication called the New York Times Magazine.

In other news, the AFP has uncovered evidence that Senator John McCain was a Navy pilot during the Vietnam War. Details remain sketchy, but he apparently was shot down and spent several years in captivity. The AFP hopes to have more information soon.

The headline of the Agence France Presse story: “Israeli foreign minister admits she was Mossad agent.” A confession! But this has never been a secret: it was discussed at length, for example, by Livni herself more than a year ago in the cover story of an obscure publication called the New York Times Magazine.

In other news, the AFP has uncovered evidence that Senator John McCain was a Navy pilot during the Vietnam War. Details remain sketchy, but he apparently was shot down and spent several years in captivity. The AFP hopes to have more information soon.

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Doctor, Meet The Monster

Like Dr. Frankenstein, the mainstream media is getting nervous about the monster they have created. A Washington Post reporter, describing Barack Obama’s meeting with Congressional Democrats, frets: “Perhaps he’s beginning to believe the hype” and quotes Obama as saying to his fellow Democrats, “I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions.” Gulp. Then the Post’s Dana Millbank tells us:

Barack Obama has long been his party’s presumptive nominee. Now he’s becoming its presumptuous nominee. Fresh from his presidential-style world tour, during which foreign leaders and American generals lined up to show him affection, Obama settled down to some presidential-style business in Washington yesterday. He ordered up a teleconference with the (current president’s) Treasury secretary, granted an audience to the Pakistani prime minister and had his staff arrange for the chairman of the Federal Reserve to give him a briefing. Then, he went up to Capitol Hill to be adored by House Democrats in a presidential-style pep rally. . .Some say the supremely confident Obama — nearly 100 days from the election, he pronounces that “the odds of us winning are very good” — has become a president-in-waiting. But in truth, he doesn’t need to wait: He has already amassed the trappings of the office, without those pesky decisions.

And even a conflicted Maureen Dowd senses thing have gotten out of hand:

At home, Jon Stewart was poking fun at the grandiosity of the “Obama Quest” and “the Obamanauts.” He showed film clips of “our hero” in chain mail fighting off dragons and a Cyclops in his crusade to come home and rule over Dreamerica. . .The Obamanauts were so elated that they didn’t even seem to mind the caricature of Obama, ears sticking out, that had been drawn on the round We-Are-The-World Obama logo in the press section. The cartoon candidate demanded: “Worship me.”

Well, if this all seems too much for the pundits they have only themselves to blame. They tingled, they gaped, they pumped, they spun, they tore down his primary opponent and they debased themselves by leaving their objectivity home and muting their demands for decent access to the candidate and reasonable disclosure of information. So if the Creature is now out of control and the subject of ridicule and even mocking (see, he was funny after all), then they might examine the coverage they have afforded him these many months. Once can hardly blame the Great One for believing his press clippings.

Like Dr. Frankenstein, the mainstream media is getting nervous about the monster they have created. A Washington Post reporter, describing Barack Obama’s meeting with Congressional Democrats, frets: “Perhaps he’s beginning to believe the hype” and quotes Obama as saying to his fellow Democrats, “I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions.” Gulp. Then the Post’s Dana Millbank tells us:

Barack Obama has long been his party’s presumptive nominee. Now he’s becoming its presumptuous nominee. Fresh from his presidential-style world tour, during which foreign leaders and American generals lined up to show him affection, Obama settled down to some presidential-style business in Washington yesterday. He ordered up a teleconference with the (current president’s) Treasury secretary, granted an audience to the Pakistani prime minister and had his staff arrange for the chairman of the Federal Reserve to give him a briefing. Then, he went up to Capitol Hill to be adored by House Democrats in a presidential-style pep rally. . .Some say the supremely confident Obama — nearly 100 days from the election, he pronounces that “the odds of us winning are very good” — has become a president-in-waiting. But in truth, he doesn’t need to wait: He has already amassed the trappings of the office, without those pesky decisions.

And even a conflicted Maureen Dowd senses thing have gotten out of hand:

At home, Jon Stewart was poking fun at the grandiosity of the “Obama Quest” and “the Obamanauts.” He showed film clips of “our hero” in chain mail fighting off dragons and a Cyclops in his crusade to come home and rule over Dreamerica. . .The Obamanauts were so elated that they didn’t even seem to mind the caricature of Obama, ears sticking out, that had been drawn on the round We-Are-The-World Obama logo in the press section. The cartoon candidate demanded: “Worship me.”

Well, if this all seems too much for the pundits they have only themselves to blame. They tingled, they gaped, they pumped, they spun, they tore down his primary opponent and they debased themselves by leaving their objectivity home and muting their demands for decent access to the candidate and reasonable disclosure of information. So if the Creature is now out of control and the subject of ridicule and even mocking (see, he was funny after all), then they might examine the coverage they have afforded him these many months. Once can hardly blame the Great One for believing his press clippings.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Could he go again? No matter how hard the media mavens try, they never seem to get it right.

Larry J. Sabato identifies a key drawback for Tim Kaine: he’s not very good at his job. (“I would characterize Kaine’s term to this point as belonging to the bottom quartile. . .even Democratic legislators friendly to Kaine say privately that he is often a distant governor, certainly compared to Warner, inclined to give orders without thorough follow-up and flexibility.”) But since Obama isn’t big on getting things done I don’t see that this would handicap Kaine’s chances. Still, is it the reverse of the Clinton-Gore theme (young gun reformers who get things done) –sort of Nice Guys Who Don’t Perform?

I adore the idea of “foolishness meters” — but what would be the highest reading?

Soldier Snubgate finally reaches page one of the Washington Post, but in the guise of a story claiming the McCain camp lacks evidence to say the reason Obama backed out was because he couldn’t bring cameras. But that in itself is a bit misleading — what the McCain camp has done is put out some eleven excuses offered by the Obama team and argue nothing justifies reneging on a promised visit. ( Yeah, the Post does mention that, two-thirds of the way through the piece.) The Post settles on the explanation that Obama campaign advisor General Gration wasn’t allowed in so Obama backed out. Not exactly taking charge is it? That and the “Who’s On First?” excuse routine is going to do him in as a great manager of men if he’s not careful.

But when the New York Times doesn’t buy Obama’s excuses you know he’s not fooling anyone.

Thank goodness for the foreign media that tells us: “Iraqi forces backed by American troops have launched a major operation against insurgents in the north-eastern Iraqi province of Diyala. This is one of the last strongholds of al-Qaeda militants in the country.” You mean we’ve defeated , killed or chased away all the rest — like a real victory? Who knew?

Maybe people don’t like hype? They don’t very much like something Barack Obama has been saying or doing.

BarackBook, faux briefing books, “Obama in Berlin” and “media love” ads — some McCain team members are having fun. At least we know which campaign has a sense of humor.

Arrogance has its downside. People begin to notice you are talking down to them and that it’s all about you instead of them.

Could he go again? No matter how hard the media mavens try, they never seem to get it right.

Larry J. Sabato identifies a key drawback for Tim Kaine: he’s not very good at his job. (“I would characterize Kaine’s term to this point as belonging to the bottom quartile. . .even Democratic legislators friendly to Kaine say privately that he is often a distant governor, certainly compared to Warner, inclined to give orders without thorough follow-up and flexibility.”) But since Obama isn’t big on getting things done I don’t see that this would handicap Kaine’s chances. Still, is it the reverse of the Clinton-Gore theme (young gun reformers who get things done) –sort of Nice Guys Who Don’t Perform?

I adore the idea of “foolishness meters” — but what would be the highest reading?

Soldier Snubgate finally reaches page one of the Washington Post, but in the guise of a story claiming the McCain camp lacks evidence to say the reason Obama backed out was because he couldn’t bring cameras. But that in itself is a bit misleading — what the McCain camp has done is put out some eleven excuses offered by the Obama team and argue nothing justifies reneging on a promised visit. ( Yeah, the Post does mention that, two-thirds of the way through the piece.) The Post settles on the explanation that Obama campaign advisor General Gration wasn’t allowed in so Obama backed out. Not exactly taking charge is it? That and the “Who’s On First?” excuse routine is going to do him in as a great manager of men if he’s not careful.

But when the New York Times doesn’t buy Obama’s excuses you know he’s not fooling anyone.

Thank goodness for the foreign media that tells us: “Iraqi forces backed by American troops have launched a major operation against insurgents in the north-eastern Iraqi province of Diyala. This is one of the last strongholds of al-Qaeda militants in the country.” You mean we’ve defeated , killed or chased away all the rest — like a real victory? Who knew?

Maybe people don’t like hype? They don’t very much like something Barack Obama has been saying or doing.

BarackBook, faux briefing books, “Obama in Berlin” and “media love” ads — some McCain team members are having fun. At least we know which campaign has a sense of humor.

Arrogance has its downside. People begin to notice you are talking down to them and that it’s all about you instead of them.

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Anecdotes from Professor Obama

In connection with an article coming out in tomorrow’s New York Times, reporter Jodi Kantor has uploaded materials from Professor Barack Obama’s constitutional law classes at the University of Chicago. Political junkies will find the documents interesting, and they can be accessed here. But most telling are the anecdotes recounted throughout the article. Here are a few:

The Chicago faculty is more rightward-leaning than that of other top law schools, but if teaching alongside some of the most formidable conservative minds in the country had any impact on Mr. Obama, no one can quite point to it.

“I don’t think anything that went on in these chambers affected him,” said Richard Epstein, a libertarian colleague who says he longed for Mr. Obama to venture beyond his ideological and topical comfort zones. “His entire life, as best I can tell, is one in which he’s always been a thoughtful listener and questioner, but he’s never stepped up to the plate and taken full swings.”

[. . .]

In a 1996 interview with the school newspaper, sounded suspicious of President Bill Clinton’s efforts to reach across the aisle.

“On the national level, bipartisanship usually means Democrats ignore the needs of the poor and abandon the idea that government can play a role in issues of poverty, race discrimination, sex discrimination or environmental protection,” Mr. Obama said.

[. . .]

While students appreciated Mr. Obama’s professorial reserve, colleagues sometimes wanted him to take a stand. When two fellow faculty members asked him to support a controversial antigang measure, allowing Chicago police to disperse and eventually arrest loiterers who had no clear reason to gather, Mr. Obama discussed the issue with unusual thoughtfulness, they say, but gave little sign of who should prevail — the American Civil Liberties Union, which opposed the measure, or the community groups that supported it out of concern about crime.

“He just observed it with a kind of interest,” said Daniel Kahan, now a professor at Yale.

Nor could his views be gleaned from law review articles or other scholarship; Mr. Obama has never published any. He was too busy, but also, Mr. Epstein believes, he was unwilling to put his name to anything that could haunt him politically, as Ms. Guinier’s writings had hurt her.

“He figured out, you lay low,” Mr. Epstein said.

Conservative and liberal pundits alike will, of course, glean what they want from this article. But push aside Kantor’s fluff, and I believe one can better understand the workings of “a guy with political ambitions for his entire adult life [who] has not left a paper trail,” as Jim Geraghty wrote on The Campaign Spot.

In connection with an article coming out in tomorrow’s New York Times, reporter Jodi Kantor has uploaded materials from Professor Barack Obama’s constitutional law classes at the University of Chicago. Political junkies will find the documents interesting, and they can be accessed here. But most telling are the anecdotes recounted throughout the article. Here are a few:

The Chicago faculty is more rightward-leaning than that of other top law schools, but if teaching alongside some of the most formidable conservative minds in the country had any impact on Mr. Obama, no one can quite point to it.

“I don’t think anything that went on in these chambers affected him,” said Richard Epstein, a libertarian colleague who says he longed for Mr. Obama to venture beyond his ideological and topical comfort zones. “His entire life, as best I can tell, is one in which he’s always been a thoughtful listener and questioner, but he’s never stepped up to the plate and taken full swings.”

[. . .]

In a 1996 interview with the school newspaper, sounded suspicious of President Bill Clinton’s efforts to reach across the aisle.

“On the national level, bipartisanship usually means Democrats ignore the needs of the poor and abandon the idea that government can play a role in issues of poverty, race discrimination, sex discrimination or environmental protection,” Mr. Obama said.

[. . .]

While students appreciated Mr. Obama’s professorial reserve, colleagues sometimes wanted him to take a stand. When two fellow faculty members asked him to support a controversial antigang measure, allowing Chicago police to disperse and eventually arrest loiterers who had no clear reason to gather, Mr. Obama discussed the issue with unusual thoughtfulness, they say, but gave little sign of who should prevail — the American Civil Liberties Union, which opposed the measure, or the community groups that supported it out of concern about crime.

“He just observed it with a kind of interest,” said Daniel Kahan, now a professor at Yale.

Nor could his views be gleaned from law review articles or other scholarship; Mr. Obama has never published any. He was too busy, but also, Mr. Epstein believes, he was unwilling to put his name to anything that could haunt him politically, as Ms. Guinier’s writings had hurt her.

“He figured out, you lay low,” Mr. Epstein said.

Conservative and liberal pundits alike will, of course, glean what they want from this article. But push aside Kantor’s fluff, and I believe one can better understand the workings of “a guy with political ambitions for his entire adult life [who] has not left a paper trail,” as Jim Geraghty wrote on The Campaign Spot.

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Sometimes Things Have A Way Of Working Out

You were distressed that the Republicans have been captured by the net of corruption and pork barrel spending personified by the Alaskan Bridge to Nowhere? Well, Ted Stevens was indicted. You were outraged that the IOC  banned the Iraqi team? Well, the IOC relented. You fumed over the Obamapalooza media love fest? Well it may not have done any good and the public is on to the media bias.

What do all these have in common? Well things have a way of catching up with people. As the Republicans learned in 2006 (some by defeat and others by investigation), you can only scam the system so long before someone blows the whistle. The IOC can only tie itself in knots for so long before there is some reaction, and it must cave to overwhelming public outrage. And you think your candidate has already won, you can take a victory lap and the press with be your ad team? The overreach gets you every time.

That is not to say these things just fortuitously happen. Prosecutors do their work, protesters rail at the IOC, and analysts and the McCain team have to do their job to expose media excess. But the root of these errors is hubris. The protagonists thought  the little people can be fooled or don’t matter or can be flim-flammed. Sometimes that’s true. But it sure is nice when it’s not.

You were distressed that the Republicans have been captured by the net of corruption and pork barrel spending personified by the Alaskan Bridge to Nowhere? Well, Ted Stevens was indicted. You were outraged that the IOC  banned the Iraqi team? Well, the IOC relented. You fumed over the Obamapalooza media love fest? Well it may not have done any good and the public is on to the media bias.

What do all these have in common? Well things have a way of catching up with people. As the Republicans learned in 2006 (some by defeat and others by investigation), you can only scam the system so long before someone blows the whistle. The IOC can only tie itself in knots for so long before there is some reaction, and it must cave to overwhelming public outrage. And you think your candidate has already won, you can take a victory lap and the press with be your ad team? The overreach gets you every time.

That is not to say these things just fortuitously happen. Prosecutors do their work, protesters rail at the IOC, and analysts and the McCain team have to do their job to expose media excess. But the root of these errors is hubris. The protagonists thought  the little people can be fooled or don’t matter or can be flim-flammed. Sometimes that’s true. But it sure is nice when it’s not.

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Taking Down Iran

“The big powers are going down,” Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said today in Tehran at the meeting of the foreign ministers of the 100-member Nonaligned Movement. “They have come to the end of their power, and the world is on the verge of entering a new, promising era.”

Is this Ahmadinejad’s prediction or his hope? In any event, he seems to be taking Abraham Lincoln’s advice that the best way to predict the future is to create it—in this case by getting others to agree that the American-led international system has already failed.

In fact, it has not, but it will if the United States continues to allow the Iranian leader to keep the initiative. Iran is one of the few nations that has the will to change the world. Soon, it will also have the capability. Up to now, Washington’s strategy has been to counter Iran by sponsoring ineffective Security Council resolutions, engaging in direct talks that have no useful purpose, and hoping that Tehran’s big-power sponsors will abandon decades of diplomacy and finally see things our way.

Things won’t get better until we change the rules of the game, and there are two ways to do that. First, we can make Russia and China start paying a price for supporting Iran. Until we do this, all diplomacy is pointless. Second, we can meet Iranian provocations with disproportionate responses. There is simply no point in allowing the theocracy to take control of events.

Ahmadinejad knows that with just a few words he can begin to take down a great power. Historically, hegemons fail quickly when they begin to falter. Yet we will not stumble unless we allow ourselves to do so. It’s about time for the United States to, once again, create the future. There is already someone out there trying to do so.

“The big powers are going down,” Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said today in Tehran at the meeting of the foreign ministers of the 100-member Nonaligned Movement. “They have come to the end of their power, and the world is on the verge of entering a new, promising era.”

Is this Ahmadinejad’s prediction or his hope? In any event, he seems to be taking Abraham Lincoln’s advice that the best way to predict the future is to create it—in this case by getting others to agree that the American-led international system has already failed.

In fact, it has not, but it will if the United States continues to allow the Iranian leader to keep the initiative. Iran is one of the few nations that has the will to change the world. Soon, it will also have the capability. Up to now, Washington’s strategy has been to counter Iran by sponsoring ineffective Security Council resolutions, engaging in direct talks that have no useful purpose, and hoping that Tehran’s big-power sponsors will abandon decades of diplomacy and finally see things our way.

Things won’t get better until we change the rules of the game, and there are two ways to do that. First, we can make Russia and China start paying a price for supporting Iran. Until we do this, all diplomacy is pointless. Second, we can meet Iranian provocations with disproportionate responses. There is simply no point in allowing the theocracy to take control of events.

Ahmadinejad knows that with just a few words he can begin to take down a great power. Historically, hegemons fail quickly when they begin to falter. Yet we will not stumble unless we allow ourselves to do so. It’s about time for the United States to, once again, create the future. There is already someone out there trying to do so.

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Linkage Oversell

Over at the outstanding MESH blog, Martin Kramer is keeping tabs on examples of the myth of linkage. Part of his latest entry:

What does the present surge of linkage oversell tell us? As Americans increasingly experience the Middle East up close, they learn the region’s complexities, its histories, its many fault lines. And the more they know, the less they believe in the supposed magical power of the “peace process” to help fix anything else. The “peace process” junkies can only hope that an inexperienced president, who knows too little of the world, might give them another shot if he thought it would help to solve other conflicts, where America has troops on the line.

Over at the outstanding MESH blog, Martin Kramer is keeping tabs on examples of the myth of linkage. Part of his latest entry:

What does the present surge of linkage oversell tell us? As Americans increasingly experience the Middle East up close, they learn the region’s complexities, its histories, its many fault lines. And the more they know, the less they believe in the supposed magical power of the “peace process” to help fix anything else. The “peace process” junkies can only hope that an inexperienced president, who knows too little of the world, might give them another shot if he thought it would help to solve other conflicts, where America has troops on the line.

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On Joe Klein

It is the view of Time magazine’s leading political columnist, and a former friendly acquaintance of mine, that bloggers on this site are more dangerous and threatening to the future of the world than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Our intention in highlighting the words spoken by Iran’s president, he says, is to scare his parents in Florida and thereby achieve our vicious foreign policy aims. And he does not wish to accuse us of dual loyalty, but, darn it, he just can’t help himself, as he does it three times.

I wish I were parodying him. I am not.

He says he’s not anti-Semitic but rather, anti-neoconservative. To say it is a badge of honor to stand in opposition to a person as manifestly intellectually unstable as Joe Klein has become is to understate the case. As for his use of classic anti-Semitic canards, I am happy to report that the Jewish people will long survive Joe Klein.

The question is, will Time Magazine?

It is the view of Time magazine’s leading political columnist, and a former friendly acquaintance of mine, that bloggers on this site are more dangerous and threatening to the future of the world than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Our intention in highlighting the words spoken by Iran’s president, he says, is to scare his parents in Florida and thereby achieve our vicious foreign policy aims. And he does not wish to accuse us of dual loyalty, but, darn it, he just can’t help himself, as he does it three times.

I wish I were parodying him. I am not.

He says he’s not anti-Semitic but rather, anti-neoconservative. To say it is a badge of honor to stand in opposition to a person as manifestly intellectually unstable as Joe Klein has become is to understate the case. As for his use of classic anti-Semitic canards, I am happy to report that the Jewish people will long survive Joe Klein.

The question is, will Time Magazine?

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We Know Who You Are

Ben Smith has the scoop on the pleas from Hillary Clinton supporters who want a roll call at the Convention, and the threats and rage coming back from the DNC bigwigs. The latters’ message: get on board, darn it. And we know where you live. Really. My favorite email to an aggrieved Hillary supporter is from Donna Brazille (gosh, she seems so nice on TV):

Stop the hate. Not sure if you know, but we are keeping copies of all these emails in the archives. Yes, you are not going to get away with pretending to be for Hillary. She is a leader of the Dem party.

And in case you thought the Democrats were the party of tolerance there is this one from a California delegate:

Good for you, when the fascists come in the middle of the night to take you to a concentration camp, remember how you voted. Take me off your whiner list . . .then tell them to stop calling me telling me that they are going to vote for mccain. i am would rather vote for a rabid dog than any Fascist republican like mccain. read the declaration of independence.

Well, let’s count the ironies and mega-gaffes. First, imagine a Republican official talking this way to someone in his party. The New York Times would have the headline: “GOP Civil War!” But not so much as a peep, no stories in the major newspapers or networks I can recall, about this issue in particular (the roll call) or, more generally, the stewing Hillary supporters.

Second, everyone thought Hillary was the mean one. Let’s be clear: Obama and his minions didn’t play beanbag to get where they are in Illinois politics and beyond, and they aren’t about to tolerate any flak. So let’s get over the Kumbaya version of Obama’s inclusiveness and transparency. They will stiff the press, club the opposition and take names and addresses. New politics? Yeah, right.

And finally, are these people insane? Who sends emails like that in this day and age? They think the recipients, who already hate them, aren’t going to send them around? It’s one thing to be a bully, quite another to be an obvious and dim one.

As for those Hillary Clinton supporters, they should know: you can always vote for Hillary as a write-in. And no one will keep your name on file.

Ben Smith has the scoop on the pleas from Hillary Clinton supporters who want a roll call at the Convention, and the threats and rage coming back from the DNC bigwigs. The latters’ message: get on board, darn it. And we know where you live. Really. My favorite email to an aggrieved Hillary supporter is from Donna Brazille (gosh, she seems so nice on TV):

Stop the hate. Not sure if you know, but we are keeping copies of all these emails in the archives. Yes, you are not going to get away with pretending to be for Hillary. She is a leader of the Dem party.

And in case you thought the Democrats were the party of tolerance there is this one from a California delegate:

Good for you, when the fascists come in the middle of the night to take you to a concentration camp, remember how you voted. Take me off your whiner list . . .then tell them to stop calling me telling me that they are going to vote for mccain. i am would rather vote for a rabid dog than any Fascist republican like mccain. read the declaration of independence.

Well, let’s count the ironies and mega-gaffes. First, imagine a Republican official talking this way to someone in his party. The New York Times would have the headline: “GOP Civil War!” But not so much as a peep, no stories in the major newspapers or networks I can recall, about this issue in particular (the roll call) or, more generally, the stewing Hillary supporters.

Second, everyone thought Hillary was the mean one. Let’s be clear: Obama and his minions didn’t play beanbag to get where they are in Illinois politics and beyond, and they aren’t about to tolerate any flak. So let’s get over the Kumbaya version of Obama’s inclusiveness and transparency. They will stiff the press, club the opposition and take names and addresses. New politics? Yeah, right.

And finally, are these people insane? Who sends emails like that in this day and age? They think the recipients, who already hate them, aren’t going to send them around? It’s one thing to be a bully, quite another to be an obvious and dim one.

As for those Hillary Clinton supporters, they should know: you can always vote for Hillary as a write-in. And no one will keep your name on file.

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Lessons Learned

The Wall Street Journal — in its never-ending quest to warn voters of the danger and folly of universal health care shemes — goes after RomneyCare and an editorial by its namesake which appeared on the Journal’s own opinion pages. (Well no one ever accused the Journal’s editors of pulling their punches.) Aside from perhaps warning John McCain off Mitt Romney as a potential VP pick, the Journal does its best to remind us that universal health coverage is never universal and it’s very, very costly. The editors explain that more people are covered now in Massachusetts, but that’s not cause for celebration:

Most of this growth in coverage has instead come via a new state entitlement called Commonwealth Care. This provides subsidized insurance to those under 300% of the poverty level, or about $63,000 for a family of four. About 174,000 have joined this low- or no-cost program, a trend that is likely to speed up. As this public option gets overwhelmed, budget gaskets are blowing everywhere. Mr. Patrick had already bumped up this year’s spending to $869 million, $144 million over its original estimate. Liberals duly noted that these tax hikes are necessary because enrollment in Commonwealth Care is much higher than anticipated. But of course more people will have coverage if government gives it to them for free. The problem is that someone has to pay for it. Thus the extra tab of $129 million, which may need to go higher because it relies on uncertain federal funds from Medicaid.

The perverse silver lining: the state is beginning to recognize just how expensive all the state required (and politically inspired) insurance mandates may be.

So what do we learn here? That even a well-intentioned effort to vastly expand government control and regulation of health care comes at a very steep price with, at best, mixed results. McCain has a darn good alternative, a market-based plan, he could talk more about. But at the very least, he should warn voters that if RomneyCare was expensive and ineffective wait until they see ObamaCare.

The Wall Street Journal — in its never-ending quest to warn voters of the danger and folly of universal health care shemes — goes after RomneyCare and an editorial by its namesake which appeared on the Journal’s own opinion pages. (Well no one ever accused the Journal’s editors of pulling their punches.) Aside from perhaps warning John McCain off Mitt Romney as a potential VP pick, the Journal does its best to remind us that universal health coverage is never universal and it’s very, very costly. The editors explain that more people are covered now in Massachusetts, but that’s not cause for celebration:

Most of this growth in coverage has instead come via a new state entitlement called Commonwealth Care. This provides subsidized insurance to those under 300% of the poverty level, or about $63,000 for a family of four. About 174,000 have joined this low- or no-cost program, a trend that is likely to speed up. As this public option gets overwhelmed, budget gaskets are blowing everywhere. Mr. Patrick had already bumped up this year’s spending to $869 million, $144 million over its original estimate. Liberals duly noted that these tax hikes are necessary because enrollment in Commonwealth Care is much higher than anticipated. But of course more people will have coverage if government gives it to them for free. The problem is that someone has to pay for it. Thus the extra tab of $129 million, which may need to go higher because it relies on uncertain federal funds from Medicaid.

The perverse silver lining: the state is beginning to recognize just how expensive all the state required (and politically inspired) insurance mandates may be.

So what do we learn here? That even a well-intentioned effort to vastly expand government control and regulation of health care comes at a very steep price with, at best, mixed results. McCain has a darn good alternative, a market-based plan, he could talk more about. But at the very least, he should warn voters that if RomneyCare was expensive and ineffective wait until they see ObamaCare.

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Progressive Broadcasting Service: Unfair and Unbalanced

Numerous “Viewers Like You” and PBS ombudsman (who knew that such a job even existed?) Michael Getler are deeply perturbed about my July 21 appearance on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. I was appearing as an informal McCain adviser to debate an informal Obama adviser, Larry Korb, about Iraq. According to Getler (and viewers who wrote in to express their outrage to PBS), the problem was that I got too much airtime at the expense of Korb and moderator Margaret Warner. “When it was over,” he complains, “Korb and Warner had been essentially ‘walked over’ by Boot, who rather thoroughly dominated — in terms of air time (more than 3-to-1 by my calculations) — the 10-minute discussion.”

No mention of the substance—for instance the fact that I spent part of my time trying, over Korb’s interruption, to set him straight when he tried to peddle that old canard about how the decline in violence in Iraq was attributable not to the surge (which he opposed) but to, of all things, the Democratic takeover of Congress in 2006 (which he supported). I eagerly await this ombudsman’s forthcoming report on the NewsHour last night which featured a discussion of Iraq by Peter Galbraith and Juan Cole—Left and Lefter. Of course, in the eyes of dedicated public television viewers, that’s no scandal. That’s fair and balanced coverage, PBS-style.

Numerous “Viewers Like You” and PBS ombudsman (who knew that such a job even existed?) Michael Getler are deeply perturbed about my July 21 appearance on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. I was appearing as an informal McCain adviser to debate an informal Obama adviser, Larry Korb, about Iraq. According to Getler (and viewers who wrote in to express their outrage to PBS), the problem was that I got too much airtime at the expense of Korb and moderator Margaret Warner. “When it was over,” he complains, “Korb and Warner had been essentially ‘walked over’ by Boot, who rather thoroughly dominated — in terms of air time (more than 3-to-1 by my calculations) — the 10-minute discussion.”

No mention of the substance—for instance the fact that I spent part of my time trying, over Korb’s interruption, to set him straight when he tried to peddle that old canard about how the decline in violence in Iraq was attributable not to the surge (which he opposed) but to, of all things, the Democratic takeover of Congress in 2006 (which he supported). I eagerly await this ombudsman’s forthcoming report on the NewsHour last night which featured a discussion of Iraq by Peter Galbraith and Juan Cole—Left and Lefter. Of course, in the eyes of dedicated public television viewers, that’s no scandal. That’s fair and balanced coverage, PBS-style.

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Bush’s Remarkable Homelessness Legacy

Today in the New York Times, Rachel L. Swarns yawns through the following lede as if she were reporting on the amount of old subway tokens not yet redeemed:

The number of chronically homeless people living in the nation’s streets and shelters has dropped by about 30 percent – to 123,833 from 175,914 – between 2005 and 2007, Bush administration officials said on Tuesday.

A 30 percent drop in chronic homelessness — not bad for a period of certain financial catastrophe, is it? Not too shabby a legacy for an uncaring administration bent on global dominance at the expense of American well-being, huh? And make no mistake, this is the result of a Bush administration initiative. The “Housing First” policy was championed in 2005 by Bush appointee Philip F. Mangano, head of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. The policy allows homeless people to stay in apartments rent-free while they find work. As they get on their feet they pay rent in rising increments.

Here’s how the Times strains to describe the implementation of the policy:

But the officials attribute much of the decline to the “housing first” strategy that has been promoted by the Bush administration and Congress and increasingly adopted across the country.

No matter how unwieldy the result, Swarns can’t let Bush have the credit for introducing the program. Here again:

Mr. Culhane said that Congress and the Bush administration has pushed local communities to focus on finding solutions . . .

Anyway, sorry I forgot the script. Never mind 50,000 fewer chronicly homeless Americans. The country is in ruins, on the verge of collapse due to the increasing gap between single mothers working two jobs and Bush’s rich oil friends. This is our time; this is our moment. Hope, change and all that jazz.

Today in the New York Times, Rachel L. Swarns yawns through the following lede as if she were reporting on the amount of old subway tokens not yet redeemed:

The number of chronically homeless people living in the nation’s streets and shelters has dropped by about 30 percent – to 123,833 from 175,914 – between 2005 and 2007, Bush administration officials said on Tuesday.

A 30 percent drop in chronic homelessness — not bad for a period of certain financial catastrophe, is it? Not too shabby a legacy for an uncaring administration bent on global dominance at the expense of American well-being, huh? And make no mistake, this is the result of a Bush administration initiative. The “Housing First” policy was championed in 2005 by Bush appointee Philip F. Mangano, head of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. The policy allows homeless people to stay in apartments rent-free while they find work. As they get on their feet they pay rent in rising increments.

Here’s how the Times strains to describe the implementation of the policy:

But the officials attribute much of the decline to the “housing first” strategy that has been promoted by the Bush administration and Congress and increasingly adopted across the country.

No matter how unwieldy the result, Swarns can’t let Bush have the credit for introducing the program. Here again:

Mr. Culhane said that Congress and the Bush administration has pushed local communities to focus on finding solutions . . .

Anyway, sorry I forgot the script. Never mind 50,000 fewer chronicly homeless Americans. The country is in ruins, on the verge of collapse due to the increasing gap between single mothers working two jobs and Bush’s rich oil friends. This is our time; this is our moment. Hope, change and all that jazz.

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Approaching Normalcy

General David Petraeus tells USA Today that overall violence in Iraq is declining toward “normal” levels. “If you could reduce these sensational attacks further, I think you are almost approaching a level of normal or latent violence,” Petraeus said on Monday. “The fact that the levels of violence have come down so significantly and stayed down now for some two-and-a-half months … indicates there is a degree of durability.”

According to the story, there have been six U.S. combat deaths so far in July. The lowest monthly number was eight in May 2003, slightly more than a month after the invasion. Daily attacks during the past two months have averaged about 25 to 30, down from about 160 to 170 a little more than a year ago, Petraeus said. In addition, of course, Iraqi civilian deaths have dropped. Iraqi security forces have also been growing in numbers and effectiveness as threats from al-Qaeda and Shiite militias have decreased, Petraeus said. About 70% of Iraq’s combat battalions are leading operations in their areas.

“There is a degree of momentum across the board,” according to Petraeus.

At the same time, Petraeus, along with Ambassador Ryan Crocker, have continually and rightly insisted that progress is fragile and reversible, and that al Qaeda is still lethal. We saw that again on Monday, when suicide attacks in Iraq reportedly killed more than 50 Iraqis. “Al-Qaeda, although significantly degraded … still can strap a suicide vest on an individual and push him or her into a crowd of Iraqis,” Petraeus said. Female suicide vest bombers, who were responsible for Monday’s attacks, are particularly difficult to prevent, especially in that culture. And so Max is right to warn against the wild mood swings of those like Joe Klein, who once believed the Iraq war couldn’t be won and now argues it cannot, at this point, be lost.

He and those who share his views are wrong on both counts.

In fact, the war was winnable even at its low point, just as we can undo the enormous progress we’ve made. We have in place a formula for success in Iraq; now our task as a nation is to demonstrate the necessary resolve to see the war through to a successful outcome – something that is finally within reach.

General David Petraeus tells USA Today that overall violence in Iraq is declining toward “normal” levels. “If you could reduce these sensational attacks further, I think you are almost approaching a level of normal or latent violence,” Petraeus said on Monday. “The fact that the levels of violence have come down so significantly and stayed down now for some two-and-a-half months … indicates there is a degree of durability.”

According to the story, there have been six U.S. combat deaths so far in July. The lowest monthly number was eight in May 2003, slightly more than a month after the invasion. Daily attacks during the past two months have averaged about 25 to 30, down from about 160 to 170 a little more than a year ago, Petraeus said. In addition, of course, Iraqi civilian deaths have dropped. Iraqi security forces have also been growing in numbers and effectiveness as threats from al-Qaeda and Shiite militias have decreased, Petraeus said. About 70% of Iraq’s combat battalions are leading operations in their areas.

“There is a degree of momentum across the board,” according to Petraeus.

At the same time, Petraeus, along with Ambassador Ryan Crocker, have continually and rightly insisted that progress is fragile and reversible, and that al Qaeda is still lethal. We saw that again on Monday, when suicide attacks in Iraq reportedly killed more than 50 Iraqis. “Al-Qaeda, although significantly degraded … still can strap a suicide vest on an individual and push him or her into a crowd of Iraqis,” Petraeus said. Female suicide vest bombers, who were responsible for Monday’s attacks, are particularly difficult to prevent, especially in that culture. And so Max is right to warn against the wild mood swings of those like Joe Klein, who once believed the Iraq war couldn’t be won and now argues it cannot, at this point, be lost.

He and those who share his views are wrong on both counts.

In fact, the war was winnable even at its low point, just as we can undo the enormous progress we’ve made. We have in place a formula for success in Iraq; now our task as a nation is to demonstrate the necessary resolve to see the war through to a successful outcome – something that is finally within reach.

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Oh, Those Radical Kids

In February, a Gallup poll of 50,000 Muslims from around the world made headlines by revealing that only 7 percent of those surveyed were radical. How interesting then to contrast those findings with the London’s Center for Social Cohesion’s recent study of young British Muslims that found nearly one third of British Muslim students “support killing in the name of religion.” What’s more, “60 percent of active members of campus Islamic societies said such killings can be justified.”

A jump from 7 percent worldwide to 60 percent among British campus organizations is very telling. As enthusiasm for radical Islam wanes among Asia’s youth, the spirit of jihad will pose its most formidable challenge in the Muslim enclaves of the West. In the Muslim Middle East, young people have front row seats for the various disasters engendered by radical regimes: the confiscation of personal property, the denial of basic freedoms, the torture and death of loved ones. Moreover, with Iraq as an infant democracy, they also see a better regional alternative. In Europe, young Muslims are radicalized in cushy ghettos where they benefit from no-questions-asked, cradle-to-grave Western welfare and are free to dream of exotic wars and restored caliphates.

This detail from the study was actually encouraging:

Some 79 percent of Muslim students polled said they respected Jews.

Frankly, that seems like a higher number than you’d find in the non-Muslim population – including Jews.

In February, a Gallup poll of 50,000 Muslims from around the world made headlines by revealing that only 7 percent of those surveyed were radical. How interesting then to contrast those findings with the London’s Center for Social Cohesion’s recent study of young British Muslims that found nearly one third of British Muslim students “support killing in the name of religion.” What’s more, “60 percent of active members of campus Islamic societies said such killings can be justified.”

A jump from 7 percent worldwide to 60 percent among British campus organizations is very telling. As enthusiasm for radical Islam wanes among Asia’s youth, the spirit of jihad will pose its most formidable challenge in the Muslim enclaves of the West. In the Muslim Middle East, young people have front row seats for the various disasters engendered by radical regimes: the confiscation of personal property, the denial of basic freedoms, the torture and death of loved ones. Moreover, with Iraq as an infant democracy, they also see a better regional alternative. In Europe, young Muslims are radicalized in cushy ghettos where they benefit from no-questions-asked, cradle-to-grave Western welfare and are free to dream of exotic wars and restored caliphates.

This detail from the study was actually encouraging:

Some 79 percent of Muslim students polled said they respected Jews.

Frankly, that seems like a higher number than you’d find in the non-Muslim population – including Jews.

Read Less




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