Commentary Magazine


Posts For: August 8, 2008

The Edwards Abomination

What more can one say? There are of course more questions than answers (The biggest: if the affair was over in 2006 what was he doing at the hotel?) He has piled insult upon insult. (Like a bizarre tort exam in law school, you can hardly count all the negligent and intentional misdeeds and resulting injuries.) But those sordid details and the intrigue about what goes on in a marriage, especially one tormented by imminent mortality, I leave to others. His career is over and his moral decay is apparent. ( I share this take and am unimpressed by his concession that he is egocentric and narcissistic. We already took judicial notice of that one.)

Is there anything beyond the tale of his personal undoing to be learned? For starters, we learn and relearn, forget and learn again that verbal acuity does not translate into high morals. Self-reports of virtue are unreliable. But we already knew that. Despite a continual stream of evidence to the contrary, we just don’t want to believe that people can behave this horridly. (Or that other people can apparently rationalize their colleagues’ conduct, no matter how terrible it is.) In case we needed it, this should serve as one more warning to be wary of sancimonious politicians whose self-regard knows no bounds (e.g. “I had the affair when she was in remission” is supposed to make us think better of him?).

And there is the issue, of course, of the media –what was declared less than newsworthy one day (He’s not a candidate! It’s a private matter!) suddenly becomes front page news the next when the confession proves too juicy to ignore. Once again we know that reality, that is hard facts known and knowable, don’t coincide with the slice and dice version of media-reality served up by mainstream outlets. (They don’t tell us stuff. And they pretend we’re dim and don’t know.) That’s a good reminder, I think. People know in their bones that the media isn’t giving them all the facts and that they should be wary of the ones the media chooses to present. Viewers and readers beware.

But at bottom we have the umpteenth example of a famous politician behaving with absurd recklessness at the expense of family, followers and those he seeks to serve. The take away is not that “they’re all rotten” (although the percentage keeps going up, doesn’t it?); it is that we should remember why we don’t put unlimited power or trust in any one individual. And we should continue to insist that everyone who runs for office, especially high office, deserves a complete and total vetting of their medical, professional and indeed personal life. It all matters.

What more can one say? There are of course more questions than answers (The biggest: if the affair was over in 2006 what was he doing at the hotel?) He has piled insult upon insult. (Like a bizarre tort exam in law school, you can hardly count all the negligent and intentional misdeeds and resulting injuries.) But those sordid details and the intrigue about what goes on in a marriage, especially one tormented by imminent mortality, I leave to others. His career is over and his moral decay is apparent. ( I share this take and am unimpressed by his concession that he is egocentric and narcissistic. We already took judicial notice of that one.)

Is there anything beyond the tale of his personal undoing to be learned? For starters, we learn and relearn, forget and learn again that verbal acuity does not translate into high morals. Self-reports of virtue are unreliable. But we already knew that. Despite a continual stream of evidence to the contrary, we just don’t want to believe that people can behave this horridly. (Or that other people can apparently rationalize their colleagues’ conduct, no matter how terrible it is.) In case we needed it, this should serve as one more warning to be wary of sancimonious politicians whose self-regard knows no bounds (e.g. “I had the affair when she was in remission” is supposed to make us think better of him?).

And there is the issue, of course, of the media –what was declared less than newsworthy one day (He’s not a candidate! It’s a private matter!) suddenly becomes front page news the next when the confession proves too juicy to ignore. Once again we know that reality, that is hard facts known and knowable, don’t coincide with the slice and dice version of media-reality served up by mainstream outlets. (They don’t tell us stuff. And they pretend we’re dim and don’t know.) That’s a good reminder, I think. People know in their bones that the media isn’t giving them all the facts and that they should be wary of the ones the media chooses to present. Viewers and readers beware.

But at bottom we have the umpteenth example of a famous politician behaving with absurd recklessness at the expense of family, followers and those he seeks to serve. The take away is not that “they’re all rotten” (although the percentage keeps going up, doesn’t it?); it is that we should remember why we don’t put unlimited power or trust in any one individual. And we should continue to insist that everyone who runs for office, especially high office, deserves a complete and total vetting of their medical, professional and indeed personal life. It all matters.

Read Less

Commentary of the Day

Seth Halpern on David Hazony:

Israel has no government, no clear public consensus on much of anything including even the validity of its founding principles, is beset by violent enemies and routinely vilified around the world, yet somehow not only survives but prospers. One needs to suspend disbelief when approaching Israel as one would when viewing a movie or a play. There’s an alternate reality at work. In such circumstances modesty gives way to speechlessness.

Seth Halpern on David Hazony:

Israel has no government, no clear public consensus on much of anything including even the validity of its founding principles, is beset by violent enemies and routinely vilified around the world, yet somehow not only survives but prospers. One needs to suspend disbelief when approaching Israel as one would when viewing a movie or a play. There’s an alternate reality at work. In such circumstances modesty gives way to speechlessness.

Read Less

“Get out of Georgia”

Russian tanks and airplanes invaded the South Ossetia region of Georgia today.  Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili refused to tell CNN that his pro-Western nation is at war with Moscow, but it is.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said the attack was intended to protect Russians in South Ossetia.  The Kremlin’s troops have been stationed in the breakaway region pursuant to a 1992 agreement between Tbilisi and Moscow.  Georgia, in the last few days, has launched military operations in the area, which had declared independence early last decade.  The international community does not recognize the declaration.

“All sides should bring an immediate end to the violence and engage in direct talks to resolve this matter peacefully,” said White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe.  I’m sorry, but that’s not good enough.  The history of the underlying dispute is exceedingly complex, but the key to understanding what happened today is not.  Russia has committed an act of aggression.  The West has to force the withdrawal of Moscow’s troops.  By now, we know what happens when aggressors are allowed to run free.

President Bush and Prime Minister Putin are, at this moment, in Beijing for the Olympics.  So it should be easy for our leader to tell the Russian, in public as well as in private, to get out of Georgia.  And this as well: the United States is prepared to cut off diplomatic relations, end trade, and use military force to protect this young democracy.

Russian tanks and airplanes invaded the South Ossetia region of Georgia today.  Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili refused to tell CNN that his pro-Western nation is at war with Moscow, but it is.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said the attack was intended to protect Russians in South Ossetia.  The Kremlin’s troops have been stationed in the breakaway region pursuant to a 1992 agreement between Tbilisi and Moscow.  Georgia, in the last few days, has launched military operations in the area, which had declared independence early last decade.  The international community does not recognize the declaration.

“All sides should bring an immediate end to the violence and engage in direct talks to resolve this matter peacefully,” said White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe.  I’m sorry, but that’s not good enough.  The history of the underlying dispute is exceedingly complex, but the key to understanding what happened today is not.  Russia has committed an act of aggression.  The West has to force the withdrawal of Moscow’s troops.  By now, we know what happens when aggressors are allowed to run free.

President Bush and Prime Minister Putin are, at this moment, in Beijing for the Olympics.  So it should be easy for our leader to tell the Russian, in public as well as in private, to get out of Georgia.  And this as well: the United States is prepared to cut off diplomatic relations, end trade, and use military force to protect this young democracy.

Read Less

Correcting the Course

It’s taken a while but the Bush administration is slowly and belatedly starting to correct some of the deficiencies which have cost us so much in the post-9/11 wars. The best known and most successful course correction was the surge in Iraq. Now in Afghanistan, Secretary of Defense Bob Gates is finally proposing to increase the size of the Afghan National Army from fewer than 70,000 today to a projected level of 120,000 in five years. That is a badly needed expansion given that the Afghan army has to police a country larger than Iraq with a force of less than one-third the size of the Iraqi army.

Just as important, Gates is adjusting the convoluted command relationships in Afghanistan by giving one general–General Dan McNeill–authority over both NATO and U.S. forces. There are other steps that still need to be taken, including sending at least three more U.S. brigades, but that will be easier to do next year now that troop levels are falling in Iraq.

Receiving less notice (in fact no notice at all), but potentially of great long-term significance, was the overdue decision by Congress in July to give $75 million, as part of the supplemental appropriation for Afghanistan and Iraq, to the State Department’s Office of the Coordinator for Stabilization and Reconstruction. This office was created a few years ago to provide the civilian component in places like Afghanistan and Iraq so the armed forces won’t have to do all the heavy lifting. But it couldn’t do much because Congress wouldn’t fund it. Now the office, in cooperation with the U.S. Agency for International Development, will begin fielding a Civilian Response Corps of federal experts who can deploy abroad. A dedicated corps of 100 civilians will be available on 48 hours’ notice. A standby component of 500 federal employees who have other full-time jobs will be available within 45 days.

The State Department wants another $250 million to significantly expand the numbers of the Civilian Response Corps and to create a Civilian Reserve Corps of people who are not federal employees but, like military reservists, could be summoned from civilian life in an emergency.

Congress should fork over the money ASAP. However unpopular “nation building” is, it’s a bargain when done by civilian experts working in cooperation with indigenous allies. It is infinitely cheaper in blood and treasure than sending large numbers of American troops. And even if we do choose to send troops, the kind of expertise embodied in the Civilian Response Corps can help to avoid some of the mistakes which have cost us so much in Iraq and Afghanistan. The biggest fans of this expanding civilian capacity are in the armed forces, because they know that unless they get some help they will have to carry the entire burden in the future.

It’s taken a while but the Bush administration is slowly and belatedly starting to correct some of the deficiencies which have cost us so much in the post-9/11 wars. The best known and most successful course correction was the surge in Iraq. Now in Afghanistan, Secretary of Defense Bob Gates is finally proposing to increase the size of the Afghan National Army from fewer than 70,000 today to a projected level of 120,000 in five years. That is a badly needed expansion given that the Afghan army has to police a country larger than Iraq with a force of less than one-third the size of the Iraqi army.

Just as important, Gates is adjusting the convoluted command relationships in Afghanistan by giving one general–General Dan McNeill–authority over both NATO and U.S. forces. There are other steps that still need to be taken, including sending at least three more U.S. brigades, but that will be easier to do next year now that troop levels are falling in Iraq.

Receiving less notice (in fact no notice at all), but potentially of great long-term significance, was the overdue decision by Congress in July to give $75 million, as part of the supplemental appropriation for Afghanistan and Iraq, to the State Department’s Office of the Coordinator for Stabilization and Reconstruction. This office was created a few years ago to provide the civilian component in places like Afghanistan and Iraq so the armed forces won’t have to do all the heavy lifting. But it couldn’t do much because Congress wouldn’t fund it. Now the office, in cooperation with the U.S. Agency for International Development, will begin fielding a Civilian Response Corps of federal experts who can deploy abroad. A dedicated corps of 100 civilians will be available on 48 hours’ notice. A standby component of 500 federal employees who have other full-time jobs will be available within 45 days.

The State Department wants another $250 million to significantly expand the numbers of the Civilian Response Corps and to create a Civilian Reserve Corps of people who are not federal employees but, like military reservists, could be summoned from civilian life in an emergency.

Congress should fork over the money ASAP. However unpopular “nation building” is, it’s a bargain when done by civilian experts working in cooperation with indigenous allies. It is infinitely cheaper in blood and treasure than sending large numbers of American troops. And even if we do choose to send troops, the kind of expertise embodied in the Civilian Response Corps can help to avoid some of the mistakes which have cost us so much in Iraq and Afghanistan. The biggest fans of this expanding civilian capacity are in the armed forces, because they know that unless they get some help they will have to carry the entire burden in the future.

Read Less

What More Do You Need To Know?

As John pointed out here, “Successful politicians aren’t just good at what they do; they’re lucky.” Obama’s being on a Hawaii vacation when Russia attacks Georgia is a stroke of luck for John McCain. (Calm down, calm down. I’m not saying that Russia attacking Georgia is lucky for anyone. It’s the timing of Obama’s trip that’s fortuitous for the McCain camp.) For starters, it creates an (undeserved) correlation between global crisis and a lounging Obama. This dovetails exquisitely with McCain’s recent push to discredit Obama as a serious statesman. Also, the timing simply allows McCain to be the the most prepared with a comment, and McCain has capitalized on this opportunity. Here’s a brief statement from the Senator:

Russia should immediately and unconditionally cease its military operations and withdraw all forces from sovereign Georgian territory. What is most critical now is to avoid further confrontation between Russian and Georgian military forces. The consequences of Euro-Atlantic stability and security are grave. The government of Georgia has called for a cease fire and for a resumption of direct talks on South Ossetia with international mediators. The U.S. should immediately convene an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council to call on Russia to reverse course. The U.S. should immediately work with the E.U. and the OSCE to put diplomatic pressure on Russia to reverse this perilous course that it has chosen.

As that concise and specific statement demonstrates, successful politicians aren’t just lucky either. They’re informed and resolute. When the world goes kablooey, as it does from time to time, the difference between gibberish about world citizenship and the “consequences of Euro-Atlantic stability and security” comes into sharp focus. Here is the vague hash Obama has come up with in response to Russian aggression:

I strongly condemn the outbreak of violence in Georgia, and urge an immediate end to armed conflict. Now is the time for Georgia and Russia to show restraint, and to avoid an escalation to full-scale war. Georgia’s territorial integrity must be respected.”

Obama called for direct talks among all sides and said the United States, U.N. Security Council and other parties should try to help bring about a peaceful resolution.

Forget all the ads, the videos, the talking points, and the accusations. Here’s what it comes down to: In a geopolitical crisis, you have one candidate with a handle on the specific players and their intentions, and ideas on specific ways to move forward; then you have another candidate who says parties “should try to help bring about a peaceful resolution.” There’s your choice.

As John pointed out here, “Successful politicians aren’t just good at what they do; they’re lucky.” Obama’s being on a Hawaii vacation when Russia attacks Georgia is a stroke of luck for John McCain. (Calm down, calm down. I’m not saying that Russia attacking Georgia is lucky for anyone. It’s the timing of Obama’s trip that’s fortuitous for the McCain camp.) For starters, it creates an (undeserved) correlation between global crisis and a lounging Obama. This dovetails exquisitely with McCain’s recent push to discredit Obama as a serious statesman. Also, the timing simply allows McCain to be the the most prepared with a comment, and McCain has capitalized on this opportunity. Here’s a brief statement from the Senator:

Russia should immediately and unconditionally cease its military operations and withdraw all forces from sovereign Georgian territory. What is most critical now is to avoid further confrontation between Russian and Georgian military forces. The consequences of Euro-Atlantic stability and security are grave. The government of Georgia has called for a cease fire and for a resumption of direct talks on South Ossetia with international mediators. The U.S. should immediately convene an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council to call on Russia to reverse course. The U.S. should immediately work with the E.U. and the OSCE to put diplomatic pressure on Russia to reverse this perilous course that it has chosen.

As that concise and specific statement demonstrates, successful politicians aren’t just lucky either. They’re informed and resolute. When the world goes kablooey, as it does from time to time, the difference between gibberish about world citizenship and the “consequences of Euro-Atlantic stability and security” comes into sharp focus. Here is the vague hash Obama has come up with in response to Russian aggression:

I strongly condemn the outbreak of violence in Georgia, and urge an immediate end to armed conflict. Now is the time for Georgia and Russia to show restraint, and to avoid an escalation to full-scale war. Georgia’s territorial integrity must be respected.”

Obama called for direct talks among all sides and said the United States, U.N. Security Council and other parties should try to help bring about a peaceful resolution.

Forget all the ads, the videos, the talking points, and the accusations. Here’s what it comes down to: In a geopolitical crisis, you have one candidate with a handle on the specific players and their intentions, and ideas on specific ways to move forward; then you have another candidate who says parties “should try to help bring about a peaceful resolution.” There’s your choice.

Read Less

What Are They Doing?

It is a Friday in August and the Olympics are underway. But the good old days when politics took a breather are long gone. Barack Obama is doing his best imitation of an overconfident candidate and taking off for nine days in Hawaii. (Is this a good idea? Well at least he’s not doing a swank fund-raiser with bigwig donors. Oh, never mind.)

Back on the trail, John McCain continues to hustle for attention and votes in the heartland. (The line about tire inflation being a “public service announcement and not an energy policy” is remarkably on point. Tire inflation is fine, but it’s no excuse for rejecting a try-everything energy plan. Ask Paris Hilton–she knows.)

I think it’s fair to say that the “celebrity” theme isn’t going away anytime soon. The latest John McCain ad makes two points: Obama is an out-of-touch star and he’s going to raise taxes. What is clear is that just as he did on energy McCain thinks he can win on the merits. Drilling beats non-drilling. And low taxes beat high taxes. That’s not rocket science. But then Repbulicans are dumb according to Paul Krugman so maybe the American people in their infinite wisdom will find that protectionism and hikes during an economic downturn on income, corporate, capital gains, payroll and estate taxes are a grand idea.

And finally, following Russia’s actions in Georgia (and in contrast to the “everyone just calm down as Georgia’s sovereignty is being ignored” comment from the White House), McCain calls on Russia to “immediately and unconditionally cease its military operations and withdraw all forces from sovereign Georgian territory.” His statement also included calls for the EU and and UN Security Council (good luck with that) to pressure Russia to reverse course, for NATO to assess its options and for a peacekeeping force in South Ossetia. Obama? Sounds like he’d get along fine with the State Department: he’s urging “calm.”

Well, if McCain is going to insist on campaigning hard, sounding resolute on national security and beating the energy drum, then the next nine days might be good ones for him. Nah, the race is already over. You saw the chair, right?

It is a Friday in August and the Olympics are underway. But the good old days when politics took a breather are long gone. Barack Obama is doing his best imitation of an overconfident candidate and taking off for nine days in Hawaii. (Is this a good idea? Well at least he’s not doing a swank fund-raiser with bigwig donors. Oh, never mind.)

Back on the trail, John McCain continues to hustle for attention and votes in the heartland. (The line about tire inflation being a “public service announcement and not an energy policy” is remarkably on point. Tire inflation is fine, but it’s no excuse for rejecting a try-everything energy plan. Ask Paris Hilton–she knows.)

I think it’s fair to say that the “celebrity” theme isn’t going away anytime soon. The latest John McCain ad makes two points: Obama is an out-of-touch star and he’s going to raise taxes. What is clear is that just as he did on energy McCain thinks he can win on the merits. Drilling beats non-drilling. And low taxes beat high taxes. That’s not rocket science. But then Repbulicans are dumb according to Paul Krugman so maybe the American people in their infinite wisdom will find that protectionism and hikes during an economic downturn on income, corporate, capital gains, payroll and estate taxes are a grand idea.

And finally, following Russia’s actions in Georgia (and in contrast to the “everyone just calm down as Georgia’s sovereignty is being ignored” comment from the White House), McCain calls on Russia to “immediately and unconditionally cease its military operations and withdraw all forces from sovereign Georgian territory.” His statement also included calls for the EU and and UN Security Council (good luck with that) to pressure Russia to reverse course, for NATO to assess its options and for a peacekeeping force in South Ossetia. Obama? Sounds like he’d get along fine with the State Department: he’s urging “calm.”

Well, if McCain is going to insist on campaigning hard, sounding resolute on national security and beating the energy drum, then the next nine days might be good ones for him. Nah, the race is already over. You saw the chair, right?

Read Less

Save Sallah Choudhury

The Jerusalem Post‘s Michael Freund offers the following human-rights story, one unlikely to make it to the mainstream media here. A Bangladeshi newspaper editor, Sallah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, faces the death penalty for publicly calling for reconciliation between Muslims and Jews and for attempting — God forbid — to attend a conference of the Hebrew Writers Association in Tel Aviv. Worth a read.

The Jerusalem Post‘s Michael Freund offers the following human-rights story, one unlikely to make it to the mainstream media here. A Bangladeshi newspaper editor, Sallah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, faces the death penalty for publicly calling for reconciliation between Muslims and Jews and for attempting — God forbid — to attend a conference of the Hebrew Writers Association in Tel Aviv. Worth a read.

Read Less

Paris Hilton Should Be Speaker

Charles Krauthammer identifies the nub of the energy matter: the Democrats have no logical rationale for opposing drilling along with other measures. He writes:

This is bizarre. By any reasonable calculation of annual tire-inflation and tuneup savings, the Outer Continental Shelf holds nearly 100 times as much oil. As for oil shale, also under federal moratorium, after a thousand years of driving with Obama-inflated tires and Obama-tuned engines, we would still have saved only one-fifth the oil shale available in the United States. But forget the math. Why is this issue either/or? Who’s against properly inflated tires? Let’s start a national campaign, Cuban-style, with giant venceremos posters lining the highways. (“Inflate your tires. Victory or death!”) Why must there be a choice between encouraging conservation and increasing supply? The logical answer is obvious: Do both.

(I think the posters are a distinct possibility, by the way.) But Krauthammer is right that this is the real triumph of ideology over common sense. Thankfully for the American people, something trumps ideology. He concludes:

The problem for the Democrats is that the argument for “do everything” is not rocket science. It is common sense. Which is why House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, surveying the political rubble resulting from her insistence on not even permitting drilling to come to a floor vote, has quietly told her members that they can save their skins and vote for drilling when the preelection Congress convenes next month. Pelosi says she wants to save the planet. Apparently saving her speakership comes first.

After all, John McCain, Paris Hilton and the American people have all figured out that when you are paying $4 a gallon, more energy sources are better than fewer. And so Pelosi along with Barack Obama eventually will have to go along with the crowd.

But at some point one wonders whether a pattern of odd judgment (no thanks to a successful surge, no thanks to more energy sources) by Obama (and his Democratic cohorts) suggests an addiction to ideology and an aversion to real world problem-solving. If not a fetish for ideological purity, perhaps what is finally in evidence is a lack of real experience (private or public sector, executive or legislative) in resolving knotty issues. Or maybe it is a lack of courage in standing up to extremists in his own party. Whatever it may be, it does not bode well for his ability to wrestle with much tougher problems ( e.g. Iran, entitlement reform) which the next president will face.

Charles Krauthammer identifies the nub of the energy matter: the Democrats have no logical rationale for opposing drilling along with other measures. He writes:

This is bizarre. By any reasonable calculation of annual tire-inflation and tuneup savings, the Outer Continental Shelf holds nearly 100 times as much oil. As for oil shale, also under federal moratorium, after a thousand years of driving with Obama-inflated tires and Obama-tuned engines, we would still have saved only one-fifth the oil shale available in the United States. But forget the math. Why is this issue either/or? Who’s against properly inflated tires? Let’s start a national campaign, Cuban-style, with giant venceremos posters lining the highways. (“Inflate your tires. Victory or death!”) Why must there be a choice between encouraging conservation and increasing supply? The logical answer is obvious: Do both.

(I think the posters are a distinct possibility, by the way.) But Krauthammer is right that this is the real triumph of ideology over common sense. Thankfully for the American people, something trumps ideology. He concludes:

The problem for the Democrats is that the argument for “do everything” is not rocket science. It is common sense. Which is why House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, surveying the political rubble resulting from her insistence on not even permitting drilling to come to a floor vote, has quietly told her members that they can save their skins and vote for drilling when the preelection Congress convenes next month. Pelosi says she wants to save the planet. Apparently saving her speakership comes first.

After all, John McCain, Paris Hilton and the American people have all figured out that when you are paying $4 a gallon, more energy sources are better than fewer. And so Pelosi along with Barack Obama eventually will have to go along with the crowd.

But at some point one wonders whether a pattern of odd judgment (no thanks to a successful surge, no thanks to more energy sources) by Obama (and his Democratic cohorts) suggests an addiction to ideology and an aversion to real world problem-solving. If not a fetish for ideological purity, perhaps what is finally in evidence is a lack of real experience (private or public sector, executive or legislative) in resolving knotty issues. Or maybe it is a lack of courage in standing up to extremists in his own party. Whatever it may be, it does not bode well for his ability to wrestle with much tougher problems ( e.g. Iran, entitlement reform) which the next president will face.

Read Less

Undeterred

In yesterday’s Jerusalem Post, Evelyn Gordon quotes the chief of Israel’s Shin Bet security service, Yuval Diskin, who has unleashed a scathing attack on the government’s failure to build Israel’s deterrence against Palestinian and Hezbollah terror. What’s interesting here is his distinction between physical deterrence (i.e., having a more powerful army than your enemy) and psychological deterrence (i.e., controlling the interpretation of events such that your enemies are too scared to attack). Here is the passage that caught my eye:

According to repeated polls, 70 to 85 percent of Palestinians believe that Israel quit Gaza due to anti-Israel terror. And with reason: In 2000, no Israeli government would have considered withdrawing from Gaza unilaterally. Yet a relatively low casualty level Gaza-based terror accounted for less than 15 percent (some 150 people) of Israel’s intifada-related fatalities over the ensuing five years sufficed to reverse this stance. Thus, clearly, terror worked.

Sheikh Hassan Yousef, who is widely regarded as Hamas’s leader in the West Bank, explained the thought process in an astonishingly frank interview in last Friday’s Ha’aretz. He himself, the interview implies, was unenthusiastic about suicide bombings. Yet Israel’s own actions proved the tactic so effective that its opponents within the organization were effectively silenced.

“Members of the Israeli peace camp, those who spoke about ending the occupation and withdrawing, pushed us forward in our decision to continue the suicide attacks,” he said. “The cracks in your steadfastness encouraged us greatly and proved that this method is very effective. Ariel Sharon’s plan for disengagement from the Gaza Strip was also a great achievement that resulted from our activities. For us, one of the best proofs of the rift that suicide attacks had created in Israeli society was the phenomenon of refusal to serve in the army. We thought this rift should be deepened, and use of the suicide bomber weapon became a matter of consensus in our organization.

Never mind the absurdity of the causal links: To suggest that low rates of service in the IDF are the result of suicide bombings is to fundamentally misunderstand how Israeli society works–Israelis are much more likely to serve during periods of terror and military threat, as proven by the remarkable rate of reserve participation during both the 2002 Operation Defensive Shield against the Palestinians, and during the 2006 Lebanon war. What is interesting is the fact that Palestinians perceive such a link–which in terms of deterrence is exactly what counts.

In yesterday’s Jerusalem Post, Evelyn Gordon quotes the chief of Israel’s Shin Bet security service, Yuval Diskin, who has unleashed a scathing attack on the government’s failure to build Israel’s deterrence against Palestinian and Hezbollah terror. What’s interesting here is his distinction between physical deterrence (i.e., having a more powerful army than your enemy) and psychological deterrence (i.e., controlling the interpretation of events such that your enemies are too scared to attack). Here is the passage that caught my eye:

According to repeated polls, 70 to 85 percent of Palestinians believe that Israel quit Gaza due to anti-Israel terror. And with reason: In 2000, no Israeli government would have considered withdrawing from Gaza unilaterally. Yet a relatively low casualty level Gaza-based terror accounted for less than 15 percent (some 150 people) of Israel’s intifada-related fatalities over the ensuing five years sufficed to reverse this stance. Thus, clearly, terror worked.

Sheikh Hassan Yousef, who is widely regarded as Hamas’s leader in the West Bank, explained the thought process in an astonishingly frank interview in last Friday’s Ha’aretz. He himself, the interview implies, was unenthusiastic about suicide bombings. Yet Israel’s own actions proved the tactic so effective that its opponents within the organization were effectively silenced.

“Members of the Israeli peace camp, those who spoke about ending the occupation and withdrawing, pushed us forward in our decision to continue the suicide attacks,” he said. “The cracks in your steadfastness encouraged us greatly and proved that this method is very effective. Ariel Sharon’s plan for disengagement from the Gaza Strip was also a great achievement that resulted from our activities. For us, one of the best proofs of the rift that suicide attacks had created in Israeli society was the phenomenon of refusal to serve in the army. We thought this rift should be deepened, and use of the suicide bomber weapon became a matter of consensus in our organization.

Never mind the absurdity of the causal links: To suggest that low rates of service in the IDF are the result of suicide bombings is to fundamentally misunderstand how Israeli society works–Israelis are much more likely to serve during periods of terror and military threat, as proven by the remarkable rate of reserve participation during both the 2002 Operation Defensive Shield against the Palestinians, and during the 2006 Lebanon war. What is interesting is the fact that Palestinians perceive such a link–which in terms of deterrence is exactly what counts.

Read Less

Too Slick by Half

“Hoist with his own petard!”–or oil rig, I suppose–is what the McCain camp is crowing about with regard to campaign donations from “oil companies.” Barack Obama, who accused John McCain of receiving big money from big oil companies, it seems has received more money than McCain from the employees of the biggest oil companies. This sound familiar? He did it in the primary. He tried the same game, a lie really, when he accused Hillary Clinton of taking lobbyist and oil company company. That’s illegal of course and it turned out that he took his fair share of money from oil company employees.

Well, it happened again. And plenty of media outlets are calling foul. In fact, Obama had mounted an swift negative attack against McCain (with a cool Exxon logo) because of donations that McCain received from oil company employees. Now it turns out that among employees of big oil companies Obama leads in donations. By a lot. So the Obama team has more headaches in what was already a rotten week. The media always loves a good hyposcrisy tale.

But this was always really silly stuff by the Obama camp, appealing to what he perceives as unbridled paranoia about the influence of oil companies (and big business more generally). This is all about donations from individuals who happen to work for an oil company. A marketing or IT executive or a secretary (who last year may have worked for a university or law firm) may have decided to give to a candidate because of his energy policy, but also may have made a donation for entirely unrelated reasons. After all these are people not some amorphous corporate entity making the donations. And the fact that both candidates receive lots of money from employees in the same industry with varying political views seems to prove the point.

Ah, but you say, there is plenty of pressure applied to employees by their bosses to give to a particular candidate. I think sadly that’s true in some cases. But not all and even in those instances, the motives of the high flying execs may diverge from their employers. No one says that Obama is in the “pocket of communications companies” because so many Hollywood execs fork over millions of dollars to him.

So that’s a long way of saying this was a cynical ploy that went awry at a very inopportune time for The One. And aside from the political karma of this specific issue, there is more at work (which explains why the McCain camp is so giddy). This certainly is one more nail in the coffin of the New Politics canard. Obama was going to bring an end to gotcha politics? An end to made-up issues? Not from The One. He appears to be strictly old school. And what’s more, this time around his fan club in the mainstream media is leading the boos.

“Hoist with his own petard!”–or oil rig, I suppose–is what the McCain camp is crowing about with regard to campaign donations from “oil companies.” Barack Obama, who accused John McCain of receiving big money from big oil companies, it seems has received more money than McCain from the employees of the biggest oil companies. This sound familiar? He did it in the primary. He tried the same game, a lie really, when he accused Hillary Clinton of taking lobbyist and oil company company. That’s illegal of course and it turned out that he took his fair share of money from oil company employees.

Well, it happened again. And plenty of media outlets are calling foul. In fact, Obama had mounted an swift negative attack against McCain (with a cool Exxon logo) because of donations that McCain received from oil company employees. Now it turns out that among employees of big oil companies Obama leads in donations. By a lot. So the Obama team has more headaches in what was already a rotten week. The media always loves a good hyposcrisy tale.

But this was always really silly stuff by the Obama camp, appealing to what he perceives as unbridled paranoia about the influence of oil companies (and big business more generally). This is all about donations from individuals who happen to work for an oil company. A marketing or IT executive or a secretary (who last year may have worked for a university or law firm) may have decided to give to a candidate because of his energy policy, but also may have made a donation for entirely unrelated reasons. After all these are people not some amorphous corporate entity making the donations. And the fact that both candidates receive lots of money from employees in the same industry with varying political views seems to prove the point.

Ah, but you say, there is plenty of pressure applied to employees by their bosses to give to a particular candidate. I think sadly that’s true in some cases. But not all and even in those instances, the motives of the high flying execs may diverge from their employers. No one says that Obama is in the “pocket of communications companies” because so many Hollywood execs fork over millions of dollars to him.

So that’s a long way of saying this was a cynical ploy that went awry at a very inopportune time for The One. And aside from the political karma of this specific issue, there is more at work (which explains why the McCain camp is so giddy). This certainly is one more nail in the coffin of the New Politics canard. Obama was going to bring an end to gotcha politics? An end to made-up issues? Not from The One. He appears to be strictly old school. And what’s more, this time around his fan club in the mainstream media is leading the boos.

Read Less

No Policy–Well, Unless You Count His Policy

In today’s Christian Science Monitor, Simon Montlake speculates about “What Asia Wants From The Next U.S. President.” Asia analysts have told him they are looking for “a deeper commitment from the next US president to exploring global ways of tackling thorny issues, from trade protectionism to energy security and curbing nuclear proliferation” and “‘the next administration needs to focus on a strong U.S .presence in Asia and to convey [its commitment] clearly’ to the region.”

Montlake laments:

Beyond Iraq, neither Sen. John McCain nor Sen. Barack Obama has laid out detailed foreign-policy goals; nor do policymakers in Asia appear to expect them to at this point.

Funny he should write that. In an obscure newspaper called the Wall Street Journal, John McCain co-wrote with Joe Lieberman a piece called “Renewing America’s Asia Policy” in May. It turns out, not only has McCain addressed the future of the U.S.’s role in Asia, but his vision seems to correspond perfectly to what Montlake sees as the needs of Asians. Montlake quotes Ian Storey, of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore:

For most countries in Southeast Asia, though some say it more openly than others, the US is the most important security partner in the region, the key balancer in the region, and they won’t want to see any lessening of that role.

Here’s McCain and Lieberman:

Seizing these opportunities, however, will require strong American leadership and an unequivocal American commitment to Asia, whose fate is increasingly inseparable from our own. It requires internationalism rather than isolationism, and free trade rather than protectionism. When our friends and allies in the Asia-Pacific region think of the future, they should expect more — not less — attention, investment and cooperation from the highest levels of the U.S. government.

From the Montlake article:

For Asia, [an expressed U.S. commitment in Asia] means a stronger US presence at regional forums that the Bush administration has overlooked as it focuses on Iraq and Afghanistan.

From Sens. McCain and Lieberman:

Putting our alliances first, and bringing our friends into greater partnership in the management of both regional and global affairs, is key to meeting the collective challenges we face in a changing Asia and in a changing world. For the same reason, the U.S. must also participate more actively in Asian regional organizations.

And again. From the Montlake article:

“By enhancing mutual economic cooperation with the United States, South Korea hedges against economic dependency on China … as regional trading arrangements are increasingly shaped by the centripetal pull of China’s economic growth,” [Korea expert] Mr. Snyder wrote in a unpublished commentary.

From Sens. McCain and Lieberman:

Another objective of the next American president must be to deepen America‘s economic partnerships in Asia. U.S. trade with Asia has tripled over the past 15 years, creating millions of new jobs for Americans and elevating millions of Asians into middle-class consumers. Unfortunately, some American politicians are preying on the fears stoked by Asia‘s dynamism. Rather than investing in American innovation and entrepreneurship, they instead propose throwing up protectionist walls that will leave us all worse off.

This is profoundly irresponsible. The U.S. has never won respect or created jobs by retreating from free trade, and we cannot start doing so now.

With all the apparent experts in Montlake’s rolodex, he may want to clean house and make room for a capable research assistant.

In today’s Christian Science Monitor, Simon Montlake speculates about “What Asia Wants From The Next U.S. President.” Asia analysts have told him they are looking for “a deeper commitment from the next US president to exploring global ways of tackling thorny issues, from trade protectionism to energy security and curbing nuclear proliferation” and “‘the next administration needs to focus on a strong U.S .presence in Asia and to convey [its commitment] clearly’ to the region.”

Montlake laments:

Beyond Iraq, neither Sen. John McCain nor Sen. Barack Obama has laid out detailed foreign-policy goals; nor do policymakers in Asia appear to expect them to at this point.

Funny he should write that. In an obscure newspaper called the Wall Street Journal, John McCain co-wrote with Joe Lieberman a piece called “Renewing America’s Asia Policy” in May. It turns out, not only has McCain addressed the future of the U.S.’s role in Asia, but his vision seems to correspond perfectly to what Montlake sees as the needs of Asians. Montlake quotes Ian Storey, of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore:

For most countries in Southeast Asia, though some say it more openly than others, the US is the most important security partner in the region, the key balancer in the region, and they won’t want to see any lessening of that role.

Here’s McCain and Lieberman:

Seizing these opportunities, however, will require strong American leadership and an unequivocal American commitment to Asia, whose fate is increasingly inseparable from our own. It requires internationalism rather than isolationism, and free trade rather than protectionism. When our friends and allies in the Asia-Pacific region think of the future, they should expect more — not less — attention, investment and cooperation from the highest levels of the U.S. government.

From the Montlake article:

For Asia, [an expressed U.S. commitment in Asia] means a stronger US presence at regional forums that the Bush administration has overlooked as it focuses on Iraq and Afghanistan.

From Sens. McCain and Lieberman:

Putting our alliances first, and bringing our friends into greater partnership in the management of both regional and global affairs, is key to meeting the collective challenges we face in a changing Asia and in a changing world. For the same reason, the U.S. must also participate more actively in Asian regional organizations.

And again. From the Montlake article:

“By enhancing mutual economic cooperation with the United States, South Korea hedges against economic dependency on China … as regional trading arrangements are increasingly shaped by the centripetal pull of China’s economic growth,” [Korea expert] Mr. Snyder wrote in a unpublished commentary.

From Sens. McCain and Lieberman:

Another objective of the next American president must be to deepen America‘s economic partnerships in Asia. U.S. trade with Asia has tripled over the past 15 years, creating millions of new jobs for Americans and elevating millions of Asians into middle-class consumers. Unfortunately, some American politicians are preying on the fears stoked by Asia‘s dynamism. Rather than investing in American innovation and entrepreneurship, they instead propose throwing up protectionist walls that will leave us all worse off.

This is profoundly irresponsible. The U.S. has never won respect or created jobs by retreating from free trade, and we cannot start doing so now.

With all the apparent experts in Montlake’s rolodex, he may want to clean house and make room for a capable research assistant.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

Just in case Hillary Clinton didn’t experience enough condescension during the primary they are now going to pray for the dear, sweet thing.

What does she want? Other than things she can’t have (the top or bottom of the ticket) I think Ted Kennedy said it: “For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.” (And we know how that election turned out.)

Nine days of vacation. First the seal, then the “president” sign on his chair and now taking time a chunk of time off in August. Almost like he thinks he’s already president. Or like he doesn’t have to run very hard.

A sentence only the New York Times could love. But hard to argue that military tribunals are pawns of the Bush administration.

Another pundit for the Dewey analogy! (But no one ever said of Dewey: “arrogant, aloof and somehow ethereal. There is no there there.”) Still she’s right: “For the first time the idea began to take hold that John McCain can win this thing.” (I think “might” rather than “can,” but that’s a minor quibble in a must-read piece.)

Exactly right. How often do I agree with The Nation? As a rule, it’s a bad idea to give a totalitarian regime an international forum for propaganda. They don’t behave better; they show their true colors. And you wind up sacrificing your own values to make everything go smoothly.

From the New York Times , if you can beieve it, we get complaints about the nanny states and cities: “Conservative talk radio on the West Coast would have to go silent without the fodder of strong-armed earnestness from city halls in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle this summer.” Wait until the tire inflation cops show up.

Barack Obama is right to call out Nikki Tinker. (One wonders why far worse, explicit language from Reverend Wright didn’t evoke as strong a reaction until the National Press Club fiasco.) Nice also to see that we have consensus from liberal pundits that it really is never appropriate to invoke your opponent’s religion in political discourse.

It is not coincidental that the first time the Republican minority shows spine and guile, Newt Gingrich (who won back the GOP the majority in 1994 with both) appears to cheer them on. And really, Nancy Pelosi does a book tour while this is going on?

Eliot Spitzer was clearly the not the worst public official of the year. Yes, yes, he’s not the Kwame Kilpatrick whom Obama knew. (That list is getting long, isn’t it?)

Didn’t anyone mention that when concern is brewing about an over-the-top cultish movement the last thing you want is a “salute“? The Denver crowd should also leave the uniforms and torches at home. Bad imagery may result.

It really isn’t that nasty, but for those who think campaigns should be played by Marquess of Queensberry rules I suppose the candidate who reneges on a promise to hold civil townhall debates (and then lies to the dean of the Washington press corps by claiming that his campaign actually tried to reach a deal) should be whistled for an infraction.

Just in case Hillary Clinton didn’t experience enough condescension during the primary they are now going to pray for the dear, sweet thing.

What does she want? Other than things she can’t have (the top or bottom of the ticket) I think Ted Kennedy said it: “For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.” (And we know how that election turned out.)

Nine days of vacation. First the seal, then the “president” sign on his chair and now taking time a chunk of time off in August. Almost like he thinks he’s already president. Or like he doesn’t have to run very hard.

A sentence only the New York Times could love. But hard to argue that military tribunals are pawns of the Bush administration.

Another pundit for the Dewey analogy! (But no one ever said of Dewey: “arrogant, aloof and somehow ethereal. There is no there there.”) Still she’s right: “For the first time the idea began to take hold that John McCain can win this thing.” (I think “might” rather than “can,” but that’s a minor quibble in a must-read piece.)

Exactly right. How often do I agree with The Nation? As a rule, it’s a bad idea to give a totalitarian regime an international forum for propaganda. They don’t behave better; they show their true colors. And you wind up sacrificing your own values to make everything go smoothly.

From the New York Times , if you can beieve it, we get complaints about the nanny states and cities: “Conservative talk radio on the West Coast would have to go silent without the fodder of strong-armed earnestness from city halls in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle this summer.” Wait until the tire inflation cops show up.

Barack Obama is right to call out Nikki Tinker. (One wonders why far worse, explicit language from Reverend Wright didn’t evoke as strong a reaction until the National Press Club fiasco.) Nice also to see that we have consensus from liberal pundits that it really is never appropriate to invoke your opponent’s religion in political discourse.

It is not coincidental that the first time the Republican minority shows spine and guile, Newt Gingrich (who won back the GOP the majority in 1994 with both) appears to cheer them on. And really, Nancy Pelosi does a book tour while this is going on?

Eliot Spitzer was clearly the not the worst public official of the year. Yes, yes, he’s not the Kwame Kilpatrick whom Obama knew. (That list is getting long, isn’t it?)

Didn’t anyone mention that when concern is brewing about an over-the-top cultish movement the last thing you want is a “salute“? The Denver crowd should also leave the uniforms and torches at home. Bad imagery may result.

It really isn’t that nasty, but for those who think campaigns should be played by Marquess of Queensberry rules I suppose the candidate who reneges on a promise to hold civil townhall debates (and then lies to the dean of the Washington press corps by claiming that his campaign actually tried to reach a deal) should be whistled for an infraction.

Read Less

Immodest Proposals

Last week I commented on how Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community has taken its opposition to pornography (a reasonable though debatable value) to the absurd extreme of radically limiting access to the Internet and other information sources. Perhaps we should be glad when their anti-immodesty tactics are limited only to communal pressure and halakhic rulings. Because sometimes they descend to simple violence as well. Haaretz today offers a shocking interview with a woman who was beaten up by ultra-Orthodox “modesty patrols,” who accuse her of dressing in ways that their community deems inappropriate–which usually means dressing in ways that would be considered totally normal not just in New York and Paris, but in Tel Aviv and the rest of Jerusalem as well. Apparently for some of the ultra-Orthodox, violence is a fine response to fashion.

Last week I commented on how Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community has taken its opposition to pornography (a reasonable though debatable value) to the absurd extreme of radically limiting access to the Internet and other information sources. Perhaps we should be glad when their anti-immodesty tactics are limited only to communal pressure and halakhic rulings. Because sometimes they descend to simple violence as well. Haaretz today offers a shocking interview with a woman who was beaten up by ultra-Orthodox “modesty patrols,” who accuse her of dressing in ways that their community deems inappropriate–which usually means dressing in ways that would be considered totally normal not just in New York and Paris, but in Tel Aviv and the rest of Jerusalem as well. Apparently for some of the ultra-Orthodox, violence is a fine response to fashion.

Read Less

Re: Re: It’s Not A Gaffe

Peter, we should also remember that Barack Obama was speaking to a seven-year-old. His answer to her question as to why he is running for president was essentially: “The country is going down the tubes.” Really, this is the inspirational message he is giving to a child?

Aside from his lack of recognition of the improvements and advances the entire country has made, Obama never gives much indication (even when talking to grown-ups) that he truly appreciates his own journey and the enormous wealth and fame his meager accomplishments have allowed him to attain. No message of “I want everyone to enjoy the advantages I have had” crosses his lips. One would think he would want to encourage, perhaps even by way of explaining his own story, the little girl’s faith in America, not depress her. His surly indifference to our nation’s and his own good fortune is more than a little troubling. And it’s a really bad example to set for children.

It is interesting to note the difference between Obama and another candidate offering inspirational change, Ronald Reagan. Reagan didn’t excuse or overlook our problems: our economy was in distress, taxes were too high, our military was decrepit, and the incumbent president was incapable of leading. These were problems of poor policy and misguided government, not fundamental failings of the American people or of our values or economic system. But his message was entirely uplifting : we can overcome momentary set backs because we are Americans. (And these bumps on the road do not mark our decline.) By contrast, Obama’s message seems to be: the country’s a mess, which is why you need me. Have we ever witnessed a more depressing and self-centered vision?

Peter, we should also remember that Barack Obama was speaking to a seven-year-old. His answer to her question as to why he is running for president was essentially: “The country is going down the tubes.” Really, this is the inspirational message he is giving to a child?

Aside from his lack of recognition of the improvements and advances the entire country has made, Obama never gives much indication (even when talking to grown-ups) that he truly appreciates his own journey and the enormous wealth and fame his meager accomplishments have allowed him to attain. No message of “I want everyone to enjoy the advantages I have had” crosses his lips. One would think he would want to encourage, perhaps even by way of explaining his own story, the little girl’s faith in America, not depress her. His surly indifference to our nation’s and his own good fortune is more than a little troubling. And it’s a really bad example to set for children.

It is interesting to note the difference between Obama and another candidate offering inspirational change, Ronald Reagan. Reagan didn’t excuse or overlook our problems: our economy was in distress, taxes were too high, our military was decrepit, and the incumbent president was incapable of leading. These were problems of poor policy and misguided government, not fundamental failings of the American people or of our values or economic system. But his message was entirely uplifting : we can overcome momentary set backs because we are Americans. (And these bumps on the road do not mark our decline.) By contrast, Obama’s message seems to be: the country’s a mess, which is why you need me. Have we ever witnessed a more depressing and self-centered vision?

Read Less

Why Is McCain In It?

Michael Gerson describes why the McCain camp is having some success. Aside from energy policy, Barack Obama’s brand-crushing flip-flops, and the elevation of Steve Schmidt, the McCain forces have gotten some help from The One. Gerson explains:

At least temporarily, Obama’s tactics have raised a damning political question: Who is this man? And the McCain campaign has begun to cleverly exploit these concerns, not with a frontal attack on his liberalism or his flip-flops but with a humorous attack on his “celebrity” — really a proxy for shallowness. The argument is powerful: McCain has roots and convictions. Obama has fans and paparazzi. And Obama’s European trip — more Princess Diana than John Kennedy — served only to confirm these impressions.

Gerson doesn’t quite get to it, but part of the credit also goes to the mainstream media. They sheltered Obama during the primary, perhaps encouraging him later to engage in a bargain basement sale of of his liberal positions (in the mistaken belief they would be too polite to notice). They provided the play-by-play commentary for his Berlin Obamapalooza venture. They tingled and giggled like school girls, which only contributed to the nagging sense that there was something not quite grounded about him. And then of course, embarrassed by his excess — and theirs — they began to steadily turn up the heat on everything from the race card gambit to his energy flip-flops. Like an errant teenager, Obama really did fall in with a bad crowd of media kids who only brought out the worst in him and, in the end, proved to be less than entirely loyal.

So where does the race go from here? Gerson properly notes that McCain still is not ahead in the polls. But McCain has done yeoman’s work during the dog days of summer: raise real doubts about his opponent, get his own house in order, seize on a viable domestic issue, embarrass the mainstream media, show he has more humor than his opponent and drive home the point that on the single most important national security issue in Obama’s short career he was unquestionably wrong (and still won’t admit it). Not a bad couple of summer months for the candidate who supposedly has already lost the race.

Michael Gerson describes why the McCain camp is having some success. Aside from energy policy, Barack Obama’s brand-crushing flip-flops, and the elevation of Steve Schmidt, the McCain forces have gotten some help from The One. Gerson explains:

At least temporarily, Obama’s tactics have raised a damning political question: Who is this man? And the McCain campaign has begun to cleverly exploit these concerns, not with a frontal attack on his liberalism or his flip-flops but with a humorous attack on his “celebrity” — really a proxy for shallowness. The argument is powerful: McCain has roots and convictions. Obama has fans and paparazzi. And Obama’s European trip — more Princess Diana than John Kennedy — served only to confirm these impressions.

Gerson doesn’t quite get to it, but part of the credit also goes to the mainstream media. They sheltered Obama during the primary, perhaps encouraging him later to engage in a bargain basement sale of of his liberal positions (in the mistaken belief they would be too polite to notice). They provided the play-by-play commentary for his Berlin Obamapalooza venture. They tingled and giggled like school girls, which only contributed to the nagging sense that there was something not quite grounded about him. And then of course, embarrassed by his excess — and theirs — they began to steadily turn up the heat on everything from the race card gambit to his energy flip-flops. Like an errant teenager, Obama really did fall in with a bad crowd of media kids who only brought out the worst in him and, in the end, proved to be less than entirely loyal.

So where does the race go from here? Gerson properly notes that McCain still is not ahead in the polls. But McCain has done yeoman’s work during the dog days of summer: raise real doubts about his opponent, get his own house in order, seize on a viable domestic issue, embarrass the mainstream media, show he has more humor than his opponent and drive home the point that on the single most important national security issue in Obama’s short career he was unquestionably wrong (and still won’t admit it). Not a bad couple of summer months for the candidate who supposedly has already lost the race.

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.