Commentary Magazine


Posts For: September 1, 2008

Did Obama take a cheap shot at Arabs?

Scott MacLeod, one of Time magazine’s Arabist journalists, thinks so, writing that

in singling out “oil from the Middle East” in discussing America’s energy dependence, Obama came uncomfortably too close to exploiting American misunderstandings and fears of Arabs and Muslims for some cheap political post-9/11 gain. Part of the problem with what Obama said is that it’s based on one of the false premises behind the notorious “sinister Arab” stereotype.

MacLeod never explains what that false premise is, or even what the “notorious sinister Arab” stereotype is (it’s the first time I’ve heard of it). He instead irrelevantly argues that “the Middle East is not the main supplier of oil to the U.S.” and that Obama “would have us believing that the American economy, U.S. national security and, indeed, nothing less than ‘the future of our planet,’ is being held hostage by five oil-producing Arab countries in the Middle East.”

You know that someone has gone native when he cannot discern a point that is breathtakingly obvious to anyone sitting in America. By citing Middle East oil, Obama was simply saying that it is to America’s detriment that our gasoline purchases funnel hundreds of billions of dollars per year into the coffers of repressive and radical regimes such as Saudi Arabia and Iran. This is as bipartisan as American political rhetoric gets. Almost every Republican and Democratic presidential candidate at some point has made the same point. It’s amazing that Time magazine’s Cairo bureau chief doesn’t get it.

Scott MacLeod, one of Time magazine’s Arabist journalists, thinks so, writing that

in singling out “oil from the Middle East” in discussing America’s energy dependence, Obama came uncomfortably too close to exploiting American misunderstandings and fears of Arabs and Muslims for some cheap political post-9/11 gain. Part of the problem with what Obama said is that it’s based on one of the false premises behind the notorious “sinister Arab” stereotype.

MacLeod never explains what that false premise is, or even what the “notorious sinister Arab” stereotype is (it’s the first time I’ve heard of it). He instead irrelevantly argues that “the Middle East is not the main supplier of oil to the U.S.” and that Obama “would have us believing that the American economy, U.S. national security and, indeed, nothing less than ‘the future of our planet,’ is being held hostage by five oil-producing Arab countries in the Middle East.”

You know that someone has gone native when he cannot discern a point that is breathtakingly obvious to anyone sitting in America. By citing Middle East oil, Obama was simply saying that it is to America’s detriment that our gasoline purchases funnel hundreds of billions of dollars per year into the coffers of repressive and radical regimes such as Saudi Arabia and Iran. This is as bipartisan as American political rhetoric gets. Almost every Republican and Democratic presidential candidate at some point has made the same point. It’s amazing that Time magazine’s Cairo bureau chief doesn’t get it.

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Commentary of the Day

Herbert Rubin, M.D., on Jennifer Rubin:

I, for one, want to see Dick Cheney and George Bush at the convention, and screw the punditry. This team destroyed our enemy, who had declared war on us, and toppled a tyrant, liberating millions. The world is a much better place thanks to Bush/Cheney. They deserve a valedictory speech, and our thanks.

Herbert Rubin, M.D., on Jennifer Rubin:

I, for one, want to see Dick Cheney and George Bush at the convention, and screw the punditry. This team destroyed our enemy, who had declared war on us, and toppled a tyrant, liberating millions. The world is a much better place thanks to Bush/Cheney. They deserve a valedictory speech, and our thanks.

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On the Other Hand…

Nobody likes a mess. This is the danger for the McCain ticket now — that this entire business with Palin and her family comes to seem like an avoidable mess, and his inability or refusal to avoid the mess might raise basic questions about his competency he will be unable to answer adequately. The political task, then, for the McCain ticket is to overwhelm the efforts to portray this as a mess. How? First, by the judicious use of sentiment — the notion that bringing a new child into the world is a gift, especially when the parents are going to marry and raise that child. Second, with really substantive speeches by Palin and McCain — including a major surprise policy announcement of some sort in the McCain speech. Like McCain is now going to support drilling in the Alaska Natural Wildlife Refuge.

Nobody likes a mess. This is the danger for the McCain ticket now — that this entire business with Palin and her family comes to seem like an avoidable mess, and his inability or refusal to avoid the mess might raise basic questions about his competency he will be unable to answer adequately. The political task, then, for the McCain ticket is to overwhelm the efforts to portray this as a mess. How? First, by the judicious use of sentiment — the notion that bringing a new child into the world is a gift, especially when the parents are going to marry and raise that child. Second, with really substantive speeches by Palin and McCain — including a major surprise policy announcement of some sort in the McCain speech. Like McCain is now going to support drilling in the Alaska Natural Wildlife Refuge.

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Unintended Consequences

Gallup reported last week:

One reason for the lack of a self-reported impact of Palin’s selection may be the fact that she is a mystery to many Americans at this early point. More than 7 out of 10 Americans interviewed on Friday night said they had never heard of Palin, or didn’t know enough about her to have an opinion. This is a much higher “don’t know” than measured by Gallup immediately after the initial vice presidential announcement of Biden a week ago, or Edwards, Lieberman, Cheney, Kemp, or Gore in previous years’ elections.

I have the strange feeling that Americans are about to become much more interested in Palin.

Gallup reported last week:

One reason for the lack of a self-reported impact of Palin’s selection may be the fact that she is a mystery to many Americans at this early point. More than 7 out of 10 Americans interviewed on Friday night said they had never heard of Palin, or didn’t know enough about her to have an opinion. This is a much higher “don’t know” than measured by Gallup immediately after the initial vice presidential announcement of Biden a week ago, or Edwards, Lieberman, Cheney, Kemp, or Gore in previous years’ elections.

I have the strange feeling that Americans are about to become much more interested in Palin.

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Just the Facts, Ma’am

All you need to know – and much more – about teen pregnancy and birth in Alaska is right here.

Sara Palin’s position on sex education for teens: “support funding for abstinence-until-marriage education instead of for explicit sex-education programs, school-based clinics, and the distribution of contraceptives in schools”.

All you need to know – and much more – about teen pregnancy and birth in Alaska is right here.

Sara Palin’s position on sex education for teens: “support funding for abstinence-until-marriage education instead of for explicit sex-education programs, school-based clinics, and the distribution of contraceptives in schools”.

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Fukuda Resigns, Asia Quakes

Today, Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda announced his resignation after less than a year in office.  Because he did not call for a general election, his ruling Liberal Democratic Party will pick his successor internally.  The announcement, surprising only as to its timing, follows Fukuda’s unsuccessful attempts to regain support by reshuffling his cabinet and putting together an economic stimulus plan.  A poll released today showed a one-month 9-point drop in his government’s approval rating, which now has settled in at a dismal 29 percent.

The departure of the faceless Fukuda gives the LDP an opportunity to capture the electorate’s imagination with the charismatic Taro Aso, now the party’s secretary-general, before the general elections that must be called by next September.  There’s a sense that Japan is ready for a more assertive leader after the lackluster Fukuda.

Aso, if he gets his party’s nod, will not disappoint.  For instance, he will not ignore the plight of the Japanese abducted by North Korean agents, thereby complicating President Bush’s efforts to settle the nuclear crisis with Pyongyang.  Moreover, he is also bound to upset Beijing.  While the dovish Fukuda thought it entirely proper to go to China to bow to a statute of Confucius, Aso will probably repeat earlier comments and tell the Chinese they’re a menace and declare that Taiwan is a separate country worthy of respect.  He is just itching to go to Yasukuni, where war criminals are enshrined, thereby enraging Chinese, Koreans, and other Asians.  In short, don’t look to him to show deference to Japan’s neighbors, friends, or foes.

Before he can do anything, Aso must first capture the premiership.  He failed to do that after Shinzo Abe, Fukuda’s predecessor, resigned last year.  This time he has adopted a more conservative strategy.  Aso has been uncharacteristically quiet in recent months, refraining from making his trademark controversial statements.

If Aso indeed wins this time, he will undoubtedly bring back the flash last seen during the tenure of Junichiro Koizumi.  That could be a good thing for the ailing LDP, which lost control of the upper house of Japan’s legislature in July last year.  Fukuda resigned ultimately because he could not break the recent paralysis of Japanese politics.  Aso, on the other hand, can reorder the country’s political system.  And the consequences look like they will shake up not just Japan but the rest of Asia.

Today, Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda announced his resignation after less than a year in office.  Because he did not call for a general election, his ruling Liberal Democratic Party will pick his successor internally.  The announcement, surprising only as to its timing, follows Fukuda’s unsuccessful attempts to regain support by reshuffling his cabinet and putting together an economic stimulus plan.  A poll released today showed a one-month 9-point drop in his government’s approval rating, which now has settled in at a dismal 29 percent.

The departure of the faceless Fukuda gives the LDP an opportunity to capture the electorate’s imagination with the charismatic Taro Aso, now the party’s secretary-general, before the general elections that must be called by next September.  There’s a sense that Japan is ready for a more assertive leader after the lackluster Fukuda.

Aso, if he gets his party’s nod, will not disappoint.  For instance, he will not ignore the plight of the Japanese abducted by North Korean agents, thereby complicating President Bush’s efforts to settle the nuclear crisis with Pyongyang.  Moreover, he is also bound to upset Beijing.  While the dovish Fukuda thought it entirely proper to go to China to bow to a statute of Confucius, Aso will probably repeat earlier comments and tell the Chinese they’re a menace and declare that Taiwan is a separate country worthy of respect.  He is just itching to go to Yasukuni, where war criminals are enshrined, thereby enraging Chinese, Koreans, and other Asians.  In short, don’t look to him to show deference to Japan’s neighbors, friends, or foes.

Before he can do anything, Aso must first capture the premiership.  He failed to do that after Shinzo Abe, Fukuda’s predecessor, resigned last year.  This time he has adopted a more conservative strategy.  Aso has been uncharacteristically quiet in recent months, refraining from making his trademark controversial statements.

If Aso indeed wins this time, he will undoubtedly bring back the flash last seen during the tenure of Junichiro Koizumi.  That could be a good thing for the ailing LDP, which lost control of the upper house of Japan’s legislature in July last year.  Fukuda resigned ultimately because he could not break the recent paralysis of Japanese politics.  Aso, on the other hand, can reorder the country’s political system.  And the consequences look like they will shake up not just Japan but the rest of Asia.

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The Barack Obama Show: A Flop

As one of the few people in the country to give Barack Obama’s convention speech an unqualifiedly negative review, I don’t find it surprising that the two tracking polls following the public’s reactions to it both suggest it was a dud. He achieved the same high-water number of 49 percent in Gallup’s poll before the speech as he has received now in the first  tally entirely comprising responses after the conclusion of the speech. Those 80,000 people, the fireworks, Stevie Wonder — gornischt. Unless it does something to help him carry Colorado, where the speech was delivered, history will record that Obama spent 45 minutes with 38 million people and, rather than use his magical powers of rhetorical elevation on them, tried to get them to think as little of John McCain as he does and got nowhere. Efforts to ascribe the cause of his failure to increase his numbers to the surprise choice of Sarah Palin are all well and good, but they miss the point. Obama’s decision to go so resolutely “negative” may rank as one of the greatest missed opportunities in recent political history.

As one of the few people in the country to give Barack Obama’s convention speech an unqualifiedly negative review, I don’t find it surprising that the two tracking polls following the public’s reactions to it both suggest it was a dud. He achieved the same high-water number of 49 percent in Gallup’s poll before the speech as he has received now in the first  tally entirely comprising responses after the conclusion of the speech. Those 80,000 people, the fireworks, Stevie Wonder — gornischt. Unless it does something to help him carry Colorado, where the speech was delivered, history will record that Obama spent 45 minutes with 38 million people and, rather than use his magical powers of rhetorical elevation on them, tried to get them to think as little of John McCain as he does and got nowhere. Efforts to ascribe the cause of his failure to increase his numbers to the surprise choice of Sarah Palin are all well and good, but they miss the point. Obama’s decision to go so resolutely “negative” may rank as one of the greatest missed opportunities in recent political history.

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“I can’t imagine that question being asked of a man.”

That was Steve Schmidt’s response to the media pack querying whether Sarah Palin could perform the duties of the VP given  her family obligations. That spirit of denigration and chauvanism toward women by the MSM is precisely what sparked the outrage of Hillary Clinton voters. The specter of the McCain camp defending a working mom is a priceless bit of political role reversal. Democrats usually get to do that sort of stuff.

Is McCain soon to be the champion of moms and working women and defender of the social conservatives’ pro-life message? We are in uncharted, even bizarre political territory. Dullness is never a problem with John McCain.

That was Steve Schmidt’s response to the media pack querying whether Sarah Palin could perform the duties of the VP given  her family obligations. That spirit of denigration and chauvanism toward women by the MSM is precisely what sparked the outrage of Hillary Clinton voters. The specter of the McCain camp defending a working mom is a priceless bit of political role reversal. Democrats usually get to do that sort of stuff.

Is McCain soon to be the champion of moms and working women and defender of the social conservatives’ pro-life message? We are in uncharted, even bizarre political territory. Dullness is never a problem with John McCain.

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Has Bush Been a Friend to Israel?

Jeffrey Goldberg posts “an interesting and challenging view of McCain (and Bush)” from Hillel Levin, the thesis of which is that Bush has been bad for Israel, and McCain will be too, insofar as he continues Bush’s policies.

The war in Iraq has removed Iran’s historic nemesis and counterbalance, strengthening its hand and ambitions in the region. The war has also demonstrated to Iran’s leaders precisely why it is so important that Iran develop nuclear weaponry: America wouldn’t dare attack Iran once it has attained nuclear capabilities. The mishandling of the war has also weakened America’s hand in the region, removing any credible threat of a sustained American military engagement with Iran… And finally, Bush’s refusal to engage with Israel’s closer neighbor Syria–not a traditional ally of Iran’s–has pushed Syria further into Iran orbit than it has ever been before, providing a land-bridge for the transfer of weapons from Iran to Hizballah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. Simply put, Bush’s policies have emboldened and empowered Iran and improved its regional standing. Israel is left facing the consequences.

All of this today is standard leftist trope material. The idea is that before the invasion in 2003, Iran and Iraq held each other in something akin to suspended animation, frozen in a historic standoff, is silly. For Iran’s purposes, Iraq had been neutered by the Gulf War in 1991 and the imposition of no-fly zones and embargoes. Far more beneficial to Iran’s ability to project power against Israel have been 1) the dramatic increase in Iran’s oil revenues, and 2) Israel’s withdrawals from southern Lebanon and Gaza — which, Levin surely knows, are exactly the two places where Israel faces Iranian-sponsored terrorism today.

The call for American engagement with Syria, as if this would redound to Israel’s benefit, is similarly misguided. The U.S. has been indeed trying to drag Syria away from Iran for a very long time, especially during the late Bush I and Clinton years. Every attempt was a failure. During the current administration, similar attempts, though less high-profile, were made, with the same results. And does Levin really believe that the proper American response to Syria’s campaign of assassination against American allies in Lebanon should have been to increase the courting of Assad? Syria was a Soviet client during the Cold War; then Saddam Hussein’s ally; and now Iran’s. Levin seems unaware that Damascus’ stock-in-trade has always been to ally with America’s enemies and then play Washington for everything it can get by pretending to negotiate. And his idea that Damascus’ isolation has encouraged Syria to act as a conduit for Hezbollah is a claim so outside the bounds of historic chronology that it’s no use even discussing.

So has Bush been good for Israel? Sort of — because things started off so well and are ending so terribly. Bush, for a few years, succeeded in liberating America from one of its most fruitless diplomatic obsessions. Fast forward a few years, and Iran and its proxies are having coming-out parties all over the region. Yet American policy in all arenas but Iraq has been handed over to Condi Rice, who appears to have a singular ambition: flying off to Jerusalem every month to scrutinize maps of West Bank checkpoints.

The Iranians of course would like nothing more than for the peace process to remain the obsession of U.S. Middle East policy from now until the 12th imam reappears, especially now that Tehran operates many levers of Palestinian violence. And the Bush administration has obliged. In the strategic sense, this is not great friendship to Israel. I suspect — I hope I am wrong — that if Annapolis had never happened and today the Bush administration was engaged in ever-greater saber-rattling against Iran, people like Levin would be saying: Bush is no friend of Israel’s, he’s just a warmonger, and whatever happened to the peace process?

Jeffrey Goldberg posts “an interesting and challenging view of McCain (and Bush)” from Hillel Levin, the thesis of which is that Bush has been bad for Israel, and McCain will be too, insofar as he continues Bush’s policies.

The war in Iraq has removed Iran’s historic nemesis and counterbalance, strengthening its hand and ambitions in the region. The war has also demonstrated to Iran’s leaders precisely why it is so important that Iran develop nuclear weaponry: America wouldn’t dare attack Iran once it has attained nuclear capabilities. The mishandling of the war has also weakened America’s hand in the region, removing any credible threat of a sustained American military engagement with Iran… And finally, Bush’s refusal to engage with Israel’s closer neighbor Syria–not a traditional ally of Iran’s–has pushed Syria further into Iran orbit than it has ever been before, providing a land-bridge for the transfer of weapons from Iran to Hizballah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. Simply put, Bush’s policies have emboldened and empowered Iran and improved its regional standing. Israel is left facing the consequences.

All of this today is standard leftist trope material. The idea is that before the invasion in 2003, Iran and Iraq held each other in something akin to suspended animation, frozen in a historic standoff, is silly. For Iran’s purposes, Iraq had been neutered by the Gulf War in 1991 and the imposition of no-fly zones and embargoes. Far more beneficial to Iran’s ability to project power against Israel have been 1) the dramatic increase in Iran’s oil revenues, and 2) Israel’s withdrawals from southern Lebanon and Gaza — which, Levin surely knows, are exactly the two places where Israel faces Iranian-sponsored terrorism today.

The call for American engagement with Syria, as if this would redound to Israel’s benefit, is similarly misguided. The U.S. has been indeed trying to drag Syria away from Iran for a very long time, especially during the late Bush I and Clinton years. Every attempt was a failure. During the current administration, similar attempts, though less high-profile, were made, with the same results. And does Levin really believe that the proper American response to Syria’s campaign of assassination against American allies in Lebanon should have been to increase the courting of Assad? Syria was a Soviet client during the Cold War; then Saddam Hussein’s ally; and now Iran’s. Levin seems unaware that Damascus’ stock-in-trade has always been to ally with America’s enemies and then play Washington for everything it can get by pretending to negotiate. And his idea that Damascus’ isolation has encouraged Syria to act as a conduit for Hezbollah is a claim so outside the bounds of historic chronology that it’s no use even discussing.

So has Bush been good for Israel? Sort of — because things started off so well and are ending so terribly. Bush, for a few years, succeeded in liberating America from one of its most fruitless diplomatic obsessions. Fast forward a few years, and Iran and its proxies are having coming-out parties all over the region. Yet American policy in all arenas but Iraq has been handed over to Condi Rice, who appears to have a singular ambition: flying off to Jerusalem every month to scrutinize maps of West Bank checkpoints.

The Iranians of course would like nothing more than for the peace process to remain the obsession of U.S. Middle East policy from now until the 12th imam reappears, especially now that Tehran operates many levers of Palestinian violence. And the Bush administration has obliged. In the strategic sense, this is not great friendship to Israel. I suspect — I hope I am wrong — that if Annapolis had never happened and today the Bush administration was engaged in ever-greater saber-rattling against Iran, people like Levin would be saying: Bush is no friend of Israel’s, he’s just a warmonger, and whatever happened to the peace process?

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Choke on It

God is just. Perhaps, had the story about the pregnancy of Sarah Palin’s daughter just emerged on its own, it would have shocked the campaign and the party, thrown McCain and the GOP on the defensive, and given the “she’s going to make gaffes and ruin it all” camp something to chew on. Instead, it has emerged in the wake of the disgusting and false rumor peddled by the Beagle Blogger and others that Palin’s fifth child is not her own. Given the need of everyone in politics to run screaming in the other direction from such filth — which, I want to remind you, came with a hint that there was incest involved — this revelation will probably not have the deleterious impact it might have otherwise.

Congratulations, Beagle Blogger. In seeking to do injury on behalf of your preferred candidate, you have primarily done injury to yourself and perhaps have prevented injury to the candidate you so desperately wish to defeat.

God is just. Perhaps, had the story about the pregnancy of Sarah Palin’s daughter just emerged on its own, it would have shocked the campaign and the party, thrown McCain and the GOP on the defensive, and given the “she’s going to make gaffes and ruin it all” camp something to chew on. Instead, it has emerged in the wake of the disgusting and false rumor peddled by the Beagle Blogger and others that Palin’s fifth child is not her own. Given the need of everyone in politics to run screaming in the other direction from such filth — which, I want to remind you, came with a hint that there was incest involved — this revelation will probably not have the deleterious impact it might have otherwise.

Congratulations, Beagle Blogger. In seeking to do injury on behalf of your preferred candidate, you have primarily done injury to yourself and perhaps have prevented injury to the candidate you so desperately wish to defeat.

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Re: With Child

Pro-life forces are rallying to Sarah Palin and reminding voters of Barack Obama’s comment that he didn’t want to see his daughters “punished” with a baby.

Will average voters react adversely to Palin, or to McCain for selecting a candidate whose teen daughter is pregnant? It is hard to image that if social conservatives aren’t put off that secular, middle of the road voters will be. The Left blogosphere, always to be counted on for intellecutal dishonesty, will be sure to claim “hypocrisy.” But it seems the Palins are adhering their creed. What can one say of the Left who have never championed “family values”?

As for the Obama camp, they seem well aware of the danger of overplaying their hand and are straining to disassociate themselves from the Beagle Blogger and his ilk.

Pro-life forces are rallying to Sarah Palin and reminding voters of Barack Obama’s comment that he didn’t want to see his daughters “punished” with a baby.

Will average voters react adversely to Palin, or to McCain for selecting a candidate whose teen daughter is pregnant? It is hard to image that if social conservatives aren’t put off that secular, middle of the road voters will be. The Left blogosphere, always to be counted on for intellecutal dishonesty, will be sure to claim “hypocrisy.” But it seems the Palins are adhering their creed. What can one say of the Left who have never championed “family values”?

As for the Obama camp, they seem well aware of the danger of overplaying their hand and are straining to disassociate themselves from the Beagle Blogger and his ilk.

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The Unintended Benefits Keep Rolling In

Keith Olbermann goes on storm watch.

Keith Olbermann goes on storm watch.

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With Child

This news has now rocked the media. The immediate reaction from MSM outlets will be “Scandal!” but I suspect this will play out very differently. The McCain camp is swinging at the Beagle Blogger types and their venture into the political sewer. That is going to engender a fair dose of sympathy. Second, this is once again living the pro-life creed– Bristol Palin is marrying and having the child. Pro-life conservatives have argued this as the moral choice and now they have a role model. Third, the Obama camp had better tred VERY carefully. If they bully or exploit a pregnant teenager they do so at their peril. And finally, the Republicans ironically are accused of living lives far removed from average families. This may ironically humanize their candidates and party in a way nothing else will. At any rate, this Convention just got a whole lot more interesting.

This news has now rocked the media. The immediate reaction from MSM outlets will be “Scandal!” but I suspect this will play out very differently. The McCain camp is swinging at the Beagle Blogger types and their venture into the political sewer. That is going to engender a fair dose of sympathy. Second, this is once again living the pro-life creed– Bristol Palin is marrying and having the child. Pro-life conservatives have argued this as the moral choice and now they have a role model. Third, the Obama camp had better tred VERY carefully. If they bully or exploit a pregnant teenager they do so at their peril. And finally, the Republicans ironically are accused of living lives far removed from average families. This may ironically humanize their candidates and party in a way nothing else will. At any rate, this Convention just got a whole lot more interesting.

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Re: Biden: Israel Must “Reconcile” Itself to Iran’s Nukes

If, as Shmuel has reported, Joe Biden has himself given up on deterring Iran from developing nuclear weapons, a new deadly serious question arises. Would Vice President Biden push President Obama to make good on Biden’s own pledge to take out Iranian nukes by force? To refresh the memory, on October 30, 2007, Biden said:

I would do away with the policy of regime change. What we’re saying to everybody in Iran is, “Look, by the way, give up the one thing that keeps us from attacking you, & after that we’re going to attack you. We’re going to take you down.” It’s a bizarre notion, number one. Number two, understand how weak Iran is. They are not a year away or two years away. They’re a decade away from being able to weaponize exactly what the question was, if they put a nuclear weapon on top of a missile that can strike. They’re far away from that. Number three, we’re going to – we have to understand how weak that government is. They import almost all of their refined oil. By 2014, they’re going to be importing their crude oil. There’s much better ways, if we had to get to the point of being real sanctions, of doing economic sanctions on them forcefully that way. But at the end of the day, if they posed the missile, stuck it on a pad, I’d take it out.

Biden’s statements to Israeli Army officials indicates he thinks we’re “at the end of the day.”

Are you a man of your word, Senator?

If, as Shmuel has reported, Joe Biden has himself given up on deterring Iran from developing nuclear weapons, a new deadly serious question arises. Would Vice President Biden push President Obama to make good on Biden’s own pledge to take out Iranian nukes by force? To refresh the memory, on October 30, 2007, Biden said:

I would do away with the policy of regime change. What we’re saying to everybody in Iran is, “Look, by the way, give up the one thing that keeps us from attacking you, & after that we’re going to attack you. We’re going to take you down.” It’s a bizarre notion, number one. Number two, understand how weak Iran is. They are not a year away or two years away. They’re a decade away from being able to weaponize exactly what the question was, if they put a nuclear weapon on top of a missile that can strike. They’re far away from that. Number three, we’re going to – we have to understand how weak that government is. They import almost all of their refined oil. By 2014, they’re going to be importing their crude oil. There’s much better ways, if we had to get to the point of being real sanctions, of doing economic sanctions on them forcefully that way. But at the end of the day, if they posed the missile, stuck it on a pad, I’d take it out.

Biden’s statements to Israeli Army officials indicates he thinks we’re “at the end of the day.”

Are you a man of your word, Senator?

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Re: The Beagle Blogger and Mr. Quintus Slide

One wonders whether the MSM will devote as much inquiry into this despicable lie as they did in debunking the Obama is really a closet Muslim story.  What would have happened if a conservative blogger had spread a similarly slimy story about Joe Biden?  The venom with which the Obama fanatics are attacking Sarah Palin suggests that they are very frightened that she may deprive their superhero of his rightful victory.

One wonders whether the MSM will devote as much inquiry into this despicable lie as they did in debunking the Obama is really a closet Muslim story.  What would have happened if a conservative blogger had spread a similarly slimy story about Joe Biden?  The venom with which the Obama fanatics are attacking Sarah Palin suggests that they are very frightened that she may deprive their superhero of his rightful victory.

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Why No Bounce?

How can it be that The One is in a dead heat, that the bounce — if the mini-rise in a couple of tracking polls can even be called that — is already subsiding? There was The Speech! The media all told us he was fabulous! Several explanations are possible.

First, the Denver bounce met the Sarah Palin bounce and the two cancelled each other out. It seems that the appearance of the mother of five with plenty of moxie and anecdotes (and a healthy dose of executive experience) was every bit as exciting and uplifting for McCain as the Temple of Barack address was for Obama. Despite the loony blogosphere conspiracy theories and tasteless attacks against her, the public is intrigued and delighted by her. Hence, she wiped out whatever memories there remained of Obama’s speech after the last firework faded from the sky over INVESCO field.

Second, we keep telling you — it is a really close race. The electorate is evenly divided, the Democrats managed to find a candidate so weak as to counteract the generic ballot advantage, and the two contenders appeal to different groups of voters of roughly the same size. Hence, we return to rough parity after small events are observed and processed by voters.

Third, perhaps the observations here and of longtime pundits like David Broder and William Safire were on the money: Obama’s speech was too angry and negative and it contained too much big government liberalism. He already had people who think everyone is “getting knocked” down and the only solution is to tax the rich and expand the reach of government. Liberals liked him before and they liked him after the speech — you can tell because their spokespeople in the form of the national media told us so. But the people who will swing the election five points one way or the other remained unmoved, it seems, or were least as equally moved by Sarah Palin’s speech last Friday in Dayton.

And finally, the “Celebrity” ad attacks and debunking of Obama’s mass rally-style of politics insulated people from the impact of the speech, or helped to turn off as many people as it excited. Even people who liked the speech had a little voice inside ( the voice of Steve Schmidt, really) saying, “You know it’s kind of silly all this movie set stuff and rock bands –he is running for President.” So the bounce was even briefer and smaller than the Magical Mystery tour bounce from earlier in the summer.

The bottom line: this may prove demoralizing to the Obama supporters and to some extent their media cheerleaders. As for the latter, their reactions and observations ( “It was a symphony not a speech!” Peggy Noonan mockingly recalls one of them exclaiming) have proven again and again to be irrelevant and not indicative of much of anyone who matters in this election. Each time they miss the boat we get confirmation of this reality.

McCain and Palin, if they ever get their Convention, will have their shot at bouncing the polls upward. We will see then whether voters are “unbouncable” or whether The One just isn’t, after all, the one to move undecideds.

How can it be that The One is in a dead heat, that the bounce — if the mini-rise in a couple of tracking polls can even be called that — is already subsiding? There was The Speech! The media all told us he was fabulous! Several explanations are possible.

First, the Denver bounce met the Sarah Palin bounce and the two cancelled each other out. It seems that the appearance of the mother of five with plenty of moxie and anecdotes (and a healthy dose of executive experience) was every bit as exciting and uplifting for McCain as the Temple of Barack address was for Obama. Despite the loony blogosphere conspiracy theories and tasteless attacks against her, the public is intrigued and delighted by her. Hence, she wiped out whatever memories there remained of Obama’s speech after the last firework faded from the sky over INVESCO field.

Second, we keep telling you — it is a really close race. The electorate is evenly divided, the Democrats managed to find a candidate so weak as to counteract the generic ballot advantage, and the two contenders appeal to different groups of voters of roughly the same size. Hence, we return to rough parity after small events are observed and processed by voters.

Third, perhaps the observations here and of longtime pundits like David Broder and William Safire were on the money: Obama’s speech was too angry and negative and it contained too much big government liberalism. He already had people who think everyone is “getting knocked” down and the only solution is to tax the rich and expand the reach of government. Liberals liked him before and they liked him after the speech — you can tell because their spokespeople in the form of the national media told us so. But the people who will swing the election five points one way or the other remained unmoved, it seems, or were least as equally moved by Sarah Palin’s speech last Friday in Dayton.

And finally, the “Celebrity” ad attacks and debunking of Obama’s mass rally-style of politics insulated people from the impact of the speech, or helped to turn off as many people as it excited. Even people who liked the speech had a little voice inside ( the voice of Steve Schmidt, really) saying, “You know it’s kind of silly all this movie set stuff and rock bands –he is running for President.” So the bounce was even briefer and smaller than the Magical Mystery tour bounce from earlier in the summer.

The bottom line: this may prove demoralizing to the Obama supporters and to some extent their media cheerleaders. As for the latter, their reactions and observations ( “It was a symphony not a speech!” Peggy Noonan mockingly recalls one of them exclaiming) have proven again and again to be irrelevant and not indicative of much of anyone who matters in this election. Each time they miss the boat we get confirmation of this reality.

McCain and Palin, if they ever get their Convention, will have their shot at bouncing the polls upward. We will see then whether voters are “unbouncable” or whether The One just isn’t, after all, the one to move undecideds.

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Will McCain Benefit from Gustav?

This morning I was reading some of the articles dealing with Gustav’s political fallout: the more daring articles what predict that Gustav will be a boon for McCain, and the useless articles pointing out that Gustav can be good – or bad – for McCain.

While some of the arguments writers use to justify their conclusions do make sense, I am all the speculation. Some of the people now pretending to know exactly what’s going to happen as a result of a hurricane, are essentially the same people who predicted that McCain will pick Romney or that Clinton will be the Democratic nominee. These are the same people who assessed wrongly the bounce Obama was supposed to get from the Democratic convention, etc.

With all due respect to my fellow journalists and columnists, I think if this last year has proved anything, it is that political predictions under such unique circumstances are no more accurate than determinations made by coin toss. (In fact, they are less accurate. A coin toss gives you a 50% chance of being right).

Consider that in a July 31 article, Slate’s well-informed John Dickerson detailed the drawbacks Bush’s appearance at the convention.  Bush, of course, will not be appearing at the convention. Consider, too, that Nate Silver, knew
on August 20 that Obama would name his VP the next day. Biden’s name was finally released days later at 3 a.m.

Both Dickerson and Silver predict Gustav will do good things for McCain.

As Mark Blumenthal wrote,

[L]ike it or not, we really won’t have a sense of what these shifts mean — and what they portend for the rest of the campaign — until the Republican convention ends and the dust starts to settle in about 10 days.

Same goes for the question of whether McCain will benefit from Gustav.

This morning I was reading some of the articles dealing with Gustav’s political fallout: the more daring articles what predict that Gustav will be a boon for McCain, and the useless articles pointing out that Gustav can be good – or bad – for McCain.

While some of the arguments writers use to justify their conclusions do make sense, I am all the speculation. Some of the people now pretending to know exactly what’s going to happen as a result of a hurricane, are essentially the same people who predicted that McCain will pick Romney or that Clinton will be the Democratic nominee. These are the same people who assessed wrongly the bounce Obama was supposed to get from the Democratic convention, etc.

With all due respect to my fellow journalists and columnists, I think if this last year has proved anything, it is that political predictions under such unique circumstances are no more accurate than determinations made by coin toss. (In fact, they are less accurate. A coin toss gives you a 50% chance of being right).

Consider that in a July 31 article, Slate’s well-informed John Dickerson detailed the drawbacks Bush’s appearance at the convention.  Bush, of course, will not be appearing at the convention. Consider, too, that Nate Silver, knew
on August 20 that Obama would name his VP the next day. Biden’s name was finally released days later at 3 a.m.

Both Dickerson and Silver predict Gustav will do good things for McCain.

As Mark Blumenthal wrote,

[L]ike it or not, we really won’t have a sense of what these shifts mean — and what they portend for the rest of the campaign — until the Republican convention ends and the dust starts to settle in about 10 days.

Same goes for the question of whether McCain will benefit from Gustav.

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Do They Care?

Here in Minneapolis are conservative journalists, delegates and Republican operatives miffed about the Convention delay and shortening? No. Many realize four days of a political convention is just too much. There is general consensus that much of the Democrats’ Convention was boring, filled with uninspired speakers and merely provided the MSM with time for negative speculation about their political problems.

And almost to a person (among the admittedly small numbers of people I have spoken to), there is relief that there will not be footage of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for the Democrats to hang around John McCain’s neck. Republicans may appreciate Bush’s steadfastness in the war on terror, but the Convention is attended by savvy conservative media and activists who know precisely the liability he poses for McCain.

So long as there is a night or two for the essential set pieces of the Convention (e.g. McCain’s bio film and the two candidates’ speeches) everyone seems rather content with the turn of events. There is nothing ordinary about this year’s election and perhaps everyone has gotten used to the unexpected.

Here in Minneapolis are conservative journalists, delegates and Republican operatives miffed about the Convention delay and shortening? No. Many realize four days of a political convention is just too much. There is general consensus that much of the Democrats’ Convention was boring, filled with uninspired speakers and merely provided the MSM with time for negative speculation about their political problems.

And almost to a person (among the admittedly small numbers of people I have spoken to), there is relief that there will not be footage of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for the Democrats to hang around John McCain’s neck. Republicans may appreciate Bush’s steadfastness in the war on terror, but the Convention is attended by savvy conservative media and activists who know precisely the liability he poses for McCain.

So long as there is a night or two for the essential set pieces of the Convention (e.g. McCain’s bio film and the two candidates’ speeches) everyone seems rather content with the turn of events. There is nothing ordinary about this year’s election and perhaps everyone has gotten used to the unexpected.

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Biden: Israel Must “Reconcile” Itself to Iran’s Nukes

If you’re an Iranian leader, and you’ve just heard a report according to which Joe Biden told Israeli officials that, “Israel will have to reconcile itself with the nuclearization of Iran,” and, “It’s doubtful if the economic sanctions will be effective, and I am against opening an additional military and diplomatic front,” wouldn’t you keep dragging your feet just a little bit longer, hoping that Obama-Biden will be the next American presidential couple?

The report in question is coming from the Israeli Army radio station. I made some phone calls following its release and believe I know who the source was. I also know that the report is generally accurate. Biden was not necessarily using the exact same words the radio was quoting – but he was close enough as to leave his audience under the impression that he sees a nuclear Iran as an almost done deal. (I’m sure we’ll hear him in the coming days committing himself to increased diplomatic pressure – it is something he’ll have to do).

Has a potential American VP given up on a nuke-free Iran.

If you’re an Iranian leader, and you’ve just heard a report according to which Joe Biden told Israeli officials that, “Israel will have to reconcile itself with the nuclearization of Iran,” and, “It’s doubtful if the economic sanctions will be effective, and I am against opening an additional military and diplomatic front,” wouldn’t you keep dragging your feet just a little bit longer, hoping that Obama-Biden will be the next American presidential couple?

The report in question is coming from the Israeli Army radio station. I made some phone calls following its release and believe I know who the source was. I also know that the report is generally accurate. Biden was not necessarily using the exact same words the radio was quoting – but he was close enough as to leave his audience under the impression that he sees a nuclear Iran as an almost done deal. (I’m sure we’ll hear him in the coming days committing himself to increased diplomatic pressure – it is something he’ll have to do).

Has a potential American VP given up on a nuke-free Iran.

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McCain Played It Safe By Picking Palin

John McCain’s decision to nominate Sarah Palin for the Republican Vice-Presidential position was, contrary to popular-belief, the safest decision he could have made. In short, the negatives of all other short-list contenders trump Palin’s. Take a look:

• Mitt Romney: He’s a loser, even if he ended the race more popular among conservatives. Perhaps more importantly, Obama would’ve been able to run attack ads against McCain using Romney’s own words (gathered from the short time they were running against each other). Romney, too, lacks experience beyond his one-term as governor of Massachusetts, and it seems clear that he would’ve been unable to bring with him his liberal state. Romney would have brought no voters to McCain’s side–though adding him to the ticket surely would have made some voters (especially evangelicals) protesting.

• Bobby Jindal: His inexperience and youth are even greater than Palin’s, but even more politically dangerous for McCain are Jindal’s dabbles into exorcism and his support for universal healthcare.

• Rudy Giuliani: As entertaining as Biden-Giuliani debates would be, Giuliani’s detractors are vengeful and vicious. He’s made more than his share of enemies over the years, and Giuliani has plenty of minor scandals that media members would surely harp on. Additionally, Giuliani’s pro-choice position, and his ability to lead much of the primary polls and walk away after gaining only a single delegate, would not have helped.

Tom Ridge: He’s pro-choice, and if National Review’s The Corner is any indication, Ridge would have alienated the Republican base. Moreover, Ridge and McCain are lifelong friends, which isn’t necessarily a problem, but it could suggest that McCain does favors only to friends.

• Joe Lieberman: As a pro-choice senator from Connecticut with a historic voting record largely in-line with the Democratic party, save his recent foreign policy positions, Lieberman was (lest we forget) the Democratic vice-presidential nominee in 2000. And though adding Lieberman to the ticket might have proved McCain to be a true maverick, it reportedly would have kept the Limbaugh-Coulter base away from the polls.

• Mike Huckabee: There is his economic populism, first of all. But, like all other previous presidential contenders, he’s a loser. His charisma and affability don’t distract voters from his shallow knowledge of policy, as his loss only months ago proved.

• Tim Pawlenty: He was McCain’s only other safe option. But would he have been able to energize the electorate as Palin has already proven she can do? Maybe, but it’s doubtful.

Sarah Palin has negatives (some of which have been elaborated on this blog by Abe Greenwald), but, as John argued previously, they are being completely blown out of proportion—and mainly by people who find Barack Obama’s experience to be a problem not at all.

John McCain’s decision to nominate Sarah Palin for the Republican Vice-Presidential position was, contrary to popular-belief, the safest decision he could have made. In short, the negatives of all other short-list contenders trump Palin’s. Take a look:

• Mitt Romney: He’s a loser, even if he ended the race more popular among conservatives. Perhaps more importantly, Obama would’ve been able to run attack ads against McCain using Romney’s own words (gathered from the short time they were running against each other). Romney, too, lacks experience beyond his one-term as governor of Massachusetts, and it seems clear that he would’ve been unable to bring with him his liberal state. Romney would have brought no voters to McCain’s side–though adding him to the ticket surely would have made some voters (especially evangelicals) protesting.

• Bobby Jindal: His inexperience and youth are even greater than Palin’s, but even more politically dangerous for McCain are Jindal’s dabbles into exorcism and his support for universal healthcare.

• Rudy Giuliani: As entertaining as Biden-Giuliani debates would be, Giuliani’s detractors are vengeful and vicious. He’s made more than his share of enemies over the years, and Giuliani has plenty of minor scandals that media members would surely harp on. Additionally, Giuliani’s pro-choice position, and his ability to lead much of the primary polls and walk away after gaining only a single delegate, would not have helped.

Tom Ridge: He’s pro-choice, and if National Review’s The Corner is any indication, Ridge would have alienated the Republican base. Moreover, Ridge and McCain are lifelong friends, which isn’t necessarily a problem, but it could suggest that McCain does favors only to friends.

• Joe Lieberman: As a pro-choice senator from Connecticut with a historic voting record largely in-line with the Democratic party, save his recent foreign policy positions, Lieberman was (lest we forget) the Democratic vice-presidential nominee in 2000. And though adding Lieberman to the ticket might have proved McCain to be a true maverick, it reportedly would have kept the Limbaugh-Coulter base away from the polls.

• Mike Huckabee: There is his economic populism, first of all. But, like all other previous presidential contenders, he’s a loser. His charisma and affability don’t distract voters from his shallow knowledge of policy, as his loss only months ago proved.

• Tim Pawlenty: He was McCain’s only other safe option. But would he have been able to energize the electorate as Palin has already proven she can do? Maybe, but it’s doubtful.

Sarah Palin has negatives (some of which have been elaborated on this blog by Abe Greenwald), but, as John argued previously, they are being completely blown out of proportion—and mainly by people who find Barack Obama’s experience to be a problem not at all.

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