Commentary Magazine


Posts For: September 9, 2008

‘We’re Gonna Frickin’ Lose This Thing’

So says Adam McKay, the writer and director of Will Ferrell movies both good (Anchorman) and dreadful (Talladega Nights). The sophistication, erudition, and depth of McKay’s political views was revealed in 2004 when he staged a live comedy show entitled “George Bush is a M—-rf—er,” the riffs and barbs in which were as subtle and shaded as its title. Now he has taken to the Huffington Post to offer an advance threnody to the Obama campaign that is not intended to be hilarious but, if you are not in agreement with him, hands you some major laughs.

“We’re coming off the worst eight years in our country’s history,” declares McKay, who displays the joyous solipsism of someone who has no capacity to apply even a moment’s consideration to a statement of especially head-shaking provenance.

Whatever one may think of the past eight years, they were not the Great Depression, or the years during and after the Civil War, in which more than 500,000 Americans were killed, or even the years of Vietnam, in which 58,000 men were killed in a war we lost. Of course, since McKay was not an adult during any of those years, or even alive during most of them, they never happened. Because the world only began when Adam McKay opened his eyes, took a look around, and said, “One day I will rewrite the script of the film version of Bewitched and make it even worse than it already was.” Of course, the blame for the failure of the film version of Bewitched can be laid solely at the door of that m—-rf—-r George Bush, who was president before, during and after its filming and whose presence on the national stage darkened it so that there could be no hilarity present.

It’s true. The past eight years have been horrible. During them Adam McKay directed three movies, started a dot-com called Funny or Die, and has made in excess of $10 million. We’re talking about a man making ten million dollars who can actually write paragraphs as gobsmackingly idiotic as these:

What is this house advantage the Republicans have? It’s the press. There is no more fourth estate. Wait, hold on…I’m not going down some esoteric path with theories on the deregulation of the media and corporate bias and CNN versus Fox…I mean it: there is no more functioning press in this country. And without a real press the corporate and religious Republicans can lie all they want and get away with it. And that’s the 51% advantage.

Think this is some opinion being wryly posited to titillate other bloggers and inspire dialogue with Tucker Carlson or Gore Vidal? F— that. Four corporations own all the TV channels. All of them. If they don’t get ratings they get canceled or fired. All news is about sex, blame and anger, and fear. Exposing lies about amounts of money taken from lobbyists and votes cast for the agenda of the last eight years does not rate. The end.

Yeah, that must be it. The reason Barack Obama may lose is that the press, which has been so profoundly charitable to the Republican ticket, has joined in the effort to destroy Obama. If Obama “frickin’ loses this thing,” it will be in part because he accepted the adoration of people like Adam McKay too easily and misunderstood the nature of the American electorate as a result.

Oh, and by the way, who pays Adam McKay his huge fees? In large measure, a company called 20th Century Fox, whose parent corporation also owns the Fox News Channel. Adam McKay is in the pay of Rupert Murdoch. He is Rupert Murdoch’s toy. Maybe he shouldn’t take such filthy lucre. Maybe he should stand on principle, and refuse to participate in the media culture that is destroying our democracy.

No, that’s all right. He’ll just occupy space at the Huffington Post to discuss the evils of the rapacious corporations that are making him a very, very, very rich man.

So says Adam McKay, the writer and director of Will Ferrell movies both good (Anchorman) and dreadful (Talladega Nights). The sophistication, erudition, and depth of McKay’s political views was revealed in 2004 when he staged a live comedy show entitled “George Bush is a M—-rf—er,” the riffs and barbs in which were as subtle and shaded as its title. Now he has taken to the Huffington Post to offer an advance threnody to the Obama campaign that is not intended to be hilarious but, if you are not in agreement with him, hands you some major laughs.

“We’re coming off the worst eight years in our country’s history,” declares McKay, who displays the joyous solipsism of someone who has no capacity to apply even a moment’s consideration to a statement of especially head-shaking provenance.

Whatever one may think of the past eight years, they were not the Great Depression, or the years during and after the Civil War, in which more than 500,000 Americans were killed, or even the years of Vietnam, in which 58,000 men were killed in a war we lost. Of course, since McKay was not an adult during any of those years, or even alive during most of them, they never happened. Because the world only began when Adam McKay opened his eyes, took a look around, and said, “One day I will rewrite the script of the film version of Bewitched and make it even worse than it already was.” Of course, the blame for the failure of the film version of Bewitched can be laid solely at the door of that m—-rf—-r George Bush, who was president before, during and after its filming and whose presence on the national stage darkened it so that there could be no hilarity present.

It’s true. The past eight years have been horrible. During them Adam McKay directed three movies, started a dot-com called Funny or Die, and has made in excess of $10 million. We’re talking about a man making ten million dollars who can actually write paragraphs as gobsmackingly idiotic as these:

What is this house advantage the Republicans have? It’s the press. There is no more fourth estate. Wait, hold on…I’m not going down some esoteric path with theories on the deregulation of the media and corporate bias and CNN versus Fox…I mean it: there is no more functioning press in this country. And without a real press the corporate and religious Republicans can lie all they want and get away with it. And that’s the 51% advantage.

Think this is some opinion being wryly posited to titillate other bloggers and inspire dialogue with Tucker Carlson or Gore Vidal? F— that. Four corporations own all the TV channels. All of them. If they don’t get ratings they get canceled or fired. All news is about sex, blame and anger, and fear. Exposing lies about amounts of money taken from lobbyists and votes cast for the agenda of the last eight years does not rate. The end.

Yeah, that must be it. The reason Barack Obama may lose is that the press, which has been so profoundly charitable to the Republican ticket, has joined in the effort to destroy Obama. If Obama “frickin’ loses this thing,” it will be in part because he accepted the adoration of people like Adam McKay too easily and misunderstood the nature of the American electorate as a result.

Oh, and by the way, who pays Adam McKay his huge fees? In large measure, a company called 20th Century Fox, whose parent corporation also owns the Fox News Channel. Adam McKay is in the pay of Rupert Murdoch. He is Rupert Murdoch’s toy. Maybe he shouldn’t take such filthy lucre. Maybe he should stand on principle, and refuse to participate in the media culture that is destroying our democracy.

No, that’s all right. He’ll just occupy space at the Huffington Post to discuss the evils of the rapacious corporations that are making him a very, very, very rich man.

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Why Go After Palin?

We have had a few days to observe the impact of Sarah Palin on the race. The most surprising aspect by far is the degree to which she has utterly reshaped, if not obliterated, the Democrats’ campaign. Whether you believe the Democratic gaffe duo intentionally insult and demean or that they merely inadvertently do so, it is hard to escape the conclusion that they have Palin on the brain. But why, and why devote all this time to her? They must see that they are only feeding the media storyline that Palin has rocked the race. A few explanations are possible.

First, the public polling (and perhaps to a greater degree the internal polling) may have freaked out the Obama camp. With women and independents flocking to McCain, they are desperate to do anything to knock her down a peg. In a fit of irrational panic they have only built her up and enhanced her gender appeal, but these are desperate times, perhaps.

Second, as a colleague pointed out, neither Barack Obama or Joe Biden have ever had a viable national race (we can exclude Biden’s presidential runs) with a tough opponent. Obama had a cakewalk in his 2004 Senate race against Alan Keyes, and Biden has had a safe seat for decades. But, you say Obama beat Hillary Clinton — why is he faltering under pressure now? For starters he never faced an opponent who ideologically challenged him and secondly Clinton’s ill-fated campaign did more to sink her than anything else he did. (And let’s not forget that she in essence won the second half of the Democratic primary but was simply too far behind then to catch up.) In other words, neither of these guys have played for keeps before in the big leagues. It is now showing.

Third, the Democrats never dreamed they would be in this position and are thoroughly frustrated and flummoxed. “George Bush’s clone” didn’t seem to work, the Agent of Change is long gone, and they don’t have much else thematically in their bag of tricks. So, the only option is to attack.

Finally, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that Obama is miffed that his star has been eclipsed. The resentment seeps out, in patronizing language and in haughty tones. How dare she beat him at his game! And how embarrassing it must be to see that his own gross error in snubbing his rival Hillary Clinton set the wheels in motion for the last ten days of political agony.

Really, though, the Democrats need to get a grip. The race is close, the debates are ahead and the polls are in flux. They can still win it  — if they don’t give the voters a sense they are wimps who wilt under pressure.

We have had a few days to observe the impact of Sarah Palin on the race. The most surprising aspect by far is the degree to which she has utterly reshaped, if not obliterated, the Democrats’ campaign. Whether you believe the Democratic gaffe duo intentionally insult and demean or that they merely inadvertently do so, it is hard to escape the conclusion that they have Palin on the brain. But why, and why devote all this time to her? They must see that they are only feeding the media storyline that Palin has rocked the race. A few explanations are possible.

First, the public polling (and perhaps to a greater degree the internal polling) may have freaked out the Obama camp. With women and independents flocking to McCain, they are desperate to do anything to knock her down a peg. In a fit of irrational panic they have only built her up and enhanced her gender appeal, but these are desperate times, perhaps.

Second, as a colleague pointed out, neither Barack Obama or Joe Biden have ever had a viable national race (we can exclude Biden’s presidential runs) with a tough opponent. Obama had a cakewalk in his 2004 Senate race against Alan Keyes, and Biden has had a safe seat for decades. But, you say Obama beat Hillary Clinton — why is he faltering under pressure now? For starters he never faced an opponent who ideologically challenged him and secondly Clinton’s ill-fated campaign did more to sink her than anything else he did. (And let’s not forget that she in essence won the second half of the Democratic primary but was simply too far behind then to catch up.) In other words, neither of these guys have played for keeps before in the big leagues. It is now showing.

Third, the Democrats never dreamed they would be in this position and are thoroughly frustrated and flummoxed. “George Bush’s clone” didn’t seem to work, the Agent of Change is long gone, and they don’t have much else thematically in their bag of tricks. So, the only option is to attack.

Finally, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that Obama is miffed that his star has been eclipsed. The resentment seeps out, in patronizing language and in haughty tones. How dare she beat him at his game! And how embarrassing it must be to see that his own gross error in snubbing his rival Hillary Clinton set the wheels in motion for the last ten days of political agony.

Really, though, the Democrats need to get a grip. The race is close, the debates are ahead and the polls are in flux. They can still win it  — if they don’t give the voters a sense they are wimps who wilt under pressure.

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You Knew This Was Coming

Not surprisingly, the recriminations about the drifting Obama campaign, especially from the Clintons, have begun. We get this report:

With the McCain campaign running tactical circles every day around the Obama outfit—which has failed, somewhat unbelievably, to come up with even a semi-compelling response to the Palin selection—one might think Mrs. Clinton, to say nothing of her sidelined husband, would be a useful surrogate on the counterattack right about now. Apparently, the Obama campaign does not agree. “My concern is that I see them as totally reactive right now as opposed to getting out there on their own and saying what the hell they are about,” said Leon Panetta, a former chief of staff to Bill Clinton who has advised Mr. Obama. “They seem to be intimidated by the Palin pick. They seem to be intimidated by how the Republicans are coming at them on change. And you cannot win if you are constantly on defense.”

Read the whole thing, as they say. But what is clear is that Democrats view the Obama camp as hobbled by “disastrous passivity.” So chances are that we’ll see more hsyteria and nasty language pouring forth from the Obama-Biden duo.

There is no doubt, if there ever was, that Clinton will be in the catbird’s seat if Obama loses. There will be no escaping the obvious — Hillary Clinton at the top or the bottom of the ticket would have put the Democrats in a commanding position. And Hillary won’t let anyone forget. Ever.

Not surprisingly, the recriminations about the drifting Obama campaign, especially from the Clintons, have begun. We get this report:

With the McCain campaign running tactical circles every day around the Obama outfit—which has failed, somewhat unbelievably, to come up with even a semi-compelling response to the Palin selection—one might think Mrs. Clinton, to say nothing of her sidelined husband, would be a useful surrogate on the counterattack right about now. Apparently, the Obama campaign does not agree. “My concern is that I see them as totally reactive right now as opposed to getting out there on their own and saying what the hell they are about,” said Leon Panetta, a former chief of staff to Bill Clinton who has advised Mr. Obama. “They seem to be intimidated by the Palin pick. They seem to be intimidated by how the Republicans are coming at them on change. And you cannot win if you are constantly on defense.”

Read the whole thing, as they say. But what is clear is that Democrats view the Obama camp as hobbled by “disastrous passivity.” So chances are that we’ll see more hsyteria and nasty language pouring forth from the Obama-Biden duo.

There is no doubt, if there ever was, that Clinton will be in the catbird’s seat if Obama loses. There will be no escaping the obvious — Hillary Clinton at the top or the bottom of the ticket would have put the Democrats in a commanding position. And Hillary won’t let anyone forget. Ever.

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Randy Scheunemann, Warmonger

Newsweek has published an interview with Randy Scheunemann, John McCain’s top foreign policy adviser, that to my reading is about as unassailable an exemplar of political sobriety as can be found. He says utterly uncontroversial things, such as that Georgia was not to blame for the Russian invasion; that the United States should only invest itself heavily in the peace process when the Palestinians become able to fulfill the obligations of statehood; and points out that Russia and China, despite being members of the Security Council, are not American allies. Are there many other topics on which the editorial positions of National Review and The New Republic are virtually indistinguishable?

All of this was too much for lefties progressives like Ezra Klein, who appears to believe that any time the United States speaks in defense of its own interests it is guilty of warmongering. Klein says that a McCain administration will be perpetually “courting confrontation” and that Scheunemann’s views are “fairly unsettling” and “not reassuring.” Why? Because Klein thinks that foreign policy is all about verbal pageantry. I’m not exaggerating:

One thing worth keeping in mind about great power conflicts is that they’re rarely inevitable. … A lot of it has to do with how leaders interact with each other, and whether they aggressively court conflict or publicly seek a constructive relationship. If you court conflict, soon enough, the other country does, and both sides build up a narrative of slights and provocations — many of them quite real — that lead to war and discord. But it is a choice: You can decide whether you want a relationship defined by transgressions and stare-downs, or whether you want a relationship where the overriding narrative is of alliance and both sides work to play down points of disagreement.

This is so bizarre that I don’t think there even exists a school of international relations theory that describes it, and there are a lot of strange schools of IR theory. It is clarifying, though, because it enables us to finally understand why people like Klein think that the only requirement of American statesmanship is the dissemination of good vibes. Since conflict is only caused by “narratives of slights and provocations,” the only thing necessary to avoid conflict is a countermanding “narrative of alliance,” and presto — problems solved.

Newsweek has published an interview with Randy Scheunemann, John McCain’s top foreign policy adviser, that to my reading is about as unassailable an exemplar of political sobriety as can be found. He says utterly uncontroversial things, such as that Georgia was not to blame for the Russian invasion; that the United States should only invest itself heavily in the peace process when the Palestinians become able to fulfill the obligations of statehood; and points out that Russia and China, despite being members of the Security Council, are not American allies. Are there many other topics on which the editorial positions of National Review and The New Republic are virtually indistinguishable?

All of this was too much for lefties progressives like Ezra Klein, who appears to believe that any time the United States speaks in defense of its own interests it is guilty of warmongering. Klein says that a McCain administration will be perpetually “courting confrontation” and that Scheunemann’s views are “fairly unsettling” and “not reassuring.” Why? Because Klein thinks that foreign policy is all about verbal pageantry. I’m not exaggerating:

One thing worth keeping in mind about great power conflicts is that they’re rarely inevitable. … A lot of it has to do with how leaders interact with each other, and whether they aggressively court conflict or publicly seek a constructive relationship. If you court conflict, soon enough, the other country does, and both sides build up a narrative of slights and provocations — many of them quite real — that lead to war and discord. But it is a choice: You can decide whether you want a relationship defined by transgressions and stare-downs, or whether you want a relationship where the overriding narrative is of alliance and both sides work to play down points of disagreement.

This is so bizarre that I don’t think there even exists a school of international relations theory that describes it, and there are a lot of strange schools of IR theory. It is clarifying, though, because it enables us to finally understand why people like Klein think that the only requirement of American statesmanship is the dissemination of good vibes. Since conflict is only caused by “narratives of slights and provocations,” the only thing necessary to avoid conflict is a countermanding “narrative of alliance,” and presto — problems solved.

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He’s Got Reasons, You Know

Listen, it’s not as if there aren’t grounds for Barack Obama to be worried. None other than Mike Gravel submarines the troopergate silliness. His running mate is a boorish fool. And his electoral map is shriveling (the latest: a double digit lead for McCain in Montana which was once thought to be promising for Obama).

But the unhinged quality of both Obama and Biden since the appearance of Palin suggests either they believe things to be worse than they appear to the rest of us, or that they don’t handle bad news very well.

Listen, it’s not as if there aren’t grounds for Barack Obama to be worried. None other than Mike Gravel submarines the troopergate silliness. His running mate is a boorish fool. And his electoral map is shriveling (the latest: a double digit lead for McCain in Montana which was once thought to be promising for Obama).

But the unhinged quality of both Obama and Biden since the appearance of Palin suggests either they believe things to be worse than they appear to the rest of us, or that they don’t handle bad news very well.

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Re: Barack

John, I think the passage, read in its entirely, bespeaks panic and anger. The personalization of his opponents (she is now a cosmetic object), the obsession with the VP on the other ticket, and the reference to the five kids — it all suggests someone not in control of himself or his “message.” And what would the latter be, exactly? We’ve gone from New Politics to petty insults. If this is how he reacts to a few point drop in the polls, how are we to imagine he would react if something really went wrong — a war, an attack, a disaster?

John, I think the passage, read in its entirely, bespeaks panic and anger. The personalization of his opponents (she is now a cosmetic object), the obsession with the VP on the other ticket, and the reference to the five kids — it all suggests someone not in control of himself or his “message.” And what would the latter be, exactly? We’ve gone from New Politics to petty insults. If this is how he reacts to a few point drop in the polls, how are we to imagine he would react if something really went wrong — a war, an attack, a disaster?

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Barack Hussein Dukakis

Jen, Obama’s remark — “put a lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig” — is being treated by the McCain campaign as an attack on Sarah Palin. I’m not sure that’s what’s going on here. Syntactically, the remark is not about Palin; it’s about John McCain. She’s the lipstick. He’s the pig.

Rhetorically, Barack Obama likened his rival to a pig.

There’s a whiff of something very dangerous to Obama here. What this sounds like is nothing so much as Michael Dukakis, in 1988, likening George H.W. Bush to a rotting fish (“a fish rots first from the head,” he said). As if to demonstrate that the Dukakis example was floating through his brain at exactly the same moment, Obama then made a direct allusion to it: “You can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called ‘change,’ it’s still gonna stink after eight years.”

Dukakis lost by eight points, after blowing a substantial convention lead.

Jen, Obama’s remark — “put a lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig” — is being treated by the McCain campaign as an attack on Sarah Palin. I’m not sure that’s what’s going on here. Syntactically, the remark is not about Palin; it’s about John McCain. She’s the lipstick. He’s the pig.

Rhetorically, Barack Obama likened his rival to a pig.

There’s a whiff of something very dangerous to Obama here. What this sounds like is nothing so much as Michael Dukakis, in 1988, likening George H.W. Bush to a rotting fish (“a fish rots first from the head,” he said). As if to demonstrate that the Dukakis example was floating through his brain at exactly the same moment, Obama then made a direct allusion to it: “You can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called ‘change,’ it’s still gonna stink after eight years.”

Dukakis lost by eight points, after blowing a substantial convention lead.

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Lipstick on A Trainwreck

The latest mega gaffe  comes directly from Barack Obama’s lips. ABC news reports:

You know, you can put lipstick on a pig,” Obama said, “but it’s still a pig.” The crowd rose and applauded, some of them no doubt thinking he may have been alluding to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s ad lib during her vice presidential nomination acceptance speech last week, “What’s the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick.” “You can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called ‘change,’” Obama continued, “it’s still gonna stink after eight years. “We’ve had enough of the same old thing! It’s time to bring about real change to Washington.  And that’s the choice you’ve got in this election.” Obama added that “it is not going to be easy … John McCain has a compelling biography, you know Sarah Palin is an interesting story.” The crowd booed. “No, she’s new!” Obama said. “She hasn’t been on the scene, you know, she’s got five kids and my hat goes off to anybody who’s looking after five. I’ve got two and they tire Michelle and me out!”

The entire exchange is of course deeply offensive and disrespectful, treating his opponent’s running mate as a sexualized object and a mere mother, to put it bluntly. I can’t imagine there is any Democratic woman — forget the Republicans and Independents — who isn’t embarrassed. Obama appears to be crumbling under pressure, reduced to swinging away at the person who has supplanted him as the political star of the Election.

The latest mega gaffe  comes directly from Barack Obama’s lips. ABC news reports:

You know, you can put lipstick on a pig,” Obama said, “but it’s still a pig.” The crowd rose and applauded, some of them no doubt thinking he may have been alluding to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s ad lib during her vice presidential nomination acceptance speech last week, “What’s the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick.” “You can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called ‘change,’” Obama continued, “it’s still gonna stink after eight years. “We’ve had enough of the same old thing! It’s time to bring about real change to Washington.  And that’s the choice you’ve got in this election.” Obama added that “it is not going to be easy … John McCain has a compelling biography, you know Sarah Palin is an interesting story.” The crowd booed. “No, she’s new!” Obama said. “She hasn’t been on the scene, you know, she’s got five kids and my hat goes off to anybody who’s looking after five. I’ve got two and they tire Michelle and me out!”

The entire exchange is of course deeply offensive and disrespectful, treating his opponent’s running mate as a sexualized object and a mere mother, to put it bluntly. I can’t imagine there is any Democratic woman — forget the Republicans and Independents — who isn’t embarrassed. Obama appears to be crumbling under pressure, reduced to swinging away at the person who has supplanted him as the political star of the Election.

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The Beagle Blogger Taking a Walk?

Ace of Spades spotted it first: Signs that the once-respectable blogger who descended to unholy depths in the wake of the Sarah Palin nomination has worn out his welcome at the Atlantic Monthly’s website. The evidence: A post in which the Beagler quotes, in German, the final line of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus: “Whereof we cannot speak, we must be silent.”

How Oakeshottian of him!

Ace of Spades spotted it first: Signs that the once-respectable blogger who descended to unholy depths in the wake of the Sarah Palin nomination has worn out his welcome at the Atlantic Monthly’s website. The evidence: A post in which the Beagler quotes, in German, the final line of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus: “Whereof we cannot speak, we must be silent.”

How Oakeshottian of him!

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Bring the Bomb out of the Basement?

Writing in the Jerusalem Post, Louis Rene Beres makes a thought-provoking argument that, for the sake of improving its deterrent effect against Iran, the time is near for Israel to make public its nuclear weapons program:

To be deterred, a fully nuclear Iran would need to know that Israel’s nuclear weapons are both invulnerable and capable of penetrating its defenses. Any Iranian judgment about Israel’s willingness to retaliate with nuclear weapons would depend in part on a foreknowledge of these weapons.

Any Iranian belief that Israel’s nuclear weapons are exclusively mega-destructive must be modified. The enemy must be convinced that the Jewish state possesses a range of weapons to meet a range of threats, so the credibility of a deterrent posture could vary inversely with the perceived destructiveness of Israeli arms.

Presumably, he means that Israel ought to divulge the extent to which it possesses MIRVs, tactical nukes, anti-missile warheads, nuclear-capable submarines, and nuclear-hardened silos.  Although Beres assumes that neither Israel nor America will take preventive action against Iran (a subject David Kay recently and helpfully discussed), it seems perfectly possible to combine his suggested sunshine policy with one of keeping all military options open.

Writing in the Jerusalem Post, Louis Rene Beres makes a thought-provoking argument that, for the sake of improving its deterrent effect against Iran, the time is near for Israel to make public its nuclear weapons program:

To be deterred, a fully nuclear Iran would need to know that Israel’s nuclear weapons are both invulnerable and capable of penetrating its defenses. Any Iranian judgment about Israel’s willingness to retaliate with nuclear weapons would depend in part on a foreknowledge of these weapons.

Any Iranian belief that Israel’s nuclear weapons are exclusively mega-destructive must be modified. The enemy must be convinced that the Jewish state possesses a range of weapons to meet a range of threats, so the credibility of a deterrent posture could vary inversely with the perceived destructiveness of Israeli arms.

Presumably, he means that Israel ought to divulge the extent to which it possesses MIRVs, tactical nukes, anti-missile warheads, nuclear-capable submarines, and nuclear-hardened silos.  Although Beres assumes that neither Israel nor America will take preventive action against Iran (a subject David Kay recently and helpfully discussed), it seems perfectly possible to combine his suggested sunshine policy with one of keeping all military options open.

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Obama on Bush’s Iraq Plan

For the reaction of the Obama and McCain campaigns to President Bush’s announcement that some 8,000 troops will be redirected early next year from Iraq to Afghanistan, go here. Admittedly, as a McCain foreign policy adviser, I’m biased, but the Obama statement struck me as a particularly uninspiring amalgam of clichés. Herewith a few comments on his statements:

We will continue to spend $10 billion a month in Iraq while the Iraqi government sits on a $79 billion surplus

What’s the connection between the money we’re spending to fight the war in Iraq and the Iraqi oil revenues which should be used to rebuild the country? Is he suggesting that we give credence to the crackpot “war for oil” charges by taking their oil money?

In the absence of a timetable to remove our combat brigades, we will continue to give Iraq’s leaders a blank check instead of pressing them to reconcile their differences. So the President’s talk of “return on success” is a new name for continuing the same strategic mistakes that have dominated our foreign policy for over 5 years.

Obama is still stuck on the discredited theory that a timetable for withdrawal will force Iraqis to reconcile their differences. Evidence, please? In fact, the record of the past five years points in the opposite direction: When we were withdrawing our troops from Iraq’s streets in 2006, all hell was breaking loose. When we surged more troops into the streets of Baghdad and other cities, Iraqi legislators began to make progress in reconciling their differences.

What President Bush and Senator McCain don’t understand is that the central front in the war on terror is not in Iraq, and it never was – the central front is in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the terrorists who hit us on 9/11 are still plotting attacks seven years later. Today, the Taliban is on the offensive, al Qaeda has a new sanctuary, and its leaders are putting out videotapes. Yet under President Bush’s plan, we still have nearly four times the number of troops in Iraq than Afghanistan, and we have no comprehensive plan to deal with the al Qaeda sanctuary in northwest Pakistan.

Obama is right that Iraq is not the “central front in the war on terror”–anymore. It was for many years and would be today if we had not implemented the surge, which he still says he would have opposed. It was only the surge which allowed our troops to inflict crushing defeats on Al Qaeda, forcing them to shift their operations elsewhere. Now they are entrenched in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

Is Obama planning to send large numbers of ground troops to Pakistan to root them out? That would be a more militaristic approach than anything that McCain has said he would do. In fact, Obama has said nothing of the sort. Here is the sum total of his plan for Pakistan, as outlined in a July 15 speech:

We need a stronger and sustained partnership between Afghanistan, Pakistan and NATO to secure the border, to take out terrorist camps, and to crack down on cross-border insurgents. We need more troops, more helicopters, more satellites, more Predator drones in the Afghan border region. And we must make it clear that if Pakistan cannot or will not act, we will take out high-level terrorist targets like bin Laden if we have them in our sights.

Make no mistake: we can’t succeed in Afghanistan or secure our homeland unless we change our Pakistan policy. We must expect more of the Pakistani government, but we must offer more than a blank check to a General who has lost the confidence of his people. It’s time to strengthen stability by standing up for the aspirations of the Pakistani people. That’s why I’m cosponsoring a bill with Joe Biden and Richard Lugar to triple non-military aid to the Pakistani people and to sustain it for a decade, while ensuring that the military assistance we do provide is used to take the fight to the Taliban and al Qaeda. We must move beyond a purely military alliance built on convenience, or face mounting popular opposition in a nuclear-armed nation at the nexus of terror and radical Islam.

So let’s see: Obama wants to issue ultimatums to Pakistan while also tripling the aid we give it. Is that a “comprehensive plan to deal with the al Qaeda sanctuary in northwest Pakistan”? It sounds more like a contradiction in terms.

For the reaction of the Obama and McCain campaigns to President Bush’s announcement that some 8,000 troops will be redirected early next year from Iraq to Afghanistan, go here. Admittedly, as a McCain foreign policy adviser, I’m biased, but the Obama statement struck me as a particularly uninspiring amalgam of clichés. Herewith a few comments on his statements:

We will continue to spend $10 billion a month in Iraq while the Iraqi government sits on a $79 billion surplus

What’s the connection between the money we’re spending to fight the war in Iraq and the Iraqi oil revenues which should be used to rebuild the country? Is he suggesting that we give credence to the crackpot “war for oil” charges by taking their oil money?

In the absence of a timetable to remove our combat brigades, we will continue to give Iraq’s leaders a blank check instead of pressing them to reconcile their differences. So the President’s talk of “return on success” is a new name for continuing the same strategic mistakes that have dominated our foreign policy for over 5 years.

Obama is still stuck on the discredited theory that a timetable for withdrawal will force Iraqis to reconcile their differences. Evidence, please? In fact, the record of the past five years points in the opposite direction: When we were withdrawing our troops from Iraq’s streets in 2006, all hell was breaking loose. When we surged more troops into the streets of Baghdad and other cities, Iraqi legislators began to make progress in reconciling their differences.

What President Bush and Senator McCain don’t understand is that the central front in the war on terror is not in Iraq, and it never was – the central front is in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the terrorists who hit us on 9/11 are still plotting attacks seven years later. Today, the Taliban is on the offensive, al Qaeda has a new sanctuary, and its leaders are putting out videotapes. Yet under President Bush’s plan, we still have nearly four times the number of troops in Iraq than Afghanistan, and we have no comprehensive plan to deal with the al Qaeda sanctuary in northwest Pakistan.

Obama is right that Iraq is not the “central front in the war on terror”–anymore. It was for many years and would be today if we had not implemented the surge, which he still says he would have opposed. It was only the surge which allowed our troops to inflict crushing defeats on Al Qaeda, forcing them to shift their operations elsewhere. Now they are entrenched in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

Is Obama planning to send large numbers of ground troops to Pakistan to root them out? That would be a more militaristic approach than anything that McCain has said he would do. In fact, Obama has said nothing of the sort. Here is the sum total of his plan for Pakistan, as outlined in a July 15 speech:

We need a stronger and sustained partnership between Afghanistan, Pakistan and NATO to secure the border, to take out terrorist camps, and to crack down on cross-border insurgents. We need more troops, more helicopters, more satellites, more Predator drones in the Afghan border region. And we must make it clear that if Pakistan cannot or will not act, we will take out high-level terrorist targets like bin Laden if we have them in our sights.

Make no mistake: we can’t succeed in Afghanistan or secure our homeland unless we change our Pakistan policy. We must expect more of the Pakistani government, but we must offer more than a blank check to a General who has lost the confidence of his people. It’s time to strengthen stability by standing up for the aspirations of the Pakistani people. That’s why I’m cosponsoring a bill with Joe Biden and Richard Lugar to triple non-military aid to the Pakistani people and to sustain it for a decade, while ensuring that the military assistance we do provide is used to take the fight to the Taliban and al Qaeda. We must move beyond a purely military alliance built on convenience, or face mounting popular opposition in a nuclear-armed nation at the nexus of terror and radical Islam.

So let’s see: Obama wants to issue ultimatums to Pakistan while also tripling the aid we give it. Is that a “comprehensive plan to deal with the al Qaeda sanctuary in northwest Pakistan”? It sounds more like a contradiction in terms.

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Commentary of the Day

Dave, on Jennifer Rubin:

Here’s a question for the Commentary crowd. What if Obama wins?

I mean, we’re still looking at 50/50 here, so you might as well flip a coin.

I’d sure enjoy reading your perspectives on how the GOP should act, and how the conservative movement should recover, in the event that Obama gets elected. Loyal opposition? Roadblockers? In which areas is there room for compromise– and in which areas should the GOP fight tooth-and-nail in the minority?

I ask this for one simple reason: I fear that we all know how Obama’s supporters will behave if John McCain gets elected. It’ll be months of “stolen election”, followed by illegitimacy arguments, followed by a “First Hundred Days” honeymoon that might not last into the first week of February before a McCain presidency is written off as a lame-duck failure in the face of a Democratic Congress.

So. . . thoughts for another post?

Dave, on Jennifer Rubin:

Here’s a question for the Commentary crowd. What if Obama wins?

I mean, we’re still looking at 50/50 here, so you might as well flip a coin.

I’d sure enjoy reading your perspectives on how the GOP should act, and how the conservative movement should recover, in the event that Obama gets elected. Loyal opposition? Roadblockers? In which areas is there room for compromise– and in which areas should the GOP fight tooth-and-nail in the minority?

I ask this for one simple reason: I fear that we all know how Obama’s supporters will behave if John McCain gets elected. It’ll be months of “stolen election”, followed by illegitimacy arguments, followed by a “First Hundred Days” honeymoon that might not last into the first week of February before a McCain presidency is written off as a lame-duck failure in the face of a Democratic Congress.

So. . . thoughts for another post?

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Iraqis on Withdrawal

The New York Times offers an interesting survey today of Iraqi opinion with regard to American troop pullouts. Most of the Iraqis it quotes aren’t eager to see American troops pull out too soon. They realize the chaos that would ensue. So why are so many Iraqi politicians–most prominently the prime minister– calling for a withdrawal? Tareq Maher, an Iraqi who works for the Times, offers the most convincing explanation in this online essay. He writes:

As an Iraqi journalist, each day I meet dozens of officials, some government ministers, some members of parliament, some advisers to senior ministers.

All of them declare in public that they are against the Americans remaining in Iraq. They demand Iraqi liberation. They always raise the same slogan: “Independence for Iraq.” They are against the long-term security agreement, which sets the terms for the continuing presence of American soldiers in Iraq, that has been made public.

But in private sessions or meetings they are always telling me and other reporters that the Americans must stay, and that if they leave right now it would be a big mistake and misadventure.

The reasons for this political hypocrisy are like a disease. Most of the Iraqi politicians suffer from it. Their aim is to maintain their reputation in the public eye.

This way they ensure that they remain in power: using such slogans like a repeated note is the best way of winning more votes in the next election, which will allow them to remain in the political game.

That tallies with my understanding of what’s going on. Keep that in mind the next time that Barack Obama, Joe Biden, or any one of a thousand pundits claims that “the Iraqis” are demanding that we adopt Obama’s timetable for withdrawal. Yes, some Iraqis, including at times the prime minister, have called for a relatively expeditious pull-out. But, as Maher suggests, a lot of them don’t mean it.

The New York Times offers an interesting survey today of Iraqi opinion with regard to American troop pullouts. Most of the Iraqis it quotes aren’t eager to see American troops pull out too soon. They realize the chaos that would ensue. So why are so many Iraqi politicians–most prominently the prime minister– calling for a withdrawal? Tareq Maher, an Iraqi who works for the Times, offers the most convincing explanation in this online essay. He writes:

As an Iraqi journalist, each day I meet dozens of officials, some government ministers, some members of parliament, some advisers to senior ministers.

All of them declare in public that they are against the Americans remaining in Iraq. They demand Iraqi liberation. They always raise the same slogan: “Independence for Iraq.” They are against the long-term security agreement, which sets the terms for the continuing presence of American soldiers in Iraq, that has been made public.

But in private sessions or meetings they are always telling me and other reporters that the Americans must stay, and that if they leave right now it would be a big mistake and misadventure.

The reasons for this political hypocrisy are like a disease. Most of the Iraqi politicians suffer from it. Their aim is to maintain their reputation in the public eye.

This way they ensure that they remain in power: using such slogans like a repeated note is the best way of winning more votes in the next election, which will allow them to remain in the political game.

That tallies with my understanding of what’s going on. Keep that in mind the next time that Barack Obama, Joe Biden, or any one of a thousand pundits claims that “the Iraqis” are demanding that we adopt Obama’s timetable for withdrawal. Yes, some Iraqis, including at times the prime minister, have called for a relatively expeditious pull-out. But, as Maher suggests, a lot of them don’t mean it.

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Shrinking Map

First, we had word that the Obama camp was pulling out of Georgia. Now a poll shows him down 20 points in North Carolina, which the Obama camp previously had declared to be a swing state. Is the map shrinking for The One? And did the Obama team burn lots of time and money in unwinnable states? Those were questions asked of John Kerry in 2004. You can bet Democrats will be asking them again.

And next time Obama boasts of his credentials as leader of an expensive and well-staffed campaign, someone might ask if all that money and all those people were put to good use.

First, we had word that the Obama camp was pulling out of Georgia. Now a poll shows him down 20 points in North Carolina, which the Obama camp previously had declared to be a swing state. Is the map shrinking for The One? And did the Obama team burn lots of time and money in unwinnable states? Those were questions asked of John Kerry in 2004. You can bet Democrats will be asking them again.

And next time Obama boasts of his credentials as leader of an expensive and well-staffed campaign, someone might ask if all that money and all those people were put to good use.

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Ed Koch’s Meaningless Endorsement

Ed Koch has today pulled off something remarkable. In a baffling piece at RealClearPolitics, he endorses Barack Obama without naming a single policy of Obama’s that he agrees with and without naming a single policy of John McCain’s that he dislikes. In fact, the only policies Ed Koch specifically mentions favoring are “drilling for oil off our coasts and building nuclear energy plants,” the first of which was supported by McCain before Obama, and the second of which McCain supports and Obama dodges.

Still steering clear from facts or specifics of any kind, Koch winds down with this broadside:

Sarah Palin is a plucky, exciting candidate, but when her record is examined, she fails miserably with respect to her views on the domestic issues that are so important to the people of the U.S., and to me. Frankly, it would scare me if she were to succeed John McCain in the presidency.

Koch should have thought twice about that “frankly.” If he were being frank, he’d have named a single policy of Sarah Palin’s and explained why he’s too frightened to countenance a victory for her ticket. One expects better of a former Mayor of New York City than sounding off like some gullible victim of paranoid email campaigns.

Ed Koch has today pulled off something remarkable. In a baffling piece at RealClearPolitics, he endorses Barack Obama without naming a single policy of Obama’s that he agrees with and without naming a single policy of John McCain’s that he dislikes. In fact, the only policies Ed Koch specifically mentions favoring are “drilling for oil off our coasts and building nuclear energy plants,” the first of which was supported by McCain before Obama, and the second of which McCain supports and Obama dodges.

Still steering clear from facts or specifics of any kind, Koch winds down with this broadside:

Sarah Palin is a plucky, exciting candidate, but when her record is examined, she fails miserably with respect to her views on the domestic issues that are so important to the people of the U.S., and to me. Frankly, it would scare me if she were to succeed John McCain in the presidency.

Koch should have thought twice about that “frankly.” If he were being frank, he’d have named a single policy of Sarah Palin’s and explained why he’s too frightened to countenance a victory for her ticket. One expects better of a former Mayor of New York City than sounding off like some gullible victim of paranoid email campaigns.

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How To Walk It Back?

The McCain camp would like us to remember this interchange from a presser with Obama when the Palin feeding frenzy started up last week:

BO: I have heard some of the news on this and so let me be as clear as possible. I have said before and I will repeat again, I think people’s families are off limits, and people’s children are especially off limits. This shouldn’t be part of our politics, it has no relevance to governor Palin’s performance as a governor or her potential performance as a vice president. And so I would strongly urge people to back off these kinds of stories. You know my mother had me when she was 18. And how family deals with issues and teenage children that shouldn’t be the topic of our politics and I hope that anybody who is supporting me understands that is off limits.

Jeff Zeleny: an unnamed McCain advisor as reported on Reuters that the despicable rumors have been spread on blogs some even with Barack Obama’s name on them.

BO: I am offended by that statement, there is no evidence at all that any of this involved us. I hope I am as clear as I can be. So in case I am not, let me repeat, we don’t go after people’s families, we don’t get them involved in the politics, it is not appropriate and it is not relevant. Our people were not involved in any way in this and they will not be. And if I ever thought it was somebody in the campaign that was involved in something like that they would be fired. Ok. Alright guys. Thank you.

It is unlikely that Joe Biden would be “fired” but some act of contrition would seen to be in order. Moreover, will this potentially increase the focus on Biden who has managed to find Palin’s appearance, child and impact on womanhood good topics? If they actually followed him minute-by-minute looking for gaffes they way they do Palin it might be revealing. It would certainly fill up a newscast.

As detailed by Yuval Levin, Biden’s remark is one of his most offensive to date. At the very least, as Marc Ambinder says,

“It’s kind of a too-easy, doesn’t-really-need-to-be-made gotcha point — like when some Democrats claim that Bristol Palin is a walking example of why Gov. Palin’s approach to sex education doesn’t work. The point has been scored, but the logic is not sound and the politics is fishy.”

Biden’s judgment and that of the man who selected him now has become a matter of concern.

The McCain camp would like us to remember this interchange from a presser with Obama when the Palin feeding frenzy started up last week:

BO: I have heard some of the news on this and so let me be as clear as possible. I have said before and I will repeat again, I think people’s families are off limits, and people’s children are especially off limits. This shouldn’t be part of our politics, it has no relevance to governor Palin’s performance as a governor or her potential performance as a vice president. And so I would strongly urge people to back off these kinds of stories. You know my mother had me when she was 18. And how family deals with issues and teenage children that shouldn’t be the topic of our politics and I hope that anybody who is supporting me understands that is off limits.

Jeff Zeleny: an unnamed McCain advisor as reported on Reuters that the despicable rumors have been spread on blogs some even with Barack Obama’s name on them.

BO: I am offended by that statement, there is no evidence at all that any of this involved us. I hope I am as clear as I can be. So in case I am not, let me repeat, we don’t go after people’s families, we don’t get them involved in the politics, it is not appropriate and it is not relevant. Our people were not involved in any way in this and they will not be. And if I ever thought it was somebody in the campaign that was involved in something like that they would be fired. Ok. Alright guys. Thank you.

It is unlikely that Joe Biden would be “fired” but some act of contrition would seen to be in order. Moreover, will this potentially increase the focus on Biden who has managed to find Palin’s appearance, child and impact on womanhood good topics? If they actually followed him minute-by-minute looking for gaffes they way they do Palin it might be revealing. It would certainly fill up a newscast.

As detailed by Yuval Levin, Biden’s remark is one of his most offensive to date. At the very least, as Marc Ambinder says,

“It’s kind of a too-easy, doesn’t-really-need-to-be-made gotcha point — like when some Democrats claim that Bristol Palin is a walking example of why Gov. Palin’s approach to sex education doesn’t work. The point has been scored, but the logic is not sound and the politics is fishy.”

Biden’s judgment and that of the man who selected him now has become a matter of concern.

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Goldberg, Israel, and Iran

Jeffrey Goldberg pens a trenchant op-ed in the New York Times arguing—correctly, I think—that the chief challenge for the next president will be preventing a nuclear attack on the U.S. homeland by Islamist terrorists. (I would add that preventing such an attack anywhere in the world is almost as important as stopping it here; imagine the devastating effect of a strike on Paris or London—or New Delhi.)

He is also on the money in scorning Barack Obama for pledging a law enforcement approach to deal with such an eventuality. Goldberg is correct in saying that our focus has to be on preempting an attack, not on punishing the perpetrators.

But somehow he finds a way to slip in his old bugaboo—supposedly excessive American support for Israel. How is this connected to the larger topic? Does Goldberg really think that if the U.S. weren’t backing Israel that Osama bin Laden wouldn’t be eager to nuke us? He writes about an interview he recently conducted with John McCain (whose campaign I advise on foreign policy):

I asked [McCain] not long ago whether he believes that America conflates its problem with Iran with Israel’s Iran problem. He said Israel’s existence is an American moral and national-security imperative. “I think these terrorist organizations that [Iran] sponsors, Hamas and the others, are also bent, at least long-term, on the destruction of the United States of America,” he added. “Iraq is a central battleground. Because these Shiite militias are sending in these special groups, as they call them . . . to remove U.S. influence and to drive us out of Iraq.”

There are many different things taking place inside his answer, not all of which are connected. Hamas is a disgraceful group, ideologically opposed to most of what America represents, but it is unconnected to the fight against Shiite militias. These conflations, among other things, preclude serious conversation about ideology and motivation.

Hamas is “unconnected to the fight against Shiite militias” in Iraq? Really? Surely Goldberg is aware that Iran sponsors both Hamas and the Iraqi Special Groups? If not perhaps he should check out this article, or this one, or this one.

Goldberg is a serious writer, but it’s hard to engage in “serious conversation” with someone who denies the obvious fact that both Hamas and the Iraqi Special Groups—along with Hezbollah, the Syrian Baathist regime, and other entities—represent different facets of Iran’s attempt to dominate the Middle East, thereby driving the U.S. out of the region and perhaps even driving Israel out of existence (or so the mad mullahs hope).

Jeffrey Goldberg pens a trenchant op-ed in the New York Times arguing—correctly, I think—that the chief challenge for the next president will be preventing a nuclear attack on the U.S. homeland by Islamist terrorists. (I would add that preventing such an attack anywhere in the world is almost as important as stopping it here; imagine the devastating effect of a strike on Paris or London—or New Delhi.)

He is also on the money in scorning Barack Obama for pledging a law enforcement approach to deal with such an eventuality. Goldberg is correct in saying that our focus has to be on preempting an attack, not on punishing the perpetrators.

But somehow he finds a way to slip in his old bugaboo—supposedly excessive American support for Israel. How is this connected to the larger topic? Does Goldberg really think that if the U.S. weren’t backing Israel that Osama bin Laden wouldn’t be eager to nuke us? He writes about an interview he recently conducted with John McCain (whose campaign I advise on foreign policy):

I asked [McCain] not long ago whether he believes that America conflates its problem with Iran with Israel’s Iran problem. He said Israel’s existence is an American moral and national-security imperative. “I think these terrorist organizations that [Iran] sponsors, Hamas and the others, are also bent, at least long-term, on the destruction of the United States of America,” he added. “Iraq is a central battleground. Because these Shiite militias are sending in these special groups, as they call them . . . to remove U.S. influence and to drive us out of Iraq.”

There are many different things taking place inside his answer, not all of which are connected. Hamas is a disgraceful group, ideologically opposed to most of what America represents, but it is unconnected to the fight against Shiite militias. These conflations, among other things, preclude serious conversation about ideology and motivation.

Hamas is “unconnected to the fight against Shiite militias” in Iraq? Really? Surely Goldberg is aware that Iran sponsors both Hamas and the Iraqi Special Groups? If not perhaps he should check out this article, or this one, or this one.

Goldberg is a serious writer, but it’s hard to engage in “serious conversation” with someone who denies the obvious fact that both Hamas and the Iraqi Special Groups—along with Hezbollah, the Syrian Baathist regime, and other entities—represent different facets of Iran’s attempt to dominate the Middle East, thereby driving the U.S. out of the region and perhaps even driving Israel out of existence (or so the mad mullahs hope).

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Palin and Wright

We all know that CNN is cable television’s most fair and balanced independent-minded news station. In turn–and, apparently, irrespective of nuance–CNN is committed to asking the same questions of Republican and Democratic candidates. When convenient, it even tries to craft the same answers.

In this vein, last night on AC-360, Anderson Cooper ran a special segment on Sarah Palin’s church, explicitly asking the same questions of Palin’s religious outlook as CNN formerly asked regarding the influence of Rev. Jeremiah Wright on Barack Obama’s outlook. Yet through this line of questioning, CNN drew an outrageously inaccurate analogy between Obama’s longtime mentorship under Wright and Palin’s one-time membership in a Pentecostal church, implicitly suggesting that Palin’s supposed devoutness should negate voters’ prior concerns regarding Obama’s church attendance–or, more likely, that Palin’s devoutness represents a theocratic outlook that is more disconcerting.

But here’s where facts get in the way. In sharp contrast to Obama’s two decades of sitting silently while his preacher trashed the United States from the pulpit, Palin has personally used the pulpit to pray for the United States. In the CNN segment, she is shown saying:

Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right also for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending them out on a task that is from God. That’s what we have to make sure that we’re praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God’s plan.

If you’re a synagogue-attending American Jew, this prayer for our country probably sounds rather familiar. Frankly, I’d imagine that patriotic Americans with even an ounce of religious conviction probably pray for the United States all the time. CNN also reported that Palin–shudder–”prayed [with her pastor] to become a better leader.” Again, where’s the story?

Still, CNN did its best, probing for unsavory details that–despite its best efforts–had no consequence for Palin specifically. For example, CNN dutifully pointed out that members of Palin’s former church–which she left in 2002–speak in tongues, but quoted the pastor as saying that he never saw Palin actually doing so. Then, it added that the church’s pastor once declared that those who voted for John Kerry in 2004 would go to hell–again, a tidbit that has nothing to do with Palin, who left the church at least two years prior to this incident. Finally, there’s the issue of Palin’s current church hosting a Jews for Jesus speaker last month, which Palin attended. (John’s already handled this one.)

We can probably expect that rumors regarding Palin’s church and religious convictions will continue to circulate in the bowels of the liberal blogosphere, such as in Juan Cole’s idiotic analogy between Palin and radical Islamists (h/t Emanuele). That’s a good thing for Republicans: the Left’s ongoing vilification of religious American Christians only alienates them further from liberal Democrats such as Barack Obama.

We all know that CNN is cable television’s most fair and balanced independent-minded news station. In turn–and, apparently, irrespective of nuance–CNN is committed to asking the same questions of Republican and Democratic candidates. When convenient, it even tries to craft the same answers.

In this vein, last night on AC-360, Anderson Cooper ran a special segment on Sarah Palin’s church, explicitly asking the same questions of Palin’s religious outlook as CNN formerly asked regarding the influence of Rev. Jeremiah Wright on Barack Obama’s outlook. Yet through this line of questioning, CNN drew an outrageously inaccurate analogy between Obama’s longtime mentorship under Wright and Palin’s one-time membership in a Pentecostal church, implicitly suggesting that Palin’s supposed devoutness should negate voters’ prior concerns regarding Obama’s church attendance–or, more likely, that Palin’s devoutness represents a theocratic outlook that is more disconcerting.

But here’s where facts get in the way. In sharp contrast to Obama’s two decades of sitting silently while his preacher trashed the United States from the pulpit, Palin has personally used the pulpit to pray for the United States. In the CNN segment, she is shown saying:

Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right also for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending them out on a task that is from God. That’s what we have to make sure that we’re praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God’s plan.

If you’re a synagogue-attending American Jew, this prayer for our country probably sounds rather familiar. Frankly, I’d imagine that patriotic Americans with even an ounce of religious conviction probably pray for the United States all the time. CNN also reported that Palin–shudder–”prayed [with her pastor] to become a better leader.” Again, where’s the story?

Still, CNN did its best, probing for unsavory details that–despite its best efforts–had no consequence for Palin specifically. For example, CNN dutifully pointed out that members of Palin’s former church–which she left in 2002–speak in tongues, but quoted the pastor as saying that he never saw Palin actually doing so. Then, it added that the church’s pastor once declared that those who voted for John Kerry in 2004 would go to hell–again, a tidbit that has nothing to do with Palin, who left the church at least two years prior to this incident. Finally, there’s the issue of Palin’s current church hosting a Jews for Jesus speaker last month, which Palin attended. (John’s already handled this one.)

We can probably expect that rumors regarding Palin’s church and religious convictions will continue to circulate in the bowels of the liberal blogosphere, such as in Juan Cole’s idiotic analogy between Palin and radical Islamists (h/t Emanuele). That’s a good thing for Republicans: the Left’s ongoing vilification of religious American Christians only alienates them further from liberal Democrats such as Barack Obama.

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Hope, Change, and Denial

Today in Dayton, Ohio, Barack Obama was asked about the GOP ticket’s huge upswing in the polls. Here’s his answer:

You know I just think that the notion that people are swinging back and forth in the span of a few weeks, or a few days, this wildly generally isn’t borne out. These are the same polls that had me 20 down last Summer that have swung wildly throughout this process.

Funny. About a week ago he seemed to take polls pretty seriously. On 60 Minutes, Steve Kroft asked him if he ever doubted he’d get the Democratic nomination:

Obama: “Of course.”

Kroft: “When?”

Obama: “Well, let’s see. About a year ago we were down 30 in Iowa.”

Denial is not a plan. Oh wait, for Obama it actually is.

Today in Dayton, Ohio, Barack Obama was asked about the GOP ticket’s huge upswing in the polls. Here’s his answer:

You know I just think that the notion that people are swinging back and forth in the span of a few weeks, or a few days, this wildly generally isn’t borne out. These are the same polls that had me 20 down last Summer that have swung wildly throughout this process.

Funny. About a week ago he seemed to take polls pretty seriously. On 60 Minutes, Steve Kroft asked him if he ever doubted he’d get the Democratic nomination:

Obama: “Of course.”

Kroft: “When?”

Obama: “Well, let’s see. About a year ago we were down 30 in Iowa.”

Denial is not a plan. Oh wait, for Obama it actually is.

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Re: Joe Biden

The McCain camp put out a remarkably restrained response:

“Barack Obama’s running mate sunk to a new low today launching an offensive debate over who cares more about special needs children. Playing politics with this issue is disturbing and indicative of a desperate campaign.”

The question remains whether the Obama camp will have the decency to force their VP to apologize. It is increasinly clear which VP is the greatest liability.

UPDATE: And this was after Biden’s earlier comment that Palin’s election would be a “backward step for women.” This is like watching a trainwreck in slow motion.

The McCain camp put out a remarkably restrained response:

“Barack Obama’s running mate sunk to a new low today launching an offensive debate over who cares more about special needs children. Playing politics with this issue is disturbing and indicative of a desperate campaign.”

The question remains whether the Obama camp will have the decency to force their VP to apologize. It is increasinly clear which VP is the greatest liability.

UPDATE: And this was after Biden’s earlier comment that Palin’s election would be a “backward step for women.” This is like watching a trainwreck in slow motion.

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