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Posts For: September 11, 2008

Barack Obama Defending Small Town Mayors

Asked about mayors vs. organizers, he acknowledges that there are lots of mayors in Democratic circles and they get things done. Hmm. Then he seems to catch himself and goes back to defending community organizers. An interesting moment– did he forget this was a major criticism of his own campaign about Sarah Palin (only a 9000 person town?) or was he walking back the criticism? The latter I think.

Asked about mayors vs. organizers, he acknowledges that there are lots of mayors in Democratic circles and they get things done. Hmm. Then he seems to catch himself and goes back to defending community organizers. An interesting moment– did he forget this was a major criticism of his own campaign about Sarah Palin (only a 9000 person town?) or was he walking back the criticism? The latter I think.

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A Good Question

Barack Obama says ROTC should be back on campus. Just as McCain helped himself by not appearing like a wild-eyed crazy, Obama is helping by seeming to be very moderate and mainstream.

Obama asked about his strange comment that he thought of joining the military but didn’t because there was no war. Obama neatly sidesteps by saying there is a “special obligation” to serve during wartime. Again, no follow up (“Why didn’t you ever mention this yearning for military service before?”) so there really isn’t anything newsworthy to come out of this.

Barack Obama says ROTC should be back on campus. Just as McCain helped himself by not appearing like a wild-eyed crazy, Obama is helping by seeming to be very moderate and mainstream.

Obama asked about his strange comment that he thought of joining the military but didn’t because there was no war. Obama neatly sidesteps by saying there is a “special obligation” to serve during wartime. Again, no follow up (“Why didn’t you ever mention this yearning for military service before?”) so there really isn’t anything newsworthy to come out of this.

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Judy Woodruff Is Trying

Judy Woodruff is gamely trying to probe for areas of conflict that Obama might have with John McCain, but it sort of descends into mush. Asked a good question about an expanded government “crowding out” private initative, he bushed it off as “old thinking.” Without follow-ups (“Is government not big enough now, Senator?”) we really don’t learn much.

Judy Woodruff is gamely trying to probe for areas of conflict that Obama might have with John McCain, but it sort of descends into mush. Asked a good question about an expanded government “crowding out” private initative, he bushed it off as “old thinking.” Without follow-ups (“Is government not big enough now, Senator?”) we really don’t learn much.

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Barack Obama Says It Too

“America is the greatest country on earth.” He is very fluid and comfortable. When no one presses him or asks anything hard he is very likeable and effective.

“America is the greatest country on earth.” He is very fluid and comfortable. When no one presses him or asks anything hard he is very likeable and effective.

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Even The Grey Lady Noticed

From the New York Times:

The network teased the interview on its Web site this afternoon with this eye-popping bulletin: “Exclusive: Gov. Sarah Palin warns war may be necessary if Russia invades another country.” But the transcript showed that she was merely repeating Mr. McCain’s position and had not used provocative language. And we’re wondering if the McCain camp is reconsidering its selection of ABC, since it hyped the teaser to sound like Ms. Palin was ready to press the button.

From the New York Times:

The network teased the interview on its Web site this afternoon with this eye-popping bulletin: “Exclusive: Gov. Sarah Palin warns war may be necessary if Russia invades another country.” But the transcript showed that she was merely repeating Mr. McCain’s position and had not used provocative language. And we’re wondering if the McCain camp is reconsidering its selection of ABC, since it hyped the teaser to sound like Ms. Palin was ready to press the button.

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That Was Clever

John McCain is bringing up those townhall forums — get us all out here together.  Yeah, why didn’t that ever work out?

John McCain is bringing up those townhall forums — get us all out here together.  Yeah, why didn’t that ever work out?

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One Benefit For McCain

He certainly seems calm and soothing, not the crazy and angry warmonger the Left makes him out to be.

He certainly seems calm and soothing, not the crazy and angry warmonger the Left makes him out to be.

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American Exceptionalism

John McCain: “I do believe in American exceptionalism.”

Please please please ask Obama if he agrees.

John McCain: “I do believe in American exceptionalism.”

Please please please ask Obama if he agrees.

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Re: McCain Perks Up The National Service Forum

Jen, I think he’s doing very very well within the confines of a very very boring and shapeless production. He just pulled a little narcolepsy gag and the audience ate it up. If nothing else, this is showing a very funny and soft side of the warrior.

Jen, I think he’s doing very very well within the confines of a very very boring and shapeless production. He just pulled a little narcolepsy gag and the audience ate it up. If nothing else, this is showing a very funny and soft side of the warrior.

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McCain Perks Up The National Service Forum

He makes a very compelling case for small town mayor experience — budget, hiring/firing and the like. That was mildly interesting and effectively done.

He makes a very compelling case for small town mayor experience — budget, hiring/firing and the like. That was mildly interesting and effectively done.

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Re: Palin’s Performance

I thought it “startling” because she has never done this and withstood a tougher grilling than any of the other three of candidates, to my recollection, have received. I thought “startling” because her demeanor and presentation is superior to that of politicians with years of experience. That said, the truly impressive part of the interview was the second half where she essentially debunked the “religious fanatic” meme ( and showed a better recollection of her own words than the ABC researchers). As to the Bush Doctrine moment, she essentially got it “right”– with adequate intelligence information we have the right to act in our national security — and was smart enough to get Gibson to spell out what he was looking for. My guess is that if she did as well as she did in this one, by the time of the VP debate she’ll be more than fine.

I thought it “startling” because she has never done this and withstood a tougher grilling than any of the other three of candidates, to my recollection, have received. I thought “startling” because her demeanor and presentation is superior to that of politicians with years of experience. That said, the truly impressive part of the interview was the second half where she essentially debunked the “religious fanatic” meme ( and showed a better recollection of her own words than the ABC researchers). As to the Bush Doctrine moment, she essentially got it “right”– with adequate intelligence information we have the right to act in our national security — and was smart enough to get Gibson to spell out what he was looking for. My guess is that if she did as well as she did in this one, by the time of the VP debate she’ll be more than fine.

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CAIR’s Remembering Whom?

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) held a ceremony today in Cooper City, Florida to remember the attacks of seven years ago. The keynote speaker was Altaf Ali, executive director of CAIR’s Florida chapter. This is the same man, who only months ago, refused to denounce Hamas as a terrorist organization; all the while, he stood next to a representative of CAIR who emphatically stated that “Hamas is not a terrorist organization.” Since a transcript of today’s event is not available, one can only wonder whose deaths CAIR’s “solemn ceremony” today in Florida was meant to remember.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) held a ceremony today in Cooper City, Florida to remember the attacks of seven years ago. The keynote speaker was Altaf Ali, executive director of CAIR’s Florida chapter. This is the same man, who only months ago, refused to denounce Hamas as a terrorist organization; all the while, he stood next to a representative of CAIR who emphatically stated that “Hamas is not a terrorist organization.” Since a transcript of today’s event is not available, one can only wonder whose deaths CAIR’s “solemn ceremony” today in Florida was meant to remember.

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BREAKING NEWS: McCain Offers Obama a Job!

At the service forum, Rick Stengel asks:

Gov. Schwarzenegger has made the service czar a cabinet-level appointment. Would you, as president, do the same and would you name Senator Obama to your cabinet for National Service?

And McCain laughs, smiles, and answers:

Yes.

At the service forum, Rick Stengel asks:

Gov. Schwarzenegger has made the service czar a cabinet-level appointment. Would you, as president, do the same and would you name Senator Obama to your cabinet for National Service?

And McCain laughs, smiles, and answers:

Yes.

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Axelrod: McCain “Complicit” in “Killing People”

In John Heileman’s thorough cover story for New York this week on the state of the presidential race, this quote from Obama strategist David Axelrod pops out:

“McCain is trying to recapture the outsider lane. They’ll try to portray us as the candidate of the conventional Democratic Party liberal orthodoxy. They’ll hit us on the issues they always do, like taxes.” Axelrod goes on: “The goal for us is to keep the focus on the center ring, which is, ‘You’re complicit in the policies that are killing people, and you want to continue them because you say that they are working.’ We’re gonna continue to hammer away on that.”

What, pray tell, are the policies with which McCain is “complicit” that “are killing people”? Does he mean the surge, which has led to a fantastic reduction in the number of Iraqis and Americans who are being killed?

I knew Axelrod was a liberal. I had no idea he was a hysteric.

In John Heileman’s thorough cover story for New York this week on the state of the presidential race, this quote from Obama strategist David Axelrod pops out:

“McCain is trying to recapture the outsider lane. They’ll try to portray us as the candidate of the conventional Democratic Party liberal orthodoxy. They’ll hit us on the issues they always do, like taxes.” Axelrod goes on: “The goal for us is to keep the focus on the center ring, which is, ‘You’re complicit in the policies that are killing people, and you want to continue them because you say that they are working.’ We’re gonna continue to hammer away on that.”

What, pray tell, are the policies with which McCain is “complicit” that “are killing people”? Does he mean the surge, which has led to a fantastic reduction in the number of Iraqis and Americans who are being killed?

I knew Axelrod was a liberal. I had no idea he was a hysteric.

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Re: McCain and Service

One fascinating belly-of-the-beast moment with McCain sitting on a stage at Columbia University — McCain, whose daughter is a graduate of Columbia, pointing out that the university refuses to allow ROTC on campus and that this is a policy that ought to be revisited. He was speaking in response to a question about military recruitment.

One fascinating belly-of-the-beast moment with McCain sitting on a stage at Columbia University — McCain, whose daughter is a graduate of Columbia, pointing out that the university refuses to allow ROTC on campus and that this is a policy that ought to be revisited. He was speaking in response to a question about military recruitment.

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Re: McCain At National Service Forum

Abe, this is the dullest, most useless event in two years of this presidential campaign. Clearly CNN didn’t learn anything from the Rick Warren forum. I’m trying to come up with some memorable bit of data or quote but I’m stumped.

Abe, this is the dullest, most useless event in two years of this presidential campaign. Clearly CNN didn’t learn anything from the Rick Warren forum. I’m trying to come up with some memorable bit of data or quote but I’m stumped.

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Re: Palin’s Performance

Jen, I thought she was fine, and substantively she was better than fine, especially when it came to Israel’s right to defend itself. But I don’t know if she was “startlingly” fine. She was being extraordinarily careful, which is always inhibiting, and at one moment, when asked about the “Bush doctrine,” she was either excessively guarded or caught off guard.

For the record, when a distressed friend called to say he was made nervous by her failure to identify the Bush Doctrine off the bat, I had to stop for a moment and think about it because I wasn’t instantly sure whether the Bush Doctrine was the policy of preemption or the democratization of Arab lands. And I wrote an entire book about the Bush presidency. She answered it, after a pause, by assuming it was the “you’re either with us or with the terrorists” line Bush promulgated right after 9/11.

It turns out Charlie Gibson meant the preemption doctrine — but then, he didn’t know what he was talking about either, since he told her in the weirdly patronizing voice in which he interviewed her that it was enunciated in September 2002.

The doctrine of preemption was, in fact, enunciated in June 2002 at West Point; September 2002 was when Bush declared Saddam Hussein in violation of 16 U.N. resolutions and declared that it was the responsibility of the U.N. to unseat him.

But Gibson is not running for vice president, Palin is, and her difficulty in fielding the question was her first moment of uncertainty in nearly two weeks.

Jen, I thought she was fine, and substantively she was better than fine, especially when it came to Israel’s right to defend itself. But I don’t know if she was “startlingly” fine. She was being extraordinarily careful, which is always inhibiting, and at one moment, when asked about the “Bush doctrine,” she was either excessively guarded or caught off guard.

For the record, when a distressed friend called to say he was made nervous by her failure to identify the Bush Doctrine off the bat, I had to stop for a moment and think about it because I wasn’t instantly sure whether the Bush Doctrine was the policy of preemption or the democratization of Arab lands. And I wrote an entire book about the Bush presidency. She answered it, after a pause, by assuming it was the “you’re either with us or with the terrorists” line Bush promulgated right after 9/11.

It turns out Charlie Gibson meant the preemption doctrine — but then, he didn’t know what he was talking about either, since he told her in the weirdly patronizing voice in which he interviewed her that it was enunciated in September 2002.

The doctrine of preemption was, in fact, enunciated in June 2002 at West Point; September 2002 was when Bush declared Saddam Hussein in violation of 16 U.N. resolutions and declared that it was the responsibility of the U.N. to unseat him.

But Gibson is not running for vice president, Palin is, and her difficulty in fielding the question was her first moment of uncertainty in nearly two weeks.

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McCain at the National Service Forum

I’m watching it now and I fear this is the year “service” becomes one of those meaningless, cuddly umbrella -phrases  under which no one is quite sure what’s being discussed. John McCain was just engaged in 10 minutes of wide-ranging conversation without any continuity whatsoever. Somehow, he did produce this heartening nugget. America is “blessed with certain inalienable rights that we want to extend to the rest of the world.”

I’m watching it now and I fear this is the year “service” becomes one of those meaningless, cuddly umbrella -phrases  under which no one is quite sure what’s being discussed. John McCain was just engaged in 10 minutes of wide-ranging conversation without any continuity whatsoever. Somehow, he did produce this heartening nugget. America is “blessed with certain inalienable rights that we want to extend to the rest of the world.”

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Zoo Review

I am amazed at my own naiveté. For years I have been under the impression that the basic problem with the UN is what I call the Myth of Domestication: The attitude that says that if the nations of the world all pretend they are part of a single community, ruled by laws and a measure of goodwill, then in fact the world will be as such.

But then there is the new United Nations Human Rights Council. Its centerpiece is the Universal Periodic Review, in which every nation has its ongoing human rights record evaluated by representatives of three other states, chosen at random. Now it’s Israel’s turn, and it is being judged by Azerbaijan, Nigeria, and South Korea.

To illustrate the stupidity of the mechanism, let us imagine you were do this on an individual level: To pack a room with a random sampling of people picked at random, ranging from philanthropists and ordinary honest people to liars and organized crime bosses, and create a “morality review” in which each person were to be judged by three others. The results would be announced publicly, with good people commended and bad people assailed.

Assuming no politicking or conniving or backroom deals, the results would be not objective, but simply incoherent: Every individual would be rated according to the triangulated worldviews of whoever happened to sit in judgment: If you happened to have two really good people on your panel, you’d be judged according to better criteria than if you happened to have two scoundrels on your panel.

But then add the element of politics and power realities: What would most likely happen is that powerful people would conduct round-the-clock talks and deals, each person engineering maximum external pressure on his judges to give them a wonderful grade, and the results would be that the strongest would win out–the exact opposite of what the morality review was meant to achieve. Instead of giving us any objective indicator of moral probity, we would have a formal public endorsement of the status quo, enshrining the power of the powerful and the weakness of the weak.

Is it not obvious that this can be the only reasonable result of the Universal Periodic Review? If this is not convincing enough, maybe a better parallel is to look at a more reasonable version of this idea, which the Review is probably emulating: The idea of being judged by a jury of one’s peers. In American law, jury selection is a long process, in which the vast majority of potential jurors are rejected, on grounds that they might have the slightest bias or personal interest that would skew their judgment. Imagine that you were on trial, and instead of twelve jurors, there were only three; that the jury pool consisted of 191 people, all of whom know you personally and the majority of whom have something against you; and that you only were allowed to reject one of the three chosen, requesting a replacement just once. What are the chances of a fair trial?

I am amazed at my own naiveté. For years I have been under the impression that the basic problem with the UN is what I call the Myth of Domestication: The attitude that says that if the nations of the world all pretend they are part of a single community, ruled by laws and a measure of goodwill, then in fact the world will be as such.

But then there is the new United Nations Human Rights Council. Its centerpiece is the Universal Periodic Review, in which every nation has its ongoing human rights record evaluated by representatives of three other states, chosen at random. Now it’s Israel’s turn, and it is being judged by Azerbaijan, Nigeria, and South Korea.

To illustrate the stupidity of the mechanism, let us imagine you were do this on an individual level: To pack a room with a random sampling of people picked at random, ranging from philanthropists and ordinary honest people to liars and organized crime bosses, and create a “morality review” in which each person were to be judged by three others. The results would be announced publicly, with good people commended and bad people assailed.

Assuming no politicking or conniving or backroom deals, the results would be not objective, but simply incoherent: Every individual would be rated according to the triangulated worldviews of whoever happened to sit in judgment: If you happened to have two really good people on your panel, you’d be judged according to better criteria than if you happened to have two scoundrels on your panel.

But then add the element of politics and power realities: What would most likely happen is that powerful people would conduct round-the-clock talks and deals, each person engineering maximum external pressure on his judges to give them a wonderful grade, and the results would be that the strongest would win out–the exact opposite of what the morality review was meant to achieve. Instead of giving us any objective indicator of moral probity, we would have a formal public endorsement of the status quo, enshrining the power of the powerful and the weakness of the weak.

Is it not obvious that this can be the only reasonable result of the Universal Periodic Review? If this is not convincing enough, maybe a better parallel is to look at a more reasonable version of this idea, which the Review is probably emulating: The idea of being judged by a jury of one’s peers. In American law, jury selection is a long process, in which the vast majority of potential jurors are rejected, on grounds that they might have the slightest bias or personal interest that would skew their judgment. Imagine that you were on trial, and instead of twelve jurors, there were only three; that the jury pool consisted of 191 people, all of whom know you personally and the majority of whom have something against you; and that you only were allowed to reject one of the three chosen, requesting a replacement just once. What are the chances of a fair trial?

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The Second Half

If she held her own in the first half, she probably gained ground in the second portion tonight: forcefully correcting Gibson and identifying with Lincoln’s words, explaining that she believes in inalienable rights from God and praising her son and the other 4000 men and women with whom he is serving who could have chosen a more “comfortable” life. It may be odd and exotic to the MSM, but her tone and the content here is going to resonate with the majority of Americans. She didn’t come across as a nut, to be blunt. She came across as a poised person of faith.

If she held her own in the first half, she probably gained ground in the second portion tonight: forcefully correcting Gibson and identifying with Lincoln’s words, explaining that she believes in inalienable rights from God and praising her son and the other 4000 men and women with whom he is serving who could have chosen a more “comfortable” life. It may be odd and exotic to the MSM, but her tone and the content here is going to resonate with the majority of Americans. She didn’t come across as a nut, to be blunt. She came across as a poised person of faith.

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