Commentary Magazine


Posts For: September 28, 2008

For New York Times, a Host of Flackery for Obama

If you have nothing to do this evening and enjoy turgid prose, the Times has published a gargantuan piece on McCain entitled “For McCain and Team, a Host of Ties to Gambling.” Nobody does passive-aggressive headlines better than the Times. The story comes in at close to 4,700 words and hopes to attract readers with sinister-sounding but meaningless hooks, such as:

A lifelong gambler, Mr. McCain takes risks, both on and off the craps table.

McCain takes risks at the craps table? How can we trust him on national security?

It’s going to be a terrible October for Obama when the NYT starts dropping 4,700-word stories on his ties to Tony Rezko, William Ayers, Jeremiah Wright, ACORN, his activities in the Illinois state legislature, and his quick rise through Chicago politics. I can already envision the headlines: “For Obama’s Friends, a Host of Anti-American and Criminal Activity.”

If you have nothing to do this evening and enjoy turgid prose, the Times has published a gargantuan piece on McCain entitled “For McCain and Team, a Host of Ties to Gambling.” Nobody does passive-aggressive headlines better than the Times. The story comes in at close to 4,700 words and hopes to attract readers with sinister-sounding but meaningless hooks, such as:

A lifelong gambler, Mr. McCain takes risks, both on and off the craps table.

McCain takes risks at the craps table? How can we trust him on national security?

It’s going to be a terrible October for Obama when the NYT starts dropping 4,700-word stories on his ties to Tony Rezko, William Ayers, Jeremiah Wright, ACORN, his activities in the Illinois state legislature, and his quick rise through Chicago politics. I can already envision the headlines: “For Obama’s Friends, a Host of Anti-American and Criminal Activity.”

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“New Historians,” and Other Propagandists

Tom Segev, one of the leaders of the Israeli “New Historians” — their cause is to expose the “founding myths” of Zionism, so as to undermine Israeli self-confidence — has written for the New York Times a review of a book about the grand mufti of Jerusalem that is a perfect illustration of the desire of the New Historians to see politics triumph over scholarship. (The grand mufti was the leader of the Palestinian Arabs during the 1920’s and 30’s and a proud ally of Adolf Hitler.)

It is apparent from the get-go that Segev applies the same intellectual standards to reviewing a work of history as he does to writing a work of history:

“Icon of Evil,” is of little scholarly value, and may be potentially harmful to Middle East peace prospects.

What in fact has been very harmful to the peace process is the New Historians themselves, whose work has helped convince the Palestinians that the “right of return” is not just historically legitimate, but that there is pressure building among Israeli elites to approve just such a concession.

It is also interesting to hear Segev advocate that the touchy subject of the Mufti be suppressed, when he has never discouraged Arabs from broaching a host of subjects that cause acute touchiness in Israelis — such as Holocaust-denial, the glorification of killing Jews, and the standard practice on Palestinian state television of denying Israel’s existence on maps. For Segev, as for most self-styled peaceniks, it is only Arab sensitivities that must be respected in order for the peace process to go forward.

Palestinian leaders have a long history of aligning themselves with tyrants — Hitler, followed by the Soviet Union, then Saddam Hussein, and today, at least for the Hamas half, Iran. Does Segev believe that discussion of these alliances should also be suppressed?

The final sentence of the review is so mind-boggling that it must be reproduced:

The suggestion that Israel’s enemies are ­Nazis, or the Nazis’ heirs, is apt to discourage any fair compromise with the Palestinians, and that is bad for Israel.

Nowhere does Segev leave room for the basic question of whether the troublingly large number of people in the Arab world who indeed wish to fulfill Hitler’s mission is worth discussing at all. No, everyone should just shut up about it because such facts interfere with enlightened political causes. This selectivity is not new for Segev: just read Michael Oren’s review of his book on the Six Day War.

[Segev’s] most telling omission relates not to the Israelis or to any foreign power but rather to the Arabs. Segev’s book is all but devoid of Arab calls for Israel’s destruction and the slaughter of its citizens. There is no mention of pro-war demonstrations, of Egypt’s willingness to use poison gas against its enemies, or of the detailed Arab plans for conquering Israel. Segev even ignores the Khartoum resolution after the war, in which the Arab states refused to negotiate with Israel and to grant it peace and recognition. These omissions inflict an injustice on the Arabs by treating them as two-dimensional props in a solipsistic Israeli drama.

And this man calls himself a historian.

Tom Segev, one of the leaders of the Israeli “New Historians” — their cause is to expose the “founding myths” of Zionism, so as to undermine Israeli self-confidence — has written for the New York Times a review of a book about the grand mufti of Jerusalem that is a perfect illustration of the desire of the New Historians to see politics triumph over scholarship. (The grand mufti was the leader of the Palestinian Arabs during the 1920’s and 30’s and a proud ally of Adolf Hitler.)

It is apparent from the get-go that Segev applies the same intellectual standards to reviewing a work of history as he does to writing a work of history:

“Icon of Evil,” is of little scholarly value, and may be potentially harmful to Middle East peace prospects.

What in fact has been very harmful to the peace process is the New Historians themselves, whose work has helped convince the Palestinians that the “right of return” is not just historically legitimate, but that there is pressure building among Israeli elites to approve just such a concession.

It is also interesting to hear Segev advocate that the touchy subject of the Mufti be suppressed, when he has never discouraged Arabs from broaching a host of subjects that cause acute touchiness in Israelis — such as Holocaust-denial, the glorification of killing Jews, and the standard practice on Palestinian state television of denying Israel’s existence on maps. For Segev, as for most self-styled peaceniks, it is only Arab sensitivities that must be respected in order for the peace process to go forward.

Palestinian leaders have a long history of aligning themselves with tyrants — Hitler, followed by the Soviet Union, then Saddam Hussein, and today, at least for the Hamas half, Iran. Does Segev believe that discussion of these alliances should also be suppressed?

The final sentence of the review is so mind-boggling that it must be reproduced:

The suggestion that Israel’s enemies are ­Nazis, or the Nazis’ heirs, is apt to discourage any fair compromise with the Palestinians, and that is bad for Israel.

Nowhere does Segev leave room for the basic question of whether the troublingly large number of people in the Arab world who indeed wish to fulfill Hitler’s mission is worth discussing at all. No, everyone should just shut up about it because such facts interfere with enlightened political causes. This selectivity is not new for Segev: just read Michael Oren’s review of his book on the Six Day War.

[Segev’s] most telling omission relates not to the Israelis or to any foreign power but rather to the Arabs. Segev’s book is all but devoid of Arab calls for Israel’s destruction and the slaughter of its citizens. There is no mention of pro-war demonstrations, of Egypt’s willingness to use poison gas against its enemies, or of the detailed Arab plans for conquering Israel. Segev even ignores the Khartoum resolution after the war, in which the Arab states refused to negotiate with Israel and to grant it peace and recognition. These omissions inflict an injustice on the Arabs by treating them as two-dimensional props in a solipsistic Israeli drama.

And this man calls himself a historian.

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Re: McCain Falls Behind

John, yes, John McCain has a small but do-able gap to make up. So what does he need to do?

First, as Steve Schmidt suggested, he is going to need to dismantle the Obama persona of a mild-mannered moderate. Does that mean going through the Bill Ayers-Chicago machine-ACORN backstory? Yup. Will voters care? Uncertain.

Second, he really does need to explain the difference in the two candidates’ economic vision. It isn’t that complicated: it is Ronald Reagan vs. Walter Mondale (who, come to think of it, was the last Democrat to run on a tax increase). Third, he needs to tie Obama to the unpopular Congress – Charlie Rangel and the duo who brought us the Fannie and Freddie protection racket (Senator Chris Dodd and Congressman Barney Frank).

Fourth, he and his running mate need to do well, really well, in the remaining debates. As for Sarah Palin, expectations could not be lower, but aside from “doing no harm” it would do her ticket a world of good to make a few helpful points in her debate against Joe Biden (e.g. he voted for the Iraq War and condemned Obama’s troop cut off and he is still larding up the budget with pork).

But we should remember that aside from a brief post-Convention bounce, McCain has been behind throughout the race. The challenge to make Obama the unacceptable “change” has always been there. The only difference: time is running out.

John, yes, John McCain has a small but do-able gap to make up. So what does he need to do?

First, as Steve Schmidt suggested, he is going to need to dismantle the Obama persona of a mild-mannered moderate. Does that mean going through the Bill Ayers-Chicago machine-ACORN backstory? Yup. Will voters care? Uncertain.

Second, he really does need to explain the difference in the two candidates’ economic vision. It isn’t that complicated: it is Ronald Reagan vs. Walter Mondale (who, come to think of it, was the last Democrat to run on a tax increase). Third, he needs to tie Obama to the unpopular Congress – Charlie Rangel and the duo who brought us the Fannie and Freddie protection racket (Senator Chris Dodd and Congressman Barney Frank).

Fourth, he and his running mate need to do well, really well, in the remaining debates. As for Sarah Palin, expectations could not be lower, but aside from “doing no harm” it would do her ticket a world of good to make a few helpful points in her debate against Joe Biden (e.g. he voted for the Iraq War and condemned Obama’s troop cut off and he is still larding up the budget with pork).

But we should remember that aside from a brief post-Convention bounce, McCain has been behind throughout the race. The challenge to make Obama the unacceptable “change” has always been there. The only difference: time is running out.

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McCain Falls Behind

The Gallup tracking poll has Obama up by 8; the Rasmussen track has Obama up 6; the Hotline tracking poll has Obama up 5. These tracking polls average the results from Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Assuming they are measuring the same thing, they suggest Obama has unquestionably benefited from the political-financial crisis in Washington last week, that McCain’s campaign-suspension was a bust, and that Friday night’s debate was pretty close to a draw. (Registered voters, according to Gallup, seem to have preferred Obama a little bit.)

The only possible silver lining for McCain in a trend line like this is that given the nature of the financial horrorshow now being visited upon us, Obama probably ought to be doing a great deal better. But if Rasmussen is right, and the number of Americans who think the country is on the right track has fallen to 11 percent, the headwinds into which McCain are sailing will pose the greatest challenge for a presidential candidate in a generation to overcome.

The Gallup tracking poll has Obama up by 8; the Rasmussen track has Obama up 6; the Hotline tracking poll has Obama up 5. These tracking polls average the results from Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Assuming they are measuring the same thing, they suggest Obama has unquestionably benefited from the political-financial crisis in Washington last week, that McCain’s campaign-suspension was a bust, and that Friday night’s debate was pretty close to a draw. (Registered voters, according to Gallup, seem to have preferred Obama a little bit.)

The only possible silver lining for McCain in a trend line like this is that given the nature of the financial horrorshow now being visited upon us, Obama probably ought to be doing a great deal better. But if Rasmussen is right, and the number of Americans who think the country is on the right track has fallen to 11 percent, the headwinds into which McCain are sailing will pose the greatest challenge for a presidential candidate in a generation to overcome.

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Defending the “Process”

Yesterday, the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a resolution calling on Iran “to comply fully and without delay” with prior U.N. resolutions regarding its nuclear program.  The measure-18 lines in total-called for additional negotiations and lacked new sanctions.

The resolution was nonetheless hailed as a “show of unity” by Alejandro Wolff, America’s deputy U.N. ambassador.  Said Condoleezza Rice, “It’s also especially important that the Iranians recognize that the P5 plus 1 process is intact.”

First of all, it really is not.  How can we believe the “process” still exists when it cannot result in any meaningful measure, even after the International Atomic Energy Agency said this month that Iran was blocking international inspections?  Second, what is so important about the “process” anyway?  Ms. Rice is now elevating procedure over results, and she is apparently forgetting that her overriding obligation is to defend the United States, not seek the approval of Moscow and Beijing.

Forget the “process,” Madame Secretary.  No people need the permission of others to protect their own country.  In the face of a possible existential threat-Iranian nuclear devices in the hands of terrorists-you have refused to apply pressure on the Russians or Chinese or speak out on their obstructionism.  If you don’t want to use military force, then make diplomacy work.  Yesterday’s resolution did nothing but buy time for the Iranians by endorsing additional talks that have no hope of stopping their nuclear weapons program.  And, of course, it encourages Tehran by not ramping up existing sanctions.

So we should not be surprised that the Iranians were not impressed by the international community’s “unity,” immediately saying U.N. actions “lack not only fairness and objectivity, but also relevance and lawfulness.”  And, more importantly, they said they will not halt their nuclear program.

I believe the United States has the economic, political, and diplomatic leverage to persuade the Chinese-and maybe even the Russians-to take meaningful steps to stop Iran.  Perhaps I am wrong, but this I am sure of: our secretary of state is just going through the motions and is not even trying.

Yesterday, the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a resolution calling on Iran “to comply fully and without delay” with prior U.N. resolutions regarding its nuclear program.  The measure-18 lines in total-called for additional negotiations and lacked new sanctions.

The resolution was nonetheless hailed as a “show of unity” by Alejandro Wolff, America’s deputy U.N. ambassador.  Said Condoleezza Rice, “It’s also especially important that the Iranians recognize that the P5 plus 1 process is intact.”

First of all, it really is not.  How can we believe the “process” still exists when it cannot result in any meaningful measure, even after the International Atomic Energy Agency said this month that Iran was blocking international inspections?  Second, what is so important about the “process” anyway?  Ms. Rice is now elevating procedure over results, and she is apparently forgetting that her overriding obligation is to defend the United States, not seek the approval of Moscow and Beijing.

Forget the “process,” Madame Secretary.  No people need the permission of others to protect their own country.  In the face of a possible existential threat-Iranian nuclear devices in the hands of terrorists-you have refused to apply pressure on the Russians or Chinese or speak out on their obstructionism.  If you don’t want to use military force, then make diplomacy work.  Yesterday’s resolution did nothing but buy time for the Iranians by endorsing additional talks that have no hope of stopping their nuclear weapons program.  And, of course, it encourages Tehran by not ramping up existing sanctions.

So we should not be surprised that the Iranians were not impressed by the international community’s “unity,” immediately saying U.N. actions “lack not only fairness and objectivity, but also relevance and lawfulness.”  And, more importantly, they said they will not halt their nuclear program.

I believe the United States has the economic, political, and diplomatic leverage to persuade the Chinese-and maybe even the Russians-to take meaningful steps to stop Iran.  Perhaps I am wrong, but this I am sure of: our secretary of state is just going through the motions and is not even trying.

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Who Got What

From the reports about the contours of the deal, it appears that the final product is indeed less horrible than it could have been. The ACORN slush money is gone, there is no tax (only the promise that a recoupment plan will be submitted to firms in the future if the taxpayers are out of pocket), there is an insurance aspect and there is greater oversight. The House GOP “got something.” Nancy Pelosi  “got something” — a bunch of GOP votes for the bill. John McCain may have gotten something — proof that he prevented the House GOP from being steamrolled, which in turn resulted in a better, bipartisan bill. And Barack Obama got two weeks of attention on the financial crisis.

Monday will be a telling day — the market will open, more polling will be taken, and the bill will be drafted and ready for a vote. If this amounts to the greatest financial triage in history all involved will be remembered fondly. If it is too little, too late, all of them — not to mention every American — will pay the price.

From the reports about the contours of the deal, it appears that the final product is indeed less horrible than it could have been. The ACORN slush money is gone, there is no tax (only the promise that a recoupment plan will be submitted to firms in the future if the taxpayers are out of pocket), there is an insurance aspect and there is greater oversight. The House GOP “got something.” Nancy Pelosi  “got something” — a bunch of GOP votes for the bill. John McCain may have gotten something — proof that he prevented the House GOP from being steamrolled, which in turn resulted in a better, bipartisan bill. And Barack Obama got two weeks of attention on the financial crisis.

Monday will be a telling day — the market will open, more polling will be taken, and the bill will be drafted and ready for a vote. If this amounts to the greatest financial triage in history all involved will be remembered fondly. If it is too little, too late, all of them — not to mention every American — will pay the price.

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Is the U.S. Helping Israel Prepare for War with Iran?

Maybe:

U.S. European Command (EUCOM) has deployed to Israel a high-powered X-band radar and the supporting people and equipment needed for coordinated defense against Iranian missile attack, marking the first permanent U.S. military presence on Israeli soil.

Since this deployment was publicly disclosed it’s fair to assume that the move is as much about sending Tehran a message as it is about tactical defense. A U.S. government source said:

First, we want to put Iran on notice that we’re bolstering our capabilities throughout the region, and especially in Israel. But just as important, we’re telling the Israelis, ‘Calm down; behave. We’re doing all we can to stand by your side and strengthen defenses, because at this time, we don’t want you rushing into the military option.’

The dog-trainer condescension toward Israel may seem unwarranted, but it’s not the worst idea to create the (possibly accurate) impression that the Jewish state is itching to attack. In the eventuality of a confrontation with Iran, no one will be able to say the mullahs were not given every reason to cooperate. (h/t Cuffy Meigs.)

Maybe:

U.S. European Command (EUCOM) has deployed to Israel a high-powered X-band radar and the supporting people and equipment needed for coordinated defense against Iranian missile attack, marking the first permanent U.S. military presence on Israeli soil.

Since this deployment was publicly disclosed it’s fair to assume that the move is as much about sending Tehran a message as it is about tactical defense. A U.S. government source said:

First, we want to put Iran on notice that we’re bolstering our capabilities throughout the region, and especially in Israel. But just as important, we’re telling the Israelis, ‘Calm down; behave. We’re doing all we can to stand by your side and strengthen defenses, because at this time, we don’t want you rushing into the military option.’

The dog-trainer condescension toward Israel may seem unwarranted, but it’s not the worst idea to create the (possibly accurate) impression that the Jewish state is itching to attack. In the eventuality of a confrontation with Iran, no one will be able to say the mullahs were not given every reason to cooperate. (h/t Cuffy Meigs.)

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Obama’s Version–and the Truth

At Friday’s debate Barack Obama asserted that, “Al-Qaeda is resurgent, stronger now than any time since 2001.” While his team digs up a single shred of evidence for that claim, the candidate himself would do well to read this article by Simon Scott Plummer in today’s Telegraph:

Bin Laden has been weakened by allied military action in Afghanistan and tighter surveillance of international money transfers. More significant in the longer term is the criticism voiced within radical Islamic circles about the morality of what he is doing.

[…]

This would explain its [al Qaeda’s] eclipse in Iraq in favour of Sunni-dominated militias and its limited success in the northern Caucasus.

Weakened? Eclipse? Limited success? Didn’t Plummer watch the debate?

At Friday’s debate Barack Obama asserted that, “Al-Qaeda is resurgent, stronger now than any time since 2001.” While his team digs up a single shred of evidence for that claim, the candidate himself would do well to read this article by Simon Scott Plummer in today’s Telegraph:

Bin Laden has been weakened by allied military action in Afghanistan and tighter surveillance of international money transfers. More significant in the longer term is the criticism voiced within radical Islamic circles about the morality of what he is doing.

[…]

This would explain its [al Qaeda’s] eclipse in Iraq in favour of Sunni-dominated militias and its limited success in the northern Caucasus.

Weakened? Eclipse? Limited success? Didn’t Plummer watch the debate?

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Why So Chicken?

I really don’t understand the cowardice of politicians. The Democrats who don’t harbor real substantive concerns about the Paulson bill, indeed who are in agreement with the urgent need to pass it, wouldn’t vote for it without “cover.” That is, they demanded that members of the other party vote with them. And likewise I suspect there are Republicans who think the country needs a bailout bill but were and maybe still are frozen in place by the tally of “against bailout” constituents on their office phone tallies. But why?

Ninety-plus percent of the House members are in safe seats thanks to gerrymandering. And even on the slight, slight chance they might be defeated because they voted on a measure for the good of the country would their lives be ruined? Is there no employment they might enjoy, no life after Congress?

In short, the fear of doing the unpopular seems grossly disproportionate to what ill might befall them. And yet they cower from hard choices even when the stakes for the country are very great. Not a very promising display or an encouraging sign that we will be prepared to deal with huge challenges (e.g. entitlements, war, budgets) ahead, regardless of which party is in power.

I really don’t understand the cowardice of politicians. The Democrats who don’t harbor real substantive concerns about the Paulson bill, indeed who are in agreement with the urgent need to pass it, wouldn’t vote for it without “cover.” That is, they demanded that members of the other party vote with them. And likewise I suspect there are Republicans who think the country needs a bailout bill but were and maybe still are frozen in place by the tally of “against bailout” constituents on their office phone tallies. But why?

Ninety-plus percent of the House members are in safe seats thanks to gerrymandering. And even on the slight, slight chance they might be defeated because they voted on a measure for the good of the country would their lives be ruined? Is there no employment they might enjoy, no life after Congress?

In short, the fear of doing the unpopular seems grossly disproportionate to what ill might befall them. And yet they cower from hard choices even when the stakes for the country are very great. Not a very promising display or an encouraging sign that we will be prepared to deal with huge challenges (e.g. entitlements, war, budgets) ahead, regardless of which party is in power.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Barack Obama enlists law enforcement to crack down on opposition ads. Really. Governor Blunt of Missouri objects. Is there a civil rights lobby? Where is the ACLU?

And that’s not all the pro-Obama anti-speech goons are up to.

You knew the House GOP was not getting all they wanted if they needed a press release warning about the danger of putting in a slush-fund for ACORN into the Paulson bill. And yes, Obama did work for ACORN at one time.

David Broder thinks Barack Obama accepted John McCain as the “alpha male.”

Regional media in battleground states continues to discover the Stanley Kurtz-Annenberg Challenge story.

When Mickey Kaus begins a sentence with “I’ve just heard Chris Matthews make three seemingly insane points in rapid succession. . .” don’t you immediately think “Just three?” ?

And they are insane: “1) McCain somehow defamed soldiers or America or something by worrying about whether they “died in vain”; 2) It was surprising that Obama didn’t make a point of the specific economic problems of African Americans; 3) It was an incredibly winning, decisive moment when Obama laughed after McCain (somewhat effectively, I thought) compared his inflexibility to Bush’s. … That’s not even getting to the official MSNBC obsession with whether McCain looked at Obama when he criticized him.” You sort of wish if MSNBC were going to go to the trouble of becoming the Politbouro of the Left that they’d do a smarter job of it. Can’t they subcontract their coverage out to Josh Marshall or someone?

Plenty of conservatives are concerned about Sarah Palin. Unless this is a clever plot to lower expectations for the debate, the McCain team should revisit their approach to how she interacts (or doesn’t) with the media. At some point she has to put voters’ minds at ease. A non-horrible performance against Joe Biden (who himself can be quite horrible) would be a good start.

If the Obama camp is going to whine that McCain’s comments that their candidate “doesn’t understand” is some sign of disrespect ( hint: McCain doesn’t respect your guy on national security so get over it) pehaps they should tell The One not to interrupt, laugh when McCain is speaking and call his opponent by his first name. Respect is what other people pay The One, you see.

Obama for Prime Minister and McCain for President? Since they are running for the latter job then McCain seems the better cast.

Maureen Dowd is not amused by the debate: “Obama did a poor job of getting under McCain’s skin. Or maybe McCain did an exceptional job of not letting Obama get under his skin. McCain nattered about earmarks and Obama ran out of gas.”

Megan McArdle: “Barack Obama just stated that meeting with crazy authoritarian leaders without preconditions “doesn’t mean you invite them over for tea.” Coffee, perhaps. An afternoon lemonade. But no tea for Ahmadinejad until he stops with the nuclear weapons nonsense!” Hope she doesn’t get accused (by her blog-mate/beagle-phile, among others) of falling into the neo-con Zionist conspiracy of fear-mongering– particularly if she keeps writing things like this: “McCain stands up for nuclear energy. This puts a spring in my step and a song in my heart. I have to give him credit; when he has a bee in his bonnet, he is often willing to stand up for things, like free trade and immigration, that freak voters out. ”

If you thought the Right was tough get a load of this from The Nation: “If, God forbid, foreign policy had to be the deciding factor in choosing between Barack Obama and John McCain, then last night’s terrible showing by Obama would make me a Ralph Nader voter in a heartbeat. Obama’s performance was nothing short of pathetic, and only a Democratic-leaning analysts and voters with blinders on could suggest that Obama won the debate. More important, he utterly blew a chance to draw a stark contrast with John McCain on America’s approach to the world.” We’ve come a long way since “Yes We Can” rock videos I suppose.

The real Left certainly is more critical –more honest? — than the Democratic-establishment types.

Should he get windshield wipers for those teleprompters?

Barack Obama enlists law enforcement to crack down on opposition ads. Really. Governor Blunt of Missouri objects. Is there a civil rights lobby? Where is the ACLU?

And that’s not all the pro-Obama anti-speech goons are up to.

You knew the House GOP was not getting all they wanted if they needed a press release warning about the danger of putting in a slush-fund for ACORN into the Paulson bill. And yes, Obama did work for ACORN at one time.

David Broder thinks Barack Obama accepted John McCain as the “alpha male.”

Regional media in battleground states continues to discover the Stanley Kurtz-Annenberg Challenge story.

When Mickey Kaus begins a sentence with “I’ve just heard Chris Matthews make three seemingly insane points in rapid succession. . .” don’t you immediately think “Just three?” ?

And they are insane: “1) McCain somehow defamed soldiers or America or something by worrying about whether they “died in vain”; 2) It was surprising that Obama didn’t make a point of the specific economic problems of African Americans; 3) It was an incredibly winning, decisive moment when Obama laughed after McCain (somewhat effectively, I thought) compared his inflexibility to Bush’s. … That’s not even getting to the official MSNBC obsession with whether McCain looked at Obama when he criticized him.” You sort of wish if MSNBC were going to go to the trouble of becoming the Politbouro of the Left that they’d do a smarter job of it. Can’t they subcontract their coverage out to Josh Marshall or someone?

Plenty of conservatives are concerned about Sarah Palin. Unless this is a clever plot to lower expectations for the debate, the McCain team should revisit their approach to how she interacts (or doesn’t) with the media. At some point she has to put voters’ minds at ease. A non-horrible performance against Joe Biden (who himself can be quite horrible) would be a good start.

If the Obama camp is going to whine that McCain’s comments that their candidate “doesn’t understand” is some sign of disrespect ( hint: McCain doesn’t respect your guy on national security so get over it) pehaps they should tell The One not to interrupt, laugh when McCain is speaking and call his opponent by his first name. Respect is what other people pay The One, you see.

Obama for Prime Minister and McCain for President? Since they are running for the latter job then McCain seems the better cast.

Maureen Dowd is not amused by the debate: “Obama did a poor job of getting under McCain’s skin. Or maybe McCain did an exceptional job of not letting Obama get under his skin. McCain nattered about earmarks and Obama ran out of gas.”

Megan McArdle: “Barack Obama just stated that meeting with crazy authoritarian leaders without preconditions “doesn’t mean you invite them over for tea.” Coffee, perhaps. An afternoon lemonade. But no tea for Ahmadinejad until he stops with the nuclear weapons nonsense!” Hope she doesn’t get accused (by her blog-mate/beagle-phile, among others) of falling into the neo-con Zionist conspiracy of fear-mongering– particularly if she keeps writing things like this: “McCain stands up for nuclear energy. This puts a spring in my step and a song in my heart. I have to give him credit; when he has a bee in his bonnet, he is often willing to stand up for things, like free trade and immigration, that freak voters out. ”

If you thought the Right was tough get a load of this from The Nation: “If, God forbid, foreign policy had to be the deciding factor in choosing between Barack Obama and John McCain, then last night’s terrible showing by Obama would make me a Ralph Nader voter in a heartbeat. Obama’s performance was nothing short of pathetic, and only a Democratic-leaning analysts and voters with blinders on could suggest that Obama won the debate. More important, he utterly blew a chance to draw a stark contrast with John McCain on America’s approach to the world.” We’ve come a long way since “Yes We Can” rock videos I suppose.

The real Left certainly is more critical –more honest? — than the Democratic-establishment types.

Should he get windshield wipers for those teleprompters?

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The “V” Word

Remember how Rudy Giuliani in the primary used to dare the Democrats in their debates to use the words “Islamic Terrorism” or “Islamic Fundamentalism”? When they didn’t, he would taunt them afterwards, arguing that they didn’t understand the grave threat we faced. The McCain camp seems to have taken a page from that playbook.

Saturday, before the Sportsmen Alliance, John McCain had this to say:

I noticed during our debate that even as American troops are fighting on two fronts, Barack Obama couldn’t bring himself to use the word “victory” even once. The Obama campaign saved that word for the spin room, where they tried to convince themselves and others that their man had left the stage victorious. Well, maybe this attitude helps explain why it wasn’t such a good night for my opponent. When Americans look at a candidate, they can tell the difference between mere self-confidence and an abiding confidence in our country. They know that the troops who are bravely fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan want to come home in victory and in honor. And we need a president who shares their confidence — a commander in chief who believes that victory for America will be achieved.

McCain has a point. With the help of the nifty “Speech Wars” tool, I checked on Barck Obama. It appears that Obama didn’t use the word “victory” in his Denver speech either. It is simply not something he says much. (You have to go back to the Berlin speech to find “victory” in an Obama speech — generally referring to what we did in the past.)

Should that concern voters? Only if you think our national security requires victory over determined enemies. If you think it’s all about getting along and making ourselves understood or convincing others to like us, this should be of no concern.

Remember how Rudy Giuliani in the primary used to dare the Democrats in their debates to use the words “Islamic Terrorism” or “Islamic Fundamentalism”? When they didn’t, he would taunt them afterwards, arguing that they didn’t understand the grave threat we faced. The McCain camp seems to have taken a page from that playbook.

Saturday, before the Sportsmen Alliance, John McCain had this to say:

I noticed during our debate that even as American troops are fighting on two fronts, Barack Obama couldn’t bring himself to use the word “victory” even once. The Obama campaign saved that word for the spin room, where they tried to convince themselves and others that their man had left the stage victorious. Well, maybe this attitude helps explain why it wasn’t such a good night for my opponent. When Americans look at a candidate, they can tell the difference between mere self-confidence and an abiding confidence in our country. They know that the troops who are bravely fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan want to come home in victory and in honor. And we need a president who shares their confidence — a commander in chief who believes that victory for America will be achieved.

McCain has a point. With the help of the nifty “Speech Wars” tool, I checked on Barck Obama. It appears that Obama didn’t use the word “victory” in his Denver speech either. It is simply not something he says much. (You have to go back to the Berlin speech to find “victory” in an Obama speech — generally referring to what we did in the past.)

Should that concern voters? Only if you think our national security requires victory over determined enemies. If you think it’s all about getting along and making ourselves understood or convincing others to like us, this should be of no concern.

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