Commentary Magazine


Posts For: October 8, 2008

The Unasked Question

Mark Halperin of Time magazine conducted an intelligent and revealing interview with Robert Gibbs, a senior adviser for Barack Obama’s campaign, which can be seen here.

Mr. Halperin’s question was straightforward. At some point Barack Obama learned that William Ayers was a domestic terrorist and was unrepentant about it, Halperin says, yet at a minimum Obama continued to associate professionally (and perhaps personally) with Ayers after knowing about his past. Halperin then asks if it’s therefore reasonable to conclude that Obama, while having deplored the violent acts of Ayers, felt it was fine to continue to have professional associations with a domestic terrorist. The answer, of course, is yes – and watching Mr. Gibbs squirm and evade that simple, direct question tells you everything you need to know.

One wishes that Senator McCain, or Tom Brokaw, or Bob Schieffer, or Jim Lehrer, or anyone else in the press would ask that same question of Senator Obama, in just the same way that Halperin did. It would be an illuminating response.

It’s up to voters to decide how much weight they want to put on Senator Obama’s association with Bill Ayers. Some may believe it should matter a lot, some may believe it should matter a little, and some may believe it shouldn’t matter at all. But that association, like the associations with the Reverend Wright and Tony Rezko, are part of Obama’s history and deserve to be discussed in a temperate, reasonable, factual way. Mark Halperin attempted to do just that. Team Obama’s evasive and clumsy response simply raises additional doubts about its candidate and his past. If there’s a simple explanation to Obama’s past associations, it would be helpful to hear what it is.

Mark Halperin of Time magazine conducted an intelligent and revealing interview with Robert Gibbs, a senior adviser for Barack Obama’s campaign, which can be seen here.

Mr. Halperin’s question was straightforward. At some point Barack Obama learned that William Ayers was a domestic terrorist and was unrepentant about it, Halperin says, yet at a minimum Obama continued to associate professionally (and perhaps personally) with Ayers after knowing about his past. Halperin then asks if it’s therefore reasonable to conclude that Obama, while having deplored the violent acts of Ayers, felt it was fine to continue to have professional associations with a domestic terrorist. The answer, of course, is yes – and watching Mr. Gibbs squirm and evade that simple, direct question tells you everything you need to know.

One wishes that Senator McCain, or Tom Brokaw, or Bob Schieffer, or Jim Lehrer, or anyone else in the press would ask that same question of Senator Obama, in just the same way that Halperin did. It would be an illuminating response.

It’s up to voters to decide how much weight they want to put on Senator Obama’s association with Bill Ayers. Some may believe it should matter a lot, some may believe it should matter a little, and some may believe it shouldn’t matter at all. But that association, like the associations with the Reverend Wright and Tony Rezko, are part of Obama’s history and deserve to be discussed in a temperate, reasonable, factual way. Mark Halperin attempted to do just that. Team Obama’s evasive and clumsy response simply raises additional doubts about its candidate and his past. If there’s a simple explanation to Obama’s past associations, it would be helpful to hear what it is.

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The Obama Doctrine

I was participating in an event at Duke University last night and this morning, so I’m a bit late in offering my thoughts on last night’s presidential debate. But there is one substantive point I wanted to focus on.

Senator Obama was asked about genocide and what the Obama doctrine is for use of force when we don’t have national security issues at stake. He responded this way:

Well, we may not always have national security issues at stake, but we have moral issues at stake.

If we could have intervened effectively in the Holocaust, who among us would say that we had a moral obligation not to go in?

If we could’ve stopped Rwanda, surely, if we had the ability, that would be something that we would have to strongly consider and act.

So when genocide is happening, when ethnic cleansing is happening somewhere around the world and we stand idly by, that diminishes us. And so I do believe that we have to consider it as part of our interests, our national interests, in intervening where possible.

But understand that there’s a lot of cruelty around the world. We’re not going to be able to be everywhere all the time. That’s why it’s so important for us to be able to work in concert with our allies.

Let’s take the example of Darfur just for a moment. Right now there’s a peacekeeping force that has been set up and we have African Union troops in Darfur to stop a genocide that has killed hundreds of thousands of people. We could be providing logistical support, setting up a no-fly zone at relatively little cost to us, but we can only do it if we can help mobilize the international community and lead. And that’s what I intend to do when I’m president.

In fact, Darfur is a perfect illustration of how placing our hopes on mobilizing the “international community” to lead on genocide ends up doing nothing to stop genocide.

In the context of genocide, it’s also worth pausing over Senator Obama’s record on Iraq.

Senator Obama cannot repeat often enough that he opposed the Iraq war, even though he never mentions the fact that (a) he believed Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction at the time and (b) he knew Saddam was the leader of a genocidal regime.

Former Ambassador Peter Galbraith has written that

along with Cambodia’s Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein’s regime was one of the two most cruel and inhumane regimes in the second half of the twentieth century. Using the definition of genocide specified in the 1948 Genocide Convention, Iraq’s Baath regime can be charged with planning and executing two genocides – one against the Kurdish population in the late 1980s and another against the Marsh Arabs in the 1990s.

Yet Senator Obama opposed the war to liberate Iraq, despite the fact that the United States had won unanimous approval for U.N. Resolution 1441 and amassed a coalition of more than two dozen nations that committed troops to the war.

It gets worse. Once we were in Iraq, Senator Obama did everything in his power, including voting against funding for American troops in Iraq, to block the efforts by General Petraeus to win the war. Senator Obama insisted the surge was failing long after it was obvious it was making progress. And Senator Obama promoted a plan that would have withdrawn all combat troops from Iraq by March 2008, which would have led to mass death and probably genocide.

If Barack Obama had his way, then, Saddam Hussein would still be in power, his sadistic sons would be waiting in the wings to take over, and Iraq, rather than liberated and on the mend, would still be suffering under one of the most brutal regimes we have ever witnessed.

So the next time Senator Obama speaks about his passionate concern for genocide in Darfur, I hope someone will ask him why he championed in Iraq a policy that would have brought about exactly what he is trying to prevent in Sudan.

I was participating in an event at Duke University last night and this morning, so I’m a bit late in offering my thoughts on last night’s presidential debate. But there is one substantive point I wanted to focus on.

Senator Obama was asked about genocide and what the Obama doctrine is for use of force when we don’t have national security issues at stake. He responded this way:

Well, we may not always have national security issues at stake, but we have moral issues at stake.

If we could have intervened effectively in the Holocaust, who among us would say that we had a moral obligation not to go in?

If we could’ve stopped Rwanda, surely, if we had the ability, that would be something that we would have to strongly consider and act.

So when genocide is happening, when ethnic cleansing is happening somewhere around the world and we stand idly by, that diminishes us. And so I do believe that we have to consider it as part of our interests, our national interests, in intervening where possible.

But understand that there’s a lot of cruelty around the world. We’re not going to be able to be everywhere all the time. That’s why it’s so important for us to be able to work in concert with our allies.

Let’s take the example of Darfur just for a moment. Right now there’s a peacekeeping force that has been set up and we have African Union troops in Darfur to stop a genocide that has killed hundreds of thousands of people. We could be providing logistical support, setting up a no-fly zone at relatively little cost to us, but we can only do it if we can help mobilize the international community and lead. And that’s what I intend to do when I’m president.

In fact, Darfur is a perfect illustration of how placing our hopes on mobilizing the “international community” to lead on genocide ends up doing nothing to stop genocide.

In the context of genocide, it’s also worth pausing over Senator Obama’s record on Iraq.

Senator Obama cannot repeat often enough that he opposed the Iraq war, even though he never mentions the fact that (a) he believed Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction at the time and (b) he knew Saddam was the leader of a genocidal regime.

Former Ambassador Peter Galbraith has written that

along with Cambodia’s Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein’s regime was one of the two most cruel and inhumane regimes in the second half of the twentieth century. Using the definition of genocide specified in the 1948 Genocide Convention, Iraq’s Baath regime can be charged with planning and executing two genocides – one against the Kurdish population in the late 1980s and another against the Marsh Arabs in the 1990s.

Yet Senator Obama opposed the war to liberate Iraq, despite the fact that the United States had won unanimous approval for U.N. Resolution 1441 and amassed a coalition of more than two dozen nations that committed troops to the war.

It gets worse. Once we were in Iraq, Senator Obama did everything in his power, including voting against funding for American troops in Iraq, to block the efforts by General Petraeus to win the war. Senator Obama insisted the surge was failing long after it was obvious it was making progress. And Senator Obama promoted a plan that would have withdrawn all combat troops from Iraq by March 2008, which would have led to mass death and probably genocide.

If Barack Obama had his way, then, Saddam Hussein would still be in power, his sadistic sons would be waiting in the wings to take over, and Iraq, rather than liberated and on the mend, would still be suffering under one of the most brutal regimes we have ever witnessed.

So the next time Senator Obama speaks about his passionate concern for genocide in Darfur, I hope someone will ask him why he championed in Iraq a policy that would have brought about exactly what he is trying to prevent in Sudan.

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Commentary of the Day

JBJB, on Jennifer Rubin:

I will admit that I am completely smitten with Palin, she is the best thing I’ve seen come through politics in a long while. Of course, one can’t deny at this point she is still a bit raw on policy, but she has mega charm, sharp political instincts, and pure authenticity. These are skills you just can’t teach, you either have it or you don’t, and she has it in truck loads.

The reaction of the left and the media really tells us all we need to know about Palin, she will be a force to be reckoned with whether McCain wins or not. They hate her because they fear her, it’s really that simple.

Someone mentioned above about her effect on the politically unmotivated, I can certianly attest to this. Many in my family are very apolitical, but man has she lit a fire of conversation amongst them, and just about all of it is very positive. This country has bascially been destroyed by a buch of ivy league educated lawyers, and were about to get 4 more years from another that will no douubt be worse than the previous 4. I think her opportunity will be in 2012, and once she gains some experience in national politics and sharpens her policy and rhetoric, she will be primed for a very competitive run.

JBJB, on Jennifer Rubin:

I will admit that I am completely smitten with Palin, she is the best thing I’ve seen come through politics in a long while. Of course, one can’t deny at this point she is still a bit raw on policy, but she has mega charm, sharp political instincts, and pure authenticity. These are skills you just can’t teach, you either have it or you don’t, and she has it in truck loads.

The reaction of the left and the media really tells us all we need to know about Palin, she will be a force to be reckoned with whether McCain wins or not. They hate her because they fear her, it’s really that simple.

Someone mentioned above about her effect on the politically unmotivated, I can certianly attest to this. Many in my family are very apolitical, but man has she lit a fire of conversation amongst them, and just about all of it is very positive. This country has bascially been destroyed by a buch of ivy league educated lawyers, and were about to get 4 more years from another that will no douubt be worse than the previous 4. I think her opportunity will be in 2012, and once she gains some experience in national politics and sharpens her policy and rhetoric, she will be primed for a very competitive run.

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The Failure of the World Explained

Remember the $700 billion bailout sponsored by the Bush administration? The markets digested the news and then kept falling. Western nations are bailing out-and in some cases nationalizing-banks, insurance companies, and industrial concerns, but nothing seems to be helping. Today, as Jennifer Rubin notes, the Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank, and the central banks of Britain, Canada, Sweden, and Switzerland implemented simultaneous interest-rate cuts, the first time that has ever happened. The People’s Bank of China, although not formally part of the move, also cut a key rate at the same time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, the broader S&P 500 Stock Index, and the NASDAQ Composite today mostly shrugged off the coordinated action by the central banks.

Is there anything that can be done at this moment? Not really. “History is replete with waves of self-reinforcing enthusiasm and despair, innate human characteristics not subject to a learning curve,” Alan Greenspan writes in his memoir, The Age of Turbulence. “Those waves are mirrored in the business cycle.” And now that business cycle-and panic-is global.

“If globalization really works, then what is the endgame?” asked Kenneth Rogoff, the American economist, in 2004. Today, we have an answer. The prospect of simultaneous economic collapse is, paradoxically, made possible by the global mechanisms erected to prevent economic failure. Across the world we have, since the end of the Second World War, developed mutually supporting systems, an international network designed to defend itself and therefore achieve stability. Yet if the shocks to this global system are too great, the network’s interconnectedness, normally a strength, becomes its weakness as one part brings down another. As in an overstressed electrical grid, problems can ripple, then cascade, and finally lead to total collapse.

Once, analysts thought that economic growth in Asia would pull North America and Europe through a difficult patch. Now, panic in the Asian markets, triggered by today’s 9.4 percent selloff in Japan’s Nikkei, is helping to pull the rest of the world down. The global financial architecture is collapsing one region at a time. Financial contagion is the fastest spreading of all epidemics.

Neither John McCain nor Barack Obama can say this, but there is not much that either of them can do in a highly integrated world at this point in the crisis. “We have no sensible choice other than to let markets work,” Greenspan has noted. And now that we have connected ourselves to peoples around the world, we are sharing a common market-driven fate.

Remember the $700 billion bailout sponsored by the Bush administration? The markets digested the news and then kept falling. Western nations are bailing out-and in some cases nationalizing-banks, insurance companies, and industrial concerns, but nothing seems to be helping. Today, as Jennifer Rubin notes, the Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank, and the central banks of Britain, Canada, Sweden, and Switzerland implemented simultaneous interest-rate cuts, the first time that has ever happened. The People’s Bank of China, although not formally part of the move, also cut a key rate at the same time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, the broader S&P 500 Stock Index, and the NASDAQ Composite today mostly shrugged off the coordinated action by the central banks.

Is there anything that can be done at this moment? Not really. “History is replete with waves of self-reinforcing enthusiasm and despair, innate human characteristics not subject to a learning curve,” Alan Greenspan writes in his memoir, The Age of Turbulence. “Those waves are mirrored in the business cycle.” And now that business cycle-and panic-is global.

“If globalization really works, then what is the endgame?” asked Kenneth Rogoff, the American economist, in 2004. Today, we have an answer. The prospect of simultaneous economic collapse is, paradoxically, made possible by the global mechanisms erected to prevent economic failure. Across the world we have, since the end of the Second World War, developed mutually supporting systems, an international network designed to defend itself and therefore achieve stability. Yet if the shocks to this global system are too great, the network’s interconnectedness, normally a strength, becomes its weakness as one part brings down another. As in an overstressed electrical grid, problems can ripple, then cascade, and finally lead to total collapse.

Once, analysts thought that economic growth in Asia would pull North America and Europe through a difficult patch. Now, panic in the Asian markets, triggered by today’s 9.4 percent selloff in Japan’s Nikkei, is helping to pull the rest of the world down. The global financial architecture is collapsing one region at a time. Financial contagion is the fastest spreading of all epidemics.

Neither John McCain nor Barack Obama can say this, but there is not much that either of them can do in a highly integrated world at this point in the crisis. “We have no sensible choice other than to let markets work,” Greenspan has noted. And now that we have connected ourselves to peoples around the world, we are sharing a common market-driven fate.

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Everyone Loves A Good Mystery

The MSM is puzzled: what did Barack Obama know about Bill Ayers and when did he know it? By hedging and perhaps downright lying — claiming that Ayers improbably held a political coming out party for Obama in his home in 1995 when Obama had little idea who Ayers was — the Obama camp has sent the media scurrying for answer. One answer is that, as in the Murder on the Orient Express, the “crime” (i.e. knowledge that Ayers was a Weather Underground terrorist) came much earlier than Obama has ever let on. Logically the two could well have known one another while Obama was at Columbia in the early 19080′s and Ayers really was a “guy in the neighborhood” attending Bank Street College.

But whatever the circumstances, the press clearly believes they are being played, that is lied to in ordinary language, and they are, in the delicate words of veteran Chicago Sun-Times reporter Lynn Sweet, “curious.” Perhaps Americans care little that a potential president thought nothing of taking a job from a former terrorist, reviewing his book, serving on two boards with him and accepting his political introduction. But they might care if they are being lied to and might wonder why, if this matters so little, a seemingly foolhardy lie about the timeline of their relationship was needed at this late date. And while they are mulling that over, they might wonder why he is now lying and covering up the extent of his relationship with the corrupt and fraud-ridden ACORN, another far left group which claimed his attention, services, and financial support in the 1990′s.

The MSM is puzzled: what did Barack Obama know about Bill Ayers and when did he know it? By hedging and perhaps downright lying — claiming that Ayers improbably held a political coming out party for Obama in his home in 1995 when Obama had little idea who Ayers was — the Obama camp has sent the media scurrying for answer. One answer is that, as in the Murder on the Orient Express, the “crime” (i.e. knowledge that Ayers was a Weather Underground terrorist) came much earlier than Obama has ever let on. Logically the two could well have known one another while Obama was at Columbia in the early 19080′s and Ayers really was a “guy in the neighborhood” attending Bank Street College.

But whatever the circumstances, the press clearly believes they are being played, that is lied to in ordinary language, and they are, in the delicate words of veteran Chicago Sun-Times reporter Lynn Sweet, “curious.” Perhaps Americans care little that a potential president thought nothing of taking a job from a former terrorist, reviewing his book, serving on two boards with him and accepting his political introduction. But they might care if they are being lied to and might wonder why, if this matters so little, a seemingly foolhardy lie about the timeline of their relationship was needed at this late date. And while they are mulling that over, they might wonder why he is now lying and covering up the extent of his relationship with the corrupt and fraud-ridden ACORN, another far left group which claimed his attention, services, and financial support in the 1990′s.

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Nearing an Accord in Iraq

One of the key takeaways from my just-completed trip to Iraq is that an Iraqi-American security accord is likely to be completed before the end of the year. Of course, such predictions have been heard before. In fact ,the Bush administration was aiming to complete work on an agreement by July, only to be stopped short by vehement Iraqi demands for more limitations on U.S. forces. The pressure is now on to strike a deal before the end of the year when existing authority for the U.S. troop presence in Iraq, provided by a United Nations Security Council resolution, will expire.

There has already been broad agreement on the contours of a deal which would call for U.S. combat troops to leave Iraqi cities by next June and the entire country by the end of 2011, provided that security conditions continue to improve. The last remaining hold-up has been over Iraqi demands that American troops be subject to Iraqi legal jurisdiction. This is a particularly sore point with the Iraqi leaders because they do not want to face accusations that they are ceding their sovereignty to a foreign occupier-something that occurred in the 1930′s, when British troops were allowed to maintain a quasi-colonial presence even after Iraq had won formal independence. From the American standpoint, however, this is an issue with little room for compromise: commanders have to safeguard their troops and not risk subjecting them to politically trumped-up charges in an Iraqi courtroom.

But there is room for some creative wording to bridge the differences. Iraqis are, in fact, only insisting that U.S. troops be subject to their jurisdiction when off duty; actions performed in the line of duty still will enjoy immunity under Iraqi law. Since U.S. troops pretty much never go off their bases except in the line of duty, this would hardly seem an insuperable obstacle.

American officials say that, after making nationalist noises this summer, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is now showing a greater willingness to compromise on such sensitive issues because he realizes that he needs U.S. troops for the foreseeable future. As evidence they point to this interview which he recently gave to the Associated Press. Among his comments:

If we don’t reach [any type of] agreement by the 1st of January 2009, the [international] troops will have to remain in their bases and then there should be a plan for a quick withdrawal. This would not be in the interests of Iraq nor in the interests of the United States. Our need for coalition forces is decreasing – but it still exists.

That’s a stark contrast to the tone he struck in his infamous interview with Der Spiegel this summer in which he called for U.S. troops to leave “as soon as possible” and seemed to endorse Obama’s 16-month timeline.

Under the accord as it stands now, the “time horizon” for withdrawal would be considerably longer than the one Obama has called for, and–more importantly–it would be subject to modifications based on the evolving situation. That could mean slowing down withdrawals or speeding them up. What it doesn’t mean is sticking to a timetable crafted for domestic political consumption–in either country.

One of the key takeaways from my just-completed trip to Iraq is that an Iraqi-American security accord is likely to be completed before the end of the year. Of course, such predictions have been heard before. In fact ,the Bush administration was aiming to complete work on an agreement by July, only to be stopped short by vehement Iraqi demands for more limitations on U.S. forces. The pressure is now on to strike a deal before the end of the year when existing authority for the U.S. troop presence in Iraq, provided by a United Nations Security Council resolution, will expire.

There has already been broad agreement on the contours of a deal which would call for U.S. combat troops to leave Iraqi cities by next June and the entire country by the end of 2011, provided that security conditions continue to improve. The last remaining hold-up has been over Iraqi demands that American troops be subject to Iraqi legal jurisdiction. This is a particularly sore point with the Iraqi leaders because they do not want to face accusations that they are ceding their sovereignty to a foreign occupier-something that occurred in the 1930′s, when British troops were allowed to maintain a quasi-colonial presence even after Iraq had won formal independence. From the American standpoint, however, this is an issue with little room for compromise: commanders have to safeguard their troops and not risk subjecting them to politically trumped-up charges in an Iraqi courtroom.

But there is room for some creative wording to bridge the differences. Iraqis are, in fact, only insisting that U.S. troops be subject to their jurisdiction when off duty; actions performed in the line of duty still will enjoy immunity under Iraqi law. Since U.S. troops pretty much never go off their bases except in the line of duty, this would hardly seem an insuperable obstacle.

American officials say that, after making nationalist noises this summer, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is now showing a greater willingness to compromise on such sensitive issues because he realizes that he needs U.S. troops for the foreseeable future. As evidence they point to this interview which he recently gave to the Associated Press. Among his comments:

If we don’t reach [any type of] agreement by the 1st of January 2009, the [international] troops will have to remain in their bases and then there should be a plan for a quick withdrawal. This would not be in the interests of Iraq nor in the interests of the United States. Our need for coalition forces is decreasing – but it still exists.

That’s a stark contrast to the tone he struck in his infamous interview with Der Spiegel this summer in which he called for U.S. troops to leave “as soon as possible” and seemed to endorse Obama’s 16-month timeline.

Under the accord as it stands now, the “time horizon” for withdrawal would be considerably longer than the one Obama has called for, and–more importantly–it would be subject to modifications based on the evolving situation. That could mean slowing down withdrawals or speeding them up. What it doesn’t mean is sticking to a timetable crafted for domestic political consumption–in either country.

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A New Muslim Democracy

The Associated Press on the first democratic election in the history of the small Sunni Muslim republic, the Maldives:

[President Mamoun Abdul] Gayoom, who took power in 1978, began a government reform program in 2004 in the face of large-scale street protests and growing international pressure. A new constitution stripping much of the president’s power, establishing independent courts and creating term limits was ratified in August.

Hmm, what was happening in the world in 2004 that might have spurred a large-scale call for democratic reforms in a Muslim dictatorship?

President Gayoom was, in fact, a close friend and partner of Saddam and when coalition forces toppled the regime in Bagdhad, the Maldivian president went on the radio and asked for people to pray for Saddam’s well-being. Gayoom’s prayers were not answered, and five years later he finds himself reined in by a new constitution and a voting citizenry.

The only times the Maldives appeared in Western news over the past few years, was when some environmentalist wrote a scary article claiming it would be the first whole nation to get swallowed up by rising seas. The fact that Maldivians lived under a dictatorship didn’t stop legitimate news sources from calling the country a “Paradise soon to be lost.”  I don’t suppose we’ll be hearing much about it now that a tide of democracy washed ashore instead.

The Associated Press on the first democratic election in the history of the small Sunni Muslim republic, the Maldives:

[President Mamoun Abdul] Gayoom, who took power in 1978, began a government reform program in 2004 in the face of large-scale street protests and growing international pressure. A new constitution stripping much of the president’s power, establishing independent courts and creating term limits was ratified in August.

Hmm, what was happening in the world in 2004 that might have spurred a large-scale call for democratic reforms in a Muslim dictatorship?

President Gayoom was, in fact, a close friend and partner of Saddam and when coalition forces toppled the regime in Bagdhad, the Maldivian president went on the radio and asked for people to pray for Saddam’s well-being. Gayoom’s prayers were not answered, and five years later he finds himself reined in by a new constitution and a voting citizenry.

The only times the Maldives appeared in Western news over the past few years, was when some environmentalist wrote a scary article claiming it would be the first whole nation to get swallowed up by rising seas. The fact that Maldivians lived under a dictatorship didn’t stop legitimate news sources from calling the country a “Paradise soon to be lost.”  I don’t suppose we’ll be hearing much about it now that a tide of democracy washed ashore instead.

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“That One”

It’s taken no time for the lunatic media and the ever-beleaguered Obama camp to turn John McCain’s use of the term “that one” into the biggest election scandal since, oh, since John McCain dared to suspend his campaign and do some work. In Maureen Dowd’s column today titled, “Mud Pies for ‘That One,” Dowd writes that the Republican nominee warned that, “white Americans should not open the door to the dangerous Other, or “That One,” as McCain referred to Obama in Tuesday night’s debate.”

To read the rest of this COMMENTARY web exclusive click here.

It’s taken no time for the lunatic media and the ever-beleaguered Obama camp to turn John McCain’s use of the term “that one” into the biggest election scandal since, oh, since John McCain dared to suspend his campaign and do some work. In Maureen Dowd’s column today titled, “Mud Pies for ‘That One,” Dowd writes that the Republican nominee warned that, “white Americans should not open the door to the dangerous Other, or “That One,” as McCain referred to Obama in Tuesday night’s debate.”

To read the rest of this COMMENTARY web exclusive click here.

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Warren v. Brokaw

Fred Barnes is dead right when he says that Rick Warren’s forum was more revealing and more helpful in identifying the mindset, values and outlook of the two candidates than either of the two official presidential debates so far. And why is it that Barack Obama did so much worse then?

One explanation is preparation. Obama was coming off a vacation in Hawaii and maybe didn’t take it all that seriously. But perhaps something else was at work. The presidential debates are exercise in memorizing stuff and spouting it back in effective ways. They really aren’t debates — they are mini-stump speeches. And if you have a winning soundbite (“Geroge Bush’s presidency is a disaster”), you generally can survive.

But Warren’s was a test you can’t study for — a discussion about character and evil, about values and choices. Obama doesn’t do well because he has exhibited and demonstrated finesse, intelligence, and guile but not depth of character, bravery, honor or moral firmness. McCain on the other hand, is by any measure, an honorable and noble man who has been forced to think continually about moral choices and life and death. That’s what was so impressive and obvious in Warren’s forum, but ultimately irrelevant in the staged presidential debates.

Bill Clinton said it best: McCain is a great man, Obama is not. It doesn’t mean McCain deserves to be (or will become) president. Clinton knows full well the two — personal greatness and political acuity — are not the same. More than one election has proven this to be true.

Fred Barnes is dead right when he says that Rick Warren’s forum was more revealing and more helpful in identifying the mindset, values and outlook of the two candidates than either of the two official presidential debates so far. And why is it that Barack Obama did so much worse then?

One explanation is preparation. Obama was coming off a vacation in Hawaii and maybe didn’t take it all that seriously. But perhaps something else was at work. The presidential debates are exercise in memorizing stuff and spouting it back in effective ways. They really aren’t debates — they are mini-stump speeches. And if you have a winning soundbite (“Geroge Bush’s presidency is a disaster”), you generally can survive.

But Warren’s was a test you can’t study for — a discussion about character and evil, about values and choices. Obama doesn’t do well because he has exhibited and demonstrated finesse, intelligence, and guile but not depth of character, bravery, honor or moral firmness. McCain on the other hand, is by any measure, an honorable and noble man who has been forced to think continually about moral choices and life and death. That’s what was so impressive and obvious in Warren’s forum, but ultimately irrelevant in the staged presidential debates.

Bill Clinton said it best: McCain is a great man, Obama is not. It doesn’t mean McCain deserves to be (or will become) president. Clinton knows full well the two — personal greatness and political acuity — are not the same. More than one election has proven this to be true.

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Atonement

It’s been 35 years since Israel’s most humiliating military disaster, the start of the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Now it is again Yom Kippur, and Israel’s airwaves are filled, as always this time of year, with retrospectives on 1973, complete with all the breast-beating that seems so in touch with the spirit of the holiday.

Only this year, something is a little different. The Israeli government has declassified the transcripts from the Agranat Commission, which conducted a formal inquiry into the war. The most interesting bits released thus far: Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, the dashing one-eyed hero of the 1967 Six Day War, who later became the emblem of Israeli bravado that led to the disaster, told the commission that he was really not qualified for his own job, since he had basically been out of the army too long. Ariel Sharon, who was called up into the military as war broke out, and who led the most successful and daring charge on the southern flank, complained to the commission that none of the generals above him had any idea what was going on because they refused to leave their offices and go to the battlefield.

This war has played a central role in both undermining Israeli confidence and waking Israelis up to the limitations of their ruling class over an entire generation. As more revelations emerge from the Agranat Commission hearings, we should expect a new round of reflection and rethinking. For a sobering look at the significance of the newly released transcripts, take a look at Amos Harel in Haaretz.

It’s been 35 years since Israel’s most humiliating military disaster, the start of the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Now it is again Yom Kippur, and Israel’s airwaves are filled, as always this time of year, with retrospectives on 1973, complete with all the breast-beating that seems so in touch with the spirit of the holiday.

Only this year, something is a little different. The Israeli government has declassified the transcripts from the Agranat Commission, which conducted a formal inquiry into the war. The most interesting bits released thus far: Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, the dashing one-eyed hero of the 1967 Six Day War, who later became the emblem of Israeli bravado that led to the disaster, told the commission that he was really not qualified for his own job, since he had basically been out of the army too long. Ariel Sharon, who was called up into the military as war broke out, and who led the most successful and daring charge on the southern flank, complained to the commission that none of the generals above him had any idea what was going on because they refused to leave their offices and go to the battlefield.

This war has played a central role in both undermining Israeli confidence and waking Israelis up to the limitations of their ruling class over an entire generation. As more revelations emerge from the Agranat Commission hearings, we should expect a new round of reflection and rethinking. For a sobering look at the significance of the newly released transcripts, take a look at Amos Harel in Haaretz.

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Double Jeopardy

There is something unseemly about announcing your candidacy for a major elected post in one country on the same day as your trial for illegal weapons dealing begins in another. Yet this does not seem to be stopping Arkady Gaydamak, whom I previously posted on as the most colorful figure in Israeli politics. On Monday, he announced his candidacy for mayor of Jerusalem. But he is also one of the two chief suspects in France’s “Angola-Gate” scandal (they really should come up with a better title), in which over 40 prominent Frenchmen, including the son of Francois Mitterand, who was president at the time of the alleged arms deals in the 1990′s, are accused of assisting in the transfer of Soviet-made weapons to the Angolan government in contravention of French law. The trial opened on Monday as well.

Gaydamak is not doing too well in the polls, and has lately begun trying to appeal to the Arab sector, which constitutes a large minority of the city’s eligible citizens, even if most of them choose not to participate. At the same time, he appears to have enlisted the support of the government of Angola, which has petitioned the French to stop the trial. The municipal elections are this November, whereas the trial is expected to last into next spring. In the meantime, many Israelis are starting, I suspect, to put their fingers on what it is that bugs them about Gaydamak’s endless generosity.

There is something unseemly about announcing your candidacy for a major elected post in one country on the same day as your trial for illegal weapons dealing begins in another. Yet this does not seem to be stopping Arkady Gaydamak, whom I previously posted on as the most colorful figure in Israeli politics. On Monday, he announced his candidacy for mayor of Jerusalem. But he is also one of the two chief suspects in France’s “Angola-Gate” scandal (they really should come up with a better title), in which over 40 prominent Frenchmen, including the son of Francois Mitterand, who was president at the time of the alleged arms deals in the 1990′s, are accused of assisting in the transfer of Soviet-made weapons to the Angolan government in contravention of French law. The trial opened on Monday as well.

Gaydamak is not doing too well in the polls, and has lately begun trying to appeal to the Arab sector, which constitutes a large minority of the city’s eligible citizens, even if most of them choose not to participate. At the same time, he appears to have enlisted the support of the government of Angola, which has petitioned the French to stop the trial. The municipal elections are this November, whereas the trial is expected to last into next spring. In the meantime, many Israelis are starting, I suspect, to put their fingers on what it is that bugs them about Gaydamak’s endless generosity.

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Russia: Our Next Headache

While John McCain gave the smarter, more carefully crafted response on the question of Russia-as-evil-empire (a firm “maybe”) yesterday, it is also true that Moscow keeps playing a very dangerous game both in Asia and in the Middle East. “Engaged in an evil behavior” is the way Obama referred to these Russian actions. Not a bad characterization–if it had come from a pundit, rather than the leading presidential candidate.

To read the rest of this COMMENTARY web exclusive click here.

While John McCain gave the smarter, more carefully crafted response on the question of Russia-as-evil-empire (a firm “maybe”) yesterday, it is also true that Moscow keeps playing a very dangerous game both in Asia and in the Middle East. “Engaged in an evil behavior” is the way Obama referred to these Russian actions. Not a bad characterization–if it had come from a pundit, rather than the leading presidential candidate.

To read the rest of this COMMENTARY web exclusive click here.

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The Rate Cut

This is the most important news of the day, probably the week and maybe of the month:

The Federal Reserve and six other major central banks from around the world slashed interest rates Wednesday in an attempt to prevent a mushrooming financial crisis from becoming a global economic meltdown.The Fed reduced its key rate from 2 percent to 1.5 percent. In Europe, which also has been hard hit by the financial crisis, the Bank of England cut its rate by half a point to 4.5 percent and the European Central Bank sliced its rate by half a point to 3.75 percent. . . One of the goals of the coordinated rate cuts is to spur nervous consumers and businesses to spend more freely again. They clamped down as housing, credit and financial problems intensified last month, throwing Wall Street into chaos. Many believe the United States is on the brink of, or already in, its first recession since 2001, one that could quickly spread to other countries around the globe.

Unlike 1929 (when FDR went on TV, according to Joe Biden), the Fed and its counterparts understand three things about about lessening the blow of a recession: Liquidity, liquidity, liquidity. We are heading into a recession and now the trick is to cushion the blow and make it as brief as possible. The $700B rescue package was one tool, the $900B commercial paper purchase effort by the Fed was another and rate cuts are yet another. The common goal is to keep businesses producing, hiring and investing.

On a political front this is perhaps the last rhetorical point left for John  McCain. By threatening to raise taxes — on anyone – Barack Obama is working at cross-purposes with the world-wide efffort to put money back into the hands of the private sector. It betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the task ahead. That argument may not “work” to stem the Obama electoral tide, but it is right on the merits and the McCain camp and every Republican running for office have an obligation to make the case. And if Obama wins, perhaps by then the public will understand the dangers of raising taxes in a recession and implore their representatives and new president not to repeat the errors of the past.

This is the most important news of the day, probably the week and maybe of the month:

The Federal Reserve and six other major central banks from around the world slashed interest rates Wednesday in an attempt to prevent a mushrooming financial crisis from becoming a global economic meltdown.The Fed reduced its key rate from 2 percent to 1.5 percent. In Europe, which also has been hard hit by the financial crisis, the Bank of England cut its rate by half a point to 4.5 percent and the European Central Bank sliced its rate by half a point to 3.75 percent. . . One of the goals of the coordinated rate cuts is to spur nervous consumers and businesses to spend more freely again. They clamped down as housing, credit and financial problems intensified last month, throwing Wall Street into chaos. Many believe the United States is on the brink of, or already in, its first recession since 2001, one that could quickly spread to other countries around the globe.

Unlike 1929 (when FDR went on TV, according to Joe Biden), the Fed and its counterparts understand three things about about lessening the blow of a recession: Liquidity, liquidity, liquidity. We are heading into a recession and now the trick is to cushion the blow and make it as brief as possible. The $700B rescue package was one tool, the $900B commercial paper purchase effort by the Fed was another and rate cuts are yet another. The common goal is to keep businesses producing, hiring and investing.

On a political front this is perhaps the last rhetorical point left for John  McCain. By threatening to raise taxes — on anyone – Barack Obama is working at cross-purposes with the world-wide efffort to put money back into the hands of the private sector. It betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the task ahead. That argument may not “work” to stem the Obama electoral tide, but it is right on the merits and the McCain camp and every Republican running for office have an obligation to make the case. And if Obama wins, perhaps by then the public will understand the dangers of raising taxes in a recession and implore their representatives and new president not to repeat the errors of the past.

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I Thought Republicans Were For Personal Responsibility

There is apparently quite a bit of grousing from the McCain camp which declared that the debate last night was “the worst-moderated debate in the history of presidential debates.” Puleez. Was it dull and plodding ? Yes? The worst? Perhaps, but whose fault is that?

Barack Obama wants the debates to be dull — every moment of dullness and non-news is another step closer to victory. It’s up to McCain to generate the excitement. But what did he do? John McCain can’t bring himself to put together more than a sentence on the connection between Barack Obama and the Freddie/Fannie mess. He refuses to talk about Obama’s connections to radicals and his continued dissembling about the same. In lieu of a bold growth oriented new economic plan, he comes up with a mortgage buy-athon by the federal government.  So when you’re looking for “worst” I’d suggest: Worst Ninety Minutes of Missed Opportunities In A Presidential Debate. Ever.

There is apparently quite a bit of grousing from the McCain camp which declared that the debate last night was “the worst-moderated debate in the history of presidential debates.” Puleez. Was it dull and plodding ? Yes? The worst? Perhaps, but whose fault is that?

Barack Obama wants the debates to be dull — every moment of dullness and non-news is another step closer to victory. It’s up to McCain to generate the excitement. But what did he do? John McCain can’t bring himself to put together more than a sentence on the connection between Barack Obama and the Freddie/Fannie mess. He refuses to talk about Obama’s connections to radicals and his continued dissembling about the same. In lieu of a bold growth oriented new economic plan, he comes up with a mortgage buy-athon by the federal government.  So when you’re looking for “worst” I’d suggest: Worst Ninety Minutes of Missed Opportunities In A Presidential Debate. Ever.

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The Real McCain

It may mean nothing in the long run, but the best moment of the debate for John McCain was when he came over to a fellow naval man, shook his hand, patted his shoulder and said “Everything I ever learned about leadership, I learned from a chief petty officer.” In that we saw the core decency and the sweetness of McCain. He is above all things a man raised, shaped and defined by military service and is clearly guided by an affection for those who fight. If you want to assess the politics you can say that it will score big with vets who are a key demographic in Virginia and Florida, but it was above all else a revealing personal moment in which we saw the “real” McCain.

Obama may be cool and calm but he is not empathetic and sweet in the way many politicians, even his running mate, can readily show. There is no particular group or place that seems to claim his affection and we rarely see from him expressions of personal emotion (joy, humor, kindness). He says he “gets” the middle class but you have a sense that middle class voters, really all voters, are “they’s” in his mind.

Some of our best presidents (Ronald Reagan comes to mind) were tough on policy and sweet personally. I am not sure the opposite is a good combination.

It may mean nothing in the long run, but the best moment of the debate for John McCain was when he came over to a fellow naval man, shook his hand, patted his shoulder and said “Everything I ever learned about leadership, I learned from a chief petty officer.” In that we saw the core decency and the sweetness of McCain. He is above all things a man raised, shaped and defined by military service and is clearly guided by an affection for those who fight. If you want to assess the politics you can say that it will score big with vets who are a key demographic in Virginia and Florida, but it was above all else a revealing personal moment in which we saw the “real” McCain.

Obama may be cool and calm but he is not empathetic and sweet in the way many politicians, even his running mate, can readily show. There is no particular group or place that seems to claim his affection and we rarely see from him expressions of personal emotion (joy, humor, kindness). He says he “gets” the middle class but you have a sense that middle class voters, really all voters, are “they’s” in his mind.

Some of our best presidents (Ronald Reagan comes to mind) were tough on policy and sweet personally. I am not sure the opposite is a good combination.

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Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad

Last night’s debate was like so many debates over the past 20 years — boring and dispiriting, listless and draining to watch. It stood in stark contrast to the two previous debates over the past 13 days, both of which were exciting, energetic, and dynamic. Why on earth did Tom Brokaw pivot the debate as he did toward foreign policy in the last half hour when the previous Obama-McCain debate was focused on foreign policy? The discussion simply doubled back to the same talking points we heard a week ago Friday — Georgia, Pakistan, “Senator McCain is right about this,” and so on. It drained what little life there was from a discussion about the economic crisis.

Last night’s debate was like so many debates over the past 20 years — boring and dispiriting, listless and draining to watch. It stood in stark contrast to the two previous debates over the past 13 days, both of which were exciting, energetic, and dynamic. Why on earth did Tom Brokaw pivot the debate as he did toward foreign policy in the last half hour when the previous Obama-McCain debate was focused on foreign policy? The discussion simply doubled back to the same talking points we heard a week ago Friday — Georgia, Pakistan, “Senator McCain is right about this,” and so on. It drained what little life there was from a discussion about the economic crisis.

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If Nothing Else

Camille Paglia on the Sarah Palin coverage:

The mountain of rubbish poured out about Palin over the past month would rival Everest. What a disgrace for our jabbering army of liberal journalists and commentators, too many of whom behaved like snippy jackasses. The bourgeois conventionalism and rank snobbery of these alleged humanitarians stank up the place. As for Palin’s brutally edited interviews with Charlie Gibson and that viper, Katie Couric, don’t we all know that the best bits ended up on the cutting-room floor? Something has gone seriously wrong with Democratic ideology, which seems to have become a candied set of holier-than-thou bromides attached like tutti-frutti to a quivering green Jell-O mold of adolescent sentimentality.

Watching the entire political class spin out of control, misjudge, misinterpret, and finally in essence give up their crusade against Palin has certainly been one of the highlights of the race. She is fun, in part, because she distains so  much of what passes for political wisdom and because she can throw a punch with a twinkle in her eye. She is the happiest of warriors. And that is a lot of what politics is, or it should be, about:  the sheer joy of performance and the fun of the battle to persuade ordinary people that your ideas matter.

Campaigns aren’t won by email battles between the camps or another round of dreary attack ads. They aren’t won by position papers. These things can be important, but not decisive.  Elections are won by convincing voters (many apolitical or the “low information” voters that liberals scorn) to join your team. Watching someone do it with style and with gusto is a delight. And if her ticket doesn’t prevail we’d be silly to think that someone as good at it as she is and who obviously enjoys it as much won’t be back again.

Camille Paglia on the Sarah Palin coverage:

The mountain of rubbish poured out about Palin over the past month would rival Everest. What a disgrace for our jabbering army of liberal journalists and commentators, too many of whom behaved like snippy jackasses. The bourgeois conventionalism and rank snobbery of these alleged humanitarians stank up the place. As for Palin’s brutally edited interviews with Charlie Gibson and that viper, Katie Couric, don’t we all know that the best bits ended up on the cutting-room floor? Something has gone seriously wrong with Democratic ideology, which seems to have become a candied set of holier-than-thou bromides attached like tutti-frutti to a quivering green Jell-O mold of adolescent sentimentality.

Watching the entire political class spin out of control, misjudge, misinterpret, and finally in essence give up their crusade against Palin has certainly been one of the highlights of the race. She is fun, in part, because she distains so  much of what passes for political wisdom and because she can throw a punch with a twinkle in her eye. She is the happiest of warriors. And that is a lot of what politics is, or it should be, about:  the sheer joy of performance and the fun of the battle to persuade ordinary people that your ideas matter.

Campaigns aren’t won by email battles between the camps or another round of dreary attack ads. They aren’t won by position papers. These things can be important, but not decisive.  Elections are won by convincing voters (many apolitical or the “low information” voters that liberals scorn) to join your team. Watching someone do it with style and with gusto is a delight. And if her ticket doesn’t prevail we’d be silly to think that someone as good at it as she is and who obviously enjoys it as much won’t be back again.

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Which Is It?

Dick Morris summarizes what we know about the Chicago connections of Barack Obama:

His chief financial supporter was Tony Rezko, now on his way to federal prison. His spiritual adviser and mentor was the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, of “God damn America” fame. And the guy who got him his only administrative job and put him in charge of doling out $50 million is William Ayers, a terrorist who was a domestic Osama bin Laden in his youth. Even apart from the details of the Obama/Ayers connection, two key points emerge: a) Obama lied and misled the American people in his description of his relationship with Ayers as casual and arm’s-length; and b) Obama was consciously guided by Ayers’s radical philosophy, rooted in the teachings of leftist Saul Alinksy, in his distribution of CAC grant funds.

But then he suggests that Obama’s associations were not ideological but opportunistic:

Why did Obama put up with Ayers? Because he got a big job and $50 million of patronage to distribute to his friends and supporters in Chicago. Why did he hang out with Jeremiah Wright? Because he was new in town, having grown up in Hawaii and Indonesia and having been educated at Columbia and Harvard, and needed all the local introductions he could get to jump-start his political career. Why was he so close to Rezko? Because he funded Obama’s campaigns and helped him buy a house for $300,000 less than he otherwise would have had to pay.

These are two very different interpretations: he was a radical who now conceals his tracks or he never believed in anything and used the Chicago crowd of Leftists to further his own career. It is unclear which is accurate, but both can’t be. He either believed in the far-Left gibberish of  Wright/Ayers/Annenberg/ACORN or he didn’t.

And why does it matter, aside from the fact that most Americans really don’t know who this person is? If the latter, he is a amoral, apolitical cipher but perhaps a smart one who will navigate successfully as a mainstream, albeit liberal Democrat. (The danger is that lacking fixed principles he will be buffeted by the loudest voices in the country and his party.) If the former we are in for a wild ride, the first real representative of the hard Left to take the White House. Everyone will decide for himself which is more likely, but for the sake and security (financial and otherwise) of the country we’d better hope he deceived Ayers/Wright/Pfleger and not Middle America.

Dick Morris summarizes what we know about the Chicago connections of Barack Obama:

His chief financial supporter was Tony Rezko, now on his way to federal prison. His spiritual adviser and mentor was the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, of “God damn America” fame. And the guy who got him his only administrative job and put him in charge of doling out $50 million is William Ayers, a terrorist who was a domestic Osama bin Laden in his youth. Even apart from the details of the Obama/Ayers connection, two key points emerge: a) Obama lied and misled the American people in his description of his relationship with Ayers as casual and arm’s-length; and b) Obama was consciously guided by Ayers’s radical philosophy, rooted in the teachings of leftist Saul Alinksy, in his distribution of CAC grant funds.

But then he suggests that Obama’s associations were not ideological but opportunistic:

Why did Obama put up with Ayers? Because he got a big job and $50 million of patronage to distribute to his friends and supporters in Chicago. Why did he hang out with Jeremiah Wright? Because he was new in town, having grown up in Hawaii and Indonesia and having been educated at Columbia and Harvard, and needed all the local introductions he could get to jump-start his political career. Why was he so close to Rezko? Because he funded Obama’s campaigns and helped him buy a house for $300,000 less than he otherwise would have had to pay.

These are two very different interpretations: he was a radical who now conceals his tracks or he never believed in anything and used the Chicago crowd of Leftists to further his own career. It is unclear which is accurate, but both can’t be. He either believed in the far-Left gibberish of  Wright/Ayers/Annenberg/ACORN or he didn’t.

And why does it matter, aside from the fact that most Americans really don’t know who this person is? If the latter, he is a amoral, apolitical cipher but perhaps a smart one who will navigate successfully as a mainstream, albeit liberal Democrat. (The danger is that lacking fixed principles he will be buffeted by the loudest voices in the country and his party.) If the former we are in for a wild ride, the first real representative of the hard Left to take the White House. Everyone will decide for himself which is more likely, but for the sake and security (financial and otherwise) of the country we’d better hope he deceived Ayers/Wright/Pfleger and not Middle America.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Robert Gibbs seemed to be having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad time explaining when Barack Obama knew Bill Ayers was a terrorist. But we can breathe easier since Bill Ayers won’t be in the Barack Obama admininstration. But why not, if there is nothing wrong with Ayers past and his educational notions, according to Obama? Now if we can just extract promises on Reverend Wright, Rashid Khalidi, Father Pfleger, Larry Walsh, Tony Rezko, James Johnson and Franklin Raines everyone can relax.

From the New York Times, Sarah Palin addresses the Ayers issue and its relevance. I suppose the Times will have to now explain that its one side-story – which CNN’s reporting essentially undercut – didn’t really present the full extent of the Ayers relationship and that the Obama camp has taken two days to come up with a story on what he knew about Ayer and when he knew it. If we didn’t have Palin and Bill Kristol’s column, the Gray Lady’s readers would be totally in the dark.

This is troubling: ” Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has raised about $3.3 million from contributors who did not list a home state or who designated their state with an abbreviation that did not match one of the 50 states or U.S. territories, according to records provided by the Federal Election Commission.” What overseas donors want him elected and why?

In case you needed a reminder of ACORN’s fraud-soaked history here is the latest incident. This was a group that Obama worked for and to which he gave out nearly $200K in Woods Fund grants up through 2002.

Can’t argue with this take on the debate: “The whole thing had an unpleasant Potemkin feel to it, like the questioners were all afraid of what Brokaw might do to them if they strayed even modestly from the script.”

Rich Lowry on Obama’s debate performance: “If the Nobel committee had a prize for appearing plausible, he’d win it every time.”

Robert Gibbs seemed to be having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad time explaining when Barack Obama knew Bill Ayers was a terrorist. But we can breathe easier since Bill Ayers won’t be in the Barack Obama admininstration. But why not, if there is nothing wrong with Ayers past and his educational notions, according to Obama? Now if we can just extract promises on Reverend Wright, Rashid Khalidi, Father Pfleger, Larry Walsh, Tony Rezko, James Johnson and Franklin Raines everyone can relax.

From the New York Times, Sarah Palin addresses the Ayers issue and its relevance. I suppose the Times will have to now explain that its one side-story – which CNN’s reporting essentially undercut – didn’t really present the full extent of the Ayers relationship and that the Obama camp has taken two days to come up with a story on what he knew about Ayer and when he knew it. If we didn’t have Palin and Bill Kristol’s column, the Gray Lady’s readers would be totally in the dark.

This is troubling: ” Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has raised about $3.3 million from contributors who did not list a home state or who designated their state with an abbreviation that did not match one of the 50 states or U.S. territories, according to records provided by the Federal Election Commission.” What overseas donors want him elected and why?

In case you needed a reminder of ACORN’s fraud-soaked history here is the latest incident. This was a group that Obama worked for and to which he gave out nearly $200K in Woods Fund grants up through 2002.

Can’t argue with this take on the debate: “The whole thing had an unpleasant Potemkin feel to it, like the questioners were all afraid of what Brokaw might do to them if they strayed even modestly from the script.”

Rich Lowry on Obama’s debate performance: “If the Nobel committee had a prize for appearing plausible, he’d win it every time.”

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