Commentary Magazine


Posts For: October 27, 2008

Lebanon’s Enemy Within

Israel is floating the idea of a non-aggression pact with Lebanon. It isn’t at all likely to work. The odds are minuscule that Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah will go along. But Lebanon will hold an election in a couple of months, and the offer of a non-aggression pact should play well with Lebanese voters who are uncomfortable with or hostile toward Hezbollah’s vision of perpetual war with the “Zionist entity.”

Negotiating with implacable and inflexible enemies is foolish. No sensible person suggests that the United States negotiate with Al Qaeda, for instance. Peace talks with Damascus won’t get Israelis anywhere either. Syria’s tyrant Bashar Assad needs a state of cold war with Israel to justify the oppressive policies against his country’s own citizens, and bad-faith negotiations yield him some measure of international legitimacy he doesn’t deserve.

Read the rest of this COMMENTARY web exclusive here.

Israel is floating the idea of a non-aggression pact with Lebanon. It isn’t at all likely to work. The odds are minuscule that Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah will go along. But Lebanon will hold an election in a couple of months, and the offer of a non-aggression pact should play well with Lebanese voters who are uncomfortable with or hostile toward Hezbollah’s vision of perpetual war with the “Zionist entity.”

Negotiating with implacable and inflexible enemies is foolish. No sensible person suggests that the United States negotiate with Al Qaeda, for instance. Peace talks with Damascus won’t get Israelis anywhere either. Syria’s tyrant Bashar Assad needs a state of cold war with Israel to justify the oppressive policies against his country’s own citizens, and bad-faith negotiations yield him some measure of international legitimacy he doesn’t deserve.

Read the rest of this COMMENTARY web exclusive here.

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Venturing Outside the Beltway

Ruth Marcus ventures out of the Beltway (a grand idea, which she should encourage her colleagues to do more often) and reports back:

West Virginia Republican Party Chairman Douglas McKinney said he was unconcerned. “A minority of them have made their peace” with Obama, he said of Democrats who backed Clinton in the primary. “Obama’s entirely too liberal. His positions on gun control and abortion are more than most people in West Virginia can overlook.”

Indeed, hours of interviews with voters — outside the Wal-Mart in Mingo, up the road in Logan County, and north of Charleston in the swing county of Jackson — illustrate Obama’s uphill climb and raise questions about similar voters in states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania. It does not take long to hear the worst rumors about Obama — or to wonder how the people repeating them would deal with the fact of an Obama presidency, if it comes to pass.

Yes, she finds some remarks on race and some suspicions that Obama might really be a Muslim after all. But maybe we should give these voters some credit. Obama is extreme on gun control and abortion. Are these voters’ political  antennae any less accurate than those of the punditocracy, which is convinced all those years Obama spent with Bill Ayers, ACORN, Rashid Khalidi, the Annenberg Challenge and the Woods Fund are meaningless? Who is more savvy — the fellow in West Virginia who thinks Obama is an ultra-liberal or the Colin Powells who are convinced Obama won’t turn out anything like he’s advertised himself to be?

If Obama is elected, we’ll get a chance to find out. But one thing to keep in mind: people outside the Beltway are generally a whole lot better at figuring out when they are being sold a bill of goods. I think I’ll put my money on McKinney’s powers of observation over those of, say, Ken Adelman. The latter’s crystal ball, after all, has been known to fog up.

Ruth Marcus ventures out of the Beltway (a grand idea, which she should encourage her colleagues to do more often) and reports back:

West Virginia Republican Party Chairman Douglas McKinney said he was unconcerned. “A minority of them have made their peace” with Obama, he said of Democrats who backed Clinton in the primary. “Obama’s entirely too liberal. His positions on gun control and abortion are more than most people in West Virginia can overlook.”

Indeed, hours of interviews with voters — outside the Wal-Mart in Mingo, up the road in Logan County, and north of Charleston in the swing county of Jackson — illustrate Obama’s uphill climb and raise questions about similar voters in states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania. It does not take long to hear the worst rumors about Obama — or to wonder how the people repeating them would deal with the fact of an Obama presidency, if it comes to pass.

Yes, she finds some remarks on race and some suspicions that Obama might really be a Muslim after all. But maybe we should give these voters some credit. Obama is extreme on gun control and abortion. Are these voters’ political  antennae any less accurate than those of the punditocracy, which is convinced all those years Obama spent with Bill Ayers, ACORN, Rashid Khalidi, the Annenberg Challenge and the Woods Fund are meaningless? Who is more savvy — the fellow in West Virginia who thinks Obama is an ultra-liberal or the Colin Powells who are convinced Obama won’t turn out anything like he’s advertised himself to be?

If Obama is elected, we’ll get a chance to find out. But one thing to keep in mind: people outside the Beltway are generally a whole lot better at figuring out when they are being sold a bill of goods. I think I’ll put my money on McKinney’s powers of observation over those of, say, Ken Adelman. The latter’s crystal ball, after all, has been known to fog up.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

The Los Angeles Times has a tape of Barack Obama at a Rashid Khalidi event but won’t release it. Unreal.

There is more to the Big Labor wish list than just abolishing secret ballots in union elections.

Mona Charen spells out the argument that should have been made by John McCain on the financial crisis. Would the public still have blamed President Bush? Perhaps, but it would have been a coherent message grounded in economic reality. And would have set the stage nicely for what turned out to be the best attack yet — on Barack the Spreader.

Condoleezza Rice as President of the San Francisco 49er’s? If so, the blitzing defense will be replaced with a negotiating committee that will secure a promise (alas, unverifiable) from the opposing quarterback not to throw any touchdown passes.

No, I have no idea what John McCain was doing in Iowa on Sunday. It is this sort of thing which drives conservatives to distraction.

Tip to liberal reporters: don’t mess with Stanley Kurtz unless you are willing to dabate on the facts.

Melanie Phillips explains why many of us “can’t sleep at night.” Read the whole thing–twice.

Well, this Al Franken ad reminds me: where are the “temperament” police when it comes to an outrageous, obnoxious Democrat, one who can’t even pay his taxes and workers’ comp bills?

If The One won’t have press conferences when the MSM is in full swoon, imagine what it will be like if he’s elected and the bloom comes off the rose.

Harsh words all around between conservatives. Rather than tossing people out of the party or predicting who has virtually no chance to win the race in 2012, perhaps we could finish the current election. Republicans might start by asking politicians who have been successful, rather than canvassing pundits who got most everything wrong.

Think the economy can’t get worse? Arthur Laffer begs to differ: “To alleviate the obvious hardships to both homeowners and banks, the government commits to buy mortgages and inject capital into banks, which on the face of it seems like a very nice thing to do. But unfortunately in this world there is no tooth fairy. And the government doesn’t create anything; it just redistributes. Whenever the government bails someone out of trouble, they always put someone into trouble, plus of course a toll for the troll. Every $100 billion in bailout requires at least $130 billion in taxes, where the $30 billion extra is the cost of getting government involved. If you don’t believe me, just watch how Congress and Barney Frank run the banks. If you thought they did a bad job running the post office, Amtrak, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the military, just wait till you see what they’ll do with Wall Street.”

The Los Angeles Times has a tape of Barack Obama at a Rashid Khalidi event but won’t release it. Unreal.

There is more to the Big Labor wish list than just abolishing secret ballots in union elections.

Mona Charen spells out the argument that should have been made by John McCain on the financial crisis. Would the public still have blamed President Bush? Perhaps, but it would have been a coherent message grounded in economic reality. And would have set the stage nicely for what turned out to be the best attack yet — on Barack the Spreader.

Condoleezza Rice as President of the San Francisco 49er’s? If so, the blitzing defense will be replaced with a negotiating committee that will secure a promise (alas, unverifiable) from the opposing quarterback not to throw any touchdown passes.

No, I have no idea what John McCain was doing in Iowa on Sunday. It is this sort of thing which drives conservatives to distraction.

Tip to liberal reporters: don’t mess with Stanley Kurtz unless you are willing to dabate on the facts.

Melanie Phillips explains why many of us “can’t sleep at night.” Read the whole thing–twice.

Well, this Al Franken ad reminds me: where are the “temperament” police when it comes to an outrageous, obnoxious Democrat, one who can’t even pay his taxes and workers’ comp bills?

If The One won’t have press conferences when the MSM is in full swoon, imagine what it will be like if he’s elected and the bloom comes off the rose.

Harsh words all around between conservatives. Rather than tossing people out of the party or predicting who has virtually no chance to win the race in 2012, perhaps we could finish the current election. Republicans might start by asking politicians who have been successful, rather than canvassing pundits who got most everything wrong.

Think the economy can’t get worse? Arthur Laffer begs to differ: “To alleviate the obvious hardships to both homeowners and banks, the government commits to buy mortgages and inject capital into banks, which on the face of it seems like a very nice thing to do. But unfortunately in this world there is no tooth fairy. And the government doesn’t create anything; it just redistributes. Whenever the government bails someone out of trouble, they always put someone into trouble, plus of course a toll for the troll. Every $100 billion in bailout requires at least $130 billion in taxes, where the $30 billion extra is the cost of getting government involved. If you don’t believe me, just watch how Congress and Barney Frank run the banks. If you thought they did a bad job running the post office, Amtrak, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the military, just wait till you see what they’ll do with Wall Street.”

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Re: What Will Obama Say About Syria?

Noah, I think you’re mostly right: Nobody can really be sure how Barack Obama will react to the news that American forces raided an enemy’s outpost in Syria. This is worrisome, especially considering we’re only 8 days away from the general election and Obama is the clear favorite heading into the last week of the campaign. Yet, if the junior senator from Illinois’ rhetoric is to be taken seriously–that is, if his rhetoric towards another nation known to hide terrorists is to be taken seriously–he would have to agree that the action taken by United States Military was justified. Consider this report from Reuters (which appeared over a year ago, yet it mirrors some of his more recent words, too):

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama said on Wednesday the United States must be willing to strike al Qaeda targets inside Pakistan, adopting a tough tone after a chief rival accused him of naivete in foreign policy.

Obama’s stance comes amid debate in Washington over what to do about a resurgent al Qaeda and Taliban in areas of northwest Pakistan that President Pervez Musharraf has been unable to control, and concerns that new recruits are being trained there for a September 11-style attack against the United States.

The question, then, is: Will Obama substitute Syria for Pakistan, so that his rhetoric is consistent? I’m doubtful–it’s not politically advantageous for him to do so (of course, agreeing with Bush administration on a foreign policy decision only weakens his case).  By his own admission, foreign policy is Obama’s strongest policy area–“foreign policy is the area where I am probably most confident that I know more and understand the world better than Senator Clinton or Senator McCain”–and his reaction to this most recent development in the war on terror could be telling. But it’s probably too late for McCain to capitalize on this.

I’m not a betting man, but if I were, I’d say that the Obama campaign will (erroneously) argue that President Bush is attempting to escalate the war before November 4th.

Noah, I think you’re mostly right: Nobody can really be sure how Barack Obama will react to the news that American forces raided an enemy’s outpost in Syria. This is worrisome, especially considering we’re only 8 days away from the general election and Obama is the clear favorite heading into the last week of the campaign. Yet, if the junior senator from Illinois’ rhetoric is to be taken seriously–that is, if his rhetoric towards another nation known to hide terrorists is to be taken seriously–he would have to agree that the action taken by United States Military was justified. Consider this report from Reuters (which appeared over a year ago, yet it mirrors some of his more recent words, too):

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama said on Wednesday the United States must be willing to strike al Qaeda targets inside Pakistan, adopting a tough tone after a chief rival accused him of naivete in foreign policy.

Obama’s stance comes amid debate in Washington over what to do about a resurgent al Qaeda and Taliban in areas of northwest Pakistan that President Pervez Musharraf has been unable to control, and concerns that new recruits are being trained there for a September 11-style attack against the United States.

The question, then, is: Will Obama substitute Syria for Pakistan, so that his rhetoric is consistent? I’m doubtful–it’s not politically advantageous for him to do so (of course, agreeing with Bush administration on a foreign policy decision only weakens his case).  By his own admission, foreign policy is Obama’s strongest policy area–“foreign policy is the area where I am probably most confident that I know more and understand the world better than Senator Clinton or Senator McCain”–and his reaction to this most recent development in the war on terror could be telling. But it’s probably too late for McCain to capitalize on this.

I’m not a betting man, but if I were, I’d say that the Obama campaign will (erroneously) argue that President Bush is attempting to escalate the war before November 4th.

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It Should Come As No Surprise

Much of the blogosphere is buzzing over a 2001 radio interview in which Barack Obama seems genuinely chagrined that redistributionist policies aren’t going to come from the courts. ( Ignore the captioning on the Youtube which is distracting and not altogether accurate — just listen carefully to Obama’s exact language or read the transcript.) I had a few reactions.

First, a person often identified for the Obama Supreme Court actually does believe in an extreme version of the Constitution, a version which confers all sorts of economic “rights,” so I’m not sure even his supposed caution about using the courts as welfare agencies is to be given credence. Second, it is fairly obvious that Obama was saying nothing extraordinary in his own mind. This is the sort of thing left-leaning “intellectuals” bandied about. It’s the outlook that underscored the bent of not just his closest comrades at the time ( e.g. Reverend Wright and Father Pfleger), but the activist organizations  he and Bill Ayers supported through the Woods Fund. It is absurd, really, to write off all these associations as an aberration or exaggeration, or to ignore them as some imagining of paranoid conservatives. What comes through loud and clear was that Obama shared  the classic anti-capitalist, redistributionist philosophy accepted as dogma by many on the Left.

Remember, this isn’t ancient history. Obama was sharing Socialism 101 with radio listeners just seven years ago. At the same time, he was sitting on the board of the Woods Fund, going to Trinity United Church, and a enjoying a robust professional relationship with Bill Ayers. Has he given all that up? We don’t know, because no one in the media has taken seriously Obama’s intellectual and professional development. No one has asked him basic questions about the past (e.g. Did he share the ideological vision of the Woods Fund grant recipients? Did he agree with Ayers’ radical educational theory?) or even his current economic philosophy. Doesn’t he still believe in spreading the wealth? He certainly did seven years ago.

Much of the blogosphere is buzzing over a 2001 radio interview in which Barack Obama seems genuinely chagrined that redistributionist policies aren’t going to come from the courts. ( Ignore the captioning on the Youtube which is distracting and not altogether accurate — just listen carefully to Obama’s exact language or read the transcript.) I had a few reactions.

First, a person often identified for the Obama Supreme Court actually does believe in an extreme version of the Constitution, a version which confers all sorts of economic “rights,” so I’m not sure even his supposed caution about using the courts as welfare agencies is to be given credence. Second, it is fairly obvious that Obama was saying nothing extraordinary in his own mind. This is the sort of thing left-leaning “intellectuals” bandied about. It’s the outlook that underscored the bent of not just his closest comrades at the time ( e.g. Reverend Wright and Father Pfleger), but the activist organizations  he and Bill Ayers supported through the Woods Fund. It is absurd, really, to write off all these associations as an aberration or exaggeration, or to ignore them as some imagining of paranoid conservatives. What comes through loud and clear was that Obama shared  the classic anti-capitalist, redistributionist philosophy accepted as dogma by many on the Left.

Remember, this isn’t ancient history. Obama was sharing Socialism 101 with radio listeners just seven years ago. At the same time, he was sitting on the board of the Woods Fund, going to Trinity United Church, and a enjoying a robust professional relationship with Bill Ayers. Has he given all that up? We don’t know, because no one in the media has taken seriously Obama’s intellectual and professional development. No one has asked him basic questions about the past (e.g. Did he share the ideological vision of the Woods Fund grant recipients? Did he agree with Ayers’ radical educational theory?) or even his current economic philosophy. Doesn’t he still believe in spreading the wealth? He certainly did seven years ago.

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