Commentary Magazine


Posts For: October 28, 2008

Re: Something Happened

Noam Scheiber is apparently the one exception among prematurely jubilant Obama supporters:

In the last few days, pretty much every tracking poll I trust (WaPo, Gallup, Rasmussen) and several I either don’t trust (that would be you, Zogby) or don’t have much of an opinion about (Kos, Investor’s Business Daily) has shifted toward McCain, in some cases sharply.

[...]

My immediate concern is twofold: That McCain is getting some traction with his liberal/socialist/redistributionist charge–the WaPo tracker shows McCain narrowing the gap on the economy over the last week–and, in light of this, that Obama is striking his high-note a few days too early.

Bingo. The “liberal/socialist/redistributionist charge” is getting some traction because it’s demonstrably true and deeply troubling. It’s not so much the timing of Obama’s high-note, but the lyrical content, that’s the problem. The man who coasted through two years of saying nothing and saying it very beautifully has been found, at last, actually to say something–and it’s frightening. Nancy Pelosi may have declared the election a done deal, and the New York Times may have called the GOP the “party of yesterday,” but this “charge” is not going away. Here comes the longest week of Obama’s life.

Noam Scheiber is apparently the one exception among prematurely jubilant Obama supporters:

In the last few days, pretty much every tracking poll I trust (WaPo, Gallup, Rasmussen) and several I either don’t trust (that would be you, Zogby) or don’t have much of an opinion about (Kos, Investor’s Business Daily) has shifted toward McCain, in some cases sharply.

[...]

My immediate concern is twofold: That McCain is getting some traction with his liberal/socialist/redistributionist charge–the WaPo tracker shows McCain narrowing the gap on the economy over the last week–and, in light of this, that Obama is striking his high-note a few days too early.

Bingo. The “liberal/socialist/redistributionist charge” is getting some traction because it’s demonstrably true and deeply troubling. It’s not so much the timing of Obama’s high-note, but the lyrical content, that’s the problem. The man who coasted through two years of saying nothing and saying it very beautifully has been found, at last, actually to say something–and it’s frightening. Nancy Pelosi may have declared the election a done deal, and the New York Times may have called the GOP the “party of yesterday,” but this “charge” is not going away. Here comes the longest week of Obama’s life.

Read Less

Commentary of the Day

Diane, on Peter Wehner:

Here’s a purely academic question: Assuming America will need to sow its “redistributive” oats before it can come back to its senses, which is the lesser evil?

1. Obama wins in 2008 and America grows up by 2010.
2. McCain wins in 2008 and the anti-capitalists come back with a vengeance in 2012.
3. (assuming we had a time machine) America elects Kerry in 2004 and wises up by 2008.

What I’m getting at here is that for the last three elections we have seen a 50-50 split in this country between Red and Blue. The pendulum is bound to swing to the Blue at some point or another. Is it better for this adjustment to take place sooner or later?

Diane, on Peter Wehner:

Here’s a purely academic question: Assuming America will need to sow its “redistributive” oats before it can come back to its senses, which is the lesser evil?

1. Obama wins in 2008 and America grows up by 2010.
2. McCain wins in 2008 and the anti-capitalists come back with a vengeance in 2012.
3. (assuming we had a time machine) America elects Kerry in 2004 and wises up by 2008.

What I’m getting at here is that for the last three elections we have seen a 50-50 split in this country between Red and Blue. The pendulum is bound to swing to the Blue at some point or another. Is it better for this adjustment to take place sooner or later?

Read Less

Moving Beyond Annapolis

Outgoing administrations typically experience a decline in their international power during their waning months in office for two key reasons. First, the sitting administration increasingly loses its ability to execute new commitments with each passing day, thus undercutting its reliability as a partner or adversary. Second, other states and international actors pay less attention to the administration as they begin preparing for dealing with a new administration–and the new set of policies, players, and goals that come with it.

Still, one might expect that this pattern shouldn’t apply to diplomatic developments in the Middle East. After all, both Barack Obama and John McCain have consistently said that they would continue along the lines of the Annapolis “process,” which the Bush administration still insists is relevant. Moreover, as Noah alluded to, the (highly favored) Obama team features a number of high-ranking former peace processors, which means that Obama’s stated commitment to strong U.S. involvement in the peace process has been matched with the appropriate personnel. In short, there’s every reason to believe that the Annapolis “process” could be batted around in American diplomatic circles for years to come.

Yet both Israel and the Palestinians have indicated that they are moving on. During a meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak last week, Israeli President Shimon Peres declared his support for the Arab peace initiative–the Saudis’ 2002 peace proposal in which Israel would entirely withdraw to the 1967 borders in exchange for fully normalized (though not necessarily fully diplomatic) relations with all Arab states. Meanwhile, while meeting with Mubarak yesterday in Cairo, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced that 75 Islamic countries were prepared to normalize relations with Israel should it withdraw to the 1967 borders under the terms of the Arab initiative.

Make no mistake: the Arab initiative is as poorly suited as Annapolis for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, because it suffers from the same foundational flaws. Like Annapolis, it has no solution for Mahmoud Abbas’s (partially self-inflicted) political weakness; no solution for Hamas’ intransigence; and depends on a left-of-center Israeli government, which will probably not exist in February. Even so, Arabs and Israelis’ turn away from the U.S. on this issue is a troubling sign for American power in the Middle East. Indeed, it suggests that the Annapolis peace conference – which convened eleven months ago yesterday – has not only failed to promote peace, but has further undermined international confidence in American foreign policy.

For this reason, the winner of next week’s presidential election would be well advised to renounce Annapolis as soon as possible. The incoming president should announce a freeze on U.S. involvement in Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking until both parties’ domestic political situations are resolved. Without this declaration, Israel and the Palestinians will have every reason to believe that the next U.S. administration will follow along the lines of Annapolis–and thus every reason to sideline American proposals indefinitely.

Outgoing administrations typically experience a decline in their international power during their waning months in office for two key reasons. First, the sitting administration increasingly loses its ability to execute new commitments with each passing day, thus undercutting its reliability as a partner or adversary. Second, other states and international actors pay less attention to the administration as they begin preparing for dealing with a new administration–and the new set of policies, players, and goals that come with it.

Still, one might expect that this pattern shouldn’t apply to diplomatic developments in the Middle East. After all, both Barack Obama and John McCain have consistently said that they would continue along the lines of the Annapolis “process,” which the Bush administration still insists is relevant. Moreover, as Noah alluded to, the (highly favored) Obama team features a number of high-ranking former peace processors, which means that Obama’s stated commitment to strong U.S. involvement in the peace process has been matched with the appropriate personnel. In short, there’s every reason to believe that the Annapolis “process” could be batted around in American diplomatic circles for years to come.

Yet both Israel and the Palestinians have indicated that they are moving on. During a meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak last week, Israeli President Shimon Peres declared his support for the Arab peace initiative–the Saudis’ 2002 peace proposal in which Israel would entirely withdraw to the 1967 borders in exchange for fully normalized (though not necessarily fully diplomatic) relations with all Arab states. Meanwhile, while meeting with Mubarak yesterday in Cairo, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced that 75 Islamic countries were prepared to normalize relations with Israel should it withdraw to the 1967 borders under the terms of the Arab initiative.

Make no mistake: the Arab initiative is as poorly suited as Annapolis for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, because it suffers from the same foundational flaws. Like Annapolis, it has no solution for Mahmoud Abbas’s (partially self-inflicted) political weakness; no solution for Hamas’ intransigence; and depends on a left-of-center Israeli government, which will probably not exist in February. Even so, Arabs and Israelis’ turn away from the U.S. on this issue is a troubling sign for American power in the Middle East. Indeed, it suggests that the Annapolis peace conference – which convened eleven months ago yesterday – has not only failed to promote peace, but has further undermined international confidence in American foreign policy.

For this reason, the winner of next week’s presidential election would be well advised to renounce Annapolis as soon as possible. The incoming president should announce a freeze on U.S. involvement in Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking until both parties’ domestic political situations are resolved. Without this declaration, Israel and the Palestinians will have every reason to believe that the next U.S. administration will follow along the lines of Annapolis–and thus every reason to sideline American proposals indefinitely.

Read Less

Still a Center-Right Nation

In a recent op-ed in the Washington Post, I wrote that while Republicans will, in all likelihood, take a drubbing next week, America remains a center-right nation. In response, some people have asked how one squares this claim with a likely Obama presidency and a commanding Democratic majority in the House and the Senate. The question is a fair one, and offers me a chance to elaborate on the assertion I made.

The fact is that, since winning the nomination, Obama has (as I tried to demonstrate in my Post op-ed) tacked right–in some instances substantively and in almost all instances rhetorically–on a host of issues. To take just one: Obama favors expanding our armed forces by 92,000, which is a dramatically different stance from, say, the one George McGovern took in 1972. Obama has also eschewed the label “liberal” as if it were a contagion. And any number of polls, from Newsweek to a recent Battleground poll, find that, by a substantial margin, the public identifies itself as conservative rather than liberal.

In addition, we ought not to forget how much the country has moved in a conservative direction in recent decades. No Democrat is running on repealing welfare reform or retreating on anti-crime initiatives. Nor are Democrats running on an anti-gun platform, racial set-asides, or urging that we raise the marginal tax rate to 70 percent (which it was when Ronald Reagan became president). On immigration, there is widespread agreement on the need to secure our Southern border. Offshore drilling has more support than ever. There is fairly widespread agreement on the need for higher standards in education, merit pay, and public school choice (including charter schools).

Beyond that are more subtle, but equally important, shifts in attitudes toward everything from the military (for which there is enormous respect) to divorce (it is no longer seen as an insignificant and harmless act, especially when it comes to the children touched by it) to drugs (which are seen as dangerous rather than liberating).

That said, America is not, and never has been, a particularly ideological nation. Its citizens are not steeped in Burke or Kirk, Hayek or von Mises. American conservatism tends to be dispositional and instinctive rather than philosophical and systematic. And if you compare America to, say, most of Europe (and much of the industrialized world), we believe the role of government in the life of our nation should be limited. To call someone in America a socialist is considered a provocation; in Europe, it is simply descriptive, often merely an appellation attached to a political party (like the Social Democrats).

America is also a much more religious nation than most European countries, and we tend to view foreign policy through the lens of morality rather than simply geopolitical considerations.

This doesn’t mean that Americans are not, in some important respects, operationally liberal. They often support increases in spending for particular programs, even though they are for “less spending” in the abstract. Nor does it mean that America hasn’t moved left on some issues, including gay rights and the environment. And Americans tend to favor government activism in the midst of certain kinds of economic turmoil (from the Great Depression to, arguably, the recent credit crisis).

Mostly, though, their views tend to be pragmatic and results-oriented. Their views of government depend on facts and circumstances. When it comes to welfare, crime, and education, for example, they are less concerned with the size of government than its efficacy.

Finally, on the matter of the elections: of course they matter. But elections are often the result of different factors – from the quality of individual candidates, to a referendum on the competence of political parties, to the issue set that dominates the public mind, to other things. Republicans and conservatives should bear in mind that in 1992, Bill Clinton won the presidency and Democrats controlled the Senate by a 12-seat margin, with a House majority of 258 to 176. It would have been easy to assume, as many people did, that the age of conservatism was dead. Yet two years later, because of liberal overreach on issues like health care and gays in the military, Newt Gingrich helped engineer a historic election in which Republicans won 54 House seats and took control of that chamber for the first time in a half-century.

I don’t think America lurched from being a philosophically liberal to a philosophically conservative country in the course of 24 months. Instead, it made a judgment about the governing results of Democrats–whom they had been led to believe would govern like “New Democrats”–and found it wanting. As a result, President Clinton tacked to the center and, with the help of a strong economy, won re-election by a comfortable margin.

If Senator Obama wins the election and decides to govern as a liberal, he will soon encounter resistance from the public and generate a great deal of unhappiness. That wouldn’t happen for a while, of course. Every president gets a honeymoon. But that ends soon enough, and the public would eventually hold Obama–and the Democratic Congress–to account.

If Obama and the Democrats do sweep to victory on Tuesday, they will discover that running a campaign is a lot easier than running a country, and that promising “change” is not nearly as hard as enacting it in a way that advances prosperity, our national security, and the common good.

In a recent op-ed in the Washington Post, I wrote that while Republicans will, in all likelihood, take a drubbing next week, America remains a center-right nation. In response, some people have asked how one squares this claim with a likely Obama presidency and a commanding Democratic majority in the House and the Senate. The question is a fair one, and offers me a chance to elaborate on the assertion I made.

The fact is that, since winning the nomination, Obama has (as I tried to demonstrate in my Post op-ed) tacked right–in some instances substantively and in almost all instances rhetorically–on a host of issues. To take just one: Obama favors expanding our armed forces by 92,000, which is a dramatically different stance from, say, the one George McGovern took in 1972. Obama has also eschewed the label “liberal” as if it were a contagion. And any number of polls, from Newsweek to a recent Battleground poll, find that, by a substantial margin, the public identifies itself as conservative rather than liberal.

In addition, we ought not to forget how much the country has moved in a conservative direction in recent decades. No Democrat is running on repealing welfare reform or retreating on anti-crime initiatives. Nor are Democrats running on an anti-gun platform, racial set-asides, or urging that we raise the marginal tax rate to 70 percent (which it was when Ronald Reagan became president). On immigration, there is widespread agreement on the need to secure our Southern border. Offshore drilling has more support than ever. There is fairly widespread agreement on the need for higher standards in education, merit pay, and public school choice (including charter schools).

Beyond that are more subtle, but equally important, shifts in attitudes toward everything from the military (for which there is enormous respect) to divorce (it is no longer seen as an insignificant and harmless act, especially when it comes to the children touched by it) to drugs (which are seen as dangerous rather than liberating).

That said, America is not, and never has been, a particularly ideological nation. Its citizens are not steeped in Burke or Kirk, Hayek or von Mises. American conservatism tends to be dispositional and instinctive rather than philosophical and systematic. And if you compare America to, say, most of Europe (and much of the industrialized world), we believe the role of government in the life of our nation should be limited. To call someone in America a socialist is considered a provocation; in Europe, it is simply descriptive, often merely an appellation attached to a political party (like the Social Democrats).

America is also a much more religious nation than most European countries, and we tend to view foreign policy through the lens of morality rather than simply geopolitical considerations.

This doesn’t mean that Americans are not, in some important respects, operationally liberal. They often support increases in spending for particular programs, even though they are for “less spending” in the abstract. Nor does it mean that America hasn’t moved left on some issues, including gay rights and the environment. And Americans tend to favor government activism in the midst of certain kinds of economic turmoil (from the Great Depression to, arguably, the recent credit crisis).

Mostly, though, their views tend to be pragmatic and results-oriented. Their views of government depend on facts and circumstances. When it comes to welfare, crime, and education, for example, they are less concerned with the size of government than its efficacy.

Finally, on the matter of the elections: of course they matter. But elections are often the result of different factors – from the quality of individual candidates, to a referendum on the competence of political parties, to the issue set that dominates the public mind, to other things. Republicans and conservatives should bear in mind that in 1992, Bill Clinton won the presidency and Democrats controlled the Senate by a 12-seat margin, with a House majority of 258 to 176. It would have been easy to assume, as many people did, that the age of conservatism was dead. Yet two years later, because of liberal overreach on issues like health care and gays in the military, Newt Gingrich helped engineer a historic election in which Republicans won 54 House seats and took control of that chamber for the first time in a half-century.

I don’t think America lurched from being a philosophically liberal to a philosophically conservative country in the course of 24 months. Instead, it made a judgment about the governing results of Democrats–whom they had been led to believe would govern like “New Democrats”–and found it wanting. As a result, President Clinton tacked to the center and, with the help of a strong economy, won re-election by a comfortable margin.

If Senator Obama wins the election and decides to govern as a liberal, he will soon encounter resistance from the public and generate a great deal of unhappiness. That wouldn’t happen for a while, of course. Every president gets a honeymoon. But that ends soon enough, and the public would eventually hold Obama–and the Democratic Congress–to account.

If Obama and the Democrats do sweep to victory on Tuesday, they will discover that running a campaign is a lot easier than running a country, and that promising “change” is not nearly as hard as enacting it in a way that advances prosperity, our national security, and the common good.

Read Less

Dyspeptic Design

On Saturday, the New York Times published an obituary for Lou Dorfsman, the designer responsible for CBS’s brand identity for over 40 years.  Accompanying the article was a photo of Dorfsman proudly standing in front of the giant wall sculpture he created for the company cafeteria.

Lou Dorfsman with Gastrotypographicalassemblage

Called “Gastrotypographicalassemblage,” the artwork mashes together the names of menu items in a hotchpotch of typefaces.  As ugly an agglutination as its title, the piece is an example of the pervasive design clutter that causes visual indigestion.

On Saturday, the New York Times published an obituary for Lou Dorfsman, the designer responsible for CBS’s brand identity for over 40 years.  Accompanying the article was a photo of Dorfsman proudly standing in front of the giant wall sculpture he created for the company cafeteria.

Lou Dorfsman with Gastrotypographicalassemblage

Called “Gastrotypographicalassemblage,” the artwork mashes together the names of menu items in a hotchpotch of typefaces.  As ugly an agglutination as its title, the piece is an example of the pervasive design clutter that causes visual indigestion.

Read Less

Glass Castles

Bad news for our kind and supportive European partners. Even though Der Spiegel ran a cover story about the cost of American arrogance, and the Daily Telegraph says it’s time to impose a “European vision” on the world economy, America is not solely to blame for the economic meltdown:

[T]he most recent data from the Bank for International Settlements should wipe the smirk from many European faces. Western European banks lent three-quarters of a total $US4.7 trillion ($7.5trillion) to emerging markets in eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia: a bursting bubble that surpasses the US sub-prime mess. Again, in Germany alone, financial institutions lent $US21.3 billion to Icelandic banks now collapsing, accounting for more than a quarter of all foreign lending to Iceland and more than five times the level of British lending, Iceland’s next biggest creditor country.

[...]

The truth is the most awful weapons of mass financial destruction came from London and Frankfurt. Aggressive German financiers were busily inventing and packaging up derivatives that Europeans would prefer to frame as a curse of American capitalism.

Nothing new here. After scolding the U.S. for its alleged money-grab in Iraq, European and Asian companies practically ran their American counterparts over to secure Iraqi contracts–once security improved. And–after a steady beat of EU agitation for diplomacy and sanctions (instead of threats and action) to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons–EU exports to Iran went up 4.47 billion euros ($6.93 billion) in the first five months of the year.

The U.S. always takes the hit, giving European nations the cover to act like–well, Europe’s media caricatures of greedy America. Even now, with American treasury bills surging in international popularity, you can rest assured that there will be more triumphal pronouncements of the death of American capitalism.

Bad news for our kind and supportive European partners. Even though Der Spiegel ran a cover story about the cost of American arrogance, and the Daily Telegraph says it’s time to impose a “European vision” on the world economy, America is not solely to blame for the economic meltdown:

[T]he most recent data from the Bank for International Settlements should wipe the smirk from many European faces. Western European banks lent three-quarters of a total $US4.7 trillion ($7.5trillion) to emerging markets in eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia: a bursting bubble that surpasses the US sub-prime mess. Again, in Germany alone, financial institutions lent $US21.3 billion to Icelandic banks now collapsing, accounting for more than a quarter of all foreign lending to Iceland and more than five times the level of British lending, Iceland’s next biggest creditor country.

[...]

The truth is the most awful weapons of mass financial destruction came from London and Frankfurt. Aggressive German financiers were busily inventing and packaging up derivatives that Europeans would prefer to frame as a curse of American capitalism.

Nothing new here. After scolding the U.S. for its alleged money-grab in Iraq, European and Asian companies practically ran their American counterparts over to secure Iraqi contracts–once security improved. And–after a steady beat of EU agitation for diplomacy and sanctions (instead of threats and action) to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons–EU exports to Iran went up 4.47 billion euros ($6.93 billion) in the first five months of the year.

The U.S. always takes the hit, giving European nations the cover to act like–well, Europe’s media caricatures of greedy America. Even now, with American treasury bills surging in international popularity, you can rest assured that there will be more triumphal pronouncements of the death of American capitalism.

Read Less

What’s a Hundred Thousand Dollars between Friends?

Whoops: Joe Biden is in the news again. You know that’s a bad thing for Barack Obama. Apparently, Biden forgot that the official campaign definition of “rich” is $250,000. Those below that shouldn’t fear a tax hike, we’ve been told. But in a speech on Monday, Biden put the figure at $150,000. McCain struck back today in an appearance in Pennsylvania:

Senator Obama has made a lot of promises. First he said people making less than 250,000 dollars would benefit from his plan, then this weekend he announced in an ad that if you’re a family making less than 200,000 dollars you’ll benefit — but yesterday, right here in Pennsylvania, Senator Biden said tax relief should only go to “middle class people — people making under 150,000 dollars a year.” You getting an idea of what’s on their mind. A little sneak peek. It’s interesting how their definition of rich has a way of creeping down. At this rate, it won’t be long before Senator Obama is right back to his vote that Americans making just 42,000 dollars a year should get a tax increase.

The Biden statement fits nicely, of course, into McCain’s theme: $250,000 is a faint line in the sand, and Obama will erase it as soon as he’s forced to acknowledge the need for more revenue to pay for his proposed spending spree. So, Biden has now given McCain a helping hand on national security, clean coal, and taxes. McCain can only hope there are upcoming speeches from Biden on the Supreme Court, undivided government, and Obama’s past associations.

Whoops: Joe Biden is in the news again. You know that’s a bad thing for Barack Obama. Apparently, Biden forgot that the official campaign definition of “rich” is $250,000. Those below that shouldn’t fear a tax hike, we’ve been told. But in a speech on Monday, Biden put the figure at $150,000. McCain struck back today in an appearance in Pennsylvania:

Senator Obama has made a lot of promises. First he said people making less than 250,000 dollars would benefit from his plan, then this weekend he announced in an ad that if you’re a family making less than 200,000 dollars you’ll benefit — but yesterday, right here in Pennsylvania, Senator Biden said tax relief should only go to “middle class people — people making under 150,000 dollars a year.” You getting an idea of what’s on their mind. A little sneak peek. It’s interesting how their definition of rich has a way of creeping down. At this rate, it won’t be long before Senator Obama is right back to his vote that Americans making just 42,000 dollars a year should get a tax increase.

The Biden statement fits nicely, of course, into McCain’s theme: $250,000 is a faint line in the sand, and Obama will erase it as soon as he’s forced to acknowledge the need for more revenue to pay for his proposed spending spree. So, Biden has now given McCain a helping hand on national security, clean coal, and taxes. McCain can only hope there are upcoming speeches from Biden on the Supreme Court, undivided government, and Obama’s past associations.

Read Less

Something Happened

One week ago, the Zogby tracking poll had Barack Obama beating John McCain by almost 10 points among likely voters. Today, it’s a four-point game. Yesterday, IBD reported, “After seesawing between 3.2 and 3.9 points over the weekend, Obama’s lead slipped to 2.8[.]” Gallup’s newest traditional poll has Obama leading by two points. Probing coverage of Sarah Palin’s wardrobe didn’t seem to do what the mainstream media had hoped. With the public losing interest in the crusade against Palin, a fresh news cycle has ushered in a serious challenge for Barack Obama. Americans are scared that the Democratic nominee is a socialist. And it’s not attack ads or robocalls that have created this impression, but Obama’s own words. Up until now, Obama has enjoyed a twenty-six-point lead among self-professed moderates, who make up roughly half the electorate. As there is nothing moderate about collectivism and wealth redistribution, the new charges could bury Obama.

Barack Obama’s greatest advantage over John McCain has been his ability to convince Americans that he will take them someplace, transport them out of the War on Terror paradigm, off of the anti-American planet we currently inhabit and into a future in which America is somehow still the global leader without actually being better than any other nation, where somehow everyone is furnished with healthcare and education without this crippling the economy. Over the past few weeks, this last “somehow” has been defined. And if it points toward where Obama intends to take the U.S., Americans are rightfully fearful.

Obama’s democratic socialist sympathies first came to light when he told Joe Wurzelbacher of his plan to “spread the wealth.” The worrisome sentiment was reinforced by an unearthed 2001 radio interview, during which Obama seemed saddened by the Supreme Court’s inability to redistribute wealth in accordance with need. On Sunday, Obama sounded a further collectivist note, when he told a Colorado crowd, “Now, make no mistake: the change we need won’t come easy or without cost. We will all need to tighten our belts, we will all need to sacrifice and we will all need to pull our weight because now more than ever, we are all in this together.”

Americans don’t take kindly to the government-knows-best school of problem solving. If wealth is to be spread around, it will be spread by those who earn it. Sacrifices may be made, but they will not be dictated. Even today’s PC-damaged Americans suspect that the collective good is most effectively, and ethically, realized in pursuing individual achievement. Less than twenty years after the defeat of the Soviet Union, we’re faced with a potential president who thinks it’s his place to tell us what we must give up and how it will be apportioned to bring about the common good. This won’t fly. Eighty-four percent of Americans oppose the government redistribution of wealth.

Before Joe the Plumber, Obama managed to sell indecision as moderation and detachment as self-possession. Evidence of extreme ideology was skillfully sidestepped as ancient happenstance (as in the case of his association with Bill Ayers), or partisan misinterpretation (as in the case of Obama’s abortion record). But Obama’s sympathies are both recently held and clear-as-day. And that’s a serious problem.

One week ago, the Zogby tracking poll had Barack Obama beating John McCain by almost 10 points among likely voters. Today, it’s a four-point game. Yesterday, IBD reported, “After seesawing between 3.2 and 3.9 points over the weekend, Obama’s lead slipped to 2.8[.]” Gallup’s newest traditional poll has Obama leading by two points. Probing coverage of Sarah Palin’s wardrobe didn’t seem to do what the mainstream media had hoped. With the public losing interest in the crusade against Palin, a fresh news cycle has ushered in a serious challenge for Barack Obama. Americans are scared that the Democratic nominee is a socialist. And it’s not attack ads or robocalls that have created this impression, but Obama’s own words. Up until now, Obama has enjoyed a twenty-six-point lead among self-professed moderates, who make up roughly half the electorate. As there is nothing moderate about collectivism and wealth redistribution, the new charges could bury Obama.

Barack Obama’s greatest advantage over John McCain has been his ability to convince Americans that he will take them someplace, transport them out of the War on Terror paradigm, off of the anti-American planet we currently inhabit and into a future in which America is somehow still the global leader without actually being better than any other nation, where somehow everyone is furnished with healthcare and education without this crippling the economy. Over the past few weeks, this last “somehow” has been defined. And if it points toward where Obama intends to take the U.S., Americans are rightfully fearful.

Obama’s democratic socialist sympathies first came to light when he told Joe Wurzelbacher of his plan to “spread the wealth.” The worrisome sentiment was reinforced by an unearthed 2001 radio interview, during which Obama seemed saddened by the Supreme Court’s inability to redistribute wealth in accordance with need. On Sunday, Obama sounded a further collectivist note, when he told a Colorado crowd, “Now, make no mistake: the change we need won’t come easy or without cost. We will all need to tighten our belts, we will all need to sacrifice and we will all need to pull our weight because now more than ever, we are all in this together.”

Americans don’t take kindly to the government-knows-best school of problem solving. If wealth is to be spread around, it will be spread by those who earn it. Sacrifices may be made, but they will not be dictated. Even today’s PC-damaged Americans suspect that the collective good is most effectively, and ethically, realized in pursuing individual achievement. Less than twenty years after the defeat of the Soviet Union, we’re faced with a potential president who thinks it’s his place to tell us what we must give up and how it will be apportioned to bring about the common good. This won’t fly. Eighty-four percent of Americans oppose the government redistribution of wealth.

Before Joe the Plumber, Obama managed to sell indecision as moderation and detachment as self-possession. Evidence of extreme ideology was skillfully sidestepped as ancient happenstance (as in the case of his association with Bill Ayers), or partisan misinterpretation (as in the case of Obama’s abortion record). But Obama’s sympathies are both recently held and clear-as-day. And that’s a serious problem.

Read Less

Did Anyone Mention This?

Word comes that some of the $700B in bailout money may be used to rescue auto companies. The auto companies aren’t “banks” so the Fed won’t take an equity stake but they can use the money to buy up bad auto loans. So now the financial sector bailout has morphed into an auto-loan rescue operation?

Dan Mitchell of CATO takes exception:

When you have taxpayers come in and bail out Detroit, you in effect are sending a message: You don’t need to make yourself more efficient to meet the challenge of foreign competition. You just need to hire the right lobbyists and influence-peddlers in Washington to get money for you.

And he’s not alone. Just yesterday the Washington Post editors pointed out, with regard to another $25B loan to the auto industry, why this might not be a smart tactic:

Well, we can think of several objections. First, there is the question of whether the U.S. government should be picking winners and losers in a business such as this. It’s one thing to bail out the financial sector, whose product — credit — is essentially fungible and on which all other businesses depend. Automobiles, however, are not interchangeable, and Congress can’t substitute its specific technological and aesthetic preferences for those of the market. What if we lend Detroit $25 billion and still nobody buys its cars?

Second, this bailout taxes the less well-off to protect the relatively privileged. The average individual General Motors production worker, whose job would be saved by the bailout, makes $56,650 per year, according to the Center for Automotive Research, and that doesn’t count better-paid, white-collar types. Meanwhile, half of all households– which typically include more than one earner — make less than $50,000 per year. Where’s the justice in that?

Precisely. Moreover, this has a bait-and-switch quality to it. What was supposed to be emergency help for one sector of the economy now is seeping into some type of industrial policy. What’s next? There doesn’t seem to be much of that vaunted Congressional oversight, let alone public discussion, of this development. Maybe the presidential candidates would like to opine on whether they think an auto bailout is what they had in mind and whether they think it would be a good idea. Even better, they might tell us what industries aren’t going to be getting government hand outs on their watch. Are there any?

Word comes that some of the $700B in bailout money may be used to rescue auto companies. The auto companies aren’t “banks” so the Fed won’t take an equity stake but they can use the money to buy up bad auto loans. So now the financial sector bailout has morphed into an auto-loan rescue operation?

Dan Mitchell of CATO takes exception:

When you have taxpayers come in and bail out Detroit, you in effect are sending a message: You don’t need to make yourself more efficient to meet the challenge of foreign competition. You just need to hire the right lobbyists and influence-peddlers in Washington to get money for you.

And he’s not alone. Just yesterday the Washington Post editors pointed out, with regard to another $25B loan to the auto industry, why this might not be a smart tactic:

Well, we can think of several objections. First, there is the question of whether the U.S. government should be picking winners and losers in a business such as this. It’s one thing to bail out the financial sector, whose product — credit — is essentially fungible and on which all other businesses depend. Automobiles, however, are not interchangeable, and Congress can’t substitute its specific technological and aesthetic preferences for those of the market. What if we lend Detroit $25 billion and still nobody buys its cars?

Second, this bailout taxes the less well-off to protect the relatively privileged. The average individual General Motors production worker, whose job would be saved by the bailout, makes $56,650 per year, according to the Center for Automotive Research, and that doesn’t count better-paid, white-collar types. Meanwhile, half of all households– which typically include more than one earner — make less than $50,000 per year. Where’s the justice in that?

Precisely. Moreover, this has a bait-and-switch quality to it. What was supposed to be emergency help for one sector of the economy now is seeping into some type of industrial policy. What’s next? There doesn’t seem to be much of that vaunted Congressional oversight, let alone public discussion, of this development. Maybe the presidential candidates would like to opine on whether they think an auto bailout is what they had in mind and whether they think it would be a good idea. Even better, they might tell us what industries aren’t going to be getting government hand outs on their watch. Are there any?

Read Less

Applebaum’s Disappointing Endorsement

There have been a number of absurd reasons given recently by self-described conservatives who are endorsing the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate in his bid for the presidency, but none are quite as unconvincing as Anne Applebaum’s. In her Washington Post column, she begins by laying out the case for McCain: He’s a foreign-policy expert, who “knows not only the names, he knows the people; and by this I mean not just foreign presidents but foreign members of parliament, foreign
journalists, foreign generals. He goes to Germany every year, visits Vietnam often. He can talk intelligently about Belarus and Uzbekistan.”

“Another thing I liked about McCain,” she continues, “was the deliberate distance he always kept from the nuttier wing of his party and, simultaneously, the loyalty he’s shown to a recognizably conservative budgetary philosophy.”

“Finally,” she writes, “I admired McCain’s willingness to tackle politically risky issues such as immigration, the debate about which has long been drenched in hypocrisy.”

So why then is she casting a ballot of Barack Obama, who is, she admits, “the least experienced, least tested candidate in modern presidential history”? Apparently it’s because during his campaign McCain has made “a fatal effort to appeal to the least thoughtful, most partisan elements of his base.” What evidence is there for this charge? She claims that he has “moved away from his previous positions on torture and immigration,” though I haven’t seen any sign of that. All he has said is that we need to secure the border before enacting the kind of amnesty that he favors for immigrants already here. He has never backed off his pledge to close Gitmo and prohibit torture.

Her real beef seems to be not with John McCain–who is the same man he has always been–but with some of his supporters, who, she claims, “cultivate ignorance and fear: Watch Sean Hannity’s ” arack Obama and Friends: A History of Radicalism” on YouTube if you don’t believe me.”

So let me see if I’ve got this straight: Anne Applebaum disdains John McCain because Sean Hannity supports him? But she doesn’t mind Barack Obama, despite his long association with Rev. Wright and Bill Ayers? Despite the rabid support he receives from know-nothings like Keith Olbermann and the most extreme wing of the Democratic Party? And despite Obama’s efforts to “appeal to the least thoughtful, most partisan elements of his base” by pushing a 16-month timetable for withdrawal from Iraq and opposing free trade treaties?

Frankly, I’m disappointed. Anne Applebaum is a serious person who has written a first-rate history of the Gulag. She needs to make a more serious case for Obama and against McCain.

There have been a number of absurd reasons given recently by self-described conservatives who are endorsing the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate in his bid for the presidency, but none are quite as unconvincing as Anne Applebaum’s. In her Washington Post column, she begins by laying out the case for McCain: He’s a foreign-policy expert, who “knows not only the names, he knows the people; and by this I mean not just foreign presidents but foreign members of parliament, foreign
journalists, foreign generals. He goes to Germany every year, visits Vietnam often. He can talk intelligently about Belarus and Uzbekistan.”

“Another thing I liked about McCain,” she continues, “was the deliberate distance he always kept from the nuttier wing of his party and, simultaneously, the loyalty he’s shown to a recognizably conservative budgetary philosophy.”

“Finally,” she writes, “I admired McCain’s willingness to tackle politically risky issues such as immigration, the debate about which has long been drenched in hypocrisy.”

So why then is she casting a ballot of Barack Obama, who is, she admits, “the least experienced, least tested candidate in modern presidential history”? Apparently it’s because during his campaign McCain has made “a fatal effort to appeal to the least thoughtful, most partisan elements of his base.” What evidence is there for this charge? She claims that he has “moved away from his previous positions on torture and immigration,” though I haven’t seen any sign of that. All he has said is that we need to secure the border before enacting the kind of amnesty that he favors for immigrants already here. He has never backed off his pledge to close Gitmo and prohibit torture.

Her real beef seems to be not with John McCain–who is the same man he has always been–but with some of his supporters, who, she claims, “cultivate ignorance and fear: Watch Sean Hannity’s ” arack Obama and Friends: A History of Radicalism” on YouTube if you don’t believe me.”

So let me see if I’ve got this straight: Anne Applebaum disdains John McCain because Sean Hannity supports him? But she doesn’t mind Barack Obama, despite his long association with Rev. Wright and Bill Ayers? Despite the rabid support he receives from know-nothings like Keith Olbermann and the most extreme wing of the Democratic Party? And despite Obama’s efforts to “appeal to the least thoughtful, most partisan elements of his base” by pushing a 16-month timetable for withdrawal from Iraq and opposing free trade treaties?

Frankly, I’m disappointed. Anne Applebaum is a serious person who has written a first-rate history of the Gulag. She needs to make a more serious case for Obama and against McCain.

Read Less

Do Your Job, Already

This account of Barack Obama’s rather robotic demeanor and lack of candor with the press left me thinking something is terribly wrong–with the press. I don’t expect politicians to divulge deep secrets to or share tidbits with the entire press corps. Nor am I surprised that Obama, who rarely smiles or shows emotion in public appearances, wouldn’t be much different in his semi-public interchanges with the media.

No, what impressed me was the passivity of the press in the face of this. He’s not sharing with you? Ask him some hard question and see if he blinks. He only wants to banter? Don’t banter back; probe something he doesn’t really want to talk about. Do your job. Somewhere, the press developed the notion that their job was to simply take at face value whatever he or his spin doctors came up with. They simply don’t probe, question, or confront him like other candidates. They continually defer back to the approved Obama storyline–whether it’s on his problematic relationships or his redistributionist views.

Perhaps if they challenged him, argued with him, and engaged in the same back-and-forth that they do with other candidates, they (and in turn we) would learn something. Not just about Obama’s substantive views, but also about how he reacts to criticism. The press can’t both be his friend and do their job. They may be wounded or miffed he doesn’t regard them as confidantes. But they shouldn’t be surprised they haven’t figured out who he really is. They haven’t, after all, tried very hard.

This account of Barack Obama’s rather robotic demeanor and lack of candor with the press left me thinking something is terribly wrong–with the press. I don’t expect politicians to divulge deep secrets to or share tidbits with the entire press corps. Nor am I surprised that Obama, who rarely smiles or shows emotion in public appearances, wouldn’t be much different in his semi-public interchanges with the media.

No, what impressed me was the passivity of the press in the face of this. He’s not sharing with you? Ask him some hard question and see if he blinks. He only wants to banter? Don’t banter back; probe something he doesn’t really want to talk about. Do your job. Somewhere, the press developed the notion that their job was to simply take at face value whatever he or his spin doctors came up with. They simply don’t probe, question, or confront him like other candidates. They continually defer back to the approved Obama storyline–whether it’s on his problematic relationships or his redistributionist views.

Perhaps if they challenged him, argued with him, and engaged in the same back-and-forth that they do with other candidates, they (and in turn we) would learn something. Not just about Obama’s substantive views, but also about how he reacts to criticism. The press can’t both be his friend and do their job. They may be wounded or miffed he doesn’t regard them as confidantes. But they shouldn’t be surprised they haven’t figured out who he really is. They haven’t, after all, tried very hard.

Read Less

Is Wall Street onto Obama?

Barack Obama, the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate last year, has done a brilliant job of presenting himself as a moderate during the course of the presidential campaign, and nowhere more so than on defense issues. Although he has been eager to end the war in Iraq at all costs–even willing to accept a disastrous defeat with his trademark equanimity–he has tried to burnish his credentials as a hawk by calling for more military action in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He has also advertised his closeness with Republicans such as Chuck Hagel and Richard Lugar. And, as this Washington Post article notes, he has called for an increase in the size of the armed forces. He hasn’t said how he would pay for this increase, and he certainly hasn’t called for cuts in other defense programs. He is far too smart to say what Barney Frank just said–that we should cut the military budget by 25%. But it tells you something that Morgan Stanley has just downgraded the entire aerospace and defense sector ahead of the presidential election Obama is heavily favored to win.

Wonder why they figure that we won’t be spending so much on defense in the future? Maybe the financial analysts aren’t buying Obama’s centrist makeover?

Barack Obama, the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate last year, has done a brilliant job of presenting himself as a moderate during the course of the presidential campaign, and nowhere more so than on defense issues. Although he has been eager to end the war in Iraq at all costs–even willing to accept a disastrous defeat with his trademark equanimity–he has tried to burnish his credentials as a hawk by calling for more military action in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He has also advertised his closeness with Republicans such as Chuck Hagel and Richard Lugar. And, as this Washington Post article notes, he has called for an increase in the size of the armed forces. He hasn’t said how he would pay for this increase, and he certainly hasn’t called for cuts in other defense programs. He is far too smart to say what Barney Frank just said–that we should cut the military budget by 25%. But it tells you something that Morgan Stanley has just downgraded the entire aerospace and defense sector ahead of the presidential election Obama is heavily favored to win.

Wonder why they figure that we won’t be spending so much on defense in the future? Maybe the financial analysts aren’t buying Obama’s centrist makeover?

Read Less

Sarkozy, Underwhelmed

Europeans tend to believe that a potential Barack Obama presidency will greatly contribute to improving transatlantic relations, after the stormy ride of the Bush era. Though Europe expects improvements under a McCain presidency as well, the Obama factor is considerably more powerful in generating goodwill on the continent, as evidenced by recent polls on transatlantic perceptions. It may come as a surprise, then, that at least on the issue of Iran, one of America’s closest allies in Europe is not so fond of Obama.

If reports are accurate, French President Nicholas Sarkozy views Obama’s current position on Iran as “utterly immature.” Not only that: France would view an Obama attempt to open talks with Iran as “arrogant” and “unilateral”–much the same language hurled at the current White House tenant in earlier years.

This is not to say that Sarkozy is right. It is just to point out that the main factor in choosing the next president of the United States should not be the desire to mend fences with disgruntled Europeans. After all, electing the President is about choosing the most powerful man in the world, not the most popular. And I suspect that, whatever the choice of the American people, and whatever the wisdom of Sarkozy’s judgment, the coming policy challenges will only further test transatlantic relations, Obama or not.

Europeans tend to believe that a potential Barack Obama presidency will greatly contribute to improving transatlantic relations, after the stormy ride of the Bush era. Though Europe expects improvements under a McCain presidency as well, the Obama factor is considerably more powerful in generating goodwill on the continent, as evidenced by recent polls on transatlantic perceptions. It may come as a surprise, then, that at least on the issue of Iran, one of America’s closest allies in Europe is not so fond of Obama.

If reports are accurate, French President Nicholas Sarkozy views Obama’s current position on Iran as “utterly immature.” Not only that: France would view an Obama attempt to open talks with Iran as “arrogant” and “unilateral”–much the same language hurled at the current White House tenant in earlier years.

This is not to say that Sarkozy is right. It is just to point out that the main factor in choosing the next president of the United States should not be the desire to mend fences with disgruntled Europeans. After all, electing the President is about choosing the most powerful man in the world, not the most popular. And I suspect that, whatever the choice of the American people, and whatever the wisdom of Sarkozy’s judgment, the coming policy challenges will only further test transatlantic relations, Obama or not.

Read Less

Ignore That Man Behind the Curtain

Steven Calabresi, co-founder of the Federalist Society, explains Barack Obama’s view of the courts:

Speaking in July 2007 at a conference of Planned Parenthood, he said: “[W]e need somebody who’s got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it’s like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it’s like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old. And that’s the criteria by which I’m going to be selecting my judges.”

On this view, plaintiffs should usually win against defendants in civil cases; criminals in cases against the police; consumers, employees and stockholders in suits brought against corporations; and citizens in suits brought against the government. Empathy, not justice, ought to be the mission of the federal courts, and the redistribution of wealth should be their mantra.

Calabresi reminds us what we might face in an Obama’s presidency:

A whole generation of Americans has come of age since the nation experienced the bad judicial appointments and foolish economic and regulatory policy of the Johnson and Carter administrations. If Mr. Obama wins we could possibly see any or all of the following: a federal constitutional right to welfare; a federal constitutional mandate of affirmative action wherever there are racial disparities, without regard to proof of discriminatory intent; a right for government-financed abortions through the third trimester of pregnancy; the abolition of capital punishment and the mass freeing of criminal defendants; ruinous shareholder suits against corporate officers and directors; and approval of huge punitive damage awards, like those imposed against tobacco companies, against many legitimate businesses such as those selling fattening food.

The use of the courts to achieve these aims is, of course, doubly problematic. First, it sets up courts as super-legislators, roaming the landscape unshackled by any requirement to adhere to the language and intent of the Constitution — or of statutes, for that matter. Second, the ends Obama favors are antithetical to those held by majorities of Americans: government-funded abortions, government-run healthcare, racial preferences in education and employment.

There is a mound of evidence–from Obama’s longtime associations to his voting record as a state legislator to his pre-presidential rhetoric to his primacy on “fairness” over revenue collection to his “spreading the wealth” remarks — that tells us about Obama’s vision of the country and his aspirations for the future. Voters can, if they wish, ignore years of unfiltered behavior and comments, and rely instead on carefully calibrated campaign rhetoric. They can hope that he’ll be overcome by a spasm of moderation once elected. They can even hope, as Ken Adelman has said, that he really isn’t intent on doing in office much of what he’s said in the campaign. But they can’t say they weren’t warned.

Steven Calabresi, co-founder of the Federalist Society, explains Barack Obama’s view of the courts:

Speaking in July 2007 at a conference of Planned Parenthood, he said: “[W]e need somebody who’s got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it’s like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it’s like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old. And that’s the criteria by which I’m going to be selecting my judges.”

On this view, plaintiffs should usually win against defendants in civil cases; criminals in cases against the police; consumers, employees and stockholders in suits brought against corporations; and citizens in suits brought against the government. Empathy, not justice, ought to be the mission of the federal courts, and the redistribution of wealth should be their mantra.

Calabresi reminds us what we might face in an Obama’s presidency:

A whole generation of Americans has come of age since the nation experienced the bad judicial appointments and foolish economic and regulatory policy of the Johnson and Carter administrations. If Mr. Obama wins we could possibly see any or all of the following: a federal constitutional right to welfare; a federal constitutional mandate of affirmative action wherever there are racial disparities, without regard to proof of discriminatory intent; a right for government-financed abortions through the third trimester of pregnancy; the abolition of capital punishment and the mass freeing of criminal defendants; ruinous shareholder suits against corporate officers and directors; and approval of huge punitive damage awards, like those imposed against tobacco companies, against many legitimate businesses such as those selling fattening food.

The use of the courts to achieve these aims is, of course, doubly problematic. First, it sets up courts as super-legislators, roaming the landscape unshackled by any requirement to adhere to the language and intent of the Constitution — or of statutes, for that matter. Second, the ends Obama favors are antithetical to those held by majorities of Americans: government-funded abortions, government-run healthcare, racial preferences in education and employment.

There is a mound of evidence–from Obama’s longtime associations to his voting record as a state legislator to his pre-presidential rhetoric to his primacy on “fairness” over revenue collection to his “spreading the wealth” remarks — that tells us about Obama’s vision of the country and his aspirations for the future. Voters can, if they wish, ignore years of unfiltered behavior and comments, and rely instead on carefully calibrated campaign rhetoric. They can hope that he’ll be overcome by a spasm of moderation once elected. They can even hope, as Ken Adelman has said, that he really isn’t intent on doing in office much of what he’s said in the campaign. But they can’t say they weren’t warned.

Read Less

You Mean He’s Not Giving Up?

You can almost hear the sighs and see the eye rolls. James Carney writes that, although John McCain is way, way, way behind and you, informed and savvy reader, know better, “his central argument — that the race is not over, that he might still pull this thing out — is not completely unreasonable.” Well, not completely. Because people still have to turn out. And vote. And McCain has a pretty good arguments on national security served up by Barack Obama’s running mate. And because the whole country is saying the same multi-syllabic word (“redistribution”). Oh, and because the polls have been wildly wrong at times and lack a consistent model for turnout.

Carney sums up:

Heeding calls from the likes of Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell not to take the state for granted, Obama is returning for rallies both Monday and Tuesday of this week. Absent a seismic event that changes the entire election dynamic, such an outcome for McCain is unlikely at best. “It’s a very long shot,” says a Republican strategist who advises the campaign. “But it’s not impossible. At least it’s something to hold on to.”

Isn’t that sporting of them — giving those poor Republicans “something to hold on to.”

I don’t recall all this “election over, don’t bother” mantra in any previous election. From day one, the MSM has attempted to wrestle control of the campaign from the hands of voters and the opponents of Obama. They aren’t about to give it back now. More candid MSM reporters are fessing up about their lacking of due diligence in “vetting” Obama. But they aren’t about to acknowledge, after all that hard work, that voters always get the last say. ( You can hear them tut-tutting, “But really, can you believe those Republican candidates still working and trying to convince voters that that nice, moderate Obama is some wacky socialist?”)

McCain may not be able to pull it out, but we now know the appropriate standard for a future elections when a Democrat may be trailing by single digits with a week to go: “Give it up, guys.” Right?

You can almost hear the sighs and see the eye rolls. James Carney writes that, although John McCain is way, way, way behind and you, informed and savvy reader, know better, “his central argument — that the race is not over, that he might still pull this thing out — is not completely unreasonable.” Well, not completely. Because people still have to turn out. And vote. And McCain has a pretty good arguments on national security served up by Barack Obama’s running mate. And because the whole country is saying the same multi-syllabic word (“redistribution”). Oh, and because the polls have been wildly wrong at times and lack a consistent model for turnout.

Carney sums up:

Heeding calls from the likes of Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell not to take the state for granted, Obama is returning for rallies both Monday and Tuesday of this week. Absent a seismic event that changes the entire election dynamic, such an outcome for McCain is unlikely at best. “It’s a very long shot,” says a Republican strategist who advises the campaign. “But it’s not impossible. At least it’s something to hold on to.”

Isn’t that sporting of them — giving those poor Republicans “something to hold on to.”

I don’t recall all this “election over, don’t bother” mantra in any previous election. From day one, the MSM has attempted to wrestle control of the campaign from the hands of voters and the opponents of Obama. They aren’t about to give it back now. More candid MSM reporters are fessing up about their lacking of due diligence in “vetting” Obama. But they aren’t about to acknowledge, after all that hard work, that voters always get the last say. ( You can hear them tut-tutting, “But really, can you believe those Republican candidates still working and trying to convince voters that that nice, moderate Obama is some wacky socialist?”)

McCain may not be able to pull it out, but we now know the appropriate standard for a future elections when a Democrat may be trailing by single digits with a week to go: “Give it up, guys.” Right?

Read Less

Ayers, out on the Town

Bill Ayers was out lecturing an adoring crowd of admirers, expressing displeasure that he’s become an issue in the Presidential campaign. The Daily News reports:

The former member of the Weather Underground beamed at the attention paid by the audience of about 60 people, many of whom were decked out in Obama gear. The crowd gave Ayers a warm welcome, guffawed at jokes about “redistributing the wealth” and nodded at his complaints about the “Republican revolution.” After the talk was over, event organizers attempted to sneak Ayers out a back door to avoid the media. Waiting reporters gave chase, but Ayers sputtered, “No comment,” and darted into a cab.

One wonders what that redistributing the wealth joke was — those “property is theft” gags are a hoot, no doubt. Yes, I’m sure with the website and the new edition of his book coming out, his real hope is to remain far from the limelight.

If you find it odd that sixty people would choose to spend their time with a former terrorist yucking it up about the Reagan Revolution, you might consider how utterly bizarre it would be to enjoy a fulsome political and personal relationship with such a person. It is not something an average voter, I’d suggest, could in his wildest dreams imagine doing.

Once again, you are left to conclude that Obama simply doesn’t hold the same values as ordinary voters. He’s giving a good imitation. But that’s not the same. It really isn’t.

Bill Ayers was out lecturing an adoring crowd of admirers, expressing displeasure that he’s become an issue in the Presidential campaign. The Daily News reports:

The former member of the Weather Underground beamed at the attention paid by the audience of about 60 people, many of whom were decked out in Obama gear. The crowd gave Ayers a warm welcome, guffawed at jokes about “redistributing the wealth” and nodded at his complaints about the “Republican revolution.” After the talk was over, event organizers attempted to sneak Ayers out a back door to avoid the media. Waiting reporters gave chase, but Ayers sputtered, “No comment,” and darted into a cab.

One wonders what that redistributing the wealth joke was — those “property is theft” gags are a hoot, no doubt. Yes, I’m sure with the website and the new edition of his book coming out, his real hope is to remain far from the limelight.

If you find it odd that sixty people would choose to spend their time with a former terrorist yucking it up about the Reagan Revolution, you might consider how utterly bizarre it would be to enjoy a fulsome political and personal relationship with such a person. It is not something an average voter, I’d suggest, could in his wildest dreams imagine doing.

Once again, you are left to conclude that Obama simply doesn’t hold the same values as ordinary voters. He’s giving a good imitation. But that’s not the same. It really isn’t.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

The first of many Sarah Palin advice columns — or are they job applications? — from Republican communications advisors.

Maybe Joe Biden was talking to Nicholas Sarkozy. The latter seems pretty worried about an Obama administration’s policy on Iran. “Utterly immature” he calls it, according to this report.

You gotta love how the Obama camp characterizes a story about their candidate’s own words on the Supreme Court and the redistribution of wealth a “fake news story.” That’s because all the “real” ones talk about his record of bipartisan deal making, his record of standing up to his own party, and his legendary opposition to the Daley machine. That’s the bizzarro political world we now inhabit.

This is what troopers do – they carry on in less than ideal circumstances. A good example for the McCain staff.

Bret Stephens asks: “And so the question remains: If elected, which Obama do we get? The nuanced centrist or the man from Ben and Jerry’s?”

David Bernstein dissects the “redistributive” radio remarks. I agree it’s clear that, for practical reasons, Obama doesn’t favor the judicial route, but it’s also clear that the goal of redistributing wealth is dear to Obama.

In what other election did you see “reporters” defending one candidate from inquiries about his own record and words?

Glenn Reynolds asks if we could do worse than these two presidential candidates. Oh, I think we have, and we will again.

Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell issues an opinion requiring that those military ballots be counted. McDonnell, it should be noted, will be the GOP candidate for Governor in next year’s election.

Fox is the only outlet apparently which is willing to go toe-to-toe with the Obama camp. Give that woman a gold star: she holds her ground, she has her facts, and she asks hard questions. Sort of like a reporter.

Awash in money, no transparency, intimidating political enemies — sounds like Richard Nixon. Hey, he had the same moniker (“Nixon’s the One!”), albeit without the messianic inference.

A former editor-in-chief of Ms. magazine thinks Palin is one smart pol. According to this Democrat, Palin has “a mind that is thoughtful, curious, with a discernable pattern of associative thinking and insight. Palin asks questions, and probes linkages and logic that bring to mind a quirky law professor I once had.”

Not the best delivery, but McCain gets the message out. The word for the last week of the campaign is “Redistribution.”

James Taranto asks readers to guess the international crisis Obama wouldn’t necessarily get “right.” Now I’m really nervous.

Joe the Campaigner? I think it worked better when he was an average guy and free agent.

The first of many Sarah Palin advice columns — or are they job applications? — from Republican communications advisors.

Maybe Joe Biden was talking to Nicholas Sarkozy. The latter seems pretty worried about an Obama administration’s policy on Iran. “Utterly immature” he calls it, according to this report.

You gotta love how the Obama camp characterizes a story about their candidate’s own words on the Supreme Court and the redistribution of wealth a “fake news story.” That’s because all the “real” ones talk about his record of bipartisan deal making, his record of standing up to his own party, and his legendary opposition to the Daley machine. That’s the bizzarro political world we now inhabit.

This is what troopers do – they carry on in less than ideal circumstances. A good example for the McCain staff.

Bret Stephens asks: “And so the question remains: If elected, which Obama do we get? The nuanced centrist or the man from Ben and Jerry’s?”

David Bernstein dissects the “redistributive” radio remarks. I agree it’s clear that, for practical reasons, Obama doesn’t favor the judicial route, but it’s also clear that the goal of redistributing wealth is dear to Obama.

In what other election did you see “reporters” defending one candidate from inquiries about his own record and words?

Glenn Reynolds asks if we could do worse than these two presidential candidates. Oh, I think we have, and we will again.

Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell issues an opinion requiring that those military ballots be counted. McDonnell, it should be noted, will be the GOP candidate for Governor in next year’s election.

Fox is the only outlet apparently which is willing to go toe-to-toe with the Obama camp. Give that woman a gold star: she holds her ground, she has her facts, and she asks hard questions. Sort of like a reporter.

Awash in money, no transparency, intimidating political enemies — sounds like Richard Nixon. Hey, he had the same moniker (“Nixon’s the One!”), albeit without the messianic inference.

A former editor-in-chief of Ms. magazine thinks Palin is one smart pol. According to this Democrat, Palin has “a mind that is thoughtful, curious, with a discernable pattern of associative thinking and insight. Palin asks questions, and probes linkages and logic that bring to mind a quirky law professor I once had.”

Not the best delivery, but McCain gets the message out. The word for the last week of the campaign is “Redistribution.”

James Taranto asks readers to guess the international crisis Obama wouldn’t necessarily get “right.” Now I’m really nervous.

Joe the Campaigner? I think it worked better when he was an average guy and free agent.

Read Less

Obama and the Syrian Operation

Bill Roggio has a must-read account of the recent cross-border attack, which apparently targeted a high-level al-Qaeda figure who directed the flow of arms, cash, and fighters from Syria into Iraq. The operation indicates not just a change in U.S. policy toward Syria, but also that U.S. intelligence on the Syrian role in the insurgency is better than it has been in the past:

The US military learned a great deal about al Qaeda’s network inside Syria after a key operative was killed in September of 2007. US forces killed Muthanna, the regional commander of al Qaeda’s network in the Sinjar region.

During the operation, US forces found numerous documents and electronic files that detailed “the larger al-Qaeda effort to organize, coordinate, and transport foreign terrorists into Iraq and other places,” Major General Kevin Bergner, the former spokesman for Multinational Forces Iraq, said in October 2007. …

Other documents found in Muthanna’s possession included a “pledge of a martyr,” which is signed by foreign fighters inside Syria, and an expense report. The pledge said the suicide bomber must provide a photograph and surrender their passport. It also stated the recruit must enroll in a “security course” in Syria. The expense report was tallied in US dollars, Syrian lira, and Iraqi dinars, and included items such as clothing, food, fuel, mobile phone cards, weapons, salaries, “sheep purchased,” furniture, spare parts for vehicles, and other items.

The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point later conducted a detailed study of the “Sinjar Records,” which was published in July 2008. The study showed that al Qaeda had an extensive network in Syria and the Syrian government has allowed their activities to continue.

The task of understanding Barack Obama’s stance on Syria and al Qaeda becomes yet more difficult. He says that defeating al Qaeda will be a top foreign policy priority. Yet Dennis Ross, an adviser to his campaign, said just a few days ago that he would like to see the opening of diplomatic talks with Syria, a conviction shared by Obama’s other foreign policy advisers, in order to “probe and test” Syria’s intentions.

Those intentions have been probed and tested for decades, and every time we discover that Syria intends to continue supporting terrorists. Our diplomatic consternation never seems to make a difference. What might actually affect Syria’s atrocious behavior is if the regime was forced to pay a price for it — such as by having its sovereignty violated and the terrorists it harbors killed by U.S. commandos.

Now we get to the truly puzzling part: Obama says that the United States should strike at al Qaeda in Pakistan without the consent of the Pakistani government. So, he favors attacking al Qaeda in Pakistan, but presumably not in Syria, even though al Qaeda thrives in Syria not because of lawlessness (as in Pakistan) but because the group enjoys the hospitality of the Syrian government. Maybe if the Pakistani government began openly collaborating with al Qaeda, Obama would withdraw his support for military strikes.

If Obama was consistent, he would applaud the Syrian operation. His silence on the matter indicates otherwise. You’d think there were a few curious journalists out there who might wish to get him on the record about all of this…

Bill Roggio has a must-read account of the recent cross-border attack, which apparently targeted a high-level al-Qaeda figure who directed the flow of arms, cash, and fighters from Syria into Iraq. The operation indicates not just a change in U.S. policy toward Syria, but also that U.S. intelligence on the Syrian role in the insurgency is better than it has been in the past:

The US military learned a great deal about al Qaeda’s network inside Syria after a key operative was killed in September of 2007. US forces killed Muthanna, the regional commander of al Qaeda’s network in the Sinjar region.

During the operation, US forces found numerous documents and electronic files that detailed “the larger al-Qaeda effort to organize, coordinate, and transport foreign terrorists into Iraq and other places,” Major General Kevin Bergner, the former spokesman for Multinational Forces Iraq, said in October 2007. …

Other documents found in Muthanna’s possession included a “pledge of a martyr,” which is signed by foreign fighters inside Syria, and an expense report. The pledge said the suicide bomber must provide a photograph and surrender their passport. It also stated the recruit must enroll in a “security course” in Syria. The expense report was tallied in US dollars, Syrian lira, and Iraqi dinars, and included items such as clothing, food, fuel, mobile phone cards, weapons, salaries, “sheep purchased,” furniture, spare parts for vehicles, and other items.

The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point later conducted a detailed study of the “Sinjar Records,” which was published in July 2008. The study showed that al Qaeda had an extensive network in Syria and the Syrian government has allowed their activities to continue.

The task of understanding Barack Obama’s stance on Syria and al Qaeda becomes yet more difficult. He says that defeating al Qaeda will be a top foreign policy priority. Yet Dennis Ross, an adviser to his campaign, said just a few days ago that he would like to see the opening of diplomatic talks with Syria, a conviction shared by Obama’s other foreign policy advisers, in order to “probe and test” Syria’s intentions.

Those intentions have been probed and tested for decades, and every time we discover that Syria intends to continue supporting terrorists. Our diplomatic consternation never seems to make a difference. What might actually affect Syria’s atrocious behavior is if the regime was forced to pay a price for it — such as by having its sovereignty violated and the terrorists it harbors killed by U.S. commandos.

Now we get to the truly puzzling part: Obama says that the United States should strike at al Qaeda in Pakistan without the consent of the Pakistani government. So, he favors attacking al Qaeda in Pakistan, but presumably not in Syria, even though al Qaeda thrives in Syria not because of lawlessness (as in Pakistan) but because the group enjoys the hospitality of the Syrian government. Maybe if the Pakistani government began openly collaborating with al Qaeda, Obama would withdraw his support for military strikes.

If Obama was consistent, he would applaud the Syrian operation. His silence on the matter indicates otherwise. You’d think there were a few curious journalists out there who might wish to get him on the record about all of this…

Read Less




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.