Commentary Magazine


Posts For: November 6, 2008

A Time for Choosing

If Congressional Republicans are looking to recover their reputations, they can take a big step in the right direction by choosing Paul Ryan (R-Wis) as the new minority leader. He is said to be mulling a run against current minority leader John Boehner.

Ryan is the author of “A Roadmap For America’s Future”. He clearly recognizes that the party must be about something and offer real answers for the issues most voters care about. The current leadership is tied in, the eyes of the voters, to the past misdeeds and errors of Republicans who lost their bearings and their principles in Washington. Ryan is smart, young, and articulate. Will the House GOP leap at the opportunity?

If Congressional Republicans are looking to recover their reputations, they can take a big step in the right direction by choosing Paul Ryan (R-Wis) as the new minority leader. He is said to be mulling a run against current minority leader John Boehner.

Ryan is the author of “A Roadmap For America’s Future”. He clearly recognizes that the party must be about something and offer real answers for the issues most voters care about. The current leadership is tied in, the eyes of the voters, to the past misdeeds and errors of Republicans who lost their bearings and their principles in Washington. Ryan is smart, young, and articulate. Will the House GOP leap at the opportunity?

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Commentary of the Day

Dave, on Jennifer Rubin:

Bingo.

McCain, all his credits aside, ran a shoddy campaign. And while a great campaign is no guarantee of a great administration, a shoddy campaign would almost certainly have resulted in a shoddy White House.

The man loved to shoot from the hip, and it cost him the presidency– might have been a blessing in disguise.

BTW, for this very reason I always laugh at liberal critics of the Bush Administration, and the supposed “genius” of Karl Rove. Ummm, winning elections was great and all, but what political genius was present during amnesty? Or during Social Security Reform? Or Harriet Miers? Or Katrina? Or the appointment of Scott McClellan? Etc., etc., etc.

Even the best-managed White Houses screw it up, it’s inevitable. But a badly-managed White House results in poor policy choices, or worse, *no* policy choices.

I can’t wait to get another crack at defeating Obama, but I wouldn’t wish a poorly-managed White House on him, or the country.

Dave, on Jennifer Rubin:

Bingo.

McCain, all his credits aside, ran a shoddy campaign. And while a great campaign is no guarantee of a great administration, a shoddy campaign would almost certainly have resulted in a shoddy White House.

The man loved to shoot from the hip, and it cost him the presidency– might have been a blessing in disguise.

BTW, for this very reason I always laugh at liberal critics of the Bush Administration, and the supposed “genius” of Karl Rove. Ummm, winning elections was great and all, but what political genius was present during amnesty? Or during Social Security Reform? Or Harriet Miers? Or Katrina? Or the appointment of Scott McClellan? Etc., etc., etc.

Even the best-managed White Houses screw it up, it’s inevitable. But a badly-managed White House results in poor policy choices, or worse, *no* policy choices.

I can’t wait to get another crack at defeating Obama, but I wouldn’t wish a poorly-managed White House on him, or the country.

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Re: The New Old Politics

Paul Mirengoff, who writes for the terrific Powerline blog, links to my post on the selection of Rahm Emanuel as Obama’s chief of staff. Paul is encouraged by the appointment of Emanuel because his “combination of ability to knock heads and knowledge of Congress strikes me as an excellent combination.” As for Emanuel’s reputation as a fierce and even ruthless partisan, Paul writes, “Perhaps because I never remotely took Obama’s post-partisan rhetoric seriously, I see the matter differently.”

Just to clarify: as I stated in my post, the appointment will “strike a discordant note, at least in one respect.” And that one respect is that Obama promised to usher in a new era of politics that would be unifying, civil, high-minded, and a break from the past.

This claim wasn’t incidental to the Obama candidacy–it was absolutely central, especially when running against Hillary Clinton. And Obama has presented himself as a different breed of politician, one who would put an end to cynicism and bind up our national wounds. That is part of what has created the cult of personality around Obama.

It may be that the Emanuel appointment is meritorious on other grounds. He is certainly bright and competent, and he was thought to be among the “third way” forces in the Clinton White House (compared to more orthodox liberals like George Stephanopoulos). That is something about which I am (modestly) encouraged.

But presumably words and promises mean something, and Obama should be held to the standards he set. He is the one who said he would essentially act as a balm for our national politics and tear down partisan dividing walls. To jettison breezily a core commitment when making one of your earliest appointments is something worth noting. And, in my estimation, it is something to be concerned about.

Paul Mirengoff, who writes for the terrific Powerline blog, links to my post on the selection of Rahm Emanuel as Obama’s chief of staff. Paul is encouraged by the appointment of Emanuel because his “combination of ability to knock heads and knowledge of Congress strikes me as an excellent combination.” As for Emanuel’s reputation as a fierce and even ruthless partisan, Paul writes, “Perhaps because I never remotely took Obama’s post-partisan rhetoric seriously, I see the matter differently.”

Just to clarify: as I stated in my post, the appointment will “strike a discordant note, at least in one respect.” And that one respect is that Obama promised to usher in a new era of politics that would be unifying, civil, high-minded, and a break from the past.

This claim wasn’t incidental to the Obama candidacy–it was absolutely central, especially when running against Hillary Clinton. And Obama has presented himself as a different breed of politician, one who would put an end to cynicism and bind up our national wounds. That is part of what has created the cult of personality around Obama.

It may be that the Emanuel appointment is meritorious on other grounds. He is certainly bright and competent, and he was thought to be among the “third way” forces in the Clinton White House (compared to more orthodox liberals like George Stephanopoulos). That is something about which I am (modestly) encouraged.

But presumably words and promises mean something, and Obama should be held to the standards he set. He is the one who said he would essentially act as a balm for our national politics and tear down partisan dividing walls. To jettison breezily a core commitment when making one of your earliest appointments is something worth noting. And, in my estimation, it is something to be concerned about.

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All About Us

From Ben Shapiro’s mini-masterpiece on Obama’s win:

This election was about one thing and one thing only: Americans’ puerile need for unity through self-congratulatory, cathartic membership in a broad, transformative political movement.

For eight years, Americans have been engaged in hostile politics. And after eight years, Americans were sick of it.

That isn’t to America’s credit. Hostile politics — hard-fought political conflict over the issues that matter — is not a bad thing. It is precisely the sort of messy republicanism the founders embraced. Early elections were replete with mudslinging, character assassination, brawls and scandals. They were also replete with some of the most substantive debate on policy ever put before mankind.

Apparently, we’re no longer interested in the dirty business of politics. We’d rather feel ourselves part of a high-minded movement. Not the sort of movement that espouses particular policies — not the antiwar movement, or the pro-life movement — those movements are too divisive. We want to be part of a movement that is solely about us.

Bingo. Obama voters like to talk about Obama’s post-boomer sensibility. But has anyone seen what boomers begat? Boomers were at least about “me,” and there’s something workably free-market there. But take the vacuous post-boomer “us,” couple it with a drooling cult of personality, sprinkle with promised entitlements, and you have a Euro-statist tragedy on your hands.

Obama’s interest in spreading the wealth is only half the equation. The apparent majority of Americans’ willingness to see it spread is the other. It may look weak and unpresidential, but I’m perfectly fine with Obama’s camp telling Americans to tamp down expectations. They might also want to tell them to take down their Stalinist-style posters and buttons. Obama works for us now. You don’t worship employees and you don’t hit them up for handouts. The best thing that could happen to the American public right now would be some healthy skepticism–followed by some healthy disunity.

From Ben Shapiro’s mini-masterpiece on Obama’s win:

This election was about one thing and one thing only: Americans’ puerile need for unity through self-congratulatory, cathartic membership in a broad, transformative political movement.

For eight years, Americans have been engaged in hostile politics. And after eight years, Americans were sick of it.

That isn’t to America’s credit. Hostile politics — hard-fought political conflict over the issues that matter — is not a bad thing. It is precisely the sort of messy republicanism the founders embraced. Early elections were replete with mudslinging, character assassination, brawls and scandals. They were also replete with some of the most substantive debate on policy ever put before mankind.

Apparently, we’re no longer interested in the dirty business of politics. We’d rather feel ourselves part of a high-minded movement. Not the sort of movement that espouses particular policies — not the antiwar movement, or the pro-life movement — those movements are too divisive. We want to be part of a movement that is solely about us.

Bingo. Obama voters like to talk about Obama’s post-boomer sensibility. But has anyone seen what boomers begat? Boomers were at least about “me,” and there’s something workably free-market there. But take the vacuous post-boomer “us,” couple it with a drooling cult of personality, sprinkle with promised entitlements, and you have a Euro-statist tragedy on your hands.

Obama’s interest in spreading the wealth is only half the equation. The apparent majority of Americans’ willingness to see it spread is the other. It may look weak and unpresidential, but I’m perfectly fine with Obama’s camp telling Americans to tamp down expectations. They might also want to tell them to take down their Stalinist-style posters and buttons. Obama works for us now. You don’t worship employees and you don’t hit them up for handouts. The best thing that could happen to the American public right now would be some healthy skepticism–followed by some healthy disunity.

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They Had A Point

Again and again during the campaign, Barack Obama supporters pointed to his campaign and its smooth operation as evidence of his fitness and capacity not just to be President, but to be an excellent one. We’ll see if they were right. Lots of good campaigners–Jimmy Carter in 1976 comes to mind–turned out to be perfectly horrid Presidents.

That said, I think it’s fair to admit that the qualities displayed by John McCain during the race would have been, at the very least, quite problematic for a President. The better Presidents tend to have a large vision of where they want to go. Effective Presidents generally inspire loyalty, keep in-fighting to a minimum, resist wild swings in policy and tactics, and are persuasive communicators. None of these qualities came through during the McCain campaign.

It doesn’t mean McCain didn’t have the better of the argument on national security, or that he didn’t offer an economic policy closer to the successful, free-market strategies that have worked in the past. And for conservatives, his understanding of the proper role of the judiciary gave hope that his nominees would have been in the mold of Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito. Still, if conservatives learned anything with President Bush, it is that execution matters, communication skills are essential, and organizational discipline is the bare minimum needed for a successful Presidency.

Republicans would do well to keep these things in mind next time around. It is not just a matter of electability, but of governance. And if the Republicans have suffered from one thing, it is a lack of competent, effective, and principled governance. They should internalize that lesson.

Again and again during the campaign, Barack Obama supporters pointed to his campaign and its smooth operation as evidence of his fitness and capacity not just to be President, but to be an excellent one. We’ll see if they were right. Lots of good campaigners–Jimmy Carter in 1976 comes to mind–turned out to be perfectly horrid Presidents.

That said, I think it’s fair to admit that the qualities displayed by John McCain during the race would have been, at the very least, quite problematic for a President. The better Presidents tend to have a large vision of where they want to go. Effective Presidents generally inspire loyalty, keep in-fighting to a minimum, resist wild swings in policy and tactics, and are persuasive communicators. None of these qualities came through during the McCain campaign.

It doesn’t mean McCain didn’t have the better of the argument on national security, or that he didn’t offer an economic policy closer to the successful, free-market strategies that have worked in the past. And for conservatives, his understanding of the proper role of the judiciary gave hope that his nominees would have been in the mold of Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito. Still, if conservatives learned anything with President Bush, it is that execution matters, communication skills are essential, and organizational discipline is the bare minimum needed for a successful Presidency.

Republicans would do well to keep these things in mind next time around. It is not just a matter of electability, but of governance. And if the Republicans have suffered from one thing, it is a lack of competent, effective, and principled governance. They should internalize that lesson.

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Iran and Obama

This morning, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius reported that in July 2007 Barack Obama had asked Zbigniew Brzezinski what could a new president accomplish in his first year in office that would not be possible later. Because Carter’s national security advisor has not been right in years, I feel a patriotic urge to suggest at least one answer.

As extensively reported, the world has gone crazy about our President-Elect. His global popularity, however, will not persuade rogues to give up their ambition to possess nuclear arsenals. Yet this does not mean Obama’s appeal is unimportant for the purpose of finding enduring disarmament solutions. For example, he has an historic opportunity to create a global coalition to surround and strangle the Iranian theocracy.

Today, that miserable government survives because many nations–friends and foes alike–trade with it, invest in its businesses, and provide diplomatic assistance. The Bush administration, for all its efforts, proved to be particularly inept in obtaining support for its policies, whether the hard tactics of earlier years or the softer ones that followed. As a result of one of Dubya’s most spectacular failures, Iran is on the threshold of obtaining all the expertise needed for a nuclear weapon.

No one truly knows whether there are any set of carrots and sticks that could, short of the use of force, convince the regime to disband its nuclear program. Yet clearly sanctions are uppermost in the mind of its leaders at this moment. Today, they called on Obama to end them as a sign of good faith. Instead of dropping sanctions, however, the President-Elect could see if his international following means anything by enlisting other nations in strict embargoes against Iran. The European Union could, for instance, enact a total prohibition on commerce with the renegade country, and so could the Security Council because there is no international law prohibiting Moscow and Beijing from acting responsibly in the face of great danger.

Of course, at this late date the probability of finding a non-coercive solution is small. Yet, if one is possible, it will be so only during the first months of the Obama administration when others will be more predisposed to working with Washington.

If Obama can lead the international community to impose sanctions, it may not matter whether he talks to the Iranians without preconditions or not. With the rest of the world on our side, conversations with the mullahs can be especially productive. Yet should Obama fail during his first year to defang the Iranians, nothing much else may matter. The regime is on track to taking down the international system, and, should it succeed, most everything about our world will be worse.

This morning, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius reported that in July 2007 Barack Obama had asked Zbigniew Brzezinski what could a new president accomplish in his first year in office that would not be possible later. Because Carter’s national security advisor has not been right in years, I feel a patriotic urge to suggest at least one answer.

As extensively reported, the world has gone crazy about our President-Elect. His global popularity, however, will not persuade rogues to give up their ambition to possess nuclear arsenals. Yet this does not mean Obama’s appeal is unimportant for the purpose of finding enduring disarmament solutions. For example, he has an historic opportunity to create a global coalition to surround and strangle the Iranian theocracy.

Today, that miserable government survives because many nations–friends and foes alike–trade with it, invest in its businesses, and provide diplomatic assistance. The Bush administration, for all its efforts, proved to be particularly inept in obtaining support for its policies, whether the hard tactics of earlier years or the softer ones that followed. As a result of one of Dubya’s most spectacular failures, Iran is on the threshold of obtaining all the expertise needed for a nuclear weapon.

No one truly knows whether there are any set of carrots and sticks that could, short of the use of force, convince the regime to disband its nuclear program. Yet clearly sanctions are uppermost in the mind of its leaders at this moment. Today, they called on Obama to end them as a sign of good faith. Instead of dropping sanctions, however, the President-Elect could see if his international following means anything by enlisting other nations in strict embargoes against Iran. The European Union could, for instance, enact a total prohibition on commerce with the renegade country, and so could the Security Council because there is no international law prohibiting Moscow and Beijing from acting responsibly in the face of great danger.

Of course, at this late date the probability of finding a non-coercive solution is small. Yet, if one is possible, it will be so only during the first months of the Obama administration when others will be more predisposed to working with Washington.

If Obama can lead the international community to impose sanctions, it may not matter whether he talks to the Iranians without preconditions or not. With the rest of the world on our side, conversations with the mullahs can be especially productive. Yet should Obama fail during his first year to defang the Iranians, nothing much else may matter. The regime is on track to taking down the international system, and, should it succeed, most everything about our world will be worse.

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The Unveiling

There I was, in post-campaign bliss, when–like a blast from the recent past–comes the oppo research from the RNC (reprinted here) on Rahm Emanuel. Yes, I think he is a hard-nosed, Clintonian operative. And I think anyone hoping for a higher tone is going to be badly disappointed. But Lisa Schiffren makes a great point: maybe this is how Obama pushes back against his own party and resists the pull to the Left (i.e., by hiring a take-no-prisoners enforcer).

It is quite remarkable that, even now, we are still reading the tea leaves and guessing which Obama will be taking office. The high-minded one? The Chicago pol? The ultra-liberal? The moderate? We’ll all stay tuned as, bit by bit, everyone learns who it was we just elected.

There I was, in post-campaign bliss, when–like a blast from the recent past–comes the oppo research from the RNC (reprinted here) on Rahm Emanuel. Yes, I think he is a hard-nosed, Clintonian operative. And I think anyone hoping for a higher tone is going to be badly disappointed. But Lisa Schiffren makes a great point: maybe this is how Obama pushes back against his own party and resists the pull to the Left (i.e., by hiring a take-no-prisoners enforcer).

It is quite remarkable that, even now, we are still reading the tea leaves and guessing which Obama will be taking office. The high-minded one? The Chicago pol? The ultra-liberal? The moderate? We’ll all stay tuned as, bit by bit, everyone learns who it was we just elected.

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Cry-me Town

On November 5, 2008 CBS News’s Maggie Rodriguez asked her guest, “Did you think also, Dr. King, about your presidential quests in 84 and 88 and how you laid the foundation for his victory yesterday?”

No, I’m not having a Biden moment. And no, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did not survive an assassination attempt in 1968, run for president twenty years later, and chat about Barack Obama’s victory on CBS at age 80. Maggie Rodriguez’s guest was not the great American hero Martin Luther King, Jr., but the unhinged has-been Jesse Jackson. Rodriguez’s Freudian slip is profoundly depressing — and more than a little telling.

The worst side effect (so far) of Obama’s election is, without question, the inescapable clip of Jesse Jackson weeping like the virtuous embodiment of the Civil Rights movement itself. In July, he wanted to castrate Barack Obama for telling black people not to be victims. A month ago, he decided Obama wasn’t that bad because he’d wrest foreign policy control from the hands of evil Zionists. Two days ago he became (forever) the visual reference point for the majestic resolution of America’s history of racial inequality. After decades of anti-Semitic, race-huckstering, demagogical theater, Jesse Jackson gets to finish his career as an iconic image of what’s best in America.

The fact of Jackson’s twilight P.R. coup is doubly unjust in that it taints the extraordinary accomplishments of Barack Obama, a singular talent who never dealt in the paranoid histrionics of which Jackson’s career has been comprised. Not that Jackson sees much difference between his worldview and the President-elect’s. He sees himself in the “role of conscience” in regard to today’s black movement, and describes himself as an Obama supporter. In his supporting role, he told the New York Post‘s Amir Tehari that, under Obama’s administration, “decades of putting Israel’s interests first” would end. I think it’s clear that a President Obama won’t go near Jackson with a ten-foot pole. As for the media: since they’re now in the business of suppressing videotapes, could they please shelve the one of the sobbing bigot?

On November 5, 2008 CBS News’s Maggie Rodriguez asked her guest, “Did you think also, Dr. King, about your presidential quests in 84 and 88 and how you laid the foundation for his victory yesterday?”

No, I’m not having a Biden moment. And no, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did not survive an assassination attempt in 1968, run for president twenty years later, and chat about Barack Obama’s victory on CBS at age 80. Maggie Rodriguez’s guest was not the great American hero Martin Luther King, Jr., but the unhinged has-been Jesse Jackson. Rodriguez’s Freudian slip is profoundly depressing — and more than a little telling.

The worst side effect (so far) of Obama’s election is, without question, the inescapable clip of Jesse Jackson weeping like the virtuous embodiment of the Civil Rights movement itself. In July, he wanted to castrate Barack Obama for telling black people not to be victims. A month ago, he decided Obama wasn’t that bad because he’d wrest foreign policy control from the hands of evil Zionists. Two days ago he became (forever) the visual reference point for the majestic resolution of America’s history of racial inequality. After decades of anti-Semitic, race-huckstering, demagogical theater, Jesse Jackson gets to finish his career as an iconic image of what’s best in America.

The fact of Jackson’s twilight P.R. coup is doubly unjust in that it taints the extraordinary accomplishments of Barack Obama, a singular talent who never dealt in the paranoid histrionics of which Jackson’s career has been comprised. Not that Jackson sees much difference between his worldview and the President-elect’s. He sees himself in the “role of conscience” in regard to today’s black movement, and describes himself as an Obama supporter. In his supporting role, he told the New York Post‘s Amir Tehari that, under Obama’s administration, “decades of putting Israel’s interests first” would end. I think it’s clear that a President Obama won’t go near Jackson with a ten-foot pole. As for the media: since they’re now in the business of suppressing videotapes, could they please shelve the one of the sobbing bigot?

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Obama’s First Test

Barack Obama has been weak on Russia. When Russian tanks and planes invaded Georgia in August, Obama strongly condemned “the outbreak of violence in Georgia,” as if the exploding bombs and missiles were manifestations of an insentient Caucasian virus. He followed that up with an unhelpful dig at the sitting U.S. president, offering “We’ve got to send a clear message to Russia and unify our allies. They can’t charge into other countries. Of course it helps if we are leading by example on that point.” Because we know how faithfully Russia follows our example. To make matters worse, Obama’s position on a proposed American missile defense shield in Eastern Europe is contradictory and incoherent. He was at first against it, but seemed to endorse it in the last presidential debate, while his campaign website now states his promise to “prudently explore” the “possibility of deploying” missile defenses on Eastern European soil.

So it’s no surprise that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev (it’s time we gave the two of them one of those compound monikers–Putvedev?) saw the election of Obama as a softening of American resolve to be exploited immediately. Within hours of Obama’s win, Medvedev announced Russia’s intention to place short-range missiles in Kaliningrad, near Poland’s border, and to renege on its commitment to pull intercontinental ballistic missile regiments from western Russia.

In fairness to Obama, he has not been as instinctively wrong as George W. Bush, who found a good soul in the eyes of Vladimir Putin, nor as exquisitely wrong as Henry Kissinger, who wrote in July, “In many ways, we are witnessing one of the most promising periods in Russian history.” What ways?

For one thing, the emerging power structure seems more complex than conventional wisdom holds. It was always doubtful why, if his primary objective was to retain power, Putin would choose the complicated and uncertain route of becoming prime minister; his popularity would have allowed him to amend the constitution and extend his presidency.

What Kissinger did not see was that Putin and Medvedev had more-or-less morphed into a two-headed entity and Medvedev’s fresh face would give Putin’s old tricks the cheap gleam of reform. Today, Reuters reports that Medvedev may be planning to change the constitution, increase the term of presidency from four years to six, and step down in 2009, paving the way for Putin to “rule for two six year terms, so from 2009 to 2021.”

The gullibility of George W. Bush must not be compounded by the relativism of Barack Obama. Obama cannot ditch his old habits of mind soon enough. Putin’s spokespeople deny the above plan, but no American leader can afford to give the Kremlin the benefit of the doubt. Obama needs to start working on our allies, using his powers of persuasion, and making good on his promise of increased international cooperation. But before he does that, sadly, he still needs to make a statement about Medvedev’s missile announcement, which is now almost a day-and-a-half-old. Let’s hope he finds the right tone this time. Obama’s first test has come far sooner than Joe Biden predicted.

Barack Obama has been weak on Russia. When Russian tanks and planes invaded Georgia in August, Obama strongly condemned “the outbreak of violence in Georgia,” as if the exploding bombs and missiles were manifestations of an insentient Caucasian virus. He followed that up with an unhelpful dig at the sitting U.S. president, offering “We’ve got to send a clear message to Russia and unify our allies. They can’t charge into other countries. Of course it helps if we are leading by example on that point.” Because we know how faithfully Russia follows our example. To make matters worse, Obama’s position on a proposed American missile defense shield in Eastern Europe is contradictory and incoherent. He was at first against it, but seemed to endorse it in the last presidential debate, while his campaign website now states his promise to “prudently explore” the “possibility of deploying” missile defenses on Eastern European soil.

So it’s no surprise that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev (it’s time we gave the two of them one of those compound monikers–Putvedev?) saw the election of Obama as a softening of American resolve to be exploited immediately. Within hours of Obama’s win, Medvedev announced Russia’s intention to place short-range missiles in Kaliningrad, near Poland’s border, and to renege on its commitment to pull intercontinental ballistic missile regiments from western Russia.

In fairness to Obama, he has not been as instinctively wrong as George W. Bush, who found a good soul in the eyes of Vladimir Putin, nor as exquisitely wrong as Henry Kissinger, who wrote in July, “In many ways, we are witnessing one of the most promising periods in Russian history.” What ways?

For one thing, the emerging power structure seems more complex than conventional wisdom holds. It was always doubtful why, if his primary objective was to retain power, Putin would choose the complicated and uncertain route of becoming prime minister; his popularity would have allowed him to amend the constitution and extend his presidency.

What Kissinger did not see was that Putin and Medvedev had more-or-less morphed into a two-headed entity and Medvedev’s fresh face would give Putin’s old tricks the cheap gleam of reform. Today, Reuters reports that Medvedev may be planning to change the constitution, increase the term of presidency from four years to six, and step down in 2009, paving the way for Putin to “rule for two six year terms, so from 2009 to 2021.”

The gullibility of George W. Bush must not be compounded by the relativism of Barack Obama. Obama cannot ditch his old habits of mind soon enough. Putin’s spokespeople deny the above plan, but no American leader can afford to give the Kremlin the benefit of the doubt. Obama needs to start working on our allies, using his powers of persuasion, and making good on his promise of increased international cooperation. But before he does that, sadly, he still needs to make a statement about Medvedev’s missile announcement, which is now almost a day-and-a-half-old. Let’s hope he finds the right tone this time. Obama’s first test has come far sooner than Joe Biden predicted.

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The New Old Politics

If, as the speculation has it, Rahm Emanuel becomes Obama’s new chief of staff, it’ll strike a discordant note, at least in one respect. As a candidate, Obama spoke endlessly–particularly during the Democratic primary–of ushering in a new era in politics. He was going to “turn the page” on the partisanship, anger, and divisive tactics of the past. And so forth. Yet, in offering the job to Emanuel, Obama has turned to one of the most ruthless and fierce partisans on the political landscape.

One person I know who worked in the first Clinton term wrote me an e-mail in which he said, in part, “Rahm is the toughest, meanest partisan I ever worked with.” That seems to be a consensus view. Dick Morris was on The O’Reilly Factor saying that, based on his experience of working with Emanuel in the Clinton White House, he is rightly considered a vicious partisan. In his book All Too Human, George Stephanopoulos, writing about the 1992 campaign, says, “All I knew about Emanuel at first was that he had once mailed a dead fish to a rival political consultant. But when the former ballet dancer arrived in Little Rock and leaped onto a table to scream his staff into shape, I knew the money side would be OK.” And we learn of Emanuel’s disappointment when Mario Cuomo decided against running for President that year. “Damn. It would have been so great if he came in. We’d rip his head off.” And perhaps most revealingly of all, former Clinton aide Paul Begala, a man who rivals Emanuel when it comes to bitter partisanship, was singing Emanuel’s praises on CNN. (According to this story, Begala describes Emanuel’s aggressive style as a “cross between a hemorrhoid and a toothache.” High praise!)

A person like Emanuel might qualify for a job like DNC chairman, but, as my Ethics and Public Policy colleague Yuval Levin explains here, the choice of Emanuel as chief of staff would be quite troubling. That job sets the tone for the Administration in so many ways and sends signals to the entire White House staff of what the attitude and ethos will be.

One of the things that is becoming increasingly clear is that Barack Obama is a very difficult person to unravel. He is amazingly self-contained and something of a solitary figure. We don’t really know what to expect from him. As he is our future President, we should, within reason, give him the benefit of the doubt. But that doesn’t mean suspending our critical faculties. And it’s fair to say, I think, that if Rahm Emanuel is chosen as chief of staff, the promise of a new and more uplifting era in politics may be revealed as a mirage. If Emanuel embodies the “new politics” of the Obama era, it may well make the old politics seem like a garden party.

If, as the speculation has it, Rahm Emanuel becomes Obama’s new chief of staff, it’ll strike a discordant note, at least in one respect. As a candidate, Obama spoke endlessly–particularly during the Democratic primary–of ushering in a new era in politics. He was going to “turn the page” on the partisanship, anger, and divisive tactics of the past. And so forth. Yet, in offering the job to Emanuel, Obama has turned to one of the most ruthless and fierce partisans on the political landscape.

One person I know who worked in the first Clinton term wrote me an e-mail in which he said, in part, “Rahm is the toughest, meanest partisan I ever worked with.” That seems to be a consensus view. Dick Morris was on The O’Reilly Factor saying that, based on his experience of working with Emanuel in the Clinton White House, he is rightly considered a vicious partisan. In his book All Too Human, George Stephanopoulos, writing about the 1992 campaign, says, “All I knew about Emanuel at first was that he had once mailed a dead fish to a rival political consultant. But when the former ballet dancer arrived in Little Rock and leaped onto a table to scream his staff into shape, I knew the money side would be OK.” And we learn of Emanuel’s disappointment when Mario Cuomo decided against running for President that year. “Damn. It would have been so great if he came in. We’d rip his head off.” And perhaps most revealingly of all, former Clinton aide Paul Begala, a man who rivals Emanuel when it comes to bitter partisanship, was singing Emanuel’s praises on CNN. (According to this story, Begala describes Emanuel’s aggressive style as a “cross between a hemorrhoid and a toothache.” High praise!)

A person like Emanuel might qualify for a job like DNC chairman, but, as my Ethics and Public Policy colleague Yuval Levin explains here, the choice of Emanuel as chief of staff would be quite troubling. That job sets the tone for the Administration in so many ways and sends signals to the entire White House staff of what the attitude and ethos will be.

One of the things that is becoming increasingly clear is that Barack Obama is a very difficult person to unravel. He is amazingly self-contained and something of a solitary figure. We don’t really know what to expect from him. As he is our future President, we should, within reason, give him the benefit of the doubt. But that doesn’t mean suspending our critical faculties. And it’s fair to say, I think, that if Rahm Emanuel is chosen as chief of staff, the promise of a new and more uplifting era in politics may be revealed as a mirage. If Emanuel embodies the “new politics” of the Obama era, it may well make the old politics seem like a garden party.

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The Lies of Bill Ayers

Bill Ayers’s election-day interview with the New Yorker‘s David Remnick doesn’t matter much in the grand scheme of things, now that November 4th has passed. But it’s worth addressing, for the sake of historical veracity. As was expected, Ayers is now finally opening up to the media, with Remnick getting the scoop, catching up with the 64-year-old aging hippie outside his polling station in Hyde Park Tuesday. Remnick presents Ayers as a gentle, Mr. Rogers-esque figure, “wav[ing] to neighbors and kids as they went by on the sidewalk” who resembles “a more boomer Fred MacMurray in an episode of ‘My Three Sons.'”

Ayers passes along a massive whopper to Remnick:

Ayers said that he had never meant to imply, in an interview with the Times, published coincidentally on 9/11, that he somehow wished he and the Weathermen had committed further acts of violence in the old days. Instead, he said, “I wish I had done more, but it doesn’t mean I wish we’d bombed more shit.” Ayers said that he had never been responsible for violence against other people and was acting to end a war in Vietnam in which “thousands of people were being killed every week.”

“While we did claim several extreme acts, they were acts of extreme radicalism against property,” he said. “We killed no one and hurt no one. Three of our people killed themselves.”

Here’s what Ayers actually said, in a New York Times article in 2001:

”I don’t regret setting bombs,” Bill Ayers said. ”I feel we didn’t do enough.”

Ayers has since said that the Times article was a “deliberate distortion” of what he meant. It’s hard to imagine him raising a fuss about this supposed “distortion,” however, had not the interview been printed on September 11, 2001. Ayers quite plainly said that he did not regret setting bombs, and that he felt “we,” the Weathermen, “didn’t do enough” in that regard.

Ayers may try to parse the statement to reflect a benign remorse that left-wing activists such as himself were not more effective in ending the Vietnam War. But it’s evident that he is unrepentant (or at least was in the 2001 interview) about his terrorist past. And any reasonable person would assume that by his stating “I feel we didn’t do enough” immediately after “I don’t regret setting bombs” (particularly in the specific context of the article), that he meant to suggest he wished he had caused more physical destruction. In case Ayers’s destructive intent wasn’t clear, there’s this, from the same story:

So, would Mr. Ayers do it all again, he is asked? ”I don’t want to discount the possibility,” he said.

It’s not like Ayers will be able to do much harm anymore from his academic post at the University of Illinois. And I’m glad we’re no longer obsessing over this “washed up terrorist,” as John McCain referred to him. But as long as the media is going to give space to Ayers’s lies, then those lies should be corrected. The Times article accurately summed up Ayers’s evasions: “Mr. Ayers also seems to want to have it both ways, taking responsibility for daring acts in his youth, then deflecting it.”

Bill Ayers’s election-day interview with the New Yorker‘s David Remnick doesn’t matter much in the grand scheme of things, now that November 4th has passed. But it’s worth addressing, for the sake of historical veracity. As was expected, Ayers is now finally opening up to the media, with Remnick getting the scoop, catching up with the 64-year-old aging hippie outside his polling station in Hyde Park Tuesday. Remnick presents Ayers as a gentle, Mr. Rogers-esque figure, “wav[ing] to neighbors and kids as they went by on the sidewalk” who resembles “a more boomer Fred MacMurray in an episode of ‘My Three Sons.'”

Ayers passes along a massive whopper to Remnick:

Ayers said that he had never meant to imply, in an interview with the Times, published coincidentally on 9/11, that he somehow wished he and the Weathermen had committed further acts of violence in the old days. Instead, he said, “I wish I had done more, but it doesn’t mean I wish we’d bombed more shit.” Ayers said that he had never been responsible for violence against other people and was acting to end a war in Vietnam in which “thousands of people were being killed every week.”

“While we did claim several extreme acts, they were acts of extreme radicalism against property,” he said. “We killed no one and hurt no one. Three of our people killed themselves.”

Here’s what Ayers actually said, in a New York Times article in 2001:

”I don’t regret setting bombs,” Bill Ayers said. ”I feel we didn’t do enough.”

Ayers has since said that the Times article was a “deliberate distortion” of what he meant. It’s hard to imagine him raising a fuss about this supposed “distortion,” however, had not the interview been printed on September 11, 2001. Ayers quite plainly said that he did not regret setting bombs, and that he felt “we,” the Weathermen, “didn’t do enough” in that regard.

Ayers may try to parse the statement to reflect a benign remorse that left-wing activists such as himself were not more effective in ending the Vietnam War. But it’s evident that he is unrepentant (or at least was in the 2001 interview) about his terrorist past. And any reasonable person would assume that by his stating “I feel we didn’t do enough” immediately after “I don’t regret setting bombs” (particularly in the specific context of the article), that he meant to suggest he wished he had caused more physical destruction. In case Ayers’s destructive intent wasn’t clear, there’s this, from the same story:

So, would Mr. Ayers do it all again, he is asked? ”I don’t want to discount the possibility,” he said.

It’s not like Ayers will be able to do much harm anymore from his academic post at the University of Illinois. And I’m glad we’re no longer obsessing over this “washed up terrorist,” as John McCain referred to him. But as long as the media is going to give space to Ayers’s lies, then those lies should be corrected. The Times article accurately summed up Ayers’s evasions: “Mr. Ayers also seems to want to have it both ways, taking responsibility for daring acts in his youth, then deflecting it.”

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Rahm Emanuel’s Father

I don’t think he got the memo about hope and change:

In an interview with Ma’ariv, Emanuel’s father, Dr. Benjamin Emanuel, said he was convinced that his son’s appointment would be good for Israel. “Obviously he will influence the president to be pro-Israel,” he was quoted as saying. “Why wouldn’t he be? What is he, an Arab? He’s not going to clean the floors of the White House.”

I don’t think he got the memo about hope and change:

In an interview with Ma’ariv, Emanuel’s father, Dr. Benjamin Emanuel, said he was convinced that his son’s appointment would be good for Israel. “Obviously he will influence the president to be pro-Israel,” he was quoted as saying. “Why wouldn’t he be? What is he, an Arab? He’s not going to clean the floors of the White House.”

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Kramer vs. Hitchens

This round goes to Martin Kramer, who has caught Hitchens  trampling some basic biographical facts about Rashid Khalidi.

This round goes to Martin Kramer, who has caught Hitchens  trampling some basic biographical facts about Rashid Khalidi.

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Bush’s Final Moves

Abe Greenwald posted an insight from a reader, about the temptation that both Obama and Bush may have to fix Iran now, before inauguration day. It is a tempting scenario, but one unlikely to materialize. Bush could have ordered a strike against Iran’s nuclear installations long ago. The reasons for waiting until now are that DoD, the State Department, and Centcom are not, shall we say, enthusiastic about the idea. The President was and remains isolated in the view that bombing Iran might be the only way out of the crisis–if he holds it at all. Obviously, the he can override his advisors and order the military to implement his policies. But what are the precedents for a lameduck president doing such a thing?

The fact is, in recent history only once has a lameduck president committed to a military operation right before leaving office: George H.W. Bush. And then again, it was the deployment of U.S. troops for a humanitarian mission in Somalia. An Iran operation would be a major bombing campaign, holding the risk of a protracted war outlasting Inauguration Day and potentially triggering a regional conflagration. Unlikely that the President will take such a bold and enormously risky step now.

The more valuable precedent cuts in the opposite direction. It was Ronald Reagan’s decision to authorize his ambassador in Tunis, Robert J. Pelletreau Jr., to initiate dialog with the PLO in the late fall of 1988. Such a step enabled the incoming presidency to do precisely what Abe Greenwald’s reader said:

Obama may agree to something like this because he can always blame reprecussions on his predessor, and will have the relief of not having to make that call himself. Win/win for Obama.

Sending Condoleezza Rice to Geneva to meet Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, or announcing the opening of a U.S. interest section in Tehran, appear much more likely steps the Bush administration would wish to engage in to enable Obama to make a U-turn.

Abe Greenwald posted an insight from a reader, about the temptation that both Obama and Bush may have to fix Iran now, before inauguration day. It is a tempting scenario, but one unlikely to materialize. Bush could have ordered a strike against Iran’s nuclear installations long ago. The reasons for waiting until now are that DoD, the State Department, and Centcom are not, shall we say, enthusiastic about the idea. The President was and remains isolated in the view that bombing Iran might be the only way out of the crisis–if he holds it at all. Obviously, the he can override his advisors and order the military to implement his policies. But what are the precedents for a lameduck president doing such a thing?

The fact is, in recent history only once has a lameduck president committed to a military operation right before leaving office: George H.W. Bush. And then again, it was the deployment of U.S. troops for a humanitarian mission in Somalia. An Iran operation would be a major bombing campaign, holding the risk of a protracted war outlasting Inauguration Day and potentially triggering a regional conflagration. Unlikely that the President will take such a bold and enormously risky step now.

The more valuable precedent cuts in the opposite direction. It was Ronald Reagan’s decision to authorize his ambassador in Tunis, Robert J. Pelletreau Jr., to initiate dialog with the PLO in the late fall of 1988. Such a step enabled the incoming presidency to do precisely what Abe Greenwald’s reader said:

Obama may agree to something like this because he can always blame reprecussions on his predessor, and will have the relief of not having to make that call himself. Win/win for Obama.

Sending Condoleezza Rice to Geneva to meet Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, or announcing the opening of a U.S. interest section in Tehran, appear much more likely steps the Bush administration would wish to engage in to enable Obama to make a U-turn.

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Israel Shifts to the Center

It’s not easy to decipher the fluid Israeli electorate. On the one hand, polls suggest a major shift to the right, with the centrist party Kadima and the conservative Likud roughly tied for the lion’s share of the Knesset, while the traditional-left Labor party has descended to competing with all the other second-tier parties such as Shas, Yisrael Beiteinu, and Meretz. On the other hand, in terms of actual policy prescriptions, the center has itself moved dramatically to the left, with Kadima advocating the creation of a Palestinians state close to the pre-1967 borders and, apparently, the ceding of the Golan Heights in exchange for peace with Syria–positions that just a decade ago were considered far-left.

One little-noticed shift, however, appears to be taking place from the extremes to the center. A decade ago, the positions that advocated settlements and refused any territorial concession, on the one hand, or immediate withdrawal from the territories and dismantlement of settlements, on the other — these were like two poles that pulled the electorate towards them, dividing the nation. Since the start of the second intifada, both of these views have lost a lot of credibility, a fact that laid the groundwork for Kadima, the country’s first-ever successful centrist party.

This week, we saw further indicators of the shift to the center. MK Effie Eitam, a firebrand representative of the religious settlement movement, announced he was running for a place on the Likud list, rather than with any of the far-right parties that he has previously been associated with. At the same time, the head of Peace Now, Yariv Oppenheimer, announced that he is joining–not Meretz, but Labor.

We should not expect either of these figures to shoot to the top of their party lists. Neither Likud nor Labor gains from being perceived as extremist these days. Yet Eitam and Oppenheimer have dealt a serious blow to the parties that have always been their natural homes.

It’s not easy to decipher the fluid Israeli electorate. On the one hand, polls suggest a major shift to the right, with the centrist party Kadima and the conservative Likud roughly tied for the lion’s share of the Knesset, while the traditional-left Labor party has descended to competing with all the other second-tier parties such as Shas, Yisrael Beiteinu, and Meretz. On the other hand, in terms of actual policy prescriptions, the center has itself moved dramatically to the left, with Kadima advocating the creation of a Palestinians state close to the pre-1967 borders and, apparently, the ceding of the Golan Heights in exchange for peace with Syria–positions that just a decade ago were considered far-left.

One little-noticed shift, however, appears to be taking place from the extremes to the center. A decade ago, the positions that advocated settlements and refused any territorial concession, on the one hand, or immediate withdrawal from the territories and dismantlement of settlements, on the other — these were like two poles that pulled the electorate towards them, dividing the nation. Since the start of the second intifada, both of these views have lost a lot of credibility, a fact that laid the groundwork for Kadima, the country’s first-ever successful centrist party.

This week, we saw further indicators of the shift to the center. MK Effie Eitam, a firebrand representative of the religious settlement movement, announced he was running for a place on the Likud list, rather than with any of the far-right parties that he has previously been associated with. At the same time, the head of Peace Now, Yariv Oppenheimer, announced that he is joining–not Meretz, but Labor.

We should not expect either of these figures to shoot to the top of their party lists. Neither Likud nor Labor gains from being perceived as extremist these days. Yet Eitam and Oppenheimer have dealt a serious blow to the parties that have always been their natural homes.

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Bad Behavior 101

Byron York hits the nail on the head: “what a bunch of losers.” That would be the geniuses at camp McCain who are now dishing tidbits of dirt on their former VP candidate. The impact of all this is not altogether harmful for Sarah Palin.

For one thing there is quite a defense of Palin mounting in the blogosphere. Gosh, if you had to come up with a plot to endear her to the base, increase anger against the McCain bumblers and lift the fighting spirits of conservatives you couldn’t come up with a better idea than continuing to trash Palin in the media. Is it a Rovian plot?

And really, sharing department store receipts with the New York Times is a sure way — not for Palin, but for the staffer who’s unlikely to be trusted on any other campaign — to wind up in the political wildnerness.

But all of this, I must admit, also reflects on the non-leadership qualities of the former presidential nominee. John McCain was never known as one to resolve conflicts or knock heads. That’s how he wound up bankrupting his own campaign in the primary and then devolving into bitter infighting in the general election. Watching his team engage in vicious, public fighting suggests that perhaps he was never the ideal person for a chief executive role. After all, if the campaign was this bad, imagine what the White House would have been like.

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Byron York hits the nail on the head: “what a bunch of losers.” That would be the geniuses at camp McCain who are now dishing tidbits of dirt on their former VP candidate. The impact of all this is not altogether harmful for Sarah Palin.

For one thing there is quite a defense of Palin mounting in the blogosphere. Gosh, if you had to come up with a plot to endear her to the base, increase anger against the McCain bumblers and lift the fighting spirits of conservatives you couldn’t come up with a better idea than continuing to trash Palin in the media. Is it a Rovian plot?

And really, sharing department store receipts with the New York Times is a sure way — not for Palin, but for the staffer who’s unlikely to be trusted on any other campaign — to wind up in the political wildnerness.

But all of this, I must admit, also reflects on the non-leadership qualities of the former presidential nominee. John McCain was never known as one to resolve conflicts or knock heads. That’s how he wound up bankrupting his own campaign in the primary and then devolving into bitter infighting in the general election. Watching his team engage in vicious, public fighting suggests that perhaps he was never the ideal person for a chief executive role. After all, if the campaign was this bad, imagine what the White House would have been like.

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No Time to Go Wobbly

A harbinger of things to come? Just a day after Barack Obama won the U.S. presidency, Israeli foreign minister and Kadima leader Tzipi Livni has expressed her reservations about Obama’s expected readiness to launch direct talks with Tehran. Clearly, one must wait and see what the new administration will do, come January. But it does not augur well that Israel’s foreign minister (and potentially Israel’s next prime minister) would so openly and publicly disagree with a U.S. Administration. Obama’s reported views on Iran have already been robustly criticized by French President Nicholas Sarkozy  for being naive–and though the French have denied reports to the this effect, it sounds all too plausible that Paris would feel concerned about the incoming U.S. Iran policy. After all, even during the Bush presidency,  French intelligence had a more pessimistic assessment of Iran’s intentions and capabilities than their U.S. counterparts.

So what does this mean? Clearly, right now it is all speculation, since campaign remarks and statements will have to contend with reality once the new administration takes power. But Iran’s nuclear ambitions are rightly seen as an existential threat in Jerusalem–and are considered to be a serious strategic threat for Europe in Paris. A U.S. U-turn would not only have serious repercussions for the international community’s ability to pressure Iran–it would also lead, very early on in Obama’s presidency, to serious tensions with U.S. strategic partners.

A harbinger of things to come? Just a day after Barack Obama won the U.S. presidency, Israeli foreign minister and Kadima leader Tzipi Livni has expressed her reservations about Obama’s expected readiness to launch direct talks with Tehran. Clearly, one must wait and see what the new administration will do, come January. But it does not augur well that Israel’s foreign minister (and potentially Israel’s next prime minister) would so openly and publicly disagree with a U.S. Administration. Obama’s reported views on Iran have already been robustly criticized by French President Nicholas Sarkozy  for being naive–and though the French have denied reports to the this effect, it sounds all too plausible that Paris would feel concerned about the incoming U.S. Iran policy. After all, even during the Bush presidency,  French intelligence had a more pessimistic assessment of Iran’s intentions and capabilities than their U.S. counterparts.

So what does this mean? Clearly, right now it is all speculation, since campaign remarks and statements will have to contend with reality once the new administration takes power. But Iran’s nuclear ambitions are rightly seen as an existential threat in Jerusalem–and are considered to be a serious strategic threat for Europe in Paris. A U.S. U-turn would not only have serious repercussions for the international community’s ability to pressure Iran–it would also lead, very early on in Obama’s presidency, to serious tensions with U.S. strategic partners.

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Why So Glum, George?

George Will posits:

Although John McCain’s loss was not as numerically stunning as the 1964 defeat of Barry Goldwater, who won 16 fewer states and 122 fewer electoral votes than McCain seems to have won as of this writing, Tuesday’s trouncing was more dispiriting for conservatives. Goldwater’s loss was constructive; it invigorated his party by reorienting it ideologically. McCain’s loss was sterile, containing no seeds of intellectual rebirth.

I don’t agree. I’ve seen finger-pointing and disdain for everyone asssociated with the losing effort. I’ve seen multiple explanations for the loss. I’ve seen lots of talk about the need to redefine the Party and the movement. But I haven’t seen conservatives ready to pack it in and join the Obama parade.

And while the loss doesn’t contain the “seeds” of a particular intellectual rebirth, or provide the exact message for the next run, neither did 1964. That’s why the Party continued to fight for another decade between the Rockefeller and Goldwater factions. Only with Reagan did the message of Goldwater’s loss seem perfectly clear.

So there may have been no “seed,” but there was a message: get your act together. Political losses are great motivators. I see a lot of motivation. And in that regard, it may be every bit as “constructive” as the 1964 wipeout.

George Will posits:

Although John McCain’s loss was not as numerically stunning as the 1964 defeat of Barry Goldwater, who won 16 fewer states and 122 fewer electoral votes than McCain seems to have won as of this writing, Tuesday’s trouncing was more dispiriting for conservatives. Goldwater’s loss was constructive; it invigorated his party by reorienting it ideologically. McCain’s loss was sterile, containing no seeds of intellectual rebirth.

I don’t agree. I’ve seen finger-pointing and disdain for everyone asssociated with the losing effort. I’ve seen multiple explanations for the loss. I’ve seen lots of talk about the need to redefine the Party and the movement. But I haven’t seen conservatives ready to pack it in and join the Obama parade.

And while the loss doesn’t contain the “seeds” of a particular intellectual rebirth, or provide the exact message for the next run, neither did 1964. That’s why the Party continued to fight for another decade between the Rockefeller and Goldwater factions. Only with Reagan did the message of Goldwater’s loss seem perfectly clear.

So there may have been no “seed,” but there was a message: get your act together. Political losses are great motivators. I see a lot of motivation. And in that regard, it may be every bit as “constructive” as the 1964 wipeout.

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Not Rocket Science

Karl Rove provides a wealth of interesting information. First, how junky were the exit polls?

The raw numbers forecast an 18-point Obama win, news organizations who underwrote the poll arbitrarily dialed it down to a 10-point Obama edge, and the actual margin was six.

One wonders why they even bother. But the end-all and be-all of “change” elections is really continuity:

But we do know President-elect Obama ran better among frequent churchgoers (perhaps getting 10 points more than John Kerry did), independents (perhaps five points more than Kerry and eight points more than Al Gore), Hispanics and white men. He even made special appeals to gun owners and sent his wife to cultivate military families. This allowed him to carry previously red states like Florida, New Mexico and Iowa. This combination helped Senator Obama run four points better nationally than John Kerry did in 2004 and 2.5 points better than Al Gore did in 2000. These small changes on the margin meant all the difference between winning and losing.

It is a tribute to his skills that Mr. Obama, the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate, won in a country that remains center-right. Most pre-election polls and the wiggly exits indicate America remains ideologically stable, with 34% of voters saying they are conservative — unchanged from 2004. Moderates went to 44% from 45% of the electorate, while liberals went to 22% from 21%.

So he only did 4% better than Kerry, in many ways the quintessential dismal liberal candidate. And the electorate didn’t change much ideologically, either. What the Democrats did do was out-organize and out-perform the Republicans, in large part because they had an exciting candidate with a message which resonated with an available pool of new voters.

That helps clarify things a bit for Republicans. Perhaps wholesale reinvention isn’t what’s needed. A solid, well-articulated message with an attractive candidate and a whole bunch of nuts and bolts party-building will go a long way. A lot will depend on how successful the new President is. But it really is no mystery how he did it. Duplicating the feat may be tougher, however, especially if conservative wise-guys are bent on doing their best to tarnish potential candidates two days after the last election.

Karl Rove provides a wealth of interesting information. First, how junky were the exit polls?

The raw numbers forecast an 18-point Obama win, news organizations who underwrote the poll arbitrarily dialed it down to a 10-point Obama edge, and the actual margin was six.

One wonders why they even bother. But the end-all and be-all of “change” elections is really continuity:

But we do know President-elect Obama ran better among frequent churchgoers (perhaps getting 10 points more than John Kerry did), independents (perhaps five points more than Kerry and eight points more than Al Gore), Hispanics and white men. He even made special appeals to gun owners and sent his wife to cultivate military families. This allowed him to carry previously red states like Florida, New Mexico and Iowa. This combination helped Senator Obama run four points better nationally than John Kerry did in 2004 and 2.5 points better than Al Gore did in 2000. These small changes on the margin meant all the difference between winning and losing.

It is a tribute to his skills that Mr. Obama, the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate, won in a country that remains center-right. Most pre-election polls and the wiggly exits indicate America remains ideologically stable, with 34% of voters saying they are conservative — unchanged from 2004. Moderates went to 44% from 45% of the electorate, while liberals went to 22% from 21%.

So he only did 4% better than Kerry, in many ways the quintessential dismal liberal candidate. And the electorate didn’t change much ideologically, either. What the Democrats did do was out-organize and out-perform the Republicans, in large part because they had an exciting candidate with a message which resonated with an available pool of new voters.

That helps clarify things a bit for Republicans. Perhaps wholesale reinvention isn’t what’s needed. A solid, well-articulated message with an attractive candidate and a whole bunch of nuts and bolts party-building will go a long way. A lot will depend on how successful the new President is. But it really is no mystery how he did it. Duplicating the feat may be tougher, however, especially if conservative wise-guys are bent on doing their best to tarnish potential candidates two days after the last election.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Sarah Palin leaves her options open and shows how she has learned to handle the press.

One of many advice columns Palin is likely to receive. Well, if the MSM is to be believed, all she needs to do is write a couple of books and run for President for two years and then she’s plenty qualified.

Fodder for the argument that  Barack Obama won’t do much different in Iraq. If this is the start of a trend, he’ll have a lot of explaining to do to the Daily Kos crowd. Or maybe not, since perhaps the objection isn’t to the policy after all, but to the opposing party’s President.

Mark McKinnon makes a heck of a good suggestion on an item for Obama to demonstrate political independence: the card check bill. If he wanted to be really independent, he also could support the Colombia Free Trade Agreement.

Here’s something both Democrats and Republicans can probably agree upon: Obama can do better than John Kerry for Secretary of State.

Ooops — the market didn’t like the election returns? What a difference a day makes — now it’s no longer McCain’s problem.

This notion won’t be heard on MSNBC: “I feel compelled to point out that many of the people excited by massive voter shifts are confusing a) serious Bush hatred during a once-in-a-generation financial crisis and b) massive black voting turnout to vote for the first black president, a definitionally unrepeatable happening with c) actual permanent demographic change in the electorate.”

Let me get this straight: the Republicans are supposed to jettison social conservative support to go after college-educated voters in Connecticut, but do nothing to gain the support of Hispanics who are already socially conservative. Huh?? I suppose that’s what happens when the conclusion of any argument must be: oppose immigration reform and dump Sarah Palin.

Even the Left blogosphere fesses up: “By picking Palin, McCain re-energized the party and gave it a personality likely to remain popular for many years. ‘She’s one of the best campaigners I have ever seen and an important new voice in the struggle,’ for conservative principles, he said. Palin, who had flown to Phoenix with her husband, Todd, after casting her vote in Alaska in the morning, said not a word. She didn’t have to—her smile said it all: ‘I’ll be back.'”

Sarah Palin leaves her options open and shows how she has learned to handle the press.

One of many advice columns Palin is likely to receive. Well, if the MSM is to be believed, all she needs to do is write a couple of books and run for President for two years and then she’s plenty qualified.

Fodder for the argument that  Barack Obama won’t do much different in Iraq. If this is the start of a trend, he’ll have a lot of explaining to do to the Daily Kos crowd. Or maybe not, since perhaps the objection isn’t to the policy after all, but to the opposing party’s President.

Mark McKinnon makes a heck of a good suggestion on an item for Obama to demonstrate political independence: the card check bill. If he wanted to be really independent, he also could support the Colombia Free Trade Agreement.

Here’s something both Democrats and Republicans can probably agree upon: Obama can do better than John Kerry for Secretary of State.

Ooops — the market didn’t like the election returns? What a difference a day makes — now it’s no longer McCain’s problem.

This notion won’t be heard on MSNBC: “I feel compelled to point out that many of the people excited by massive voter shifts are confusing a) serious Bush hatred during a once-in-a-generation financial crisis and b) massive black voting turnout to vote for the first black president, a definitionally unrepeatable happening with c) actual permanent demographic change in the electorate.”

Let me get this straight: the Republicans are supposed to jettison social conservative support to go after college-educated voters in Connecticut, but do nothing to gain the support of Hispanics who are already socially conservative. Huh?? I suppose that’s what happens when the conclusion of any argument must be: oppose immigration reform and dump Sarah Palin.

Even the Left blogosphere fesses up: “By picking Palin, McCain re-energized the party and gave it a personality likely to remain popular for many years. ‘She’s one of the best campaigners I have ever seen and an important new voice in the struggle,’ for conservative principles, he said. Palin, who had flown to Phoenix with her husband, Todd, after casting her vote in Alaska in the morning, said not a word. She didn’t have to—her smile said it all: ‘I’ll be back.'”

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