Commentary Magazine


Posts For: November 7, 2008

Commentary of the Day

Gordon Knight, on Noah Pollak:

That’s ridiculous – of course Israel should destroy villages from which rockets are fired. To call that “wrong on lebanon” is absurd.

However, of course Israel should make Syria pay for it’s support of Hezbollah as well. The two ideas are mutually supporting.

The whole world will condemn Israel for attacking places from which it is attacked? But the world WON’T go nuts if Israel starts a war with Syria who did NOT attack Israel but merely gave support to Hezbollah? Yeah, I can see the “world” accepting that! The whole premise of the OP is seriously flawed on that count.

If world condemnation is a worry, there is little to choose from the two strategies and flattening Hezbollah villages is probably better than starting a war with Syria. If effective deterrence is the main concern, then clearly BOTH tactics should be put into play and mutually support each other. Hezbolla could function without Syria, even if it would be harder for it, so attacking Syria, while a necessary step, is not enough on its own. Destroying Hezbollah’s ability to operate in Lebanon, by flattening villages it operates from, is, at this point, probably unavoidable as part of a two pronged strategy.

Gordon Knight, on Noah Pollak:

That’s ridiculous – of course Israel should destroy villages from which rockets are fired. To call that “wrong on lebanon” is absurd.

However, of course Israel should make Syria pay for it’s support of Hezbollah as well. The two ideas are mutually supporting.

The whole world will condemn Israel for attacking places from which it is attacked? But the world WON’T go nuts if Israel starts a war with Syria who did NOT attack Israel but merely gave support to Hezbollah? Yeah, I can see the “world” accepting that! The whole premise of the OP is seriously flawed on that count.

If world condemnation is a worry, there is little to choose from the two strategies and flattening Hezbollah villages is probably better than starting a war with Syria. If effective deterrence is the main concern, then clearly BOTH tactics should be put into play and mutually support each other. Hezbolla could function without Syria, even if it would be harder for it, so attacking Syria, while a necessary step, is not enough on its own. Destroying Hezbollah’s ability to operate in Lebanon, by flattening villages it operates from, is, at this point, probably unavoidable as part of a two pronged strategy.

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The Obama Press Conference

One can tell, watching him today, that something has loosened a bit in Barack Obama, as it should; he is showing more personality than he did during the three debates. He looked properly repulsed when asked about the congratulatory letter sent to him by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; he said Iran’s support for terrorism must end. He promised a stimulus package. But the matter about which he spoke with most urgency and interest was the new family dog.

One can tell, watching him today, that something has loosened a bit in Barack Obama, as it should; he is showing more personality than he did during the three debates. He looked properly repulsed when asked about the congratulatory letter sent to him by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; he said Iran’s support for terrorism must end. He promised a stimulus package. But the matter about which he spoke with most urgency and interest was the new family dog.

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If Only

The AP’s compiled list of Obama-inspired terms includes this mythical beast:

OBAMASCOPE: Media scrutiny of the new leader. (Example: “One hundred days after Barack Obama took office, newspaper editors put the president’s economic plan under the Obamascope.”)

I do admire the optimism expressed in the example.

The AP’s compiled list of Obama-inspired terms includes this mythical beast:

OBAMASCOPE: Media scrutiny of the new leader. (Example: “One hundred days after Barack Obama took office, newspaper editors put the president’s economic plan under the Obamascope.”)

I do admire the optimism expressed in the example.

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Ahhh, The Real Significance of Obama

Here’s Judith Warner on Obama’s election:

On Wednesday, there was a run on newspapers, as voters rushed to grab a tangible piece of the history they’d made. My husband Max and I, unable to find extra copies, brought our own worn papers home to 8- and 11-year-old Emilie and Julia.

Sept. 11, the seismic event that we’d feared would forever form their political consciousness, shaping their world and constricting the boundaries of the possible, had actually been eclipsed, light blotting out darkness, the best of America at long last driving away the demons of fear. We wanted them to see that it was the end of an era.

Obama’s election may mark the end of a lot of things, but Islamic terrorism isn’t one of them. However, in Warner’s World, there’s no need for such distinctions. Being attacked and threatened by murderous fascists isn’t so bad (it’s just a “seismic event,” without positive or negative connotation). Getting bummed out about it is. So what you need isn’t a president who will prevent attacks (especially because what’s required in doing that involves more “darkness” and “demons of fear”), but one who will make you feel good about other things. Only in this conception of political reality can Obama’s blackness deliver the country from the threat of jihad. And if we’re attacked again? Presumably, Judith Warner will reach for that yellowing newspaper to set things right.

By the way, her kid’s response is brilliant, historically redemptive, dazzlingly ironic — and completely ignored by Warner herself:

“You’re being racist,” Emilie had said when I made a comment about how particularly earth-moving this election was for black voters. “Why should it matter if people are black or white?”

Can you imagine the home-taught history lesson in store for poor Emilie?

Here’s Judith Warner on Obama’s election:

On Wednesday, there was a run on newspapers, as voters rushed to grab a tangible piece of the history they’d made. My husband Max and I, unable to find extra copies, brought our own worn papers home to 8- and 11-year-old Emilie and Julia.

Sept. 11, the seismic event that we’d feared would forever form their political consciousness, shaping their world and constricting the boundaries of the possible, had actually been eclipsed, light blotting out darkness, the best of America at long last driving away the demons of fear. We wanted them to see that it was the end of an era.

Obama’s election may mark the end of a lot of things, but Islamic terrorism isn’t one of them. However, in Warner’s World, there’s no need for such distinctions. Being attacked and threatened by murderous fascists isn’t so bad (it’s just a “seismic event,” without positive or negative connotation). Getting bummed out about it is. So what you need isn’t a president who will prevent attacks (especially because what’s required in doing that involves more “darkness” and “demons of fear”), but one who will make you feel good about other things. Only in this conception of political reality can Obama’s blackness deliver the country from the threat of jihad. And if we’re attacked again? Presumably, Judith Warner will reach for that yellowing newspaper to set things right.

By the way, her kid’s response is brilliant, historically redemptive, dazzlingly ironic — and completely ignored by Warner herself:

“You’re being racist,” Emilie had said when I made a comment about how particularly earth-moving this election was for black voters. “Why should it matter if people are black or white?”

Can you imagine the home-taught history lesson in store for poor Emilie?

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Make a List

The list of lessons from this campaign for Republicans is long. But aside from ideology, the particulars of John McCain’s personal limitations, and the failures of his staff, it would be good to keep in mind the arguments and tactics that didn’t work.

The electorate really doesn’t care about “experience.” Voting with a unpopular incumbent president most of the time resonates, and a relationship with a cast of vile characters doesn’t, unless you can show why it matters. The petty back-and-forth squabbles, the gotcha web ads, and the gaffe of the day are utterly lost on most voters. Unless you get the really big things right, and make the most of the times when everyone is paying attention (e.g. react to the financial crisis, the Convention speech and the debates), all of the day-to-day small stuff is just that–small stuff.

Finally, screaming at the MSM is intensely satisfying, but useless. Republicans are entirely justified in calling foul on the appalling media bias. But so what? Republican candidates still have to run a campaign.

None of this is particular to McCain or to the issues in this race. The danger for Republicans is to ignore these lessons in favor of the “we were doomed” or the “McCain ran an incompetent race” analysis. Either of those takes may be accurate. But the lessons of 2008 are still there to be applied in a race in which the GOP candidate might not be saddled with an incompetent campaign.

The list of lessons from this campaign for Republicans is long. But aside from ideology, the particulars of John McCain’s personal limitations, and the failures of his staff, it would be good to keep in mind the arguments and tactics that didn’t work.

The electorate really doesn’t care about “experience.” Voting with a unpopular incumbent president most of the time resonates, and a relationship with a cast of vile characters doesn’t, unless you can show why it matters. The petty back-and-forth squabbles, the gotcha web ads, and the gaffe of the day are utterly lost on most voters. Unless you get the really big things right, and make the most of the times when everyone is paying attention (e.g. react to the financial crisis, the Convention speech and the debates), all of the day-to-day small stuff is just that–small stuff.

Finally, screaming at the MSM is intensely satisfying, but useless. Republicans are entirely justified in calling foul on the appalling media bias. But so what? Republican candidates still have to run a campaign.

None of this is particular to McCain or to the issues in this race. The danger for Republicans is to ignore these lessons in favor of the “we were doomed” or the “McCain ran an incompetent race” analysis. Either of those takes may be accurate. But the lessons of 2008 are still there to be applied in a race in which the GOP candidate might not be saddled with an incompetent campaign.

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O, Sage of Mesopotamia!

It’s already happening. The media is setting up Barack Obama to take the credit for President Bush’s turnaround in Iraq. Here’s Alissa J. Rubin, in the New York Times:

Many Shiite politicians had been under intense pressure from Iranian leaders not to sign a security agreement. Iran, which has close ties to Shiite politicians, has feared the agreement would lay the groundwork for a permanent American troop presence in Iraq that would threaten Iran.

But now, the Iraqis appear to be feeling less pressure from Iran, perhaps because the Iranians are less worried that an Obama government will try to force a regime change in their country

I’m not sure it’s a positive thing that Iran is now less worried about American regional influence. And consider this absurd sentence from from Reuters:

After years of opposing a timetable for withdrawal, the Bush administration has accepted Baghdad’s demand that it commit to withdrawing all troops by the end of 2011, bringing it closer to Obama’s position.

If at 8am you tell me it’s night and I don’t agree with you until 8pm, have I come closer to your position?

The truth is, success in Iraq is more important than apportioning credit. And speaking of credit–if Obama is consecrated as the wise steward of the correct Iraq policy, will he “spread the wealth” among the soldiers and marines who have actually won the war and congratulate them on an unqualified American victory?

It’s already happening. The media is setting up Barack Obama to take the credit for President Bush’s turnaround in Iraq. Here’s Alissa J. Rubin, in the New York Times:

Many Shiite politicians had been under intense pressure from Iranian leaders not to sign a security agreement. Iran, which has close ties to Shiite politicians, has feared the agreement would lay the groundwork for a permanent American troop presence in Iraq that would threaten Iran.

But now, the Iraqis appear to be feeling less pressure from Iran, perhaps because the Iranians are less worried that an Obama government will try to force a regime change in their country

I’m not sure it’s a positive thing that Iran is now less worried about American regional influence. And consider this absurd sentence from from Reuters:

After years of opposing a timetable for withdrawal, the Bush administration has accepted Baghdad’s demand that it commit to withdrawing all troops by the end of 2011, bringing it closer to Obama’s position.

If at 8am you tell me it’s night and I don’t agree with you until 8pm, have I come closer to your position?

The truth is, success in Iraq is more important than apportioning credit. And speaking of credit–if Obama is consecrated as the wise steward of the correct Iraq policy, will he “spread the wealth” among the soldiers and marines who have actually won the war and congratulate them on an unqualified American victory?

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That Didn’t Take Long

Leftist alienation with Obama is already setting in, and it is hilarious. Here is “Rabbi” Michael Lerner:

Election night tens of millions of us wept for joy. We sang the songs that we had sung as young men and women when we were fighting segregation in the south and then in the North, some of us being beaten, others jailed, some even killed. …

So no wonder why many of us were shocked and deeply disappointed when we learned on Thursday that Congressman Rahm Emanuel was to be the Chief of Staff in the Obama White House.

Emanuel, for those who don’t recall, was the Congressman who traveled the country in 2006 finding “suitable” candidates in “swing districts” to run against Republican incumbents, and in many instances he succeeded. But his theory of how to succeed was destructive: he sought the most conservative possible candidates in each district, insisting that local Democratic Party organizations reject more liberal candidates who, he feared, might not win.

A Democratic Party operative seeking out electorally viable candidates? We can’t sing Kumbaya to that!

Emanuel will almost certainly be protecting Obama from all of us spiritual progressives and those of us who describe ourselves as the Religious Left-so that our commitment to single-payer universal health care, carbon taxes for environmental protection, a Homeland Security strategy based on generosity and implemented through a Global Marshall Plan, will be unlikely to get a serious hearing in the White House.

You get the sense that Lerner wants to be shut out. Complaining about being shut out or silenced or marginalized or othered comprises approximately three quarters of Lerner’s day; how would he fill his time if it was otherwise?

The Rahm Emanuel selection is an early warning that the peace and justice agenda dropped by Obama after he won the Democratic nomination may be permanently on hold, and the progressives themselves may have to settle for “access” and flowery words at an inauguration address rather than the substance of change. For many of us, just the fact of having a brilliant young black man in the White House will be such a healing experience that we won’t care about this newly emerging reality: unless Obama creates some other path to access and to public input into his policies by those of us who helped build his electoral success, or unless we organize to do so outside the framework of his campaign organization, we may be in for lots of disappointments.

For some of us, reading missives from jilted progressives is a healing experience.

Leftist alienation with Obama is already setting in, and it is hilarious. Here is “Rabbi” Michael Lerner:

Election night tens of millions of us wept for joy. We sang the songs that we had sung as young men and women when we were fighting segregation in the south and then in the North, some of us being beaten, others jailed, some even killed. …

So no wonder why many of us were shocked and deeply disappointed when we learned on Thursday that Congressman Rahm Emanuel was to be the Chief of Staff in the Obama White House.

Emanuel, for those who don’t recall, was the Congressman who traveled the country in 2006 finding “suitable” candidates in “swing districts” to run against Republican incumbents, and in many instances he succeeded. But his theory of how to succeed was destructive: he sought the most conservative possible candidates in each district, insisting that local Democratic Party organizations reject more liberal candidates who, he feared, might not win.

A Democratic Party operative seeking out electorally viable candidates? We can’t sing Kumbaya to that!

Emanuel will almost certainly be protecting Obama from all of us spiritual progressives and those of us who describe ourselves as the Religious Left-so that our commitment to single-payer universal health care, carbon taxes for environmental protection, a Homeland Security strategy based on generosity and implemented through a Global Marshall Plan, will be unlikely to get a serious hearing in the White House.

You get the sense that Lerner wants to be shut out. Complaining about being shut out or silenced or marginalized or othered comprises approximately three quarters of Lerner’s day; how would he fill his time if it was otherwise?

The Rahm Emanuel selection is an early warning that the peace and justice agenda dropped by Obama after he won the Democratic nomination may be permanently on hold, and the progressives themselves may have to settle for “access” and flowery words at an inauguration address rather than the substance of change. For many of us, just the fact of having a brilliant young black man in the White House will be such a healing experience that we won’t care about this newly emerging reality: unless Obama creates some other path to access and to public input into his policies by those of us who helped build his electoral success, or unless we organize to do so outside the framework of his campaign organization, we may be in for lots of disappointments.

For some of us, reading missives from jilted progressives is a healing experience.

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Part of the Problem

Tony Blankley identifies a major problem for Republicans:

Today there are certain profound values — free markets and respect for life — that are renounced at the price of our soul. Free markets, particularly, are under the immediate, explicit assault of the next government. Life may be undermined more surreptitiously. But as a national cause championed by a national party, a conservative agenda must, for example, learn to speak persuasively to a near majority of Hispanic-Americans, or we will be merely a debating society. When Texas joins states such as Colorado, New Mexico (and even North Carolina, Virginia, Arizona and Florida), where Hispanic votes are necessary for victory, there is no possibility of national governance without finding that voice.

If Republicans cannot devise economic and social policies that appeal to non-white voters, they are lost. And if conservative opponents of immigration reform think that opposition will improve their political fortunes, we will see how much lower than 31% the Republicans’ share of Hispanic voters can go.

Tony Blankley identifies a major problem for Republicans:

Today there are certain profound values — free markets and respect for life — that are renounced at the price of our soul. Free markets, particularly, are under the immediate, explicit assault of the next government. Life may be undermined more surreptitiously. But as a national cause championed by a national party, a conservative agenda must, for example, learn to speak persuasively to a near majority of Hispanic-Americans, or we will be merely a debating society. When Texas joins states such as Colorado, New Mexico (and even North Carolina, Virginia, Arizona and Florida), where Hispanic votes are necessary for victory, there is no possibility of national governance without finding that voice.

If Republicans cannot devise economic and social policies that appeal to non-white voters, they are lost. And if conservative opponents of immigration reform think that opposition will improve their political fortunes, we will see how much lower than 31% the Republicans’ share of Hispanic voters can go.

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Where They Stand

From Scott Rasmussen:

Sixty-nine percent (69%) of Republican voters say Alaska Governor Sarah Palin helped John McCain’s bid for the presidency, even as news reports surface that some McCain staffers think she was a liability.

Only 20% of GOP voters say Palin hurt the party’s ticket, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Six percent (6%) say she had no impact, and five percent (5%) are undecided.

Ninety-one percent (91%) of Republicans have a favorable view of Palin, including 65% who say their view is Very Favorable. Only eight percent (8%) have an unfavorable view of her, including three percent (3%) Very Unfavorable.

When asked to choose among some of the GOP’s top names for their choice for the party’s 2012 presidential nominee, 64% say Palin. The next closest contenders are two former governors and unsuccessful challengers for the presidential nomination this year — Mike Huckabee of Arkansas with 12% support and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts with 11%.

This is a helpful bit of perspective, considering the non-stop smear campaign against Palin cooked up by unnamed critics and ex-McCain staffers and fueled by a segment of conservative commentators. While the punditocracy is greatly divided on Palin, actual Republicans (i.e. voters) are not. Four years may be an eternity in politics. But for now, Palin enjoys a unique base of support among the people who will count in determining the 2012 nomination.

From Scott Rasmussen:

Sixty-nine percent (69%) of Republican voters say Alaska Governor Sarah Palin helped John McCain’s bid for the presidency, even as news reports surface that some McCain staffers think she was a liability.

Only 20% of GOP voters say Palin hurt the party’s ticket, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Six percent (6%) say she had no impact, and five percent (5%) are undecided.

Ninety-one percent (91%) of Republicans have a favorable view of Palin, including 65% who say their view is Very Favorable. Only eight percent (8%) have an unfavorable view of her, including three percent (3%) Very Unfavorable.

When asked to choose among some of the GOP’s top names for their choice for the party’s 2012 presidential nominee, 64% say Palin. The next closest contenders are two former governors and unsuccessful challengers for the presidential nomination this year — Mike Huckabee of Arkansas with 12% support and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts with 11%.

This is a helpful bit of perspective, considering the non-stop smear campaign against Palin cooked up by unnamed critics and ex-McCain staffers and fueled by a segment of conservative commentators. While the punditocracy is greatly divided on Palin, actual Republicans (i.e. voters) are not. Four years may be an eternity in politics. But for now, Palin enjoys a unique base of support among the people who will count in determining the 2012 nomination.

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Postpartisan Depression

According to a spot-on video report from The Onion, “Obama Win Causes Obsessive Supporters To Realize How Empty Their Lives Are.”

Compassionate conservatives, go help these sufferers in their time of need.

According to a spot-on video report from The Onion, “Obama Win Causes Obsessive Supporters To Realize How Empty Their Lives Are.”

Compassionate conservatives, go help these sufferers in their time of need.

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Getting Lebanon Wrong, Again

Word of this has been percolating for a while now:

In any future conflict with Hizbullah, Israel will likely cite the Shi’ite group’s increasing influence within the Lebanese cabinet as a legitimate reason to target Lebanon’s entire infrastructure, government sources have told The Jerusalem Post.

The head of the IDF’s northern command, Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, recently put the idea in starker terms:

What happened to the Dahiyah neighborhood [Hezbollah's headquarters] of Beirut in 2006 will happen to each village from which Israel is fired on. We will apply disproportionate force and inflict huge damage and destruction. In our mind, these are not civilian villages but army bases.

If Israel does this, it will be mostly fighting the war Hezbollah wants it to fight. Global condemnation of Israel will be absolute, and might finally translate into something worse than words. The fact that a discussion of turning Lebanon into rubble is even happening is a demonstration that Israeli leaders still haven’t learned the central lesson of the 2006 conflict: that it is all but impossible to defeat a large, sophisticated guerrilla force without confronting the regimes that fund and supply it. Michael Young, the brilliant opinion page editor of the Lebanon Daily Star, said it best:

And what about Syria in Israel’s plan? In their fervor to hold the Lebanese government responsible for whatever Hizbullah does, many Israelis never mention that the party in the past two years has been able to rearm thanks to weapons transiting through Syria. They never mention, in justifying their negotiations with Syria, that Hizbullah became a powerful military force during the years when Syria controlled Lebanon. They never mention that President Bashar Assad has time and again made it clear that he has no intention of breaking with Iran over Hizbullah (or anything else), and that such a step would be inexplicable anyway as it would deny Syria the military leverage the party provides it over Israel.

As Israel’s armed forces destroy Lebanon’s towns and villages, as well as quite possibly its electricity, road, and water infrastructure, what will they do against a regime in Damascus far more responsible for allowing Hizbullah to be what it is than the Lebanese state, which [Giora] Eiland implicitly points out is too weak to contain the party? If the answer is “nothing,” and Syria is to be left alone, then we get the message: For the umpteenth time Lebanese blood will serve as currency in Syrian-Israeli bargaining.

The greatest national-security travesty of the post-9/11 era is that the most realistic and necessary idea advanced in the Bush doctrine — holding terror-sponsoring regimes responsible for the violence and chaos they sponsor — has been its most systematically ignored idea. A few weeks ago, the U.S. military finally struck inside Syria, sending a warning to Bashar about the hospitality he provides to terrorists. Imagine if the U.S. had done so in 2003. Imagine if Israel had done so after Hezbollah’s attack in 2006. Israeli strategists insist that they refrain because they’re afraid of what they might face should Bashar’s weak regime come undone. But they should soberly ask themselves: is there any chance it would be worse than Hezbollah?

Word of this has been percolating for a while now:

In any future conflict with Hizbullah, Israel will likely cite the Shi’ite group’s increasing influence within the Lebanese cabinet as a legitimate reason to target Lebanon’s entire infrastructure, government sources have told The Jerusalem Post.

The head of the IDF’s northern command, Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, recently put the idea in starker terms:

What happened to the Dahiyah neighborhood [Hezbollah's headquarters] of Beirut in 2006 will happen to each village from which Israel is fired on. We will apply disproportionate force and inflict huge damage and destruction. In our mind, these are not civilian villages but army bases.

If Israel does this, it will be mostly fighting the war Hezbollah wants it to fight. Global condemnation of Israel will be absolute, and might finally translate into something worse than words. The fact that a discussion of turning Lebanon into rubble is even happening is a demonstration that Israeli leaders still haven’t learned the central lesson of the 2006 conflict: that it is all but impossible to defeat a large, sophisticated guerrilla force without confronting the regimes that fund and supply it. Michael Young, the brilliant opinion page editor of the Lebanon Daily Star, said it best:

And what about Syria in Israel’s plan? In their fervor to hold the Lebanese government responsible for whatever Hizbullah does, many Israelis never mention that the party in the past two years has been able to rearm thanks to weapons transiting through Syria. They never mention, in justifying their negotiations with Syria, that Hizbullah became a powerful military force during the years when Syria controlled Lebanon. They never mention that President Bashar Assad has time and again made it clear that he has no intention of breaking with Iran over Hizbullah (or anything else), and that such a step would be inexplicable anyway as it would deny Syria the military leverage the party provides it over Israel.

As Israel’s armed forces destroy Lebanon’s towns and villages, as well as quite possibly its electricity, road, and water infrastructure, what will they do against a regime in Damascus far more responsible for allowing Hizbullah to be what it is than the Lebanese state, which [Giora] Eiland implicitly points out is too weak to contain the party? If the answer is “nothing,” and Syria is to be left alone, then we get the message: For the umpteenth time Lebanese blood will serve as currency in Syrian-Israeli bargaining.

The greatest national-security travesty of the post-9/11 era is that the most realistic and necessary idea advanced in the Bush doctrine — holding terror-sponsoring regimes responsible for the violence and chaos they sponsor — has been its most systematically ignored idea. A few weeks ago, the U.S. military finally struck inside Syria, sending a warning to Bashar about the hospitality he provides to terrorists. Imagine if the U.S. had done so in 2003. Imagine if Israel had done so after Hezbollah’s attack in 2006. Israeli strategists insist that they refrain because they’re afraid of what they might face should Bashar’s weak regime come undone. But they should soberly ask themselves: is there any chance it would be worse than Hezbollah?

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Ohio was not chaotic and the turnout wasn’t that high. Did both sides over-hype?

A wise explanation of recounts: they are done to help the loser.

Jim Geraghty has a sound idea that has somehow escaped the grasp of many on the Right: pitch to both independents and conservatives. Wow, sort of like Ronald Reagan did–find a leader and act like a real national party.

John Miller explains why, regardless of conservatives’ view of Palin, the McCain team is becoming the Typhoid Mary (or Nicole) of politics.

Bill Kristol is right: the McCain staff, Steve Schmidt included, descended into a bizarre and self-destructive paranoia which leads one to conclude they were fundamentally unfit to run a presidential campaign.

This seems on target: “No one really cares by now who did what to whom. The important point is that Mrs. Palin isn’t responsible for Tuesday’s defeat. The sages who urged Mr. McCain to ‘suspend’ his campaign and throw himself in the middle of bailout talks on Capitol Hill can take far more credit for the loss.”

This is pretty embarrassing. Is this a new MSNBC slogan: “Speak Fondly To Power.”

Mark Hemingway has some fun at the AP’s expense. That raises the next question: will the MSM cover the first term in real time, or do we have to wait for that until after the 2012 election?

Now there’s a temperament problem.

John Hinderaker makes a excellent point on “small government” — it really hasn’t ever been put into practice. Moreover, is there any indication there is a clamoring for shrinking the size of government? It seems smarter, better, and more market-oriented government might be a more attractive selling point.

This awful Elizabeth Dole ad likely didn’t make any difference. But, along with George Allen’s attack on the novel written by Jim Webb, it will rank as one of the most desperate moves in Senate campaign history.

Jonathan Adler thinks that Obama can do better than RFK, Jr. for a cabinet post. Really, they ran against the “war on science.”

Better than being on Nixon’s enemy list.

I’m not sure if Rahm Emanuel is a good or bad thing, either for the new President or those who want to slow down the runaway train to the Left. But I agree with this criticism about the knee-jerk RNC reaction. Are there no adults there? Is there no let up in the email petty campaigning? It really isn’t necessary to hear their snark–lots of conservative and mainstream critics pretty much have down the pro’s and con’s of the Emanuel pick.

I’d like to think Dan Gerstein is right when he says of Emanuel: “This is not the guy you bring in to run your administration if you are planning on being redistributionist-in-chief.”

A sound assessment of what went wrong for Republicans by Al Gore advisor Carter Eskew: “The short answer is that they steered by the lights of passing ships rather than the stars. The Republicans chose tactics — the “celebrity” ad, the choice of Sarah Palin, suspending the campaign — designed to win a news cycle rather than sticking to a strategy that could win the election. But, in fairness, was there a winning strategy for John McCain in such a year as this? .  .  . And he also seemed disadvantaged by a disorganized campaign. Presidential campaigns are like diving bells that go deep into ever-increasing pressure. If the structure isn’t sound, the rivets pop.”

David Brooks is hoping that the Obama team will “take significant action on the problems facing the country without causing a mass freak-out among voters to the right of Nancy Pelosi.”

Ohio was not chaotic and the turnout wasn’t that high. Did both sides over-hype?

A wise explanation of recounts: they are done to help the loser.

Jim Geraghty has a sound idea that has somehow escaped the grasp of many on the Right: pitch to both independents and conservatives. Wow, sort of like Ronald Reagan did–find a leader and act like a real national party.

John Miller explains why, regardless of conservatives’ view of Palin, the McCain team is becoming the Typhoid Mary (or Nicole) of politics.

Bill Kristol is right: the McCain staff, Steve Schmidt included, descended into a bizarre and self-destructive paranoia which leads one to conclude they were fundamentally unfit to run a presidential campaign.

This seems on target: “No one really cares by now who did what to whom. The important point is that Mrs. Palin isn’t responsible for Tuesday’s defeat. The sages who urged Mr. McCain to ‘suspend’ his campaign and throw himself in the middle of bailout talks on Capitol Hill can take far more credit for the loss.”

This is pretty embarrassing. Is this a new MSNBC slogan: “Speak Fondly To Power.”

Mark Hemingway has some fun at the AP’s expense. That raises the next question: will the MSM cover the first term in real time, or do we have to wait for that until after the 2012 election?

Now there’s a temperament problem.

John Hinderaker makes a excellent point on “small government” — it really hasn’t ever been put into practice. Moreover, is there any indication there is a clamoring for shrinking the size of government? It seems smarter, better, and more market-oriented government might be a more attractive selling point.

This awful Elizabeth Dole ad likely didn’t make any difference. But, along with George Allen’s attack on the novel written by Jim Webb, it will rank as one of the most desperate moves in Senate campaign history.

Jonathan Adler thinks that Obama can do better than RFK, Jr. for a cabinet post. Really, they ran against the “war on science.”

Better than being on Nixon’s enemy list.

I’m not sure if Rahm Emanuel is a good or bad thing, either for the new President or those who want to slow down the runaway train to the Left. But I agree with this criticism about the knee-jerk RNC reaction. Are there no adults there? Is there no let up in the email petty campaigning? It really isn’t necessary to hear their snark–lots of conservative and mainstream critics pretty much have down the pro’s and con’s of the Emanuel pick.

I’d like to think Dan Gerstein is right when he says of Emanuel: “This is not the guy you bring in to run your administration if you are planning on being redistributionist-in-chief.”

A sound assessment of what went wrong for Republicans by Al Gore advisor Carter Eskew: “The short answer is that they steered by the lights of passing ships rather than the stars. The Republicans chose tactics — the “celebrity” ad, the choice of Sarah Palin, suspending the campaign — designed to win a news cycle rather than sticking to a strategy that could win the election. But, in fairness, was there a winning strategy for John McCain in such a year as this? .  .  . And he also seemed disadvantaged by a disorganized campaign. Presidential campaigns are like diving bells that go deep into ever-increasing pressure. If the structure isn’t sound, the rivets pop.”

David Brooks is hoping that the Obama team will “take significant action on the problems facing the country without causing a mass freak-out among voters to the right of Nancy Pelosi.”

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Not Nothing

Michael Gerson writes of the success of the surge in Iraq:

The achievement is historic. In 2006, Iraq had descended into a sectarian killing spree that seemed likely to stop only when the supply of victims was exhausted. Showing Truman-like stubbornness, Bush pushed to escalate a war that most Americans — and some at the Pentagon — had already mentally abandoned.

The result? A Sunni tribal revolt against their al-Qaeda oppressors, an effective campaign against Shiite militias in Baghdad and Basra, and the flight of jihadists from Iraq to less deadly battlefields. In a more stable atmosphere, Iraq’s politicians have made dramatic political progress. Iraqi military and police forces have grown in size and effectiveness and now fully control 13 of Iraq’s 18 provinces. And in the month before Election Day, American combat deaths matched the lowest monthly total of the entire war.

For years, critics of the Iraq war asked the mocking question: “What would victory look like?” If progress continues, it might look something like what we’ve seen.

During a week in which conservatives have bemoaned the sorry state of the Republican Party (and largely blamed the loss on the unpopular incumbent President), Gerson’s reminder is a timely one. It is no small thing to win a war, especially one which was as controversial as this one. There is no election at stake now and it does no one harm to recognize the lonely persistence which was required to reverse course and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

And while we are in the perspective business, there are two more remarkable and unalloyed successes: the appointments of Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito. It is again no small thing to defend the rule of law. By nominating both of them President Bush made a significant contribution on that score.

No, I haven’t forgotten the years of the war’s mismanagement, or the ill-advised Harriet Miers nomination which preceded the Alito selection. And there are plenty of demerits on the other side of the ledger (e.g. Katrina, Walter Reed, runaway spending, Alberto Gonzales). But winning a war and appointing two stellar Supreme Court Justices isn’t nothing. With the election in the rear view mirror, maybe the world can acknowledge at least that.

Michael Gerson writes of the success of the surge in Iraq:

The achievement is historic. In 2006, Iraq had descended into a sectarian killing spree that seemed likely to stop only when the supply of victims was exhausted. Showing Truman-like stubbornness, Bush pushed to escalate a war that most Americans — and some at the Pentagon — had already mentally abandoned.

The result? A Sunni tribal revolt against their al-Qaeda oppressors, an effective campaign against Shiite militias in Baghdad and Basra, and the flight of jihadists from Iraq to less deadly battlefields. In a more stable atmosphere, Iraq’s politicians have made dramatic political progress. Iraqi military and police forces have grown in size and effectiveness and now fully control 13 of Iraq’s 18 provinces. And in the month before Election Day, American combat deaths matched the lowest monthly total of the entire war.

For years, critics of the Iraq war asked the mocking question: “What would victory look like?” If progress continues, it might look something like what we’ve seen.

During a week in which conservatives have bemoaned the sorry state of the Republican Party (and largely blamed the loss on the unpopular incumbent President), Gerson’s reminder is a timely one. It is no small thing to win a war, especially one which was as controversial as this one. There is no election at stake now and it does no one harm to recognize the lonely persistence which was required to reverse course and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

And while we are in the perspective business, there are two more remarkable and unalloyed successes: the appointments of Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito. It is again no small thing to defend the rule of law. By nominating both of them President Bush made a significant contribution on that score.

No, I haven’t forgotten the years of the war’s mismanagement, or the ill-advised Harriet Miers nomination which preceded the Alito selection. And there are plenty of demerits on the other side of the ledger (e.g. Katrina, Walter Reed, runaway spending, Alberto Gonzales). But winning a war and appointing two stellar Supreme Court Justices isn’t nothing. With the election in the rear view mirror, maybe the world can acknowledge at least that.

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Take A Break

The Wall Street Journal editors give a rather balanced assessment of Sarah Palin and conclude:

As for Mrs. Palin’s Republican critics, they might consider if they can afford to write off a young leader with such natural political talent. We don’t see a large constellation of other GOP stars on the horizon. Mr. McCain was right to understand that his party needs a new generation of leaders who haven’t grown comfortable with the perks of Washington. Especially as Democrats once again grow the Beltway, the next GOP leaders will need to make a better case for entrepreneurship and limited government. Mrs. Palin deserves a chance to see if she has the skill and work ethic to become that kind of leader.

The Palin Derangement Syndrome has always seemed bizarrely personal. It now seems out of kilter with events in real time. She isn’t the VP nominee any longer, yet critics are still fussing over her wardrobe bill and whether she is ready to be a heartbeat away from the Presidency. Guys, the election is over.

But so many have invested so much in ridiculing and attacking her they can’t let her go; they seem unable to abide by the thought that she really is among the most personable and effective messengers for the Republican cause. She’s going back to Alaska, just as other Republicans who didn’t get thrown out of office are going back to the job of proving that Republicans are relevant, competent, and effective leaders. It defies logic that conservatives would want to perpetuate the hate-fest.

Now, some don’t like her views, and some don’t think her message is a winning one for the presidency. Fine and perfectly legitimate arguments can be made. But now? It’s not 2012; she’s not running for anything right now. So maybe those who claim to have the interests of the Republicans at heart should think twice about eviscerating one of the few recognizable leaders in the GOP.

The Wall Street Journal editors give a rather balanced assessment of Sarah Palin and conclude:

As for Mrs. Palin’s Republican critics, they might consider if they can afford to write off a young leader with such natural political talent. We don’t see a large constellation of other GOP stars on the horizon. Mr. McCain was right to understand that his party needs a new generation of leaders who haven’t grown comfortable with the perks of Washington. Especially as Democrats once again grow the Beltway, the next GOP leaders will need to make a better case for entrepreneurship and limited government. Mrs. Palin deserves a chance to see if she has the skill and work ethic to become that kind of leader.

The Palin Derangement Syndrome has always seemed bizarrely personal. It now seems out of kilter with events in real time. She isn’t the VP nominee any longer, yet critics are still fussing over her wardrobe bill and whether she is ready to be a heartbeat away from the Presidency. Guys, the election is over.

But so many have invested so much in ridiculing and attacking her they can’t let her go; they seem unable to abide by the thought that she really is among the most personable and effective messengers for the Republican cause. She’s going back to Alaska, just as other Republicans who didn’t get thrown out of office are going back to the job of proving that Republicans are relevant, competent, and effective leaders. It defies logic that conservatives would want to perpetuate the hate-fest.

Now, some don’t like her views, and some don’t think her message is a winning one for the presidency. Fine and perfectly legitimate arguments can be made. But now? It’s not 2012; she’s not running for anything right now. So maybe those who claim to have the interests of the Republicans at heart should think twice about eviscerating one of the few recognizable leaders in the GOP.

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Not The Right Way

There is something misguided in the well-meaning attempts by Washington insiders and pundits to sit down, think real hard and re-invent conservatism. They do this in a bubble — with no real voters there, no actual candidates or office holders and no events other than their party’s defeat to react to. That’s generally not how good decisions get made or consensus reached. I’m not saying it is not an interesting exercise or productive at some level, but that’s not, I think, how it — the “it” being recovery of a viable Republican Party — is likely to come about.

For starters, it might be helpful to talk to Republicans who are successful. There are not tons of them, but there are some in Governors’ and state legislative houses and even in Washington among the survivors of the election of 2008. How was it that Norm Coleman ran ten points ahead of the top of the ticket? Why did Bobby Jindal get elected and how is he now governing? These are the people who have had to appeal to voters, build a consensus and govern/legislate. Rather than the punditocracy telling them and other Republicans what to do, perhaps it should be the other way around.

Next, these fellows seem to have the right idea. If you build it –an active new media organizing, fundraising and grassroots apparatus — they will come. Or at least you will find them (the new voters and not-so-enthusiastic-about-the-last eight-years voters). This is the type of productive party building which helped deliver a victory for the Democrats by bringing in new voters and setting up a state-of-the-art social and communications network.

And finally, like it or not, the party out of power is most clearly defined by what the party in power does and what issues arise. If President Obama goes after free speech and secret ballots, then it’s the civil liberties party. If the President takes Barney Frank up on the suggestion to dismantle the military, then it’s the security party. If the President hikes taxes, throws up protectionist barriers and crushes small business, then it’s the economic opportunity party. Political parties that are relevant take their cue from what is happening in the real world. So the Republicans need to look out the window to figure out which way to steer the car.

If you put real voters, grassroots activists (not the leaders of Washington based groups), office holders, young conservatives, successful candidates and some smart pundits together you might get somewhere. But left to their own devices the latter aren’t likely to stumble upon the solution to the GOP’s woes. And if they did, no one would pay much notice.

There is something misguided in the well-meaning attempts by Washington insiders and pundits to sit down, think real hard and re-invent conservatism. They do this in a bubble — with no real voters there, no actual candidates or office holders and no events other than their party’s defeat to react to. That’s generally not how good decisions get made or consensus reached. I’m not saying it is not an interesting exercise or productive at some level, but that’s not, I think, how it — the “it” being recovery of a viable Republican Party — is likely to come about.

For starters, it might be helpful to talk to Republicans who are successful. There are not tons of them, but there are some in Governors’ and state legislative houses and even in Washington among the survivors of the election of 2008. How was it that Norm Coleman ran ten points ahead of the top of the ticket? Why did Bobby Jindal get elected and how is he now governing? These are the people who have had to appeal to voters, build a consensus and govern/legislate. Rather than the punditocracy telling them and other Republicans what to do, perhaps it should be the other way around.

Next, these fellows seem to have the right idea. If you build it –an active new media organizing, fundraising and grassroots apparatus — they will come. Or at least you will find them (the new voters and not-so-enthusiastic-about-the-last eight-years voters). This is the type of productive party building which helped deliver a victory for the Democrats by bringing in new voters and setting up a state-of-the-art social and communications network.

And finally, like it or not, the party out of power is most clearly defined by what the party in power does and what issues arise. If President Obama goes after free speech and secret ballots, then it’s the civil liberties party. If the President takes Barney Frank up on the suggestion to dismantle the military, then it’s the security party. If the President hikes taxes, throws up protectionist barriers and crushes small business, then it’s the economic opportunity party. Political parties that are relevant take their cue from what is happening in the real world. So the Republicans need to look out the window to figure out which way to steer the car.

If you put real voters, grassroots activists (not the leaders of Washington based groups), office holders, young conservatives, successful candidates and some smart pundits together you might get somewhere. But left to their own devices the latter aren’t likely to stumble upon the solution to the GOP’s woes. And if they did, no one would pay much notice.

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