Commentary Magazine


Flotsam and Jetsam

Nicole Wallace, who made herself a target of conservative ire over Sarah Palin, now opines: “The Obamas have also returned the civility and warmth directed at them by president and Mrs. Bush in a way that sets this transition apart from others in recent history.” How has he demonstrated this “warmth and civility”? Perhaps Ms. Wallace missed the inaugural address, which exhibited neither toward the ex-president.

Ted Kennedy doesn’t appreciate being used as an alibi for Caroline’s withdrawal. After this mess Governor Paterson is going to breath easier, safe in the knowledge most New Yorkers now understand that he needs to fill a senate seat not cast a role in Peyton Place.

But could it be that Caroline was done in by tax and nanny problems? Doesn’t the Geithner standard apply to heiresses?

The White House website is silent on card check legislation. Is there anything on free trade? Hmm. Big Labor isn’t getting much return on its investment in the 2008 election.

Those rooting for President Obama to recognize Hamas or depart from the Bush policy concerning Israel will be disappointed. He and his advisors sound quite Bush-like — even the happy talk about the two state solution. George Mitchell’s remark: “From my experience there, I formed the conviction that there is no such thing as a conflict that can’t be ended” is just the sort of inanity we got used to from Condi Rice.

Being the utterly self-absorbed folks that they are, the media finally gets feisty with the Obama team — for not being transparent with them. (The facst that Tim Geithner isn’t forthcoming or Eric Holder isn’t truthful don’t much bother them.) It is silly for the Obama team to hold the press at arms length. What are they worried about — hard questions or tough coverage? Puleeez.

And the tone is always set from the top. President Obama isn’t in to answering questions from the press. He just wants to eat his waffle . . .  I mean have a social visit. Transparency doesn’t mean he has to answer bothersome questions, does it?

Larry Kudlow has been listening to the late night comics and warns: “Team Obama has gotten its way on the Tim Geithner nomination for Treasury secretary, as all the Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee voted for Geithner despite his embarrassing non-payment of payroll taxes while at the IMF. But the Democrats may rue the day, since Geithner’s lack of character and truth-telling will surely take its toll and sully President Obama’s new era of responsibility.” But worse than the Jay Leno jokes is the stimulus plan, which even Keynesians have to admit isn’t very stimulative.

Meanwhile, Geithner’s accusations of currency manipulation have spooked and angered the Chinese. Why, again, do we have to tolerate his tax indiscretions? Oh, because he’s a genius who has been, and is, uniquely able to bring about our economic recovery. Well, that’s what the Democrats keep saying.

Amity Shlaes thinks President Obama was too mopey and didn’t offer business and investors much in the inaugural address. (“It lacked a bold international economic component, and it lacked vigor.”) But it’s only his first presidential speech and maybe he’ll improve in both tone and content: “It’s not enough to hope vaguely that the U.S. will simply land, after this economic turmoil, back in its accustomed place of supremacy. Obama will have other chances to charm world markets. But he also needs another song.”

This is nonsense out of the AFL-CIO playbook on the Employee Free Choice Act: “In effect, EFCA switches the choice to the workers; they can choose whether to hold a card check election or whether they want a regular secret ballot election. Effectively, EFCA would increase the frequency of card check elections, which are easier for unions to win.” First, the language of the bill states that if more than 50% of the workers sign cards the union shall be recognized(“the [NLRB] shall not direct an election but shall certify the individual organization as the labor representative.”). No “option” for a secret ballot vote. Second, the union not the “employees” make the election if the union gets between 30% and 50% of the  authorization cards signed. If Big Labor has to resort to this sort of misinformation, you can imagine what its polling must show when people actually understand the bill.

Jonathan Chait tries to explain to the Left for the umpteenth time why “even-handedness” doesn’t always work. You see, when Hamas is determined to eradicate Jews and destroy Israel, uses women and children as human shields, indoctrinates children with Islamic fundamentalism and engages in suicide bombing,  even-handedness isn’t appropriate. Actually, Chait should stop wasting his pixels on the Left and  spend some time explaining this to George Mitchell.

The executive order limiting CIA interrogators to the Army Field Manual isn’t exactly a break from the past and it certainly isn’t “transparent” : “The unfine print of Mr. Obama’s order is that he’s allowed room for what might be called a Jack Bauer exception. It creates a committee to study whether the Field Manual techniques are too limiting ‘when employed by departments or agencies outside the military.’ The Attorney General, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Director of National Intelligence-designate Dennis Blair will report back and offer ‘additional or different guidance for other departments or agencies.’ In other words, Mr. Obama’s Inaugural line that ‘we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals’ was itself misrepresenting the choices his predecessor was forced to make. At least President Bush was candid about the practical realities of preventing mass casualties in the U.S.” But you see the new President and all his supporters can feel so much better about themselves now.  (And it’s the Cheney Clause not the Jack Bauer exception.)

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