Commentary Magazine


Posts For: June 20, 2009

Very Concerned About Just Being “Very Concerned”

This is on the mark:

President Obama’s tepid response to the evidence the Iranian election was stolen from the people of that country by current president President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his thuggish allies is disappointing.

[. . .]

The president says he entertains “deep concerns about the election” in Iran. Well, who doesn’t? Expressing concern is “nice,” it’s “diplomatic”–in the worst sense–but it is not sufficient to the circumstance, as Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are reportedly arguing within the White House.

Hmm. Krauthammer? Kristol? Maybe McCain? No, it’s John Nichols of  the Nation. Not everyone on the Left made excuses and encouraged the president’s shabby performance this week. But perhaps if there had been fewer liberal apologists, the president and his spinners would have adjusted the White House rhetoric sooner so as not to fritter away the moral authority and political capital of the presidency just 6 months into office.

And now we see the latest from Iran:

The eyewitnesses described fierce clashes near Revolution Square in central Tehran after some 3,000 protesters chanted “Death to the dictator!” and “Death to dictatorship!” Police responded with tear gas and water cannons.

The witnesses told The Associated Press that between 50 and 60 protesters were seriously beaten by police and pro-government militia and taken to Imam Khomeini hospital in central Tehran. People could be seen dragging away comrades bloodied by baton strikes.

(And more pictures and coverage here.)

Finally, after these events and the chorus of criticism (plus Congressional action), the president has been forced to drop his studied neutrality, declaring the Iranian regime’s action to be “violent” and “unjust.” The New York Times reports:

“We mourn each and every innocent life that is lost,” he said, adding: “Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. The Iranian people will ultimately judge the actions of their own government. If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect the dignity of its own people and govern through consent, not coercion.

“Martin Luther King once said: ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’ ” I believe that. The international community believes that. And right now, we are bearing witness to the Iranian peoples’ belief in that truth, and we will continue to bear witness.”

This is belated but welcome. (For those keeping track, they may want to recall the statement which Joe Lieberman issued on June 14.) Perhaps after a whole week of cringe-inducing passivity,  saner voices prevailed upon the president. Maybe now the White House realizes it is time to get on the right side of history. And those apologists who cheered Obama’s paralysis will of course now celebrate the more robust language. This is what they wanted all along, right? Well, hardly, but the criticism of those conservatives and some brave Democrats who pleaded with the president to get off the fence will go down the memory hole. The president’s spinners now will no longer need to excuse the inexcusable. What a relief that must be.

This is on the mark:

President Obama’s tepid response to the evidence the Iranian election was stolen from the people of that country by current president President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his thuggish allies is disappointing.

[. . .]

The president says he entertains “deep concerns about the election” in Iran. Well, who doesn’t? Expressing concern is “nice,” it’s “diplomatic”–in the worst sense–but it is not sufficient to the circumstance, as Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are reportedly arguing within the White House.

Hmm. Krauthammer? Kristol? Maybe McCain? No, it’s John Nichols of  the Nation. Not everyone on the Left made excuses and encouraged the president’s shabby performance this week. But perhaps if there had been fewer liberal apologists, the president and his spinners would have adjusted the White House rhetoric sooner so as not to fritter away the moral authority and political capital of the presidency just 6 months into office.

And now we see the latest from Iran:

The eyewitnesses described fierce clashes near Revolution Square in central Tehran after some 3,000 protesters chanted “Death to the dictator!” and “Death to dictatorship!” Police responded with tear gas and water cannons.

The witnesses told The Associated Press that between 50 and 60 protesters were seriously beaten by police and pro-government militia and taken to Imam Khomeini hospital in central Tehran. People could be seen dragging away comrades bloodied by baton strikes.

(And more pictures and coverage here.)

Finally, after these events and the chorus of criticism (plus Congressional action), the president has been forced to drop his studied neutrality, declaring the Iranian regime’s action to be “violent” and “unjust.” The New York Times reports:

“We mourn each and every innocent life that is lost,” he said, adding: “Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. The Iranian people will ultimately judge the actions of their own government. If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect the dignity of its own people and govern through consent, not coercion.

“Martin Luther King once said: ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’ ” I believe that. The international community believes that. And right now, we are bearing witness to the Iranian peoples’ belief in that truth, and we will continue to bear witness.”

This is belated but welcome. (For those keeping track, they may want to recall the statement which Joe Lieberman issued on June 14.) Perhaps after a whole week of cringe-inducing passivity,  saner voices prevailed upon the president. Maybe now the White House realizes it is time to get on the right side of history. And those apologists who cheered Obama’s paralysis will of course now celebrate the more robust language. This is what they wanted all along, right? Well, hardly, but the criticism of those conservatives and some brave Democrats who pleaded with the president to get off the fence will go down the memory hole. The president’s spinners now will no longer need to excuse the inexcusable. What a relief that must be.

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School Reform In The Garden State

The New York Times tells us that in the New Jersey gubernatorial race:

[T]he sleeper issue is Mr. Christie’s push for education reform: merit pay for teachers, more charter schools, and above all, vouchers as a way to give poor and minority children better educational choices and create competition that would improve the public schools. Fighting for education reform also allows Mr. Christie, whose party affiliation is a liability in blue-leaning New Jersey, to align himself with Democrats.

Governor Corzine’s supporters, the Times said, “scoffed,” arguing that this doesn’t amount to much. They may have a point — with the unemployment and business failures spiking, a Corzine spending bonanza and resulting looming deficit, corruption and tax issues in the headlines day after day, school reform may not be all that high on the list of voters’ concerns.

But then again, consider what happened in Washington D.C. when the Congress and the president tried to kick poor kids out of the school voucher program. While the pictures of existing participants being booted from the program was particularly toxic, the issue did galvanize voters who ordinarily don’t come out in force together — inner city parents, conservative policy wonks, African American preachers, etc. The school issue has a way of emphasizing not simply one concern but a nexus of them: union loyalty vs. reform, business as usual vs. innovation, etc.

School reform may not be the only issue or even the top issue in the much-watch gubernatorial race but it may be worth observing for those assessing the public’s mood and voters’ willingness to put up with Big Labor’s influence in government. Stay tuned.

The New York Times tells us that in the New Jersey gubernatorial race:

[T]he sleeper issue is Mr. Christie’s push for education reform: merit pay for teachers, more charter schools, and above all, vouchers as a way to give poor and minority children better educational choices and create competition that would improve the public schools. Fighting for education reform also allows Mr. Christie, whose party affiliation is a liability in blue-leaning New Jersey, to align himself with Democrats.

Governor Corzine’s supporters, the Times said, “scoffed,” arguing that this doesn’t amount to much. They may have a point — with the unemployment and business failures spiking, a Corzine spending bonanza and resulting looming deficit, corruption and tax issues in the headlines day after day, school reform may not be all that high on the list of voters’ concerns.

But then again, consider what happened in Washington D.C. when the Congress and the president tried to kick poor kids out of the school voucher program. While the pictures of existing participants being booted from the program was particularly toxic, the issue did galvanize voters who ordinarily don’t come out in force together — inner city parents, conservative policy wonks, African American preachers, etc. The school issue has a way of emphasizing not simply one concern but a nexus of them: union loyalty vs. reform, business as usual vs. innovation, etc.

School reform may not be the only issue or even the top issue in the much-watch gubernatorial race but it may be worth observing for those assessing the public’s mood and voters’ willingness to put up with Big Labor’s influence in government. Stay tuned.

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Obama’s New Historic First: Indifference to Revolution

The Islamic Republic of Iran shares a rare and important trait with both the United States and Israel: it is a country founded on an idea. Moreover the idea is an aspirational one: to spread the Khomeinist interpretation of Shia Islam far and wide. Collective aspiration makes a country potent if not exactly strong. Iranians’ ubiquitous and hallowed enthusiasm for a nuclear bomb is hard to imagine in a country thrown up around bloodlines, like Saudi Arabia, or determined by tribal relations and geography, like Afghanistan. In opposing the mullahs, the challenge is to undermine the country’s founding idea. There is no doubt that the green-clad protesters in the streets of Tehran are doing this, even while they chant Allahu Akbar and embrace a man who will, in all likelihood, not veer from Iran’s nuclear quest.

Consider the movement’s “7-Point Manifesto”:

1. Stripping Ayatollah Khamenei of his supreme leadership position because of his unfairness. Fairness is a requirement of a supreme leader.

2. Stripping Ahmadinejad of the presidency, due to his unlawful act of maintaining the position illegally.

3. Transferring temporary supreme leadership position to Ayatollah Hussein-Ali Montazery until the formation of a committee to reevaluate and adjust Iran’s constitution.

4. Recognizing Mir Hossein Mousavi as the rightfully elected president of the people.

5. Formation of a new government by President Mousavi and preparation for the implementation of new constitutional amendments.

6. Unconditional release of all political prisoners regardless of ideology or party platform.

7. Dissolution of all organizations – both secret and public – designed for the oppression of the Iranian people, such as the Gasht Ershad (Iranian morality police).

The majority of the points (3, 5, 6, and 7) are fundamentally subversive and haven’t a thing to do with the “elections.” Yet Barack Obama is still talking about recounts and engagement. Pundits speak as if only hawkishness can become dogmatic, but the U.S. is dealing itself out of an anti-Khomeinist revolution because of the administration’s fanatical “realism.”

Since Obama’s featherweight denunciation of “the violence” in Iran, the regime’s brutality has grown ten-fold. Yesterday, Ayatollah Khamenei promised “bloodshed” if riots continue. Today, protesters were bombarded with tear gas and water cannons. Tomorrow, who knows? If Khamenei succeeds in stopping the riots it will be because of the implementation of deadly force. After that, the American administration will return to failed engagement with a regime that’s doubled down on human rights abuse and theocratic tyranny. If there is any truth to the claim that Obama has affected a thaw in American-Muslim relations, it will have evaporated once Iran’s defeated democrats see him praise their tormentors.

And if you want to know just how inept our secretary of state is, here is her most recent (three days ago) contribution to the discussion: “I wouldn’t know a Twitter from a tweeter, but apparently, it is very important.”

Barack Obama told the rioters that the eyes of the world were on them. That was so, until Tehran obstructed our vision by shutting down foreign media and arresting domestic journalists. Dogged followers are still trying to make sense of the scattershot coverage and amateur accounts, but major American networks seem already to be experiencing riot fatigue. As the House and Senate have both passed resolutions condemning Tehran, the eyes of the world are increasingly focused on President Obama. After all, it is an astounding thing to see an administration sleepwalk through a revolution.

The Islamic Republic of Iran shares a rare and important trait with both the United States and Israel: it is a country founded on an idea. Moreover the idea is an aspirational one: to spread the Khomeinist interpretation of Shia Islam far and wide. Collective aspiration makes a country potent if not exactly strong. Iranians’ ubiquitous and hallowed enthusiasm for a nuclear bomb is hard to imagine in a country thrown up around bloodlines, like Saudi Arabia, or determined by tribal relations and geography, like Afghanistan. In opposing the mullahs, the challenge is to undermine the country’s founding idea. There is no doubt that the green-clad protesters in the streets of Tehran are doing this, even while they chant Allahu Akbar and embrace a man who will, in all likelihood, not veer from Iran’s nuclear quest.

Consider the movement’s “7-Point Manifesto”:

1. Stripping Ayatollah Khamenei of his supreme leadership position because of his unfairness. Fairness is a requirement of a supreme leader.

2. Stripping Ahmadinejad of the presidency, due to his unlawful act of maintaining the position illegally.

3. Transferring temporary supreme leadership position to Ayatollah Hussein-Ali Montazery until the formation of a committee to reevaluate and adjust Iran’s constitution.

4. Recognizing Mir Hossein Mousavi as the rightfully elected president of the people.

5. Formation of a new government by President Mousavi and preparation for the implementation of new constitutional amendments.

6. Unconditional release of all political prisoners regardless of ideology or party platform.

7. Dissolution of all organizations – both secret and public – designed for the oppression of the Iranian people, such as the Gasht Ershad (Iranian morality police).

The majority of the points (3, 5, 6, and 7) are fundamentally subversive and haven’t a thing to do with the “elections.” Yet Barack Obama is still talking about recounts and engagement. Pundits speak as if only hawkishness can become dogmatic, but the U.S. is dealing itself out of an anti-Khomeinist revolution because of the administration’s fanatical “realism.”

Since Obama’s featherweight denunciation of “the violence” in Iran, the regime’s brutality has grown ten-fold. Yesterday, Ayatollah Khamenei promised “bloodshed” if riots continue. Today, protesters were bombarded with tear gas and water cannons. Tomorrow, who knows? If Khamenei succeeds in stopping the riots it will be because of the implementation of deadly force. After that, the American administration will return to failed engagement with a regime that’s doubled down on human rights abuse and theocratic tyranny. If there is any truth to the claim that Obama has affected a thaw in American-Muslim relations, it will have evaporated once Iran’s defeated democrats see him praise their tormentors.

And if you want to know just how inept our secretary of state is, here is her most recent (three days ago) contribution to the discussion: “I wouldn’t know a Twitter from a tweeter, but apparently, it is very important.”

Barack Obama told the rioters that the eyes of the world were on them. That was so, until Tehran obstructed our vision by shutting down foreign media and arresting domestic journalists. Dogged followers are still trying to make sense of the scattershot coverage and amateur accounts, but major American networks seem already to be experiencing riot fatigue. As the House and Senate have both passed resolutions condemning Tehran, the eyes of the world are increasingly focused on President Obama. After all, it is an astounding thing to see an administration sleepwalk through a revolution.

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The Pre-June 12 Mindset

As Daniel Patrick Moynihan said: everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts. Whatever position one takes on the U.S. stance on Iran and whatever one thinks of our ability to affect events there, we should be honest about what is occurring inside the heretofore Islamic revolutionary state and what the stakes are. Filling a gaping void in much of the coverage Reuel Marc Gerecht’s must-read piece explains what is transpiring — and what could transpire — in Iran:

Khamenei acted so crudely and rashly on June 12 because he’d already seen this movie. What’s happening in Iran now is all about democracy, about the contradictory and chaotic bedfellows that it makes, about the questioning of authority and the personal curiosity that it unleashes. Khamenei knows what George H.W. Bush’s “realist” national security adviser Brent Scowcroft surely knows, too: Democracy in Iran implies regime change.

[. . .]

It’s not difficult to foresee the Islamic Republic spiritually unraveling. If it does, the most important experiment of Islamist ideology since the birth of the Muslim Brotherhood will have proven itself–to its own people, to the clerical guardians of the faith, and to the world–a -failure. Unless Mousavi withdraws and leads his followers in a renewed quietist retreat, the Islamic revolution, which shook the Muslim world 30 years ago, will now become either a real laboratory of democracy or a crude and violent dictatorship that might rival the Baathist regimes of Iraq and Syria in its savagery. Either outcome would be momentous.

It’s a pity that President Obama has trapped himself in a doomed outreach to Khamenei. Even if Mousavi wins the present tug-of-war, he’ll probably support Iran’s continued development of nuclear weapons. He was in office when the Islamic Republic first became serious about building the bomb; his powerful backer, Rafsanjani, is the true father of the nuclear program; and there is little reason why Mousavi would want to anger a pro-nuclear Revolutionary Guard Corps that had refrained from downing him.

[. . .]

The principal issue right now inside Iran isn’t the nuclear question. It’s what it has been since Khomeini died: How do you escape from a religious revolution? Mousavi might, just might, have an answer.

To say then that there is no difference between Mousavi and Ahmadinejad now that a revolution is underway reflects a stubborn refusal to see what is unfolding. What started out as a choice between two pre-selected candidates has morphed into a battle for the future of Iran and of the survival of the Islamic revolutionary state. We’re not sure what would come after the mullah’s despotic regime, but everyone on the planet can now seen the true face of that regime, which, if it survives, will only become more aggressive, defensive and brutal in the aftermath of a crackdown.

When the president speaks as if everything will simply pick up where we left off after the dust settles and the blood dries he expresses his obtuseness (both moral and strategic). Either way, what emerges on the other side won’t resemble the pre-June 12 Iran. And that is because, as he suggested, the whole world has been watching.

As Daniel Patrick Moynihan said: everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts. Whatever position one takes on the U.S. stance on Iran and whatever one thinks of our ability to affect events there, we should be honest about what is occurring inside the heretofore Islamic revolutionary state and what the stakes are. Filling a gaping void in much of the coverage Reuel Marc Gerecht’s must-read piece explains what is transpiring — and what could transpire — in Iran:

Khamenei acted so crudely and rashly on June 12 because he’d already seen this movie. What’s happening in Iran now is all about democracy, about the contradictory and chaotic bedfellows that it makes, about the questioning of authority and the personal curiosity that it unleashes. Khamenei knows what George H.W. Bush’s “realist” national security adviser Brent Scowcroft surely knows, too: Democracy in Iran implies regime change.

[. . .]

It’s not difficult to foresee the Islamic Republic spiritually unraveling. If it does, the most important experiment of Islamist ideology since the birth of the Muslim Brotherhood will have proven itself–to its own people, to the clerical guardians of the faith, and to the world–a -failure. Unless Mousavi withdraws and leads his followers in a renewed quietist retreat, the Islamic revolution, which shook the Muslim world 30 years ago, will now become either a real laboratory of democracy or a crude and violent dictatorship that might rival the Baathist regimes of Iraq and Syria in its savagery. Either outcome would be momentous.

It’s a pity that President Obama has trapped himself in a doomed outreach to Khamenei. Even if Mousavi wins the present tug-of-war, he’ll probably support Iran’s continued development of nuclear weapons. He was in office when the Islamic Republic first became serious about building the bomb; his powerful backer, Rafsanjani, is the true father of the nuclear program; and there is little reason why Mousavi would want to anger a pro-nuclear Revolutionary Guard Corps that had refrained from downing him.

[. . .]

The principal issue right now inside Iran isn’t the nuclear question. It’s what it has been since Khomeini died: How do you escape from a religious revolution? Mousavi might, just might, have an answer.

To say then that there is no difference between Mousavi and Ahmadinejad now that a revolution is underway reflects a stubborn refusal to see what is unfolding. What started out as a choice between two pre-selected candidates has morphed into a battle for the future of Iran and of the survival of the Islamic revolutionary state. We’re not sure what would come after the mullah’s despotic regime, but everyone on the planet can now seen the true face of that regime, which, if it survives, will only become more aggressive, defensive and brutal in the aftermath of a crackdown.

When the president speaks as if everything will simply pick up where we left off after the dust settles and the blood dries he expresses his obtuseness (both moral and strategic). Either way, what emerges on the other side won’t resemble the pre-June 12 Iran. And that is because, as he suggested, the whole world has been watching.

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Quit on a Friday Afternoon, Bury the News

Late on Friday afternoon — the traditional dumping time for distasteful news — Sotomayor quit her all-female club. She doesn’t want it to be a “distraction,” she says. Uh huh. But really, if it is all on the up-and-up why would she quit?

The real issue was her justification for membership, which only served to re-enforce her pattern of victim-mongering: those who aren’t white males have special status because of past wrongs and therefore don’t have to abide by the same rules regarding those in the majority. That’s how she comes to the conclusion that her membership in an elite female club figuratively posting a “no men allowed” sign didn’t really violate the judicial code of conduct barring membership in clubs which practice invidious discrimination.

That is a subject for further inquiry by the Senate: what does she think invidious discrimination is? One suspects she doesn’t think white males can ever be the victims of invidious discrimination. That’s how we got the result in Ricci — a back-of-the-hand dismissal of a white firefighter’s claim. His claim to a promotion on the merits is subsumed to the “noble” efforts of the city to maintain a particular racial mix  — and kept the NAACP and other groups off the city officials’ backs. That same perspective accounts for her touting the wisdom of Latina judges over those of their white, male colleagues. The former have some enhanced status simply because of their minority status. And of course this fits nicely with the PRLDEF agenda — one devoted to multiculturalism, quotas, preferences, attacks on hiring by merit and the like. In all of these white men get the short end of the stick. One suspects her attitude is: “What of it?”

It is all consistent and all disturbing. Sotomayor can resign from her club, but she has a career, speeches and views that won’t be so easily discarded. The Senate needs to ask some hard questions.

Late on Friday afternoon — the traditional dumping time for distasteful news — Sotomayor quit her all-female club. She doesn’t want it to be a “distraction,” she says. Uh huh. But really, if it is all on the up-and-up why would she quit?

The real issue was her justification for membership, which only served to re-enforce her pattern of victim-mongering: those who aren’t white males have special status because of past wrongs and therefore don’t have to abide by the same rules regarding those in the majority. That’s how she comes to the conclusion that her membership in an elite female club figuratively posting a “no men allowed” sign didn’t really violate the judicial code of conduct barring membership in clubs which practice invidious discrimination.

That is a subject for further inquiry by the Senate: what does she think invidious discrimination is? One suspects she doesn’t think white males can ever be the victims of invidious discrimination. That’s how we got the result in Ricci — a back-of-the-hand dismissal of a white firefighter’s claim. His claim to a promotion on the merits is subsumed to the “noble” efforts of the city to maintain a particular racial mix  — and kept the NAACP and other groups off the city officials’ backs. That same perspective accounts for her touting the wisdom of Latina judges over those of their white, male colleagues. The former have some enhanced status simply because of their minority status. And of course this fits nicely with the PRLDEF agenda — one devoted to multiculturalism, quotas, preferences, attacks on hiring by merit and the like. In all of these white men get the short end of the stick. One suspects her attitude is: “What of it?”

It is all consistent and all disturbing. Sotomayor can resign from her club, but she has a career, speeches and views that won’t be so easily discarded. The Senate needs to ask some hard questions.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

David Broder makes the case that President Obama misses George W. Bush. Yes, running against an unpopular president was far easier than being president, it turns out.

Mickey Kaus takes aim: “WaPo media critic Howard ‘I’m A Star–The Rules Don’t Apply to Me’ Kurtz, who failed to disclose that he is paid by CNN when he defended CNN in an online chat this week. . . My beef with Kurtz isn’t so much that he has a giant crippling conflict of interest (one that would never be tolerated for a Post reporter writing about, say, GM). It’s that he has a giant crippling conflict of interest while he runs around chastising other journalists for minor conflicts of interest. Franklin Foer called him an ‘East German figure skating judge.'”

The White House declares itself “not hysterical” that healthcare, as a Senate Democratic “senior advisor” told CNN, is “on the rocks.”

Climate change legislation seems also to be on the rocks. But it doesn’t appear anyone cares.

When Obama promised we could keep our coverage under ObamaCare he didn’t really mean to guarantee we could keep our coverage under ObamaCare. (h/t Ramesh Ponnuru) “The last thing Obama wants is a groundswell of opposition, driven by Americans’ fears of being forced to change their insurance or losing it.” So better to give them a fake guarantee.

The reality: “The president is barnstorming the nation, urging swift approval of legislation that is taking shape in Congress. This legislation — the Affordable Health Choices Act that’s being drafted by Sen. Edward Kennedy’s staff and the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee — will push Americans into stingy insurance plans with tight, HMO-style controls. It specifically exempts members of Congress (along with federal employees; the exemptions are in section 3116).”

Jim Hoagland on the myopia afflicting the White House: “They cling to their pre-election ideas and assumptions, acting above all to keep alive Obama’s chances for a nuclear deal with any government that sits in Tehran.”

Ron Paul, the sole “no” vote on the House resoltuion in support of the Iranian protesters: “I have admired President Obama’s cautious approach to the situation in Iran and I would have preferred that we in the House had acted similarly.” Chas Freeman has liked Obama’s caution as well. 405 Congressmen, the U.S. Senate, and the twittering protesters in Iran? Not so much.

Not dead yet: “A key House defense authorizer on Thursday predicted that Congress will likely fund as many as 20 more F-22 Raptor fighter jets, despite the Obama administration deciding to put the kibosh on the Lockheed Martin contract after the 187th airplane is delivered.”

Rich Lowry is right: Obama talks more sweetly to Iran than to Israel. “Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei gets a rhetorical pass that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doesn’t.”

Claudia Rosett argues that “whatever Obama’s reasons for casting himself as U.S. Couch-Potato-in-Chief while protesters bleed in the streets of Iran, he’s making a horrific mistake in choosing that role. In matters vital to American security, he’s passing up a prime chance to start filling those big shoes he won in America’s presidential race by promising ‘hope’ and ‘change.’ More broadly, Obama is underscoring a sorry message to democratic dissidents living under tyrannies everywhere, Iran included: That America is no longer all that engaged with their cause. Washington is more interested in engaging with, and thus shoring up, their rulers.”

The Virginia GOP hassles Gov. Tim Kaine about his travels since he is juggling his state duties with DNC Chair. Not clear why the Virginia GOP is bothering since Kaine isn’t on the ballot.

David Broder makes the case that President Obama misses George W. Bush. Yes, running against an unpopular president was far easier than being president, it turns out.

Mickey Kaus takes aim: “WaPo media critic Howard ‘I’m A Star–The Rules Don’t Apply to Me’ Kurtz, who failed to disclose that he is paid by CNN when he defended CNN in an online chat this week. . . My beef with Kurtz isn’t so much that he has a giant crippling conflict of interest (one that would never be tolerated for a Post reporter writing about, say, GM). It’s that he has a giant crippling conflict of interest while he runs around chastising other journalists for minor conflicts of interest. Franklin Foer called him an ‘East German figure skating judge.'”

The White House declares itself “not hysterical” that healthcare, as a Senate Democratic “senior advisor” told CNN, is “on the rocks.”

Climate change legislation seems also to be on the rocks. But it doesn’t appear anyone cares.

When Obama promised we could keep our coverage under ObamaCare he didn’t really mean to guarantee we could keep our coverage under ObamaCare. (h/t Ramesh Ponnuru) “The last thing Obama wants is a groundswell of opposition, driven by Americans’ fears of being forced to change their insurance or losing it.” So better to give them a fake guarantee.

The reality: “The president is barnstorming the nation, urging swift approval of legislation that is taking shape in Congress. This legislation — the Affordable Health Choices Act that’s being drafted by Sen. Edward Kennedy’s staff and the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee — will push Americans into stingy insurance plans with tight, HMO-style controls. It specifically exempts members of Congress (along with federal employees; the exemptions are in section 3116).”

Jim Hoagland on the myopia afflicting the White House: “They cling to their pre-election ideas and assumptions, acting above all to keep alive Obama’s chances for a nuclear deal with any government that sits in Tehran.”

Ron Paul, the sole “no” vote on the House resoltuion in support of the Iranian protesters: “I have admired President Obama’s cautious approach to the situation in Iran and I would have preferred that we in the House had acted similarly.” Chas Freeman has liked Obama’s caution as well. 405 Congressmen, the U.S. Senate, and the twittering protesters in Iran? Not so much.

Not dead yet: “A key House defense authorizer on Thursday predicted that Congress will likely fund as many as 20 more F-22 Raptor fighter jets, despite the Obama administration deciding to put the kibosh on the Lockheed Martin contract after the 187th airplane is delivered.”

Rich Lowry is right: Obama talks more sweetly to Iran than to Israel. “Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei gets a rhetorical pass that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doesn’t.”

Claudia Rosett argues that “whatever Obama’s reasons for casting himself as U.S. Couch-Potato-in-Chief while protesters bleed in the streets of Iran, he’s making a horrific mistake in choosing that role. In matters vital to American security, he’s passing up a prime chance to start filling those big shoes he won in America’s presidential race by promising ‘hope’ and ‘change.’ More broadly, Obama is underscoring a sorry message to democratic dissidents living under tyrannies everywhere, Iran included: That America is no longer all that engaged with their cause. Washington is more interested in engaging with, and thus shoring up, their rulers.”

The Virginia GOP hassles Gov. Tim Kaine about his travels since he is juggling his state duties with DNC Chair. Not clear why the Virginia GOP is bothering since Kaine isn’t on the ballot.

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