Commentary Magazine


Posts For: November 9, 2009

Averting Their Eyes, Still

The Washington Post reports:

The Army psychiatrist suspected of killing 12 soldiers and a civilian here last week was in e-mail contact earlier this year with a radical cleric in Yemen who has decried what he calls America’s war against Islam, a federal law enforcement official said Monday.

We also learned that there were “10 and 20 e-mails from Maj. Nidal M. Hasan to Anwar al-Aulaqi, a U.S. citizen who once was a spiritual leader at the suburban Virginia mosque where Hasan had worshipped.” And who is the cleric?

Aulaqi, an American-born Muslim prayer leader, wrote in a blog posting Monday, that Hasan was “a hero” and a “man of conscience who could not bear living the contradiction of being a Muslim and serving in an army that is fighting against his own people.” He praised “the virtue” of the Fort Hood shooting and said the only way a Muslim could justify serving in the U.S. Army was if he intended to “follow in the footsteps of men like Nidal.”

Aulaqi preached at the Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Falls Church, Va., when Hasan was attending it in 2001. U.S. authorities say Aulaqi, who left the United States in 2002 and later settled in Yemen, has become a supporter and leading promoter of al-Qaeda.

Of course, this complicates the “stress made him do it” theory. He wasn’t reaching out to a mental-health guru or to Oprah. The president, who had all the facts he needed to conclude that Professor Skip Gates had been racially profiled, isn’t drawing any conclusions. Is it terrorism? Well, it depends.

If you prefer some clear-eyed, straight talk on the matter, Cliff May offers this compelling take: “I think our working assumption has to be that what took place at Fort Hood was an act of treachery and asymmetrical warfare, an act — in the eyes of the perpetrator — of jihad on behalf of Islamist terrorists. ” After all, Hasan’s state of mind is what matters, right? We can construct excuses or explanations after the fact, but he’s already told us what he was up to (“Allahu Akbar!”).

The sooner Obama and his sound-bite-prepped team stop playing dumb and offer some candid assessment, the sooner Americans will be reassured that their leaders are not, as Gen. Casey declared, more interested in “diversity” than in saving lives.

The Washington Post reports:

The Army psychiatrist suspected of killing 12 soldiers and a civilian here last week was in e-mail contact earlier this year with a radical cleric in Yemen who has decried what he calls America’s war against Islam, a federal law enforcement official said Monday.

We also learned that there were “10 and 20 e-mails from Maj. Nidal M. Hasan to Anwar al-Aulaqi, a U.S. citizen who once was a spiritual leader at the suburban Virginia mosque where Hasan had worshipped.” And who is the cleric?

Aulaqi, an American-born Muslim prayer leader, wrote in a blog posting Monday, that Hasan was “a hero” and a “man of conscience who could not bear living the contradiction of being a Muslim and serving in an army that is fighting against his own people.” He praised “the virtue” of the Fort Hood shooting and said the only way a Muslim could justify serving in the U.S. Army was if he intended to “follow in the footsteps of men like Nidal.”

Aulaqi preached at the Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Falls Church, Va., when Hasan was attending it in 2001. U.S. authorities say Aulaqi, who left the United States in 2002 and later settled in Yemen, has become a supporter and leading promoter of al-Qaeda.

Of course, this complicates the “stress made him do it” theory. He wasn’t reaching out to a mental-health guru or to Oprah. The president, who had all the facts he needed to conclude that Professor Skip Gates had been racially profiled, isn’t drawing any conclusions. Is it terrorism? Well, it depends.

If you prefer some clear-eyed, straight talk on the matter, Cliff May offers this compelling take: “I think our working assumption has to be that what took place at Fort Hood was an act of treachery and asymmetrical warfare, an act — in the eyes of the perpetrator — of jihad on behalf of Islamist terrorists. ” After all, Hasan’s state of mind is what matters, right? We can construct excuses or explanations after the fact, but he’s already told us what he was up to (“Allahu Akbar!”).

The sooner Obama and his sound-bite-prepped team stop playing dumb and offer some candid assessment, the sooner Americans will be reassured that their leaders are not, as Gen. Casey declared, more interested in “diversity” than in saving lives.

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Won’t You Let COMMENTARY Take You on a Sea Cruise?

The world’s most important issues, the world’s most beautiful setting, and some of the world’s more interesting people — that’s what’s on the agenda if you decide to join us for the First COMMENTARY Conference of Ideas from August 4-August 11 aboard the Regent Seven Seas Navigator as it sails through the waters of Alaska. We’ll talk about Iran, Israel, the 2010 elections, the state of Western culture, the condition of Western civilization, and what’s liable to pop up in 2012 with such notables as Elliott Abrams, former chief Mideast hand at the White House; the Wall Street Journal columnist nonpareil Bret Stephens; Norman Podhoretz and Midge Decter; our lead blogger, Jennifer Rubin; the knows-everything-about-everything talk-show host and author Michael Medved; and the brilliant World War II historian Andrew Roberts. I’ll be there too. You’ll hear talks and panel discussions; mix and mingle with fellow thinkers from across the country; dine every night with the speakers; and have plenty of time to see the sights in and around North America’s most gorgeous terrain. You can learn more about the COMMENTARY Conference of Ideas by clicking here.

The world’s most important issues, the world’s most beautiful setting, and some of the world’s more interesting people — that’s what’s on the agenda if you decide to join us for the First COMMENTARY Conference of Ideas from August 4-August 11 aboard the Regent Seven Seas Navigator as it sails through the waters of Alaska. We’ll talk about Iran, Israel, the 2010 elections, the state of Western culture, the condition of Western civilization, and what’s liable to pop up in 2012 with such notables as Elliott Abrams, former chief Mideast hand at the White House; the Wall Street Journal columnist nonpareil Bret Stephens; Norman Podhoretz and Midge Decter; our lead blogger, Jennifer Rubin; the knows-everything-about-everything talk-show host and author Michael Medved; and the brilliant World War II historian Andrew Roberts. I’ll be there too. You’ll hear talks and panel discussions; mix and mingle with fellow thinkers from across the country; dine every night with the speakers; and have plenty of time to see the sights in and around North America’s most gorgeous terrain. You can learn more about the COMMENTARY Conference of Ideas by clicking here.

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Will They Use the Time Wisely?

Politico reports:

After adding Fort Hood to his schedule and sending Rahm Emanuel to stand in for him at the UJC/Jewish Federations conference tomorrow, Barack Obama has added a stop-by to a UJC reception this afternoon to his schedule, the White House announced.

Well, the timing could not be better. Might some in attendance query Obama on how his settlement-freeze gambit worked out? Perhaps there’s a bold soul willing to ask the president why America is now in the business of extracting concessions from the Israeli prime minister in exchange for a meeting. Or there might be a few in attendance who’d like to know why we can’t take no for an answer from the Supreme Leader on an Iranian enrichment deal and what the president intends to do about it.

The mainstream Jewish community bought Obama’s campaign pitch hook, line, and sinker. He was in his heart a Zionist (a camp counselor was so very influential in his thinking, we were told). He was for a day committed to an undivided Jerusalem. And he was not going to tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran. All that and more convinced 78 percent of American Jews to cast their ballots for a figure who had little record on Israel and much in his background to give them pause (e.g., Reverend Wright). But now Obama has a record. He has spoken clearly that the problem with the Bush administration was its excessive closeness to Israel. He’s gone about fixing that one.

And what will the American Jewish “leaders” say now? It’s a critical time in the relationship between Israel and the U.S. and a moment in which an existential threat to Israel is plain for all to see — that is, all who want to see. They would do well to use their wine and cheese time to make their views known and to advise the president that, like all leaders, he deserves to be judged on his actions, which in this case should leave American Jews quite troubled. His record is one of hostility toward Israel, poor judgment, and abject failure when it comes to the Middle East. The candid evaluation of American Jewish “leaders” is long overdue.

Politico reports:

After adding Fort Hood to his schedule and sending Rahm Emanuel to stand in for him at the UJC/Jewish Federations conference tomorrow, Barack Obama has added a stop-by to a UJC reception this afternoon to his schedule, the White House announced.

Well, the timing could not be better. Might some in attendance query Obama on how his settlement-freeze gambit worked out? Perhaps there’s a bold soul willing to ask the president why America is now in the business of extracting concessions from the Israeli prime minister in exchange for a meeting. Or there might be a few in attendance who’d like to know why we can’t take no for an answer from the Supreme Leader on an Iranian enrichment deal and what the president intends to do about it.

The mainstream Jewish community bought Obama’s campaign pitch hook, line, and sinker. He was in his heart a Zionist (a camp counselor was so very influential in his thinking, we were told). He was for a day committed to an undivided Jerusalem. And he was not going to tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran. All that and more convinced 78 percent of American Jews to cast their ballots for a figure who had little record on Israel and much in his background to give them pause (e.g., Reverend Wright). But now Obama has a record. He has spoken clearly that the problem with the Bush administration was its excessive closeness to Israel. He’s gone about fixing that one.

And what will the American Jewish “leaders” say now? It’s a critical time in the relationship between Israel and the U.S. and a moment in which an existential threat to Israel is plain for all to see — that is, all who want to see. They would do well to use their wine and cheese time to make their views known and to advise the president that, like all leaders, he deserves to be judged on his actions, which in this case should leave American Jews quite troubled. His record is one of hostility toward Israel, poor judgment, and abject failure when it comes to the Middle East. The candid evaluation of American Jewish “leaders” is long overdue.

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Checkmating Ourselves

Middle Eastern media (Beirut-Online, Tehran Times) are picking up on the money quote from IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei in Roger Cohen’s November 5 puff piece. According to the Nobel laureate, who turns over IAEA’s reins at the end of the month, the agency’s inspectors found “nothing to be worried about” at Iran’s Fordo nuclear site near Qom, which Obama announced as a target of suspicion on September 25. “The idea was to use it as a bunker under the mountain to protect things. It’s a hole in the mountain.”

Well, of course it is. A nuclear site dug into a mountain, during the period when it contains no uranium-processing equipment yet, is in fact a hole in the mountain. This tautological proposition could have been stipulated in advance. The IAEA’s predictable findings, which will be reported by mid-November, should not further retard the momentum of the multilateral effort to interdict Iran’s nuclear program. But because of the disproportionate political significance Obama has attached to the Fordo site, they probably will.

The farcical sideshow with the Fordo site is reminiscent of another poorly played counter-proliferation hand: the Clinton administration’s, involving North Korean excavation at Kumchang-ni in the 1990s. The intelligence was much more than merely the defector testimony cited dismissively by critical journalists. The work on the site was done by the same North Korean agency that built the Yongbyon nuclear facility, and the preparations for electric power and physical security at the site were well beyond the requirements of an agricultural storage bunker.

But when inspectors were finally admitted to Kumchang-ni in 1999, they famously discovered only an elaborate network of “empty tunnels” with some grain stored in them. Clinton’s representatives thanked Pyongyang for its cooperation and dispatched a shipment of goods under the 1994 Agreed Framework. Journalists have been crowing about this “intelligence failure” ever since, using it to cast doubt on preemptive strikes in Iraq and Syria.

Of course, Kumchang-ni’s empty tunnels didn’t mean that the threat of the North Korean nuclear program was exaggerated, any more than Fordo being a hole in the mountain means Iran’s is. We can note that additional intelligence on Kumchang-ni, which inspectors have not visited since 2000, suggests it is used to vent exhaust from an underground uranium-milling facility in nearby Mount Chonma. It doesn’t matter at this point, however, whether inspections slowed down Pyongyang’s progress or caused Kumchang-ni to be repurposed. North Korea, in spite of years of negotiations and agreements, has now twice detonated a nuclear device. The main difference between Fordo and Kumchang-ni is that Iran has had, and continues to have, a lot more help with its nuclear program than North Korea gets.

Middle Eastern media (Beirut-Online, Tehran Times) are picking up on the money quote from IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei in Roger Cohen’s November 5 puff piece. According to the Nobel laureate, who turns over IAEA’s reins at the end of the month, the agency’s inspectors found “nothing to be worried about” at Iran’s Fordo nuclear site near Qom, which Obama announced as a target of suspicion on September 25. “The idea was to use it as a bunker under the mountain to protect things. It’s a hole in the mountain.”

Well, of course it is. A nuclear site dug into a mountain, during the period when it contains no uranium-processing equipment yet, is in fact a hole in the mountain. This tautological proposition could have been stipulated in advance. The IAEA’s predictable findings, which will be reported by mid-November, should not further retard the momentum of the multilateral effort to interdict Iran’s nuclear program. But because of the disproportionate political significance Obama has attached to the Fordo site, they probably will.

The farcical sideshow with the Fordo site is reminiscent of another poorly played counter-proliferation hand: the Clinton administration’s, involving North Korean excavation at Kumchang-ni in the 1990s. The intelligence was much more than merely the defector testimony cited dismissively by critical journalists. The work on the site was done by the same North Korean agency that built the Yongbyon nuclear facility, and the preparations for electric power and physical security at the site were well beyond the requirements of an agricultural storage bunker.

But when inspectors were finally admitted to Kumchang-ni in 1999, they famously discovered only an elaborate network of “empty tunnels” with some grain stored in them. Clinton’s representatives thanked Pyongyang for its cooperation and dispatched a shipment of goods under the 1994 Agreed Framework. Journalists have been crowing about this “intelligence failure” ever since, using it to cast doubt on preemptive strikes in Iraq and Syria.

Of course, Kumchang-ni’s empty tunnels didn’t mean that the threat of the North Korean nuclear program was exaggerated, any more than Fordo being a hole in the mountain means Iran’s is. We can note that additional intelligence on Kumchang-ni, which inspectors have not visited since 2000, suggests it is used to vent exhaust from an underground uranium-milling facility in nearby Mount Chonma. It doesn’t matter at this point, however, whether inspections slowed down Pyongyang’s progress or caused Kumchang-ni to be repurposed. North Korea, in spite of years of negotiations and agreements, has now twice detonated a nuclear device. The main difference between Fordo and Kumchang-ni is that Iran has had, and continues to have, a lot more help with its nuclear program than North Korea gets.

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The Times Indulges a Palestinian Temper Tantrum

With Bibi Netanyahu and Barack Obama slated to meet this evening, the New York Times has splashed a story written in a tone of deep alarm across the front of its website: “Collapse Feared for Palestinian Authority if Abbas Resigns.”

The central theme is: He really means it this time! He’s gonna quit! And it’s Israel’s fault! The true purpose of the piece is to ensure that Obama and Netanyahu do nothing but discuss the condition of Mahmoud Abbas’s tenure as president of the Palestinian Authority. Because they have so little else to talk about. Like Iran. Nothing to talk about there.

Ethan Bronner assumes a startlingly inappropriate tone in this article — an elegiac, mournful spirit:

The prospect that the Palestinian Authority, the government in the West Bank, might fall apart loomed on Monday, as those close to its president, Mahmoud Abbas, said that he intended to resign and forecast that others would follow. “I think he is realizing that he came all this way with the peace process in order to create a Palestinian state, but he sees no state coming,” Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian peace negotiator, said in an interview. “So he really doesn’t think there is a need to be president or to have an Authority. This is not about who is going to replace him. This is about our leaving our posts. You think anybody will stay after he leaves?”

Mr. Abbas warned last week that he would not participate in elections he called for January. But many viewed that as a ploy by a Hamlet-like leader upset over Israeli and American policy, and noted that the vote might not actually be held, given the Palestinian political fracture and the unwillingness of Hamas, which controls Gaza, to participate. In the days since, however, his colleagues have come to believe he is not bluffing. If that is the case, they say, the Palestinian Authority could be endangered.

Evidently the crime of the Israelis is that, as Bronner writes, Netanyahu wants “negotiations without preconditions.” Usually in a negotiation, that would be considered a good thing. But not in this negotiation, because in this negotiation, Israel is supposed to come to the table having already agreed to the creation of a Palestinian state “within the 1967 borders and Jerusalem.” Netanyahu, Bronner writes, “declined” this preposterous demand of Hillary Clinton’s — preposterous because the idea that Israel would agree to surrender parts of Jerusalem and would preemptively agree to the loss of neighborhoods like Maale Adumim even before talks commenced is to presume magic fairy dust has been sprinkled upon the land of milk and honey and caused pacific and loving feelings to swell within the breasts of both parties.

This is not an article about Abbas and the tragic possibility of his early departure along with Saeb Erekat, a mouthpiece propagandist who is a Palestinian “peace negotiator” like I am a Jewish “pentathlete.” This is an article intended by design to overshadow the meeting of the American president and the Israeli prime minister and to make the “collapse” of the ineffectual and dishonest Palestinian Authority leadership the news of the day. It has the quality of an indulgent babysitter running to a parent to report breathlessly that a 5-year-old has threatened never to eat again because it is his brother’s birthday and he doesn’t like the flavor of the cake.

With Bibi Netanyahu and Barack Obama slated to meet this evening, the New York Times has splashed a story written in a tone of deep alarm across the front of its website: “Collapse Feared for Palestinian Authority if Abbas Resigns.”

The central theme is: He really means it this time! He’s gonna quit! And it’s Israel’s fault! The true purpose of the piece is to ensure that Obama and Netanyahu do nothing but discuss the condition of Mahmoud Abbas’s tenure as president of the Palestinian Authority. Because they have so little else to talk about. Like Iran. Nothing to talk about there.

Ethan Bronner assumes a startlingly inappropriate tone in this article — an elegiac, mournful spirit:

The prospect that the Palestinian Authority, the government in the West Bank, might fall apart loomed on Monday, as those close to its president, Mahmoud Abbas, said that he intended to resign and forecast that others would follow. “I think he is realizing that he came all this way with the peace process in order to create a Palestinian state, but he sees no state coming,” Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian peace negotiator, said in an interview. “So he really doesn’t think there is a need to be president or to have an Authority. This is not about who is going to replace him. This is about our leaving our posts. You think anybody will stay after he leaves?”

Mr. Abbas warned last week that he would not participate in elections he called for January. But many viewed that as a ploy by a Hamlet-like leader upset over Israeli and American policy, and noted that the vote might not actually be held, given the Palestinian political fracture and the unwillingness of Hamas, which controls Gaza, to participate. In the days since, however, his colleagues have come to believe he is not bluffing. If that is the case, they say, the Palestinian Authority could be endangered.

Evidently the crime of the Israelis is that, as Bronner writes, Netanyahu wants “negotiations without preconditions.” Usually in a negotiation, that would be considered a good thing. But not in this negotiation, because in this negotiation, Israel is supposed to come to the table having already agreed to the creation of a Palestinian state “within the 1967 borders and Jerusalem.” Netanyahu, Bronner writes, “declined” this preposterous demand of Hillary Clinton’s — preposterous because the idea that Israel would agree to surrender parts of Jerusalem and would preemptively agree to the loss of neighborhoods like Maale Adumim even before talks commenced is to presume magic fairy dust has been sprinkled upon the land of milk and honey and caused pacific and loving feelings to swell within the breasts of both parties.

This is not an article about Abbas and the tragic possibility of his early departure along with Saeb Erekat, a mouthpiece propagandist who is a Palestinian “peace negotiator” like I am a Jewish “pentathlete.” This is an article intended by design to overshadow the meeting of the American president and the Israeli prime minister and to make the “collapse” of the ineffectual and dishonest Palestinian Authority leadership the news of the day. It has the quality of an indulgent babysitter running to a parent to report breathlessly that a 5-year-old has threatened never to eat again because it is his brother’s birthday and he doesn’t like the flavor of the cake.

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Re: The Fall of One Wall

I wrote about what I consider to be the deeper meaning of the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall earlier today. I wanted to add one observation about President Obama’s refusals to accept Chancellor Merkel’s invitation to attend the anniversary ceremonies in Germany today. The president was willing to fly to Copenhagen to make the case for bringing the Olympics to his hometown of Chicago. He will also fly to Oslo to accept his Nobel Prize later this year. Yet he could not find the time to travel to Berlin to celebrate the fall of the Wall, one of the most impressive achievements in the history of freedom and a tribute to the perseverance and sacrifice of America. Of course, Barack Obama had nothing whatever to do with it.

We have reached the point where one cannot help but wonder how deep Obama’s narcissism runs and how eager he is to celebrate what this nation has done, apart from what it has done for him. I am reminded of the revealing words of Michelle Obama, who in early 2008, when it looked as if her husband was closing in on the presidency, said this: “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country.”

If Mr. Obama had not won the presidency, it seems to be an open question as to how much pride either of them would feel in America. His speeches apologizing for America — delivered in Cairo, in Europe, in Turkey, at the UN and elsewhere — only confirm that suspicion.

It is all rather astonishing for such questions to arise around an American president. But we are where we are.

I wrote about what I consider to be the deeper meaning of the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall earlier today. I wanted to add one observation about President Obama’s refusals to accept Chancellor Merkel’s invitation to attend the anniversary ceremonies in Germany today. The president was willing to fly to Copenhagen to make the case for bringing the Olympics to his hometown of Chicago. He will also fly to Oslo to accept his Nobel Prize later this year. Yet he could not find the time to travel to Berlin to celebrate the fall of the Wall, one of the most impressive achievements in the history of freedom and a tribute to the perseverance and sacrifice of America. Of course, Barack Obama had nothing whatever to do with it.

We have reached the point where one cannot help but wonder how deep Obama’s narcissism runs and how eager he is to celebrate what this nation has done, apart from what it has done for him. I am reminded of the revealing words of Michelle Obama, who in early 2008, when it looked as if her husband was closing in on the presidency, said this: “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country.”

If Mr. Obama had not won the presidency, it seems to be an open question as to how much pride either of them would feel in America. His speeches apologizing for America — delivered in Cairo, in Europe, in Turkey, at the UN and elsewhere — only confirm that suspicion.

It is all rather astonishing for such questions to arise around an American president. But we are where we are.

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Cliffhanger Nation

Barack Obama asked that we not “jump to conclusions” about Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who is alleged to have killed 13 Americans at Fort Hood last Thursday. Forget “jump to.” If only President Obama would crawl toward, or flirt with, or even stumble upon a conclusion, I’d be overjoyed. On this you can rely: Obama will never express a conclusive opinion on last Thursday’s massacre.

Why, after all, would he start there? Iran has rejected our diplomatic overtures in ways big and small, covert and blunt, general and specific, for the entirety of Obama’s term so far, and the president is not ready to jump to any conclusions about a lack of Iranian cooperation. So America’s begging continues apace. Since early September, the White House has been contemplating a troop increase in Afghanistan. On that question the administration has blown past dithering and hit meta-dithering: that is, dithering about when the dithering will be complete. Press coverage no longer speculates about what Obama will actually choose to do in Afghanistan but about when he’ll let us know.

If looming threats of Iranian nukes and lost wars have no effect on the president’s Magic 8-Ball, why on earth would he ever find clarity about a shooting at an Army base? Funnily enough, pondering the case of Maj. Hasan actually demands one of Obama’s favorite tropes — the “false choice.” Two analytic camps have already formed in response to Thursday’s shooting. There are those who maintain that the bloodbath was the fulfillment of Islamist ideology, and there are those calling it a manifestation of mental illness. Since when are the two mutually exclusive? Have we already forgotten that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was both the operational leader of al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia and an authentic sociopath with a penchant for beheadings and the mass slaughter of fellow Muslims? His “mental illness” did not prevent him from nearly extinguishing the entire state of Iraq in a choreographed civil war. Who, after all, are the sworn enemies of reason if not those who exemplify unreason?

Crazy and evil get along just fine, thanks. And history shows they’re on occasional good terms with success. History also shows us the fatal costs of indecision and cowardice.

Barack Obama asked that we not “jump to conclusions” about Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who is alleged to have killed 13 Americans at Fort Hood last Thursday. Forget “jump to.” If only President Obama would crawl toward, or flirt with, or even stumble upon a conclusion, I’d be overjoyed. On this you can rely: Obama will never express a conclusive opinion on last Thursday’s massacre.

Why, after all, would he start there? Iran has rejected our diplomatic overtures in ways big and small, covert and blunt, general and specific, for the entirety of Obama’s term so far, and the president is not ready to jump to any conclusions about a lack of Iranian cooperation. So America’s begging continues apace. Since early September, the White House has been contemplating a troop increase in Afghanistan. On that question the administration has blown past dithering and hit meta-dithering: that is, dithering about when the dithering will be complete. Press coverage no longer speculates about what Obama will actually choose to do in Afghanistan but about when he’ll let us know.

If looming threats of Iranian nukes and lost wars have no effect on the president’s Magic 8-Ball, why on earth would he ever find clarity about a shooting at an Army base? Funnily enough, pondering the case of Maj. Hasan actually demands one of Obama’s favorite tropes — the “false choice.” Two analytic camps have already formed in response to Thursday’s shooting. There are those who maintain that the bloodbath was the fulfillment of Islamist ideology, and there are those calling it a manifestation of mental illness. Since when are the two mutually exclusive? Have we already forgotten that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was both the operational leader of al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia and an authentic sociopath with a penchant for beheadings and the mass slaughter of fellow Muslims? His “mental illness” did not prevent him from nearly extinguishing the entire state of Iraq in a choreographed civil war. Who, after all, are the sworn enemies of reason if not those who exemplify unreason?

Crazy and evil get along just fine, thanks. And history shows they’re on occasional good terms with success. History also shows us the fatal costs of indecision and cowardice.

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Which Is It?

Politico’s headline blasts: “The GOP’s Women Problem.” We are told by reporters Meredith Shiner and Glenn Thrush, with all the furrowed-brow concern of stern gender-studies professors, that “the growing schism between the Republican Party’s ascendant right wing and its shrinking moderate core has clear gender undertones.” Clearly! Besides, all the conservatives are saying such mean things about Olympia Snowe. And she’s a woman too. See?

Wait. I’m confused. I thought the GOP was in the grip of a right-wing wacko mother from Alaska. And Maureen Dowd warned us that Liz Cheney’s sex appeal is going to mesmerize the masses and vault her and her pro-torture, pro-war views into the ascendancy. Which is it — are Republicans punishing women or elevating them? There are women running for governor and the Senate in California, but maybe that doesn’t count. It couldn’t be that the base has had it with wishy-washy Republicans who are indistinguishable from Democrats, could it? No!

Who says this is a gender issue? Well, a Rutgers professor from the Center for American Women and Politics and a friend of Dede Scozzafava. And a Democrat, Debbie Wasserman Shultz, who tells us that the Republican party “doesn’t respect women … doesn’t believe women are equal to men.” (It also hates puppies, baseball, and apple pie.)

This is what passes for political analysis and deep thinking about gender. But on the positive side, I’m sure Ms. Shiner could snag a column in the New York Times with this sort of claptrap.

Politico’s headline blasts: “The GOP’s Women Problem.” We are told by reporters Meredith Shiner and Glenn Thrush, with all the furrowed-brow concern of stern gender-studies professors, that “the growing schism between the Republican Party’s ascendant right wing and its shrinking moderate core has clear gender undertones.” Clearly! Besides, all the conservatives are saying such mean things about Olympia Snowe. And she’s a woman too. See?

Wait. I’m confused. I thought the GOP was in the grip of a right-wing wacko mother from Alaska. And Maureen Dowd warned us that Liz Cheney’s sex appeal is going to mesmerize the masses and vault her and her pro-torture, pro-war views into the ascendancy. Which is it — are Republicans punishing women or elevating them? There are women running for governor and the Senate in California, but maybe that doesn’t count. It couldn’t be that the base has had it with wishy-washy Republicans who are indistinguishable from Democrats, could it? No!

Who says this is a gender issue? Well, a Rutgers professor from the Center for American Women and Politics and a friend of Dede Scozzafava. And a Democrat, Debbie Wasserman Shultz, who tells us that the Republican party “doesn’t respect women … doesn’t believe women are equal to men.” (It also hates puppies, baseball, and apple pie.)

This is what passes for political analysis and deep thinking about gender. But on the positive side, I’m sure Ms. Shiner could snag a column in the New York Times with this sort of claptrap.

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WEB EXCLUSIVE: The Fall of One Wall

It is an anniversary that should rank among the greatest we recognize: the fall of the Berlin Wall and, with it, the end of Soviet Communism and a successful conclusion to the Cold War. And yet it passes with very little attention, as almost an afterthought. It is an astonishing oversight on our part.

To read the rest of this COMMENTARY Web Exclusive, click here.

It is an anniversary that should rank among the greatest we recognize: the fall of the Berlin Wall and, with it, the end of Soviet Communism and a successful conclusion to the Cold War. And yet it passes with very little attention, as almost an afterthought. It is an astonishing oversight on our part.

To read the rest of this COMMENTARY Web Exclusive, click here.

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Foreign Aid for the Taliban

Hamid Karzai has a point when he complains that foreign-aid spending is exacerbating corruption in his country. Indeed, aid projects have become one of the Taliban’s primary sources of income — they collect extortion payments to let the projects proceed. That should cause the international community — foreign governments, international organizations like the UN, and numerous NGOs — to rethink some of their assumptions. They have spent billions in Afghanistan since 2001, but a good deal of the money has gone to waste, and much of it has done little to aid counterinsurgency efforts, in large part because spending has not been coordinated with the larger military campaign.

One of the things that we discovered in Iraq was that in a climate of insecurity, spending on development is wasted, or worse. Now we are relearning the same lesson in Afghanistan. Yet foreign governments that have trouble finding enough helicopters to support their own troops in Afghanistan somehow find the money to mount grandiose development projects that turn into white elephants.

The poster child for these problems is the Kajaki Dam in southern Afghanistan. The Brits have poured in vast amounts of manpower and money to increase the amount of electricity generation at the dam — but so far with little to show for it, in part because power lines are so vulnerable to insurgent interdiction. The resources devoted to the dam — which included a massive operation last year to transport a giant turbine across enemy-controlled territory — could have been spent on more modest “clear, hold, and build” operations. Until there is better security, there is no point in spending a lot of development funds. They will simply be wasted or, as Karzai warns, go to fund the insurgency.

Hamid Karzai has a point when he complains that foreign-aid spending is exacerbating corruption in his country. Indeed, aid projects have become one of the Taliban’s primary sources of income — they collect extortion payments to let the projects proceed. That should cause the international community — foreign governments, international organizations like the UN, and numerous NGOs — to rethink some of their assumptions. They have spent billions in Afghanistan since 2001, but a good deal of the money has gone to waste, and much of it has done little to aid counterinsurgency efforts, in large part because spending has not been coordinated with the larger military campaign.

One of the things that we discovered in Iraq was that in a climate of insecurity, spending on development is wasted, or worse. Now we are relearning the same lesson in Afghanistan. Yet foreign governments that have trouble finding enough helicopters to support their own troops in Afghanistan somehow find the money to mount grandiose development projects that turn into white elephants.

The poster child for these problems is the Kajaki Dam in southern Afghanistan. The Brits have poured in vast amounts of manpower and money to increase the amount of electricity generation at the dam — but so far with little to show for it, in part because power lines are so vulnerable to insurgent interdiction. The resources devoted to the dam — which included a massive operation last year to transport a giant turbine across enemy-controlled territory — could have been spent on more modest “clear, hold, and build” operations. Until there is better security, there is no point in spending a lot of development funds. They will simply be wasted or, as Karzai warns, go to fund the insurgency.

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The Right Way to Investigate Gaza

A group of South African immigrants to Israel submitted a novel proposal to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week. Netanyahu, they said, should accede to the UN’s demand that Israel investigate its own actions during January’s war in Gaza. But it should do so in the only way that makes sense: not by focusing on Israel’s actions in a vacuum but by comparing them to those of other Western military campaigns in populated areas – for instance, American operations in Iraq and Afghanistan or NATO’s bombing of Serbia.

“I particularly mention Serbia, where the number of bombs dropped on a civilian population was tremendously high,” Charles Abelsohn, one of the proposal’s authors, told Haaretz. “This is how war is conducted. But all of a sudden, when Israel is involved, there is a law of human rights that doesn’t appear to apply anywhere else.”

The South Africans are right: The Gaza war can only be understood comparatively. Only by analyzing how the level of civilian casualties and efforts to minimize them compared with casualty levels in other Western military campaigns, only  by assessing how Hamas’ efforts to use civilians as cover compare with those of other terrorist groups in other conflicts — only then can a fair determination be made about whether Israel is a war criminal, as the Goldstone Report claims, or whether it “did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare,” as British Col. Richard Kemp claims.

Abelsohn is also right that such data would “assist those who are fighting the good fight on Israel’s behalf.” Without comparative facts and figures, Israel’s assertion that its Gaza operation was a model of morality will not convince anyone not predisposed to believe it – unless, like Kemp, they have the firsthand knowledge needed to make their own comparisons. But because most people have no combat experience, they have no basis for comparison.

During World War II, according to historian William Hitchcock, the British bombing of one single city, Rouen, on one single day, April 19, 1944, killed 900 allied civilians. And that figure, which was not atypical, does not even include combatants and enemy civilians.

By comparison, according to IDF figures, Israel killed 1,166 Palestinians in Gaza over the space of three weeks, of whom 709 were combatants. Hence, even if, as Palestinians claim, the total casualty figure was higher and the proportion of combatants lower, Israel would clearly not fare badly in an international comparison.

I doubt that would matter to the Goldstones of the world. But it would matter to those who would like to think well of Israel but are troubled by the endless stream of accusations, which Israel has done too little to counter. Israel needs to produce the necessary comparative data, and its friends need to make sure it gets disseminated. Indeed, this should have been done long ago. But better late than never.

A group of South African immigrants to Israel submitted a novel proposal to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week. Netanyahu, they said, should accede to the UN’s demand that Israel investigate its own actions during January’s war in Gaza. But it should do so in the only way that makes sense: not by focusing on Israel’s actions in a vacuum but by comparing them to those of other Western military campaigns in populated areas – for instance, American operations in Iraq and Afghanistan or NATO’s bombing of Serbia.

“I particularly mention Serbia, where the number of bombs dropped on a civilian population was tremendously high,” Charles Abelsohn, one of the proposal’s authors, told Haaretz. “This is how war is conducted. But all of a sudden, when Israel is involved, there is a law of human rights that doesn’t appear to apply anywhere else.”

The South Africans are right: The Gaza war can only be understood comparatively. Only by analyzing how the level of civilian casualties and efforts to minimize them compared with casualty levels in other Western military campaigns, only  by assessing how Hamas’ efforts to use civilians as cover compare with those of other terrorist groups in other conflicts — only then can a fair determination be made about whether Israel is a war criminal, as the Goldstone Report claims, or whether it “did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare,” as British Col. Richard Kemp claims.

Abelsohn is also right that such data would “assist those who are fighting the good fight on Israel’s behalf.” Without comparative facts and figures, Israel’s assertion that its Gaza operation was a model of morality will not convince anyone not predisposed to believe it – unless, like Kemp, they have the firsthand knowledge needed to make their own comparisons. But because most people have no combat experience, they have no basis for comparison.

During World War II, according to historian William Hitchcock, the British bombing of one single city, Rouen, on one single day, April 19, 1944, killed 900 allied civilians. And that figure, which was not atypical, does not even include combatants and enemy civilians.

By comparison, according to IDF figures, Israel killed 1,166 Palestinians in Gaza over the space of three weeks, of whom 709 were combatants. Hence, even if, as Palestinians claim, the total casualty figure was higher and the proportion of combatants lower, Israel would clearly not fare badly in an international comparison.

I doubt that would matter to the Goldstones of the world. But it would matter to those who would like to think well of Israel but are troubled by the endless stream of accusations, which Israel has done too little to counter. Israel needs to produce the necessary comparative data, and its friends need to make sure it gets disseminated. Indeed, this should have been done long ago. But better late than never.

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The Hasanity Defense

Can it really be that anybody seriously believed a career Army psychiatrist would deal with the “stress” of his own deployment to a war he opposes by opening fire and shooting 43 people? Evidently, the answer is yes, as Noah Pollak and others have noted. This is a particular American madness, as far as I can tell, the invocation of ludicrous pop psychology to explain acts that can only properly be described as evil. Recall the case of Andrea Yates, the Texas mother who murdered her five children? Before the world could even spend a moment mourning the children, Paula Yates herself was turned into a Rorschach test—of the perils of having too many children, of a traditional marriage, of postpartum depression. The problem is that tens of millions of women go through the same experiences and do not murder their children. Yates represented nothing but, at best, psychosis and, at worst, the face of pure evil.

And so it is with Nadal Hasan. Obviously, there are a great many people in the military who would rather not be deployed to a war zone; for whom such deployments cause stress; and who may indeed be philosophically opposed to the fight they are obliged as a matter of law and duty to wage. Let’s say, just for the sake of argument, that there are 10,000 such people. Only one has actually taken a machine gun and mowed down his fellow soldiers. The argument that Nadal Hasan was somehow sent round the bend by his orders is not only bizarre but also deeply and profoundly insulting to those in the military who live with all the same pressures and do good rather than evil.

The “stress did it” claim has nothing to do with Hasan anyway; it’s a cover for implicit attacks on the McChrystal strategy for deploying significant additional troops to Afghanistan. That’s the true purpose of the pop-psych analysis anyway; it’s a way of removing the singular meaning from an event and converting into something more all-purpose.

This is, perhaps, an argument that could be advanced against those who are seeing a broader issue at work relating to Hasan’s religious-ideological leanings and whether his conduct has something to do with Islamic terrorism. But that argument has nothing to do with examining Hasan’s psychic makeup, which is something no one should do without a license, but rather the ideas and convictions that he has publicly expressed. It’s hard to separate out rumor from fact, but if three-quarters of the stories we’ve been reading are true, then it’s clear Hasan was an Islamist ideologue of some sort and that the Army may have failed to police its ranks properly out of a fear of appearing anti-Muslim. Those aren’t impressionistic conclusions; they will either be proved true or false. And if true, something that could have been prevented wasn’t.

Can it really be that anybody seriously believed a career Army psychiatrist would deal with the “stress” of his own deployment to a war he opposes by opening fire and shooting 43 people? Evidently, the answer is yes, as Noah Pollak and others have noted. This is a particular American madness, as far as I can tell, the invocation of ludicrous pop psychology to explain acts that can only properly be described as evil. Recall the case of Andrea Yates, the Texas mother who murdered her five children? Before the world could even spend a moment mourning the children, Paula Yates herself was turned into a Rorschach test—of the perils of having too many children, of a traditional marriage, of postpartum depression. The problem is that tens of millions of women go through the same experiences and do not murder their children. Yates represented nothing but, at best, psychosis and, at worst, the face of pure evil.

And so it is with Nadal Hasan. Obviously, there are a great many people in the military who would rather not be deployed to a war zone; for whom such deployments cause stress; and who may indeed be philosophically opposed to the fight they are obliged as a matter of law and duty to wage. Let’s say, just for the sake of argument, that there are 10,000 such people. Only one has actually taken a machine gun and mowed down his fellow soldiers. The argument that Nadal Hasan was somehow sent round the bend by his orders is not only bizarre but also deeply and profoundly insulting to those in the military who live with all the same pressures and do good rather than evil.

The “stress did it” claim has nothing to do with Hasan anyway; it’s a cover for implicit attacks on the McChrystal strategy for deploying significant additional troops to Afghanistan. That’s the true purpose of the pop-psych analysis anyway; it’s a way of removing the singular meaning from an event and converting into something more all-purpose.

This is, perhaps, an argument that could be advanced against those who are seeing a broader issue at work relating to Hasan’s religious-ideological leanings and whether his conduct has something to do with Islamic terrorism. But that argument has nothing to do with examining Hasan’s psychic makeup, which is something no one should do without a license, but rather the ideas and convictions that he has publicly expressed. It’s hard to separate out rumor from fact, but if three-quarters of the stories we’ve been reading are true, then it’s clear Hasan was an Islamist ideologue of some sort and that the Army may have failed to police its ranks properly out of a fear of appearing anti-Muslim. Those aren’t impressionistic conclusions; they will either be proved true or false. And if true, something that could have been prevented wasn’t.

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Bad Policy and Bad Politics Meet

Fred Hiatt celebrates the passage of PelosiCare because “everyone should have access to doctors, to medicine, to preventive services.” We will leave for another time the compelling argument that PelosiCare, by making private insurance more expensive, won’t succeed there. But his main points are compelling: PelosiCare is not deficit neutral (because it leaves out the “Doc Fix,” and the Medicare cuts are so draconian that they can’t possibly be permanent), and it does nothing about costs. In fact, by penalizing states that put limits on malpractice awards, the bill in a very real way adds to unnecessary costs and perpetuates defensive, excessive medical practices that are largely designed to prevent lawsuits.

He concludes:

Expanded access to health care has rightly been a goal for decades. No civilized nation should allow sick people to go untreated. Yet neither should a civilized nation saddle its coming generations with a lower standard of living, a likely effect of U.S. profligacy if unchecked. No civilized nation should leave its government too bankrupt to help the poor.

As the magnitude of the bill’s fiscal irresponsibility is fully explained, the very people who voted for Republicans preaching fiscal conservatism in New Jersey and Virginia are likely to become more alarmed. It is here where atrocious policy meets political toxicity. The coalition of independents and Republicans that makes for a majority in but the Bluest jurisdictions rests these days on concerns about the expansion of government, the rise in spending, and the mound of accumulated debt.

In a column replete with gloom and doom for Republicans (they are divided!), Hiatt’s colleague Dan Balz acknowledges that “their comeback-in-the-making is almost entirely the result of public concern about the size, scope and pace of the changes Obama has proposed, fears that government is becoming too intrusive and that the mushrooming federal budget deficit represents a threat to the long-term stability of the economy.” Indeed it is, and the passage of PelosiCare has once again highlighted the GOP’s main argument for returning to power: who else is going to stop Obama?

Fred Hiatt celebrates the passage of PelosiCare because “everyone should have access to doctors, to medicine, to preventive services.” We will leave for another time the compelling argument that PelosiCare, by making private insurance more expensive, won’t succeed there. But his main points are compelling: PelosiCare is not deficit neutral (because it leaves out the “Doc Fix,” and the Medicare cuts are so draconian that they can’t possibly be permanent), and it does nothing about costs. In fact, by penalizing states that put limits on malpractice awards, the bill in a very real way adds to unnecessary costs and perpetuates defensive, excessive medical practices that are largely designed to prevent lawsuits.

He concludes:

Expanded access to health care has rightly been a goal for decades. No civilized nation should allow sick people to go untreated. Yet neither should a civilized nation saddle its coming generations with a lower standard of living, a likely effect of U.S. profligacy if unchecked. No civilized nation should leave its government too bankrupt to help the poor.

As the magnitude of the bill’s fiscal irresponsibility is fully explained, the very people who voted for Republicans preaching fiscal conservatism in New Jersey and Virginia are likely to become more alarmed. It is here where atrocious policy meets political toxicity. The coalition of independents and Republicans that makes for a majority in but the Bluest jurisdictions rests these days on concerns about the expansion of government, the rise in spending, and the mound of accumulated debt.

In a column replete with gloom and doom for Republicans (they are divided!), Hiatt’s colleague Dan Balz acknowledges that “their comeback-in-the-making is almost entirely the result of public concern about the size, scope and pace of the changes Obama has proposed, fears that government is becoming too intrusive and that the mushrooming federal budget deficit represents a threat to the long-term stability of the economy.” Indeed it is, and the passage of PelosiCare has once again highlighted the GOP’s main argument for returning to power: who else is going to stop Obama?

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The Policy of Pique

It is a measure of how far matters have deteriorated in the Middle East and how far we will go to alienate an ally that Obama is placing a precondition on a meeting with Bibi Netanyahu. That’s right, as the Wall Street Journal reports:

The White House waited several days to confirm that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could meet with President Barack Obama Monday, and sought conditions first — underscoring the new depths of difficulty that Middle East peace efforts have reached in the last week.

U.S. officials said the delay, which stretched until late Sunday, stemmed from last-minute discussions aimed at gaining a more robust and public commitment to the peace track from Mr. Netanyahu. One official said the U.S. wanted Mr. Netanyahu to express stronger support for negotiations on an independent Palestinian state at his speech Monday before the Jewish Federations of North America in Washington. “We’re in the part of the process where you can’t expect something for nothing,” the official said.

Imagine if during the campaign, Obama, who declared he’d place no preconditions on meetings with the Castro brothers, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong-il, had told us that he would not be meeting with the prime minister of Israel unless he “got something” for it. As Elliott Abrams observes:

Think of it: Our closest ally in the region, critical issues at stake (from Iran’s nuclear program and the recent Israeli seizure of an Iranian arms shipment meant for Hezbollah to Abbas’s announcement), yet the Israelis get no answer. Obama and his “experts” may think they are reminding Netanyahu who is boss, but they are in fact reminding all of us why Israelis no longer trust Obama–and making closer cooperation between the two governments that much harder.

The Journal report contends that this is a “rare display of pique by the White House toward Israel.” Excuse me? Obama’s entire policy is built on pique — that Netanyahu remains prime minister, that Israel continues to allow Jews to live where they want, that Israel’s courts in legal proceedings evict Palestinians who unlawfully occupy property, that Israel insists on talking about a military operation against Iran, that Israel won’t knuckle under to bullying and threats, and that American Jews who ever so timidly object to the unworkable and foolhardy settlement freeze are insufficiently self-reflective. Hardly rare.

But the report does get one thing right: “The prime minister’s visit comes as fears grow inside the Obama administration that its aggressive plans for promoting Mideast peace could be unraveling.” Well, to be accurate, it has already unraveled, and the Obami have aggravated both sides. This most recent bit of shameful and ham-handed “diplomacy” is the fitting capstone to nearly a year of missteps, arrogance, and failure. In any other administration — one remotely in touch with others’ perceptions or, yes, that was self-reflective — those responsible for this would be canned. But don’t expect that to happen any time soon.

It is a measure of how far matters have deteriorated in the Middle East and how far we will go to alienate an ally that Obama is placing a precondition on a meeting with Bibi Netanyahu. That’s right, as the Wall Street Journal reports:

The White House waited several days to confirm that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could meet with President Barack Obama Monday, and sought conditions first — underscoring the new depths of difficulty that Middle East peace efforts have reached in the last week.

U.S. officials said the delay, which stretched until late Sunday, stemmed from last-minute discussions aimed at gaining a more robust and public commitment to the peace track from Mr. Netanyahu. One official said the U.S. wanted Mr. Netanyahu to express stronger support for negotiations on an independent Palestinian state at his speech Monday before the Jewish Federations of North America in Washington. “We’re in the part of the process where you can’t expect something for nothing,” the official said.

Imagine if during the campaign, Obama, who declared he’d place no preconditions on meetings with the Castro brothers, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong-il, had told us that he would not be meeting with the prime minister of Israel unless he “got something” for it. As Elliott Abrams observes:

Think of it: Our closest ally in the region, critical issues at stake (from Iran’s nuclear program and the recent Israeli seizure of an Iranian arms shipment meant for Hezbollah to Abbas’s announcement), yet the Israelis get no answer. Obama and his “experts” may think they are reminding Netanyahu who is boss, but they are in fact reminding all of us why Israelis no longer trust Obama–and making closer cooperation between the two governments that much harder.

The Journal report contends that this is a “rare display of pique by the White House toward Israel.” Excuse me? Obama’s entire policy is built on pique — that Netanyahu remains prime minister, that Israel continues to allow Jews to live where they want, that Israel’s courts in legal proceedings evict Palestinians who unlawfully occupy property, that Israel insists on talking about a military operation against Iran, that Israel won’t knuckle under to bullying and threats, and that American Jews who ever so timidly object to the unworkable and foolhardy settlement freeze are insufficiently self-reflective. Hardly rare.

But the report does get one thing right: “The prime minister’s visit comes as fears grow inside the Obama administration that its aggressive plans for promoting Mideast peace could be unraveling.” Well, to be accurate, it has already unraveled, and the Obami have aggravated both sides. This most recent bit of shameful and ham-handed “diplomacy” is the fitting capstone to nearly a year of missteps, arrogance, and failure. In any other administration — one remotely in touch with others’ perceptions or, yes, that was self-reflective — those responsible for this would be canned. But don’t expect that to happen any time soon.

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But Give Them Until New Year Anyway?

It’s a bit pathetic:

The Obama administration, attempting to salvage a faltering nuclear deal with Iran, has told Iran’s leaders in back-channel messages that it is willing to allow the country to send its stockpile of enriched uranium to any of several nations, including Turkey, for temporary safekeeping, according to administration officials and diplomats involved in the exchanges.

We simply can’t take no for an answer, but seem intent on undercutting our own position, which at least publicly was that we wouldn’t be fiddling with the original deal. (That, if you recall, was a mind-numbingly useless arrangement whereby an uncertain portion of Iran’s uranium would be enriched for them — without regard to any prior prohibition on enrichment — and Iran then would proceed merrily on its way, replacing its uranium supply and developing its weapon program.) No, Iran wants to enrich its uranium on its own soil. In other words, just as it is doing now.

But the Obami have gone on begging. Now they sound downright despondent: “‘If you listen to what the Iranians have said publicly and privately over the past week,’ one senior administration official said Sunday, ‘it’s evident that they simply cannot bring themselves to do the deal.'” No! Can’t be! U.S. negotiator William Burns told us that the Iranians had never been more defensive. And still we dither and stall, unwilling to call it a day:

Mr. Obama’s aides say he is still willing to wait until year’s end before concluding that Iran is rejecting his offers of diplomatic engagement. What happens after that is unclear: Mr. Obama has suggested he would then turn to much more severe sanctions than the United Nations has already imposed against Iran, though it is unclear whether Russia and China would go along.

Why are we waiting until the end of the year — haven’t we already given Iran sufficient breathing room to proceed with its nuclear-weapons program?

One can only conclude that the Obami have neither the skill nor the will to move from the quicksand of negotiations to any more stringent action. It seems as though they are simply buying time, trying to keep Israel at bay and waiting for the day when they proclaim that Iran’s nuclear-weapons capability is a foregone conclusion. But don’t worry, we’ll be told. We can do business with the regime.

This is what appeasement looks like — cowering, self-deluding, and embarrassing. The administration has failed to address the most serious national-security issue of the day. The American people, not to mention the people of the Middle East most directly threatened by a revolutionary Islamic state with nuclear weapons, should be alarmed.

It’s a bit pathetic:

The Obama administration, attempting to salvage a faltering nuclear deal with Iran, has told Iran’s leaders in back-channel messages that it is willing to allow the country to send its stockpile of enriched uranium to any of several nations, including Turkey, for temporary safekeeping, according to administration officials and diplomats involved in the exchanges.

We simply can’t take no for an answer, but seem intent on undercutting our own position, which at least publicly was that we wouldn’t be fiddling with the original deal. (That, if you recall, was a mind-numbingly useless arrangement whereby an uncertain portion of Iran’s uranium would be enriched for them — without regard to any prior prohibition on enrichment — and Iran then would proceed merrily on its way, replacing its uranium supply and developing its weapon program.) No, Iran wants to enrich its uranium on its own soil. In other words, just as it is doing now.

But the Obami have gone on begging. Now they sound downright despondent: “‘If you listen to what the Iranians have said publicly and privately over the past week,’ one senior administration official said Sunday, ‘it’s evident that they simply cannot bring themselves to do the deal.'” No! Can’t be! U.S. negotiator William Burns told us that the Iranians had never been more defensive. And still we dither and stall, unwilling to call it a day:

Mr. Obama’s aides say he is still willing to wait until year’s end before concluding that Iran is rejecting his offers of diplomatic engagement. What happens after that is unclear: Mr. Obama has suggested he would then turn to much more severe sanctions than the United Nations has already imposed against Iran, though it is unclear whether Russia and China would go along.

Why are we waiting until the end of the year — haven’t we already given Iran sufficient breathing room to proceed with its nuclear-weapons program?

One can only conclude that the Obami have neither the skill nor the will to move from the quicksand of negotiations to any more stringent action. It seems as though they are simply buying time, trying to keep Israel at bay and waiting for the day when they proclaim that Iran’s nuclear-weapons capability is a foregone conclusion. But don’t worry, we’ll be told. We can do business with the regime.

This is what appeasement looks like — cowering, self-deluding, and embarrassing. The administration has failed to address the most serious national-security issue of the day. The American people, not to mention the people of the Middle East most directly threatened by a revolutionary Islamic state with nuclear weapons, should be alarmed.

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Casey’s Outrage

Political correctness doesn’t begin to describe Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey Jr.’s outrageous comments, as alluded to by Jennifer, on the Sunday-morning talk shows concerning the Fort Hood massacre. Asked by ABC’s George Stephanopolous whether the Army had “dropped the ball” in not recognizing that Hasan had become increasingly radical, Casey repeated the official mantra of the Obama administration, that we shouldn’t “jump to conclusions” based on what he described as “early tidbits” about Hasan’s motives (say, shouting “Allahu Akbar” before firing 100 rounds of ammunition into his fellow soldiers).

Taken at his word, Casey’s chief concern seems to be not protecting American soldiers from death at the hands of a jihadist in their midst, but preventing a “backlash” against “diversity.”

The speculation could heighten the backlash. What happened at Ft. Hood is a tragedy and I believe it would be a greater tragedy if diversity became a casualty here.

Casey made similar statements on CBS and NBC. The statements were offensive on several levels. It’s as if our leaders — civilian and, in this case, military — believed that Americans are a pack of bigots who’ll be beating up innocent Muslims on the streets and vandalizing mosques if given the least excuse. That hasn’t happened, even in the aftermath of 9/11. In fact, Jews are nearly eight times as likely to be victims of religiously motivated hate crimes as Muslims are, according to FBI statistics. In 2007, the last year for which figures are available, 133 such crimes were reported against Muslims, compared with 1,010 against Jews.

The only ones jumping to conclusions about Hasan’s motives seem to be those in government. From President Obama on down, including the military chain of command, government officials seem to want to squelch legitimate questions about the role that Hasan’s religious views played in his decision to open fire at Fort Hood. That kind of willful myopia will breed suspicion and distrust among the American people and put servicemen and women at risk. And if Gen. Casey truly believes that “diversity” is more important than protecting his troops, he should hang up his uniform.

Political correctness doesn’t begin to describe Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey Jr.’s outrageous comments, as alluded to by Jennifer, on the Sunday-morning talk shows concerning the Fort Hood massacre. Asked by ABC’s George Stephanopolous whether the Army had “dropped the ball” in not recognizing that Hasan had become increasingly radical, Casey repeated the official mantra of the Obama administration, that we shouldn’t “jump to conclusions” based on what he described as “early tidbits” about Hasan’s motives (say, shouting “Allahu Akbar” before firing 100 rounds of ammunition into his fellow soldiers).

Taken at his word, Casey’s chief concern seems to be not protecting American soldiers from death at the hands of a jihadist in their midst, but preventing a “backlash” against “diversity.”

The speculation could heighten the backlash. What happened at Ft. Hood is a tragedy and I believe it would be a greater tragedy if diversity became a casualty here.

Casey made similar statements on CBS and NBC. The statements were offensive on several levels. It’s as if our leaders — civilian and, in this case, military — believed that Americans are a pack of bigots who’ll be beating up innocent Muslims on the streets and vandalizing mosques if given the least excuse. That hasn’t happened, even in the aftermath of 9/11. In fact, Jews are nearly eight times as likely to be victims of religiously motivated hate crimes as Muslims are, according to FBI statistics. In 2007, the last year for which figures are available, 133 such crimes were reported against Muslims, compared with 1,010 against Jews.

The only ones jumping to conclusions about Hasan’s motives seem to be those in government. From President Obama on down, including the military chain of command, government officials seem to want to squelch legitimate questions about the role that Hasan’s religious views played in his decision to open fire at Fort Hood. That kind of willful myopia will breed suspicion and distrust among the American people and put servicemen and women at risk. And if Gen. Casey truly believes that “diversity” is more important than protecting his troops, he should hang up his uniform.

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If They Don’t Think Too Hard About It

As the Wall Street Journal‘s editors note, Nancy Pelosi managed to rope in just enough Democrats to enact a breathtakingly bad piece of legislation:

It creates a vast new entitlement, financed by European levels of taxation on business and individuals. The 20% corner of Medicare open to private competition is slashed, while fiscally strapped states are saddled with new Medicaid burdens. The insurance industry will have to vet every policy with Washington, which will regulate who it must cover, what it can offer, and how much it can charge.

And while Democrats hate to hear about “death panels,” the legislation they passed would set us on the inescapable path to a health-care system that “will have no choice but to ration medical care, starting with the aged and grievously ill.” And Pelosi also revealed many of her Blue Dogs, including Rep. Jim Cooper, to be lap dogs when it comes to fiscal common sense:

The House also contains a new government long-term insurance program that starts collecting premiums in 2011 but doesn’t starting paying benefits until 2016 and then runs out of money in 2029. North Dakota Democrat Kent Conrad called it “a Ponzi scheme of the first order, the kind of thing that Bernie Madoff would have been proud of” in an interview with the Washington Post in late October. Mr. Cooper has with a single vote made his entire career irrelevant.

Then there is the impact to the economy more broadly as we impose new taxes, fines, and mandates on employers already wary of hiring new workers.

So we are faced with a bill so destructive to our health-care and entire economic system that it far surpasses cap-and-trade in the “worst legislation ever” sweepstakes.  The Democratic leaders are convinced that we will all come to love it once it is enacted, that its flaws will remain hidden, and that its disruptive impact on Americans will somehow be concealed from view. We won’t notice the Medicare Advantage cuts? We won’t feel the impact of higher insurance premiums? It seems preposterous, but this is the magical thinking that compels ideologically driven liberals to push forward. “Will it work?” is not at issue for them; the only concern now is “Let’s get it done before we lose dozens of votes.”

So the Democratic leadership cajoles their members, talks in grandiose terms, and hopes that lawmakers’ doubts about the bill’s fiscal tomfoolery and political toxicity do not get the best of them. They have the votes — if they can keep their troops from thinking too hard about what’s in the bill and how angry the voters will be.

As the Wall Street Journal‘s editors note, Nancy Pelosi managed to rope in just enough Democrats to enact a breathtakingly bad piece of legislation:

It creates a vast new entitlement, financed by European levels of taxation on business and individuals. The 20% corner of Medicare open to private competition is slashed, while fiscally strapped states are saddled with new Medicaid burdens. The insurance industry will have to vet every policy with Washington, which will regulate who it must cover, what it can offer, and how much it can charge.

And while Democrats hate to hear about “death panels,” the legislation they passed would set us on the inescapable path to a health-care system that “will have no choice but to ration medical care, starting with the aged and grievously ill.” And Pelosi also revealed many of her Blue Dogs, including Rep. Jim Cooper, to be lap dogs when it comes to fiscal common sense:

The House also contains a new government long-term insurance program that starts collecting premiums in 2011 but doesn’t starting paying benefits until 2016 and then runs out of money in 2029. North Dakota Democrat Kent Conrad called it “a Ponzi scheme of the first order, the kind of thing that Bernie Madoff would have been proud of” in an interview with the Washington Post in late October. Mr. Cooper has with a single vote made his entire career irrelevant.

Then there is the impact to the economy more broadly as we impose new taxes, fines, and mandates on employers already wary of hiring new workers.

So we are faced with a bill so destructive to our health-care and entire economic system that it far surpasses cap-and-trade in the “worst legislation ever” sweepstakes.  The Democratic leaders are convinced that we will all come to love it once it is enacted, that its flaws will remain hidden, and that its disruptive impact on Americans will somehow be concealed from view. We won’t notice the Medicare Advantage cuts? We won’t feel the impact of higher insurance premiums? It seems preposterous, but this is the magical thinking that compels ideologically driven liberals to push forward. “Will it work?” is not at issue for them; the only concern now is “Let’s get it done before we lose dozens of votes.”

So the Democratic leadership cajoles their members, talks in grandiose terms, and hopes that lawmakers’ doubts about the bill’s fiscal tomfoolery and political toxicity do not get the best of them. They have the votes — if they can keep their troops from thinking too hard about what’s in the bill and how angry the voters will be.

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Concerned

Army Chief of Staff General George Casey is “concerned.” Well, yes, his troops were massacred by a fellow soldier. He should be concerned that, despite a multiplicity of indications and an ongoing investigation into Major Nadal Hasan’s Internet postings all pointing to a religiously inspired hostility toward America’s military operations and his fellow troops, no one removed Hasan from his position. No one demanded a full evaluation of Hasan’s psyche (although he was so odd that he couldn’t fulfill his duties to see patients). No one took away his guns. They were all quite polite and respectful. And 13 people are dead. So we could understand Casey’s concern.

But wait. That’s not his worry at all. What’s got him fretting is that “this increased speculation could cause a backlash against some of our Muslim soldiers.” This is, of course, exactly the problem and the very real danger that this sort of incident will not be the last.

In helping to think this through, Barry Rubin (no relation), director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs, has a useful recap of the series of ideologically inspired acts of terror (from John Wilkes Booth to 9/11) for which Herculean efforts were made to ignore the obvious: that while psychologically unhinged, the perpetrators had a reason for their violent acts. They adhered to a twisted ideology that spurred them (and other like-minded compatriots) to strike.

Three of Rubin’s conclusions are especially apt in the context of Fort Hood. First, he writes: “Individuals who commit terrorist acts often have psychological problems but the thing that justified, organized, and ensured that violence would be committed were political ideas.” Second, “When there is clear evidence that danger signs were ignored because people were afraid of being stigmatized for doing their job of protecting their fellows, that is a dangerous mistake that must be corrected.” (This is the error that General Casey seems to be re-enforcing rather than addressing.) And finally:

The media can often be stupid but when it censors reporting for political or social engineering reasons, freedom is jeopardized. The correct phrase is: The public’s right to know. It is not: The public has to be guided into drawing the proper conclusions by slanting and limiting information even if the conclusions being pressed on them are lies and nonsense.

Casey should be concerned if his organization was asleep at the switch and fell victim to a political correctness that clouded common sense. We should be concerned that the head of the Army now seems nervous about candidly discussing what occurred.

To be clear: it is the ultimate red herring, a straw man of gargantuan proportions, to suggest that those pointing to Hasan’s motives and announced intentions (“I am going to do good work for God“) are suggesting that Muslim soldiers as a group are untrustworthy or suspect. No, there is no “backlash” in the works. What there is, and what elite opinion makers should recognize before the public’s fury builds, is that ignoring signs of  Islamic-fundamentalist-inspired animus toward America will get people killed. It has. And it will again unless and until we stop tip-toeing around the obvious link between a murderous ideology and murder.

Army Chief of Staff General George Casey is “concerned.” Well, yes, his troops were massacred by a fellow soldier. He should be concerned that, despite a multiplicity of indications and an ongoing investigation into Major Nadal Hasan’s Internet postings all pointing to a religiously inspired hostility toward America’s military operations and his fellow troops, no one removed Hasan from his position. No one demanded a full evaluation of Hasan’s psyche (although he was so odd that he couldn’t fulfill his duties to see patients). No one took away his guns. They were all quite polite and respectful. And 13 people are dead. So we could understand Casey’s concern.

But wait. That’s not his worry at all. What’s got him fretting is that “this increased speculation could cause a backlash against some of our Muslim soldiers.” This is, of course, exactly the problem and the very real danger that this sort of incident will not be the last.

In helping to think this through, Barry Rubin (no relation), director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs, has a useful recap of the series of ideologically inspired acts of terror (from John Wilkes Booth to 9/11) for which Herculean efforts were made to ignore the obvious: that while psychologically unhinged, the perpetrators had a reason for their violent acts. They adhered to a twisted ideology that spurred them (and other like-minded compatriots) to strike.

Three of Rubin’s conclusions are especially apt in the context of Fort Hood. First, he writes: “Individuals who commit terrorist acts often have psychological problems but the thing that justified, organized, and ensured that violence would be committed were political ideas.” Second, “When there is clear evidence that danger signs were ignored because people were afraid of being stigmatized for doing their job of protecting their fellows, that is a dangerous mistake that must be corrected.” (This is the error that General Casey seems to be re-enforcing rather than addressing.) And finally:

The media can often be stupid but when it censors reporting for political or social engineering reasons, freedom is jeopardized. The correct phrase is: The public’s right to know. It is not: The public has to be guided into drawing the proper conclusions by slanting and limiting information even if the conclusions being pressed on them are lies and nonsense.

Casey should be concerned if his organization was asleep at the switch and fell victim to a political correctness that clouded common sense. We should be concerned that the head of the Army now seems nervous about candidly discussing what occurred.

To be clear: it is the ultimate red herring, a straw man of gargantuan proportions, to suggest that those pointing to Hasan’s motives and announced intentions (“I am going to do good work for God“) are suggesting that Muslim soldiers as a group are untrustworthy or suspect. No, there is no “backlash” in the works. What there is, and what elite opinion makers should recognize before the public’s fury builds, is that ignoring signs of  Islamic-fundamentalist-inspired animus toward America will get people killed. It has. And it will again unless and until we stop tip-toeing around the obvious link between a murderous ideology and murder.

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Who Will Have the Nerve?

The New York Times has a handy chart and concise description of which lawmakers voted against PelosiCare:

Only one Republican voted for the bill, and 39 Democrats opposed it, including 24 members of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition. An overwhelming majority of the Democratic lawmakers who opposed the bill — 31 of the 39 — represent districts that were won by Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, in the 2008 presidential election, and a third of them were freshmen. Nearly all of the fourteen freshmen Democrats who voted “no” represent districts that were previously Republican and are considered vulnerable in 2010. Geographically, 22 lawmakers from southern states formed the largest opposition bloc.

The bill now moves to the Senate, where it is doubtful that it, or any variation with the public option, can pass. Lindsay Graham on Face the Nation declared that it was “dead on arrival to the Senate.” As he noted, Pelosi’s bill is “written for liberals, by liberals.” It is not only Graham, all his Republican colleagues and Joe Lieberman who stand in the way. What about the Senate counterparts to those 39 House “no” voters — Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Michael Bennett of Colorado, Evan Bayh of Indiana, and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, for example? All are in unsafe seats with considerable numbers of independent and Republican voters who are not likely to look kindly on the massive tax and regulatory measure or on the new mandates and fines requiring them to purchase insurance.

The question for them and their colleagues (and for the House Democrats when the bill returns for a final vote after a conference to resolve differences between House and Senate versions) is simple: do they have the nerve to pass a bill that will be the rallying cry for their opponents and is likely — once the full extent of its impact on individuals and employers becomes clear — to make their re-election problematic? We will find out in the next few months whether Democratic leaders can convince their members to ignore the public.

The New York Times has a handy chart and concise description of which lawmakers voted against PelosiCare:

Only one Republican voted for the bill, and 39 Democrats opposed it, including 24 members of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition. An overwhelming majority of the Democratic lawmakers who opposed the bill — 31 of the 39 — represent districts that were won by Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, in the 2008 presidential election, and a third of them were freshmen. Nearly all of the fourteen freshmen Democrats who voted “no” represent districts that were previously Republican and are considered vulnerable in 2010. Geographically, 22 lawmakers from southern states formed the largest opposition bloc.

The bill now moves to the Senate, where it is doubtful that it, or any variation with the public option, can pass. Lindsay Graham on Face the Nation declared that it was “dead on arrival to the Senate.” As he noted, Pelosi’s bill is “written for liberals, by liberals.” It is not only Graham, all his Republican colleagues and Joe Lieberman who stand in the way. What about the Senate counterparts to those 39 House “no” voters — Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Michael Bennett of Colorado, Evan Bayh of Indiana, and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, for example? All are in unsafe seats with considerable numbers of independent and Republican voters who are not likely to look kindly on the massive tax and regulatory measure or on the new mandates and fines requiring them to purchase insurance.

The question for them and their colleagues (and for the House Democrats when the bill returns for a final vote after a conference to resolve differences between House and Senate versions) is simple: do they have the nerve to pass a bill that will be the rallying cry for their opponents and is likely — once the full extent of its impact on individuals and employers becomes clear — to make their re-election problematic? We will find out in the next few months whether Democratic leaders can convince their members to ignore the public.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

What Major Nidal Hasan said as he headed out to kill American soldiers: “I’m going to do good work for God.” Would liberals really be in such a quandary about what happened if Hasan were an evangelical Christian?

Yuval Levin explains how Obama did the heavy lifting for Republicans, “creating the conditions for a Republican resurgence”: “President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and Majority Leader Reid have launched the country on a course of massive spending, a dramatic expansion of government, and a slew of new taxes in the midst of a recession. Finding themselves in control of Congress and the White House and so possessed of an unusual opportunity to pursue their ideological agenda, they have sought to make the most of it. But they have misjudged just how far to the left of the country as a whole the Democratic base now resides—and so, rather than strengthen their own brand, they have inadvertently done wonders to build and unify the Republican Party.”

What happens when Democrats have to face voters and explain their vote on PelosiCare (with “jobs-killing mandates on businesses, higher taxes, burgeoning entitlement programs, government intrusion into personal medical decisions, higher health costs, and federal dictates about the kind of health insurance Americans must have to avoid federal penalties”)? Grace-Marie Turner seems to think the voters are going to want answers, not simply “flowery rhetoric.”

Governor-elect Bob McDonnell’s take on winning big in Virginia and advice to fellow Republicans: “A lot of independent voters, though, and Republicans as well, clearly told me they were very concerned about the direction of the country. … Stick to your conservative principles, but focus on the quality of life issues.”

Brit Hume says 18 House Democrats from John McCain–carried districts who voted for PelosiCare are now “vulnerable in the upcoming election.” And if the House bill doesn’t pass the Senate, those Democrats’ votes, like that on cap-and-trade, will have been wasted. Bill Kristol adds that “the Senate will not pass this bill” and that Pelosi will have done a lot of damage to her own members by forcing a vote on these ultra-Left measures.

Who voted no? “The nearly 40 Democrats who voted against the House’s health-care legislation Saturday comprised a mix of party moderates, Southerners and freshman facing tough re-election fights. They also included two Democrats who surprised party leaders by voting against the measure. An analysis of the vote shows that 22 of the 39 Democrats who crossed the aisle to join Republicans in opposing the bill were members of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition, including three of the group’s four leaders.” In other words, Democrats whose seats aren’t safe.

Rep. Mike Pence’s take on the skin-of-the-teeth vote for PelosiCare: “If the Democrats keep ignoring the American people, their party is going to be history in less than a year.” We will see how many Red State senators agree.

Sen. Olympia Snowe on the prospects of a final bill: “Now we are facing the prospect of a unified bill that didn’t come out of either committee [and] that, frankly, has been designed in the cloak of secrecy and darkness.” Really, what could go wrong?

What Major Nidal Hasan said as he headed out to kill American soldiers: “I’m going to do good work for God.” Would liberals really be in such a quandary about what happened if Hasan were an evangelical Christian?

Yuval Levin explains how Obama did the heavy lifting for Republicans, “creating the conditions for a Republican resurgence”: “President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and Majority Leader Reid have launched the country on a course of massive spending, a dramatic expansion of government, and a slew of new taxes in the midst of a recession. Finding themselves in control of Congress and the White House and so possessed of an unusual opportunity to pursue their ideological agenda, they have sought to make the most of it. But they have misjudged just how far to the left of the country as a whole the Democratic base now resides—and so, rather than strengthen their own brand, they have inadvertently done wonders to build and unify the Republican Party.”

What happens when Democrats have to face voters and explain their vote on PelosiCare (with “jobs-killing mandates on businesses, higher taxes, burgeoning entitlement programs, government intrusion into personal medical decisions, higher health costs, and federal dictates about the kind of health insurance Americans must have to avoid federal penalties”)? Grace-Marie Turner seems to think the voters are going to want answers, not simply “flowery rhetoric.”

Governor-elect Bob McDonnell’s take on winning big in Virginia and advice to fellow Republicans: “A lot of independent voters, though, and Republicans as well, clearly told me they were very concerned about the direction of the country. … Stick to your conservative principles, but focus on the quality of life issues.”

Brit Hume says 18 House Democrats from John McCain–carried districts who voted for PelosiCare are now “vulnerable in the upcoming election.” And if the House bill doesn’t pass the Senate, those Democrats’ votes, like that on cap-and-trade, will have been wasted. Bill Kristol adds that “the Senate will not pass this bill” and that Pelosi will have done a lot of damage to her own members by forcing a vote on these ultra-Left measures.

Who voted no? “The nearly 40 Democrats who voted against the House’s health-care legislation Saturday comprised a mix of party moderates, Southerners and freshman facing tough re-election fights. They also included two Democrats who surprised party leaders by voting against the measure. An analysis of the vote shows that 22 of the 39 Democrats who crossed the aisle to join Republicans in opposing the bill were members of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition, including three of the group’s four leaders.” In other words, Democrats whose seats aren’t safe.

Rep. Mike Pence’s take on the skin-of-the-teeth vote for PelosiCare: “If the Democrats keep ignoring the American people, their party is going to be history in less than a year.” We will see how many Red State senators agree.

Sen. Olympia Snowe on the prospects of a final bill: “Now we are facing the prospect of a unified bill that didn’t come out of either committee [and] that, frankly, has been designed in the cloak of secrecy and darkness.” Really, what could go wrong?

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