Commentary Magazine


Posts For: February 9, 2010

Becker Defeated

In the end, it wasn’t even close:

President Obama’s nominee for the National Labor Relations Board fell short of the 60 votes needed to break a Republican-led filibuster. The Senate vote was 52 yes and 33 no. Two Democrats, Blanche Lincoln and Ben Nelson voted against Craig Becker.

With a showing that shabby and with multiple Democrats not only willing to oppose but also to filibuster a nominee, it now seems unlikely that Obama will try to slip Becker in by a recess appointment. It also suggests just how out of tune the White House is with its own party. In time we may see just how isolated the Obami are, as Red State Democrats flee from the Obama agenda, afraid for their political lives. This vote is also a telling reminder that for all its millions in campaign donations to the Democrats, Big Labor has gotten precious little since the 2008 election. Its members may want to know why all that dues money was wasted.

In the end, it wasn’t even close:

President Obama’s nominee for the National Labor Relations Board fell short of the 60 votes needed to break a Republican-led filibuster. The Senate vote was 52 yes and 33 no. Two Democrats, Blanche Lincoln and Ben Nelson voted against Craig Becker.

With a showing that shabby and with multiple Democrats not only willing to oppose but also to filibuster a nominee, it now seems unlikely that Obama will try to slip Becker in by a recess appointment. It also suggests just how out of tune the White House is with its own party. In time we may see just how isolated the Obami are, as Red State Democrats flee from the Obama agenda, afraid for their political lives. This vote is also a telling reminder that for all its millions in campaign donations to the Democrats, Big Labor has gotten precious little since the 2008 election. Its members may want to know why all that dues money was wasted.

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Re: If the Czar Only Knew

Former Virginia Governor Doug Wilder vividly writes:

Indeed, even before Bob McDonnell’s resounding victory, the canary had been dead on the floor for months. In Virginia’s most Democratic-friendly regions, the Democrats had been narrowly winning — or outright losing — special elections that should have been taken easily.

He reminds us of the Democratic losses in New Jersey and Virginia, continuing:

After both these debacles, people at the DNC and the White House insisted these were local results with no deeper meaning. Then came Massachusetts. When Scott Brown promised voters he would be the 41st vote in the U.S. Senate to halt the Obama agenda, generally, and the health care plan, in particular, his rise in the polls was meteoric. It’s not rocket science where the American public wants the president to concentrate his energies. In all the above elections I cited, voters were practically screaming one word with four simple letters: Jobs.

His solution: fire DNC Chairman Tim Kaine and a bunch of Obama’s West Wing advisers. He warns: “Unless changes are made at the top, by the top, when the time comes for voters to show how they really feel about Obama, his policies and the messages he sends directly or through the people around him, the president will discover that Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts were not just temporary aberrations but, rather, timely expressions of voters who always show that they are ahead of the politicians.”

But so far, there is little indication Obama has learned anything from the string of losses. Yes, he’s holding a health-care summit with Republicans, but only to resell for the umpteenth time the same noxious, publically rejected ObamaCare plan. He’s telling everyone he isn’t “starting over” on health-care reform. His national-security team is berating Republicans for daring to criticize the Obama anti-terrorism approach. The Obama budget is an embarrassment to fiscally sober Democrats and Republicans alike. And not a single key adviser has gotten the axe.

You see, so long as the president remains perfectly content with his harmonious team of advisers, nothing much will change. It is all just as Obama would like it. Well, except for his crater poll numbers, the absence of a single legislative achievement, broad-based opposition to his ultra-liberal domestic agenda, a string of foreign-policy debacles, and the risk he will lose one or both houses of Congress.

Former Virginia Governor Doug Wilder vividly writes:

Indeed, even before Bob McDonnell’s resounding victory, the canary had been dead on the floor for months. In Virginia’s most Democratic-friendly regions, the Democrats had been narrowly winning — or outright losing — special elections that should have been taken easily.

He reminds us of the Democratic losses in New Jersey and Virginia, continuing:

After both these debacles, people at the DNC and the White House insisted these were local results with no deeper meaning. Then came Massachusetts. When Scott Brown promised voters he would be the 41st vote in the U.S. Senate to halt the Obama agenda, generally, and the health care plan, in particular, his rise in the polls was meteoric. It’s not rocket science where the American public wants the president to concentrate his energies. In all the above elections I cited, voters were practically screaming one word with four simple letters: Jobs.

His solution: fire DNC Chairman Tim Kaine and a bunch of Obama’s West Wing advisers. He warns: “Unless changes are made at the top, by the top, when the time comes for voters to show how they really feel about Obama, his policies and the messages he sends directly or through the people around him, the president will discover that Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts were not just temporary aberrations but, rather, timely expressions of voters who always show that they are ahead of the politicians.”

But so far, there is little indication Obama has learned anything from the string of losses. Yes, he’s holding a health-care summit with Republicans, but only to resell for the umpteenth time the same noxious, publically rejected ObamaCare plan. He’s telling everyone he isn’t “starting over” on health-care reform. His national-security team is berating Republicans for daring to criticize the Obama anti-terrorism approach. The Obama budget is an embarrassment to fiscally sober Democrats and Republicans alike. And not a single key adviser has gotten the axe.

You see, so long as the president remains perfectly content with his harmonious team of advisers, nothing much will change. It is all just as Obama would like it. Well, except for his crater poll numbers, the absence of a single legislative achievement, broad-based opposition to his ultra-liberal domestic agenda, a string of foreign-policy debacles, and the risk he will lose one or both houses of Congress.

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Ignoring the Obvious

Bill Gertz reports:

Almost two years before the deadly Fort Hood shooting by a radicalized Muslim officer, the U.S. Army was explicitly warned that jihadism — Islamic holy war — was a serious problem and threat to personnel in the U.S., according to participants at a major Army-sponsored conference. The annual Army anti-terrorism conference in Florida in February 2008 included presentations on the threat by counterterrorism specialists Patrick Poole, Army Lt. Col. Joseph Myers and Terri Wonder. The meeting was organized by the Army’s provost marshal general and included more than 350 force protection and anti-terrorism professionals who came from major Army installations and commands from around the world, according to participants.

We then had three domestic terror attacks. So what happened to the information from the Florida conference? Others are wondering the same thing: “The incidents have raised questions about whether the Army made any effort to ‘operationalize’ the threat warnings from the 2008 conference and develop policies to counter the threats. ‘The answer quite clearly is no,’ Mr. Poole said.”

This is a serious indictment of the Army and raises still more questions about the post-Fort Hood review. As Tom Joscelyn previously wrote, the Fort Hood review seemed to suggest that the system worked. It brushed by what should have been the central concern:

It says nothing of consequence about [Major Nadal] Hasan or how to stop individuals like him in the future. Hasan is not even named in the report, but instead referred to as the “alleged perpetrator.” The report’s authors contend that the sanctity of the criminal investigation into the shooting needs to be upheld. But this is not an excuse for failing to name the attacker. The whole world knows that Major Nidal Malik Hasan did it. . . .

What is relevant is Hasan’s religious and political beliefs. He is a jihadist, although you would never know it by reading the Pentagon’s report. Instead in the report’s “literature review of risk factors for violence,” one comes across this sentence: “Religious fundamentalism alone is not a risk factor; most fundamentalist groups are not violent, and religious-based violence is not confined to members of fundamentalist groups.”

Both before and after the terrorist incidents, the Army, it appears, has been stubbornly resisting the need to look into the root causes of such incidents and into our enemies’ ideology or to take the necessary steps to change how threats to its personnel should be assessed. This bodes poorly for our ability to prevent future attacks.

Bill Gertz reports:

Almost two years before the deadly Fort Hood shooting by a radicalized Muslim officer, the U.S. Army was explicitly warned that jihadism — Islamic holy war — was a serious problem and threat to personnel in the U.S., according to participants at a major Army-sponsored conference. The annual Army anti-terrorism conference in Florida in February 2008 included presentations on the threat by counterterrorism specialists Patrick Poole, Army Lt. Col. Joseph Myers and Terri Wonder. The meeting was organized by the Army’s provost marshal general and included more than 350 force protection and anti-terrorism professionals who came from major Army installations and commands from around the world, according to participants.

We then had three domestic terror attacks. So what happened to the information from the Florida conference? Others are wondering the same thing: “The incidents have raised questions about whether the Army made any effort to ‘operationalize’ the threat warnings from the 2008 conference and develop policies to counter the threats. ‘The answer quite clearly is no,’ Mr. Poole said.”

This is a serious indictment of the Army and raises still more questions about the post-Fort Hood review. As Tom Joscelyn previously wrote, the Fort Hood review seemed to suggest that the system worked. It brushed by what should have been the central concern:

It says nothing of consequence about [Major Nadal] Hasan or how to stop individuals like him in the future. Hasan is not even named in the report, but instead referred to as the “alleged perpetrator.” The report’s authors contend that the sanctity of the criminal investigation into the shooting needs to be upheld. But this is not an excuse for failing to name the attacker. The whole world knows that Major Nidal Malik Hasan did it. . . .

What is relevant is Hasan’s religious and political beliefs. He is a jihadist, although you would never know it by reading the Pentagon’s report. Instead in the report’s “literature review of risk factors for violence,” one comes across this sentence: “Religious fundamentalism alone is not a risk factor; most fundamentalist groups are not violent, and religious-based violence is not confined to members of fundamentalist groups.”

Both before and after the terrorist incidents, the Army, it appears, has been stubbornly resisting the need to look into the root causes of such incidents and into our enemies’ ideology or to take the necessary steps to change how threats to its personnel should be assessed. This bodes poorly for our ability to prevent future attacks.

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If the Czar Only Knew

Democrats are loath to say outright what a political disaster Obama has been for their party. So they have seized upon his right-hand man:

Democrats in Congress are holding White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel accountable for his part in the collapse of healthcare reform.The emerging consensus among critics in both chambers is that Emanuel’s lack of Senate experience slowed President Barack Obama’s top domestic priority.

The share of the blame comes as cracks are beginning to show in Emanuel’s once-impregnable political armor. Last week he had to apologize after a report surfaced that he called liberal groups “retarded” in a private meeting.

He had to apologize because some liberal in that meeting ratted him out, counting on the political-correctness industry to storm into action. (Little did those liberals know that their arch-villainess of the Right would help them by calling for Emanuel’s firing.) The Democrats’ criticisms are admittedly contradictory. Liberals think Emanuel sold them out on the public option and health care, while Senate insiders think he blew it by playing to the Left. (“‘Their plan was to keep all the Democrats together and work like hell to get Snowe and Collins. The Senate doesn’t work that way. You need a radius of 10 to 12 from the other side if you’re going to have a shot.’”)

That’s not to say that Emanuel doesn’t deserve criticism. He is the chief of staff in an administration sinking below the waterline. He reportedly mucked around in the Afghan war-strategy process, prolonging it and causing the president to look irresolute and weak. He has been front and center in the “bully Israel” approach to the Middle East, which ranks up there with the most lame-brained ideas of this administration. And he has set a tone of crass partisanship, arrogance, and plain mean-spiritedness that has not served the administration well.

But let’s face it: the president is thrilled with him. If David Brooks has it right, it’s a lovefest over at the White House. Everyone is on the same page, and nary a word of internal dissention is heard. (“Yet the atmosphere in the White House appears surprisingly tranquil. Emanuel is serving as a lighting rod for the president but remains crisply confident in his role as chief of staff.”) But that bit of Obama insidery might not be all that helpful in the long run. It undermines the theory — and the hope of Democrats — that the extreme policy, the tone deafness, and the ham-handedness are not Obama’s doing or his fault. You see, there’s little room for Obama to maneuver, shift the blame to errant aides, and maintain his deity-like status if all of this left-wing policy and the political faux pas festival stem from Obama’s policy vision and reflect his political instincts. Oops. Maybe not the most helpful column, after all.

Let’s get real. An administration reflects the strengths and weaknesses of the president. He sets the tone and controls policy. If Democrats and the country at large are unhappy with the results, there is only one person responsible. And it’s not Rahm Emanuel.

Democrats are loath to say outright what a political disaster Obama has been for their party. So they have seized upon his right-hand man:

Democrats in Congress are holding White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel accountable for his part in the collapse of healthcare reform.The emerging consensus among critics in both chambers is that Emanuel’s lack of Senate experience slowed President Barack Obama’s top domestic priority.

The share of the blame comes as cracks are beginning to show in Emanuel’s once-impregnable political armor. Last week he had to apologize after a report surfaced that he called liberal groups “retarded” in a private meeting.

He had to apologize because some liberal in that meeting ratted him out, counting on the political-correctness industry to storm into action. (Little did those liberals know that their arch-villainess of the Right would help them by calling for Emanuel’s firing.) The Democrats’ criticisms are admittedly contradictory. Liberals think Emanuel sold them out on the public option and health care, while Senate insiders think he blew it by playing to the Left. (“‘Their plan was to keep all the Democrats together and work like hell to get Snowe and Collins. The Senate doesn’t work that way. You need a radius of 10 to 12 from the other side if you’re going to have a shot.’”)

That’s not to say that Emanuel doesn’t deserve criticism. He is the chief of staff in an administration sinking below the waterline. He reportedly mucked around in the Afghan war-strategy process, prolonging it and causing the president to look irresolute and weak. He has been front and center in the “bully Israel” approach to the Middle East, which ranks up there with the most lame-brained ideas of this administration. And he has set a tone of crass partisanship, arrogance, and plain mean-spiritedness that has not served the administration well.

But let’s face it: the president is thrilled with him. If David Brooks has it right, it’s a lovefest over at the White House. Everyone is on the same page, and nary a word of internal dissention is heard. (“Yet the atmosphere in the White House appears surprisingly tranquil. Emanuel is serving as a lighting rod for the president but remains crisply confident in his role as chief of staff.”) But that bit of Obama insidery might not be all that helpful in the long run. It undermines the theory — and the hope of Democrats — that the extreme policy, the tone deafness, and the ham-handedness are not Obama’s doing or his fault. You see, there’s little room for Obama to maneuver, shift the blame to errant aides, and maintain his deity-like status if all of this left-wing policy and the political faux pas festival stem from Obama’s policy vision and reflect his political instincts. Oops. Maybe not the most helpful column, after all.

Let’s get real. An administration reflects the strengths and weaknesses of the president. He sets the tone and controls policy. If Democrats and the country at large are unhappy with the results, there is only one person responsible. And it’s not Rahm Emanuel.

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The Latest Charlie Crist Headache

As if Charlie Crist didn’t have enough problems, along comes this story about the Florida state Republican Party, which until recently was headed by Crist’s close confidante Jim Greer:

Donors and party activists are livid over newly revealed records that suggest outgoing chairman Jim Greer used the party as a personal slush fund for lavish travel and entertainment. The records also show that executive director Delmar Johnson padded his $103,000 salary with a secret, $260,000 fundraising contract and another $42,000 for expenses — at the same time the once mighty Florida GOP was having to lay off employees amid anemic fundraising. . . .

Greer has long been known as a flamboyant chairman who enjoyed entourages, charter jets and belting out Elvis at party galas. But even the biggest critics of Gov. Charlie Crist’s hand-picked chairman were stunned by revelations that he entered into a lucrative secret contract with a stealth company set up by his most loyal aide de camp, 30-year-old [GOP executive director Delmar] Johnson, a former Crist campaign aide. The contract would pay Johnson a 10 percent commission on all major donations to the state Republican Party.

This will likely become yet another source of angst for Crist, as party activists and ordinary voters question what he knew about his chairman’s activities and how this reflects on his judgment. (“Crist has said he didn’t know about Johnson’s contract, but some activists aren’t satisfied. Crist is the de facto head of the party and its biggest fundraiser.”) It seems as though Marco Rubio’s outsiderness is proving again to be an advantage. For now Rubio is taking a restrained line, calling for an audit “looking at how expenditures have been made in the past and make sure that going forward people are confident when they give money to the Republican party, it’s going toward good things.” Sometimes it is best simply to get out of the way while your opponent is drowning.

As if Charlie Crist didn’t have enough problems, along comes this story about the Florida state Republican Party, which until recently was headed by Crist’s close confidante Jim Greer:

Donors and party activists are livid over newly revealed records that suggest outgoing chairman Jim Greer used the party as a personal slush fund for lavish travel and entertainment. The records also show that executive director Delmar Johnson padded his $103,000 salary with a secret, $260,000 fundraising contract and another $42,000 for expenses — at the same time the once mighty Florida GOP was having to lay off employees amid anemic fundraising. . . .

Greer has long been known as a flamboyant chairman who enjoyed entourages, charter jets and belting out Elvis at party galas. But even the biggest critics of Gov. Charlie Crist’s hand-picked chairman were stunned by revelations that he entered into a lucrative secret contract with a stealth company set up by his most loyal aide de camp, 30-year-old [GOP executive director Delmar] Johnson, a former Crist campaign aide. The contract would pay Johnson a 10 percent commission on all major donations to the state Republican Party.

This will likely become yet another source of angst for Crist, as party activists and ordinary voters question what he knew about his chairman’s activities and how this reflects on his judgment. (“Crist has said he didn’t know about Johnson’s contract, but some activists aren’t satisfied. Crist is the de facto head of the party and its biggest fundraiser.”) It seems as though Marco Rubio’s outsiderness is proving again to be an advantage. For now Rubio is taking a restrained line, calling for an audit “looking at how expenditures have been made in the past and make sure that going forward people are confident when they give money to the Republican party, it’s going toward good things.” Sometimes it is best simply to get out of the way while your opponent is drowning.

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McConnell vs. Obama on Terror Policies

This Politico report pronounces:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has settled in on his election-year strategy: Identify issues that unite his caucus but divide the other party, then use them to drive a wedge between the White House and congressional Democrats. At the top of his list: the administration’s handling of terrorism cases.

Well, it could be, you know, that McConnell, as most conservatives do, actually believes that the Obama terrorism policies are dangerous and unworkable and opposes them not as part of an election stunt but because he thinks it’s folly to close Guantanamo, try KSM in America, declare war on our CIA, cease enhanced interrogation techniques, and Mirandize terrorists. Politico nevertheless picks up and runs with the Obami line here — namely, that the Republican opposition to Obama’s terrorism policies is “political” rather than principled. The normal process of seeking bipartisan support to achieve policy goals is transformed into political gamesmanship in Politico’s account: “McConnell hopes moderate Democrats will join Republicans in blocking funding for any civilian trials of terrorism suspects — a would-be GOP victory the party’s candidates could trumpet on the campaign trail throughout this election year.”

Well, if McConnell’s issue has political legs, it is because the Republican opposition to Obama’s policies has tapped into a great unease among Americans about Obama’s approach to the war waged by Islamic fascists on our civilization. But rather than address the factual anomalies in the Obami’s ever-changing accounts or consider the public attitude toward the same, Politico is content to re-run a common bit of Obami spin: the Republicans are the party of “no,” obstructionists and craven political creatures.

McConnell has from the get-go led the charge against Obama’s misguided policies. He did it in a non-election year and when Obama’s approval ratings were in the 70s. And he’s doing it now. If it has the benefit of rallying conservatives and independents who have recoiled against the criminalization of our approach to terrorism, there is nothing nefarious in that. This is how politics works and how, in a democratic system, the governing majority is tempered and turned away from extreme and foolhardy policies.

But Politico — the insiders’ guide to the Beltway — does us a favor by giving us a peek at just how the Obami look at these things. There is never any soul-searching on the merits of their policy choices and or any inclination to credit the opposition with raising legitimate criticism. It is what has gotten the Obami in trouble and what will prove to be their undoing. If McConnell succeeds in stopping the Obami in their tracks, Politico would deem that outcome a “political win.” The rest of us would consider it a boon to the safety and security of the American people.

This Politico report pronounces:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has settled in on his election-year strategy: Identify issues that unite his caucus but divide the other party, then use them to drive a wedge between the White House and congressional Democrats. At the top of his list: the administration’s handling of terrorism cases.

Well, it could be, you know, that McConnell, as most conservatives do, actually believes that the Obama terrorism policies are dangerous and unworkable and opposes them not as part of an election stunt but because he thinks it’s folly to close Guantanamo, try KSM in America, declare war on our CIA, cease enhanced interrogation techniques, and Mirandize terrorists. Politico nevertheless picks up and runs with the Obami line here — namely, that the Republican opposition to Obama’s terrorism policies is “political” rather than principled. The normal process of seeking bipartisan support to achieve policy goals is transformed into political gamesmanship in Politico’s account: “McConnell hopes moderate Democrats will join Republicans in blocking funding for any civilian trials of terrorism suspects — a would-be GOP victory the party’s candidates could trumpet on the campaign trail throughout this election year.”

Well, if McConnell’s issue has political legs, it is because the Republican opposition to Obama’s policies has tapped into a great unease among Americans about Obama’s approach to the war waged by Islamic fascists on our civilization. But rather than address the factual anomalies in the Obami’s ever-changing accounts or consider the public attitude toward the same, Politico is content to re-run a common bit of Obami spin: the Republicans are the party of “no,” obstructionists and craven political creatures.

McConnell has from the get-go led the charge against Obama’s misguided policies. He did it in a non-election year and when Obama’s approval ratings were in the 70s. And he’s doing it now. If it has the benefit of rallying conservatives and independents who have recoiled against the criminalization of our approach to terrorism, there is nothing nefarious in that. This is how politics works and how, in a democratic system, the governing majority is tempered and turned away from extreme and foolhardy policies.

But Politico — the insiders’ guide to the Beltway — does us a favor by giving us a peek at just how the Obami look at these things. There is never any soul-searching on the merits of their policy choices and or any inclination to credit the opposition with raising legitimate criticism. It is what has gotten the Obami in trouble and what will prove to be their undoing. If McConnell succeeds in stopping the Obami in their tracks, Politico would deem that outcome a “political win.” The rest of us would consider it a boon to the safety and security of the American people.

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Phony Centrists Pay the Price for ObamaCare

In observing the unraveling of the governing coalition and the vicious infighting breaking out in the Democratic party (“Who lost ObamaCare?” will obsess the Left for years, I suspect), James Taranto writes:

One can fault President Obama for pursuing an agenda that would be bad for the country or for his party. But one can hardly fault progressives in Congress, much less activists who don’t even hold office, for seeking to advance the ideology in which they believe–for taking their own side in an intraparty debate.

The problem is that Democratic centrists rolled over. Either they yielded their centrist principles in the face of progressive intimidation, or those principles didn’t amount to much to begin with. The most dramatic illustration of this point is the list of moderate Democrats in the Senate: Evan Bayh, Mary Landrieu, Ben Nelson, Bill Nelson, Blanche Lincoln, Jim Webb. Every one of them voted for ObamaCare. Any one of them alone could have put a stop to ObamaCare simply by casting a vote against cloture. Several of them voted “yes” in exchange for special privileges for their states, making quite clear that theirs was not a principled stand.

I think the answer to that is “those principles didn’t amount to much to begin with.” Indeed, these “centrists” didn’t merely fall off the fiscal conservative bandwagon on ObamaCare — not one of them opposed the monstrous stimulus plan. Only Evan Bayh opposed the 2009 noxious $410 billion omnibus spending plan with 8,500 earmarks. In other words, the so-called moderates never demonstrated any real moderation or inclination to restrain the Reid-Pelosi-Obama juggernaut.

And when confronted with legislation their constituents hated and that defied the fiscal conservative line on which they had ridden into office, they readily complied with their liberal leadership, in no small part because they perceived the risk of crossing the president and their Democratic colleagues to be greater than the risk of angering moderate voters. This was especially true for those who would not face the voters this year. (Only Bayh and Lincoln will.)

It’s a well-known pattern for many Democrats, Harry Reid included, from Red or Purple states: talk a conservative game back home, make speeches on fiscal sobriety, and roll over for liberal leadership when it comes to actual votes. Usually they get away with it when the public is not so engaged, the legislation is not so controversial, and Republicans blur the  lines by defecting to vote with the bulk of Democrats. But here the public was vigilant, the legislation was noxious both in substance and in process, and Republicans held the line in their unanimous opposition to ObamaCare. So now these “centrists” are finding it hard to hide and explain why they threw in their lot with Reid-Pelosi-Obama. They may regret having “blown their cover” as faux fiscal conservatives for a bill that probably won’t pass and that is now the rallying point for an energized opposition.

In observing the unraveling of the governing coalition and the vicious infighting breaking out in the Democratic party (“Who lost ObamaCare?” will obsess the Left for years, I suspect), James Taranto writes:

One can fault President Obama for pursuing an agenda that would be bad for the country or for his party. But one can hardly fault progressives in Congress, much less activists who don’t even hold office, for seeking to advance the ideology in which they believe–for taking their own side in an intraparty debate.

The problem is that Democratic centrists rolled over. Either they yielded their centrist principles in the face of progressive intimidation, or those principles didn’t amount to much to begin with. The most dramatic illustration of this point is the list of moderate Democrats in the Senate: Evan Bayh, Mary Landrieu, Ben Nelson, Bill Nelson, Blanche Lincoln, Jim Webb. Every one of them voted for ObamaCare. Any one of them alone could have put a stop to ObamaCare simply by casting a vote against cloture. Several of them voted “yes” in exchange for special privileges for their states, making quite clear that theirs was not a principled stand.

I think the answer to that is “those principles didn’t amount to much to begin with.” Indeed, these “centrists” didn’t merely fall off the fiscal conservative bandwagon on ObamaCare — not one of them opposed the monstrous stimulus plan. Only Evan Bayh opposed the 2009 noxious $410 billion omnibus spending plan with 8,500 earmarks. In other words, the so-called moderates never demonstrated any real moderation or inclination to restrain the Reid-Pelosi-Obama juggernaut.

And when confronted with legislation their constituents hated and that defied the fiscal conservative line on which they had ridden into office, they readily complied with their liberal leadership, in no small part because they perceived the risk of crossing the president and their Democratic colleagues to be greater than the risk of angering moderate voters. This was especially true for those who would not face the voters this year. (Only Bayh and Lincoln will.)

It’s a well-known pattern for many Democrats, Harry Reid included, from Red or Purple states: talk a conservative game back home, make speeches on fiscal sobriety, and roll over for liberal leadership when it comes to actual votes. Usually they get away with it when the public is not so engaged, the legislation is not so controversial, and Republicans blur the  lines by defecting to vote with the bulk of Democrats. But here the public was vigilant, the legislation was noxious both in substance and in process, and Republicans held the line in their unanimous opposition to ObamaCare. So now these “centrists” are finding it hard to hide and explain why they threw in their lot with Reid-Pelosi-Obama. They may regret having “blown their cover” as faux fiscal conservatives for a bill that probably won’t pass and that is now the rallying point for an energized opposition.

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Is a Nuclear Iran a Good Thing?

Iran is going nuclear? Don’t worry, be happy. That, at least, is the message of this odd op-ed in the New York Times written by one Adam B. Lowther, identified as an analyst at the Air Force Research Institute at Maxwell Air Base in Alabama. He claims that a nuclear Iran will deliver all sorts of hidden benefits for the U.S.:

First, Iran’s development of nuclear weapons would give the United States an opportunity to finally defeat violent Sunni-Arab terrorist groups like Al Qaeda. Here’s why: a nuclear Iran is primarily a threat to its neighbors, not the United States. Thus Washington could offer regional security — primarily, a Middle East nuclear umbrella — in exchange for economic, political and social reforms in the autocratic Arab regimes responsible for breeding the discontent that led to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

He takes this fantasy to another level by imagining that not only will the Arab states be empowered to defeat al-Qaeda — something they already have an interest in doing — but that OPEC will also crack up, the Israelis and Palestinians will settle their differences because they’ll both be so scared of Iranian nukes, U.S. defense exports to the Middle East will increase, the Arab states will bear more of the cost of their own defense, and Iran will become a more responsible actor with nuclear weapons than without them.

Uh, right. All this will happen about the time that Osama bin Laden converts to Zionism. This is the kind of thing that only someone in a university or research institute could possibly believe. In reality, while an Iranian nuclear program may spur some Arab states to draw closer to the U.S., it will also prompt many of them to do more to accommodate Iran as the new “strong horse” in the region and to do more to embrace Islamism to deflect Iran’s appeal to their own people. Iran will certainly be empowered to step up its campaign of terrorism. And many other regional players, such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, and even Syria may go nuclear themselves to counter the Iranian influence. Far from spurring a “renaissance of American influence in the Middle East,” a nuclear Iran will be well-positioned to dominate the entire region.

Lowther’s article is hard to take seriously, but the fact that it appears in our leading newspaper and is written by a government employee is sure to lead many in the conspiracy-mad Middle East to imagine that it represents the views of the U.S. government. That will only further encourage Iran and discourage its neighbors. Not that Iran needs much outside encouragement. Its leaders are plainly convinced that the U.S. is not going to do anything substantive to stop its nuclear program. And they are probably right. But that is hardly cause for celebration.

Iran is going nuclear? Don’t worry, be happy. That, at least, is the message of this odd op-ed in the New York Times written by one Adam B. Lowther, identified as an analyst at the Air Force Research Institute at Maxwell Air Base in Alabama. He claims that a nuclear Iran will deliver all sorts of hidden benefits for the U.S.:

First, Iran’s development of nuclear weapons would give the United States an opportunity to finally defeat violent Sunni-Arab terrorist groups like Al Qaeda. Here’s why: a nuclear Iran is primarily a threat to its neighbors, not the United States. Thus Washington could offer regional security — primarily, a Middle East nuclear umbrella — in exchange for economic, political and social reforms in the autocratic Arab regimes responsible for breeding the discontent that led to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

He takes this fantasy to another level by imagining that not only will the Arab states be empowered to defeat al-Qaeda — something they already have an interest in doing — but that OPEC will also crack up, the Israelis and Palestinians will settle their differences because they’ll both be so scared of Iranian nukes, U.S. defense exports to the Middle East will increase, the Arab states will bear more of the cost of their own defense, and Iran will become a more responsible actor with nuclear weapons than without them.

Uh, right. All this will happen about the time that Osama bin Laden converts to Zionism. This is the kind of thing that only someone in a university or research institute could possibly believe. In reality, while an Iranian nuclear program may spur some Arab states to draw closer to the U.S., it will also prompt many of them to do more to accommodate Iran as the new “strong horse” in the region and to do more to embrace Islamism to deflect Iran’s appeal to their own people. Iran will certainly be empowered to step up its campaign of terrorism. And many other regional players, such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, and even Syria may go nuclear themselves to counter the Iranian influence. Far from spurring a “renaissance of American influence in the Middle East,” a nuclear Iran will be well-positioned to dominate the entire region.

Lowther’s article is hard to take seriously, but the fact that it appears in our leading newspaper and is written by a government employee is sure to lead many in the conspiracy-mad Middle East to imagine that it represents the views of the U.S. government. That will only further encourage Iran and discourage its neighbors. Not that Iran needs much outside encouragement. Its leaders are plainly convinced that the U.S. is not going to do anything substantive to stop its nuclear program. And they are probably right. But that is hardly cause for celebration.

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New Black Panther Case Investigator Getting a Lifetime Judgeship?

This report would ordinarily not be of much interest:

The White House and the Justice Department are vetting the head of the Office of Professional Responsibility, Mary Patrice Brown, for a federal judgeship, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Brown, a well-regarded career prosecutor, is expected to secure a nomination to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, assuming she clears her FBI background check and American Bar Association review, the people said.

But OPR is now handling, with no deliberate speed and no transparency, the internal investigation of the dismissal of the New Black Panther Party case. (Really, is it possible that after months of investigation, not a single member of the trial team has been interviewed by OPR?)

And do we think Brown is acting with full independence and a devil-may-care attitude as to where the facts may lead? Or is she, now that a lifetime appointment to the court is pending, treading ever so carefully and slooowly? Well, one thing is certain: if she is nominated for a federal courtship, senators can finally quiz her on what political interference by Obami appointees in the work of career prosecutors may have been uncovered and why the OPR is slow-walking its way through an internal investigation that remains hidden from all outside scrutiny. That should make for an interesting confirmation hearing.

This report would ordinarily not be of much interest:

The White House and the Justice Department are vetting the head of the Office of Professional Responsibility, Mary Patrice Brown, for a federal judgeship, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Brown, a well-regarded career prosecutor, is expected to secure a nomination to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, assuming she clears her FBI background check and American Bar Association review, the people said.

But OPR is now handling, with no deliberate speed and no transparency, the internal investigation of the dismissal of the New Black Panther Party case. (Really, is it possible that after months of investigation, not a single member of the trial team has been interviewed by OPR?)

And do we think Brown is acting with full independence and a devil-may-care attitude as to where the facts may lead? Or is she, now that a lifetime appointment to the court is pending, treading ever so carefully and slooowly? Well, one thing is certain: if she is nominated for a federal courtship, senators can finally quiz her on what political interference by Obami appointees in the work of career prosecutors may have been uncovered and why the OPR is slow-walking its way through an internal investigation that remains hidden from all outside scrutiny. That should make for an interesting confirmation hearing.

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The Great Absentee-Ballot Debate

A perennial Israeli debate erupted anew yesterday, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he supported a proposal to extend the franchise to Israelis living abroad. What makes this debate so baffling is that both sides are partly right — meaning it should be easy to strike a compromise somewhere in the middle. But in 62 years, it hasn’t happened.

The proposal put forth by Netanyahu’s largest coalition partner, Yisrael Beiteinu, would allow absentee ballots for anyone who has held a valid Israeli passport for the past 10 years — about 500,000 people. And opponents are right that this is far too broad. First, in terms of sheer numbers, that constitutes 7 percent of the total population and fully 10 percent of eligible voters — a far higher proportion than is the norm in other countries that allow absentee voting.

Moreover, many of the 500,000 people in question have been living abroad full-time for many years. Indeed, you can have a valid Israeli passport for 10 years without setting foot in the country that entire time. Thus people who are not living in Israel and whose daily lives are unaffected by the country’s policies would have a disproportionate impact on the outcome of any election.

This is particularly problematic because Israel is a country at war. Overseas residents are not the ones who will suffer daily rocket fire if a territorial pullout goes wrong, nor will their sons’ lives be at risk if the government launches a military operation. Thus it is completely inappropriate to give them a major voice in electing those who will make such decisions.

Yet at the same time, proponents of absenting voting are right that the current system is irredeemably unfair. Under current law, the only people allowed to vote absentee are sailors and diplomats (and their families). Hence a businessman who lives in Israel year-round but happens to be abroad attending a major trade fair on Election Day cannot vote. Ditto for a professor who has taught for 20 years at an Israeli university but happens to be on sabbatical abroad during election year — unless he is willing to pay $1,000 to fly to Israel for Election Day and cast his ballot there. It is long past time for Israel to stop disenfranchising such citizens.

It is not technically difficult to distinguish permanent overseas residents from Israelis there temporarily, as it was in days gone by. The law could simply require absentee voters to have spent a specified proportion of the past five (or seven or 10) years in Israel, and ballot applications could be checked against border-control data to see if the applicant qualified.

The good news is that whereas Yisrael Beiteinu and Netanyahu’s Likud party largely support the bill, the other two main coalition partners, Labor and Shas, oppose it. That means there’s a chance that the government will at long last pass a reasonable compromise — one that will help those unfairly disenfranchised by current law while excluding those whose homes are permanently overseas.

A perennial Israeli debate erupted anew yesterday, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he supported a proposal to extend the franchise to Israelis living abroad. What makes this debate so baffling is that both sides are partly right — meaning it should be easy to strike a compromise somewhere in the middle. But in 62 years, it hasn’t happened.

The proposal put forth by Netanyahu’s largest coalition partner, Yisrael Beiteinu, would allow absentee ballots for anyone who has held a valid Israeli passport for the past 10 years — about 500,000 people. And opponents are right that this is far too broad. First, in terms of sheer numbers, that constitutes 7 percent of the total population and fully 10 percent of eligible voters — a far higher proportion than is the norm in other countries that allow absentee voting.

Moreover, many of the 500,000 people in question have been living abroad full-time for many years. Indeed, you can have a valid Israeli passport for 10 years without setting foot in the country that entire time. Thus people who are not living in Israel and whose daily lives are unaffected by the country’s policies would have a disproportionate impact on the outcome of any election.

This is particularly problematic because Israel is a country at war. Overseas residents are not the ones who will suffer daily rocket fire if a territorial pullout goes wrong, nor will their sons’ lives be at risk if the government launches a military operation. Thus it is completely inappropriate to give them a major voice in electing those who will make such decisions.

Yet at the same time, proponents of absenting voting are right that the current system is irredeemably unfair. Under current law, the only people allowed to vote absentee are sailors and diplomats (and their families). Hence a businessman who lives in Israel year-round but happens to be abroad attending a major trade fair on Election Day cannot vote. Ditto for a professor who has taught for 20 years at an Israeli university but happens to be on sabbatical abroad during election year — unless he is willing to pay $1,000 to fly to Israel for Election Day and cast his ballot there. It is long past time for Israel to stop disenfranchising such citizens.

It is not technically difficult to distinguish permanent overseas residents from Israelis there temporarily, as it was in days gone by. The law could simply require absentee voters to have spent a specified proportion of the past five (or seven or 10) years in Israel, and ballot applications could be checked against border-control data to see if the applicant qualified.

The good news is that whereas Yisrael Beiteinu and Netanyahu’s Likud party largely support the bill, the other two main coalition partners, Labor and Shas, oppose it. That means there’s a chance that the government will at long last pass a reasonable compromise — one that will help those unfairly disenfranchised by current law while excluding those whose homes are permanently overseas.

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Hiding Behind the Bushies

Bill McGurn notices that the Obami are now seeking to hide behind the skirts of George W. Bush and his national-security team – the very people the Obami excoriated, investigated, and vilified as virtual war criminals. He writes:

Barack Obama defending his war policies by suggesting they merely continue his predecessor’s practices. The defense is illuminating, not least for its implicit recognition that George W. Bush has more credibility on fighting terrorists than does the sitting president.

Mr. Obama’s explanation came in an interview with Katie Couric just before the Super Bowl. Ms. Couric asked about trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York. After listing some of the difficulties, the president offered a startling defense for civilian trials: “I think that the most important thing for the public to understand,” he told Ms. Couric, “is we’re not handling any of these cases any different than the Bush administration handled them all through 9/11.”

This is a far cry, as McGurn points out, from all the insults hurled by Obama at the Bush team. (“You know—all those Niebuhrian speeches about how America had gone ‘off course,’ ‘shown arrogance and been dismissive,’ and ‘made decisions based on fear rather than foresight,’ thus handing al Qaeda a valuable recruiting tool.”)

And then there are the facts: you see, it’s not true. Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey says that the decision to Mirandize the Christmas Day bomber and classify him as a criminal defendant wasn’t predetermined by any Bush-era policy or guideline: “And there is nothing—zero, zilch, nada—in those guidelines that makes that choice. It is a decision that ought to be made at the highest level, and the heads of our security agencies have testified that it was made without consulting them.”

It is political cowardice plain and simple to pass off on a prior president what is indisputably a policy judgment of this administration. Indeed, the entire episode personifies the core failings of this president — a misguided view of our enemies and the requirements of fighting a war against Islamic fascists, a willingness to employ leftist slogans in place of reasoned policy, a refusal to take responsibility for grievous errors, and an inability to get stories straight when everything goes haywire. The stakes are very high, yet the Obami persist in treating the public as gullible and a near-calamitous national-security failure as a mere PR problem. In that regard, they certainly are very un-Bush.

Bill McGurn notices that the Obami are now seeking to hide behind the skirts of George W. Bush and his national-security team – the very people the Obami excoriated, investigated, and vilified as virtual war criminals. He writes:

Barack Obama defending his war policies by suggesting they merely continue his predecessor’s practices. The defense is illuminating, not least for its implicit recognition that George W. Bush has more credibility on fighting terrorists than does the sitting president.

Mr. Obama’s explanation came in an interview with Katie Couric just before the Super Bowl. Ms. Couric asked about trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York. After listing some of the difficulties, the president offered a startling defense for civilian trials: “I think that the most important thing for the public to understand,” he told Ms. Couric, “is we’re not handling any of these cases any different than the Bush administration handled them all through 9/11.”

This is a far cry, as McGurn points out, from all the insults hurled by Obama at the Bush team. (“You know—all those Niebuhrian speeches about how America had gone ‘off course,’ ‘shown arrogance and been dismissive,’ and ‘made decisions based on fear rather than foresight,’ thus handing al Qaeda a valuable recruiting tool.”)

And then there are the facts: you see, it’s not true. Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey says that the decision to Mirandize the Christmas Day bomber and classify him as a criminal defendant wasn’t predetermined by any Bush-era policy or guideline: “And there is nothing—zero, zilch, nada—in those guidelines that makes that choice. It is a decision that ought to be made at the highest level, and the heads of our security agencies have testified that it was made without consulting them.”

It is political cowardice plain and simple to pass off on a prior president what is indisputably a policy judgment of this administration. Indeed, the entire episode personifies the core failings of this president — a misguided view of our enemies and the requirements of fighting a war against Islamic fascists, a willingness to employ leftist slogans in place of reasoned policy, a refusal to take responsibility for grievous errors, and an inability to get stories straight when everything goes haywire. The stakes are very high, yet the Obami persist in treating the public as gullible and a near-calamitous national-security failure as a mere PR problem. In that regard, they certainly are very un-Bush.

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Obama Labor Nominee Draws Democratic Opposition

It seems that the nomination of Harold Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board may finally be kaput. Republicans are uniformly opposed to the nominee, who is the SEIU and AFL-CIO’s lawyer and whose writings have offered the view that labor election laws can be rewritten by the NLRB without congressional authorization. Now Sen. Ben Nelson, struggling to get back into the good graces of conservatives and business groups, is coming out against Becker:

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) announced Monday evening that he will support a Republican-led filibuster over President Barack Obama’s nominee to serve on the National Labor Relations Board. The move is likely to infuriate labor groups who have fought hard for Craig Becker’s nomination to serve on the five-member NLRB — and will likely give Republicans enough support to sustain a filibuster Tuesday.

A report by Congressional Quarterly (subscription required) states that other Democrats may oppose Becker, although none has done so publicly. If Becker can’t get through the Senate with 60 votes to break a filibuster, there is the potential for a recess appointment. It wouldn’t be the first recess appointment in recent memory, but it does speak volumes about how extreme Becker is (two other NLRB nominees face no organized opposition) and how Obama has failed to garner even a modicum of bipartisan support, whether in matters large (health care) or relatively small (a labor board nominee).

It seems that the nomination of Harold Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board may finally be kaput. Republicans are uniformly opposed to the nominee, who is the SEIU and AFL-CIO’s lawyer and whose writings have offered the view that labor election laws can be rewritten by the NLRB without congressional authorization. Now Sen. Ben Nelson, struggling to get back into the good graces of conservatives and business groups, is coming out against Becker:

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) announced Monday evening that he will support a Republican-led filibuster over President Barack Obama’s nominee to serve on the National Labor Relations Board. The move is likely to infuriate labor groups who have fought hard for Craig Becker’s nomination to serve on the five-member NLRB — and will likely give Republicans enough support to sustain a filibuster Tuesday.

A report by Congressional Quarterly (subscription required) states that other Democrats may oppose Becker, although none has done so publicly. If Becker can’t get through the Senate with 60 votes to break a filibuster, there is the potential for a recess appointment. It wouldn’t be the first recess appointment in recent memory, but it does speak volumes about how extreme Becker is (two other NLRB nominees face no organized opposition) and how Obama has failed to garner even a modicum of bipartisan support, whether in matters large (health care) or relatively small (a labor board nominee).

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Iran, Israel, and the GOP Senate Primary Race

Carly Fiorina, who is in a tough Republican primary race for the U.S. Senate in California, has raised a key foreign-policy issue. In a released statement, she notes:

President Ahmadinejad’s order yesterday to begin enriching uranium far past levels needed to power nuclear plants reveals the regime’s true intentions for its nuclear technology. Today’s news only further confirms that Iran is not serious about complying with the international nuclear nonproliferation treaty to which they are a party.

It is abundantly clear: engagement with Iran has failed. Negotiations have shown no progress. We cannot afford to talk any longer. We must act now to implement tough, crippling sanctions to persuade the Iranian regime to suspend its nuclear program and engage in serious negotiations.

Both the Senate and the House have passed strong versions of the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act. I urge our leaders in Congress to reconcile quickly their differences and present a bill to the President for his immediate signature and immediate implementation.

It will be interesting to see how significant an issue this becomes in the primary race. Her two opponents have yet to weigh in on this issue, but foreign policy — specifically, their stance toward Israel and the existential threat to the Jewish state’s existence posed by a nuclear-armed Iran — may well play a role in the race. One of her opponents, Chuck Devore, has in the past voiced strong support for Israel’s right of self-defense.

Tom Campbell, who has zipped into the lead in early polls, is quite another story. During his time in the House, Campbell was one of the few Republicans with a consistent anti-Israel voting record. In 1999, he introduced an amendment to cut foreign aid to Israel. This amendment, titled the Campbell Amendment, was defeated overwhelmingly on the House floor by a vote of 13-414. In 1999, Campbell was one of just 24 House members to vote against a resolution expressing congressional opposition to the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state. In 1997, Rep. Tom Campbell authored an amendment (also titled the Campbell Amendment) to cut foreign aid to Israel. The resolution failed 9-32 in committee. In 1990, Campbell was one of just 34 House members to vote against a resolution expressing support for Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.  The resolution passed the House 378-34. But Campbell has taken positions on more than just aid that have raised concerns about his views on Israel. As the Los Angeles Times reported in 2000, Campbell, in his losing race against Dianne Feinstein, “told numerous crowds–including Jewish groups–that he believes Palestinians are entitled to a homeland and that Jerusalem can be the capital of more than one nation.”

By making Iran and foreign policy a focus of her campaign, Fiorina is most likely inviting comparisons with her opponents. We’ll see how California Republicans size up the candidates and whether their stance Iran and Israel become a major source of contention.

Carly Fiorina, who is in a tough Republican primary race for the U.S. Senate in California, has raised a key foreign-policy issue. In a released statement, she notes:

President Ahmadinejad’s order yesterday to begin enriching uranium far past levels needed to power nuclear plants reveals the regime’s true intentions for its nuclear technology. Today’s news only further confirms that Iran is not serious about complying with the international nuclear nonproliferation treaty to which they are a party.

It is abundantly clear: engagement with Iran has failed. Negotiations have shown no progress. We cannot afford to talk any longer. We must act now to implement tough, crippling sanctions to persuade the Iranian regime to suspend its nuclear program and engage in serious negotiations.

Both the Senate and the House have passed strong versions of the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act. I urge our leaders in Congress to reconcile quickly their differences and present a bill to the President for his immediate signature and immediate implementation.

It will be interesting to see how significant an issue this becomes in the primary race. Her two opponents have yet to weigh in on this issue, but foreign policy — specifically, their stance toward Israel and the existential threat to the Jewish state’s existence posed by a nuclear-armed Iran — may well play a role in the race. One of her opponents, Chuck Devore, has in the past voiced strong support for Israel’s right of self-defense.

Tom Campbell, who has zipped into the lead in early polls, is quite another story. During his time in the House, Campbell was one of the few Republicans with a consistent anti-Israel voting record. In 1999, he introduced an amendment to cut foreign aid to Israel. This amendment, titled the Campbell Amendment, was defeated overwhelmingly on the House floor by a vote of 13-414. In 1999, Campbell was one of just 24 House members to vote against a resolution expressing congressional opposition to the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state. In 1997, Rep. Tom Campbell authored an amendment (also titled the Campbell Amendment) to cut foreign aid to Israel. The resolution failed 9-32 in committee. In 1990, Campbell was one of just 34 House members to vote against a resolution expressing support for Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.  The resolution passed the House 378-34. But Campbell has taken positions on more than just aid that have raised concerns about his views on Israel. As the Los Angeles Times reported in 2000, Campbell, in his losing race against Dianne Feinstein, “told numerous crowds–including Jewish groups–that he believes Palestinians are entitled to a homeland and that Jerusalem can be the capital of more than one nation.”

By making Iran and foreign policy a focus of her campaign, Fiorina is most likely inviting comparisons with her opponents. We’ll see how California Republicans size up the candidates and whether their stance Iran and Israel become a major source of contention.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

With the death of John Murtha, the Cook Political Report moves his seat to a “toss-up.”

From Florida: “The Brevard County GOP held a straw poll Friday night that arguably is more reflective of the overall GOP electorate than other GOP straw polls in recent months, where voting was limited to executive committee members. In Brevard’s case, we’re told only about one in four voters were executive committee members. The results only include the top two vote-getters; U.S. Senate Marco Rubio: 321, Charlie Crist: 45.”

In Washington State: “Long-time WA state Sen. Don Benton (R) will challenge Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), giving GOPers their strongest challenger yet as he hopes to take a page from Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA).”

Obama’s approval drops to 44 percent, a new low, in the Marist poll. Also of concern for Obama: 57 percent of independents disapprove of his performance, and by a 47 to 42 percent margin, voters say he has fallen below their expectations. That helped push Obama’s overall RealClearPolitics approval to a new low — 47.9 percent, just a smidgen above the disapproval rating average of 47 percent.

Is this a good idea? “U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin said Sunday he’ll chair the Senate campaign of fellow Democrat Alexi Giannoulias as he takes on a better-funded and more experienced Republican foe.” Seems like a big risk for both. Giannoulias is already tagged with being too insidery, and Durbin, who’s gunning for Harry Reid’s job, will take a hit if he can’t drag Giannoulias across the finish line.

Matt Continetti thinks Obama gets points for reaching out, and the congressional Republicans may score a win in the proposed health-care summit, while congressional Democrats come out the losers. (Sounds Clintonian, doesn’t it?). “If Obama hasn’t been able to convince the public his way is the right way by now, one more event won’t make a difference. Nor will a single C-SPAN broadcast alter the political dynamic that is preventing Democrats from passing a final bill. What’s more, Republicans will have an opportunity to present their ideas to lower the cost of individual health insurance and increase consumer choice.”

The most vilified male Republican is also the most effective, as “political and security realities are forcing Mr. Obama’s antiterror policies ever-closer to the former Vice President’s. … As long as George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were responsible for keeping Americans safe, Democrats could pander to the U.S. and European left’s anti-antiterror views at little political cost. But now that they are responsible, American voters are able to see what the left really has in mind, and they are saying loud and clear that they prefer the Cheney method.” Well, we’ll see how close Obama gets to Cheney’s policy preferences. For now, Guantanamo is open, and it looks likes there will be no civilian KSM trial, at least in New York.

The Obama hangover sets in: “A year ago, Barack Obama’s true believers were euphoric. The huge and jubilant gathering in Chicago’s Grant Park on election night 2008 gave way to almost 2 million people on the Mall for the president’s inauguration. He took office as the most popular incoming president in a generation. A movement had become a mandate of nearly 70 million votes. People hoped the new president would bring change to Washington, the hallmark claim of his historic candidacy. Now, the mood through much of the nation seems restive, even sour. It is almost jarring to look at the photographs from Grant Park, to study those upturned beaming faces, many streaked with tears. Was that a movement? Or just a moment?”

With the death of John Murtha, the Cook Political Report moves his seat to a “toss-up.”

From Florida: “The Brevard County GOP held a straw poll Friday night that arguably is more reflective of the overall GOP electorate than other GOP straw polls in recent months, where voting was limited to executive committee members. In Brevard’s case, we’re told only about one in four voters were executive committee members. The results only include the top two vote-getters; U.S. Senate Marco Rubio: 321, Charlie Crist: 45.”

In Washington State: “Long-time WA state Sen. Don Benton (R) will challenge Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), giving GOPers their strongest challenger yet as he hopes to take a page from Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA).”

Obama’s approval drops to 44 percent, a new low, in the Marist poll. Also of concern for Obama: 57 percent of independents disapprove of his performance, and by a 47 to 42 percent margin, voters say he has fallen below their expectations. That helped push Obama’s overall RealClearPolitics approval to a new low — 47.9 percent, just a smidgen above the disapproval rating average of 47 percent.

Is this a good idea? “U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin said Sunday he’ll chair the Senate campaign of fellow Democrat Alexi Giannoulias as he takes on a better-funded and more experienced Republican foe.” Seems like a big risk for both. Giannoulias is already tagged with being too insidery, and Durbin, who’s gunning for Harry Reid’s job, will take a hit if he can’t drag Giannoulias across the finish line.

Matt Continetti thinks Obama gets points for reaching out, and the congressional Republicans may score a win in the proposed health-care summit, while congressional Democrats come out the losers. (Sounds Clintonian, doesn’t it?). “If Obama hasn’t been able to convince the public his way is the right way by now, one more event won’t make a difference. Nor will a single C-SPAN broadcast alter the political dynamic that is preventing Democrats from passing a final bill. What’s more, Republicans will have an opportunity to present their ideas to lower the cost of individual health insurance and increase consumer choice.”

The most vilified male Republican is also the most effective, as “political and security realities are forcing Mr. Obama’s antiterror policies ever-closer to the former Vice President’s. … As long as George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were responsible for keeping Americans safe, Democrats could pander to the U.S. and European left’s anti-antiterror views at little political cost. But now that they are responsible, American voters are able to see what the left really has in mind, and they are saying loud and clear that they prefer the Cheney method.” Well, we’ll see how close Obama gets to Cheney’s policy preferences. For now, Guantanamo is open, and it looks likes there will be no civilian KSM trial, at least in New York.

The Obama hangover sets in: “A year ago, Barack Obama’s true believers were euphoric. The huge and jubilant gathering in Chicago’s Grant Park on election night 2008 gave way to almost 2 million people on the Mall for the president’s inauguration. He took office as the most popular incoming president in a generation. A movement had become a mandate of nearly 70 million votes. People hoped the new president would bring change to Washington, the hallmark claim of his historic candidacy. Now, the mood through much of the nation seems restive, even sour. It is almost jarring to look at the photographs from Grant Park, to study those upturned beaming faces, many streaked with tears. Was that a movement? Or just a moment?”

Read Less




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