Commentary Magazine


Posts For: March 20, 2010

Cheering Their Failed Israel Policy

The Washington Post headline — “Experts question whether U.S. has a real Israel strategy or ‘talking points'” — suggests the disarray in the Obami’s approach and the general consternation that has greeted their bully-boyism directed at the Jewish state. Indeed, the Post can find no one but George Mitchell’s lackey Martin Indyk (more on him later) who agrees with Hillary Clinton’s obnoxious claim that the staged hissy fit with Israel is “paying off.” (And if it were bearing fruit, then we are back to amateur hour when Hillary announces as much, and on the Israel-hating BBC, of all places). Elliott Abrams dryly notes: “It has made life harder and has made negotiations harder for the Israelis and the Palestinians.” Certainly taunting one side in public has that effect.

We are now in a fencing match. Hillary demands some concessions; Bibi tries to serve up some small gesture or soothing platitude so Hillary and company can climb down off the roof on which they have perched themselves to impress their Palestinian friends. But all we have to show for this is Palestinian stone-throwing, a dead Thai worker, a strained but not yet broken relationship with Israel, and further reason for Palestinians to do what they do best — play victim and demand unilateral concessions.

But nothing is more telling than the comments of Indyk, an adviser to Mitchell, who presumably channels the Obami’s thinking:

Martin S. Indyk, vice president for foreign studies at the Brookings Institution and an adviser to Mitchell, said the administration in the past 10 days has made the Israeli government “supersensitive” to the issue of Jerusalem. He praised the administration for not revealing its demands and said U.S. officials adroitly turned down the heat as quickly as they turned it up.

“I think they handled it quite well,” he said.

Supersensitive about their eternal capital? Well, that’s one way — a particularly nasty and undiplomatic way — to express it but also a telling admission of how the administration picked a fight on the one issue that unites Israelis and that no government could, short of a final-status deal, compromise on housing. And his boast of adroitness — does that include the BBC bragging? The onslaught of condemnations? And three cheers, Indyk is leading, for the attempt to wring out of our ally even more concessions!

You see the problem: the members of this crew are high-fiving themselves for continuing, albeit in quieter tones, the same losing strategy they’ve been pursuing from the get-go. So do they have a real strategy? Definitely — the most counterproductive and dangerous one imaginable.

The Washington Post headline — “Experts question whether U.S. has a real Israel strategy or ‘talking points'” — suggests the disarray in the Obami’s approach and the general consternation that has greeted their bully-boyism directed at the Jewish state. Indeed, the Post can find no one but George Mitchell’s lackey Martin Indyk (more on him later) who agrees with Hillary Clinton’s obnoxious claim that the staged hissy fit with Israel is “paying off.” (And if it were bearing fruit, then we are back to amateur hour when Hillary announces as much, and on the Israel-hating BBC, of all places). Elliott Abrams dryly notes: “It has made life harder and has made negotiations harder for the Israelis and the Palestinians.” Certainly taunting one side in public has that effect.

We are now in a fencing match. Hillary demands some concessions; Bibi tries to serve up some small gesture or soothing platitude so Hillary and company can climb down off the roof on which they have perched themselves to impress their Palestinian friends. But all we have to show for this is Palestinian stone-throwing, a dead Thai worker, a strained but not yet broken relationship with Israel, and further reason for Palestinians to do what they do best — play victim and demand unilateral concessions.

But nothing is more telling than the comments of Indyk, an adviser to Mitchell, who presumably channels the Obami’s thinking:

Martin S. Indyk, vice president for foreign studies at the Brookings Institution and an adviser to Mitchell, said the administration in the past 10 days has made the Israeli government “supersensitive” to the issue of Jerusalem. He praised the administration for not revealing its demands and said U.S. officials adroitly turned down the heat as quickly as they turned it up.

“I think they handled it quite well,” he said.

Supersensitive about their eternal capital? Well, that’s one way — a particularly nasty and undiplomatic way — to express it but also a telling admission of how the administration picked a fight on the one issue that unites Israelis and that no government could, short of a final-status deal, compromise on housing. And his boast of adroitness — does that include the BBC bragging? The onslaught of condemnations? And three cheers, Indyk is leading, for the attempt to wring out of our ally even more concessions!

You see the problem: the members of this crew are high-fiving themselves for continuing, albeit in quieter tones, the same losing strategy they’ve been pursuing from the get-go. So do they have a real strategy? Definitely — the most counterproductive and dangerous one imaginable.

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Slow-Roll to Diego Garcia?

It’s going to be impossible to keep up with these reports and rumors, but one new item merits discussion. Emanuele Ottolenghi has pretty thoroughly discredited the originators of the rumor that bombs shipped to Diego Garcia are for an imminent attack on Iran. Now, however, there’s a report from a less-dismissible source that the original intention may have been to ship the bombs to Israel. Much of the blogosphere is running with the story that Obama “diverted” the shipment, with the timing of these revelations apparently related to Washington’s ongoing tiff with Jerusalem.

My assessment up front: the blogosphere’s got that story wrong. The U.S. may well have decided to change the destination of bombs being prepositioned overseas, but the decision was clearly made at least two months ago, before the January 2010 contract to ship the munitions to Diego Garcia was posted. Nevertheless, if the World Tribune report is valid, that change in our prepositioning plan could be part of a disquieting trend in the Obama administration’s arms policy toward Israel.

A key fact in this tangled tale is that Israel has been one of the U.S. military’s principal foreign prepositioning sites for the last 20 years. (Others are South Korea and Thailand.) Munitions we store with these hosts, while intended for our own forces’ use in contingencies, can be used by the host nations in the case of national emergency. We only store such stockpiles in nations with which we have defense agreements. A previous ammunition shipment to the storage sites in Israel became quite famous a year ago when the cargo ship bearing it was originally scheduled to arrive during the IDF operations in Gaza. In light of a December 2009 agreement on doubling the size of our munitions stockpile in Israel, it’s quite probable that we intended to ship additional bombs to the storage sites there this year.

The World Tribune piece appears to be discussing a U.S. policy-related shipment of this kind, rather than the diversion of arms that were actually sold to Israel. I don’t believe that a weapons sale is being reneged on. But a decision to suspend further prepositioning of U.S. munitions at the Israeli sites would be in character with the Obama administration’s emerging policy of delaying and blocking military sales to Israel. The most notable instance involves the Apache Longbow helicopter: a pending sale of Apaches to Israel was blocked by the administration in June 2009, due to the concern that they would be used to threaten Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

The U.S. has delayed arms sales to Israel before, but as the JINSA article above notes, Obama’s policy of slow-rolling Israel while concluding major arms deals with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan is a new one. His administration’s bumpy history with Israel lends weight to the possibility that our military prepositioning strategy is being modified to prevent further growth in the munitions stockpile Israel might be able to drawn on. Implementing policy by this arcane method has the advantage of being a quiet and attritional approach.

We should note that Israel already has the types of bombs listed in the manifest for the Diego Garcia shipment.  We sold the IDF several thousand of them in the last decade. There is no need to hyperventilate over the erroneous implication that a type of weapon Israel desperately needs is being withheld. But the possibility that the Obama administration hopes to control the limits on Israel’s options is not so easily dismissed.

Deciding what we do with our own weapons is, of course, America’s sovereign right. The discretion and logistic convenience we retain by storing bombs at Diego Garcia are things any administration might seek. But while this bomb shipment may be a politically unremarkable logistic decision, reports that it may have implications about our relations with Israel are credible after months of one-sided policy from the Obama administration.

It’s going to be impossible to keep up with these reports and rumors, but one new item merits discussion. Emanuele Ottolenghi has pretty thoroughly discredited the originators of the rumor that bombs shipped to Diego Garcia are for an imminent attack on Iran. Now, however, there’s a report from a less-dismissible source that the original intention may have been to ship the bombs to Israel. Much of the blogosphere is running with the story that Obama “diverted” the shipment, with the timing of these revelations apparently related to Washington’s ongoing tiff with Jerusalem.

My assessment up front: the blogosphere’s got that story wrong. The U.S. may well have decided to change the destination of bombs being prepositioned overseas, but the decision was clearly made at least two months ago, before the January 2010 contract to ship the munitions to Diego Garcia was posted. Nevertheless, if the World Tribune report is valid, that change in our prepositioning plan could be part of a disquieting trend in the Obama administration’s arms policy toward Israel.

A key fact in this tangled tale is that Israel has been one of the U.S. military’s principal foreign prepositioning sites for the last 20 years. (Others are South Korea and Thailand.) Munitions we store with these hosts, while intended for our own forces’ use in contingencies, can be used by the host nations in the case of national emergency. We only store such stockpiles in nations with which we have defense agreements. A previous ammunition shipment to the storage sites in Israel became quite famous a year ago when the cargo ship bearing it was originally scheduled to arrive during the IDF operations in Gaza. In light of a December 2009 agreement on doubling the size of our munitions stockpile in Israel, it’s quite probable that we intended to ship additional bombs to the storage sites there this year.

The World Tribune piece appears to be discussing a U.S. policy-related shipment of this kind, rather than the diversion of arms that were actually sold to Israel. I don’t believe that a weapons sale is being reneged on. But a decision to suspend further prepositioning of U.S. munitions at the Israeli sites would be in character with the Obama administration’s emerging policy of delaying and blocking military sales to Israel. The most notable instance involves the Apache Longbow helicopter: a pending sale of Apaches to Israel was blocked by the administration in June 2009, due to the concern that they would be used to threaten Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

The U.S. has delayed arms sales to Israel before, but as the JINSA article above notes, Obama’s policy of slow-rolling Israel while concluding major arms deals with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan is a new one. His administration’s bumpy history with Israel lends weight to the possibility that our military prepositioning strategy is being modified to prevent further growth in the munitions stockpile Israel might be able to drawn on. Implementing policy by this arcane method has the advantage of being a quiet and attritional approach.

We should note that Israel already has the types of bombs listed in the manifest for the Diego Garcia shipment.  We sold the IDF several thousand of them in the last decade. There is no need to hyperventilate over the erroneous implication that a type of weapon Israel desperately needs is being withheld. But the possibility that the Obama administration hopes to control the limits on Israel’s options is not so easily dismissed.

Deciding what we do with our own weapons is, of course, America’s sovereign right. The discretion and logistic convenience we retain by storing bombs at Diego Garcia are things any administration might seek. But while this bomb shipment may be a politically unremarkable logistic decision, reports that it may have implications about our relations with Israel are credible after months of one-sided policy from the Obama administration.

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A Wave of Deception

It is only fitting that, as the final votes are garnered for ObamaCare, one last insult to the intelligence of  voters and lawmakers is unveiled. Republicans pressed CBO on how much the bill would cost with the Medicare Doc Fix included. You recall that this measure to increase reimbursement rates to Medicare providers was artificially severed from the bill when it became too difficult (even for the numbers fudgers) to make the books balance with that item in ObamaCare. So it was sent to a separate piece of legislation to be voted on later this year.  This report explains:

Congressional budget scorekeepers say a Medicare fix that Democrats included in earlier versions of their health care bill would push it into the red. The Congressional Budget Office said Friday that rolling back a programmed cut in Medicare fees to doctors would cost $208 billion over 10 years. If added back to the health care overhaul bill, it would wipe out all the deficit reduction, leaving the legislation $59 billion in the red.

When pressed by Bret Baier on the fiscal gamesmanship in separating out the Doc Fix, Obama offered no stellar answer. To be fair, there is none. This is cook-the-books legislating at its worst. The exchange was revealing:

BAIER: And you call this deficit neutral, but you also set aside the doctor fix, more than $200 billion. People look at this and say, how can it be deficit neutral?

OBAMA: But the – as you well know, the doctors problem, as you mentioned, the “doctors fix,” is one that has been there four years now. That wasn’t of our making, and that has nothing to do with my health care bill. If I was not proposing a health care bill, right – let’s assume that I had never proposed health care.

BAIER: But you wanted to change Washington, Mr. President. And now you’re doing it the same way.

OBAMA: Bret, let me finish my – my answers here. Now, if suddenly, you’ve got, over the last decade, a problem that’s been built up. And the suggestion is somehow that, because that’s not fixed within this bill, that that’s a reason to vote against the bill, that doesn’t make any sense. That’s a problem that I inherited. That was a problem that should have been solved a long time ago. It’s a problem that needs to be solved, but it’s not created by my bill. And I don’t think you would dispute that.

Translation: it’s not his fault. Got that?

Well, the issue boiled over on Friday when a purported Democratic strategy memo was leaked that essentially told members and staff to hush up about the Doc Fix. The memo’s authenticity was questioned, but the strategy is plainly right out of the Democratic playbook. As Yuval Levin explains, the hodgepodge of accounting tricks and “keeping the ‘doc fix’ separate from the health-care bills they are getting ready to vote on was key to allowing the Democrats to get a CBO score that seemed to keep the bill from raising the deficit.” It’s a Ponzi scheme of the first order. And they only need a few more votes to pass it.

Throughout this process, we’ve seen in what low regard the president and Congressional leaders hold the public and their own members. The Doc Fix is only the latest and perhaps final insult. But on a brighter note, Minority Leader John Boehner is forcing all members to announce their votes from the floor. How dramatic and transparent! Moreover, it will make for dandy ads against all the Democrats who decided to walk the plank for Obama and Pelosi. You can see them now — all the grainy photos interspersed with big red numbers tallying the addition to the deficit as a voiceover announcer explains it was all an exercise in smoke and mirrors accounting. This is how wave elections are made.

It is only fitting that, as the final votes are garnered for ObamaCare, one last insult to the intelligence of  voters and lawmakers is unveiled. Republicans pressed CBO on how much the bill would cost with the Medicare Doc Fix included. You recall that this measure to increase reimbursement rates to Medicare providers was artificially severed from the bill when it became too difficult (even for the numbers fudgers) to make the books balance with that item in ObamaCare. So it was sent to a separate piece of legislation to be voted on later this year.  This report explains:

Congressional budget scorekeepers say a Medicare fix that Democrats included in earlier versions of their health care bill would push it into the red. The Congressional Budget Office said Friday that rolling back a programmed cut in Medicare fees to doctors would cost $208 billion over 10 years. If added back to the health care overhaul bill, it would wipe out all the deficit reduction, leaving the legislation $59 billion in the red.

When pressed by Bret Baier on the fiscal gamesmanship in separating out the Doc Fix, Obama offered no stellar answer. To be fair, there is none. This is cook-the-books legislating at its worst. The exchange was revealing:

BAIER: And you call this deficit neutral, but you also set aside the doctor fix, more than $200 billion. People look at this and say, how can it be deficit neutral?

OBAMA: But the – as you well know, the doctors problem, as you mentioned, the “doctors fix,” is one that has been there four years now. That wasn’t of our making, and that has nothing to do with my health care bill. If I was not proposing a health care bill, right – let’s assume that I had never proposed health care.

BAIER: But you wanted to change Washington, Mr. President. And now you’re doing it the same way.

OBAMA: Bret, let me finish my – my answers here. Now, if suddenly, you’ve got, over the last decade, a problem that’s been built up. And the suggestion is somehow that, because that’s not fixed within this bill, that that’s a reason to vote against the bill, that doesn’t make any sense. That’s a problem that I inherited. That was a problem that should have been solved a long time ago. It’s a problem that needs to be solved, but it’s not created by my bill. And I don’t think you would dispute that.

Translation: it’s not his fault. Got that?

Well, the issue boiled over on Friday when a purported Democratic strategy memo was leaked that essentially told members and staff to hush up about the Doc Fix. The memo’s authenticity was questioned, but the strategy is plainly right out of the Democratic playbook. As Yuval Levin explains, the hodgepodge of accounting tricks and “keeping the ‘doc fix’ separate from the health-care bills they are getting ready to vote on was key to allowing the Democrats to get a CBO score that seemed to keep the bill from raising the deficit.” It’s a Ponzi scheme of the first order. And they only need a few more votes to pass it.

Throughout this process, we’ve seen in what low regard the president and Congressional leaders hold the public and their own members. The Doc Fix is only the latest and perhaps final insult. But on a brighter note, Minority Leader John Boehner is forcing all members to announce their votes from the floor. How dramatic and transparent! Moreover, it will make for dandy ads against all the Democrats who decided to walk the plank for Obama and Pelosi. You can see them now — all the grainy photos interspersed with big red numbers tallying the addition to the deficit as a voiceover announcer explains it was all an exercise in smoke and mirrors accounting. This is how wave elections are made.

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Clinton Scolded, Russia and Iran Gloat

While Hillary Clinton congratulates herself for the state of U.S.-Israeli relations, she is, for now, on the receiving end of what one might genuinely call an affront. It seems that Vladimir Putin read her the riot act  — in front of the onlooking news corps. Oh, yes. ABC News reports:

When reporters traveling with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Moscow were informed that a last-minute meeting with Russia’s Prime Minister Valdimir Putin had been added to the schedule, they were told they would only get to see a few seconds of handshakes before being ushered out.

Instead, with cameras rolling, they watched Putin spend six minutes rattling off a number of complaints he has with the United States.

He barked about trade and scolded her about the 1974 Jackson-Vanik amendment. “Reporters were surprised at the length of Putin’s list of issues and the fact that he did it in front of the Russian and American press corps, a pool reporter noted.” In other words, Putin went out of the way to bully the U.S. Secretary of State in public. Just to show who is boss? And this follows the announcement that, instead of cooperating to isolate Iran, Russia will build a nuclear power plant for the mullahs — an announcement issued to “greet” Hillary.

In short, the Russians have now shown us what resetting the U.S.-Russian relationship means. Putin has figured out that there is no risk — so long as you aren’t a small democratic ally of the U.S. — of incurring the wrath of the Obami. No condemnations or even frowns will be forthcoming. This is, you see, what comes from throwing ourselves at our adversaries’ feet and scorning our allies. Adversaries learn to take advantage of us while friends learn not to trust us.

And where does that leave our Iran policy? No prospect of international sanctions. The U.S. sanctions bill is languishing in Congress. The mullahs feel neither isolated nor besieged. It is not they whom the Obami are pressuring this week. We eagerly await Hillary’s Monday speech to AIPAC when she can explain the wizardry at work here. We’ll be all ears.

While Hillary Clinton congratulates herself for the state of U.S.-Israeli relations, she is, for now, on the receiving end of what one might genuinely call an affront. It seems that Vladimir Putin read her the riot act  — in front of the onlooking news corps. Oh, yes. ABC News reports:

When reporters traveling with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Moscow were informed that a last-minute meeting with Russia’s Prime Minister Valdimir Putin had been added to the schedule, they were told they would only get to see a few seconds of handshakes before being ushered out.

Instead, with cameras rolling, they watched Putin spend six minutes rattling off a number of complaints he has with the United States.

He barked about trade and scolded her about the 1974 Jackson-Vanik amendment. “Reporters were surprised at the length of Putin’s list of issues and the fact that he did it in front of the Russian and American press corps, a pool reporter noted.” In other words, Putin went out of the way to bully the U.S. Secretary of State in public. Just to show who is boss? And this follows the announcement that, instead of cooperating to isolate Iran, Russia will build a nuclear power plant for the mullahs — an announcement issued to “greet” Hillary.

In short, the Russians have now shown us what resetting the U.S.-Russian relationship means. Putin has figured out that there is no risk — so long as you aren’t a small democratic ally of the U.S. — of incurring the wrath of the Obami. No condemnations or even frowns will be forthcoming. This is, you see, what comes from throwing ourselves at our adversaries’ feet and scorning our allies. Adversaries learn to take advantage of us while friends learn not to trust us.

And where does that leave our Iran policy? No prospect of international sanctions. The U.S. sanctions bill is languishing in Congress. The mullahs feel neither isolated nor besieged. It is not they whom the Obami are pressuring this week. We eagerly await Hillary’s Monday speech to AIPAC when she can explain the wizardry at work here. We’ll be all ears.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

No affront, no insult taken when Hillary Clinton is dissed by Putin and told that Russia is going ahead with its plans to help the mullahs build a nuclear reactor. Condemnation to follow? “Another full affrontal from the forces of tyranny against visiting American diplos. Since the slap came to Hillary this time, who makes the sassy 43-minute phone call to Putin? Is it Joe? Barack Obama himself? Maybe Bill should step in for his gal?” Now, Bill Clinton — there’s an idea.

How’s the Russian “reset” working out? “Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Thursday that Russia will help Iran launch its first nuclear power plant this summer, delivering a diplomatic slap to visiting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and a blow to U.S.-led efforts to increase financial pressure on Tehran. … Mr. Putin’s comments come as the Obama administration has endured other slights on the global stage in recent weeks. Israel’s government announced new construction in disputed East Jerusalem during a visit by Vice President Joe Biden last week. Chinese officials have rebuffed U.S. calls for a revaluing of the yuan and greater Internet freedoms.”

Tony Rezko’s banker’s worst clients aren’t the mobsters. They’re the mullahs.

Eric Cantor blasts Obama’s double standard on Israel.

The ObamaCare effect: “The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Friday shows that 23% of the nation’s voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. Forty-four percent (44%) Strongly Disapprove giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -21. That matches the lowest Approval Index rating yet recorded for this President. … Each time the President leads a big push for his health care plan, his job approval ratings suffer.”

On a possible Obama meeting with Bibi, Ben Smith deadpans: “It seems reasonable at some point to ask what purpose the high-level American expressions of outrage last week wound up serving.”

What does Tom Campbell think of the Obama fight with Israel? At approximately 5:20 on the video, he seems not to have any problem with Joe Biden or the administration’s approach. His GOP opponents both excoriated the Obami.

They keep making it worse, explains Bill Kristol: “Nancy Pelosi and Louise Slaughter have come up with a parliamentary maneuver — ‘deem and pass’ — reeking of evasiveness and trickery that Democratic members are going to have to embrace. But it gets better! The point of ‘deem and pass’ is to allow representatives to vote directly only on the reconciliation ‘fixes’ rather than on the Senate health care bill (which will be deemed to be passed if reconciliation passes). But the reconciliation ‘fixes’ make the Senate bill even more politically unattractive.” Honest! More taxes and more Medicare cuts.

It didn’t sound like there was a deal to be had: “Even the leading proponent of a deal to close the Guantanamo Bay prison is throwing cold water on talk that such a compromise is imminent. A spokesman for Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) dismissed a report in the Wall Street Journal Friday that the White House and a bipartisan group of senators were nearing agreement to close Guantanamo and settle a series of related thorny issues, including sending alleged September 11 plotters to military commissions.”

No affront, no insult taken when Hillary Clinton is dissed by Putin and told that Russia is going ahead with its plans to help the mullahs build a nuclear reactor. Condemnation to follow? “Another full affrontal from the forces of tyranny against visiting American diplos. Since the slap came to Hillary this time, who makes the sassy 43-minute phone call to Putin? Is it Joe? Barack Obama himself? Maybe Bill should step in for his gal?” Now, Bill Clinton — there’s an idea.

How’s the Russian “reset” working out? “Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Thursday that Russia will help Iran launch its first nuclear power plant this summer, delivering a diplomatic slap to visiting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and a blow to U.S.-led efforts to increase financial pressure on Tehran. … Mr. Putin’s comments come as the Obama administration has endured other slights on the global stage in recent weeks. Israel’s government announced new construction in disputed East Jerusalem during a visit by Vice President Joe Biden last week. Chinese officials have rebuffed U.S. calls for a revaluing of the yuan and greater Internet freedoms.”

Tony Rezko’s banker’s worst clients aren’t the mobsters. They’re the mullahs.

Eric Cantor blasts Obama’s double standard on Israel.

The ObamaCare effect: “The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Friday shows that 23% of the nation’s voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. Forty-four percent (44%) Strongly Disapprove giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -21. That matches the lowest Approval Index rating yet recorded for this President. … Each time the President leads a big push for his health care plan, his job approval ratings suffer.”

On a possible Obama meeting with Bibi, Ben Smith deadpans: “It seems reasonable at some point to ask what purpose the high-level American expressions of outrage last week wound up serving.”

What does Tom Campbell think of the Obama fight with Israel? At approximately 5:20 on the video, he seems not to have any problem with Joe Biden or the administration’s approach. His GOP opponents both excoriated the Obami.

They keep making it worse, explains Bill Kristol: “Nancy Pelosi and Louise Slaughter have come up with a parliamentary maneuver — ‘deem and pass’ — reeking of evasiveness and trickery that Democratic members are going to have to embrace. But it gets better! The point of ‘deem and pass’ is to allow representatives to vote directly only on the reconciliation ‘fixes’ rather than on the Senate health care bill (which will be deemed to be passed if reconciliation passes). But the reconciliation ‘fixes’ make the Senate bill even more politically unattractive.” Honest! More taxes and more Medicare cuts.

It didn’t sound like there was a deal to be had: “Even the leading proponent of a deal to close the Guantanamo Bay prison is throwing cold water on talk that such a compromise is imminent. A spokesman for Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) dismissed a report in the Wall Street Journal Friday that the White House and a bipartisan group of senators were nearing agreement to close Guantanamo and settle a series of related thorny issues, including sending alleged September 11 plotters to military commissions.”

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