Commentary Magazine


Posts For: March 25, 2010

RE: RE: No Denying White House Animus Toward Israel

Here is evidence that Obama has gone a bit too far for some prominent Jewish activists. Writing in the Daily Beast, Lloyd Grove interviews a major political donor, James S. Tisch, chief executive of Loews Corp.:

“I don’t think he’s pro-Israel,” Tisch says, voicing the suspicions of many. “I think the president comes to this from Jeremiah Wright’s church, and there’s no doubt in my mind that in Jeremiah Wright’s church, the Palestinians were portrayed as freedom fighters and not as terrorists.”

Tisch adds the flap is bound to influence the traditionally Democratic Jewish electorate, nearly 80 percent of which voted for Obama in 2008. “Now for the first time, there are a significant number of people in the organized Jewish community that feel that the president has gone too far,” Tisch says. It will be interesting to watch “what happens to the president’s approval rating among Jewish voters. I think this could really be an important point of demarcation for Jewish public opinion of the president.”

Grove says Tisch is not alone:

“Obama has done zero favors for the Democratic candidates in 2010,” says a prominent Democratic fundraiser who, like most of Jewish activists who spoke for this story, was unwilling to go on the record. “I know a lot of historical Democrats who are big check-writers and even bundlers, who have told me that until things settle down they have no interest in helping any Democrats.”

Grove, not surprisingly, finds a number of prominent Jewish Democrats unwilling to criticize Obama, let alone stop funding him. So the question remains, do most liberal Jews continue to suppress or ignore whatever misgivings they have about Obama and keep on enabling the most aggressive anti-Israel president? Or do they consider Abe Foxman’s counsel: “The issue here, for 78 percent of the Jews who voted for Obama, is you condemn your ally and your friend. … But when Syria spits in the president’s face by continuing to back Hezbollah, we don’t say anything? I think it’s nuts.”

Well, nuts would be expressing shock and disdain for the president’s Israel policies but nevertheless writing a check “with shaking fingers.” After all, the check still cashes.

Here is evidence that Obama has gone a bit too far for some prominent Jewish activists. Writing in the Daily Beast, Lloyd Grove interviews a major political donor, James S. Tisch, chief executive of Loews Corp.:

“I don’t think he’s pro-Israel,” Tisch says, voicing the suspicions of many. “I think the president comes to this from Jeremiah Wright’s church, and there’s no doubt in my mind that in Jeremiah Wright’s church, the Palestinians were portrayed as freedom fighters and not as terrorists.”

Tisch adds the flap is bound to influence the traditionally Democratic Jewish electorate, nearly 80 percent of which voted for Obama in 2008. “Now for the first time, there are a significant number of people in the organized Jewish community that feel that the president has gone too far,” Tisch says. It will be interesting to watch “what happens to the president’s approval rating among Jewish voters. I think this could really be an important point of demarcation for Jewish public opinion of the president.”

Grove says Tisch is not alone:

“Obama has done zero favors for the Democratic candidates in 2010,” says a prominent Democratic fundraiser who, like most of Jewish activists who spoke for this story, was unwilling to go on the record. “I know a lot of historical Democrats who are big check-writers and even bundlers, who have told me that until things settle down they have no interest in helping any Democrats.”

Grove, not surprisingly, finds a number of prominent Jewish Democrats unwilling to criticize Obama, let alone stop funding him. So the question remains, do most liberal Jews continue to suppress or ignore whatever misgivings they have about Obama and keep on enabling the most aggressive anti-Israel president? Or do they consider Abe Foxman’s counsel: “The issue here, for 78 percent of the Jews who voted for Obama, is you condemn your ally and your friend. … But when Syria spits in the president’s face by continuing to back Hezbollah, we don’t say anything? I think it’s nuts.”

Well, nuts would be expressing shock and disdain for the president’s Israel policies but nevertheless writing a check “with shaking fingers.” After all, the check still cashes.

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J Street Loses a Congressional Recruit

Are liberal Democrats starting to be wary of the siren calls of J Street? This story from Philadelphia’s Jewish Exponent shows that at least one congressional candidate has figured out that associating with the far-Left lobby can be dangerous for his political health.

The Exponent’s Bryan Schwartzman reports that Doug Pike, one of the contenders for the Democratic nomination for Pennsylvania’s 6th congressional district, has “asked J Street officials this week to remove him from its list of 41 endorsed candidates, and said he’s planning to return some $6,000 donated via the group.” It appears that Pike, who is fighting for the right to challenge incumbent Republican Jim Gerlach, has gotten the message from voters and contributors that aligning himself with J Street is not the path to the hearts or the wallets of pro-Israel Democrats.

Pike, the son of Otis Pike, a onetime New York congressman, is a former Philadelphia Inquirer editorial writer and is locked in a tough fight against Manan Trivedi, a physician and Iraq-war veteran who has got the endorsement of two key Democratic committees in the district, which stretches across three suburban counties in the western suburbs of Philadelphia. Schwartzman says that one pro-Israel fundraiser claims “a number of potential contributors walked away from Pike after the J Street endorsement became known, and after Gerlach — considered a strong Israel backer — decided not to run for governor.”

Pike told the Exponent that “when he first sought J Street’s endorsement back in September, he had underestimated his policy differences with the group.” Of special interest, in the context of this past week’s dispute between the Obama administration and Israel, is that Pike was “troubled” by J Street’s recent stance that Israel halt construction in eastern Jerusalem because J Street has backed Obama against Netanyahu on the issue of plans to build Jewish homes in an eastern Jerusalem neighborhood. “People simply assumed when they heard that I was endorsed by J Street that I agreed with them on everything,” said Pike. “The endorsement was an impediment to my being able to explain my convictions about Israel’s security.”

Pike’s attempt to extricate himself from J Street’s death grip may or may not save his candidacy, but it ought to serve as a warning to other Democrats who assume that the group’s claim that it is within the mainstream is true. J Street representatives and other left-wingers have asserted that Obama’s 2008 victory — and his huge share of the Jewish vote — proved that mainstream pro-Israel groups like AIPAC no longer represented the community’s view. But, as Pike has found out, most rank-and-file Jewish Democrats, even those who call themselves liberals, do not support putting pressure on Israel to make more concessions to the Palestinians and are appalled by the administration’s attack on Jewish rights in Jerusalem.

So is the White House, which has become even more brazen in its open contempt for the Israeli government, capable of understanding what Doug Pike has now discovered — that sooner or later, its attitude toward Israel, which is inspired in part by its misconception that J Street is representative of mainstream Jewish opinion, may be a huge political mistake?

Are liberal Democrats starting to be wary of the siren calls of J Street? This story from Philadelphia’s Jewish Exponent shows that at least one congressional candidate has figured out that associating with the far-Left lobby can be dangerous for his political health.

The Exponent’s Bryan Schwartzman reports that Doug Pike, one of the contenders for the Democratic nomination for Pennsylvania’s 6th congressional district, has “asked J Street officials this week to remove him from its list of 41 endorsed candidates, and said he’s planning to return some $6,000 donated via the group.” It appears that Pike, who is fighting for the right to challenge incumbent Republican Jim Gerlach, has gotten the message from voters and contributors that aligning himself with J Street is not the path to the hearts or the wallets of pro-Israel Democrats.

Pike, the son of Otis Pike, a onetime New York congressman, is a former Philadelphia Inquirer editorial writer and is locked in a tough fight against Manan Trivedi, a physician and Iraq-war veteran who has got the endorsement of two key Democratic committees in the district, which stretches across three suburban counties in the western suburbs of Philadelphia. Schwartzman says that one pro-Israel fundraiser claims “a number of potential contributors walked away from Pike after the J Street endorsement became known, and after Gerlach — considered a strong Israel backer — decided not to run for governor.”

Pike told the Exponent that “when he first sought J Street’s endorsement back in September, he had underestimated his policy differences with the group.” Of special interest, in the context of this past week’s dispute between the Obama administration and Israel, is that Pike was “troubled” by J Street’s recent stance that Israel halt construction in eastern Jerusalem because J Street has backed Obama against Netanyahu on the issue of plans to build Jewish homes in an eastern Jerusalem neighborhood. “People simply assumed when they heard that I was endorsed by J Street that I agreed with them on everything,” said Pike. “The endorsement was an impediment to my being able to explain my convictions about Israel’s security.”

Pike’s attempt to extricate himself from J Street’s death grip may or may not save his candidacy, but it ought to serve as a warning to other Democrats who assume that the group’s claim that it is within the mainstream is true. J Street representatives and other left-wingers have asserted that Obama’s 2008 victory — and his huge share of the Jewish vote — proved that mainstream pro-Israel groups like AIPAC no longer represented the community’s view. But, as Pike has found out, most rank-and-file Jewish Democrats, even those who call themselves liberals, do not support putting pressure on Israel to make more concessions to the Palestinians and are appalled by the administration’s attack on Jewish rights in Jerusalem.

So is the White House, which has become even more brazen in its open contempt for the Israeli government, capable of understanding what Doug Pike has now discovered — that sooner or later, its attitude toward Israel, which is inspired in part by its misconception that J Street is representative of mainstream Jewish opinion, may be a huge political mistake?

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Eric Cantor’s Statement

This is an important, admirable, and intelligent statement by Representative Eric Cantor about the matters of civility, threats to lawmakers, and how some are trying to use them to advance partisan ends. The threats against members of Congress who voted for health-care reform are reprehensible. But trying to take political advantage of them, and flaming the flames, is irresponsible.

Eric Cantor is an impressive figure; this is more evidence as to why.

This is an important, admirable, and intelligent statement by Representative Eric Cantor about the matters of civility, threats to lawmakers, and how some are trying to use them to advance partisan ends. The threats against members of Congress who voted for health-care reform are reprehensible. But trying to take political advantage of them, and flaming the flames, is irresponsible.

Eric Cantor is an impressive figure; this is more evidence as to why.

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Foreign Policy in 2010

Let’s be honest: domestic policy is going to dominate the 2010 election campaign. But that isn’t to say foreign policy and Obama’s disastrous Middle East strategy will be unimportant. Let’s take the Pennsylvania 7th congressional district, currently held by Democrat Joe Sestak. It’s rated a “toss up” by Charlie Cook. Here is the lowdown on the district:

Inner suburban Delaware County’s recent electoral performance makes it hard to believe this area was once Republican territory. Sure, President Obama won this district with 56 percent in 2008. But Republican Curt Weldon held this seat easily for 20 years until the FBI began investigating whether he had improperly influenced government contracts and Sestak thrashed him in 2006. The Delaware County GOP machine is not what it was, but now that Sestak is running for Senate, this seat is likely to host a very competitive race to succeed him.

Two state representatives are vying for the Democratic nomination. The Republicans have found a viable candidate in Pat Meehan, the former Delaware County district attorney who dropped out of the governor’s race to run in the 7th. As Cook notes, “If 2010 turns out to be a great Republican year, the old Delaware County GOP machine could come back to life for a candidate like Meehan.”

So what may be a key issue in the district race? Meehan is pointing to Obama’s Israel policy, blasting away:

Israel has long been a close ally of the United States, a shining example of democracy and a free market economy in the Middle East. … I am extremely troubled with the Secretary of State’s very public rebuke and questioning of Israel’s commitment to peace. Over the course of the past year, Israel has made many concessions, including the removal of hundreds of roadblocks and checkpoints and a ten month moratorium on new construction in the West Bank. These are significant steps, with Secretary of State Clinton calling the latter move “unprecedented.”

Israel has been a long-time friend and ally of the United States and it is concerning that some experts have stated relations are at their worst point in decades. … To date, the Administration’s policy on Israel has appeared haphazard and somewhat one-sided.  Surrounded by Arab states that in the past have stated their desire for its complete destruction, Israel deserves better treatment and support from America. It is my hope that the rift that formed in recent weeks will be repaired and that Israel and the United States can move forward together toward brokering a lasting peace agreement.

This Philadelphia suburban district (with a significant Jewish population, although not as large as the one in the 6th) is one place to begin to test popular support for Obama’s anti-Israel bent. Meehan plainly thinks it’s a loser with that electorate. As the race plays out, we’ll see if any Democrat is willing to defend the Obami Israel-bashing and weak-kneed approach to Iran.

Let’s be honest: domestic policy is going to dominate the 2010 election campaign. But that isn’t to say foreign policy and Obama’s disastrous Middle East strategy will be unimportant. Let’s take the Pennsylvania 7th congressional district, currently held by Democrat Joe Sestak. It’s rated a “toss up” by Charlie Cook. Here is the lowdown on the district:

Inner suburban Delaware County’s recent electoral performance makes it hard to believe this area was once Republican territory. Sure, President Obama won this district with 56 percent in 2008. But Republican Curt Weldon held this seat easily for 20 years until the FBI began investigating whether he had improperly influenced government contracts and Sestak thrashed him in 2006. The Delaware County GOP machine is not what it was, but now that Sestak is running for Senate, this seat is likely to host a very competitive race to succeed him.

Two state representatives are vying for the Democratic nomination. The Republicans have found a viable candidate in Pat Meehan, the former Delaware County district attorney who dropped out of the governor’s race to run in the 7th. As Cook notes, “If 2010 turns out to be a great Republican year, the old Delaware County GOP machine could come back to life for a candidate like Meehan.”

So what may be a key issue in the district race? Meehan is pointing to Obama’s Israel policy, blasting away:

Israel has long been a close ally of the United States, a shining example of democracy and a free market economy in the Middle East. … I am extremely troubled with the Secretary of State’s very public rebuke and questioning of Israel’s commitment to peace. Over the course of the past year, Israel has made many concessions, including the removal of hundreds of roadblocks and checkpoints and a ten month moratorium on new construction in the West Bank. These are significant steps, with Secretary of State Clinton calling the latter move “unprecedented.”

Israel has been a long-time friend and ally of the United States and it is concerning that some experts have stated relations are at their worst point in decades. … To date, the Administration’s policy on Israel has appeared haphazard and somewhat one-sided.  Surrounded by Arab states that in the past have stated their desire for its complete destruction, Israel deserves better treatment and support from America. It is my hope that the rift that formed in recent weeks will be repaired and that Israel and the United States can move forward together toward brokering a lasting peace agreement.

This Philadelphia suburban district (with a significant Jewish population, although not as large as the one in the 6th) is one place to begin to test popular support for Obama’s anti-Israel bent. Meehan plainly thinks it’s a loser with that electorate. As the race plays out, we’ll see if any Democrat is willing to defend the Obami Israel-bashing and weak-kneed approach to Iran.

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Moore’s Dilemma

What’s an anti-capitalism propagandist to do these days? In his movie, Sicko, Michael Moore championed the accomplishments of the Cuban health-care system and cited the Castro regime’s “impressive statistics” in regard to infant mortality. On the other hand, he’s been highly critical of the American plan that will be put in place by the passing of the recent U.S. health-care bill. In an NPR interview, he expressed his frustration as follows:

The larger picture here is that the private insurance companies are still the ones in charge. They’re still going to call the shots. And if anything, they’ve just been given another big handout by the government by guaranteeing customers. I mean, this is really kind of crazy when you think about it.

The problem is that Moore’s health-care idol, Fidel Castro, thinks ObamaCare is great. “We consider health reform to have been an important battle and a success of his (Obama’s) government,” said the dictator (who also thought breeding a line of dwarf cows would feed all of Cuba). Is Moore willing to part company with the benevolent medical genius who once saw fit to incarcerate Cubans with AIDS? Can the communist icon whose own life-threatening illness forced him to get treatment outside of communist Cuba possibly be wrong?

Moore’s dilemma is a beautiful example of the twin delusions of communism. Another country’s state-run system looks great to comfortable, well-fed Americans because they’re far enough away from the hell to buy the snow-job. Communist dictators are kept in the dark in another way. No one is brave enough to give them bad news. Castro doesn’t know from the nuances of ObamaCare because he doesn’t even know from the nuances of CastroCare. All he knows is that the same wave that brought Michael Moore to Cuba to film a flattering movie just brought something called “mandatory coverage” to America. That’s good enough for him. Contrary to Michael Moore, communism demands the shedding of self-criticism — which, even if he doesn’t know it, is probably why he’s such a fan.

What’s an anti-capitalism propagandist to do these days? In his movie, Sicko, Michael Moore championed the accomplishments of the Cuban health-care system and cited the Castro regime’s “impressive statistics” in regard to infant mortality. On the other hand, he’s been highly critical of the American plan that will be put in place by the passing of the recent U.S. health-care bill. In an NPR interview, he expressed his frustration as follows:

The larger picture here is that the private insurance companies are still the ones in charge. They’re still going to call the shots. And if anything, they’ve just been given another big handout by the government by guaranteeing customers. I mean, this is really kind of crazy when you think about it.

The problem is that Moore’s health-care idol, Fidel Castro, thinks ObamaCare is great. “We consider health reform to have been an important battle and a success of his (Obama’s) government,” said the dictator (who also thought breeding a line of dwarf cows would feed all of Cuba). Is Moore willing to part company with the benevolent medical genius who once saw fit to incarcerate Cubans with AIDS? Can the communist icon whose own life-threatening illness forced him to get treatment outside of communist Cuba possibly be wrong?

Moore’s dilemma is a beautiful example of the twin delusions of communism. Another country’s state-run system looks great to comfortable, well-fed Americans because they’re far enough away from the hell to buy the snow-job. Communist dictators are kept in the dark in another way. No one is brave enough to give them bad news. Castro doesn’t know from the nuances of ObamaCare because he doesn’t even know from the nuances of CastroCare. All he knows is that the same wave that brought Michael Moore to Cuba to film a flattering movie just brought something called “mandatory coverage” to America. That’s good enough for him. Contrary to Michael Moore, communism demands the shedding of self-criticism — which, even if he doesn’t know it, is probably why he’s such a fan.

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RE: No Denying White House Animus Toward Israel

Jonathan, it certainly is getting harder and harder, even for the most devoted Obama spinners, to explain away Obama’s obvious lack of affection for Israel and his enchantment with the Palestinian narrative and negotiating posture. When a president is this “ideological — and vindictive” toward the Jewish state, as Jackson Diehl put it, it raises this question for mostly liberal American Jews: what will they do about it?

This AP story is headlined “Obama risks alienating Jewish voters?” What’s missing is any evidence that this has yet happened or that Jewish Democrats are prepared to withhold support, financial and otherwise, from Obama. Off-year elections are a poor proxy for foreign-policy sentiments, except in extreme cases. (2006, at the height of the anti-Iraq-war sentiment, was the exception that proves the rule.) But certainly there will be Senate races in which the administration’s policies on Iran and the Palestinian conflict are prominent. However, the definitive answer as to whether American Jews will actually withhold their votes and campaign dollars from Obama will have to await the 2012 election cycle.

In the meantime, the question remains whether the push back we’ve seen over the last two weeks on the Obami’s Jerusalem housing gambit will continue, and how prominent Jewish organizations will react when, as we suspect will be the case, Obama’s effort on sanctions on Iran proves to be far less robust than advertised. This week AIPAC set the bar fairly high — reminding the administration that “Jerusalem is not a settlement,” making it clear that the bully-boy routine needed to stop, and urging those crippling sanctions. If that is not forthcoming, its members and the larger Jewish community will need to make some choices. The credibility and continued relevance of major Jewish organizations depend on holding the administration accountable.

Jonathan, it certainly is getting harder and harder, even for the most devoted Obama spinners, to explain away Obama’s obvious lack of affection for Israel and his enchantment with the Palestinian narrative and negotiating posture. When a president is this “ideological — and vindictive” toward the Jewish state, as Jackson Diehl put it, it raises this question for mostly liberal American Jews: what will they do about it?

This AP story is headlined “Obama risks alienating Jewish voters?” What’s missing is any evidence that this has yet happened or that Jewish Democrats are prepared to withhold support, financial and otherwise, from Obama. Off-year elections are a poor proxy for foreign-policy sentiments, except in extreme cases. (2006, at the height of the anti-Iraq-war sentiment, was the exception that proves the rule.) But certainly there will be Senate races in which the administration’s policies on Iran and the Palestinian conflict are prominent. However, the definitive answer as to whether American Jews will actually withhold their votes and campaign dollars from Obama will have to await the 2012 election cycle.

In the meantime, the question remains whether the push back we’ve seen over the last two weeks on the Obami’s Jerusalem housing gambit will continue, and how prominent Jewish organizations will react when, as we suspect will be the case, Obama’s effort on sanctions on Iran proves to be far less robust than advertised. This week AIPAC set the bar fairly high — reminding the administration that “Jerusalem is not a settlement,” making it clear that the bully-boy routine needed to stop, and urging those crippling sanctions. If that is not forthcoming, its members and the larger Jewish community will need to make some choices. The credibility and continued relevance of major Jewish organizations depend on holding the administration accountable.

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RE: Petraeus on Israel

Aside from the factual question of what Petraeus did and did not say about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the incident has touched off a round of mild gloating among many liberals. They think that one of their cherished beliefs — that the conflict seriously undermines America’s ability to pursue its interests elsewhere in the Middle East — has been confirmed by a hero of the very people who reject this belief.

Martin Kramer has subjected this idea — often called “linkage” — to rigorous criticism, but it doesn’t tend to matter, because its popularity is grounded more in politics than in scholarship: once it can be claimed that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict affects everything, then the conflict vastly increases in importance, and the need for intervention and an imposed “solution” becomes intense.

The linkage debate reminds me of George F. Kennan’s famous 1947 essay, “The Sources of Soviet Conduct,” which began life as “The Long Telegram,” sent by Kennan when he was stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. The State Department was interested in what today would be called an engagement policy with the Soviets, and Kennan thought this was not just foolish but also impossible. His missive argued that the United States could not have productive relations with the Soviets because of the very nature of Communism and authoritarianism. He wrote:

There is ample evidence that the stress laid in Moscow on the menace confronting Soviet society from the world outside its borders is founded not in the realities of foreign antagonism but in the necessity of explaining away the maintenance of dictatorial authority at home.

One of the obvious problems with linkage is that the objection of the Iranian-Syrian “resistance bloc,” not to mention large segments of Arab public opinion, is not that the Palestinians don’t have a state — it’s that the Jews do have one.

But a less obvious problem with linkage is its prediction that the resolution of Palestinian grievances will mollify the regimes that are so deeply invested in antagonizing Israel and keeping Arab publics in a state of anti-Israel (and anti-Semitic) fervor.

As Kennan pointed out, such regimes must cultivate “fear societies” in order to justify their rule, deflect popular anger, and prevent the emergence of civil society (that is, sources of power outside the regime). In a region like the Middle East, which also happens to be Muslim, this means that authoritarian regimes are always going to channel rage toward the ultimate “other” — Israel — ensuring an endless list of grievances and a perpetually restive Arab street. The fact of the matter is that anti-Israel and anti-Semitic fervor are no lower in Egypt and Jordan, which both have peace treaties with Israel, than they are elsewhere in the region — fervor that is eagerly promoted by the regimes. Linkage thus will never die because antagonism toward Israel is a permanent requirement of authoritarian Arab politics.

Aside from the factual question of what Petraeus did and did not say about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the incident has touched off a round of mild gloating among many liberals. They think that one of their cherished beliefs — that the conflict seriously undermines America’s ability to pursue its interests elsewhere in the Middle East — has been confirmed by a hero of the very people who reject this belief.

Martin Kramer has subjected this idea — often called “linkage” — to rigorous criticism, but it doesn’t tend to matter, because its popularity is grounded more in politics than in scholarship: once it can be claimed that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict affects everything, then the conflict vastly increases in importance, and the need for intervention and an imposed “solution” becomes intense.

The linkage debate reminds me of George F. Kennan’s famous 1947 essay, “The Sources of Soviet Conduct,” which began life as “The Long Telegram,” sent by Kennan when he was stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. The State Department was interested in what today would be called an engagement policy with the Soviets, and Kennan thought this was not just foolish but also impossible. His missive argued that the United States could not have productive relations with the Soviets because of the very nature of Communism and authoritarianism. He wrote:

There is ample evidence that the stress laid in Moscow on the menace confronting Soviet society from the world outside its borders is founded not in the realities of foreign antagonism but in the necessity of explaining away the maintenance of dictatorial authority at home.

One of the obvious problems with linkage is that the objection of the Iranian-Syrian “resistance bloc,” not to mention large segments of Arab public opinion, is not that the Palestinians don’t have a state — it’s that the Jews do have one.

But a less obvious problem with linkage is its prediction that the resolution of Palestinian grievances will mollify the regimes that are so deeply invested in antagonizing Israel and keeping Arab publics in a state of anti-Israel (and anti-Semitic) fervor.

As Kennan pointed out, such regimes must cultivate “fear societies” in order to justify their rule, deflect popular anger, and prevent the emergence of civil society (that is, sources of power outside the regime). In a region like the Middle East, which also happens to be Muslim, this means that authoritarian regimes are always going to channel rage toward the ultimate “other” — Israel — ensuring an endless list of grievances and a perpetually restive Arab street. The fact of the matter is that anti-Israel and anti-Semitic fervor are no lower in Egypt and Jordan, which both have peace treaties with Israel, than they are elsewhere in the region — fervor that is eagerly promoted by the regimes. Linkage thus will never die because antagonism toward Israel is a permanent requirement of authoritarian Arab politics.

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No Denying White House Animus Toward Israel

This White House likes symbolism. After Barack Obama moved in, one of the first things his staff did was to unceremoniously remove the bronze bust of Winston Churchill that had been in the Oval Office and return it to Great Britain, thus signaling that this president no longer valued the special relationship with the UK, which had been a cornerstone of American diplomacy from the days of FDR to those of George W. Bush. And when Obama finally met with the Dalai Lama last month, the visit was kept low key, with no official welcome and no media allowed to witness the event for fear of offending China. The one picture that was released of the meeting appeared to show the president lecturing the exiled Tibetan so no one might think that a former editor of the Harvard Law Review had anything to learn from a legendary spiritual leader.

But the cold reception of the Dalai Lama now seems like a wild party compared to the way Obama received Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House this week. Oh, I know, Bibi is in the doghouse because we’re all supposed to think that Israel gravely insulted Vice President Joe Biden by allowing the announcement of a housing-project start in an existing Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem to coincide with his recent visit there. But the reason this is such a “big f@!%ing deal,” as the vice president might put it, is not because it was a real insult but because it was an excuse for the administration to renew its war on Netanyahu.

This is not the first president to dislike an Israeli prime minister or even Israel itself. The elder George Bush and his secretary of state, James “f@!% the Jews” Baker despised Yitzhak Shamir. But never has the leader of America’s ally Israel been treated with such open contempt as shown by Obama to Netanyahu. The Israeli’s visit to the White House was closed to the press — with not even one photo released of their encounter. The fact is that Obama didn’t even want his picture taken with Netanyahu. That’s particularly strange since the president has never any qualms about getting snapped next to a wide variety of international leaders on his travels. In yesterday’s press briefing, spokesman Robert Gibbs was quizzed on this startling behavior by Jake Tapper. In response to repeated questions as to why the White House chose to treat a democratically elected head of the government of a close U.S. ally in this manner, Gibbs did not try very hard to pretend that it was anything but an indication of Obama’s dislike for the Israeli and the country he represents. Coming from a president that has spent his time in office making non-stop efforts to reach out to and engage America’s enemies around the world, this open hostility to Israel is breathtaking in its brazenness.

As for the policy fallout of the meetings, the whole point of the get-together was to bludgeon Netanyahu into conceding that Jews may no longer build homes in parts of their capital. Wisely, the prime minister did not give in to this unprecedented demand, which is something that not even the elder Bush and James Baker ever tried to shove down Shamir’s throat. There was no joint statement released after the talks ended but the White House let it be known that they expected the Israelis to make further concessions as an indication of their willingness to build confidence. Pointedly, the Palestinians, who have refused to even negotiate directly with Israel and who refused only a year and a half ago to accept an Israeli offer of an independent state that would have included part of Jerusalem, have not been asked by Obama to make any gestures of their own to enhance the non-existent chances of peace.

This White House’s cold shoulder to Netanyahu may be just an act of symbolism but not even the most shameless Obama apologist can pretend that it was anything but an indication of the president’s hostility. When the first president Bush used the occasion of an AIPAC conference in Washington in 1991 to show his contempt for Israel, even Jewish Republicans were aghast. Many deserted him at the next election — the GOP’s share of the Jewish vote dropped to a record low in 1992. The question for Jewish Democrats and other liberal friends of Israel is whether they are prepared to hold Barack Obama accountable in the same fashion.

This White House likes symbolism. After Barack Obama moved in, one of the first things his staff did was to unceremoniously remove the bronze bust of Winston Churchill that had been in the Oval Office and return it to Great Britain, thus signaling that this president no longer valued the special relationship with the UK, which had been a cornerstone of American diplomacy from the days of FDR to those of George W. Bush. And when Obama finally met with the Dalai Lama last month, the visit was kept low key, with no official welcome and no media allowed to witness the event for fear of offending China. The one picture that was released of the meeting appeared to show the president lecturing the exiled Tibetan so no one might think that a former editor of the Harvard Law Review had anything to learn from a legendary spiritual leader.

But the cold reception of the Dalai Lama now seems like a wild party compared to the way Obama received Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House this week. Oh, I know, Bibi is in the doghouse because we’re all supposed to think that Israel gravely insulted Vice President Joe Biden by allowing the announcement of a housing-project start in an existing Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem to coincide with his recent visit there. But the reason this is such a “big f@!%ing deal,” as the vice president might put it, is not because it was a real insult but because it was an excuse for the administration to renew its war on Netanyahu.

This is not the first president to dislike an Israeli prime minister or even Israel itself. The elder George Bush and his secretary of state, James “f@!% the Jews” Baker despised Yitzhak Shamir. But never has the leader of America’s ally Israel been treated with such open contempt as shown by Obama to Netanyahu. The Israeli’s visit to the White House was closed to the press — with not even one photo released of their encounter. The fact is that Obama didn’t even want his picture taken with Netanyahu. That’s particularly strange since the president has never any qualms about getting snapped next to a wide variety of international leaders on his travels. In yesterday’s press briefing, spokesman Robert Gibbs was quizzed on this startling behavior by Jake Tapper. In response to repeated questions as to why the White House chose to treat a democratically elected head of the government of a close U.S. ally in this manner, Gibbs did not try very hard to pretend that it was anything but an indication of Obama’s dislike for the Israeli and the country he represents. Coming from a president that has spent his time in office making non-stop efforts to reach out to and engage America’s enemies around the world, this open hostility to Israel is breathtaking in its brazenness.

As for the policy fallout of the meetings, the whole point of the get-together was to bludgeon Netanyahu into conceding that Jews may no longer build homes in parts of their capital. Wisely, the prime minister did not give in to this unprecedented demand, which is something that not even the elder Bush and James Baker ever tried to shove down Shamir’s throat. There was no joint statement released after the talks ended but the White House let it be known that they expected the Israelis to make further concessions as an indication of their willingness to build confidence. Pointedly, the Palestinians, who have refused to even negotiate directly with Israel and who refused only a year and a half ago to accept an Israeli offer of an independent state that would have included part of Jerusalem, have not been asked by Obama to make any gestures of their own to enhance the non-existent chances of peace.

This White House’s cold shoulder to Netanyahu may be just an act of symbolism but not even the most shameless Obama apologist can pretend that it was anything but an indication of the president’s hostility. When the first president Bush used the occasion of an AIPAC conference in Washington in 1991 to show his contempt for Israel, even Jewish Republicans were aghast. Many deserted him at the next election — the GOP’s share of the Jewish vote dropped to a record low in 1992. The question for Jewish Democrats and other liberal friends of Israel is whether they are prepared to hold Barack Obama accountable in the same fashion.

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RE: ObamaCare Hits Home

Verizon and Caterpillar aren’t the only employers warning of rising health-care costs due to ObamaCare:

Deere & Company, Iowa’s largest manufacturing employer, said in a statement this morning that the recently-passed health care legislation will cost the company $150 million after tax this year.The company said the impact would be felt primarily in the second quarter, between April 1 and July 1.

Deere spokesman Ken Golden said the charge would be taken as a one-time cost to cover the new tax the Health Care bill imposes on subsidies paid to corporations for retiree prescription costs under a 2003 Medicare bill.

“The 2003 legislation encouraged companies to stay in the game and continue to fund their retirees’ prescriptions,” Golden said. “Otherwise, the retirees would go onto the Medicare prescription program which would cost the government more money.”

Manufacturers of medical devices are also sending out warnings. (“Medical-device maker Medtronic warned that new taxes on its products could force it to lay off a thousand workers.”) The Boston Herald explains:

A dire warning from Bay State medical-device companies that a new sales tax in the federal health-care law could force their plants — and thousands of jobs — out of the country has rattled Gov. Deval Patrick, a staunch backer of the law and pal President Obama.

“This bill is a jobs killer,” said Ernie Whiton, chief financial officer of Chelmsford’s Zoll Medical Corp., which employs about 650 people in Massachusetts. Many of those employees work in Zoll’s local manufacturing facility making heart defibrillators. “We could be forced to (move) manufacturing overseas if we can’t pass along these costs to our customers,” said Whiton.

The threat — echoed by others in the critical Massachusetts industry — had the governor vowing to intervene to block the sales tax impact. “I am obviously concerned about the medical device burden here on the commonwealth, which has a very robust industry around medical devices,” Patrick said yesterday.

Well, he wasn’t concerned enough to lobby against the bill before it was passed. But this issue and other predictable consequences of ObamaCare will no doubt absorb much of the debate between now and November. Hey, if Deval Patrick thinks it’s a jobs killer, perhaps “Repeal and Reform” isn’t so far-fetched after all.

Verizon and Caterpillar aren’t the only employers warning of rising health-care costs due to ObamaCare:

Deere & Company, Iowa’s largest manufacturing employer, said in a statement this morning that the recently-passed health care legislation will cost the company $150 million after tax this year.The company said the impact would be felt primarily in the second quarter, between April 1 and July 1.

Deere spokesman Ken Golden said the charge would be taken as a one-time cost to cover the new tax the Health Care bill imposes on subsidies paid to corporations for retiree prescription costs under a 2003 Medicare bill.

“The 2003 legislation encouraged companies to stay in the game and continue to fund their retirees’ prescriptions,” Golden said. “Otherwise, the retirees would go onto the Medicare prescription program which would cost the government more money.”

Manufacturers of medical devices are also sending out warnings. (“Medical-device maker Medtronic warned that new taxes on its products could force it to lay off a thousand workers.”) The Boston Herald explains:

A dire warning from Bay State medical-device companies that a new sales tax in the federal health-care law could force their plants — and thousands of jobs — out of the country has rattled Gov. Deval Patrick, a staunch backer of the law and pal President Obama.

“This bill is a jobs killer,” said Ernie Whiton, chief financial officer of Chelmsford’s Zoll Medical Corp., which employs about 650 people in Massachusetts. Many of those employees work in Zoll’s local manufacturing facility making heart defibrillators. “We could be forced to (move) manufacturing overseas if we can’t pass along these costs to our customers,” said Whiton.

The threat — echoed by others in the critical Massachusetts industry — had the governor vowing to intervene to block the sales tax impact. “I am obviously concerned about the medical device burden here on the commonwealth, which has a very robust industry around medical devices,” Patrick said yesterday.

Well, he wasn’t concerned enough to lobby against the bill before it was passed. But this issue and other predictable consequences of ObamaCare will no doubt absorb much of the debate between now and November. Hey, if Deval Patrick thinks it’s a jobs killer, perhaps “Repeal and Reform” isn’t so far-fetched after all.

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How to Treat Allies

I was struck by this Wall Street Journal article today, which reports on the visit to the United States of Pakistan’s foreign minister and military chief of staff:

The top U.S. foreign-policy officials gave their Pakistani counterparts a full public embrace Wednesday, even as some senior Obama administration officials say they still need to be convinced that Islamabad is fully committed to eradicating Islamic militants based in the tribal regions bordering Afghanistan.

The public praise from the U.S., made as part of high-level bilateral talks at the State Department and in Capitol Hill testimony, acknowledged some continuing differences. But the praise was otherwise almost unreserved—highlighting how central gaining Pakistani cooperation has become to the administration’s highest-risk foreign policy challenges.

Now that’s how you are supposed to treat allies: praise in public, pressure in private.

Consider, by contrast, the treatment now being meted out to Israel, which is being publicly condemned by senior administration officials, and whose prime minister was hustled out of an Oval Office meeting without even a photo-op or a word of praise from the president — the kind of treatment afforded to disreputable Third World dictators rather than to the duly elected leader of one of our closest allies.

The contrast is all the more striking because Pakistan has been a greater thorn in our side than Israel could ever be. Israel’s critics claim its policies are responsible for killing American soldiers. Even if you accept their arguments at face value, they are engaging in hyperbole. But in the case of Pakistan, this is no exaggeration — Pakistan has provided arms and training to Taliban terrorists who really have killed many American soldiers in Afghanistan.

True, Pakistan has been cracking down more on the Taliban recently, but administration officials are well aware that this cooperation is partial and incomplete. Pakistan has by no means totally divorced itself from the Taliban or other Islamist terrorist groups that it has used as instruments of statecraft. Nevertheless, it is moving in the right direction. So the public praise, while fulsome, is well-warranted.

The diplomatic approach to Pakistan makes the administration’s punitive approach to Israel all the more striking. As Jackson Diehl of the Washington Post has aptly observed, when it comes to Israel, Obama “appears ideological – and vindictive.”

I was struck by this Wall Street Journal article today, which reports on the visit to the United States of Pakistan’s foreign minister and military chief of staff:

The top U.S. foreign-policy officials gave their Pakistani counterparts a full public embrace Wednesday, even as some senior Obama administration officials say they still need to be convinced that Islamabad is fully committed to eradicating Islamic militants based in the tribal regions bordering Afghanistan.

The public praise from the U.S., made as part of high-level bilateral talks at the State Department and in Capitol Hill testimony, acknowledged some continuing differences. But the praise was otherwise almost unreserved—highlighting how central gaining Pakistani cooperation has become to the administration’s highest-risk foreign policy challenges.

Now that’s how you are supposed to treat allies: praise in public, pressure in private.

Consider, by contrast, the treatment now being meted out to Israel, which is being publicly condemned by senior administration officials, and whose prime minister was hustled out of an Oval Office meeting without even a photo-op or a word of praise from the president — the kind of treatment afforded to disreputable Third World dictators rather than to the duly elected leader of one of our closest allies.

The contrast is all the more striking because Pakistan has been a greater thorn in our side than Israel could ever be. Israel’s critics claim its policies are responsible for killing American soldiers. Even if you accept their arguments at face value, they are engaging in hyperbole. But in the case of Pakistan, this is no exaggeration — Pakistan has provided arms and training to Taliban terrorists who really have killed many American soldiers in Afghanistan.

True, Pakistan has been cracking down more on the Taliban recently, but administration officials are well aware that this cooperation is partial and incomplete. Pakistan has by no means totally divorced itself from the Taliban or other Islamist terrorist groups that it has used as instruments of statecraft. Nevertheless, it is moving in the right direction. So the public praise, while fulsome, is well-warranted.

The diplomatic approach to Pakistan makes the administration’s punitive approach to Israel all the more striking. As Jackson Diehl of the Washington Post has aptly observed, when it comes to Israel, Obama “appears ideological – and vindictive.”

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From the Horse’s Mouth: Petraeus on Israel

Back on March 13, terrorist groupie Mark Perry — a former Arafat aide who now pals around with Hamas and Hezbollah — posted an article on Foreign Policy’s website, claiming that General David Petraeus was behind the administration’s policy of getting tough with Israel. He attributed to Petraeus the view that “Israel’s intransigence” — meaning its unwillingness to give up every inch of the West Bank and East Jerusalem tomorrow — “could cost American lives.” His item received wide circulation though it may be doubted whether, as he now says, “It changed the way people think about the conflict.”

I tried to set the record straight with two Commentary items (see here and here) in which I suggested, based on talking to an officer familiar with Petraeus’s thinking, that Perry’s item was a gross distortion —in fact a fraud. I noted that in Petraeus’s view, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process was only one factor among many affecting U.S. interests in the region and that Israeli settlements were far from the only, or even the main, obstacle to peace. I even suggested — again, based on inside information — that the 56-page posture statement that Central Command had submitted to Congress, which stated that the Arab-Israeli conflict “foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel,” was not the best indicator of his thinking. Better to look at what he actually told Congress — in a hearing he barely mentioned Israel (until prompted to do so) and never talked about settlements at all.

This brought hoots of derision from commentators on both the Left and the Right, who claimed that I was putting words into Petraeus’s mouth — that I was, in Joe Klein’s phrase, taking a “flying leap.” Predictably piling on were Andrew Sullivan, who said I was “glossing over” what Petraeus said, and Robert Wright, who claimed that, “by Boot’s lights, Petraeus is anti-Israel.” Diana West added a truly inventive spin, by suggesting that Petraeus was a protégé of Stephen Walt, who was his faculty adviser many years ago at Princeton before the good professor won renown as a leading basher of the “Israel Lobby” and the state of Israel itself. It was from Walt, Ms. West claims, that Petraeus imbibed his “Arabist, anti-Israel attitudes.”

So who was off-base here: those of us who tried to explain the nuances of General Petraeus’s thinking or those bloggers and commentators who tried to suggest that he is a strident critic of Israel?

The answer has now been publicly provided by Petraeus himself in a speech in New Hampshire. Watch it for yourself. A good summary is provided by the American Spectator’s Philip Klein, who was present at the event and asked Petraeus to clarify his thinking.

The general said that it was “unhelpful” that “bloggers” had “picked … up” what he had said and “spun it.” He noted that, aside from Israel’s actions, there are many other important factors standing in the way of peace, including “a whole bunch of extremist organizations, some of which by the way deny Israel’s right to exist. There’s a country that has a nuclear program who denies that the Holocaust took place. So again we have all these factors in there. This [Israel] is just one.”

What about Perry’s claim that American support for Israel puts our soldiers at risk? Petraeus said, “There is no mention of lives anywhere in there. I actually reread the statement. It doesn’t say that at all.”

He concluded by noting that he had sent to General Gabi Ashkenazi, chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, the “blog by Max Boot” which, he said, had “picked apart this whole thing, as he typically does, pretty astutely.”

I hope Petraeus’s comments will put an end to this whole weird episode. Those who are either happy or unhappy about the administration’s approach to Israel should lodge their compliments or complaints where they belong — at the White House, not at Central Command.

Back on March 13, terrorist groupie Mark Perry — a former Arafat aide who now pals around with Hamas and Hezbollah — posted an article on Foreign Policy’s website, claiming that General David Petraeus was behind the administration’s policy of getting tough with Israel. He attributed to Petraeus the view that “Israel’s intransigence” — meaning its unwillingness to give up every inch of the West Bank and East Jerusalem tomorrow — “could cost American lives.” His item received wide circulation though it may be doubted whether, as he now says, “It changed the way people think about the conflict.”

I tried to set the record straight with two Commentary items (see here and here) in which I suggested, based on talking to an officer familiar with Petraeus’s thinking, that Perry’s item was a gross distortion —in fact a fraud. I noted that in Petraeus’s view, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process was only one factor among many affecting U.S. interests in the region and that Israeli settlements were far from the only, or even the main, obstacle to peace. I even suggested — again, based on inside information — that the 56-page posture statement that Central Command had submitted to Congress, which stated that the Arab-Israeli conflict “foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel,” was not the best indicator of his thinking. Better to look at what he actually told Congress — in a hearing he barely mentioned Israel (until prompted to do so) and never talked about settlements at all.

This brought hoots of derision from commentators on both the Left and the Right, who claimed that I was putting words into Petraeus’s mouth — that I was, in Joe Klein’s phrase, taking a “flying leap.” Predictably piling on were Andrew Sullivan, who said I was “glossing over” what Petraeus said, and Robert Wright, who claimed that, “by Boot’s lights, Petraeus is anti-Israel.” Diana West added a truly inventive spin, by suggesting that Petraeus was a protégé of Stephen Walt, who was his faculty adviser many years ago at Princeton before the good professor won renown as a leading basher of the “Israel Lobby” and the state of Israel itself. It was from Walt, Ms. West claims, that Petraeus imbibed his “Arabist, anti-Israel attitudes.”

So who was off-base here: those of us who tried to explain the nuances of General Petraeus’s thinking or those bloggers and commentators who tried to suggest that he is a strident critic of Israel?

The answer has now been publicly provided by Petraeus himself in a speech in New Hampshire. Watch it for yourself. A good summary is provided by the American Spectator’s Philip Klein, who was present at the event and asked Petraeus to clarify his thinking.

The general said that it was “unhelpful” that “bloggers” had “picked … up” what he had said and “spun it.” He noted that, aside from Israel’s actions, there are many other important factors standing in the way of peace, including “a whole bunch of extremist organizations, some of which by the way deny Israel’s right to exist. There’s a country that has a nuclear program who denies that the Holocaust took place. So again we have all these factors in there. This [Israel] is just one.”

What about Perry’s claim that American support for Israel puts our soldiers at risk? Petraeus said, “There is no mention of lives anywhere in there. I actually reread the statement. It doesn’t say that at all.”

He concluded by noting that he had sent to General Gabi Ashkenazi, chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, the “blog by Max Boot” which, he said, had “picked apart this whole thing, as he typically does, pretty astutely.”

I hope Petraeus’s comments will put an end to this whole weird episode. Those who are either happy or unhappy about the administration’s approach to Israel should lodge their compliments or complaints where they belong — at the White House, not at Central Command.

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Replace and Reform but First Vote

A new Rasmussen poll reveals that ObamaCare is, in fact, a winning issue — for those who want to repeal it:

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey, conducted on the first two nights after the president signed the bill, shows that 55% favor repealing the legislation. Forty-two percent (42%) oppose repeal. Those figures include 46% who Strongly Favor repeal and 35% who Strongly Oppose it.

And this is the message on which Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says Republicans are going to run on. Politico reports:

Refusing to concede permanent defeat on health reform, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell wants to “repeal the whole bill” and replace it with insurance reforms and other measures that could get bipartisan agreement.

“They got health care,” McConnell told POLITICO with a mischievous glint in his eye. “We’ll see whether that’s a gift worth receiving.”

McConnell said that if Republicans were to win back the Senate majority in November, “at the top of our list would be to repeal and replace this health care bill.”

Politico’s reporter concedes the Republicans aren’t going to get 67 votes needed to override an Obama veto that would greet repeal attempts, but it’s no longer inconceivable that the Senate could flip, leaving the remaining Democrats (especially those up for re-election in 2012) quaking. Republicans have excellent to good shots at picking up Pennsylvania, Delaware, Colorado, Arkansas, North Dakota, Nevada, and Illinois. Throw in Wisconsin (if former governor Tommy Thompson runs) and California as competitive states, and you see a pathway to a GOP Senate takeover. (I suspect both sides are going to be very nice to Independent Joe Lieberman, who may once again be in the catbird seat after the November election.) Certainly there will be other issues — repeal of the Bush tax cuts in 2011, unemployment, and national security. But if you have a large base of active support on one key issue – which the other side obsessively emphasizes — it’s hard to resist making that issue the central focus of the campaign.

If Republicans run and win big on a “Repeal ObamaCare” message, Democrats will once again face a choice: continue to ignore the will of the voters, or take another look at the monstrous health-care entitlement (and the additional mounds of debt accumulated by then). We know Obama’s answer — he’d rather have just one term than give up his grand achievement. But by then, Democrats may have a different answer.

A new Rasmussen poll reveals that ObamaCare is, in fact, a winning issue — for those who want to repeal it:

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey, conducted on the first two nights after the president signed the bill, shows that 55% favor repealing the legislation. Forty-two percent (42%) oppose repeal. Those figures include 46% who Strongly Favor repeal and 35% who Strongly Oppose it.

And this is the message on which Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says Republicans are going to run on. Politico reports:

Refusing to concede permanent defeat on health reform, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell wants to “repeal the whole bill” and replace it with insurance reforms and other measures that could get bipartisan agreement.

“They got health care,” McConnell told POLITICO with a mischievous glint in his eye. “We’ll see whether that’s a gift worth receiving.”

McConnell said that if Republicans were to win back the Senate majority in November, “at the top of our list would be to repeal and replace this health care bill.”

Politico’s reporter concedes the Republicans aren’t going to get 67 votes needed to override an Obama veto that would greet repeal attempts, but it’s no longer inconceivable that the Senate could flip, leaving the remaining Democrats (especially those up for re-election in 2012) quaking. Republicans have excellent to good shots at picking up Pennsylvania, Delaware, Colorado, Arkansas, North Dakota, Nevada, and Illinois. Throw in Wisconsin (if former governor Tommy Thompson runs) and California as competitive states, and you see a pathway to a GOP Senate takeover. (I suspect both sides are going to be very nice to Independent Joe Lieberman, who may once again be in the catbird seat after the November election.) Certainly there will be other issues — repeal of the Bush tax cuts in 2011, unemployment, and national security. But if you have a large base of active support on one key issue – which the other side obsessively emphasizes — it’s hard to resist making that issue the central focus of the campaign.

If Republicans run and win big on a “Repeal ObamaCare” message, Democrats will once again face a choice: continue to ignore the will of the voters, or take another look at the monstrous health-care entitlement (and the additional mounds of debt accumulated by then). We know Obama’s answer — he’d rather have just one term than give up his grand achievement. But by then, Democrats may have a different answer.

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ObamaCare Hits Home

Obama is heading out to sell ObamaCare. But investors and employees are getting a different message. This report explains:

Caterpiller Inc. said Wednesday it will take a $100 million charge to earnings this quarter to reflect taxes stemming from the newly enacted U.S. health-care legislation.

The world’s largest construction equipment manufacturer by sales warned last week that provisions in the legislation would subject it to federal income taxes on the subsidies it receives for providing prescription drug benefits for its retirees and their spouses.

Since the Medicare Part D program was enacted in 2003, the Peoria, Ill., company and more than 3,500 others that already provided drug-benefit expenses to retirees have received tax-free subsidies as an incentive to maintain their drug programs.

The subsidies average $665 per person covered by a company-sponsored prescription program, according to benefits consultant Towers Watson. (Please see related article on page B9.)

About 40,000 Caterpillar retirees receive company-sponsored drug benefits, which are more generous than Medicare’s drug plan, which requires recipients to pay some out-of-pocket expenses.

The charge is expected to be a one-time cost, but Caterpillar argues that higher taxes and other potential cost increases related to insurance mandates in the legislation will hinder the company’s recovery this year after a 75% profit plunge in 2009.

“From our point of view, a tax increase like this cannot come at a worse time,” said Jim Dugan, a Caterpillar spokesman.

One recalls that Caterpillar also played a part in unveiling the president’s lack of credibility on the stimulus plan. Obama visited a Caterpillar facility to tout his mammoth Keynesian stimulus strategy, which was to save millions of jobs and cap unemployment at 8 percent; Caterpiller subsequently announced more layoffs.

The White House keeps expecting Obama to persuade ordinary Americans of things that aren’t so, to induce them to ignore their own life experience. But reality intrudes and voters become less enamored, not more so, of the president’s statist policies and political spin. While the Left may be thrilled by the “historic” legislation, voters will be learning a different lesson over the months that follow and will have their chance to register their views at the ballot box.

Obama is heading out to sell ObamaCare. But investors and employees are getting a different message. This report explains:

Caterpiller Inc. said Wednesday it will take a $100 million charge to earnings this quarter to reflect taxes stemming from the newly enacted U.S. health-care legislation.

The world’s largest construction equipment manufacturer by sales warned last week that provisions in the legislation would subject it to federal income taxes on the subsidies it receives for providing prescription drug benefits for its retirees and their spouses.

Since the Medicare Part D program was enacted in 2003, the Peoria, Ill., company and more than 3,500 others that already provided drug-benefit expenses to retirees have received tax-free subsidies as an incentive to maintain their drug programs.

The subsidies average $665 per person covered by a company-sponsored prescription program, according to benefits consultant Towers Watson. (Please see related article on page B9.)

About 40,000 Caterpillar retirees receive company-sponsored drug benefits, which are more generous than Medicare’s drug plan, which requires recipients to pay some out-of-pocket expenses.

The charge is expected to be a one-time cost, but Caterpillar argues that higher taxes and other potential cost increases related to insurance mandates in the legislation will hinder the company’s recovery this year after a 75% profit plunge in 2009.

“From our point of view, a tax increase like this cannot come at a worse time,” said Jim Dugan, a Caterpillar spokesman.

One recalls that Caterpillar also played a part in unveiling the president’s lack of credibility on the stimulus plan. Obama visited a Caterpillar facility to tout his mammoth Keynesian stimulus strategy, which was to save millions of jobs and cap unemployment at 8 percent; Caterpiller subsequently announced more layoffs.

The White House keeps expecting Obama to persuade ordinary Americans of things that aren’t so, to induce them to ignore their own life experience. But reality intrudes and voters become less enamored, not more so, of the president’s statist policies and political spin. While the Left may be thrilled by the “historic” legislation, voters will be learning a different lesson over the months that follow and will have their chance to register their views at the ballot box.

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Sanctions That Nibble

At AIPAC this week, Hillary Clinton promised not “crippling” sanctions against Iran but rather sanctions that would “bite.” That appears to be an overstatement. This report explains:

The U.S. has backed away from pursuing a number of tough measures against Iran in order to win support from Russia and China for a new United Nations Security Council resolution on sanctions, according to people familiar with the matter.

Among provisions removed from the original draft resolution the U.S. sent to key allies last month were sanctions aimed at choking off Tehran’s access to international banking services and capital markets, and closing international airspace and waters to Iran’s national air cargo and shipping lines, according to the people.

This is pathetic. The problem, of course, is that engagement did not, as promised, sell Russia and China on crippling sanctions that might actually have had some impact on the mullahs. (“The disclosure of weakened proposals came as U.S. officials sought to persuade Russia and China to back measures against Iran in a conference call on Wednesday among the five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany, the first such meeting including China since mid-January.”) So we begin the process of watering down and then watering down some more the economic measures that are the Obami’s sole means now — they have in effect taken military force off the table and are uninterested in regime change – of persuading the mullahs to put aside their nuclear ambitions.

The report explains:

The current resolution still would target major power centers in Iran, in particular the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the country’s elite military force, according to a person familiar with the draft. It would also stiffen a broad range of existing sanctions, including the search and seizure of suspicious cargo bound for Iran through international waters and a ban on states offering financial assistance or credits for trade with Iran. If approved, they would be the most stringent measures Iran has faced.

Yet the original U.S. draft would have gone much further. The cargo sanctions initially named Iran Air and Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines and demand a blanket ban of their airplanes and ships from other countries’ airspace or territorial waters. The revised version calls for interdiction only of shipments that would evade already-existing sanctions.

The earlier resolution would have made it difficult for Iran to insure imports and exports of oil and other essential commodities, by barring foreign insurers from serving international transport contracts from Iran. … The previous draft would also have barred Iran’s access to international capital markets by prohibiting foreign investment in Iranian bonds.

This has been the flaw in the entire sanctions strategy from the get-go. By the time something is negotiated, watered down, implemented, and its results assessed, it is too little and too late. In the process we reveal ourselves to be unserious and uncommitted to doing “whatever it takes” (Tony Blair’s formulation but certainly not the Obami’s) to prevent the revolutionary Islamic state from acquiring nuclear weapons. We are, it seems, inching ever closer to pronouncement of a full-blown “containment” approach — the inevitable alternative after the Obami have frittered away time and credibility and forsworn military action and regime change. The “unacceptable” is about to become reality.

At AIPAC this week, Hillary Clinton promised not “crippling” sanctions against Iran but rather sanctions that would “bite.” That appears to be an overstatement. This report explains:

The U.S. has backed away from pursuing a number of tough measures against Iran in order to win support from Russia and China for a new United Nations Security Council resolution on sanctions, according to people familiar with the matter.

Among provisions removed from the original draft resolution the U.S. sent to key allies last month were sanctions aimed at choking off Tehran’s access to international banking services and capital markets, and closing international airspace and waters to Iran’s national air cargo and shipping lines, according to the people.

This is pathetic. The problem, of course, is that engagement did not, as promised, sell Russia and China on crippling sanctions that might actually have had some impact on the mullahs. (“The disclosure of weakened proposals came as U.S. officials sought to persuade Russia and China to back measures against Iran in a conference call on Wednesday among the five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany, the first such meeting including China since mid-January.”) So we begin the process of watering down and then watering down some more the economic measures that are the Obami’s sole means now — they have in effect taken military force off the table and are uninterested in regime change – of persuading the mullahs to put aside their nuclear ambitions.

The report explains:

The current resolution still would target major power centers in Iran, in particular the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the country’s elite military force, according to a person familiar with the draft. It would also stiffen a broad range of existing sanctions, including the search and seizure of suspicious cargo bound for Iran through international waters and a ban on states offering financial assistance or credits for trade with Iran. If approved, they would be the most stringent measures Iran has faced.

Yet the original U.S. draft would have gone much further. The cargo sanctions initially named Iran Air and Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines and demand a blanket ban of their airplanes and ships from other countries’ airspace or territorial waters. The revised version calls for interdiction only of shipments that would evade already-existing sanctions.

The earlier resolution would have made it difficult for Iran to insure imports and exports of oil and other essential commodities, by barring foreign insurers from serving international transport contracts from Iran. … The previous draft would also have barred Iran’s access to international capital markets by prohibiting foreign investment in Iranian bonds.

This has been the flaw in the entire sanctions strategy from the get-go. By the time something is negotiated, watered down, implemented, and its results assessed, it is too little and too late. In the process we reveal ourselves to be unserious and uncommitted to doing “whatever it takes” (Tony Blair’s formulation but certainly not the Obami’s) to prevent the revolutionary Islamic state from acquiring nuclear weapons. We are, it seems, inching ever closer to pronouncement of a full-blown “containment” approach — the inevitable alternative after the Obami have frittered away time and credibility and forsworn military action and regime change. The “unacceptable” is about to become reality.

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“Why Are You So Popular with Norman Finkelstein?”

Someone at the AIPAC conference captured video of Alan Dershowitz confronting J Street’s Hadar Susskind. It was a Kodak moment.

Someone at the AIPAC conference captured video of Alan Dershowitz confronting J Street’s Hadar Susskind. It was a Kodak moment.

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“Rescue” Jerusalem

What a difference a year makes. In January 2009, Arab League summitry was in disarray. Members assembling to discuss the Gaza crisis couldn’t even agree on holding a single, unified summit: “moderates” met in Kuwait that month and “radicals” in Doha, Qatar, with factional differences centering on suspicion of Iran and the rift between Fatah and Hamas. When the annual Arab League summit convened in March 2009, observers largely agreed with this assessment that the meeting ended ingloriously, yielding no decisions of substance.

The atmosphere is markedly different as the 2010 summit opens this week in Sirte, Libya. For one thing, with Libya acting as host, it appears that longstanding disputes between Muammar Qaddafi and the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Egypt are being papered over. Lebanon’s President Suleiman will not attend the summit due to a Lebanese grudge against Qaddafi dating to 1978, but he’s the only holdout. Lebanon will probably send a lower-level delegation; pressure is mounting for a show of unity by the league’s membership. Saudi Arabia is also hard at work on brokering a last-minute reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas so that a unified Palestinian delegation can be assembled for the leaders’ meetings on March 27 and 28.

The push for unity, in conjunction with Libya’s de facto readmission to the ranks of the respectable, distinguishes this summit from its predecessors over the past decade. And there is no mistaking the basis on which Libya has been restored to the fold: Qaddafi has spent the past 18 months accusing Israel of fomenting strife in Africa, charging Israel with genocide in the UN, and agreeing with Bashar al-Assad that the Arab nations must “unite against Israel.”

Reports this week have concentrated on the upcoming summit’s agenda of unifying Arabs to “rescue Jerusalem.” The wording of that theme seems to have emerged after the Obama administration overreacted to Israel’s March 9 announcement on construction in East Jerusalem. A presentation outlining the “occupation” of Jerusalem since 1967 is now promised as a summit event, with the yet-to-be-assembled Palestinian delegation on the hook to brief it.

In light of the energy building for this summit, Tuesday’s news that the Arab League is seeking closer cooperation with Iran strikes an ominous note. The impetus for that move comes as much from the regional perception that U.S. policy is ineffective as from any other source. Obama proposes, moreover, to shore up the Arab nations against Iran by arming them, an approach hardly calculated to act as a brake on anti-Israel rhetoric or actions. With Russia making landmark arms deals with Saudi Arabia and Libya (as well as Kuwait and Algeria), conditions are ripening for partisan saber-rattling — as they deteriorate for honestly brokered negotiations and a peaceful resolution.

Support for Israel in the U.S. Congress is an encouraging sign after the barrage of rhetorical attacks from the Obama administration. But it’s the president whose signals are typically decisive for both allies and opponents abroad. The Arab League’s members have been reading Obama’s signals for more than a year now. Their posture in Sirte this weekend will be a reflection of the effect he has had.

What a difference a year makes. In January 2009, Arab League summitry was in disarray. Members assembling to discuss the Gaza crisis couldn’t even agree on holding a single, unified summit: “moderates” met in Kuwait that month and “radicals” in Doha, Qatar, with factional differences centering on suspicion of Iran and the rift between Fatah and Hamas. When the annual Arab League summit convened in March 2009, observers largely agreed with this assessment that the meeting ended ingloriously, yielding no decisions of substance.

The atmosphere is markedly different as the 2010 summit opens this week in Sirte, Libya. For one thing, with Libya acting as host, it appears that longstanding disputes between Muammar Qaddafi and the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Egypt are being papered over. Lebanon’s President Suleiman will not attend the summit due to a Lebanese grudge against Qaddafi dating to 1978, but he’s the only holdout. Lebanon will probably send a lower-level delegation; pressure is mounting for a show of unity by the league’s membership. Saudi Arabia is also hard at work on brokering a last-minute reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas so that a unified Palestinian delegation can be assembled for the leaders’ meetings on March 27 and 28.

The push for unity, in conjunction with Libya’s de facto readmission to the ranks of the respectable, distinguishes this summit from its predecessors over the past decade. And there is no mistaking the basis on which Libya has been restored to the fold: Qaddafi has spent the past 18 months accusing Israel of fomenting strife in Africa, charging Israel with genocide in the UN, and agreeing with Bashar al-Assad that the Arab nations must “unite against Israel.”

Reports this week have concentrated on the upcoming summit’s agenda of unifying Arabs to “rescue Jerusalem.” The wording of that theme seems to have emerged after the Obama administration overreacted to Israel’s March 9 announcement on construction in East Jerusalem. A presentation outlining the “occupation” of Jerusalem since 1967 is now promised as a summit event, with the yet-to-be-assembled Palestinian delegation on the hook to brief it.

In light of the energy building for this summit, Tuesday’s news that the Arab League is seeking closer cooperation with Iran strikes an ominous note. The impetus for that move comes as much from the regional perception that U.S. policy is ineffective as from any other source. Obama proposes, moreover, to shore up the Arab nations against Iran by arming them, an approach hardly calculated to act as a brake on anti-Israel rhetoric or actions. With Russia making landmark arms deals with Saudi Arabia and Libya (as well as Kuwait and Algeria), conditions are ripening for partisan saber-rattling — as they deteriorate for honestly brokered negotiations and a peaceful resolution.

Support for Israel in the U.S. Congress is an encouraging sign after the barrage of rhetorical attacks from the Obama administration. But it’s the president whose signals are typically decisive for both allies and opponents abroad. The Arab League’s members have been reading Obama’s signals for more than a year now. Their posture in Sirte this weekend will be a reflection of the effect he has had.

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Competitive California

Even in California, Republicans are surging in the polls. A new Public Policy Institute of California survey shows Meg Whitman crushing her primary opponent in the gubernatorial race and now leading Democratic candidate Jerry Brown by a 44 to 39 percent margin. The surprise is in the Senate race, where Carly Fiorina has shot up in the polls and now edges out Tom Campbell: “The Republican primary race for U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer’s seat has tightened since January, when Tom Campbell led both Carly Fiorina and Chuck DeVore among Republican likely voters (27% Campbell, 16% Fiorina, 8% DeVore). Today, Campbell and Fiorina are in a close race (24% Fiorina, 23% Campbell), and DeVore’s level of support is unchanged (8%).” In short, Fiorina is up eight and Campbell down four since the poll’s January survey. And in the general election matchup, Barbara Boxer is in a one-point race with both Campbell and Fiorina.

It’s perhaps not surprising that Campbell’s lead has vanished. Part of that advantage was name recognition, since  Campbell has been a familiar figure in California politics for over a decade. But Fiorina has had a good run — wacky, high-profile ads, a strong showing at the California Republican convention, and pounding away at Campbell’s tax record. And then there is the Israel issue. Given the focus over the past two weeks on the president’s Israel-bashing, pro-Israel voters have every reason to be concerned that Campbell seems to be rather sympathetic to the Obami approach to Israel. (Campbell previously voted against resolutions confirming Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and voiced support for it as the capital of both a Jewish and a Palestinian state.)

But the real shocker here is Boxer’s vulnerability. This is not the only poll to show that the race is in a virtual dead heat. It is perhaps indicative of a strong anti-incumbent sentiment that is sweeping the country. The pollsters tell us:

[T]he state legislature’s approval rating among likely voters has sunk to single digits—9 percent. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s record-low approval rating of 25 percent hovers near Governor Gray Davis’ lowest level before recall (21% in June 2003). Likely voters give their own state legislators a 27-percent rating, close to the record-low 25 percent last December. Congress gets an approval rating of 14 percent—a 15-point drop since January (29%)—from likely voters in the survey, which was taken during the heated debate about health care reform. Asked to rate the performance of their own representative in the U.S. House, likely voters are more favorable: 44 percent approve. But this is a record low. President Obama fares better, but his approval rating has also dipped to a new low of 52 percent.

Well, if Massachusetts can supply a wake-up call to Washington — which was promptly ignored — so can California. And soon, I suspect, we’ll see pollsters move the Senate race from “leans Democratic” to “toss up.” What’s next — Wisconsin? Uh, yup.

Even in California, Republicans are surging in the polls. A new Public Policy Institute of California survey shows Meg Whitman crushing her primary opponent in the gubernatorial race and now leading Democratic candidate Jerry Brown by a 44 to 39 percent margin. The surprise is in the Senate race, where Carly Fiorina has shot up in the polls and now edges out Tom Campbell: “The Republican primary race for U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer’s seat has tightened since January, when Tom Campbell led both Carly Fiorina and Chuck DeVore among Republican likely voters (27% Campbell, 16% Fiorina, 8% DeVore). Today, Campbell and Fiorina are in a close race (24% Fiorina, 23% Campbell), and DeVore’s level of support is unchanged (8%).” In short, Fiorina is up eight and Campbell down four since the poll’s January survey. And in the general election matchup, Barbara Boxer is in a one-point race with both Campbell and Fiorina.

It’s perhaps not surprising that Campbell’s lead has vanished. Part of that advantage was name recognition, since  Campbell has been a familiar figure in California politics for over a decade. But Fiorina has had a good run — wacky, high-profile ads, a strong showing at the California Republican convention, and pounding away at Campbell’s tax record. And then there is the Israel issue. Given the focus over the past two weeks on the president’s Israel-bashing, pro-Israel voters have every reason to be concerned that Campbell seems to be rather sympathetic to the Obami approach to Israel. (Campbell previously voted against resolutions confirming Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and voiced support for it as the capital of both a Jewish and a Palestinian state.)

But the real shocker here is Boxer’s vulnerability. This is not the only poll to show that the race is in a virtual dead heat. It is perhaps indicative of a strong anti-incumbent sentiment that is sweeping the country. The pollsters tell us:

[T]he state legislature’s approval rating among likely voters has sunk to single digits—9 percent. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s record-low approval rating of 25 percent hovers near Governor Gray Davis’ lowest level before recall (21% in June 2003). Likely voters give their own state legislators a 27-percent rating, close to the record-low 25 percent last December. Congress gets an approval rating of 14 percent—a 15-point drop since January (29%)—from likely voters in the survey, which was taken during the heated debate about health care reform. Asked to rate the performance of their own representative in the U.S. House, likely voters are more favorable: 44 percent approve. But this is a record low. President Obama fares better, but his approval rating has also dipped to a new low of 52 percent.

Well, if Massachusetts can supply a wake-up call to Washington — which was promptly ignored — so can California. And soon, I suspect, we’ll see pollsters move the Senate race from “leans Democratic” to “toss up.” What’s next — Wisconsin? Uh, yup.

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The Daily Incitement

Andrew Sullivan’s dark soul is also an efficient one: he manages two slurs against Jackson Diehl in only an eight-word post. Linking to Diehl’s criticism of Obama, Sullivan titles his post “AIPAC Responds” and then calls Diehl a “Netanyahu channeler.”

Get it? Diehl, the deputy editorial-page editor of the Washington Post and a widely respected foreign-policy commentator, is pretty much an Israeli agent. How long will the Atlantic allow this hateful garbage to tarnish its reputation?

Andrew Sullivan’s dark soul is also an efficient one: he manages two slurs against Jackson Diehl in only an eight-word post. Linking to Diehl’s criticism of Obama, Sullivan titles his post “AIPAC Responds” and then calls Diehl a “Netanyahu channeler.”

Get it? Diehl, the deputy editorial-page editor of the Washington Post and a widely respected foreign-policy commentator, is pretty much an Israeli agent. How long will the Atlantic allow this hateful garbage to tarnish its reputation?

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Buck Up, Mr. President

COMMENTARY contributor and former UN ambassador John Bolton wants Obama to be more like Google. He writes:

Google’s decision to stop censoring searches on its China-based servers, rerouting search requests instead to its uncensored Hong Kong facilities, is historic. The company has shown itself unwilling simply to be on the receiving end of whatever Beijing dishes out. …

Google’s decision should also tell the U.S. government something about how to advocate its interests with China. The Google controversy coincided with cyber attacks against over 200 American companies, believed by U.S. authorities to have been launched by the People’s Liberation Army. China’s unchallenged behavior shows why we should not be optimistic that romancing Beijing will produce crippling sanctions against Iran’s nuclear weapons program any time soon. Instead, the Obama administration should emulate Google’s approach in official dealings, and support U.S. businesses in situations similar to Google so they do not have to act alone.

The Obama administration’s obsequiousness has certainly not paid off to date. China’s ongoing human rights atrocities, its bellicosity toward U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, and its refusal to get on board with Iran sanctions suggest that the Obama approach is, in fact, having the opposite reaction. The lower we bow, the more aggressive the Chinese become. And meanwhile, the Russians, the Syrians, and the Iranians look on, observing a tongue-tied American president (except when it comes to voicing “anger” toward Israel) desperate to ingratiate himself with despotic regimes and unwilling to risk their ire. Dictators become more emboldened, America loses its moral standing, and the world becomes less free and less safe. This — along with the crushing debt he is piling up — will be the Obama legacy.

COMMENTARY contributor and former UN ambassador John Bolton wants Obama to be more like Google. He writes:

Google’s decision to stop censoring searches on its China-based servers, rerouting search requests instead to its uncensored Hong Kong facilities, is historic. The company has shown itself unwilling simply to be on the receiving end of whatever Beijing dishes out. …

Google’s decision should also tell the U.S. government something about how to advocate its interests with China. The Google controversy coincided with cyber attacks against over 200 American companies, believed by U.S. authorities to have been launched by the People’s Liberation Army. China’s unchallenged behavior shows why we should not be optimistic that romancing Beijing will produce crippling sanctions against Iran’s nuclear weapons program any time soon. Instead, the Obama administration should emulate Google’s approach in official dealings, and support U.S. businesses in situations similar to Google so they do not have to act alone.

The Obama administration’s obsequiousness has certainly not paid off to date. China’s ongoing human rights atrocities, its bellicosity toward U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, and its refusal to get on board with Iran sanctions suggest that the Obama approach is, in fact, having the opposite reaction. The lower we bow, the more aggressive the Chinese become. And meanwhile, the Russians, the Syrians, and the Iranians look on, observing a tongue-tied American president (except when it comes to voicing “anger” toward Israel) desperate to ingratiate himself with despotic regimes and unwilling to risk their ire. Dictators become more emboldened, America loses its moral standing, and the world becomes less free and less safe. This — along with the crushing debt he is piling up — will be the Obama legacy.

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Is It Historic if It Never Happens?

As many Republicans are advocating, Karl Rove argues for a repeal-and-replace strategy for ObamaCare. He writes that the content of ObamaCare and the timing of its implementation make Republicans’ job easier:

Democratic hopes that passing health-care reform will help them politically will be unfulfilled because ObamaCare only benefits a small number of people in the short run. Until the massive subsidies to insurance companies fully ramp up in 2017, this bill will be more pain than gain for most Americans.

For example, changes in insurance regulations in 2011 and two new mandates in 2014 that force everyone to buy insurance and require everyone to be charged a similar price regardless of age or health will cause insurance premiums to rise more than they would have otherwise. The 10 million people who have a health savings account will also be hurt starting in 2011. With each passing year after that, they will be able to put less away tax free for medical expenses.

ObamaCare cuts $1.8 billion in support for Medicare Advantage this October, another $5.8 billion in October 2011, and an additional $9.2 billion right before the 2012 presidential election. This will increase premiums and reduce benefits for the 4.5 million people in the program.

Moreover, some of the immediate benefits that Obama promised – such as forcing insurance carriers to keep children on their parents’ insurance plans — seem, well, not to be real. And then there is the impact on the deficit, which will become all the more apparent once the Doc Fix is passed this year. In sum, the public’s strong aversion to the bill is not likely to be diminished by anything they see or learn about it between now and November.

Rove argues: “As voters start to feel the pain of this new program, Republicans will be in a stronger position if they stay in the fight, make a principled case, and lay out a competing vision.” If the Democrats do suffer heavy losses this year, we’ll see just how precarious the “historic” victory is. The great transformation of American society that Obama and his party have attempted to foist on an unwilling public may in fact end before it begins.

As many Republicans are advocating, Karl Rove argues for a repeal-and-replace strategy for ObamaCare. He writes that the content of ObamaCare and the timing of its implementation make Republicans’ job easier:

Democratic hopes that passing health-care reform will help them politically will be unfulfilled because ObamaCare only benefits a small number of people in the short run. Until the massive subsidies to insurance companies fully ramp up in 2017, this bill will be more pain than gain for most Americans.

For example, changes in insurance regulations in 2011 and two new mandates in 2014 that force everyone to buy insurance and require everyone to be charged a similar price regardless of age or health will cause insurance premiums to rise more than they would have otherwise. The 10 million people who have a health savings account will also be hurt starting in 2011. With each passing year after that, they will be able to put less away tax free for medical expenses.

ObamaCare cuts $1.8 billion in support for Medicare Advantage this October, another $5.8 billion in October 2011, and an additional $9.2 billion right before the 2012 presidential election. This will increase premiums and reduce benefits for the 4.5 million people in the program.

Moreover, some of the immediate benefits that Obama promised – such as forcing insurance carriers to keep children on their parents’ insurance plans — seem, well, not to be real. And then there is the impact on the deficit, which will become all the more apparent once the Doc Fix is passed this year. In sum, the public’s strong aversion to the bill is not likely to be diminished by anything they see or learn about it between now and November.

Rove argues: “As voters start to feel the pain of this new program, Republicans will be in a stronger position if they stay in the fight, make a principled case, and lay out a competing vision.” If the Democrats do suffer heavy losses this year, we’ll see just how precarious the “historic” victory is. The great transformation of American society that Obama and his party have attempted to foist on an unwilling public may in fact end before it begins.

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