Commentary Magazine


Posts For: April 13, 2010

Desperation Time for Crist

Charlie Crist is being embarrassed in the Florida Senate primary. He now trails by 30-some points. Not surprisingly, his money is drying up. He’s raised less than a third of what Marco Rubio hauled in.

So naturally he’s going negative with a sort of creepy ad that suggests there is something we don’t know about Marco Rubio. I suppose Crist figures he’s got nothing to lose and can’t get the base any angrier at him. It vaguely reminds me of Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primary — frustrated at the base’s sweetheart, flailing around and going negative in a last ditch effort to make the voters fall out of love with the party’s newest rock star. It didn’t work then either. Crist is, after all, still governor and at some point will need to decide if it’s worthwhile to keep this up, further erode his base of support, and go down as a spoilsport.

Rubio probably doesn’t suffer from having an active primary going on. (Likewise, the prolonged 2008 Democratic primary energized the Democratic base, and Clinton’s negative attack ads never were successfully used against Obama in the general election.) For now, Rubio remains the favorite of the conservative base — and the belated object of affection of party insiders, who learned with some embarrassment that Crist was not the sure-thing candidate they imagined he’d be.

Charlie Crist is being embarrassed in the Florida Senate primary. He now trails by 30-some points. Not surprisingly, his money is drying up. He’s raised less than a third of what Marco Rubio hauled in.

So naturally he’s going negative with a sort of creepy ad that suggests there is something we don’t know about Marco Rubio. I suppose Crist figures he’s got nothing to lose and can’t get the base any angrier at him. It vaguely reminds me of Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primary — frustrated at the base’s sweetheart, flailing around and going negative in a last ditch effort to make the voters fall out of love with the party’s newest rock star. It didn’t work then either. Crist is, after all, still governor and at some point will need to decide if it’s worthwhile to keep this up, further erode his base of support, and go down as a spoilsport.

Rubio probably doesn’t suffer from having an active primary going on. (Likewise, the prolonged 2008 Democratic primary energized the Democratic base, and Clinton’s negative attack ads never were successfully used against Obama in the general election.) For now, Rubio remains the favorite of the conservative base — and the belated object of affection of party insiders, who learned with some embarrassment that Crist was not the sure-thing candidate they imagined he’d be.

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Will They Be Silent?

Ed Koch is very upset– with Obama and with American supporters of Israel. He writes:

The plan I suspect is to so weaken the resolve of the Jewish state and its leaders that it will be much easier to impose on Israel an American plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, leaving Israel’s needs for security and defensible borders in the lurch. I believe President Obama’s policy is to create a whole new relationship with the Arab states of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt, and Iraq as a counter to Iran — The Tyrannosaurus Rex of the Muslim world which we are now prepared to see in possession  of a nuclear weapon. If throwing Israel under the bus is needed to accomplish this alliance, so be it.

I don’t think that’s quite it. Indeed, I think it’s giving Obama a bit too much credit to suppose he’s devising an anti-Iran alliance. For after all, the Gulf states, Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq are looking for (and frankly now despairing over the lack of) American resolve in opposing Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Obama’s queasiness about serious sanctions or use of force is hardly endearing him to these nations. Rather, it seems that Obama’s anti-Israel agenda stems, first, from a genuine lack of simpatico with the Jewish state and an abundance of the same for the Palestinians (who, as many Leftists do, he analogizes to oppressed Third World people or American slaves), and, second, from a desire to deter Israel from taking unilateral action against Iran.

What Koch does get right is the “lack of outrage on the part of Israel’s most ardent supporters.” He explains:

Members of Congress in both the House and Senate have made pitifully weak statements against Obama’s mistreatment of Israel, if they made any at all. The Democratic members, in particular, are weak. They are simply afraid to criticize President Obama.

What bothers me most of all is the shameful silence and lack of action by community leaders – Jew and Christian. Where are they? If this were a civil rights matter, the Jews would be in the mall in Washington protesting with and on behalf of our fellow American citizens. I asked one prominent Jewish leader why no one is preparing a march on Washington similar to the one in 1963 at which I was present and Martin Luther King’s memorable speech was given? His reply was “Fifty people might come.” Remember the 1930s? Few stood up. They were silent.

There will be a moment of clarity, I think, when (I suppose “if” is more accurate) Obama ever reaches an international deal for his gruel-thin sanctions against Iran — and simultaneously opposes (or chooses not to utilize) congressional authorization for refined-petroleum sanctions. Will the American Jewish community play along, pretending this is a serious effort to force the mullahs to give up their nuclear weapons? Or will they firmly and loudly finally (and with threat of withholding electoral and financial support) cry foul? After all, such nibbling sanctions are in a sense worse than “engagement.” By pretending to do something, Obama will only afford the mullahs more time to advance their nuclear program and ratchet up the pressure on Israel to hold off on any military action. We’ll see what supposed leaders in the Jewish community do, but I am afraid Koch is correct and we’ll hear a whole lot of silence.

Ed Koch is very upset– with Obama and with American supporters of Israel. He writes:

The plan I suspect is to so weaken the resolve of the Jewish state and its leaders that it will be much easier to impose on Israel an American plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, leaving Israel’s needs for security and defensible borders in the lurch. I believe President Obama’s policy is to create a whole new relationship with the Arab states of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt, and Iraq as a counter to Iran — The Tyrannosaurus Rex of the Muslim world which we are now prepared to see in possession  of a nuclear weapon. If throwing Israel under the bus is needed to accomplish this alliance, so be it.

I don’t think that’s quite it. Indeed, I think it’s giving Obama a bit too much credit to suppose he’s devising an anti-Iran alliance. For after all, the Gulf states, Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq are looking for (and frankly now despairing over the lack of) American resolve in opposing Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Obama’s queasiness about serious sanctions or use of force is hardly endearing him to these nations. Rather, it seems that Obama’s anti-Israel agenda stems, first, from a genuine lack of simpatico with the Jewish state and an abundance of the same for the Palestinians (who, as many Leftists do, he analogizes to oppressed Third World people or American slaves), and, second, from a desire to deter Israel from taking unilateral action against Iran.

What Koch does get right is the “lack of outrage on the part of Israel’s most ardent supporters.” He explains:

Members of Congress in both the House and Senate have made pitifully weak statements against Obama’s mistreatment of Israel, if they made any at all. The Democratic members, in particular, are weak. They are simply afraid to criticize President Obama.

What bothers me most of all is the shameful silence and lack of action by community leaders – Jew and Christian. Where are they? If this were a civil rights matter, the Jews would be in the mall in Washington protesting with and on behalf of our fellow American citizens. I asked one prominent Jewish leader why no one is preparing a march on Washington similar to the one in 1963 at which I was present and Martin Luther King’s memorable speech was given? His reply was “Fifty people might come.” Remember the 1930s? Few stood up. They were silent.

There will be a moment of clarity, I think, when (I suppose “if” is more accurate) Obama ever reaches an international deal for his gruel-thin sanctions against Iran — and simultaneously opposes (or chooses not to utilize) congressional authorization for refined-petroleum sanctions. Will the American Jewish community play along, pretending this is a serious effort to force the mullahs to give up their nuclear weapons? Or will they firmly and loudly finally (and with threat of withholding electoral and financial support) cry foul? After all, such nibbling sanctions are in a sense worse than “engagement.” By pretending to do something, Obama will only afford the mullahs more time to advance their nuclear program and ratchet up the pressure on Israel to hold off on any military action. We’ll see what supposed leaders in the Jewish community do, but I am afraid Koch is correct and we’ll hear a whole lot of silence.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Jeffrey Herf discovers that “liberals should be willing to devote more efforts to the moral and political delegitimation of radical Islamism. It is a form of totalitarian ideology. It is profoundly reactionary and deeply anti-Semitic and, in this sense, racist. It draws on a radicalization and selective reading of the religion of Islam. During both World War II and the cold war, the United States derived great strategic value from naming its adversaries and publicly discussing and denouncing their ideologies. It fought wars of ideas that accompanied the force of arms. We need to understand the importance of doing that today as well.” Who knew?

Candidate Obama denied that Zbigniew Brzezinski was an adviser on the Middle East, but now Brzezinski’s giving Obama a nudge to impose a peace plan. It’s almost as if candidate Obama had disguised his true inclinations on Israel.

The mainstream media have hyped the comments of stray Tea Party activists but almost entirely ignored the doubling of anti-Semitic incidents in 2009. “Of course, recent history has shown American media only concerned with acts of violence when they fit into an agenda being advanced.”

Maybe we should bring back the term “Islamic radicalism“: “Chilling new details about the foiled Al Qaeda plot to blow up the city’s busiest subways have emerged as a fourth suspect was quietly arrested in Pakistan, the Daily News has learned. The unidentified man, who helped plan the plot, is expected to be extradited to the U.S. to betried in Brooklyn Federal Court with Adis Medunjanin and Zarein Ahmedzay of Flushing, Queens, sources said.”

Imagine the damage she’d do with a lifetime appointment: “The White House moved quickly today to squelch the widening speculation that Hillary Clinton could be nominated to the Supreme Court, as Senator Orrin Hatch suggested this morning.”

Shocking as it may seem, North Korea is not going to be sweet-talked into giving up its nuclear ambitions.

It’s not just Israel that’s staying away: “President Obama is holding one of the biggest global summits ever on U.S. soil starting Monday, but for all the hoopla, the event will be missing America’s strongest allies. As remarkable as it is, the fact that neither British Prime Minister Gordon Brown nor Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are attending President Obama’s nuclear security summit in Washington Monday and Tuesday is not altogether surprising.Relations with both countries — Israel in particular — have grown strained under Obama. Combined with Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s recent defiance of the administration, questions are growing about the president’s ability to maintain important relationships. … The president’s critics, many of them from the Bush administration, say the summit absences — heads of state from Australia and Saudia Arabia also are not attending — are the most glaring examples of a floundering foreign policy that treats rivals and enemies better than friends.”

An expensive broken promise by Obama: “Taxpayers earning less than $200,000 a year will pay roughly $3.9 billion more in taxes — in 2019 alone — because of healthcare reform, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress’s official scorekeeper for legislation. The new law raises $15.2 billion over 10 years by limiting the medical expense deduction, a provision widely used by taxpayers who either have a serious illness or are older.”

Charles Krauthammer on Bart Stupak: “The guy’s political epitaph will read ‘A good man who played over his head.’ He held out and then he got squeezed by the president and the speaker. He caved. And the worst part of it was that he pretended that the instrument of surrender he signed was a victory. It’s a sad ending to a long career.”

Jeffrey Herf discovers that “liberals should be willing to devote more efforts to the moral and political delegitimation of radical Islamism. It is a form of totalitarian ideology. It is profoundly reactionary and deeply anti-Semitic and, in this sense, racist. It draws on a radicalization and selective reading of the religion of Islam. During both World War II and the cold war, the United States derived great strategic value from naming its adversaries and publicly discussing and denouncing their ideologies. It fought wars of ideas that accompanied the force of arms. We need to understand the importance of doing that today as well.” Who knew?

Candidate Obama denied that Zbigniew Brzezinski was an adviser on the Middle East, but now Brzezinski’s giving Obama a nudge to impose a peace plan. It’s almost as if candidate Obama had disguised his true inclinations on Israel.

The mainstream media have hyped the comments of stray Tea Party activists but almost entirely ignored the doubling of anti-Semitic incidents in 2009. “Of course, recent history has shown American media only concerned with acts of violence when they fit into an agenda being advanced.”

Maybe we should bring back the term “Islamic radicalism“: “Chilling new details about the foiled Al Qaeda plot to blow up the city’s busiest subways have emerged as a fourth suspect was quietly arrested in Pakistan, the Daily News has learned. The unidentified man, who helped plan the plot, is expected to be extradited to the U.S. to betried in Brooklyn Federal Court with Adis Medunjanin and Zarein Ahmedzay of Flushing, Queens, sources said.”

Imagine the damage she’d do with a lifetime appointment: “The White House moved quickly today to squelch the widening speculation that Hillary Clinton could be nominated to the Supreme Court, as Senator Orrin Hatch suggested this morning.”

Shocking as it may seem, North Korea is not going to be sweet-talked into giving up its nuclear ambitions.

It’s not just Israel that’s staying away: “President Obama is holding one of the biggest global summits ever on U.S. soil starting Monday, but for all the hoopla, the event will be missing America’s strongest allies. As remarkable as it is, the fact that neither British Prime Minister Gordon Brown nor Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are attending President Obama’s nuclear security summit in Washington Monday and Tuesday is not altogether surprising.Relations with both countries — Israel in particular — have grown strained under Obama. Combined with Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s recent defiance of the administration, questions are growing about the president’s ability to maintain important relationships. … The president’s critics, many of them from the Bush administration, say the summit absences — heads of state from Australia and Saudia Arabia also are not attending — are the most glaring examples of a floundering foreign policy that treats rivals and enemies better than friends.”

An expensive broken promise by Obama: “Taxpayers earning less than $200,000 a year will pay roughly $3.9 billion more in taxes — in 2019 alone — because of healthcare reform, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress’s official scorekeeper for legislation. The new law raises $15.2 billion over 10 years by limiting the medical expense deduction, a provision widely used by taxpayers who either have a serious illness or are older.”

Charles Krauthammer on Bart Stupak: “The guy’s political epitaph will read ‘A good man who played over his head.’ He held out and then he got squeezed by the president and the speaker. He caved. And the worst part of it was that he pretended that the instrument of surrender he signed was a victory. It’s a sad ending to a long career.”

Read Less




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