Commentary Magazine


Posts For: July 22, 2010

White House in Panic Mode

The flap over Shirley Sherrod’s not-actually-racist remarks and her subsequent firing has likely set a record. Robert Gibbs blew it. The Secretary of Agriculture blew it. The new and the old media blew it. The NAACP blew it. Based on a snippet of video, they all concluded she was a racist, and she was forced to resign. In fact, hers was a heartfelt discussion — that conversation on race Eric Holder pines for — of her own struggle to overcome prejudice and anger. Now the apologies are flying, the president called her personally, and she has a job offer from the Ag Department.

It was a mass jump-before-you-look exercise. The administration’s culpability, however, is greatest. We’ve unfortunately come to expect very little from the media, but the government — any employer, really — should act with a modicum of care before firing someone.

This is the second jump-to-conclusion-about-race goof of the Obama administration. Both errors entailed the rush to judgment (recall Obama said the police in Gatesgate had acted “stupidly”) when the mere whiff of racism wafted through the White House. The administration has not learned or improved since Gatesgate. To the contrary, this is a White House in a defensive crouch, frenzied and running scared. It is entirely reactive and unreasoned these days. It shows.

In the aftermath of the election, maybe the White House will settle down, get some adult supervision, and stop reinforcing voters’ fears that the administration is not competent enough to handle itself, let alone whole sectors of the economy.

The flap over Shirley Sherrod’s not-actually-racist remarks and her subsequent firing has likely set a record. Robert Gibbs blew it. The Secretary of Agriculture blew it. The new and the old media blew it. The NAACP blew it. Based on a snippet of video, they all concluded she was a racist, and she was forced to resign. In fact, hers was a heartfelt discussion — that conversation on race Eric Holder pines for — of her own struggle to overcome prejudice and anger. Now the apologies are flying, the president called her personally, and she has a job offer from the Ag Department.

It was a mass jump-before-you-look exercise. The administration’s culpability, however, is greatest. We’ve unfortunately come to expect very little from the media, but the government — any employer, really — should act with a modicum of care before firing someone.

This is the second jump-to-conclusion-about-race goof of the Obama administration. Both errors entailed the rush to judgment (recall Obama said the police in Gatesgate had acted “stupidly”) when the mere whiff of racism wafted through the White House. The administration has not learned or improved since Gatesgate. To the contrary, this is a White House in a defensive crouch, frenzied and running scared. It is entirely reactive and unreasoned these days. It shows.

In the aftermath of the election, maybe the White House will settle down, get some adult supervision, and stop reinforcing voters’ fears that the administration is not competent enough to handle itself, let alone whole sectors of the economy.

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Palestinian Democracy Requires Palestinian Democrats

Mustafa Barghouthi is the sort of Palestinian that Western politicians and journalists like. He is not affiliated with either Hamas or Fatah and thus cannot be accused of being a front man for the terrorists who make up the core of both those groups. Thus when Barghouthi (whose cousin Marwan is a Fatah terrorist currently serving five life sentences in an Israeli jail for committing multiple murders) laments the failures of Palestinian democracy, Westerners are inclined to listen and sympathize. In Foreign Policy today, Barghouthi uses the occasion of the cancellation of Palestinian municipal elections to make the case that democracy is an essential ingredient to Middle East peace, and he couldn’t be more right when he declares: “The only lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians will be based on a settlement negotiated between two democracies — this was the case in Europe, and it will be the case in the Middle East.”

But he’s wrong to blame Israel as well as the United States and the rest of the democratic West — which have all backed the Palestinian Authority’s decision to cancel elections — for this latest chapter in what he calls “the slow death of Palestinian democracy.”

The primary reason why democracy has not taken hold among Palestinians is obvious: a lack of Palestinian democrats. The independent Barghouthi may be one, but he also illustrates the unpopularity of such a stance. His party has virtually no following, especially in comparison with the popular Hamas and the corrupt Fatah factions whose nationalist bona fides have been based on the number of Israelis they have killed, not the creation of democratic structures or even economic development. Both have won elections in the past that were deemed fair by some observers (though it is difficult to campaign against armed factions whose followers tend to take opposition badly) but quickly demonstrated that they had no interest in risking another vote.

Israel and the United States are widely blamed for refusing to accept the outcome of elections that bring terrorists like Hamas (which won the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections and then seized Gaza in a bloody coup the following year) to power. This is seen as hypocrisy and, especially on Israel’s part, a sign that support for Palestinian democracy is insincere. But how can the election of a group that is irrevocably committed to endless war against a Jewish state as well as clearly uninterested in maintaining anything that looks like democracy or pluralism among their own people be seen as an outcome that democrats should respect? In the case of both Fatah and Hamas, it has been the same pattern that has been repeated time and again in the Third World: “one man, one vote, one time.” Hamas has no more interest in an election in which its opponents would have a fair chance to beat it than does Fatah’s Mahmoud Abbas, whose term of office as president of the Palestinian Authority expired more than a year ago, with no sign of his relinquishing power in the foreseeable future.

The problem is more fundamental than canceled elections; it is the culture of Palestinian politics. For the better part of a century, it has been a political culture that demonizes those who have favored accommodation with the Jews and lionizes those who engage in violence against them. This is a point that is amply proved in Efraim Karsh’s excellent new book, Palestine Betrayed, which discusses the way Palestinian leaders led their people to destruction in 1948. Barghouthi says that his people’s “democratic shortcomings” should not be held against them and used as an “excuse” to avoid giving them a state. But how can Israel be blamed for refusing to hand over territory and to create, as Barghouti says, a real state with total sovereignty (meaning not demilitarized) from which the terrorist groups that would dominate such a state can continue their war on Israel? The majority of Israelis would favor drastic concessions if they led to peace, and the “right-wing” coalition that governs Israel (by consent of the governed via democratic elections) has stated its willingness to accept a two-state solution. But until the dominant Palestinian factions actually embrace democracy — and give up violence — peace is nowhere in sight.

Mustafa Barghouthi is the sort of Palestinian that Western politicians and journalists like. He is not affiliated with either Hamas or Fatah and thus cannot be accused of being a front man for the terrorists who make up the core of both those groups. Thus when Barghouthi (whose cousin Marwan is a Fatah terrorist currently serving five life sentences in an Israeli jail for committing multiple murders) laments the failures of Palestinian democracy, Westerners are inclined to listen and sympathize. In Foreign Policy today, Barghouthi uses the occasion of the cancellation of Palestinian municipal elections to make the case that democracy is an essential ingredient to Middle East peace, and he couldn’t be more right when he declares: “The only lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians will be based on a settlement negotiated between two democracies — this was the case in Europe, and it will be the case in the Middle East.”

But he’s wrong to blame Israel as well as the United States and the rest of the democratic West — which have all backed the Palestinian Authority’s decision to cancel elections — for this latest chapter in what he calls “the slow death of Palestinian democracy.”

The primary reason why democracy has not taken hold among Palestinians is obvious: a lack of Palestinian democrats. The independent Barghouthi may be one, but he also illustrates the unpopularity of such a stance. His party has virtually no following, especially in comparison with the popular Hamas and the corrupt Fatah factions whose nationalist bona fides have been based on the number of Israelis they have killed, not the creation of democratic structures or even economic development. Both have won elections in the past that were deemed fair by some observers (though it is difficult to campaign against armed factions whose followers tend to take opposition badly) but quickly demonstrated that they had no interest in risking another vote.

Israel and the United States are widely blamed for refusing to accept the outcome of elections that bring terrorists like Hamas (which won the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections and then seized Gaza in a bloody coup the following year) to power. This is seen as hypocrisy and, especially on Israel’s part, a sign that support for Palestinian democracy is insincere. But how can the election of a group that is irrevocably committed to endless war against a Jewish state as well as clearly uninterested in maintaining anything that looks like democracy or pluralism among their own people be seen as an outcome that democrats should respect? In the case of both Fatah and Hamas, it has been the same pattern that has been repeated time and again in the Third World: “one man, one vote, one time.” Hamas has no more interest in an election in which its opponents would have a fair chance to beat it than does Fatah’s Mahmoud Abbas, whose term of office as president of the Palestinian Authority expired more than a year ago, with no sign of his relinquishing power in the foreseeable future.

The problem is more fundamental than canceled elections; it is the culture of Palestinian politics. For the better part of a century, it has been a political culture that demonizes those who have favored accommodation with the Jews and lionizes those who engage in violence against them. This is a point that is amply proved in Efraim Karsh’s excellent new book, Palestine Betrayed, which discusses the way Palestinian leaders led their people to destruction in 1948. Barghouthi says that his people’s “democratic shortcomings” should not be held against them and used as an “excuse” to avoid giving them a state. But how can Israel be blamed for refusing to hand over territory and to create, as Barghouti says, a real state with total sovereignty (meaning not demilitarized) from which the terrorist groups that would dominate such a state can continue their war on Israel? The majority of Israelis would favor drastic concessions if they led to peace, and the “right-wing” coalition that governs Israel (by consent of the governed via democratic elections) has stated its willingness to accept a two-state solution. But until the dominant Palestinian factions actually embrace democracy — and give up violence — peace is nowhere in sight.

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Good News: Climate Bill Dead

The economy is reeling under the weight of new mandates, regulations, and tax hikes (with potentially more on the way). The last thing investors or employers want to see is a jumbo energy tax disguised as a “climate-control” bill. So there are smiles all around with this news:

After a meeting of Senate Democrats, party leaders on Thursday said they had abandoned hope of passing a comprehensive energy bill this summer and would pursue a more limited measure focused primarily on responding the Gulf oil spill and including some tightening of energy efficiency standards. …

While Mr. Reid criticized Republicans, it is clear he did not have sufficient support in his own party for a broad energy bill. A number of Democratic lawmakers from manufacturing and coal-producing states were expected to oppose such a bill.

That hasn’t and won’t stop Reid and the White House from blaming Republican lawmakers. But this is one accusation to which Republicans should be glad to plead guilty. If Reid wants to accuse them of stopping another job-killing, tax-hiking, mammoth piece of legislation, I don’t think Republicans will mind.

The economy is reeling under the weight of new mandates, regulations, and tax hikes (with potentially more on the way). The last thing investors or employers want to see is a jumbo energy tax disguised as a “climate-control” bill. So there are smiles all around with this news:

After a meeting of Senate Democrats, party leaders on Thursday said they had abandoned hope of passing a comprehensive energy bill this summer and would pursue a more limited measure focused primarily on responding the Gulf oil spill and including some tightening of energy efficiency standards. …

While Mr. Reid criticized Republicans, it is clear he did not have sufficient support in his own party for a broad energy bill. A number of Democratic lawmakers from manufacturing and coal-producing states were expected to oppose such a bill.

That hasn’t and won’t stop Reid and the White House from blaming Republican lawmakers. But this is one accusation to which Republicans should be glad to plead guilty. If Reid wants to accuse them of stopping another job-killing, tax-hiking, mammoth piece of legislation, I don’t think Republicans will mind.

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The Political Confidence Crisis

According to the most recent Gallup Poll, confidence in Congress as an institution is at an all-time low. According to Gallup:

Gallup’s 2010 Confidence in Institutions poll finds Congress ranking dead last out of the 16 institutions rated this year. Eleven percent of Americans say they have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in Congress, down from 17% in 2009 and a percentage point lower than the previous low for Congress, recorded in 2008.

Underscoring Congress’ image problem, half of Americans now say they have “very little” or no confidence in Congress, up from 38% in 2009 — and the highest for any institution since Gallup first asked this question in 1973.

This year’s poll also finds a 15-point drop in high confidence in the presidency, to 36 percent from 51 percent in June 2009. Over the same period, President Barack Obama’s approval rating fell by 11 points, from 58 percent to 47 percent.

This will obviously have spillover effects in the midterm elections. This is also a terrific repudiation of the stewardship of Democrats in Congress and the Obama presidency. More broadly, though, what we are witnessing is a massive leakage of confidence in our governing institutions.

The public’s critical assessment is fully warranted, but it is also disturbing. Any time a free society experiences alienation of this degree between the citizenry and its governing institutions, it is corrosive. A republic like ours is founded on a basic level of confidence and trust in our political institutions. When that collapses, lots of bad things can spring up.

In his Farewell Address, President Washington said:

This government, the offspring of our own choice uninfluenced and unawed… has a just claim to your confidence and your support. Respect for its authority, compliance with its laws, acquiescence in its measures are duties enjoined by the fundamental maxims of true liberty.

Today respect for government’s authority is at a low point. The next Congress — and indeed the next president — must begin the vital work of reclaiming public confidence and support. Without it, public alienation will only deepen. And that will be bad for everyone. After all, it is impossible to sustain the public’s love for our country if the citizens hold contempt for its governing institutions.

Because of a widespread failure of political leadership, America is not in a good place at the present moment.

According to the most recent Gallup Poll, confidence in Congress as an institution is at an all-time low. According to Gallup:

Gallup’s 2010 Confidence in Institutions poll finds Congress ranking dead last out of the 16 institutions rated this year. Eleven percent of Americans say they have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in Congress, down from 17% in 2009 and a percentage point lower than the previous low for Congress, recorded in 2008.

Underscoring Congress’ image problem, half of Americans now say they have “very little” or no confidence in Congress, up from 38% in 2009 — and the highest for any institution since Gallup first asked this question in 1973.

This year’s poll also finds a 15-point drop in high confidence in the presidency, to 36 percent from 51 percent in June 2009. Over the same period, President Barack Obama’s approval rating fell by 11 points, from 58 percent to 47 percent.

This will obviously have spillover effects in the midterm elections. This is also a terrific repudiation of the stewardship of Democrats in Congress and the Obama presidency. More broadly, though, what we are witnessing is a massive leakage of confidence in our governing institutions.

The public’s critical assessment is fully warranted, but it is also disturbing. Any time a free society experiences alienation of this degree between the citizenry and its governing institutions, it is corrosive. A republic like ours is founded on a basic level of confidence and trust in our political institutions. When that collapses, lots of bad things can spring up.

In his Farewell Address, President Washington said:

This government, the offspring of our own choice uninfluenced and unawed… has a just claim to your confidence and your support. Respect for its authority, compliance with its laws, acquiescence in its measures are duties enjoined by the fundamental maxims of true liberty.

Today respect for government’s authority is at a low point. The next Congress — and indeed the next president — must begin the vital work of reclaiming public confidence and support. Without it, public alienation will only deepen. And that will be bad for everyone. After all, it is impossible to sustain the public’s love for our country if the citizens hold contempt for its governing institutions.

Because of a widespread failure of political leadership, America is not in a good place at the present moment.

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Congress Dead Last

Gallup reports:

Gallup’s 2010 Confidence in Institutions poll finds Congress ranking dead last out of the 16 institutions rated this year. Eleven percent of Americans say they have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in Congress, down from 17% in 2009 and a percentage point lower than the previous low for Congress, recorded in 2008.

First place goes to the U.S. military, followed by small business, the police, and organized religion. (First Journolist and now this — a rough week for the left.) Every other institution is below 50%.

How badly is Congress doing? Voters think better of Big Business and HMOs, which both clock in at 19%, than they do of Congress. For all its efforts to shift blame to others, Congress can’t escape the public’s ire. And the presidency isn’t doing so great either. That category shows the most dramatic drop in confidence — from 51% in 2009 to 36% now. You don’t think it has anything to do with Obama, do you?

Gallup reports:

Gallup’s 2010 Confidence in Institutions poll finds Congress ranking dead last out of the 16 institutions rated this year. Eleven percent of Americans say they have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in Congress, down from 17% in 2009 and a percentage point lower than the previous low for Congress, recorded in 2008.

First place goes to the U.S. military, followed by small business, the police, and organized religion. (First Journolist and now this — a rough week for the left.) Every other institution is below 50%.

How badly is Congress doing? Voters think better of Big Business and HMOs, which both clock in at 19%, than they do of Congress. For all its efforts to shift blame to others, Congress can’t escape the public’s ire. And the presidency isn’t doing so great either. That category shows the most dramatic drop in confidence — from 51% in 2009 to 36% now. You don’t think it has anything to do with Obama, do you?

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A Times Bouquet for Those Lovable North Koreans

This summer marks the 60th anniversary of one of America’s least-known conflicts: the Korean War. The remarkable thing about Korea is that even at the height of the Cold War, when leftist apologists for the Soviet Union and other Communist aggressors were at their high watermark, in the West there were few if any among them who spent much time criticizing America’s decision to save South Korea after it was invaded in June of 1950. Even in those decades when defenders of the Soviets, Castro, and even Mao were never in short supply, it was hard to find anyone to say a good word about the lunatic regime in Pyongyang, a government so oppressive that it gave dedicated Stalinists the willies. There was little room for debate about how the Korean conflict started or what the consequences for the Korean people would have been had the Communists been allowed to complete their takeover of the entire country. But with the passage of time, memory of these basic facts fade, and for the squishy left there is no topic, no matter how cut and dried, that is not ripe for a revisionist retelling as long as America can be portrayed as the villain. That’s the only way to explain a new book about Korea by Bruce Cumings, the chairman of the history department at the University of Chicago, and the rapturous review it received in today’s New York Times. Turning history and logic on its head, Cumings believes that not only was American intervention in Korea wrong but the North Koreans were the good guys.

To be fair, Cumings clearly knows a lot more about modern Korean history than most of those Americans who have written about the war. He has a point when he notes that a record of collaboration with the brutal Japanese occupation of the country compromised the South Korean leadership during the first half of the 20th century. But however nasty some of the South Korean leaders were, it is impossible to compare them unfavorably with their Stalinist opponents in the North. Cumings also spends much of his book attempting to paint the American-led United Nations force that defended the South against Communist aggression as genocidal murderers. The strategic bombing of the North exacted a high toll of casualties, but the same could be said of Allied bombings of Germany and Japan during World War Two. But Cumings’s argument isn’t so much with American tactics but rather with its goal of defeating the Communists.

One of the interesting sidelights of the book, touched on with approval in Dwight Garner’s fawning review, is the way the Chicago historian torches the late David Halberstam’s book about Korea. Halberstam, a liberal icon, played a key role in demolishing support for America’s war in Vietnam, but he rightly understood that there could be no ambivalence about his country’s role in saving South Korea. But for a blinkered leftist like Cumings, there are no enemies, no matter how despicable, on the left and no good American wars.

It is Cumings who can’t face the basic truth about Korea. Without American military intervention, the whole of the peninsula would today be under the rule of a maniacal Communist dictatorship that prides itself on starving and oppressing its own people and threatening its neighbors. After a rocky start to life in the midst of the destruction wrought by the North Korean invasion, South Korea has become a democracy with a vibrant economy. The reality of the contrasting fates of the two halves of the Korean peninsula is a testament to the courage of President Truman and the Americans and other UN troops that fought there. It is a sad commentary on the state of contemporary liberal intellectual life — demonstrated by Cumings’s book and the Times review — that the impulse to trash America’s past is so strong that it takes precedence over a respect for history’s verdict about Communist aggression in Korea.

This summer marks the 60th anniversary of one of America’s least-known conflicts: the Korean War. The remarkable thing about Korea is that even at the height of the Cold War, when leftist apologists for the Soviet Union and other Communist aggressors were at their high watermark, in the West there were few if any among them who spent much time criticizing America’s decision to save South Korea after it was invaded in June of 1950. Even in those decades when defenders of the Soviets, Castro, and even Mao were never in short supply, it was hard to find anyone to say a good word about the lunatic regime in Pyongyang, a government so oppressive that it gave dedicated Stalinists the willies. There was little room for debate about how the Korean conflict started or what the consequences for the Korean people would have been had the Communists been allowed to complete their takeover of the entire country. But with the passage of time, memory of these basic facts fade, and for the squishy left there is no topic, no matter how cut and dried, that is not ripe for a revisionist retelling as long as America can be portrayed as the villain. That’s the only way to explain a new book about Korea by Bruce Cumings, the chairman of the history department at the University of Chicago, and the rapturous review it received in today’s New York Times. Turning history and logic on its head, Cumings believes that not only was American intervention in Korea wrong but the North Koreans were the good guys.

To be fair, Cumings clearly knows a lot more about modern Korean history than most of those Americans who have written about the war. He has a point when he notes that a record of collaboration with the brutal Japanese occupation of the country compromised the South Korean leadership during the first half of the 20th century. But however nasty some of the South Korean leaders were, it is impossible to compare them unfavorably with their Stalinist opponents in the North. Cumings also spends much of his book attempting to paint the American-led United Nations force that defended the South against Communist aggression as genocidal murderers. The strategic bombing of the North exacted a high toll of casualties, but the same could be said of Allied bombings of Germany and Japan during World War Two. But Cumings’s argument isn’t so much with American tactics but rather with its goal of defeating the Communists.

One of the interesting sidelights of the book, touched on with approval in Dwight Garner’s fawning review, is the way the Chicago historian torches the late David Halberstam’s book about Korea. Halberstam, a liberal icon, played a key role in demolishing support for America’s war in Vietnam, but he rightly understood that there could be no ambivalence about his country’s role in saving South Korea. But for a blinkered leftist like Cumings, there are no enemies, no matter how despicable, on the left and no good American wars.

It is Cumings who can’t face the basic truth about Korea. Without American military intervention, the whole of the peninsula would today be under the rule of a maniacal Communist dictatorship that prides itself on starving and oppressing its own people and threatening its neighbors. After a rocky start to life in the midst of the destruction wrought by the North Korean invasion, South Korea has become a democracy with a vibrant economy. The reality of the contrasting fates of the two halves of the Korean peninsula is a testament to the courage of President Truman and the Americans and other UN troops that fought there. It is a sad commentary on the state of contemporary liberal intellectual life — demonstrated by Cumings’s book and the Times review — that the impulse to trash America’s past is so strong that it takes precedence over a respect for history’s verdict about Communist aggression in Korea.

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Jeb Bush Hiding in Plain Sight?

Joshua GreenAtlantic‘s fine political and investigative journalist, takes to the Boston Globe to make some observations about Jeb Bush. He writes:

[Mitt] Romney may have bested [in PAC fundraising] Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, and the rest of the field. But another potent political force — one who raised no money and has no PAC — could still win the nomination were he inclined to pursue it: Jeb Bush is the candidate hiding in plain sight. The brother and son of presidents stepped back from elected politics after his second term as Florida governor ended three years ago. At 57, he’s in his prime.

He is not buying that the Bush name is a problem:

For one thing, no obvious frontrunner has emerged nor seems likely to. … Another way of putting it is that each of the leading candidates is somehow flawed … Bush, on the other hand, has a solid conservative record that wasn’t amassed in Washington and broad appeal in a critical state; for a party conspicuously lacking a positive agenda, he’s also known as an ideas guy. Bush hasn’t followed the Tea Partiers to the political fringes — he opposed Arizona’s racial profiling law, for instance — but neither has he ignored them.

Green is spot on, but there is a potential deal breaker. It’s not at all clear that Jeb Bush wants to make a run and take a new round of ammunition aimed at his brother. This, however, is not an obstacle but a choice. If Jeb Bush, urged by Republicans anxious if not desperate to find a solid, electable conservative, decides his country and party need him, there’s no reason he wouldn’t be at or near the top of the pack of 2012 contenders. But there is plenty of time — no one really wants to hear announcements for 2012 candidates in the summer of 2010.

Joshua GreenAtlantic‘s fine political and investigative journalist, takes to the Boston Globe to make some observations about Jeb Bush. He writes:

[Mitt] Romney may have bested [in PAC fundraising] Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, and the rest of the field. But another potent political force — one who raised no money and has no PAC — could still win the nomination were he inclined to pursue it: Jeb Bush is the candidate hiding in plain sight. The brother and son of presidents stepped back from elected politics after his second term as Florida governor ended three years ago. At 57, he’s in his prime.

He is not buying that the Bush name is a problem:

For one thing, no obvious frontrunner has emerged nor seems likely to. … Another way of putting it is that each of the leading candidates is somehow flawed … Bush, on the other hand, has a solid conservative record that wasn’t amassed in Washington and broad appeal in a critical state; for a party conspicuously lacking a positive agenda, he’s also known as an ideas guy. Bush hasn’t followed the Tea Partiers to the political fringes — he opposed Arizona’s racial profiling law, for instance — but neither has he ignored them.

Green is spot on, but there is a potential deal breaker. It’s not at all clear that Jeb Bush wants to make a run and take a new round of ammunition aimed at his brother. This, however, is not an obstacle but a choice. If Jeb Bush, urged by Republicans anxious if not desperate to find a solid, electable conservative, decides his country and party need him, there’s no reason he wouldn’t be at or near the top of the pack of 2012 contenders. But there is plenty of time — no one really wants to hear announcements for 2012 candidates in the summer of 2010.

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A Game of JournoList Chicken

Tucker Carlson at the Daily Caller is sitting in the catbird’s seat. He has reams of JournoList e-mails revealing how vicious the blogospheric left is. They wish their opponents dead (Rush Limbaugh). Their contempt for conservatives runneth over. And they plainly are all on the same “team” — plotting, delegating, and coordinating their cheerleading for the Obami, as well as attacks on Obama’s opponents. Moreover, we now have a great mystery, a sort of D.C. parlor game: what else does Carlson have?

“Journalists” — what do we call such people (undercover activists)? — and their editors are waiting for shoes to drop. A case in point: Ben Smith ran a story on the potential involvement of Politico reporters. I then spotted in one of the Daily Caller’s releases the name Laura Rozen, who covers foreign policy for Politico. Her use of a blind quote to relate an accusation of “dual loyalty” against Dennis Ross was widely criticized in a range of Jewish and conservative publications.

A sample via Daily Caller:

Nov. 5

ALYSSA ROSENBERG, GOVERNMENT EXECUTIVE: I’ve gotta be all non-partisan on GovExec, so I hope you’ll all indulge me a minute here. On Monday night in Manassas, the band warming up the crowd before Obama arrived played “I Need You To Survive.” I think the core lyrics are pretty good statement of principles for progressives, especially going forward from a victory like this one:

It is his will, that every need be supplied.
You are important to me, I need you to survive.
You are important to me, I need you to survive.

I pray for you, You pray for me.
I love you, I need you to survive.
I won’t harm you with words from my mouth.
I love you, I need you to survive.

It is his will, that every need be supplied.
You are important to me, I need you to survive.

A lot of horribly ugly stuff got repudiated tonight. But it doesn’t end here. We need to keep making the case to the folks who disagreed with us, the folks who booed McCain during his concession speech tonight.

MATT DUSS, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: [Mccain aide] Randy Scheunemann Fired [last week]

LAURA ROZEN, MOTHER JONES (NOW POLITICO): Can you imagine if these bozos had won?

Nov. 7

LAURA ROZEN: People we no longer have to listen to: would it be unwise to start a thread of people we are grateful we no longer have to listen to? If not, I’ll start off: Michael Rubin.

MICHAEL COHEN, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: Mark Penn and Bob Shrum. Anyone who uses the expression “Real America.” We should send there ass to Gitmo!

JESSE TAYLOR, PANDAGON.NET: Michael Barone?  Please?

LAURA ROZEN: Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich (afraid it’s not true), Drill Here Drill Now, And David Addington, John Yoo, we’ll see you in court?

I e-mailed Ben and asked if Rozen didn’t “count” because these comments predated her employment by Politico. He promptly answered that he hadn’t seen this particular e-mail and would have included it and asked his editor about it if he had. He directed me to Jim VanderHei, who asked if I had seen any Rozen JournoList comments after she was hired by Politico. I answered that we were all dealing with what Daily Caller was doling out. He provided this explanation of Politico’s  approach to this issue:

We have an unmistakably clear rule that anyone hired here check their ideology at the door. That means no political contributions or activism — and no partisan comments on air, on Twitter, on Facebook, in print, anywhere. We recognize the people we hire are not dull, blank slates — and that everyone has personal opinions. What we demand is that those opinions remain personal (and private) once hired — and that they fully understand we are a nonpartisan media outlet. We have hired some people with partisan backgrounds and had great success in getting them to go through ideological detox and become straight news reporters. The Laura Rozen emails the Daily Caller reported on pre-dated her work here. I have not seen any emails she wrote as a POLITICO employee that trouble me.

This raises at least two issues. First, it seems that the JournoList participants now have a very high standard of objectivity to maintain, especially if they now want to act as real reporters. Are they really checking their ideology at the door, or are they tipping the scales? The problem with baring one’s partisan views — especially ones so personally vindictive — is that it creates a cloud of doubt about everything you write. Second, VandeHei and every other editor with a JournoList participant is now waiting to see if there are any other e-mails that “trouble” them. If more pop up, will heads roll?

I use Rozen as an example, but the problem is far wider. The Washington Post has been mute. What if anything do they do about Ezra Klein? (Maybe if they were aware of his hyper-nasty attacks on the right, the Post editors wouldn’t have taken his recommendation on Dave Weigel.) The JournoList crowd have done a bang-up job of undermining not only their own credibility but also that of their employers. (Even those who are opinion writers are revealed not to be principled purveyors of ideas but meanspirited attack dogs.) How widespread the damage is has yet to be determined.

Tucker Carlson at the Daily Caller is sitting in the catbird’s seat. He has reams of JournoList e-mails revealing how vicious the blogospheric left is. They wish their opponents dead (Rush Limbaugh). Their contempt for conservatives runneth over. And they plainly are all on the same “team” — plotting, delegating, and coordinating their cheerleading for the Obami, as well as attacks on Obama’s opponents. Moreover, we now have a great mystery, a sort of D.C. parlor game: what else does Carlson have?

“Journalists” — what do we call such people (undercover activists)? — and their editors are waiting for shoes to drop. A case in point: Ben Smith ran a story on the potential involvement of Politico reporters. I then spotted in one of the Daily Caller’s releases the name Laura Rozen, who covers foreign policy for Politico. Her use of a blind quote to relate an accusation of “dual loyalty” against Dennis Ross was widely criticized in a range of Jewish and conservative publications.

A sample via Daily Caller:

Nov. 5

ALYSSA ROSENBERG, GOVERNMENT EXECUTIVE: I’ve gotta be all non-partisan on GovExec, so I hope you’ll all indulge me a minute here. On Monday night in Manassas, the band warming up the crowd before Obama arrived played “I Need You To Survive.” I think the core lyrics are pretty good statement of principles for progressives, especially going forward from a victory like this one:

It is his will, that every need be supplied.
You are important to me, I need you to survive.
You are important to me, I need you to survive.

I pray for you, You pray for me.
I love you, I need you to survive.
I won’t harm you with words from my mouth.
I love you, I need you to survive.

It is his will, that every need be supplied.
You are important to me, I need you to survive.

A lot of horribly ugly stuff got repudiated tonight. But it doesn’t end here. We need to keep making the case to the folks who disagreed with us, the folks who booed McCain during his concession speech tonight.

MATT DUSS, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: [Mccain aide] Randy Scheunemann Fired [last week]

LAURA ROZEN, MOTHER JONES (NOW POLITICO): Can you imagine if these bozos had won?

Nov. 7

LAURA ROZEN: People we no longer have to listen to: would it be unwise to start a thread of people we are grateful we no longer have to listen to? If not, I’ll start off: Michael Rubin.

MICHAEL COHEN, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: Mark Penn and Bob Shrum. Anyone who uses the expression “Real America.” We should send there ass to Gitmo!

JESSE TAYLOR, PANDAGON.NET: Michael Barone?  Please?

LAURA ROZEN: Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich (afraid it’s not true), Drill Here Drill Now, And David Addington, John Yoo, we’ll see you in court?

I e-mailed Ben and asked if Rozen didn’t “count” because these comments predated her employment by Politico. He promptly answered that he hadn’t seen this particular e-mail and would have included it and asked his editor about it if he had. He directed me to Jim VanderHei, who asked if I had seen any Rozen JournoList comments after she was hired by Politico. I answered that we were all dealing with what Daily Caller was doling out. He provided this explanation of Politico’s  approach to this issue:

We have an unmistakably clear rule that anyone hired here check their ideology at the door. That means no political contributions or activism — and no partisan comments on air, on Twitter, on Facebook, in print, anywhere. We recognize the people we hire are not dull, blank slates — and that everyone has personal opinions. What we demand is that those opinions remain personal (and private) once hired — and that they fully understand we are a nonpartisan media outlet. We have hired some people with partisan backgrounds and had great success in getting them to go through ideological detox and become straight news reporters. The Laura Rozen emails the Daily Caller reported on pre-dated her work here. I have not seen any emails she wrote as a POLITICO employee that trouble me.

This raises at least two issues. First, it seems that the JournoList participants now have a very high standard of objectivity to maintain, especially if they now want to act as real reporters. Are they really checking their ideology at the door, or are they tipping the scales? The problem with baring one’s partisan views — especially ones so personally vindictive — is that it creates a cloud of doubt about everything you write. Second, VandeHei and every other editor with a JournoList participant is now waiting to see if there are any other e-mails that “trouble” them. If more pop up, will heads roll?

I use Rozen as an example, but the problem is far wider. The Washington Post has been mute. What if anything do they do about Ezra Klein? (Maybe if they were aware of his hyper-nasty attacks on the right, the Post editors wouldn’t have taken his recommendation on Dave Weigel.) The JournoList crowd have done a bang-up job of undermining not only their own credibility but also that of their employers. (Even those who are opinion writers are revealed not to be principled purveyors of ideas but meanspirited attack dogs.) How widespread the damage is has yet to be determined.

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Rewriting the Rules of International Diplomacy

Palestinian preconditions for negotiations with Israel have been changing so rapidly that it’s hard to keep up. Yet they all have one thing in common: all seek to rewrite the accepted rules of international diplomacy.

The latest, unveiled this week, is that the Palestinians refuse to begin direct talks unless the U.S. guarantees that the final-status border will be based on the 1949 armistice lines, including in Jerusalem, and that an international force will replace Israel’s army completely, leaving Israel with no security presence on the West Bank.

In other words, the Palestinians won’t “negotiate” unless there’s nothing left to negotiate about, because the U.S. has already guaranteed that all their demands will be met. That would completely gut the usual principle of negotiations, which is that both sides make concessions to forge a mutually acceptable compromise.

It would also leave Israel with no reason even to begin the talks. Not only are these demands unacceptable to Jerusalem in themselves (as I’ve explained here, here, and here, for instance), but with the entirety of the territory and its military presence having already been conceded in advance, Israel would have no bargaining chips left with which to secure Palestinian concessions on other issues of importance to it, such as the refugees or recognition as a Jewish state.

Indeed, if this were to become the accepted model for diplomatic negotiations — one in which everything is decided in one party’s favor in advance — it would spell the death of international diplomacy, because the other party would always have the strongest possible incentive to avoid talks.

The same was true of the Palestinians’ last attempt to pose preconditions: their insistence that the starting point for talks be the proposals made by former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, which they themselves rejected. If leaders knew that any proposal they made would be binding on them and their successors — but not their interlocutors — even if the other side rejected it, they would be reluctant to offer any proposals at all. That would effectively kill off any possibility of negotiations.

Washington, to its credit, rejected that precondition and is so far standing publicly firm on the demand for guarantees as well. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas complained to Fatah’s Revolutionary Council on Tuesday that President Barack Obama had been “vague” on the issues of borders and security, while State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters yesterday that “fundamental issues in the process, including borders … can only be resolved within the context of direct negotiations.”

Nevertheless, there has apparently been some waffling in private: an Israeli source told Haaretz this week that “Washington is giving serious consideration to issuing these guarantees in order to encourage the Palestinians to agree to direct talks.”

If the U.S. actually wants talks to occur, it must continue standing firm — not only for the sake of a time-honored principle of international diplomacy, but also because there is no chance of any deal emerging until the Palestinians are made to understand that they, too, will have to make concessions to achieve it.

Palestinian preconditions for negotiations with Israel have been changing so rapidly that it’s hard to keep up. Yet they all have one thing in common: all seek to rewrite the accepted rules of international diplomacy.

The latest, unveiled this week, is that the Palestinians refuse to begin direct talks unless the U.S. guarantees that the final-status border will be based on the 1949 armistice lines, including in Jerusalem, and that an international force will replace Israel’s army completely, leaving Israel with no security presence on the West Bank.

In other words, the Palestinians won’t “negotiate” unless there’s nothing left to negotiate about, because the U.S. has already guaranteed that all their demands will be met. That would completely gut the usual principle of negotiations, which is that both sides make concessions to forge a mutually acceptable compromise.

It would also leave Israel with no reason even to begin the talks. Not only are these demands unacceptable to Jerusalem in themselves (as I’ve explained here, here, and here, for instance), but with the entirety of the territory and its military presence having already been conceded in advance, Israel would have no bargaining chips left with which to secure Palestinian concessions on other issues of importance to it, such as the refugees or recognition as a Jewish state.

Indeed, if this were to become the accepted model for diplomatic negotiations — one in which everything is decided in one party’s favor in advance — it would spell the death of international diplomacy, because the other party would always have the strongest possible incentive to avoid talks.

The same was true of the Palestinians’ last attempt to pose preconditions: their insistence that the starting point for talks be the proposals made by former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, which they themselves rejected. If leaders knew that any proposal they made would be binding on them and their successors — but not their interlocutors — even if the other side rejected it, they would be reluctant to offer any proposals at all. That would effectively kill off any possibility of negotiations.

Washington, to its credit, rejected that precondition and is so far standing publicly firm on the demand for guarantees as well. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas complained to Fatah’s Revolutionary Council on Tuesday that President Barack Obama had been “vague” on the issues of borders and security, while State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters yesterday that “fundamental issues in the process, including borders … can only be resolved within the context of direct negotiations.”

Nevertheless, there has apparently been some waffling in private: an Israeli source told Haaretz this week that “Washington is giving serious consideration to issuing these guarantees in order to encourage the Palestinians to agree to direct talks.”

If the U.S. actually wants talks to occur, it must continue standing firm — not only for the sake of a time-honored principle of international diplomacy, but also because there is no chance of any deal emerging until the Palestinians are made to understand that they, too, will have to make concessions to achieve it.

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Abbas Miffed at Obama

Mahmoud Abbas is grousing that Obama is being “unclear” with him on future peace talks. That’s rich. The man who has a hundred and one excuses for avoiding direct talks and who says he’s not inciting violence (What — the square named after a murderer? A heartfelt eulogy for the mastermind of the 1972 massacre of the Israeli Olympic athletes? Oh that?) now does not appreciate getting imprecise answers. This report explains:

Abbas was speaking during a closed meeting of members of the Fatah Revolutionary Council in Ramallah.

Abbas was quoted by some Fatah operatives as saying that Egypt and Jordan supported the PA’s refusal to move to direct talks unless progress is first achieved on the issues of security and the future borders of a Palestinian state.

“We can’t go to direct negotiations like blind people,” Abbas was quoted as saying.

“We can’t enter direct negotiations without clarity.”

Abbas complained that Obama recently sent him an oral message urging him to launch direct negotiations with Israel unconditionally.

According to the PA president, Obama’s message was “unclear and ambiguous.”

Abbas was quoted as saying: “With all due respect to the American president, his message was not clear. We want to clear answers to questions we presented to the Americans, especially regarding security, borders and the status of Jerusalem. We continue to insist that any negotiations with Israel be based on recognition of 1967 as the future borders of the Palestinian state.”

Abbas said that the US administration has also failed to give the Palestinians a clear answer with regard to Israel’s policy of settlement construction.

Upon closer examination, it is not “clarity” he is seeking but rather Israel on a platter, served up by Obama. He wants the terms set — “clear” — before he arrives for the signing ceremony. He doesn’t like being told, after 18 months of evading and dodging Bibi’s offer of direct negotiations, that he needs to get in the room with the representatives of the state he will be expected to recognize.

This is one more snub, of course, of Obama, who gave Abbas a nice Oval Office visit and pledged to move the parties to direct negotiations. After a year of suck-uppery to the Palestinians and trying everything he could think of to make Israel cough up more and more concessions, the president’s “peace process” is nowhere. It turns out that the Palestinians really don’t want to make a deal. Who knew? Well, apparently everyone but the White House and the liberal punditocracy. In the meantime, damage has been done to the U.S.-Israeli relationship, the delegitimizers in international bodies have grown more confident, and Iran inches ever closer to acquiring a nuclear weapon.

Really, losing his Palestinian fan club is the least of Obama’s failures.

Mahmoud Abbas is grousing that Obama is being “unclear” with him on future peace talks. That’s rich. The man who has a hundred and one excuses for avoiding direct talks and who says he’s not inciting violence (What — the square named after a murderer? A heartfelt eulogy for the mastermind of the 1972 massacre of the Israeli Olympic athletes? Oh that?) now does not appreciate getting imprecise answers. This report explains:

Abbas was speaking during a closed meeting of members of the Fatah Revolutionary Council in Ramallah.

Abbas was quoted by some Fatah operatives as saying that Egypt and Jordan supported the PA’s refusal to move to direct talks unless progress is first achieved on the issues of security and the future borders of a Palestinian state.

“We can’t go to direct negotiations like blind people,” Abbas was quoted as saying.

“We can’t enter direct negotiations without clarity.”

Abbas complained that Obama recently sent him an oral message urging him to launch direct negotiations with Israel unconditionally.

According to the PA president, Obama’s message was “unclear and ambiguous.”

Abbas was quoted as saying: “With all due respect to the American president, his message was not clear. We want to clear answers to questions we presented to the Americans, especially regarding security, borders and the status of Jerusalem. We continue to insist that any negotiations with Israel be based on recognition of 1967 as the future borders of the Palestinian state.”

Abbas said that the US administration has also failed to give the Palestinians a clear answer with regard to Israel’s policy of settlement construction.

Upon closer examination, it is not “clarity” he is seeking but rather Israel on a platter, served up by Obama. He wants the terms set — “clear” — before he arrives for the signing ceremony. He doesn’t like being told, after 18 months of evading and dodging Bibi’s offer of direct negotiations, that he needs to get in the room with the representatives of the state he will be expected to recognize.

This is one more snub, of course, of Obama, who gave Abbas a nice Oval Office visit and pledged to move the parties to direct negotiations. After a year of suck-uppery to the Palestinians and trying everything he could think of to make Israel cough up more and more concessions, the president’s “peace process” is nowhere. It turns out that the Palestinians really don’t want to make a deal. Who knew? Well, apparently everyone but the White House and the liberal punditocracy. In the meantime, damage has been done to the U.S.-Israeli relationship, the delegitimizers in international bodies have grown more confident, and Iran inches ever closer to acquiring a nuclear weapon.

Really, losing his Palestinian fan club is the least of Obama’s failures.

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The Kindness of Israelis

The warm welcome travelers experience in the Arab world is so well-known it has become a guidebook cliché, but the Arabs have earned it. Their part of the world seems to suffer from no end of grave and serious problems, but a dearth of manners and kindness for strangers isn’t one of them. Everything you have heard about their hospitality code is true. Even first-time visitors who expect it are often astonished — especially Americans who might be used to frosty receptions in Europe.

Less well-known is the hospitality of Israelis. Their reputation is on-par with that of New Yorkers. Aggressive security officials at the airport, yelling taxi drivers, and occasionally abusive wait staff can put people off. That sort of thing, though, accounts for less than 1 percent of my experience when working in Israel.

A few days ago, I announced that I’m leaving for Israel this week now that I’ve finished and sold my book, and the same thing happened that always does when I mention in public that I’m on my way over there. My in-box filled with offers of generous assistance from Israelis whom I’ve never met or even heard of. Most offered to buy me dinner. Some said I could sleep on their couch or in a spare bedroom. A few even offered to show me around, introduce me to people, and set up appointments for me. Some of these offers even showed up in my comments section.

This rarely happens when I go anywhere else in the world. It happens every time I’ve announced a trip to Israel, though, in times of peace and during war, and it has been happening to me for years.

I get these sorts of offers from the entire range of Israeli society, from people affiliated with Peace Now to the settler movement. I can always count on kind and generous people in Arab countries to help me out once I’ve arrived, but only Israelis reach out so extensively, so consistently, and in such large numbers before I even get off the plane.

I’ve never written about this before, but it finally occurred to me that I should, partly because I’m grateful and wish to say thank you in public, but also because general readers should know that Middle Eastern hospitality is a regional thing and isn’t only on offer from Arabs.

The warm welcome travelers experience in the Arab world is so well-known it has become a guidebook cliché, but the Arabs have earned it. Their part of the world seems to suffer from no end of grave and serious problems, but a dearth of manners and kindness for strangers isn’t one of them. Everything you have heard about their hospitality code is true. Even first-time visitors who expect it are often astonished — especially Americans who might be used to frosty receptions in Europe.

Less well-known is the hospitality of Israelis. Their reputation is on-par with that of New Yorkers. Aggressive security officials at the airport, yelling taxi drivers, and occasionally abusive wait staff can put people off. That sort of thing, though, accounts for less than 1 percent of my experience when working in Israel.

A few days ago, I announced that I’m leaving for Israel this week now that I’ve finished and sold my book, and the same thing happened that always does when I mention in public that I’m on my way over there. My in-box filled with offers of generous assistance from Israelis whom I’ve never met or even heard of. Most offered to buy me dinner. Some said I could sleep on their couch or in a spare bedroom. A few even offered to show me around, introduce me to people, and set up appointments for me. Some of these offers even showed up in my comments section.

This rarely happens when I go anywhere else in the world. It happens every time I’ve announced a trip to Israel, though, in times of peace and during war, and it has been happening to me for years.

I get these sorts of offers from the entire range of Israeli society, from people affiliated with Peace Now to the settler movement. I can always count on kind and generous people in Arab countries to help me out once I’ve arrived, but only Israelis reach out so extensively, so consistently, and in such large numbers before I even get off the plane.

I’ve never written about this before, but it finally occurred to me that I should, partly because I’m grateful and wish to say thank you in public, but also because general readers should know that Middle Eastern hospitality is a regional thing and isn’t only on offer from Arabs.

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Democrats Balk at Raising Taxes in a Recession

It might have something to do with Obama’s falling poll numbers. Maybe they simply can’t bring themselves to defend the lunacy of raising taxes when the prospect of a double-dip recession is looming. But at least a few Senate Democrats are talking sense:

Two more Senate Democrats called for extending tax cuts for all earners—including those with the highest incomes—in what appears to be a breakdown of the party’s consensus on the how to handle the expiration of Bush-era tax cuts.

Sen. Kent Conrad (D., N.D.) said in an interview Wednesday that Congress shouldn’t allow taxes on the wealthy to rise until the economy is on a sounder footing.

Sen. Ben Nelson (D., Neb.) said through a spokesman that he also supported extending all the expiring tax cuts for now, adding that he wanted to offset the impact on federal deficits as much as possible. … “As a general rule, you don’t want to be cutting spending or raising taxes in the midst of a downturn,” Mr. Conrad said. “We know that very soon we’ve got to pivot and focus on the deficit. But it probably is too soon to cut spending or raise taxes.”

Yeah, as a general rule you probably don’t want to pass a massive health-care bill with oodles of new taxes and mandates “in the midst of a downturn” either. Nevertheless, these two plus Sen. Evan Bayh are “a departure from what appeared to be an emerging unified Democratic stance.” Maybe not so unified after all.

Remember Rep. Joe Sestak bemoaning the plight of small businesses the other day? Hmm, maybe he could join the reality-based Democrats. After all, those small businesses are the ones that will be hit if the top rate rises to 39.6%. (“Republicans and many business groups favor extending all the breaks, contending that increasing tax rates will hit small businesses hard.”) But I haven’t heard any of that from him. And really, is a guy who voted with Nancy Pelosi 97.8 percent of the time the lawmaker who is going to break with liberal orthodoxy? Not likely.

It might have something to do with Obama’s falling poll numbers. Maybe they simply can’t bring themselves to defend the lunacy of raising taxes when the prospect of a double-dip recession is looming. But at least a few Senate Democrats are talking sense:

Two more Senate Democrats called for extending tax cuts for all earners—including those with the highest incomes—in what appears to be a breakdown of the party’s consensus on the how to handle the expiration of Bush-era tax cuts.

Sen. Kent Conrad (D., N.D.) said in an interview Wednesday that Congress shouldn’t allow taxes on the wealthy to rise until the economy is on a sounder footing.

Sen. Ben Nelson (D., Neb.) said through a spokesman that he also supported extending all the expiring tax cuts for now, adding that he wanted to offset the impact on federal deficits as much as possible. … “As a general rule, you don’t want to be cutting spending or raising taxes in the midst of a downturn,” Mr. Conrad said. “We know that very soon we’ve got to pivot and focus on the deficit. But it probably is too soon to cut spending or raise taxes.”

Yeah, as a general rule you probably don’t want to pass a massive health-care bill with oodles of new taxes and mandates “in the midst of a downturn” either. Nevertheless, these two plus Sen. Evan Bayh are “a departure from what appeared to be an emerging unified Democratic stance.” Maybe not so unified after all.

Remember Rep. Joe Sestak bemoaning the plight of small businesses the other day? Hmm, maybe he could join the reality-based Democrats. After all, those small businesses are the ones that will be hit if the top rate rises to 39.6%. (“Republicans and many business groups favor extending all the breaks, contending that increasing tax rates will hit small businesses hard.”) But I haven’t heard any of that from him. And really, is a guy who voted with Nancy Pelosi 97.8 percent of the time the lawmaker who is going to break with liberal orthodoxy? Not likely.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

There is no hero in this racial food fight.

There is no sign of a Democratic comeback in Ohio: “Little has changed in the gubernatorial race in Ohio this month, with Republican John Kasich continuing to hold a small lead over incumbent Ted Strickland. The latest Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey of Likely Voter shows Kasich picking up 48% support, while the current governor earns 43% of the vote. Three percent (3%) prefer a different candidate, and another five percent (5%) are undecided.”

There is no real GOP challenge to Sen. David Vitter in Louisiana, says Stu Rothenberg. “Reporters like to write about Vitter because it gives them the opportunity each time to detail his juicy past problems, but until there is evidence that [Supreme Court Justice Chet] Traylor is making headway in his uphill bid, the Republican primary isn’t much of a story.”

There is no love loss between Alan Dershowitz and J Street. Dershowitz is very mad about J Street’s hit piece, which includes him among its foes (conservative Zionists, of course): “J Street continues to destroy its credibility by posting deceptive and divisive ads of this kind. If they are willing to mislead the public in this manner, they should not be trusted to tell the truth about anything relating to Israel. They are more interested in increasing their own power and contributions than they are in supporting Israel or promoting truthful dialogue. If they want to have any chance at restoring their credibility, they must begin to tell the truth. A good first step would be to remove this ad and admit that it was fraudulent. Otherwise, everyone will begin to understand what the J in J Street stands for: Joe McCarthy.”

There is no inaccuracy in that J Street ad, the New York Times declares! “Nothing is in dispute,” the Gray Lady says. Hmm. Maybe they should talk to Dershowitz.

There is no crime, the Democrats finally admit. Quin Hillyer: “The Bush Justice Department, hamhanded as it became once Alberto Gonzales took over from the excellent John Ashcroft, was guilty of nothing other than political idiocy in its handling of the firing of eight US attorneys. No crime was committed. I await the apologies from the breathless, moronic, biased, leftists in the establishment media who went ape over this almost-non-story in the first place.”

There is no shocker that Laura Rozen, now of Politico and J Street’s favorite scribe (always good for a blind quote on dual-loyalty slams against Jews), was on Journolist whacking conservatives (“Can you imagine if these bozos had won?”).

There is no fond feelings between Obama and House Democrats: “The White House’s appearance of institutional and personal arrogance has left congressional Democrats divided and discontent going into the midterms. It weakens Democratic efforts not only this year, but well into the future. Having once fostered the impression that it’s every Democrat for himself, the president will find it hard to undo the damage when his own name is on the ballot.”

There is no hero in this racial food fight.

There is no sign of a Democratic comeback in Ohio: “Little has changed in the gubernatorial race in Ohio this month, with Republican John Kasich continuing to hold a small lead over incumbent Ted Strickland. The latest Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey of Likely Voter shows Kasich picking up 48% support, while the current governor earns 43% of the vote. Three percent (3%) prefer a different candidate, and another five percent (5%) are undecided.”

There is no real GOP challenge to Sen. David Vitter in Louisiana, says Stu Rothenberg. “Reporters like to write about Vitter because it gives them the opportunity each time to detail his juicy past problems, but until there is evidence that [Supreme Court Justice Chet] Traylor is making headway in his uphill bid, the Republican primary isn’t much of a story.”

There is no love loss between Alan Dershowitz and J Street. Dershowitz is very mad about J Street’s hit piece, which includes him among its foes (conservative Zionists, of course): “J Street continues to destroy its credibility by posting deceptive and divisive ads of this kind. If they are willing to mislead the public in this manner, they should not be trusted to tell the truth about anything relating to Israel. They are more interested in increasing their own power and contributions than they are in supporting Israel or promoting truthful dialogue. If they want to have any chance at restoring their credibility, they must begin to tell the truth. A good first step would be to remove this ad and admit that it was fraudulent. Otherwise, everyone will begin to understand what the J in J Street stands for: Joe McCarthy.”

There is no inaccuracy in that J Street ad, the New York Times declares! “Nothing is in dispute,” the Gray Lady says. Hmm. Maybe they should talk to Dershowitz.

There is no crime, the Democrats finally admit. Quin Hillyer: “The Bush Justice Department, hamhanded as it became once Alberto Gonzales took over from the excellent John Ashcroft, was guilty of nothing other than political idiocy in its handling of the firing of eight US attorneys. No crime was committed. I await the apologies from the breathless, moronic, biased, leftists in the establishment media who went ape over this almost-non-story in the first place.”

There is no shocker that Laura Rozen, now of Politico and J Street’s favorite scribe (always good for a blind quote on dual-loyalty slams against Jews), was on Journolist whacking conservatives (“Can you imagine if these bozos had won?”).

There is no fond feelings between Obama and House Democrats: “The White House’s appearance of institutional and personal arrogance has left congressional Democrats divided and discontent going into the midterms. It weakens Democratic efforts not only this year, but well into the future. Having once fostered the impression that it’s every Democrat for himself, the president will find it hard to undo the damage when his own name is on the ballot.”

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