Commentary Magazine


Posts For: August 25, 2010

Help Wanted: Copy Editor/Proofreader

COMMENTARY Magazine is looking for a part-time, in-house copy editor/proofreader with significant experience at a print monthly or weekly — and fluent working knowledge of InDesign. The copy editor will help close the magazine one week each month (with the exception of July). Duties include proofreading entire issue and ensuring that house style has been adhered to, entering authors’ changes into InDesign files, putting together the Contents page, and ensuring that all call-out matter, biographical notes, footers, titles, and decks are in place and proofread.

Please note: This is a part-time position working in our office in Manhattan. Please do not apply if you are looking to telecommute.

Send resume and cover letter to commentaryjob@gmail.com.

COMMENTARY Magazine is looking for a part-time, in-house copy editor/proofreader with significant experience at a print monthly or weekly — and fluent working knowledge of InDesign. The copy editor will help close the magazine one week each month (with the exception of July). Duties include proofreading entire issue and ensuring that house style has been adhered to, entering authors’ changes into InDesign files, putting together the Contents page, and ensuring that all call-out matter, biographical notes, footers, titles, and decks are in place and proofread.

Please note: This is a part-time position working in our office in Manhattan. Please do not apply if you are looking to telecommute.

Send resume and cover letter to commentaryjob@gmail.com.

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Another Ground Zero Mosque Opponent

You recall that when Obama signed a bill named in honor of Daniel Pearl, his father, Judea Pearl, was not afforded the opportunity to speak. He’s a blunt man, so that may have been a wise move by the Obama White House. He is an especially effective spokesperson when it comes to “Muslim outreach.” The JTA reports:

Pearl told JTA that while he was “touched” by [Imam] Rauf’s appearance and speech at his son’s memorial, “many Muslim leaders offered their condolences at the time.” More to the point, Pearl said he is discouraged that the Muslim leadership has not followed through on what he hoped would come from his son’s death.

“At the time, I truly believed Danny’s murder would be a turning point in the reaction of the civilized world toward terrorism,” said Pearl, who engages in public conversations with Akbar Ahmed, an Islamic studies professor at American University, on behalf of the Daniel Pearl Dialogue for Muslim-Jewish Understanding. The established Muslim leadership in the United States, Pearl said, “has had nine years to build up trust by pro-actively resisting anti-American ideologies of victimhood, anger and entitlement.” Reactions to the mosque project indicate that they were “not too successful in this endeavor.” …

“If I were [New York] Mayor Bloomberg I would reassert their right to build the mosque, but I would expend the same energy trying to convince them to put it somewhere else,” he said. “Public reaction tells us that it is not the right time, and that it will create further animosity and division in this country.”

So I suppose David Axelrod and Daisy Khan would say that Pearl is simply following in the footsteps of infamous anti-Semites. I guess Nancy Pelosi would want him investigated. But under no circumstances would Obama want him back at the White House.

You recall that when Obama signed a bill named in honor of Daniel Pearl, his father, Judea Pearl, was not afforded the opportunity to speak. He’s a blunt man, so that may have been a wise move by the Obama White House. He is an especially effective spokesperson when it comes to “Muslim outreach.” The JTA reports:

Pearl told JTA that while he was “touched” by [Imam] Rauf’s appearance and speech at his son’s memorial, “many Muslim leaders offered their condolences at the time.” More to the point, Pearl said he is discouraged that the Muslim leadership has not followed through on what he hoped would come from his son’s death.

“At the time, I truly believed Danny’s murder would be a turning point in the reaction of the civilized world toward terrorism,” said Pearl, who engages in public conversations with Akbar Ahmed, an Islamic studies professor at American University, on behalf of the Daniel Pearl Dialogue for Muslim-Jewish Understanding. The established Muslim leadership in the United States, Pearl said, “has had nine years to build up trust by pro-actively resisting anti-American ideologies of victimhood, anger and entitlement.” Reactions to the mosque project indicate that they were “not too successful in this endeavor.” …

“If I were [New York] Mayor Bloomberg I would reassert their right to build the mosque, but I would expend the same energy trying to convince them to put it somewhere else,” he said. “Public reaction tells us that it is not the right time, and that it will create further animosity and division in this country.”

So I suppose David Axelrod and Daisy Khan would say that Pearl is simply following in the footsteps of infamous anti-Semites. I guess Nancy Pelosi would want him investigated. But under no circumstances would Obama want him back at the White House.

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Yemen and the Shell Game of the Anti-War Camp

Both the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal have articles reporting that the CIA now believes that Islamist extremists based in Yemen pose a bigger threat than those from Pakistan. This will no doubt spur indignant demands to explain why we are committing more resources in Afghanistan. Similar calls were heard for years during the height of the war effort in Iraq. Back then the cry was to invest more in “Afpak” (Afghanistan-Pakistan). Now that we have sent more resources there, critics claim that the threat has moved and our war effort is ill advised.

This is starting to feel like a shell game. Some people seem to simply oppose any war we are currently fighting, using the existence of threats elsewhere as an excuse to cut back on our existing troop commitments. That would be a disastrous mistake because it would hand al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and other extremist groups a major victory in Afghanistan that would spur their terrorist efforts elsewhere.

In any case it should be perfectly possible to fight in Afghanistan while maintaining a light footprint in countries like Yemen and Somalia. The Special Operations Command and the CIA are reportedly planning more drone strikes and other low-visibility actions in Yemen. That seems like the right response.

It is hard to imagine that, even if we weren’t committed in Afghanistan, we would be sending tens of thousands of troops to Yemen. Certainly those who argue that Afghanistan is unimportant don’t advocate an American invasion of some other country where al-Qaeda has taken root. The reality is that we have to use different strategies in different places. We’re in Afghanistan because of 9/11 and we need to win that war. We’ve made a lesser commitment in lots of other countries because they have not (yet) been used as a base from which to attack our homeland. That seems not only a reasonable division of labor but the only politically feasible one: few in Washington of either party would support an invasion of another country unless we are actually attacked.

Both the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal have articles reporting that the CIA now believes that Islamist extremists based in Yemen pose a bigger threat than those from Pakistan. This will no doubt spur indignant demands to explain why we are committing more resources in Afghanistan. Similar calls were heard for years during the height of the war effort in Iraq. Back then the cry was to invest more in “Afpak” (Afghanistan-Pakistan). Now that we have sent more resources there, critics claim that the threat has moved and our war effort is ill advised.

This is starting to feel like a shell game. Some people seem to simply oppose any war we are currently fighting, using the existence of threats elsewhere as an excuse to cut back on our existing troop commitments. That would be a disastrous mistake because it would hand al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and other extremist groups a major victory in Afghanistan that would spur their terrorist efforts elsewhere.

In any case it should be perfectly possible to fight in Afghanistan while maintaining a light footprint in countries like Yemen and Somalia. The Special Operations Command and the CIA are reportedly planning more drone strikes and other low-visibility actions in Yemen. That seems like the right response.

It is hard to imagine that, even if we weren’t committed in Afghanistan, we would be sending tens of thousands of troops to Yemen. Certainly those who argue that Afghanistan is unimportant don’t advocate an American invasion of some other country where al-Qaeda has taken root. The reality is that we have to use different strategies in different places. We’re in Afghanistan because of 9/11 and we need to win that war. We’ve made a lesser commitment in lots of other countries because they have not (yet) been used as a base from which to attack our homeland. That seems not only a reasonable division of labor but the only politically feasible one: few in Washington of either party would support an invasion of another country unless we are actually attacked.

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The Bush Tax Cuts, the Iraq War, and the Deficits

Since the Democrats have precious few accomplishments to brag about (at least very few accomplishments that are popular), they don’t have much choice but to fall back on Bush bashing to save their necks in November. The most popular meme is that Bush and the Republicans caused the current huge deficits through the tax cuts (aka giveaway to the rich) and the Iraq war. Christopher Hayes, of the Nation, writes,

First, the facts. Nearly the entire deficit for this year and those projected into the near and medium terms are the result of three things: the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Bush tax cuts, and the recession. The solution to our fiscal situation is: end the wars, allow the tax cuts to expire, and restore robust growth. Our long-term structural deficits will require us to control health-care inflation the way countries with single-payer systems do. [That would, of course, be rationing; sorry, Grandma. — ed.]

This is, in fact, nonsense. While the figure of $3 trillion is often bandied about as the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the CBO, the real total over the last nine years is $709 billion, far less than the cost of the Obama stimulus that didn’t stimulate. The cost of the wars has been a relatively small part of total federal spending.

As for the Bush tax cuts, they were fully implemented by mid-2003. By 2005, budget deficits were declining sharply and continued to do so until 2008, when the recession began to seriously bite. Even the New York Times noticed the surge in tax revenues by 2006 (h/t Instapundit), writing on July 9 that [block quote]

An unexpectedly steep rise in tax revenues from corporations and the wealthy is driving down the projected budget deficit this year, even though spending has climbed sharply because of the war in Iraq and the cost of hurricane relief.

The wealthy! You know, those guys that Bush had given away all that tax revenue to.

Also declining was unemployment, which had stayed stubbornly high from the end of the 2000-2001 recession. It had reached a recent high in June, 2003, at 6.3 percent just after the tax cuts had come into effect. It immediately began to decline (5.7 percent in December 2003, 5.4 in December 2004, 4.9 in December 2005, 4.4 in December 2006).

So if the Bush tax cuts caused the current deficits, how come the deficits stayed steady or declined (dramatically) for four years after they were implemented?

In an honest world, the idea that the Bush tax cuts and the Iraq war caused the current fiscal mess would be laughed out of existence. But since the mainstream media is evidently willing to carry any amount of water for the Democrats, it won’t be.

Since the Democrats have precious few accomplishments to brag about (at least very few accomplishments that are popular), they don’t have much choice but to fall back on Bush bashing to save their necks in November. The most popular meme is that Bush and the Republicans caused the current huge deficits through the tax cuts (aka giveaway to the rich) and the Iraq war. Christopher Hayes, of the Nation, writes,

First, the facts. Nearly the entire deficit for this year and those projected into the near and medium terms are the result of three things: the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Bush tax cuts, and the recession. The solution to our fiscal situation is: end the wars, allow the tax cuts to expire, and restore robust growth. Our long-term structural deficits will require us to control health-care inflation the way countries with single-payer systems do. [That would, of course, be rationing; sorry, Grandma. — ed.]

This is, in fact, nonsense. While the figure of $3 trillion is often bandied about as the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the CBO, the real total over the last nine years is $709 billion, far less than the cost of the Obama stimulus that didn’t stimulate. The cost of the wars has been a relatively small part of total federal spending.

As for the Bush tax cuts, they were fully implemented by mid-2003. By 2005, budget deficits were declining sharply and continued to do so until 2008, when the recession began to seriously bite. Even the New York Times noticed the surge in tax revenues by 2006 (h/t Instapundit), writing on July 9 that [block quote]

An unexpectedly steep rise in tax revenues from corporations and the wealthy is driving down the projected budget deficit this year, even though spending has climbed sharply because of the war in Iraq and the cost of hurricane relief.

The wealthy! You know, those guys that Bush had given away all that tax revenue to.

Also declining was unemployment, which had stayed stubbornly high from the end of the 2000-2001 recession. It had reached a recent high in June, 2003, at 6.3 percent just after the tax cuts had come into effect. It immediately began to decline (5.7 percent in December 2003, 5.4 in December 2004, 4.9 in December 2005, 4.4 in December 2006).

So if the Bush tax cuts caused the current deficits, how come the deficits stayed steady or declined (dramatically) for four years after they were implemented?

In an honest world, the idea that the Bush tax cuts and the Iraq war caused the current fiscal mess would be laughed out of existence. But since the mainstream media is evidently willing to carry any amount of water for the Democrats, it won’t be.

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Internet Revelations

Muslim youth glued to the computer screen. 60 percent Internet penetration. The literacy rate (not computer, but what’s on the page) is over 90 percent. Where is this outpost of modernity and intellectual freedom? Gaza. Yes, the supposed “hell hole” of the Middle East — the alleged virtual prison — is doing quite a bit better than its Arab neighbors. And the oppressors whom the people must outwit are not the Israelis but Hamas:

One of our first meetings in Gaza was with a Palestinian student group begun by an NGO called Mercy Corps to encourage youth to get involved in their community. These students began using the Internet to organize their activities and broadcast their charitable mission. They posted short films, for example, about their campaign to bring food to poor areas. The group grew from 10 to over a thousand in just a few months.

Although the group was not overtly political, Hamas nevertheless deemed it a threat and demanded that it stop meeting. But these students were already connecting through the Internet in ways that Hamas cannot track. During our meeting, the discussion centered on how they protect themselves online using “tunneling software” and other techniques that prevent Hamas from identifying and targeting them.

And, oh by the way, one reason for the high level of Internet usage in Gaza is “the proximity of the Palestinian territories to Israel, which is the region’s leader in Internet development.” No need for esteem-building NASA programs for them.

To put it differently, Israel’s alleged “eyesore” puts to shame the rest of the “Muslim World.” Imagine how much better off Gazans would be if their fascistic Hamas jailers disappeared. The anti-Israel left have always gotten it wrong (on many counts, but one particularly relevant here). They want to “free” the territories from Israel? That, at this point, would be a disaster for Palestinians and Israelis alike. It’s Hamas that needs to be ousted. I bet those computer geeks would be happy about that.

Muslim youth glued to the computer screen. 60 percent Internet penetration. The literacy rate (not computer, but what’s on the page) is over 90 percent. Where is this outpost of modernity and intellectual freedom? Gaza. Yes, the supposed “hell hole” of the Middle East — the alleged virtual prison — is doing quite a bit better than its Arab neighbors. And the oppressors whom the people must outwit are not the Israelis but Hamas:

One of our first meetings in Gaza was with a Palestinian student group begun by an NGO called Mercy Corps to encourage youth to get involved in their community. These students began using the Internet to organize their activities and broadcast their charitable mission. They posted short films, for example, about their campaign to bring food to poor areas. The group grew from 10 to over a thousand in just a few months.

Although the group was not overtly political, Hamas nevertheless deemed it a threat and demanded that it stop meeting. But these students were already connecting through the Internet in ways that Hamas cannot track. During our meeting, the discussion centered on how they protect themselves online using “tunneling software” and other techniques that prevent Hamas from identifying and targeting them.

And, oh by the way, one reason for the high level of Internet usage in Gaza is “the proximity of the Palestinian territories to Israel, which is the region’s leader in Internet development.” No need for esteem-building NASA programs for them.

To put it differently, Israel’s alleged “eyesore” puts to shame the rest of the “Muslim World.” Imagine how much better off Gazans would be if their fascistic Hamas jailers disappeared. The anti-Israel left have always gotten it wrong (on many counts, but one particularly relevant here). They want to “free” the territories from Israel? That, at this point, would be a disaster for Palestinians and Israelis alike. It’s Hamas that needs to be ousted. I bet those computer geeks would be happy about that.

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Frank Rich’s War Games

A few days ago the New York Times’ Frank Rich expressed pity for General David Petraeus. The Commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan is working tirelessly to partner with Afghans and implement a counterinsurgency strategy while, back home, the neoconservatives—“the last cheerleaders for America’s nine-year war in Afghanistan”—are, in a tragically ironic turn, undermining his effort. The neocons, says Rich, are broadcasting their repugnant Islamophobia in the Ground Zero mosque debate. “How do you win Muslim hearts and minds in Kandahar,” he asks, “when you are calling Muslims every filthy name in the book in New York?” Let us take a moment to admire the high-mindedness of Frank Rich—an American who only wants to support the monumental effort of, as he rightly phrases it, “America’s most venerable soldier.”

Done? Good. Here’s what Rich had to say about Petraeus and counterinsurgency three years ago, back when neither could be used as a shiv in a domestic political debate. “On the sixth anniversary of the day that did not change everything, General Petraeus couldn’t say we are safer because he knows we are not.” Rich was referring to Petraeus’s September 11, 2007 appearance before Congress. “Few used their time to cross-examine General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker on their disingenuous talking points,” Rich lamented. Then came the Westmoreland comparison:

Certainly there were some eerie symmetries between General Petraeus’s sales pitch last week and its often-noted historical antecedent: Gen. William Westmoreland’s similar mission for L.B.J. before Congress on April 28, 1967. Westmoreland, too, refused to acknowledge that our troops were caught in a civil war. He spoke as well of the “repeated successes” of the American-trained South Vietnamese military and ticked off its growing number of combat-ready battalions. “The strategy we’re following at this time is the proper one,” the general assured America, and “is producing results.”

Those fabulous results delayed our final departure from Vietnam for another eight years — just short of the nine to 10 years General Petraeus has said may be needed for a counterinsurgency in Iraq.

This September 16, 2007 column is a nonpareil of miscalculation. Rich managed to get everything wrong, relevant and otherwise. From his assertion that the “surge” (in discrediting scare quotes) was a bust to his pronouncement that the American public was so down on the Iraq War that they no longer cared for war films (he didn’t see the non-political Hurt Locker coming less than a year later). But his most grievous error was doubting the probity of David Petraeus (and Ryan Crocker, for that matter). Had Rich been listening, he would have heard the plain truth of the ongoing turnaround in Iraq. Instead, he called Petraeus a liar and pronounced the war lost. You’d think that after he made himself such a flamboyant hostage to fortune, he’d be more humble about tinkering with Petraeus in print. You’d be wrong. Three years later, Rich adduces the virtue and commitment that he had once mocked and lambasts the neocons (without evidence, by the way) for undoing the good work of “poor General Petraeus.” If and when Petraeus fully turns around the effort in Afghanistan, as he did in Iraq, on whom will poor Frank Rich blame the victory?

A few days ago the New York Times’ Frank Rich expressed pity for General David Petraeus. The Commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan is working tirelessly to partner with Afghans and implement a counterinsurgency strategy while, back home, the neoconservatives—“the last cheerleaders for America’s nine-year war in Afghanistan”—are, in a tragically ironic turn, undermining his effort. The neocons, says Rich, are broadcasting their repugnant Islamophobia in the Ground Zero mosque debate. “How do you win Muslim hearts and minds in Kandahar,” he asks, “when you are calling Muslims every filthy name in the book in New York?” Let us take a moment to admire the high-mindedness of Frank Rich—an American who only wants to support the monumental effort of, as he rightly phrases it, “America’s most venerable soldier.”

Done? Good. Here’s what Rich had to say about Petraeus and counterinsurgency three years ago, back when neither could be used as a shiv in a domestic political debate. “On the sixth anniversary of the day that did not change everything, General Petraeus couldn’t say we are safer because he knows we are not.” Rich was referring to Petraeus’s September 11, 2007 appearance before Congress. “Few used their time to cross-examine General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker on their disingenuous talking points,” Rich lamented. Then came the Westmoreland comparison:

Certainly there were some eerie symmetries between General Petraeus’s sales pitch last week and its often-noted historical antecedent: Gen. William Westmoreland’s similar mission for L.B.J. before Congress on April 28, 1967. Westmoreland, too, refused to acknowledge that our troops were caught in a civil war. He spoke as well of the “repeated successes” of the American-trained South Vietnamese military and ticked off its growing number of combat-ready battalions. “The strategy we’re following at this time is the proper one,” the general assured America, and “is producing results.”

Those fabulous results delayed our final departure from Vietnam for another eight years — just short of the nine to 10 years General Petraeus has said may be needed for a counterinsurgency in Iraq.

This September 16, 2007 column is a nonpareil of miscalculation. Rich managed to get everything wrong, relevant and otherwise. From his assertion that the “surge” (in discrediting scare quotes) was a bust to his pronouncement that the American public was so down on the Iraq War that they no longer cared for war films (he didn’t see the non-political Hurt Locker coming less than a year later). But his most grievous error was doubting the probity of David Petraeus (and Ryan Crocker, for that matter). Had Rich been listening, he would have heard the plain truth of the ongoing turnaround in Iraq. Instead, he called Petraeus a liar and pronounced the war lost. You’d think that after he made himself such a flamboyant hostage to fortune, he’d be more humble about tinkering with Petraeus in print. You’d be wrong. Three years later, Rich adduces the virtue and commitment that he had once mocked and lambasts the neocons (without evidence, by the way) for undoing the good work of “poor General Petraeus.” If and when Petraeus fully turns around the effort in Afghanistan, as he did in Iraq, on whom will poor Frank Rich blame the victory?

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Brilliantly Ironic Blog Post of the Day

Yuval Levin on John McCain’s victory last night, over at The Corner:

McCain (who has raised and spent more money than any Senate candidate in this cycle, other than self-financed candidates) must be glad that none of the smug busybodies who have tried through the years to restrict political expression by preventing candidates for public office from raising enormous amounts of money and spending them on attack ads has succeeded.

Yuval Levin on John McCain’s victory last night, over at The Corner:

McCain (who has raised and spent more money than any Senate candidate in this cycle, other than self-financed candidates) must be glad that none of the smug busybodies who have tried through the years to restrict political expression by preventing candidates for public office from raising enormous amounts of money and spending them on attack ads has succeeded.

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Simplistic Pledges, a Bad Idea

John McCormack of the Weekly Standard posted a story highlighting the fact that Clint Didier, a Tea Party candidate in the Washington State Senate primary, backed by Sarah Palin, says he wants to support the GOP candidate who beat him, Dino Rossi. But Didier will only do it if Rossi meets three conditions:

First:

We ask Dino to promise to introduce in the Senate the same bill that Ron Paul introduced in the House “The Sanctity of Life Act.”

This simple bill restores the authority of elected officials to pass laws regarding abortion without interference from the federal judicial branch.

For example, federal courts have overturned state laws regarding parental consent and adult informed consent.

Second:

We ask Dino to sign the pledge that I signed — It’s very simple and straightforward:

“I will not vote for any new taxes, or increases in existing taxes.”

Third:

I want Dino to pledge to vote no on any bill that increases over all federal spending.

Rossi’s communications director responded by saying that Rossi “will continue to campaign on the things he believes, and will not submit to a list of demands made by anyone, even people with whom he agrees, in Washington State or Washington, DC.”

Good for Rossi. I understand the appeal and the logic of insisting that candidates sign pledges. It is a way to try to ensure that politicians don’t “go native” once they become a Member of Congress — and, if they do, to make them pay a high price.

Still, trying to force candidates to sign pledges — especially as simplistic as the ones Didier has proposed — strikes me as a bad idea. The fact is that circumstances can change when a candidate enters office and wise leaders adjust to changing circumstances. We want public servants who are guided by a set of core convictions — but who are also open to empirical evidence and shifting events. Even as conservative a figure as Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels raised taxes early on in his tenure — and Daniels is widely and rightly viewed as among the finest and most effective (and conservative) governors in America.

George W. Bush started his presidency opposed to nation building; he rightly ended up endorsing it.

Beyond all that, though, is the belief that we should elect candidates whose judgment we trust, whom we deem to be wise, principled, and trustworthy. If a public official fails the public trust, there is always recourse to elections. But to twist arms in an effort to get a candidate to sign simplistic pledges is counterproductive.

Rossi should hold his ground; and Didier should cede his.

John McCormack of the Weekly Standard posted a story highlighting the fact that Clint Didier, a Tea Party candidate in the Washington State Senate primary, backed by Sarah Palin, says he wants to support the GOP candidate who beat him, Dino Rossi. But Didier will only do it if Rossi meets three conditions:

First:

We ask Dino to promise to introduce in the Senate the same bill that Ron Paul introduced in the House “The Sanctity of Life Act.”

This simple bill restores the authority of elected officials to pass laws regarding abortion without interference from the federal judicial branch.

For example, federal courts have overturned state laws regarding parental consent and adult informed consent.

Second:

We ask Dino to sign the pledge that I signed — It’s very simple and straightforward:

“I will not vote for any new taxes, or increases in existing taxes.”

Third:

I want Dino to pledge to vote no on any bill that increases over all federal spending.

Rossi’s communications director responded by saying that Rossi “will continue to campaign on the things he believes, and will not submit to a list of demands made by anyone, even people with whom he agrees, in Washington State or Washington, DC.”

Good for Rossi. I understand the appeal and the logic of insisting that candidates sign pledges. It is a way to try to ensure that politicians don’t “go native” once they become a Member of Congress — and, if they do, to make them pay a high price.

Still, trying to force candidates to sign pledges — especially as simplistic as the ones Didier has proposed — strikes me as a bad idea. The fact is that circumstances can change when a candidate enters office and wise leaders adjust to changing circumstances. We want public servants who are guided by a set of core convictions — but who are also open to empirical evidence and shifting events. Even as conservative a figure as Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels raised taxes early on in his tenure — and Daniels is widely and rightly viewed as among the finest and most effective (and conservative) governors in America.

George W. Bush started his presidency opposed to nation building; he rightly ended up endorsing it.

Beyond all that, though, is the belief that we should elect candidates whose judgment we trust, whom we deem to be wise, principled, and trustworthy. If a public official fails the public trust, there is always recourse to elections. But to twist arms in an effort to get a candidate to sign simplistic pledges is counterproductive.

Rossi should hold his ground; and Didier should cede his.

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Let’s Not Forget the Swamp

In the wake of the primary elections on Tuesday, we are reminded, as John points out, that the rule for this election season is “old rules don’t apply.” Money and name recognition are non-factors, if not liabilities. Incumbency offers no protection. And the “likely voter” models may be inapplicable to an electorate flooded with enraged populists and drained of sad-sack Democrats.

And looming in the background are powerful reminders that the Beltway establishment has, in fact, earned the ire of the voters. He’s only one congressman, but Charlie Rangel is a symbol of just about everything wrong with Congress — the pomposity, the self-dealing, the tone-deafness. In a rapier-like op-ed the New York Post observers:

In Charlie Rangel’s eyes, every minute of his time on earth has been a blessing for the people of New York.

“My dignity is 80 years old,” he said, taking a slap at fellow Democrats Monday during a debate with the five challengers seeking his seat in Congress. …

Now, it’s entirely possible that we missed it, but was there something dignified in the years Rangel was dodging taxes and violating a slew of city, state and federal laws?

We wonder: What on earth would he have to do to be considered undignified?

It is not just that so many have done shameful things, but that they have no shame. They pass the buck, spend our money with abandon, make backroom deals, deflect scrutiny — all while exuding a stomach-turning self-righteousness as defenders of the little guy. The wonder is not that the voters are furious; it is that they took so long to take to the streets. The American people are a forgiving and largely contented lot, but when they are sufficiently provoked, watch out.

Expect Rangel and Maxine Waters, his companion in the ethics dock, to be poster children for “throw the bums out” election ads. Not much dignity in that.

In the wake of the primary elections on Tuesday, we are reminded, as John points out, that the rule for this election season is “old rules don’t apply.” Money and name recognition are non-factors, if not liabilities. Incumbency offers no protection. And the “likely voter” models may be inapplicable to an electorate flooded with enraged populists and drained of sad-sack Democrats.

And looming in the background are powerful reminders that the Beltway establishment has, in fact, earned the ire of the voters. He’s only one congressman, but Charlie Rangel is a symbol of just about everything wrong with Congress — the pomposity, the self-dealing, the tone-deafness. In a rapier-like op-ed the New York Post observers:

In Charlie Rangel’s eyes, every minute of his time on earth has been a blessing for the people of New York.

“My dignity is 80 years old,” he said, taking a slap at fellow Democrats Monday during a debate with the five challengers seeking his seat in Congress. …

Now, it’s entirely possible that we missed it, but was there something dignified in the years Rangel was dodging taxes and violating a slew of city, state and federal laws?

We wonder: What on earth would he have to do to be considered undignified?

It is not just that so many have done shameful things, but that they have no shame. They pass the buck, spend our money with abandon, make backroom deals, deflect scrutiny — all while exuding a stomach-turning self-righteousness as defenders of the little guy. The wonder is not that the voters are furious; it is that they took so long to take to the streets. The American people are a forgiving and largely contented lot, but when they are sufficiently provoked, watch out.

Expect Rangel and Maxine Waters, his companion in the ethics dock, to be poster children for “throw the bums out” election ads. Not much dignity in that.

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Obama Reaping What He Has Sown

A story in Politico argues:

The president’s reluctance to be a Democratic version of Ronald Reagan, who spoke without apology about his vaulting ideological ambitions, has produced an odd turn of events: Obama has been the most activist domestic president in decades, but the philosophy behind his legislative achievements remains muddy in the eyes of many supporters and skeptics alike. There is not yet such a thing as “Obamism.”

It’s not that muddy, actually. According to a Democracy Corp poll, fully 57 percent of likely voters consider Obama “too liberal.” And there is such a thing as Obamism; it is an unprecedented effort to increase the size, scope, reach, and cost of the federal government. Obamaism is in many respects the antithesis if Reaganism.

The Politico story also advances this thesis:

By declining to speak clearly and often about his larger philosophy – and insisting that his actions are guided not by ideology but a results-oriented “pragmatism” – [Obama] has bred confusion and disappointment among his allies, and left his agenda and motives vulnerable to distortion by his enemies.

But Americans consider themselves, by a margin of more than two-to-one, to be conservative rather than liberal. And as a general matter, the public, at least in national elections, punishes political figures who proudly flaunt their liberalism. For Obama to go further out of his way to lock in the impression that he’s a philosophical liberal would be evidence of a political death wish. The reason Obama won the presidency is that he convinced enough voters of being not as liberal as his legislative record indicated.

Then there’s this counsel from Robert Reich:

What may be missing from the White House is a clear and convincing narrative into which all the various initiatives neatly fit, so that the public can make sense of everything that’s done … Obama needs to connect the dots in a way that explains to the public what he’s done and where’s he’s taking the nation.

Of course; the main problem plaguing Obama and the Democrats is a lack of clear and convincing narrative. All the president needs to do is connect all those random dots. The public is just plain ignorant of what he’s done and where he’s taking the nation; if only they knew the true story: Obama has delivered us to the land of milk and honey.

The truth is that the nation sees all too well what he has done and where he’s taking the nation. The public is in the process of connecting the dots — and the picture that’s emerging is a most unpleasant one.

The problems facing the president are that the economy is slumping and jobs are disappearing, Obama’s policies are widely seen as ineffective, his claims and promises have been disproven time and again, and he’s viewed by a majority of the nation as too liberal and, increasingly, as inept.

The counsel provided to Obama in the Politico story is worthless or worse. Obama’s fundamental problem is reality, not optics, not missing narratives, not unconnected dots. His presidency is, at this moment, failing, as the result of a series of deeply unwise decisions. He and his party are reaping what they have sown.

A story in Politico argues:

The president’s reluctance to be a Democratic version of Ronald Reagan, who spoke without apology about his vaulting ideological ambitions, has produced an odd turn of events: Obama has been the most activist domestic president in decades, but the philosophy behind his legislative achievements remains muddy in the eyes of many supporters and skeptics alike. There is not yet such a thing as “Obamism.”

It’s not that muddy, actually. According to a Democracy Corp poll, fully 57 percent of likely voters consider Obama “too liberal.” And there is such a thing as Obamism; it is an unprecedented effort to increase the size, scope, reach, and cost of the federal government. Obamaism is in many respects the antithesis if Reaganism.

The Politico story also advances this thesis:

By declining to speak clearly and often about his larger philosophy – and insisting that his actions are guided not by ideology but a results-oriented “pragmatism” – [Obama] has bred confusion and disappointment among his allies, and left his agenda and motives vulnerable to distortion by his enemies.

But Americans consider themselves, by a margin of more than two-to-one, to be conservative rather than liberal. And as a general matter, the public, at least in national elections, punishes political figures who proudly flaunt their liberalism. For Obama to go further out of his way to lock in the impression that he’s a philosophical liberal would be evidence of a political death wish. The reason Obama won the presidency is that he convinced enough voters of being not as liberal as his legislative record indicated.

Then there’s this counsel from Robert Reich:

What may be missing from the White House is a clear and convincing narrative into which all the various initiatives neatly fit, so that the public can make sense of everything that’s done … Obama needs to connect the dots in a way that explains to the public what he’s done and where’s he’s taking the nation.

Of course; the main problem plaguing Obama and the Democrats is a lack of clear and convincing narrative. All the president needs to do is connect all those random dots. The public is just plain ignorant of what he’s done and where he’s taking the nation; if only they knew the true story: Obama has delivered us to the land of milk and honey.

The truth is that the nation sees all too well what he has done and where he’s taking the nation. The public is in the process of connecting the dots — and the picture that’s emerging is a most unpleasant one.

The problems facing the president are that the economy is slumping and jobs are disappearing, Obama’s policies are widely seen as ineffective, his claims and promises have been disproven time and again, and he’s viewed by a majority of the nation as too liberal and, increasingly, as inept.

The counsel provided to Obama in the Politico story is worthless or worse. Obama’s fundamental problem is reality, not optics, not missing narratives, not unconnected dots. His presidency is, at this moment, failing, as the result of a series of deeply unwise decisions. He and his party are reaping what they have sown.

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The Tragedy of John McCain

John McCain won his Senate primary race by a huge margin — almost 2 to 1. That makes his flip-flop on immigration — from comprehensive immigration supporter and the voice of restraint to faux exclusionist — all the more tragic. He really didn’t need to throw away the mantle of reformer and maverick. He really didn’t need to further alienate himself from staunch conservatives while shredding his credibility with liberal allies.

In a blistering piece in the Daily Beast, Tunku Varadarajan accuses McCain of becoming an “an insecure, reactive, poll-watching hack who focus-groups his way to reelection.” He digs up an unnamed colleague to announce: “What you need to know is that he really does believe in duty, honor, country … and he is an American hero. But he thinks that is all there is. He has no deep interest or principle on any other subject. Every other issue has become personal with him, viewed through politics or pique. He is a patriot for whom most other issues are simply situational, which is why he can change so easily on them.” Strong stuff, indeed.

It certainly reveals McCain’s poor personal relationships in the Senate, although it goes too far. McCain has in fact been a rather stalwart conservative on social issues, spending, and judicial appointments, in addition to his invaluable leadership on national security issues. He has been an articulate opponent of ObamaCare. There is no more devoted friend of Israel in the U.S. Senate or champion of religious and political dissidents around the world.

But McCain’s reputation for prickliness and his lack of an overarching conservative philosophy — how does climate-control legislation mesh with his calls for fiscal prudence? — are evident. And by abandoning his former immigration stance (complete with a foray into and then a hasty retreat from the idea that we should fiddle with the 14th Amendment), he reinforced the perception that while he employs moralistic language and delights in chiding his own party, his core convictions are few and really not all that “core.”

Varadarajan opines that McCain should have hung it up after losing to Obama, but the senator has instead become embittered, a quintessential sore loser. On that score, Varadarajan is misguided. McCain has and will remain an important figure in the U.S. Senate on national security matters at a critical time. He has not exhibited personal animosity toward Obama but rather given voice to the very concerns that have motivated conservatives and independents to take to the streets in protest.

However, being a “maverick” for the sake of simply being a gadfly and an annoyance to his own party is no virtue. And joining the anti-immigration herd, which he had eloquently slammed, is shameful. Certainly it’s not the embodiment of honor.

John McCain won his Senate primary race by a huge margin — almost 2 to 1. That makes his flip-flop on immigration — from comprehensive immigration supporter and the voice of restraint to faux exclusionist — all the more tragic. He really didn’t need to throw away the mantle of reformer and maverick. He really didn’t need to further alienate himself from staunch conservatives while shredding his credibility with liberal allies.

In a blistering piece in the Daily Beast, Tunku Varadarajan accuses McCain of becoming an “an insecure, reactive, poll-watching hack who focus-groups his way to reelection.” He digs up an unnamed colleague to announce: “What you need to know is that he really does believe in duty, honor, country … and he is an American hero. But he thinks that is all there is. He has no deep interest or principle on any other subject. Every other issue has become personal with him, viewed through politics or pique. He is a patriot for whom most other issues are simply situational, which is why he can change so easily on them.” Strong stuff, indeed.

It certainly reveals McCain’s poor personal relationships in the Senate, although it goes too far. McCain has in fact been a rather stalwart conservative on social issues, spending, and judicial appointments, in addition to his invaluable leadership on national security issues. He has been an articulate opponent of ObamaCare. There is no more devoted friend of Israel in the U.S. Senate or champion of religious and political dissidents around the world.

But McCain’s reputation for prickliness and his lack of an overarching conservative philosophy — how does climate-control legislation mesh with his calls for fiscal prudence? — are evident. And by abandoning his former immigration stance (complete with a foray into and then a hasty retreat from the idea that we should fiddle with the 14th Amendment), he reinforced the perception that while he employs moralistic language and delights in chiding his own party, his core convictions are few and really not all that “core.”

Varadarajan opines that McCain should have hung it up after losing to Obama, but the senator has instead become embittered, a quintessential sore loser. On that score, Varadarajan is misguided. McCain has and will remain an important figure in the U.S. Senate on national security matters at a critical time. He has not exhibited personal animosity toward Obama but rather given voice to the very concerns that have motivated conservatives and independents to take to the streets in protest.

However, being a “maverick” for the sake of simply being a gadfly and an annoyance to his own party is no virtue. And joining the anti-immigration herd, which he had eloquently slammed, is shameful. Certainly it’s not the embodiment of honor.

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Speaking of an Enthusiasm Chasm

In Florida, Alex Sink won the Democratic gubernatorial primary. Insurgent outsider and former health-care executive Rick Scott narrowly edged out Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum, who had a big lead in the polls. (A third candidate may have doomed McCollum, drawing more than 10 percent of the vote.)

But the real story is the gigantic gap in turnout. The Democrat race drew about 862,000 voters; the Republicans drew about 1.28 million voters. In other words, about 420,000 more Republicans than Democrats turned out. By contrast, in the 2006 gubernatorial primary, the gap was only about 100,000 in the GOP’s favor. (Charlie Crist went on to win in the general election.)

The same story is true in the Senate primary races. In the contested Democratic primary, the turnout was about 909,000. In Marco Rubio’s walkaway victory, about 1.25 million voters cast ballots. The Marco Rubio campaign emails that their vote total, over a million, is “the most votes ever cast for a candidate in a Republican Senate primary.” The gap between Rubio and the Democrats’ combined total is about 340,000 votes.

Now, that’s an enthusiasm chasm.

In Florida, Alex Sink won the Democratic gubernatorial primary. Insurgent outsider and former health-care executive Rick Scott narrowly edged out Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum, who had a big lead in the polls. (A third candidate may have doomed McCollum, drawing more than 10 percent of the vote.)

But the real story is the gigantic gap in turnout. The Democrat race drew about 862,000 voters; the Republicans drew about 1.28 million voters. In other words, about 420,000 more Republicans than Democrats turned out. By contrast, in the 2006 gubernatorial primary, the gap was only about 100,000 in the GOP’s favor. (Charlie Crist went on to win in the general election.)

The same story is true in the Senate primary races. In the contested Democratic primary, the turnout was about 909,000. In Marco Rubio’s walkaway victory, about 1.25 million voters cast ballots. The Marco Rubio campaign emails that their vote total, over a million, is “the most votes ever cast for a candidate in a Republican Senate primary.” The gap between Rubio and the Democrats’ combined total is about 340,000 votes.

Now, that’s an enthusiasm chasm.

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Flacking for the Ground Zero Mosque Imam

The State Department should stop digging. The decision to send Imam Rauf abroad at the American taxpayers’ expense is bad enough. But now the striped-pants guys are flacking for him, pushing the victimology meme:

The State Department’s top spokesman cautioned reporters Tuesday not to take snippets of edited remarks on the Internet by the “Ground Zero mosque” imam and use them to brand him a radical, lest they repeat the mistakes made by the media in calling former USDA official Shirley Sherrod a racist based on edited clips of her promoted on conservative websites. …

P.J. Crowley, the assistant secretary of state for public affairs, told reporters Tuesday that they shouldn’t be quick to take those remarks out of context.

“I would just caution any of you that choose to write on this, that once again you have a case where a blogger has pulled out one passage from a very lengthy speech. If you read the entire speech, you will discover exactly why we think he is rightly participating in this national speaking tour.”

The additional excerpts from the speech include many frothy generalizations about reconciliation and peace, but is the State Department really not able to find a Muslim who says those sorts of lovely things and who can manage to refrain from blaming the U.S. for 9/11? Is the administration so badly advised that it has no access to a Muslim spokesperson who specifically condemns Hamas as a terrorist group?

The episode is among the more embarrassing ones for Hillary Clinton’s  State Department. That may explain, frankly, why she’s been mum on the subject. But if she hopes to salvage what splinters are left of her credibility, she might suggest that her spokesman stop flacking for the imam who thinks her country is as bad as al-Qaeda. There simply is no “context” that justifies or ameliorates such malice.

The State Department should stop digging. The decision to send Imam Rauf abroad at the American taxpayers’ expense is bad enough. But now the striped-pants guys are flacking for him, pushing the victimology meme:

The State Department’s top spokesman cautioned reporters Tuesday not to take snippets of edited remarks on the Internet by the “Ground Zero mosque” imam and use them to brand him a radical, lest they repeat the mistakes made by the media in calling former USDA official Shirley Sherrod a racist based on edited clips of her promoted on conservative websites. …

P.J. Crowley, the assistant secretary of state for public affairs, told reporters Tuesday that they shouldn’t be quick to take those remarks out of context.

“I would just caution any of you that choose to write on this, that once again you have a case where a blogger has pulled out one passage from a very lengthy speech. If you read the entire speech, you will discover exactly why we think he is rightly participating in this national speaking tour.”

The additional excerpts from the speech include many frothy generalizations about reconciliation and peace, but is the State Department really not able to find a Muslim who says those sorts of lovely things and who can manage to refrain from blaming the U.S. for 9/11? Is the administration so badly advised that it has no access to a Muslim spokesperson who specifically condemns Hamas as a terrorist group?

The episode is among the more embarrassing ones for Hillary Clinton’s  State Department. That may explain, frankly, why she’s been mum on the subject. But if she hopes to salvage what splinters are left of her credibility, she might suggest that her spokesman stop flacking for the imam who thinks her country is as bad as al-Qaeda. There simply is no “context” that justifies or ameliorates such malice.

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Marine Commandant: Obama Deadline Helps the Enemy

Obama’s timeline for the withdrawal of troops has been roundly criticized by conservatives as well as responsible Democrats like Sen. Diane Feinstein. Gen. David Petraeus and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates have been prevailed upon to fall in line with the president. But not the Marine commandant. He has the luxury of speaking his mind, for he is on the verge of retirement:

[R]etiring General James Conway said he believed Marines would not be in a position to withdraw from the fight in Southern Afghanistan for years, even though he acknowledged that Americans were growing “tired” of the 9-year-old war.

Conway’s unusually blunt assessment is likely to fan criticism of Obama’s war strategy ahead of U.S. congressional elections in November, as public opinion of the conflict sours further and casualties rise.

“In some ways, we think right now it is probably giving our enemy sustenance,” Conway, the Marine Corps’ commandant, said of the July 2011 deadline.

“In fact we’ve intercepted communications that say, ‘Hey, you know, we only need to hold out for so long.'” …

Conway, quoting one of his own commanders, told reporters: “We can either lose fast or win slow.”

If that is accurate — and we have no reason to doubt that it is — then the president has inexcusably endangered our troops, made the American war effort more difficult, and refused, despite available evidence, to reverse himself.

The error in strategy should have been corrected long ago, and it is important for congressional oversight committees to probe the evidence to which Conway refers. The president, however, can still do the right thing:

The timetable for withdrawal is certain to come under close scrutiny in a White House strategy review in December, which Obama called for last year when he announced the July 2011 deadline and 30,000 additional forces.

“We know the president was talking to several audiences at the same time when he made his comments on July 2011,” Conway told reporters at the Pentagon.

“Though I certainly believe that some American units somewhere in Afghanistan will turn over responsibilities to Afghanistan security forces in 2011, I do not think they will be Marines.”

Conway is certainly accurate about the West Point rollout speech, in which Obama simultaneously tried to follow his military leaders’ advice about the deployment of more troops and to satisfy the left wing of his party (no “open-ended commitments” for them). That’s no way to win a war and a disservice to the troops who are risking life and limb. Obama is especially loath to admit error, but in this case there is no alternative if he intends to fulfill his responsibilities as commander in chief.

Obama’s timeline for the withdrawal of troops has been roundly criticized by conservatives as well as responsible Democrats like Sen. Diane Feinstein. Gen. David Petraeus and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates have been prevailed upon to fall in line with the president. But not the Marine commandant. He has the luxury of speaking his mind, for he is on the verge of retirement:

[R]etiring General James Conway said he believed Marines would not be in a position to withdraw from the fight in Southern Afghanistan for years, even though he acknowledged that Americans were growing “tired” of the 9-year-old war.

Conway’s unusually blunt assessment is likely to fan criticism of Obama’s war strategy ahead of U.S. congressional elections in November, as public opinion of the conflict sours further and casualties rise.

“In some ways, we think right now it is probably giving our enemy sustenance,” Conway, the Marine Corps’ commandant, said of the July 2011 deadline.

“In fact we’ve intercepted communications that say, ‘Hey, you know, we only need to hold out for so long.'” …

Conway, quoting one of his own commanders, told reporters: “We can either lose fast or win slow.”

If that is accurate — and we have no reason to doubt that it is — then the president has inexcusably endangered our troops, made the American war effort more difficult, and refused, despite available evidence, to reverse himself.

The error in strategy should have been corrected long ago, and it is important for congressional oversight committees to probe the evidence to which Conway refers. The president, however, can still do the right thing:

The timetable for withdrawal is certain to come under close scrutiny in a White House strategy review in December, which Obama called for last year when he announced the July 2011 deadline and 30,000 additional forces.

“We know the president was talking to several audiences at the same time when he made his comments on July 2011,” Conway told reporters at the Pentagon.

“Though I certainly believe that some American units somewhere in Afghanistan will turn over responsibilities to Afghanistan security forces in 2011, I do not think they will be Marines.”

Conway is certainly accurate about the West Point rollout speech, in which Obama simultaneously tried to follow his military leaders’ advice about the deployment of more troops and to satisfy the left wing of his party (no “open-ended commitments” for them). That’s no way to win a war and a disservice to the troops who are risking life and limb. Obama is especially loath to admit error, but in this case there is no alternative if he intends to fulfill his responsibilities as commander in chief.

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What Bushehr Tells Us

Jamie Fly has an important analysis of the Bushehr reactor. He contends that the reactor in and of itself is less important (“The real key to Iran’s nuclear program lies at its facilities at Natanz, Esfahan, at the factories where its centrifuges are being built, and the labs and campuses of its nuclear scientists”) than what it tells us about the general state of our Iran policy:

First, it serves as another reminder of the bipartisan failure of U.S. Iran policy. The Iran saga is not solely about failed engagement by President Obama. The Bush administration tried various tactics with Iran and also failed to halt its progress toward a nuclear capability. A serious exploration of new options, including the military option, is thus in order if the United States remains unwilling to accept a nuclear Iran. …

Second, the actual startup of Bushehr says something about Russia’s perceptions of the Iranian threat. . .Jay Solomon of the Wall Street Journal reported that the administration “consented in recent months to Russia pushing forward with Bushehr in order to gain Moscow’s support for a fourth round of United Nations sanctions against Iran, which passed in June.” That adds Bushehr to a long list of concessions granted by this administration to Moscow as part of its “reset” of U.S.-Russian relations. . .

Finally, the brouhaha over Bushehr obscures the real troubling aspect of the current crisis — the ongoing nuclear weapons program’s timeline.

As to the timeline, Obama’s Gray Lady PR gambit to dissuade Israel from acting unilaterally highlights the difficulty, as Fly puts it, in determining “how close Iran should be allowed to get to a nuclear capability before military action is taken to stop the program.” Fly echoes former CIA director Michael Hayden’s worry that Iran may “loiter at the nuclear threshold and not make the decision to immediately build a weapon, knowing that it would be a green light for preemptive action. If it chooses this route, Iran could keep Western intelligence agencies guessing for years, trying to discern whether the ‘go’ order had actually been given by the Supreme Leader.”

In sum, Bushehr illuminates the faulty judgment and flawed assumptions that undergird Obama’s foreign policy. It turns out that sanctions are too late in coming and totally ineffective, that the Russians can’t be enlisted to disarm Iran, that “reset” is nothing more than frantic appeasement, that Iran isn’t more “isolated” thanks to the Obami’s policy, that time is on the mullah’s side (Obama squandered a critical 18 months on engagement/scrawny sanctions), and that it wasn’t so smart to put the mullahs at ease about the prospects for U.S. military action.

We can’t get the 18 months back. We can’t reset the calendar to June 12 and lend critical, timely aid to the Green movement. But we can prepare, threaten, and, if need be, conduct a military action that would rescue Obama’s credibility, maintain America’s superpower status, prevent an existential danger to Israel, remove a threat to the American homeland and to our allies, and disrupt  Iran’s hegemonic ambitions and growing alliances in the region. Or we could sit idly by as the worst national security disaster in our lifetime plays out before our eyes. We should pray that Obama – for good reasons or not – chooses action rather than passivity.

Jamie Fly has an important analysis of the Bushehr reactor. He contends that the reactor in and of itself is less important (“The real key to Iran’s nuclear program lies at its facilities at Natanz, Esfahan, at the factories where its centrifuges are being built, and the labs and campuses of its nuclear scientists”) than what it tells us about the general state of our Iran policy:

First, it serves as another reminder of the bipartisan failure of U.S. Iran policy. The Iran saga is not solely about failed engagement by President Obama. The Bush administration tried various tactics with Iran and also failed to halt its progress toward a nuclear capability. A serious exploration of new options, including the military option, is thus in order if the United States remains unwilling to accept a nuclear Iran. …

Second, the actual startup of Bushehr says something about Russia’s perceptions of the Iranian threat. . .Jay Solomon of the Wall Street Journal reported that the administration “consented in recent months to Russia pushing forward with Bushehr in order to gain Moscow’s support for a fourth round of United Nations sanctions against Iran, which passed in June.” That adds Bushehr to a long list of concessions granted by this administration to Moscow as part of its “reset” of U.S.-Russian relations. . .

Finally, the brouhaha over Bushehr obscures the real troubling aspect of the current crisis — the ongoing nuclear weapons program’s timeline.

As to the timeline, Obama’s Gray Lady PR gambit to dissuade Israel from acting unilaterally highlights the difficulty, as Fly puts it, in determining “how close Iran should be allowed to get to a nuclear capability before military action is taken to stop the program.” Fly echoes former CIA director Michael Hayden’s worry that Iran may “loiter at the nuclear threshold and not make the decision to immediately build a weapon, knowing that it would be a green light for preemptive action. If it chooses this route, Iran could keep Western intelligence agencies guessing for years, trying to discern whether the ‘go’ order had actually been given by the Supreme Leader.”

In sum, Bushehr illuminates the faulty judgment and flawed assumptions that undergird Obama’s foreign policy. It turns out that sanctions are too late in coming and totally ineffective, that the Russians can’t be enlisted to disarm Iran, that “reset” is nothing more than frantic appeasement, that Iran isn’t more “isolated” thanks to the Obami’s policy, that time is on the mullah’s side (Obama squandered a critical 18 months on engagement/scrawny sanctions), and that it wasn’t so smart to put the mullahs at ease about the prospects for U.S. military action.

We can’t get the 18 months back. We can’t reset the calendar to June 12 and lend critical, timely aid to the Green movement. But we can prepare, threaten, and, if need be, conduct a military action that would rescue Obama’s credibility, maintain America’s superpower status, prevent an existential danger to Israel, remove a threat to the American homeland and to our allies, and disrupt  Iran’s hegemonic ambitions and growing alliances in the region. Or we could sit idly by as the worst national security disaster in our lifetime plays out before our eyes. We should pray that Obama – for good reasons or not – chooses action rather than passivity.

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Figuratively Speaking …

In remarks yesterday, Vice President Joe Biden said: “For eight years before we arrived in the West Wing, Mr. Boehner and his party ran the economy literally into the ground. We’ve seen this movie before, Mr. Boehner. We’ve seen it before and we know how it ends.”

What Biden meant to say — before mixing his metaphors — is that Boehner and his party ran the economy figuratively, not literally, into the ground. But I suppose we shouldn’t create terribly high standards for a man who thinks “jobs” is a three-letter word.

In remarks yesterday, Vice President Joe Biden said: “For eight years before we arrived in the West Wing, Mr. Boehner and his party ran the economy literally into the ground. We’ve seen this movie before, Mr. Boehner. We’ve seen it before and we know how it ends.”

What Biden meant to say — before mixing his metaphors — is that Boehner and his party ran the economy figuratively, not literally, into the ground. But I suppose we shouldn’t create terribly high standards for a man who thinks “jobs” is a three-letter word.

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For Secretary of Defense? (Updated)

Chuck Hagel made news by endorsing Joe Sestak, but quite apart from Sestak there is reason to examine Hagel’s record. The administration, it seems, is seriously considering him for secretary of defense when Robert Gates retires. Yes, Hagel — the Republican opposed to the Iraq war and who’s compiled an anti-Israel record that brought appropriate condemnation from Jewish Democrats — is in the mix, according to news reports.

Ben Smith reports that Hagel is being championed by National Security Adviser Jim Jones (often the originator of silly ideas and ill-advised statements). Smith explains:

He opposed the war in Iraq, has spoken of the need to leave Afghanistan, and — though this is hazier territory — has infuriated supporters of Israel for a refusal to sign on to the many statements of support on the Hill for the Jewish State, and by suggesting the more dispassionate approach to that conflict that — on some days — Obama seems to prefer.

This is the context for the fierce attacks on Joe Sestak, incidentally, for accepting Hagel’s endorsement: It’s a warning signal that whatever the other merits, confirmation would hardly be a cakewalk. He’s taken fire from Democrats as well as Republican for his Middle East politics, and with both that process and Iran on the front burner, his appointment would likely concentrate debate on those issues.

Indeed, it is unclear, with a nuclear-armed Iran looming and a more Republican Senate in the offing, whether Hagel would be confirmable. His national security record would be hard to defend, even by Democrats wishing to support the faltering president.

For example, in 2006, when Hezbollah’s attacks provoked Israeli retaliation and the war in Lebanon, Hagel screeched for the president to demand an immediate cease-fire, arguing it was essential in order to “enhance America’s image and give us the trust and credibility to lead a lasting and sustained peace effort in the Middle East.” Our credibility, in his eyes, depends on the United States’s preventing Israel from defending itself.

Last year, Hagel signed a letter urging Obama to open direct negotiations with Hamas, a position so extreme that Obama hasn’t (yet) embraced it.

On Iran, Hagel was one of two senators in 2004 to vote against renewal of the Libya-Iran sanctions act. (“Messrs. Hagel and Lugar … want a weaker stance than most other senators against the terrorists in Iran and Syria and the West Bank and Gaza and against those who help the terrorists. They are more concerned than most other senators about upsetting our erstwhile allies in Europe — the French and Germans — who do business with the terrorists.”)

Hagel seems to be a member in good standing of the Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett school of Iran suck-uppery. In 2007 Hagel wanted to open direct, unconditional talks with Iran. (“It could create a historic new dynamic in US-Iran relations, in part forcing the Iranians to react to the possibility of better relations with the West.”) In 2007 he voted against designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization. In 2008 he voted against Iran sanctions.

His views on Syria are equally misguided:

On November 11, 2003, when the Senate, by a vote of 89 to 4, passed the Syria Accountability Act authorizing sanctions on Syria for its support of terrorism and its occupation of Lebanon. Mr. Hagel — along with Mr. Kerry — didn’t vote. Mr. Hagel met in Damascus in 1998 with the terror-sponsoring dictator, Hafez Al-Assad, and returned to tell a reporter about the meeting, “Peace comes through dealing with people. Peace doesn’t come at the end of a bayonet or the end of a gun.”

If Obama’s pick for ambassador to Syria couldn’t get through the Senate, how would Hagel?

Finally, Hagel is a nominee who would thrill the Walt-Mearsheimer Lobby:

In an interview quoted in Aaron David Miller’s book on the peace process called The Much Too Promised Land, Hagel said: “The political reality is that … the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here.”

Hagel then described a meeting he had in New York with a group of supporters of Israel, one of whom suggested Hagel wasn’t supportive enough of Israel. Hagel said he responded: “Let me clear something up here if there’s any doubt in your mind. I’m a United States Senator. I’m not an Israeli senator. I’m a United States Senator. I support Israel. But my first interest is, I take an oath of office to the constitution of the United States. Not to a president, not to a party, not to Israel.”

A Democratic, pro-Israel activist alarmed by the possibility of a Hagel appointment told me:

In 2006, after Hezbollah attacked Israel and instigated a war, Hagel took to the Senate floor and called on President Bush to demand an immediate Israeli cease-fire and accused Israel of “the systematic destruction of an American friend, Lebanon” and of “slaughter.” Given that Hezbollah has killed more Americans than any terrorist group except al-Qaeda — including 241 brave young Marines and some of our finest CIA officers — and Israel is one of our closest allies in the world, these kinds of statements not only call into question Hagel’s views but his fitness to serve as secretary of defense or in any other national security capacity.

Given his long, questionable record and the clear problems his nomination would cause — not to mention the volumes of criticism by other Democrats for his rank hostility to Israel — it is hard to believe that the White House would want to make such a risky choice at precisely the time we are asking the Israelis to “trust us” on Iran and the Arab-Israeli conflict. I wonder if his career-long effort to derail sanctions to stop Iran’s nuclear program will comfort the Israelis or our Arab and European allies at this critical juncture. Then again, given President’s Obama’s record in this area, this is a matter of serious, ongoing concern.

A Hagel nomination would be a political nightmare for Senate Democrats — another “walk the plank” request from the White House that would paint them as weak on defense and on the Iranian nuclear threat. Maybe this is a trial balloon. If it’s more than that, it will go over like a lead one.

UPDATE: A reader emails that “Hagel didn’t just vote no on sanctions in 2008; he killed the bill.” The reader is correct: “In early October, he prevented action on a bill, which had passed in the House, proposing economic sanctions against Iran. Hagel has long criticized unilateral sanctions as ineffective and counterproductive.”

Chuck Hagel made news by endorsing Joe Sestak, but quite apart from Sestak there is reason to examine Hagel’s record. The administration, it seems, is seriously considering him for secretary of defense when Robert Gates retires. Yes, Hagel — the Republican opposed to the Iraq war and who’s compiled an anti-Israel record that brought appropriate condemnation from Jewish Democrats — is in the mix, according to news reports.

Ben Smith reports that Hagel is being championed by National Security Adviser Jim Jones (often the originator of silly ideas and ill-advised statements). Smith explains:

He opposed the war in Iraq, has spoken of the need to leave Afghanistan, and — though this is hazier territory — has infuriated supporters of Israel for a refusal to sign on to the many statements of support on the Hill for the Jewish State, and by suggesting the more dispassionate approach to that conflict that — on some days — Obama seems to prefer.

This is the context for the fierce attacks on Joe Sestak, incidentally, for accepting Hagel’s endorsement: It’s a warning signal that whatever the other merits, confirmation would hardly be a cakewalk. He’s taken fire from Democrats as well as Republican for his Middle East politics, and with both that process and Iran on the front burner, his appointment would likely concentrate debate on those issues.

Indeed, it is unclear, with a nuclear-armed Iran looming and a more Republican Senate in the offing, whether Hagel would be confirmable. His national security record would be hard to defend, even by Democrats wishing to support the faltering president.

For example, in 2006, when Hezbollah’s attacks provoked Israeli retaliation and the war in Lebanon, Hagel screeched for the president to demand an immediate cease-fire, arguing it was essential in order to “enhance America’s image and give us the trust and credibility to lead a lasting and sustained peace effort in the Middle East.” Our credibility, in his eyes, depends on the United States’s preventing Israel from defending itself.

Last year, Hagel signed a letter urging Obama to open direct negotiations with Hamas, a position so extreme that Obama hasn’t (yet) embraced it.

On Iran, Hagel was one of two senators in 2004 to vote against renewal of the Libya-Iran sanctions act. (“Messrs. Hagel and Lugar … want a weaker stance than most other senators against the terrorists in Iran and Syria and the West Bank and Gaza and against those who help the terrorists. They are more concerned than most other senators about upsetting our erstwhile allies in Europe — the French and Germans — who do business with the terrorists.”)

Hagel seems to be a member in good standing of the Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett school of Iran suck-uppery. In 2007 Hagel wanted to open direct, unconditional talks with Iran. (“It could create a historic new dynamic in US-Iran relations, in part forcing the Iranians to react to the possibility of better relations with the West.”) In 2007 he voted against designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization. In 2008 he voted against Iran sanctions.

His views on Syria are equally misguided:

On November 11, 2003, when the Senate, by a vote of 89 to 4, passed the Syria Accountability Act authorizing sanctions on Syria for its support of terrorism and its occupation of Lebanon. Mr. Hagel — along with Mr. Kerry — didn’t vote. Mr. Hagel met in Damascus in 1998 with the terror-sponsoring dictator, Hafez Al-Assad, and returned to tell a reporter about the meeting, “Peace comes through dealing with people. Peace doesn’t come at the end of a bayonet or the end of a gun.”

If Obama’s pick for ambassador to Syria couldn’t get through the Senate, how would Hagel?

Finally, Hagel is a nominee who would thrill the Walt-Mearsheimer Lobby:

In an interview quoted in Aaron David Miller’s book on the peace process called The Much Too Promised Land, Hagel said: “The political reality is that … the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here.”

Hagel then described a meeting he had in New York with a group of supporters of Israel, one of whom suggested Hagel wasn’t supportive enough of Israel. Hagel said he responded: “Let me clear something up here if there’s any doubt in your mind. I’m a United States Senator. I’m not an Israeli senator. I’m a United States Senator. I support Israel. But my first interest is, I take an oath of office to the constitution of the United States. Not to a president, not to a party, not to Israel.”

A Democratic, pro-Israel activist alarmed by the possibility of a Hagel appointment told me:

In 2006, after Hezbollah attacked Israel and instigated a war, Hagel took to the Senate floor and called on President Bush to demand an immediate Israeli cease-fire and accused Israel of “the systematic destruction of an American friend, Lebanon” and of “slaughter.” Given that Hezbollah has killed more Americans than any terrorist group except al-Qaeda — including 241 brave young Marines and some of our finest CIA officers — and Israel is one of our closest allies in the world, these kinds of statements not only call into question Hagel’s views but his fitness to serve as secretary of defense or in any other national security capacity.

Given his long, questionable record and the clear problems his nomination would cause — not to mention the volumes of criticism by other Democrats for his rank hostility to Israel — it is hard to believe that the White House would want to make such a risky choice at precisely the time we are asking the Israelis to “trust us” on Iran and the Arab-Israeli conflict. I wonder if his career-long effort to derail sanctions to stop Iran’s nuclear program will comfort the Israelis or our Arab and European allies at this critical juncture. Then again, given President’s Obama’s record in this area, this is a matter of serious, ongoing concern.

A Hagel nomination would be a political nightmare for Senate Democrats — another “walk the plank” request from the White House that would paint them as weak on defense and on the Iranian nuclear threat. Maybe this is a trial balloon. If it’s more than that, it will go over like a lead one.

UPDATE: A reader emails that “Hagel didn’t just vote no on sanctions in 2008; he killed the bill.” The reader is correct: “In early October, he prevented action on a bill, which had passed in the House, proposing economic sanctions against Iran. Hagel has long criticized unilateral sanctions as ineffective and counterproductive.”

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Another ‘Bigot’ Comes Out Against the Mosque

No, Sheldon Silver is no more a bigot than Howard Dean or the legions of conservatives who oppose the Ground Zero mosque. But he — arguably the most powerful Democrat in New York — has come out against the mosque:

New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who represents the lower Manhattan district where ground zero is, suggested Tuesday that Islamic leaders should move the proposed mosque. [Gov. David] Paterson has made the same point. Organizers have the right to build the center at a building two blocks from ground zero but should be open to compromise, Silver said. “In the spirit of living with others, they should be cognizant of the feelings of others and try to find a location that doesn’t engender the deep feelings the currently exist about this site,” Silver said.

“I think the sponsors should take into very serious consideration the kind of turmoil that’s been created and look to compromise,” he added.

The charge that opposition to the Ground Zero mosque is just a function of conservative Islamophobia gets more ridiculous every day. It might be time for the pro–Ground Zero left to give up the fight. With each day, the mosque supporters appear increasingly shrill and isolated from reality. Unfortunately, the out-to-lunch group includes the president.

No, Sheldon Silver is no more a bigot than Howard Dean or the legions of conservatives who oppose the Ground Zero mosque. But he — arguably the most powerful Democrat in New York — has come out against the mosque:

New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who represents the lower Manhattan district where ground zero is, suggested Tuesday that Islamic leaders should move the proposed mosque. [Gov. David] Paterson has made the same point. Organizers have the right to build the center at a building two blocks from ground zero but should be open to compromise, Silver said. “In the spirit of living with others, they should be cognizant of the feelings of others and try to find a location that doesn’t engender the deep feelings the currently exist about this site,” Silver said.

“I think the sponsors should take into very serious consideration the kind of turmoil that’s been created and look to compromise,” he added.

The charge that opposition to the Ground Zero mosque is just a function of conservative Islamophobia gets more ridiculous every day. It might be time for the pro–Ground Zero left to give up the fight. With each day, the mosque supporters appear increasingly shrill and isolated from reality. Unfortunately, the out-to-lunch group includes the president.

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What We Learned from the Primaries Last Night

The success of insurgent candidates in the Florida GOP gubernatorial primary and the Alaska GOP senatorial primary indicates that Republican voters in wildly different locales are not simply in an anti-Obama, anti-Democrat mood. They are genuinely eager to upend the political system. And this is something very new.

Usually, politicians who use the language of insurgency are just that. For them, channeling the anger of voters is a marketing device. They are always using the language of insurgency — I’ll go to Washington and shake things up; the system is broken and I’m going to fix it – but they do so as a  vote-getting tool. The shock troops of the 1994 Gingrich Revolution were, when it came down to it, mostly classic political hacks who marched in formation when it suited their aims and went AWOL when the fighting got tough.

These Republican insurgents, however, really are insurgents, and one should take them at their word that they are not in this to become professional politicians whose primary aims are fundraising and re-election. If enough of them are elected in November, and enough could be 10 in the House and three in the Senate, they really could change the political dynamic in Washington in ways impossible to foresee. They will also, almost certainly, say unguarded things that will provide a bountiful harvest for the liberal media.

The success of insurgent candidates in the Florida GOP gubernatorial primary and the Alaska GOP senatorial primary indicates that Republican voters in wildly different locales are not simply in an anti-Obama, anti-Democrat mood. They are genuinely eager to upend the political system. And this is something very new.

Usually, politicians who use the language of insurgency are just that. For them, channeling the anger of voters is a marketing device. They are always using the language of insurgency — I’ll go to Washington and shake things up; the system is broken and I’m going to fix it – but they do so as a  vote-getting tool. The shock troops of the 1994 Gingrich Revolution were, when it came down to it, mostly classic political hacks who marched in formation when it suited their aims and went AWOL when the fighting got tough.

These Republican insurgents, however, really are insurgents, and one should take them at their word that they are not in this to become professional politicians whose primary aims are fundraising and re-election. If enough of them are elected in November, and enough could be 10 in the House and three in the Senate, they really could change the political dynamic in Washington in ways impossible to foresee. They will also, almost certainly, say unguarded things that will provide a bountiful harvest for the liberal media.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

So much for the “Summer of Recovery.” “Forty-eight percent of Americans rated current economic conditions as “poor” during the week ending Aug. 22 — approaching the highest levels of the year. This is marginally worse than the early August reading, is in line with the full July average of 47%, and is marginally worse than at this time in 2009.”

So much for Obamanomics. Lawrence Lindsey explains just how bad the housing numbers are: “‘More ominously, it is a very negative reflection on people’s expectation for the future. Remember, interest rates are very, very low. So the cost of carrying a mortgage is down. … People must be better or assuming that house prices have further to fall. … I don’t think these narrowly targeted programs have really helped,’ Lindsey says of the Obama administration’s policies. ‘I think at this point the issue comes back to jobs, jobs, jobs.'”

So much for predictions of a competitive Missouri Senate race. “Republican Congressman Roy Blunt for the first time holds a double-digit lead over Democrat Robin Carnahan in Missouri’s U.S. Senate race. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Missouri Voters shows Blunt earning 51% of the vote. Carnahan, Missouri’s secretary of state, picks up 40% support, her poorest showing to date.”

So much for an “agreement” on peace talks. Eli Lake reports: “Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians that are set to begin next week in Washington may be scuttled before they even get going. Israel has yet to commit to extending a freeze on construction of settlements that the Palestinian side says it needs to continue negotiations.”

So much for the Democrats’ best chance in Florida. “Charlie Crist had better hope Jeff Greene pulls off a miraculous comeback in his primary against Kendrick Meek if the Republican-cum-independent governor hopes to edge GOP nominee Marco Rubio in the general election Senate contest. Among likely voters, Rubio has a slim 37-36 lead over Crist if Greene is the Democratic nominee, but Rubio pulls ahead 40-32 if Meek wins tonight.” But Meek won big, so will Democrats throw in the towel on Crist?

So much for the Goldstone II–like UN Human Rights Council investigation of the flotilla incident. Israel tells investigators to forget interrogating its troops. (Maj. General Giora Eiland, however, gave extensive testimony to the Turkel Committee, the internal Israeli review with some international reps who aren’t out to vilify the Jewish state.)

So much for the left’s arguments (as set forth by Marc Lynch) that everything is Israel’s fault. Elliott Abrams writes: “Marc ignores the opinion polls showing that something under 10% of Israelis now trust Obama, for that striking figure does not fit the story line. Is it possible, is it conceivable, that Obama has done something to undermine Israeli trust in his Administration’s policies and world view? Not to Marc. Then there’s this: ‘if Israel’s leadership genuinely believes that Iran poses the greatest existential threat which Israel has ever faced … why has it taken so many steps over the last year and a half to alienate the world and to isolate itself?’ So many steps. Are the partial freeze on construction in settlements (called ‘unprecedented’ by the Obama Administration), permission for thousands of Israeli Arabs to shop once again in the West Bank and help its economy grow, and removal of scores of barriers to mobility in the West Bank, among them? Presumably they don’t count for Marc, as they do not count for anyone disposed to blame Israel for everything.” Read the whole thing — if blood on the floor doesn’t bother you.

So much for the “Summer of Recovery.” “Forty-eight percent of Americans rated current economic conditions as “poor” during the week ending Aug. 22 — approaching the highest levels of the year. This is marginally worse than the early August reading, is in line with the full July average of 47%, and is marginally worse than at this time in 2009.”

So much for Obamanomics. Lawrence Lindsey explains just how bad the housing numbers are: “‘More ominously, it is a very negative reflection on people’s expectation for the future. Remember, interest rates are very, very low. So the cost of carrying a mortgage is down. … People must be better or assuming that house prices have further to fall. … I don’t think these narrowly targeted programs have really helped,’ Lindsey says of the Obama administration’s policies. ‘I think at this point the issue comes back to jobs, jobs, jobs.'”

So much for predictions of a competitive Missouri Senate race. “Republican Congressman Roy Blunt for the first time holds a double-digit lead over Democrat Robin Carnahan in Missouri’s U.S. Senate race. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Missouri Voters shows Blunt earning 51% of the vote. Carnahan, Missouri’s secretary of state, picks up 40% support, her poorest showing to date.”

So much for an “agreement” on peace talks. Eli Lake reports: “Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians that are set to begin next week in Washington may be scuttled before they even get going. Israel has yet to commit to extending a freeze on construction of settlements that the Palestinian side says it needs to continue negotiations.”

So much for the Democrats’ best chance in Florida. “Charlie Crist had better hope Jeff Greene pulls off a miraculous comeback in his primary against Kendrick Meek if the Republican-cum-independent governor hopes to edge GOP nominee Marco Rubio in the general election Senate contest. Among likely voters, Rubio has a slim 37-36 lead over Crist if Greene is the Democratic nominee, but Rubio pulls ahead 40-32 if Meek wins tonight.” But Meek won big, so will Democrats throw in the towel on Crist?

So much for the Goldstone II–like UN Human Rights Council investigation of the flotilla incident. Israel tells investigators to forget interrogating its troops. (Maj. General Giora Eiland, however, gave extensive testimony to the Turkel Committee, the internal Israeli review with some international reps who aren’t out to vilify the Jewish state.)

So much for the left’s arguments (as set forth by Marc Lynch) that everything is Israel’s fault. Elliott Abrams writes: “Marc ignores the opinion polls showing that something under 10% of Israelis now trust Obama, for that striking figure does not fit the story line. Is it possible, is it conceivable, that Obama has done something to undermine Israeli trust in his Administration’s policies and world view? Not to Marc. Then there’s this: ‘if Israel’s leadership genuinely believes that Iran poses the greatest existential threat which Israel has ever faced … why has it taken so many steps over the last year and a half to alienate the world and to isolate itself?’ So many steps. Are the partial freeze on construction in settlements (called ‘unprecedented’ by the Obama Administration), permission for thousands of Israeli Arabs to shop once again in the West Bank and help its economy grow, and removal of scores of barriers to mobility in the West Bank, among them? Presumably they don’t count for Marc, as they do not count for anyone disposed to blame Israel for everything.” Read the whole thing — if blood on the floor doesn’t bother you.

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