Commentary Magazine


Posts For: August 2010

Obama: ‘I Do Not Want to Screw This Up’

I’ve finally gotten around to reading Peter Baker’s massive front-page story in the Sunday New York Times about Obama as commander in chief. I share some of the disquiet expressed by Jennifer Rubin about the president’s lack of knowledge and interest in defense affairs, but that’s hardly unusual for a chief executive. With his focus on domestic policy and his view that foreign crises are an unwelcome “distraction,” Obama echoes most recent presidents, including both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Bush, of course, shed that outlook after 9/11, whereas Obama hasn’t — yet. I predict he will before long because he will realize what most presidents realize: that they have the greatest impact in foreign affairs and national-security policy, whereas on domestic issues, they have to beg for help from a recalcitrant Congress. So far, Obama has managed to push most of his agenda through the Hill, but that is likely to change after the November elections bring big gains for Republicans; after that he will probably find foreign affairs a relief rather than a burden.

In the meantime, however, I was not wholly depressed by Baker’s article. There were, I believe, some positives in it, including the revelation that it was Obama’s personal brainstorm to replace General McChrystal with David Petraeus in Afghanistan (Bob Gates evidently wanted to keep McChrystal on with a reprimand). That was surely a brilliant stroke and speaks well to his creativity and his ability to be decisive. More than that, I was cheered by this line:

When he held a videoconference on Iraq on his first full day in office, officials recalled, he said: “Guys, before you start, there’s one thing I want to say to you and that is I do not want to screw this up.”

That sentiment — “I do not want to screw this up” — explains a lot. It explains why Obama has gone more slowly on the Iraq withdrawal than the left would have liked and why he has bucked his liberal base to build up U.S. forces in Afghanistan. For all his obsession with domestic issues, he evidently realizes that losing wars is bad for a president’s reputation. That’s good for those of us who believe that it’s vitally important for the country’s interests to win the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. However reluctantly, Obama apparently has come to share that belief.

I’ve finally gotten around to reading Peter Baker’s massive front-page story in the Sunday New York Times about Obama as commander in chief. I share some of the disquiet expressed by Jennifer Rubin about the president’s lack of knowledge and interest in defense affairs, but that’s hardly unusual for a chief executive. With his focus on domestic policy and his view that foreign crises are an unwelcome “distraction,” Obama echoes most recent presidents, including both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Bush, of course, shed that outlook after 9/11, whereas Obama hasn’t — yet. I predict he will before long because he will realize what most presidents realize: that they have the greatest impact in foreign affairs and national-security policy, whereas on domestic issues, they have to beg for help from a recalcitrant Congress. So far, Obama has managed to push most of his agenda through the Hill, but that is likely to change after the November elections bring big gains for Republicans; after that he will probably find foreign affairs a relief rather than a burden.

In the meantime, however, I was not wholly depressed by Baker’s article. There were, I believe, some positives in it, including the revelation that it was Obama’s personal brainstorm to replace General McChrystal with David Petraeus in Afghanistan (Bob Gates evidently wanted to keep McChrystal on with a reprimand). That was surely a brilliant stroke and speaks well to his creativity and his ability to be decisive. More than that, I was cheered by this line:

When he held a videoconference on Iraq on his first full day in office, officials recalled, he said: “Guys, before you start, there’s one thing I want to say to you and that is I do not want to screw this up.”

That sentiment — “I do not want to screw this up” — explains a lot. It explains why Obama has gone more slowly on the Iraq withdrawal than the left would have liked and why he has bucked his liberal base to build up U.S. forces in Afghanistan. For all his obsession with domestic issues, he evidently realizes that losing wars is bad for a president’s reputation. That’s good for those of us who believe that it’s vitally important for the country’s interests to win the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. However reluctantly, Obama apparently has come to share that belief.

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Crocker on Iraq

The former U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker is too modest to mention his own invaluable role in averting disaster in Iraq. He was, along with Gen. David Petraeus, responsible for the remarkable turnaround in the war and in staving off congressional calls in September 2007 to bug out. In an op-ed in the Washington Post, he explains:

The difficulty and delays we have seen since the March elections illustrate the fundamental truth that everything in Iraq is hard and is likely to continue being hard. When the next government is in place, it will have to wrestle with the tough issues that have been shelved since the elections and their aftermath. …

The threat of al-Qaeda-sponsored terrorism persists in Iraq, as recent attacks have made clear. Iraq’s relations with its neighbors, especially Iran and Syria, remain difficult amid signs that Tehran is waiting for a U.S. exit to ramp up its efforts at destabilization and reclaiming the ground it has lost in Iraq the past several years. Other challenges include the rising popular impatience over economic stagnation and the lack of basic services; refugees; widespread corruption; and a growing imbalance between Iraqi military and civilian governance capacities.

He is not predicting doom, but rather urging patience and persistence:

It is not a record of failure but an illustration of the enormity of the challenges in Iraq. How successfully Iraqis deal with these challenges has a great deal to do with the level of U.S. engagement going forward, including the process of government formation. . . Our lack of strategic patience is something that, over time, our adversaries have come to count on and our allies to fear — in Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Like others who have urged continued American involvement, Crocker points to the Strategic Framework Agreement and the possibility that the Iraqis may ask that our troops remain beyond 2011. (“If so, I hope we will listen carefully.”)

Here’s an idea: if Obama really wants to preserve our gains, why not send Crocker back to Iraq for a couple of more years? That would be a signal of support that the Iraqis would surely appreciate. And it would indicate that the president finally understands the strategic smarts of the Bush team, which snatched Iraq from the jaws of defeat.

The former U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker is too modest to mention his own invaluable role in averting disaster in Iraq. He was, along with Gen. David Petraeus, responsible for the remarkable turnaround in the war and in staving off congressional calls in September 2007 to bug out. In an op-ed in the Washington Post, he explains:

The difficulty and delays we have seen since the March elections illustrate the fundamental truth that everything in Iraq is hard and is likely to continue being hard. When the next government is in place, it will have to wrestle with the tough issues that have been shelved since the elections and their aftermath. …

The threat of al-Qaeda-sponsored terrorism persists in Iraq, as recent attacks have made clear. Iraq’s relations with its neighbors, especially Iran and Syria, remain difficult amid signs that Tehran is waiting for a U.S. exit to ramp up its efforts at destabilization and reclaiming the ground it has lost in Iraq the past several years. Other challenges include the rising popular impatience over economic stagnation and the lack of basic services; refugees; widespread corruption; and a growing imbalance between Iraqi military and civilian governance capacities.

He is not predicting doom, but rather urging patience and persistence:

It is not a record of failure but an illustration of the enormity of the challenges in Iraq. How successfully Iraqis deal with these challenges has a great deal to do with the level of U.S. engagement going forward, including the process of government formation. . . Our lack of strategic patience is something that, over time, our adversaries have come to count on and our allies to fear — in Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Like others who have urged continued American involvement, Crocker points to the Strategic Framework Agreement and the possibility that the Iraqis may ask that our troops remain beyond 2011. (“If so, I hope we will listen carefully.”)

Here’s an idea: if Obama really wants to preserve our gains, why not send Crocker back to Iraq for a couple of more years? That would be a signal of support that the Iraqis would surely appreciate. And it would indicate that the president finally understands the strategic smarts of the Bush team, which snatched Iraq from the jaws of defeat.

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Spinning for CAIR

In an account that reads more like a CAIR press release than a news report, the Washington Post tells us:

As expression of anti-Muslim sentiment has risen across the United States in recent weeks, Muslim leaders say they are stepping up efforts to unify their communities and push for greater public and political engagement.

Has it risen? Apparently the Post considers expressions of anti-Muslim sentiment to include statements objecting to the Ground Zero mosque. It is now, I suppose, accepted “fact” that Ground Zero opposition is an outburst of Islamophobia. Harry Reid and Howard Dean must be ashamed.

But the spin does not end there. The report continues:

Several groups, including the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), ICNA and MPAC, are working on forming a National Muslim Leadership Alliance, Baig said.

“What’s pushing us now to jointly work together, to come up with some strategy, is it is not affecting just one Muslim organization, it is affecting Muslims,” he said. “There’s a real serious threat of violence against individuals.”

Any mention that some of these groups have ties to terrorist groups or have had officials convicted of terrorist activities? Any hint that these groups have been loath to condemn Hamas and Hezbollah or to condemn accusations that the U.S. was responsible for 9/11? No. Maybe the Post is concerned that would be an example of anti-Muslim sentiment.

Some of the account is downright misleading. Take this:

The interfaith event was among a surge of responses to hostility sparked by a proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero in Manhattan. Protesters have targeted mosques under construction elsewhere in the country; a Florida church announced that it will burn Korans on Sept. 11; and a Muslim taxi driver was stabbed in New York.

As to the church, the report omits two salient facts. City officials denied it a permit. And “Evangelical and Jewish groups are calling plans by a Gainesville, Fla., church to burn the Islamic holy book on 9/11 both destructive and ‘morally repugnant.’” That the Koran-burning is the brainchild of one whacked-out pastor and was swiftly and widely repudiated are facts that appear nowhere in the account. On the cabbie story, certainly the Post has heard:

For one thing, the alleged attacker, Michael Enright, worked with an organization that very much favors the project. For another, the cabby, Ahmed Sharif, says he’s opposed to it — though Sharif does say that he’s worried that debate over the planned project might have played a role in the attack.

It is unclear whether the report is the result of excessive political correctness or downright sloppiness. But when the errors all go one way (boost the CAIR propaganda line), then there is reason to believe it is the former.

In an account that reads more like a CAIR press release than a news report, the Washington Post tells us:

As expression of anti-Muslim sentiment has risen across the United States in recent weeks, Muslim leaders say they are stepping up efforts to unify their communities and push for greater public and political engagement.

Has it risen? Apparently the Post considers expressions of anti-Muslim sentiment to include statements objecting to the Ground Zero mosque. It is now, I suppose, accepted “fact” that Ground Zero opposition is an outburst of Islamophobia. Harry Reid and Howard Dean must be ashamed.

But the spin does not end there. The report continues:

Several groups, including the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), ICNA and MPAC, are working on forming a National Muslim Leadership Alliance, Baig said.

“What’s pushing us now to jointly work together, to come up with some strategy, is it is not affecting just one Muslim organization, it is affecting Muslims,” he said. “There’s a real serious threat of violence against individuals.”

Any mention that some of these groups have ties to terrorist groups or have had officials convicted of terrorist activities? Any hint that these groups have been loath to condemn Hamas and Hezbollah or to condemn accusations that the U.S. was responsible for 9/11? No. Maybe the Post is concerned that would be an example of anti-Muslim sentiment.

Some of the account is downright misleading. Take this:

The interfaith event was among a surge of responses to hostility sparked by a proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero in Manhattan. Protesters have targeted mosques under construction elsewhere in the country; a Florida church announced that it will burn Korans on Sept. 11; and a Muslim taxi driver was stabbed in New York.

As to the church, the report omits two salient facts. City officials denied it a permit. And “Evangelical and Jewish groups are calling plans by a Gainesville, Fla., church to burn the Islamic holy book on 9/11 both destructive and ‘morally repugnant.’” That the Koran-burning is the brainchild of one whacked-out pastor and was swiftly and widely repudiated are facts that appear nowhere in the account. On the cabbie story, certainly the Post has heard:

For one thing, the alleged attacker, Michael Enright, worked with an organization that very much favors the project. For another, the cabby, Ahmed Sharif, says he’s opposed to it — though Sharif does say that he’s worried that debate over the planned project might have played a role in the attack.

It is unclear whether the report is the result of excessive political correctness or downright sloppiness. But when the errors all go one way (boost the CAIR propaganda line), then there is reason to believe it is the former.

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The Everyone-Knows Peace Process

The AP reports on a “surprising symmetry” between the U.S.-backed regime of Mahmoud Abbas (about to start the 69th month of his 48-month term) and the Iran-backed dictatorship in Gaza (h/t Seth Leibsohn):

Both governments carry out arbitrary arrests, ban rivals from travel, exclude them from civil service jobs and suppress opposition media, [Palestinian] rights groups say. Torture in both West Bank and Gaza lockups includes beatings and tying up detainees in painful positions.

Not only that, but the arc of history seems to be bending downward: “the crackdowns have become more sweeping in recent months as each aims to strengthen its grip on its respective territory.” It comes at an unfortunate time for the peace-processing industry:

With each incident, the wedge is hammered deeper and the hostility grows between the two halves of what is meant to be a future Palestine, just as the U.S. relaunches Mideast talks at the White House this week in hopes of getting an agreement within a year.

Those who threaten Israel with a one-state solution if it does not hand over land to the West Bank “president” and his unelected “prime minister” might consider that Fatah and Hamas cannot live in a single state, even with themselves. Those who believe the West Bank prime minister is building the institutions of a stable state might reflect on the fact that the regime has canceled not only two presidential elections but one for local officials as well.

Why anyone thinks a Judenrein state, with its headquarters in the capital of the Jewish one, with borders approximating the 1949 armistice line that ended the first Arab war against Israel (until the Arabs could regroup for another one), will produce peace, or why such a state should be a central goal of current U.S. foreign policy, is a bit of a mystery. In “Getting to No,” Donald L. Horowitz, professor of law and political science at Duke, has written an important analysis that challenges the conventional wisdom that “everyone knows” what a peace agreement entails and that majorities on both sides support it:

Like a strong majority of Israelis, a strong majority of Palestinians support a two-state solution, but if its boundaries are not the 1967 lines because of territorial swaps, support shrinks. If Palestinians must acknowledge the Jewish character of the Israeli state, only a bare majority agrees. If the borders are not the 1967 lines, the territory is smaller, there is recognition of the Jewish character of Israel, and Palestine must be demilitarized, approval declines by more than half to about 33 percent, according to surveys conducted by the authoritative Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research.

Horowitz identifies the conundrum of the everyone-knows peace process: “compromise facilitates agreement but simultaneously reduces popular support for it” — and such a “peace agreement could actually produce warfare.” The article concludes that it is a serious mistake to think that all that is needed are bridging proposals and U.S. pressure. Peace-processors, realists, and everyone else should read the article.

The AP reports on a “surprising symmetry” between the U.S.-backed regime of Mahmoud Abbas (about to start the 69th month of his 48-month term) and the Iran-backed dictatorship in Gaza (h/t Seth Leibsohn):

Both governments carry out arbitrary arrests, ban rivals from travel, exclude them from civil service jobs and suppress opposition media, [Palestinian] rights groups say. Torture in both West Bank and Gaza lockups includes beatings and tying up detainees in painful positions.

Not only that, but the arc of history seems to be bending downward: “the crackdowns have become more sweeping in recent months as each aims to strengthen its grip on its respective territory.” It comes at an unfortunate time for the peace-processing industry:

With each incident, the wedge is hammered deeper and the hostility grows between the two halves of what is meant to be a future Palestine, just as the U.S. relaunches Mideast talks at the White House this week in hopes of getting an agreement within a year.

Those who threaten Israel with a one-state solution if it does not hand over land to the West Bank “president” and his unelected “prime minister” might consider that Fatah and Hamas cannot live in a single state, even with themselves. Those who believe the West Bank prime minister is building the institutions of a stable state might reflect on the fact that the regime has canceled not only two presidential elections but one for local officials as well.

Why anyone thinks a Judenrein state, with its headquarters in the capital of the Jewish one, with borders approximating the 1949 armistice line that ended the first Arab war against Israel (until the Arabs could regroup for another one), will produce peace, or why such a state should be a central goal of current U.S. foreign policy, is a bit of a mystery. In “Getting to No,” Donald L. Horowitz, professor of law and political science at Duke, has written an important analysis that challenges the conventional wisdom that “everyone knows” what a peace agreement entails and that majorities on both sides support it:

Like a strong majority of Israelis, a strong majority of Palestinians support a two-state solution, but if its boundaries are not the 1967 lines because of territorial swaps, support shrinks. If Palestinians must acknowledge the Jewish character of the Israeli state, only a bare majority agrees. If the borders are not the 1967 lines, the territory is smaller, there is recognition of the Jewish character of Israel, and Palestine must be demilitarized, approval declines by more than half to about 33 percent, according to surveys conducted by the authoritative Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research.

Horowitz identifies the conundrum of the everyone-knows peace process: “compromise facilitates agreement but simultaneously reduces popular support for it” — and such a “peace agreement could actually produce warfare.” The article concludes that it is a serious mistake to think that all that is needed are bridging proposals and U.S. pressure. Peace-processors, realists, and everyone else should read the article.

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Friends, Enemies, and Liberal Inanity

In reviewing the latest Emergency Committee for Israel ad and the coverage thereof, the New Jersey Jewish News editor in chief pronounces: “I think it is possible to be a friend of Israel, on the right or the left, and still take positions that are antithetical to Israel’s interests.” There’s no typo, and that’s what he said. Is he mocking the J Street set? Is this a coy parody of the not-at-all-pro-Israel set? No, he apparently is quite serious that a “friend” can want you dead or hobbled and still be a “friend.” Sort of like an enemy but more friendly-like.

He continues: “If Israel weren’t complicated, and its citizenry itself so divided over the issues, this thing would have been solved decades ago. Good friends can disagree.” Actually there’s quite a lot of agreement in Israel these days — land for peace was a bust, Iran is an existential threat, the Palestinians don’t want peace, and Obama isn’t a friend (in the old-fashioned sense). And this thing wouldn’t have been solved long ago, because Palestinians still are killing Jews and pining for the one-state solution.

And in a final tour de force of moral relativism, he sums up: “I just wish we could talk about it without labeling one another ‘enemies’ or ‘friends.’ But then I’m not trying to win elections.” Because if we start labeling who is a friend and who isn’t, we’ll know who is a friend-friend and who is an enemy-friend, right? He’s not only trying not to win elections; he’s trying not to exercise his God-given powers of moral reasoning and whatever common sense has not dribbled out on the altar of “tolerance.”

This is the best and brightest of New Jersey’s Jewish press, it seems. I would despair over yet another example of the inanity of liberal American Jewry, but thankfully not all Jews are quite this daft. And best of all, Israel has legions of supporters who have no problem calling it like they see it and figuring our who’s on the Jewish state’s side. Contrast the above drivel with this:

But while we don’t presume to dictate to Israel’s government, we have every right – and every responsibility – to speak to our own government. We have every right to demand that our government not pressure Israel into making concessions that the Israelis themselves do not wish to make. If history proves one thing, it proves that Israelis want peace so desperately that they will place themselves in peril to achieve it. If the Israelis are not willing to take a particular risk, this is a strong sign it is not a reasonable risk to take.

That sounds like a true friend — in the doesn’t-want-Israel-decimated sense of “friend.”

In reviewing the latest Emergency Committee for Israel ad and the coverage thereof, the New Jersey Jewish News editor in chief pronounces: “I think it is possible to be a friend of Israel, on the right or the left, and still take positions that are antithetical to Israel’s interests.” There’s no typo, and that’s what he said. Is he mocking the J Street set? Is this a coy parody of the not-at-all-pro-Israel set? No, he apparently is quite serious that a “friend” can want you dead or hobbled and still be a “friend.” Sort of like an enemy but more friendly-like.

He continues: “If Israel weren’t complicated, and its citizenry itself so divided over the issues, this thing would have been solved decades ago. Good friends can disagree.” Actually there’s quite a lot of agreement in Israel these days — land for peace was a bust, Iran is an existential threat, the Palestinians don’t want peace, and Obama isn’t a friend (in the old-fashioned sense). And this thing wouldn’t have been solved long ago, because Palestinians still are killing Jews and pining for the one-state solution.

And in a final tour de force of moral relativism, he sums up: “I just wish we could talk about it without labeling one another ‘enemies’ or ‘friends.’ But then I’m not trying to win elections.” Because if we start labeling who is a friend and who isn’t, we’ll know who is a friend-friend and who is an enemy-friend, right? He’s not only trying not to win elections; he’s trying not to exercise his God-given powers of moral reasoning and whatever common sense has not dribbled out on the altar of “tolerance.”

This is the best and brightest of New Jersey’s Jewish press, it seems. I would despair over yet another example of the inanity of liberal American Jewry, but thankfully not all Jews are quite this daft. And best of all, Israel has legions of supporters who have no problem calling it like they see it and figuring our who’s on the Jewish state’s side. Contrast the above drivel with this:

But while we don’t presume to dictate to Israel’s government, we have every right – and every responsibility – to speak to our own government. We have every right to demand that our government not pressure Israel into making concessions that the Israelis themselves do not wish to make. If history proves one thing, it proves that Israelis want peace so desperately that they will place themselves in peril to achieve it. If the Israelis are not willing to take a particular risk, this is a strong sign it is not a reasonable risk to take.

That sounds like a true friend — in the doesn’t-want-Israel-decimated sense of “friend.”

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How to Talk About Iraq

Former national security adviser Stephen Hadley provides some much needed perspective on the Iraq war:

From a national security perspective, the U.S. objective for a post-Saddam Iraq was an Iraqi government that would not pursue weapons of mass destruction, invade its neighbors, support terror, or oppress its people. That objective has been achieved. The governments that have followed Saddam—and those that are likely to govern going forward—have and will continue to meet these criteria because the Iraqi people have concluded that doing so is in their interest.

The U.S. objective was also to leave behind an Iraq that would be able to govern itself, defend itself, sustain itself and be an ally in the war on terror. That objective has also been achieved.

Unlike Obama’s statements to date — we hope tonight’s speech will be a change for the better — Hadley gives credit where credit is due:

The Iraqi people are the main authors of this success. They endured great brutality under Saddam, suffered enormous hardship after the invasion, joined forces with us to liberate themselves from al Qaeda terrorism, and turned out to vote despite rampant violence. But even Iraqis admit that they could not have succeeded without the United States.

Perhaps the most critical moment was President Bush’s decision in January 2007 to add over 20,000 American combat troops and change the military strategy. He was actively opposed by a majority of the Congress and a commentariat that argued for everything from withdrawing immediately to partitioning the country.

Hadley is also gracious in the extreme, declining to point out Obama’s specific errors in judgment in deeming the war lost and opposing the surge. He chooses to focus on the positive instead: “To his credit, President Obama has built on this success. As promised, he is continuing to bring our troops home but without jeopardizing what has been achieved. His next task is to realize a long-term diplomatic, economic and security partnership between Iraq and the United States.”

Hadley is behaving more presidential than the current Oval Office occupant. But then the Bush team was always a class act. In that regard, Obama’s not-Bush behavior is all the more noticeable and disappointing.

Former national security adviser Stephen Hadley provides some much needed perspective on the Iraq war:

From a national security perspective, the U.S. objective for a post-Saddam Iraq was an Iraqi government that would not pursue weapons of mass destruction, invade its neighbors, support terror, or oppress its people. That objective has been achieved. The governments that have followed Saddam—and those that are likely to govern going forward—have and will continue to meet these criteria because the Iraqi people have concluded that doing so is in their interest.

The U.S. objective was also to leave behind an Iraq that would be able to govern itself, defend itself, sustain itself and be an ally in the war on terror. That objective has also been achieved.

Unlike Obama’s statements to date — we hope tonight’s speech will be a change for the better — Hadley gives credit where credit is due:

The Iraqi people are the main authors of this success. They endured great brutality under Saddam, suffered enormous hardship after the invasion, joined forces with us to liberate themselves from al Qaeda terrorism, and turned out to vote despite rampant violence. But even Iraqis admit that they could not have succeeded without the United States.

Perhaps the most critical moment was President Bush’s decision in January 2007 to add over 20,000 American combat troops and change the military strategy. He was actively opposed by a majority of the Congress and a commentariat that argued for everything from withdrawing immediately to partitioning the country.

Hadley is also gracious in the extreme, declining to point out Obama’s specific errors in judgment in deeming the war lost and opposing the surge. He chooses to focus on the positive instead: “To his credit, President Obama has built on this success. As promised, he is continuing to bring our troops home but without jeopardizing what has been achieved. His next task is to realize a long-term diplomatic, economic and security partnership between Iraq and the United States.”

Hadley is behaving more presidential than the current Oval Office occupant. But then the Bush team was always a class act. In that regard, Obama’s not-Bush behavior is all the more noticeable and disappointing.

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RE: Speaking of Pro-Israel

The Emergency Committee for Israel responded to the J Street gang’s inquiries late yesterday. Spokesman Michael Goldfarb went through the questions one by one (my comments in brackets):

“Always happy to guide the perplexed” [Bonus points for Maimonides reference], Goldfarb wrote, before taking on J Street. …

“Question: “ECI refuses to take a position on the two-state solution. But two-thirds of Israelis and American Jews support it. The last four prime ministers of Israel have. Will ECI stop hiding its true colors on the only possible way to achieve real peace and security for Israel as a Jewish, democratic homeland?”

Answer: ECI supports a two-state solution if Israel has defensible borders [not 1967 borders, obviously] and if the Palestinian state is stable, peace-loving [which isn't remotely in the cards, but we all should have goals] and anti-terrorist [like Sweden]. ECI does not support a “two-state solution” if one of the states is to be a terrorist state. And, yes, ECI believes there can be peace and security for Israel without having yet achieved a two-state solution. [It would help if the U.S. president were less overtly hostile, of course.]

Question: “Does ECI support the new peace talks starting this week, built on the notion that it should be possible to achieve a negotiated resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?”

Answer: Yes. ["Notion" is a good way of putting it.]

Question: “Do they support the governments of Israel and of the United States in doing what they can to make them successful?”

Answer: Yes, if “success” means real peace and security. No, if “success” means the Obama administration [with J Street's blessing] pressuring Israel to make concessions that would strengthen anti-Israel extremists, weaken Israel’s security, decrease the chances of real peace, and lead to a terrorist state on Israel’s borders. [In other words, why would Israel trust the Obama administration, which has been indifferent or unhelpful on all these points?]

He then asks two pointed questions: “Does J Street support a two-state solution no matter what the character and borders of both states? Does J Street support peace and security for Israel in the absence of a Palestinian state?” The first is a heads-I-win-tails-you-lose proposition, because the J Street leftists get flummoxed by the notion of a “Jewish” state — no, really, they do. But if they actually said so or hedged to keep their anti-nationalist, anti-Zionist supporters and followers from hollering at them, they’d tip their hand that they are way outside the mainstream. The next is also a gotcha — because J Street has for some time argued that the two-state solution is essential to Israel’s security, sidestepping the current needs of the Jewish state to defend itself.

Now this has the makings of a lively and healthy debate. How about a real one — you know Peter Beinart and Jeremy Ben-Ami vs. a couple of the ECI team? Oh, it’d be lots and lots of fun. The J Streeters can even bring along  Stephen Walt and  John Mearsheimer for intellectual and moral support, of course.

The Emergency Committee for Israel responded to the J Street gang’s inquiries late yesterday. Spokesman Michael Goldfarb went through the questions one by one (my comments in brackets):

“Always happy to guide the perplexed” [Bonus points for Maimonides reference], Goldfarb wrote, before taking on J Street. …

“Question: “ECI refuses to take a position on the two-state solution. But two-thirds of Israelis and American Jews support it. The last four prime ministers of Israel have. Will ECI stop hiding its true colors on the only possible way to achieve real peace and security for Israel as a Jewish, democratic homeland?”

Answer: ECI supports a two-state solution if Israel has defensible borders [not 1967 borders, obviously] and if the Palestinian state is stable, peace-loving [which isn't remotely in the cards, but we all should have goals] and anti-terrorist [like Sweden]. ECI does not support a “two-state solution” if one of the states is to be a terrorist state. And, yes, ECI believes there can be peace and security for Israel without having yet achieved a two-state solution. [It would help if the U.S. president were less overtly hostile, of course.]

Question: “Does ECI support the new peace talks starting this week, built on the notion that it should be possible to achieve a negotiated resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?”

Answer: Yes. ["Notion" is a good way of putting it.]

Question: “Do they support the governments of Israel and of the United States in doing what they can to make them successful?”

Answer: Yes, if “success” means real peace and security. No, if “success” means the Obama administration [with J Street's blessing] pressuring Israel to make concessions that would strengthen anti-Israel extremists, weaken Israel’s security, decrease the chances of real peace, and lead to a terrorist state on Israel’s borders. [In other words, why would Israel trust the Obama administration, which has been indifferent or unhelpful on all these points?]

He then asks two pointed questions: “Does J Street support a two-state solution no matter what the character and borders of both states? Does J Street support peace and security for Israel in the absence of a Palestinian state?” The first is a heads-I-win-tails-you-lose proposition, because the J Street leftists get flummoxed by the notion of a “Jewish” state — no, really, they do. But if they actually said so or hedged to keep their anti-nationalist, anti-Zionist supporters and followers from hollering at them, they’d tip their hand that they are way outside the mainstream. The next is also a gotcha — because J Street has for some time argued that the two-state solution is essential to Israel’s security, sidestepping the current needs of the Jewish state to defend itself.

Now this has the makings of a lively and healthy debate. How about a real one — you know Peter Beinart and Jeremy Ben-Ami vs. a couple of the ECI team? Oh, it’d be lots and lots of fun. The J Streeters can even bring along  Stephen Walt and  John Mearsheimer for intellectual and moral support, of course.

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Now It’s Conventional Wisdom

For months and months it has seemed that the Senate was “safe” for Democrats. After all, states like Wisconsin, Illinois, and California would all have to be in play. And the Democrats who were threatening Republican seats in Ohio, Florida, and Missouri would all have to fade. Guess what? That’s where we are.

Even NPR concedes:

Democrats knew they had trouble in states where their elected incumbents had resigned (Illinois, Delaware, Colorado), retired (Indiana, North Dakota) or lost the primary (Pennsylvania). They knew they had two more incumbents staggering under terrible poll numbers (Nevada, Arkansas).

But even if all eight of these seats were to be lost, and even if they were to capture no new seats from the GOP, the Democrats reasoned they could still hold the majority. That “firewall theory” was based on the belief that the rest of the majority’s current 59 seats would remain in the hands of Democrats or affiliated independents.

But now Russ Feingold, Barbara Boxer, and Patty Murray are all in danger of losing their seats. NPR — after a year of parroting White House spin that Obama had “accomplished” so much — now lets on that he’s made a big old mess of things:

President Obama is still struggling to bring the economy all the way back from the near-collapse of 2008. Iraq is a smaller war, but Afghanistan is a larger one. Congress has been an unlovely mess, and the bills the Senate did manage to pass have yet to win much favor with the public. The political marketplace is brimming with radical ideas from the right.

To go with these underlying issues, the firewall incumbents find themselves with unusually daunting opponents.

Suddenly we learn that the GOP isn’t nominating a bunch of loony extremists but has found candidates who appeal to independents. For example, “Boxer faces by far her best-funded challenger yet in Carly Fiorina, former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, who has been through a bruising primary and still has the GOP united behind her. So long as that unity holds, she can reach out to independents and offer the fresh look of a first-time candidate in a state where unemployment is still over 12 percent and the Democratic base is restive.”

If you get the feeling that the media are racing to catch up to political trends that have been evident for some time, I think you’re on to it.  Two years of cheerleading and concealing bad news will be forgotten — they hope — if the last month or so of the campaign approximates reality. Well, it’s long in coming, but at least the media have arrived at the conclusion the rest of us grasped long ago: all their shilling may have helped elect Obama (once), but the object of their affections has proved to be a disaster for the Democratic Party and the agenda they pined for so long.

For months and months it has seemed that the Senate was “safe” for Democrats. After all, states like Wisconsin, Illinois, and California would all have to be in play. And the Democrats who were threatening Republican seats in Ohio, Florida, and Missouri would all have to fade. Guess what? That’s where we are.

Even NPR concedes:

Democrats knew they had trouble in states where their elected incumbents had resigned (Illinois, Delaware, Colorado), retired (Indiana, North Dakota) or lost the primary (Pennsylvania). They knew they had two more incumbents staggering under terrible poll numbers (Nevada, Arkansas).

But even if all eight of these seats were to be lost, and even if they were to capture no new seats from the GOP, the Democrats reasoned they could still hold the majority. That “firewall theory” was based on the belief that the rest of the majority’s current 59 seats would remain in the hands of Democrats or affiliated independents.

But now Russ Feingold, Barbara Boxer, and Patty Murray are all in danger of losing their seats. NPR — after a year of parroting White House spin that Obama had “accomplished” so much — now lets on that he’s made a big old mess of things:

President Obama is still struggling to bring the economy all the way back from the near-collapse of 2008. Iraq is a smaller war, but Afghanistan is a larger one. Congress has been an unlovely mess, and the bills the Senate did manage to pass have yet to win much favor with the public. The political marketplace is brimming with radical ideas from the right.

To go with these underlying issues, the firewall incumbents find themselves with unusually daunting opponents.

Suddenly we learn that the GOP isn’t nominating a bunch of loony extremists but has found candidates who appeal to independents. For example, “Boxer faces by far her best-funded challenger yet in Carly Fiorina, former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, who has been through a bruising primary and still has the GOP united behind her. So long as that unity holds, she can reach out to independents and offer the fresh look of a first-time candidate in a state where unemployment is still over 12 percent and the Democratic base is restive.”

If you get the feeling that the media are racing to catch up to political trends that have been evident for some time, I think you’re on to it.  Two years of cheerleading and concealing bad news will be forgotten — they hope — if the last month or so of the campaign approximates reality. Well, it’s long in coming, but at least the media have arrived at the conclusion the rest of us grasped long ago: all their shilling may have helped elect Obama (once), but the object of their affections has proved to be a disaster for the Democratic Party and the agenda they pined for so long.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Now West Virginia is in play.

Now they tell us: “The scientists involved in producing the periodic United Nations reports on climate change need to be more open to alternative views and more transparent about their own possible conflicts of interest, an independent review panel said Monday.”

Now I think we’ve had quite enough of Obama attacking the economy: “President Obama called Monday for a ‘full-scale attack’ to revive the struggling economy as Congress returns from recess with lawmakers fixated on the November election.”

But now is not the time for anything really big to help the economy. Comedy gold once again as Jake Tapper tries to pry an intelligible answer from Robert Gibbs.

Now that’s the sort of tin-foil-hat idea Ron Paul is known for: “Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) said he plans to introduce legislation next year to force an audit of U.S. holdings of gold. Paul, a longtime critic of the Federal Reserve and U.S. monetary policy, said he believes it’s ‘a possibility’ that there might not actually be any gold in the vaults of Fort Knox or the New York Federal Reserve bank.” I think I saw this movie … Humphrey Bogart on a ship. Oh, that was strawberries.

Now where is the civility police? “Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) has found another way to insult his political opponents. The outspoken New York Democrat had this to say via Twitter this morning, stirring the 140-character pot on a slow recess Monday …”

Now mainstream-media pundits say it’s a 60-seat swing in the House. (Is that 75 in real life?)

Now Charlie Crist has flip-flopped on gay marriage.

Now West Virginia is in play.

Now they tell us: “The scientists involved in producing the periodic United Nations reports on climate change need to be more open to alternative views and more transparent about their own possible conflicts of interest, an independent review panel said Monday.”

Now I think we’ve had quite enough of Obama attacking the economy: “President Obama called Monday for a ‘full-scale attack’ to revive the struggling economy as Congress returns from recess with lawmakers fixated on the November election.”

But now is not the time for anything really big to help the economy. Comedy gold once again as Jake Tapper tries to pry an intelligible answer from Robert Gibbs.

Now that’s the sort of tin-foil-hat idea Ron Paul is known for: “Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) said he plans to introduce legislation next year to force an audit of U.S. holdings of gold. Paul, a longtime critic of the Federal Reserve and U.S. monetary policy, said he believes it’s ‘a possibility’ that there might not actually be any gold in the vaults of Fort Knox or the New York Federal Reserve bank.” I think I saw this movie … Humphrey Bogart on a ship. Oh, that was strawberries.

Now where is the civility police? “Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) has found another way to insult his political opponents. The outspoken New York Democrat had this to say via Twitter this morning, stirring the 140-character pot on a slow recess Monday …”

Now mainstream-media pundits say it’s a 60-seat swing in the House. (Is that 75 in real life?)

Now Charlie Crist has flip-flopped on gay marriage.

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Change the Word ‘Christian’ to ‘Muslim,’ Broadcast Networks. I Dare You.

From deadline.com:

I hear ABC, NBC and CBS are all after Good Christian Bitches, which will be written by Steel Magnolias and The First Wives Club scribe Robert Harling. Based on the book of the same name by Kim Gatlin, the project, referred to by some as “Desperate Housewives in Dallas,” centers on Amanda Vaughn, a recently divorced mother of two who, to get a fresh start, moves back to the affluent Dallas neighborhood where she grew where she finds herself in the whirling midst of salacious gossip, Botox, and fraud.

From deadline.com:

I hear ABC, NBC and CBS are all after Good Christian Bitches, which will be written by Steel Magnolias and The First Wives Club scribe Robert Harling. Based on the book of the same name by Kim Gatlin, the project, referred to by some as “Desperate Housewives in Dallas,” centers on Amanda Vaughn, a recently divorced mother of two who, to get a fresh start, moves back to the affluent Dallas neighborhood where she grew where she finds herself in the whirling midst of salacious gossip, Botox, and fraud.

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Gallup and the GOP

Here’s the latest from Gallup:

Republicans lead by 51% to 41% among registered voters in Gallup weekly tracking of 2010 congressional voting preferences. The 10-percentage-point lead is the GOP’s largest so far this year and is its largest in Gallup’s history of tracking the midterm generic ballot for Congress.

What Barack Obama is doing for the fortunes of the GOP is nearly unmatched by anyone in modern political history.

Here’s the latest from Gallup:

Republicans lead by 51% to 41% among registered voters in Gallup weekly tracking of 2010 congressional voting preferences. The 10-percentage-point lead is the GOP’s largest so far this year and is its largest in Gallup’s history of tracking the midterm generic ballot for Congress.

What Barack Obama is doing for the fortunes of the GOP is nearly unmatched by anyone in modern political history.

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Speaking of Pro-Israel. . .

As I noted, the notion that voters and advocacy groups should actually hold officials and candidates responsible for their records on Israel, along with other matters of public policy, sends shivers down the spine of the left.

So, on cue, J Street pops its head out to launch an ad hominem attack on the Emergency Committee for Israel. Just a bunch of right-wingers! They won’t take a stance on a two-state solution! But what about the ads and the records of liberal lawmakers who self-label as “pro-Israel” but are in lockstep with CAIR? What about candidates who think the UN Commission on Human Rights does a swell job or who love the notion of a two-state solution so much that they want one imposed? Nothing about any of that. The name of the game for J Street and other leftist critics of Israel is to keep the focus off the records of those who aren’t all that pro-Israel. Make it about ECI. Make it about conservative pundits. Anything. But just don’t make it about voting records. (You know, J Street started things with endorsing leftist Israel-bashers, so it’s odd that now they’re being so fussy about making Israel a campaign issue.)

Meanwhile, if you want to talk about being pro-Israel, there is this rather charming account by the head of Jews for Palin about a Shabbat evening with the former governor, whose office displayed the Israeli flag. She doesn’t leave anyone confused about where she stands:

Although 65 years have passed since the Holocaust, the threat of genocide still hangs over the Jewish people — and again from Persia. Iran openly threatens to wipe Israel off the map. Hamas, with its charter calling for the extermination of the Jewish State, fires rockets at Israeli schoolchildren. Syria races to build chemical and biological weapons to use against Israel. Mrs. Palin makes it clear that she recognizes these threats to America’s ally, Israel, and wants to end them. And she minced no words in her remarks to the Pennsylvania Family Institute, criticizing the Obama administration for “coddling our enemies while abandoning our treasured ally, Israel.”

On her lapel, she wore a pin showing the American and Israeli flags intertwined.

Somehow, that doesn’t “count” with liberal Jews because, well … because it’s not clear. What is clear is that she has a deep emotional and religious bond with the Jewish people:

As we enjoyed our Shabbat meal, we listened to Mrs. Palin’s references to “Judeo-Christian values” — a concept well understood by the deeply religious Christian audience with whom we shared the evening, including more than a few Amish ladies wearing their traditional bonnets. Mrs. Palin spoke of how the family is the building block of society and how strong families mean a strong nation. She did not suggest that Democrats do not share the attachment to family. But she warned that the most immediate threat to American families is the administration’s economic policies, which will burden our children’s generation with crushing, inescapable debt.

Such a wacky Christian, right? Probably believes Jews have a biblical claim to the Land of Israel. Really out-there stuff, huh?

You see, if she takes her Christianity seriously, she also takes the survival of the Jewish people seriously:

Mrs. Palin received the Hebrew volume with obvious delight; she has used the biblical Book of Esther as bedtime reading material for her eight year old daughter Piper. She wants Piper to emulate Esther, Jewish history’s great heroine, who risked everything to save the Jewish people from Haman’s plan for genocide.

If only more American Jews would read the Esther story at bedtime to their kids, right?

As I noted, the notion that voters and advocacy groups should actually hold officials and candidates responsible for their records on Israel, along with other matters of public policy, sends shivers down the spine of the left.

So, on cue, J Street pops its head out to launch an ad hominem attack on the Emergency Committee for Israel. Just a bunch of right-wingers! They won’t take a stance on a two-state solution! But what about the ads and the records of liberal lawmakers who self-label as “pro-Israel” but are in lockstep with CAIR? What about candidates who think the UN Commission on Human Rights does a swell job or who love the notion of a two-state solution so much that they want one imposed? Nothing about any of that. The name of the game for J Street and other leftist critics of Israel is to keep the focus off the records of those who aren’t all that pro-Israel. Make it about ECI. Make it about conservative pundits. Anything. But just don’t make it about voting records. (You know, J Street started things with endorsing leftist Israel-bashers, so it’s odd that now they’re being so fussy about making Israel a campaign issue.)

Meanwhile, if you want to talk about being pro-Israel, there is this rather charming account by the head of Jews for Palin about a Shabbat evening with the former governor, whose office displayed the Israeli flag. She doesn’t leave anyone confused about where she stands:

Although 65 years have passed since the Holocaust, the threat of genocide still hangs over the Jewish people — and again from Persia. Iran openly threatens to wipe Israel off the map. Hamas, with its charter calling for the extermination of the Jewish State, fires rockets at Israeli schoolchildren. Syria races to build chemical and biological weapons to use against Israel. Mrs. Palin makes it clear that she recognizes these threats to America’s ally, Israel, and wants to end them. And she minced no words in her remarks to the Pennsylvania Family Institute, criticizing the Obama administration for “coddling our enemies while abandoning our treasured ally, Israel.”

On her lapel, she wore a pin showing the American and Israeli flags intertwined.

Somehow, that doesn’t “count” with liberal Jews because, well … because it’s not clear. What is clear is that she has a deep emotional and religious bond with the Jewish people:

As we enjoyed our Shabbat meal, we listened to Mrs. Palin’s references to “Judeo-Christian values” — a concept well understood by the deeply religious Christian audience with whom we shared the evening, including more than a few Amish ladies wearing their traditional bonnets. Mrs. Palin spoke of how the family is the building block of society and how strong families mean a strong nation. She did not suggest that Democrats do not share the attachment to family. But she warned that the most immediate threat to American families is the administration’s economic policies, which will burden our children’s generation with crushing, inescapable debt.

Such a wacky Christian, right? Probably believes Jews have a biblical claim to the Land of Israel. Really out-there stuff, huh?

You see, if she takes her Christianity seriously, she also takes the survival of the Jewish people seriously:

Mrs. Palin received the Hebrew volume with obvious delight; she has used the biblical Book of Esther as bedtime reading material for her eight year old daughter Piper. She wants Piper to emulate Esther, Jewish history’s great heroine, who risked everything to save the Jewish people from Haman’s plan for genocide.

If only more American Jews would read the Esther story at bedtime to their kids, right?

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Holding “Pro-Israel” Candidates Accountable

Ben Smith reports that the Emergency Committee for Israel is up with a new ad hitting Democratic Rep. Rush Holt. In a new twist, ECI goes after Holt his 100 percent rating from CAIR. Smith writes, “The ad seeks, in part, to establish the boundaries of acceptable American politics on the issue of Israel.”  That is off-base, I think, in an important respect.

ECI isn’t declaring that “no member of Congress has a right to hold these views.” The group is saying that if the candidate himself is going to declare himself “pro-Israel,” it is fair game to look at his voting record and see if that is the case. ECI is not trying to define “boundaries of acceptable American politics” but rather to recapture the term “pro-Israel” from those who invoke the label but who take positions that are antithetical to Israel’s interests and that are supportive of Israel’s enemies. You can take whatever stance you like, but if you’re going to call yourself “pro-Israel,” says ECI, then you’d better be so.

Why is the distinction important? Well, the Walt-Mearsheimer Israel-haters like to claim that the “Israel Lobby” — that would be the pro-Israel Jews and Christians and the majority of Americans — wants to shut people up or drive them out of the public debate. But there is no evidence of that. In fact, the position that you can’t “politicize” Israel or make that a legitimate issue on which to evaluate candidates is a not a very subtle way of giving anti-Israel candidates a free pass. One reason why J Street, the National Democratic Jewish Council, and the leftist blogosphere wigged out when ECI appeared is that, until now, they have been able to shield candidates with a record of hostility to the Jewish state from scrutiny.

Well, those days are over. If candidates want to keynote for CAIR, or take money from CAIR, or sign letters bashing Israel, they can (to the extent CAIR is not found to be engaged in illegal activities, an investigation that Ben Smith points out is ongoing). If they want to cajole Israel to lift the Gaza blockade or urge an imposed peace deal, they can. But then they must expect to be criticized for it. That exercise — about any domestic or foreign policy issue — is not only legitimate but necessary in a democratic political system.

Ben Smith reports that the Emergency Committee for Israel is up with a new ad hitting Democratic Rep. Rush Holt. In a new twist, ECI goes after Holt his 100 percent rating from CAIR. Smith writes, “The ad seeks, in part, to establish the boundaries of acceptable American politics on the issue of Israel.”  That is off-base, I think, in an important respect.

ECI isn’t declaring that “no member of Congress has a right to hold these views.” The group is saying that if the candidate himself is going to declare himself “pro-Israel,” it is fair game to look at his voting record and see if that is the case. ECI is not trying to define “boundaries of acceptable American politics” but rather to recapture the term “pro-Israel” from those who invoke the label but who take positions that are antithetical to Israel’s interests and that are supportive of Israel’s enemies. You can take whatever stance you like, but if you’re going to call yourself “pro-Israel,” says ECI, then you’d better be so.

Why is the distinction important? Well, the Walt-Mearsheimer Israel-haters like to claim that the “Israel Lobby” — that would be the pro-Israel Jews and Christians and the majority of Americans — wants to shut people up or drive them out of the public debate. But there is no evidence of that. In fact, the position that you can’t “politicize” Israel or make that a legitimate issue on which to evaluate candidates is a not a very subtle way of giving anti-Israel candidates a free pass. One reason why J Street, the National Democratic Jewish Council, and the leftist blogosphere wigged out when ECI appeared is that, until now, they have been able to shield candidates with a record of hostility to the Jewish state from scrutiny.

Well, those days are over. If candidates want to keynote for CAIR, or take money from CAIR, or sign letters bashing Israel, they can (to the extent CAIR is not found to be engaged in illegal activities, an investigation that Ben Smith points out is ongoing). If they want to cajole Israel to lift the Gaza blockade or urge an imposed peace deal, they can. But then they must expect to be criticized for it. That exercise — about any domestic or foreign policy issue — is not only legitimate but necessary in a democratic political system.

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Can You Imagine?

In a fascinating interview with former UN Ambassador John C. Bolton, the Daily Caller tosses an interesting proposition into the ring: why not a Bolton GOP presidential run? That’d sure shake up things in Tehran. Bolton offers this on Obama:

“I’d call him the first post-American president and by that I mean – certainly in contemporary times – his view of America and its role in the world is different from the line of presidents since Franklin Roosevelt,” Bolton explained, when asked exactly why he finds the president’s foreign policy so offensive. “He doesn’t see himself effectively as a real advocate for America’s interest. He doesn’t see the world as a particularly challenging place. And, frankly, I just don’t think he cares that much about foreign policy.”

Well, yeah.

What about Israel?

“I think the risk of this obsession with the ‘peace process’ is that the inevitable failure of these talks coming up leave the United States in a worse position in the region and around the world than if we had never undertaken it to begin with,” he said. “Given there is no interlocutor on the Palestinian side that can make difficult commitments and then carry through on them, given the extent of the gaps in the positions of the two parties, failure seems to me to be inevitable. And when you combine that with many other things going on in the region – our failure to stop the Iranian nuclear weapons plan, our withdrawal from Iraq, our commitment to withdrawal from Afghanistan – it just gives a broad impression of American weakness that our adversaries will take advantage of and our friends will be concerned about.”

Well, yes, that’s right.

But what about domestic policy — he doesn’t have much to say about that, right? Umm, actually:

“I think this is the most radical president we have ever had,” he said, before naming the health care bill, the auto industry bailout, and financial regulation as examples of this radicalism. “I think this is the dream of leftwing America come true and the only good news is I really think this is their high water mark. Anything they don’t get now they are never going to get. If we do this right, we can roll a lot of it back and begin the task of reducing the scope of federal government activities in our economy.” …

“I’ve never attended any Tea Party functions,” he said. But, he added, if the movement is, as he understands it, “a true grassroots movement of people who are absolutely outraged at the extent that the Obama administration has bungled its economic policy, overspent dramatically, risked creating a deficit that will burden us for generations” than he thinks “it is pointed in exactly the right direction” and he is “all in favor of” it.

And just to confound the left, he says he has no problem repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and thinks gay marriage should be left up to the states.

Bolton has shown no signs of organizing a campaign and doesn’t downplay the difficulty for a non-politician to run for the presidency, but neither does he rule it out. It sure would make for some lively primary debates, wouldn’t it?

This is a reminder that more than two years before the 2012 election, there are many intriguing possible candidates out there. As for Bolton, if he doesn’t run, any Republican who does would be very wise to bring him on board. His advice would be invaluable.

In a fascinating interview with former UN Ambassador John C. Bolton, the Daily Caller tosses an interesting proposition into the ring: why not a Bolton GOP presidential run? That’d sure shake up things in Tehran. Bolton offers this on Obama:

“I’d call him the first post-American president and by that I mean – certainly in contemporary times – his view of America and its role in the world is different from the line of presidents since Franklin Roosevelt,” Bolton explained, when asked exactly why he finds the president’s foreign policy so offensive. “He doesn’t see himself effectively as a real advocate for America’s interest. He doesn’t see the world as a particularly challenging place. And, frankly, I just don’t think he cares that much about foreign policy.”

Well, yeah.

What about Israel?

“I think the risk of this obsession with the ‘peace process’ is that the inevitable failure of these talks coming up leave the United States in a worse position in the region and around the world than if we had never undertaken it to begin with,” he said. “Given there is no interlocutor on the Palestinian side that can make difficult commitments and then carry through on them, given the extent of the gaps in the positions of the two parties, failure seems to me to be inevitable. And when you combine that with many other things going on in the region – our failure to stop the Iranian nuclear weapons plan, our withdrawal from Iraq, our commitment to withdrawal from Afghanistan – it just gives a broad impression of American weakness that our adversaries will take advantage of and our friends will be concerned about.”

Well, yes, that’s right.

But what about domestic policy — he doesn’t have much to say about that, right? Umm, actually:

“I think this is the most radical president we have ever had,” he said, before naming the health care bill, the auto industry bailout, and financial regulation as examples of this radicalism. “I think this is the dream of leftwing America come true and the only good news is I really think this is their high water mark. Anything they don’t get now they are never going to get. If we do this right, we can roll a lot of it back and begin the task of reducing the scope of federal government activities in our economy.” …

“I’ve never attended any Tea Party functions,” he said. But, he added, if the movement is, as he understands it, “a true grassroots movement of people who are absolutely outraged at the extent that the Obama administration has bungled its economic policy, overspent dramatically, risked creating a deficit that will burden us for generations” than he thinks “it is pointed in exactly the right direction” and he is “all in favor of” it.

And just to confound the left, he says he has no problem repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and thinks gay marriage should be left up to the states.

Bolton has shown no signs of organizing a campaign and doesn’t downplay the difficulty for a non-politician to run for the presidency, but neither does he rule it out. It sure would make for some lively primary debates, wouldn’t it?

This is a reminder that more than two years before the 2012 election, there are many intriguing possible candidates out there. As for Bolton, if he doesn’t run, any Republican who does would be very wise to bring him on board. His advice would be invaluable.

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Sadly, Obama Needs the Advice

Bill Kristol has penned an open note to the president with suggestions for his speech on Iraq. It should be read in its entirety, for it is chock-full of sage advice (e.g., thank the generals responsible, praise the Iraqis who fought and died). Most important is this plea:

And I hope you would also explain that, whatever one’s views of the decision to go to war, we now have a moral obligation and strategic opportunity to help a free and democratic Iraq succeed. This means emphasizing that we expect to work closely with Iraq in the future, and that we are open to stationing troops there. It means not repeating the vulgar and counter-productive emphasis in your Saturday address—”But the bottom line is this: the war is ending. Like any sovereign, independent nation, Iraq is free to chart its own course. And by the end of next year, all our troops will be home.”

None of this is controversial, none of it is partisan. But it is remarkable that the advice need be given at all and that Obama to date hasn’t explained what we have accomplished or the importance of establishing a stable, non-despotic, non-terror supporting state in the Middle East. He perpetually focuses on the draw-down, the fulfillment of a promise by a candidate who opposed the winning strategy.

On one level, it is shocking — that a president would downplay success in one battlefield while we remain engaged in another. Had Iraq disintegrated into genocidal chaos, our task in Afghanistan would have been infinitely more difficult; and — to the extent that Obama’s agonizing and withdrawal deadline has not undercut it — the Iraq war has demonstrated that America will not abandon allies or oppressed people (Muslims, specifically — how’s that for Muslim outreach?). One would think that would be an argument Obama would want to make.

But as we learned from the stunning New York Times report, he’s really not that much into being commander in chief. Well, he is commander in chief, and he should start acting like it rather than a candidate auditioning for the MoveOn.org endorsement.

Bill Kristol has penned an open note to the president with suggestions for his speech on Iraq. It should be read in its entirety, for it is chock-full of sage advice (e.g., thank the generals responsible, praise the Iraqis who fought and died). Most important is this plea:

And I hope you would also explain that, whatever one’s views of the decision to go to war, we now have a moral obligation and strategic opportunity to help a free and democratic Iraq succeed. This means emphasizing that we expect to work closely with Iraq in the future, and that we are open to stationing troops there. It means not repeating the vulgar and counter-productive emphasis in your Saturday address—”But the bottom line is this: the war is ending. Like any sovereign, independent nation, Iraq is free to chart its own course. And by the end of next year, all our troops will be home.”

None of this is controversial, none of it is partisan. But it is remarkable that the advice need be given at all and that Obama to date hasn’t explained what we have accomplished or the importance of establishing a stable, non-despotic, non-terror supporting state in the Middle East. He perpetually focuses on the draw-down, the fulfillment of a promise by a candidate who opposed the winning strategy.

On one level, it is shocking — that a president would downplay success in one battlefield while we remain engaged in another. Had Iraq disintegrated into genocidal chaos, our task in Afghanistan would have been infinitely more difficult; and — to the extent that Obama’s agonizing and withdrawal deadline has not undercut it — the Iraq war has demonstrated that America will not abandon allies or oppressed people (Muslims, specifically — how’s that for Muslim outreach?). One would think that would be an argument Obama would want to make.

But as we learned from the stunning New York Times report, he’s really not that much into being commander in chief. Well, he is commander in chief, and he should start acting like it rather than a candidate auditioning for the MoveOn.org endorsement.

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Not Obama’s Katrina

In his interview from New Orleans yesterday with NBC’s Brian Williams, commemorating the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, President Obama assured the world that his handling of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was not his administration’s Hurricane Katrina.

The president is right, if the people of Louisiana are to be believed. Mr. Obama’s handling of the BP oil spill is judged by them to be considerably worse than how Bush reacted to Katrina.

A Public Policy Polling survey reports this:

The oil spill in the Gulf may be mostly out of the headlines now but Louisiana voters aren’t getting any less mad at Barack Obama about his handling of it. Only 32% give Obama good marks for his actions in the aftermath of the spill, while 61% disapprove.

Louisianans are feeling more and more that George W. Bush’s leadership on Katrina was better than Obama’s on the spill. 54% think Bush did the superior job of helping the state through a crisis to 33% who pick Obama. That 21 point margin represents a widening since PPP asked the same question in June and found Bush ahead by a 15 point margin. Bush beats Obama 87-2 on that score with Republicans and 42-30 with independents, while Obama has just a 65-24 advantage with Democrats.

Louisianans are generally softening with time in their feelings about how Bush handled Katrina. Almost as many, 44%, now approve of his actions on it as the 47% who disapprove.

President Obama casts his response to the oil spill, like his response to everything, as textbook perfect. Yet the silly people of Louisiana, like so much of the nation, just don’t appreciate how extraordinarily able and competent Obama is. How difficult it must be for The One We’ve Been Waiting For to go through his presidency without the public appreciating the magnitude of his greatness. For the president, it seems, no good deed goes unpunished, no great achievement gets its proper due, not enough villains (Bush, Republicans, members of the Tea Party, conservative bloggers, Fox News, etc.) get nearly enough blame.

When will the scales finally fall from our eyes?

In his interview from New Orleans yesterday with NBC’s Brian Williams, commemorating the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, President Obama assured the world that his handling of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was not his administration’s Hurricane Katrina.

The president is right, if the people of Louisiana are to be believed. Mr. Obama’s handling of the BP oil spill is judged by them to be considerably worse than how Bush reacted to Katrina.

A Public Policy Polling survey reports this:

The oil spill in the Gulf may be mostly out of the headlines now but Louisiana voters aren’t getting any less mad at Barack Obama about his handling of it. Only 32% give Obama good marks for his actions in the aftermath of the spill, while 61% disapprove.

Louisianans are feeling more and more that George W. Bush’s leadership on Katrina was better than Obama’s on the spill. 54% think Bush did the superior job of helping the state through a crisis to 33% who pick Obama. That 21 point margin represents a widening since PPP asked the same question in June and found Bush ahead by a 15 point margin. Bush beats Obama 87-2 on that score with Republicans and 42-30 with independents, while Obama has just a 65-24 advantage with Democrats.

Louisianans are generally softening with time in their feelings about how Bush handled Katrina. Almost as many, 44%, now approve of his actions on it as the 47% who disapprove.

President Obama casts his response to the oil spill, like his response to everything, as textbook perfect. Yet the silly people of Louisiana, like so much of the nation, just don’t appreciate how extraordinarily able and competent Obama is. How difficult it must be for The One We’ve Been Waiting For to go through his presidency without the public appreciating the magnitude of his greatness. For the president, it seems, no good deed goes unpunished, no great achievement gets its proper due, not enough villains (Bush, Republicans, members of the Tea Party, conservative bloggers, Fox News, etc.) get nearly enough blame.

When will the scales finally fall from our eyes?

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Fighting Corruption in Afghanistan

President Hamid Karzai’s firing of Afghanistan’s deputy attorney general, Fazel Ahmed Faqiryar, over his refusal to block investigations of high-level corruption is extremely troubling — but hardly surprising. I sympathize with those such as Congresswoman Nita Lowey who want to hold up aid to Afghanistan in protest against such blatant cover-ups. Such efforts may actually be useful, in that they provide American officials in Kabul with a stick they can use to threaten Karzai with in private.

But the reality is that there are few Third World countries where the judiciary and law-enforcement authorities are independent enough to allow investigations of corruption reaching into the president’s office. Even in the U.S., we have experience with high-level malfeasance going unpunished; recall LBJ’s notorious corruption or Clinton’s perjury. This should not cause us to throw up our hands in despair and declare that the mission in Afghanistan is hopeless. It’s not. Nor should we say that fighting corruption is impossible. It must be fought, and it’s possible to do — as long as we don’t limit our efforts to Afghan criminal justice, where Karzai and his cronies can all too easily frustrate investigations of their shenanigans.

There are other legal options available. Since much of the money in question comes from U.S. taxpayers to begin with, malefactors can be prosecuted in U.S. courts or they can have their funds frozen in foreign bank accounts, whether in the United Arab Emirates, Europe, or the U.S.  Moreover, with the growing U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan, our commanders on the ground have ways of squeezing corrupt officials that don’t require a court order. The sort of thing I have in mind is a staple of cops-and-robbers movies, where the police tell some notorious gangster that until he does what they want, they will harass him: raid his businesses, interrogate his employees, scare away his customers. Such pressure is perfectly legal and can be applied against all sorts of malign actors in Afghanistan — or at least threatened. Senior officials have substantial financial interests that are highly vulnerable to Western pressure, and those interests can be manipulated to put pressure on them to clean up their act. That won’t eliminate corruption altogether, but it could reduce it to less catastrophic levels.

President Hamid Karzai’s firing of Afghanistan’s deputy attorney general, Fazel Ahmed Faqiryar, over his refusal to block investigations of high-level corruption is extremely troubling — but hardly surprising. I sympathize with those such as Congresswoman Nita Lowey who want to hold up aid to Afghanistan in protest against such blatant cover-ups. Such efforts may actually be useful, in that they provide American officials in Kabul with a stick they can use to threaten Karzai with in private.

But the reality is that there are few Third World countries where the judiciary and law-enforcement authorities are independent enough to allow investigations of corruption reaching into the president’s office. Even in the U.S., we have experience with high-level malfeasance going unpunished; recall LBJ’s notorious corruption or Clinton’s perjury. This should not cause us to throw up our hands in despair and declare that the mission in Afghanistan is hopeless. It’s not. Nor should we say that fighting corruption is impossible. It must be fought, and it’s possible to do — as long as we don’t limit our efforts to Afghan criminal justice, where Karzai and his cronies can all too easily frustrate investigations of their shenanigans.

There are other legal options available. Since much of the money in question comes from U.S. taxpayers to begin with, malefactors can be prosecuted in U.S. courts or they can have their funds frozen in foreign bank accounts, whether in the United Arab Emirates, Europe, or the U.S.  Moreover, with the growing U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan, our commanders on the ground have ways of squeezing corrupt officials that don’t require a court order. The sort of thing I have in mind is a staple of cops-and-robbers movies, where the police tell some notorious gangster that until he does what they want, they will harass him: raid his businesses, interrogate his employees, scare away his customers. Such pressure is perfectly legal and can be applied against all sorts of malign actors in Afghanistan — or at least threatened. Senior officials have substantial financial interests that are highly vulnerable to Western pressure, and those interests can be manipulated to put pressure on them to clean up their act. That won’t eliminate corruption altogether, but it could reduce it to less catastrophic levels.

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Senate Spin

Chris Cillizza’s column is headlined “In 2010 Obama’s poll numbers less of an asset for congressional Democrats.” Well, that’s one way of putting it. In fact, the president’s a millstone, right?

Despite the headline, the column is actually about Senate Democrats. The only mention of the House, where substantial losses are now expected by everyone but Joe Biden, is this: “Historically, Senate races tend to be less heavily influenced by the direction — and strength — of the national political winds than House races in which the candidates are less well known to the electorate and on which the national parties typically spend less money.” As for the Senate, the most Cillizza will concede is that “the president’s numbers could make a difference at the margins — where a handful of races are typically decided.”

It’s the sort of analysis — GOP wins in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Florida, Colorado, Delaware, and the rest would not be a reflection on Obama — that likely induces approving nods and smiles in the White House. And, in case we did not appreciate the Obamaphile view of things, Cillizza adds: “White House allies argue that in the handful of Senate races widely regarded as those that Republicans must win to take back the chamber, the president isn’t a neutral or negative force but a positive one.” So why are Senate contests in Washington, Wisconsin, and California so close — would Democrats actually be trailing if not for the alleged “positive” Obama effect?

A less Obama-friendly analysis would go like this: Losing the Senate Majority is no longer out of the question. (Al Hunt is now confessing: “Republicans have a real shot at taking control of the Senate, as well as the House, in the U.S. midterm elections. … Even with [the Bush] card it’s an uphill struggle to match the Republicans’ anger and energy, as evidenced by the higher turnouts in primaries around the country.”) Obama’s economy, the disaffection of independent voters, and the populist backlash against Obama’s left-leaning agenda have put into play states that usually aren’t (e.g., California, Wisconsin) and shifted into the GOP column states that two years ago were won by Obama (Pennsylvania, Colorado). The results will probably induce a monstrous game of finger-pointing, and Senate Democrats who survive and those who are up in 2012 will be disinclined to rubber-stamp what remains of his agenda.

I suspect that the more sober-minded in the Democratic Party with agree with that take and will be advising 2012 candidates to look after their own political fortunes and pay close attention to their constituents. Otherwise, they will join the ranks of the 2010 Obama victims.

Chris Cillizza’s column is headlined “In 2010 Obama’s poll numbers less of an asset for congressional Democrats.” Well, that’s one way of putting it. In fact, the president’s a millstone, right?

Despite the headline, the column is actually about Senate Democrats. The only mention of the House, where substantial losses are now expected by everyone but Joe Biden, is this: “Historically, Senate races tend to be less heavily influenced by the direction — and strength — of the national political winds than House races in which the candidates are less well known to the electorate and on which the national parties typically spend less money.” As for the Senate, the most Cillizza will concede is that “the president’s numbers could make a difference at the margins — where a handful of races are typically decided.”

It’s the sort of analysis — GOP wins in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Florida, Colorado, Delaware, and the rest would not be a reflection on Obama — that likely induces approving nods and smiles in the White House. And, in case we did not appreciate the Obamaphile view of things, Cillizza adds: “White House allies argue that in the handful of Senate races widely regarded as those that Republicans must win to take back the chamber, the president isn’t a neutral or negative force but a positive one.” So why are Senate contests in Washington, Wisconsin, and California so close — would Democrats actually be trailing if not for the alleged “positive” Obama effect?

A less Obama-friendly analysis would go like this: Losing the Senate Majority is no longer out of the question. (Al Hunt is now confessing: “Republicans have a real shot at taking control of the Senate, as well as the House, in the U.S. midterm elections. … Even with [the Bush] card it’s an uphill struggle to match the Republicans’ anger and energy, as evidenced by the higher turnouts in primaries around the country.”) Obama’s economy, the disaffection of independent voters, and the populist backlash against Obama’s left-leaning agenda have put into play states that usually aren’t (e.g., California, Wisconsin) and shifted into the GOP column states that two years ago were won by Obama (Pennsylvania, Colorado). The results will probably induce a monstrous game of finger-pointing, and Senate Democrats who survive and those who are up in 2012 will be disinclined to rubber-stamp what remains of his agenda.

I suspect that the more sober-minded in the Democratic Party with agree with that take and will be advising 2012 candidates to look after their own political fortunes and pay close attention to their constituents. Otherwise, they will join the ranks of the 2010 Obama victims.

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Crist’s Demise

This perfectly sums up Charlie Crist:

When asked [on CNN's State of the Union] if Florida voters have a right to know which side he’d choose, Crist dodged the question. “I think they know the way I’m going to go, I’m going to go the way that is best for them,” Crist said. “[...] I don’t have to say I’m going to caucus with the Democrats or the Republicans.”

He didn’t really dodge it, then. He said, no, the voters don’t get to know which side he’d choose. It is hard to tell which is his defining characteristic — contempt for the voters or an utter lack of principle. As to the latter, here’s a Crist classic: “Crist reaffirmed that he would have voted against the bill, but stopped short of calling for its repeal — something he called for in March and something Rubio has consistently called for since launching his campaign.”

Nor does he have any views, not that he’ll tell us, on Sarah Palin:

In 2008, Crist told CNN’s “American Morning” that he thought then-vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin “would do a great job” if she had to run the country. Crist’s present thoughts on the matter were markedly different.

“Doesn’t really matter,” he said when asked if he felt the same way about Palin today.

“I’m not going to issue a statement on Sarah,” Crist added.

Even Arlen Specter was not this bad — at least he told you what his current views were. It would be hard to find a better example of what voters detest these days. Is there a yen in Florida for a squirrelly politician whose sole principle is “whatever is good for me”? I think it unlikely.

This perfectly sums up Charlie Crist:

When asked [on CNN's State of the Union] if Florida voters have a right to know which side he’d choose, Crist dodged the question. “I think they know the way I’m going to go, I’m going to go the way that is best for them,” Crist said. “[...] I don’t have to say I’m going to caucus with the Democrats or the Republicans.”

He didn’t really dodge it, then. He said, no, the voters don’t get to know which side he’d choose. It is hard to tell which is his defining characteristic — contempt for the voters or an utter lack of principle. As to the latter, here’s a Crist classic: “Crist reaffirmed that he would have voted against the bill, but stopped short of calling for its repeal — something he called for in March and something Rubio has consistently called for since launching his campaign.”

Nor does he have any views, not that he’ll tell us, on Sarah Palin:

In 2008, Crist told CNN’s “American Morning” that he thought then-vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin “would do a great job” if she had to run the country. Crist’s present thoughts on the matter were markedly different.

“Doesn’t really matter,” he said when asked if he felt the same way about Palin today.

“I’m not going to issue a statement on Sarah,” Crist added.

Even Arlen Specter was not this bad — at least he told you what his current views were. It would be hard to find a better example of what voters detest these days. Is there a yen in Florida for a squirrelly politician whose sole principle is “whatever is good for me”? I think it unlikely.

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How Obama Sees America

The Obama administration recently submitted a 29-page report to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on human rights in America. It won the praise of the ACLU, which points out that the report “correctly acknowledges the need for improvement in several key areas, including racial justice, women’s rights, LGBT [Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Transgender People] rights and discrimination against Muslims and Americans of South Asian and Arab descent.”

The report — part of what the UN Human Rights Council calls its “Universal Periodic Review,” in which countries grade their own human rights records — is both ludicrous and offensive. Let’s take them in order.

The report reads like a term paper by a very earnest and very politically correct college freshman. After a few perfunctory words of praise for America in the introduction, the rest of the document is a catalogue of terrible liberal sins that are being washed away by wonderful liberal solutions, including (but not restricted to) ObamaCare; the recently passed financial reform law; suing Arizona for its law aimed to curb illegal immigration; the first White House Adviser on Violence Against Women; the “formation of the 9/11 Backlash Taskforce”; an internal review of the Justice Department’s 2003 Guidance Regarding the Use of Race by Federal Law Enforcement Agencies; a commitment to “protecting the rights of incarcerated persons … including the right to practice their religion”; and of course — who could ever forget? — President Obama’s hosting “a historic summit with nearly 400 tribal leaders to develop a policy agenda for Native Americans where he emphasized his commitment to regular and meaningful consultation with tribal officials regarding federal policy decisions that have tribal implications.”

Gems like these can be found on virtually every page.

The offensive element of this report is that human rights is a deeply serious matter that should be treated in a serious, scholarly way. For the Obama administration to corrupt the cause of human rights in such a flagrant, stupid manner is troubling.

It is also evidence of a particular cast of mind, one that is eager to undermine America’s moral standing in the world. That has been a consistent effort by the current administration. We have seen if from the president, who seems to take special delight in denigrating our country before the rest of the world, and those such as Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner, who went out of his way to assure us that in discussions with China about human rights, the Arizona law against illegal immigration was brought up “up early and often. It was mentioned in the first session, and as a troubling trend in our society and an indication that we have to deal with issues of discrimination or potential discrimination, and that these are issues very much being debated in our own society.”

The report to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, then, is of a piece. It is yet more evidence that when the president and his administration scan the world for human rights violations, they are irresistibly drawn back to the grave injustices they believe have been and are being perpetrated by America.

It is an unprecedented and alarming thing to witness — an administration that is not only unwilling to defend the United States but seems to take great joy and satisfaction in undermining her.

The Obama administration recently submitted a 29-page report to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on human rights in America. It won the praise of the ACLU, which points out that the report “correctly acknowledges the need for improvement in several key areas, including racial justice, women’s rights, LGBT [Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Transgender People] rights and discrimination against Muslims and Americans of South Asian and Arab descent.”

The report — part of what the UN Human Rights Council calls its “Universal Periodic Review,” in which countries grade their own human rights records — is both ludicrous and offensive. Let’s take them in order.

The report reads like a term paper by a very earnest and very politically correct college freshman. After a few perfunctory words of praise for America in the introduction, the rest of the document is a catalogue of terrible liberal sins that are being washed away by wonderful liberal solutions, including (but not restricted to) ObamaCare; the recently passed financial reform law; suing Arizona for its law aimed to curb illegal immigration; the first White House Adviser on Violence Against Women; the “formation of the 9/11 Backlash Taskforce”; an internal review of the Justice Department’s 2003 Guidance Regarding the Use of Race by Federal Law Enforcement Agencies; a commitment to “protecting the rights of incarcerated persons … including the right to practice their religion”; and of course — who could ever forget? — President Obama’s hosting “a historic summit with nearly 400 tribal leaders to develop a policy agenda for Native Americans where he emphasized his commitment to regular and meaningful consultation with tribal officials regarding federal policy decisions that have tribal implications.”

Gems like these can be found on virtually every page.

The offensive element of this report is that human rights is a deeply serious matter that should be treated in a serious, scholarly way. For the Obama administration to corrupt the cause of human rights in such a flagrant, stupid manner is troubling.

It is also evidence of a particular cast of mind, one that is eager to undermine America’s moral standing in the world. That has been a consistent effort by the current administration. We have seen if from the president, who seems to take special delight in denigrating our country before the rest of the world, and those such as Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner, who went out of his way to assure us that in discussions with China about human rights, the Arizona law against illegal immigration was brought up “up early and often. It was mentioned in the first session, and as a troubling trend in our society and an indication that we have to deal with issues of discrimination or potential discrimination, and that these are issues very much being debated in our own society.”

The report to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, then, is of a piece. It is yet more evidence that when the president and his administration scan the world for human rights violations, they are irresistibly drawn back to the grave injustices they believe have been and are being perpetrated by America.

It is an unprecedented and alarming thing to witness — an administration that is not only unwilling to defend the United States but seems to take great joy and satisfaction in undermining her.

Read Less




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