Commentary Magazine


Posts For: September 30, 2010

The Meltdown Accelerates — at the Very Top

Here are some things Barack Obama said this evening to Democratic donors (I quote from Mark Knoller’s Twitter feed):

“Now’s not the time to quit…it took time to free the slaves…ultimately we’ll make progress.”

“I need you to be fired up.”

“There better not be an enthusiasm gap, people.”

Ordinarily, I don’t think it’s wise to second-guess the communications or rallying skills of a man who garnered 69 million votes. I don’t know if I ran for office that I’d get 6900 votes. But wow. This is some terrible, terrible communicating.

I mean: It took time to free the slaves???

Maybe there better not be an enthusiasm gap, people, but if Obama can’t get minimal hold of himself, he’s only going to widen it. If he needs them fired up, he better stop pouring cold water on their heads.

Here are some things Barack Obama said this evening to Democratic donors (I quote from Mark Knoller’s Twitter feed):

“Now’s not the time to quit…it took time to free the slaves…ultimately we’ll make progress.”

“I need you to be fired up.”

“There better not be an enthusiasm gap, people.”

Ordinarily, I don’t think it’s wise to second-guess the communications or rallying skills of a man who garnered 69 million votes. I don’t know if I ran for office that I’d get 6900 votes. But wow. This is some terrible, terrible communicating.

I mean: It took time to free the slaves???

Maybe there better not be an enthusiasm gap, people, but if Obama can’t get minimal hold of himself, he’s only going to widen it. If he needs them fired up, he better stop pouring cold water on their heads.

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Teary Over J Street’s Demise

Jeffrey Goldberg is sad. He tries to explain J Street’s compulsive lying (my comments in brackets):

On one level, I understand what is happening here: J Street is made up of liberal Zionists, as well as non-Zionists, and even a few anti-Zionists [how does he know there are just a few?], and it has been difficult for it to please its differing constituencies. This is why Ben-Ami, its president, might have felt the need to cover-up the involvement of George Soros, because liberal supporters of Israel know that Soros is unfriendly to the Jewish state, and some, presumably, would not want to be part of a group that counted Soros as a prominent supporter. [He felt it necessary to lie so folks wouldn't get the idea that anti-Zionists were in their midst.] But on another level, what is going on here is inexplicable, and terribly dispiriting to people [like Goldberg, who was taken in with not even a dolphin show] who thought that J Street was going to make a useful contribution to the debate over the future of Israel.

This speaks volumes about why liberals turned a blind eye to J Street’s outrageous conduct and pulled their punches when earlier signs popped up that J Street was anything but pro-Israel (pairing up with NIAC would have been a clue; so would the Gaza 54 letter). They so wanted to believe there was a lefty pro-Zionist movement in America, an alternative to the AIPAC-Hoenlein-ECI-CUFI alliance. But there is no there there. It turns out that the left is in bed with the Israel-haters (or, more precisely, are themselves Israel-haters) and there is no real market for an alternative to the genuine pro-Israel groups.

Just as the dreaded neocons said from the beginning. So liberals are bummed that J Street is a fraud – and furious that we on the right had it pegged all along.

Jeffrey Goldberg is sad. He tries to explain J Street’s compulsive lying (my comments in brackets):

On one level, I understand what is happening here: J Street is made up of liberal Zionists, as well as non-Zionists, and even a few anti-Zionists [how does he know there are just a few?], and it has been difficult for it to please its differing constituencies. This is why Ben-Ami, its president, might have felt the need to cover-up the involvement of George Soros, because liberal supporters of Israel know that Soros is unfriendly to the Jewish state, and some, presumably, would not want to be part of a group that counted Soros as a prominent supporter. [He felt it necessary to lie so folks wouldn't get the idea that anti-Zionists were in their midst.] But on another level, what is going on here is inexplicable, and terribly dispiriting to people [like Goldberg, who was taken in with not even a dolphin show] who thought that J Street was going to make a useful contribution to the debate over the future of Israel.

This speaks volumes about why liberals turned a blind eye to J Street’s outrageous conduct and pulled their punches when earlier signs popped up that J Street was anything but pro-Israel (pairing up with NIAC would have been a clue; so would the Gaza 54 letter). They so wanted to believe there was a lefty pro-Zionist movement in America, an alternative to the AIPAC-Hoenlein-ECI-CUFI alliance. But there is no there there. It turns out that the left is in bed with the Israel-haters (or, more precisely, are themselves Israel-haters) and there is no real market for an alternative to the genuine pro-Israel groups.

Just as the dreaded neocons said from the beginning. So liberals are bummed that J Street is a fraud – and furious that we on the right had it pegged all along.

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Obama’s Repudiation of Promises to Israel Comes Back to Haunt Him

The Israeli media ran a mind-boggling story today: in exchange for a two-month extension of the freeze on settlement construction, Barack Obama has offered Israel various mouth-watering goodies, as Jen noted in an earlier post. Yet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is leaning toward refusing.

Obama’s offer reportedly includes the following (see here and here, for instance): support for Israel’s demand that any Israeli-Palestinian deal include a long-term Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley; a Security Council veto of any anti-Israel resolution submitted in the coming year; additional military aid; advanced weaponry; stringent measures to halt arms smuggling; and a pledge not to seek another extension when this one expires.

Israel needs all of the above, and Obama has hitherto often failed to provide them. Thus the offer’s benefits would seem to far outweigh the damage of extending the freeze for two months. Yet Netanyahu claims his cabinet — those same ministers who approved a 10-month freeze in exchange for nothing — wouldn’t approve another two months, even for these lavish promises. What gives?

I suspect Netanyahu resorted to this flimsy excuse because the real reason is too undiplomatic to state publicly: Obama, by his own actions, has shown he views presidential promises as made to be broken. And Israel’s government is loath to incur the real damage of extending the freeze (which J.E. Dyer ably explained here) in exchange for promises that will be conveniently forgotten when they come due.

Israel, after all, received its last presidential promise just six years ago, in exchange for leaving Gaza. In writing, George W. Bush said the Palestinian Authority must end incitement and terror, voiced support for Israel “as a Jewish state,” vowed to “strengthen Israel’s capability” to defend itself, and said any Israeli-Palestinian deal should leave Israel with the settlement blocs and “defensible borders” and resettle Palestinian refugees in the Palestinian state rather than Israel. He also promised orally that Israel could continue building in the settlement blocs.

But when Obama took office, he denied the oral pledge’s very existence, infuriating even Israeli leftists. As Haaretz’s Aluf Benn wrote, it was possible to argue the policy should change, “but not to lie.”

And while Obama hasn’t denied the written document’s existence, he’s nullified it de facto through his every word and action: he’s never challenged PA incitement; he’s advocated the indefensible pre-1967 borders, including in East Jerusalem (where he bullied Israel into halting construction even in huge Jewish neighborhoods that will clearly remain Israeli under any deal); he hasn’t publicly demanded that the PA recognize Israel as a Jewish state or said the refugees can’t be resettled in Israel; and far from strengthening Israel’s defensive capabilities, he’s condemned Israel’s enforcement of an arms blockade on Hamas-run Gaza, bullied Israel into accepting a UN probe of its raid on a blockade-busting flotilla, imposed unprecedented restrictions on Israel’s purchase of F-35 fighters, and more. He has supported Israel only when domestic pressure necessitated it.

With enough domestic pressure, Obama would probably do everything in the latest offer anyway. But without it, Israelis fear he’ll renege the moment he finds it convenient.

And for that, Obama has only himself to blame.

The Israeli media ran a mind-boggling story today: in exchange for a two-month extension of the freeze on settlement construction, Barack Obama has offered Israel various mouth-watering goodies, as Jen noted in an earlier post. Yet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is leaning toward refusing.

Obama’s offer reportedly includes the following (see here and here, for instance): support for Israel’s demand that any Israeli-Palestinian deal include a long-term Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley; a Security Council veto of any anti-Israel resolution submitted in the coming year; additional military aid; advanced weaponry; stringent measures to halt arms smuggling; and a pledge not to seek another extension when this one expires.

Israel needs all of the above, and Obama has hitherto often failed to provide them. Thus the offer’s benefits would seem to far outweigh the damage of extending the freeze for two months. Yet Netanyahu claims his cabinet — those same ministers who approved a 10-month freeze in exchange for nothing — wouldn’t approve another two months, even for these lavish promises. What gives?

I suspect Netanyahu resorted to this flimsy excuse because the real reason is too undiplomatic to state publicly: Obama, by his own actions, has shown he views presidential promises as made to be broken. And Israel’s government is loath to incur the real damage of extending the freeze (which J.E. Dyer ably explained here) in exchange for promises that will be conveniently forgotten when they come due.

Israel, after all, received its last presidential promise just six years ago, in exchange for leaving Gaza. In writing, George W. Bush said the Palestinian Authority must end incitement and terror, voiced support for Israel “as a Jewish state,” vowed to “strengthen Israel’s capability” to defend itself, and said any Israeli-Palestinian deal should leave Israel with the settlement blocs and “defensible borders” and resettle Palestinian refugees in the Palestinian state rather than Israel. He also promised orally that Israel could continue building in the settlement blocs.

But when Obama took office, he denied the oral pledge’s very existence, infuriating even Israeli leftists. As Haaretz’s Aluf Benn wrote, it was possible to argue the policy should change, “but not to lie.”

And while Obama hasn’t denied the written document’s existence, he’s nullified it de facto through his every word and action: he’s never challenged PA incitement; he’s advocated the indefensible pre-1967 borders, including in East Jerusalem (where he bullied Israel into halting construction even in huge Jewish neighborhoods that will clearly remain Israeli under any deal); he hasn’t publicly demanded that the PA recognize Israel as a Jewish state or said the refugees can’t be resettled in Israel; and far from strengthening Israel’s defensive capabilities, he’s condemned Israel’s enforcement of an arms blockade on Hamas-run Gaza, bullied Israel into accepting a UN probe of its raid on a blockade-busting flotilla, imposed unprecedented restrictions on Israel’s purchase of F-35 fighters, and more. He has supported Israel only when domestic pressure necessitated it.

With enough domestic pressure, Obama would probably do everything in the latest offer anyway. But without it, Israelis fear he’ll renege the moment he finds it convenient.

And for that, Obama has only himself to blame.

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A Ridiculous Misnomer

It’s way past time for mainstream news outlets to stop referring to the “flotillas” mounted against Israel’s blockade of Gaza as “aid ships.” They are nothing of the sort, a truth amply demonstrated with the latest attempt by a Jewish group to run the blockade with a catamaran. The catamaran Irene has a length of 33 feet, which makes it smaller than the famous 42-foot Boghammar speedboat used by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. With crew and passengers totaling nine people, this little catamaran can’t possibly have carried much cargo. In photos of its encounter with the Israeli navy (see it here flanked by Israeli inflatable patrol boats), it looks absurdly small. In fact, it looks downright silly — a perfect emblem of the irresponsible ineffectiveness of this type of parlor-activism.

Actual “aid” to Gaza comes in the form of regular deliveries from Israel. These deliveries are never interrupted for long, in spite of the provocation of rocket attacks from Gaza on Israeli civilians. The would-be blockade busters, however, bring very little in the way of goods. What they do bring can even be counterproductive, as evident from the complaints among Gazan doctors about expired medical supplies, a cargo notably carried by the Turkish-led flotilla in May.

The attempts to break the blockade are aimed at Israel and its requirement for security. They are not aid efforts. Their objective is to compromise Israel’s ability to keep weapons out of the hands of Hamas. It’s time for the Western media to stop retailing the fictional narrative that they have anything to do with humanitarian aid.

It’s way past time for mainstream news outlets to stop referring to the “flotillas” mounted against Israel’s blockade of Gaza as “aid ships.” They are nothing of the sort, a truth amply demonstrated with the latest attempt by a Jewish group to run the blockade with a catamaran. The catamaran Irene has a length of 33 feet, which makes it smaller than the famous 42-foot Boghammar speedboat used by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. With crew and passengers totaling nine people, this little catamaran can’t possibly have carried much cargo. In photos of its encounter with the Israeli navy (see it here flanked by Israeli inflatable patrol boats), it looks absurdly small. In fact, it looks downright silly — a perfect emblem of the irresponsible ineffectiveness of this type of parlor-activism.

Actual “aid” to Gaza comes in the form of regular deliveries from Israel. These deliveries are never interrupted for long, in spite of the provocation of rocket attacks from Gaza on Israeli civilians. The would-be blockade busters, however, bring very little in the way of goods. What they do bring can even be counterproductive, as evident from the complaints among Gazan doctors about expired medical supplies, a cargo notably carried by the Turkish-led flotilla in May.

The attempts to break the blockade are aimed at Israel and its requirement for security. They are not aid efforts. Their objective is to compromise Israel’s ability to keep weapons out of the hands of Hamas. It’s time for the Western media to stop retailing the fictional narrative that they have anything to do with humanitarian aid.

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Economy of Effort in Pakistan

As Pakistan’s situation sours, it is melancholy to observe the Obama administration’s response. The river flooding that has submerged a fifth of Pakistan’s territory is a catastrophe that warrants concerted, heroic international action. Few nations anywhere could deal effectively with domestic disaster on such a scale. The official death toll of less than 2,000 to date is misleading about the scope of the problem: the economic toll is devastating, with 17 million acres of crops and farmland lost and millions of farm animals dead or diseased. At least 20 million of Pakistan’s 170 million people have been displaced by the flooding. Now farmers are concerned that they won’t be able to plant next year’s crops, a setback that would mean two full years of near-zero agricultural production for the nation.

Pakistan’s serious ongoing problems have only worsened with the historic floods. Confidence in the feckless Zardari government has plummeted to a new low; in a high-level meeting with President Zardari on Monday, the Pakistani military demanded that some of his ministers be dismissed, an action widely interpreted as the veiled threat of a coup. Pervez Musharraf, a semi-retired coup leader himself, then clarified the significance of the threat in statements made to the media.

One of the Pakistani military’s greatest concerns is the breach of national sovereignty represented by NATO’s cross-border attacks on terrorist strongholds in the country’s northwestern region. The coup warning to Zardari was given as drone strikes on Waziristan ramped up over the past week. Today, Pakistan’s military has closed off NATO’s main supply line into Afghanistan, a move that will affect NATO operations very quickly if it can’t be reversed.

Meanwhile, here’s an excerpt from Tuesday’s sympathetic New York Times account of the Obama approach to the boiling pot in Pakistan:

In his most recent visit to Pakistan, Richard C. Holbrooke … said the international community could not be expected to provide all the billions of dollars needed to repair the flood damage, a warning interpreted here as a rebuke of the civilian government and its mismanagement.

This helpful communication is bolstered by news of a key Obama policy thrust, one that can only be introduced with the time-honored “wait for it”:

In particular, Washington wants the government to raise taxes on the wealthy landed and commercial class, a shortcoming that has become especially galling as Pakistan’s dependence on foreign donors rises.

To summarize: what Obama’s doing about Pakistan is attacking its territory, lecturing its leadership on the limits of international liability for its problems, and urging it to raise taxes on the rich. The State Department points out that U.S. military helicopters are delivering aid to Pakistan; but so are other organizations, public and private. The American aid effort isn’t standing out for either scope or effectiveness. Indeed, Pakistan’s situation is so dire that it demands much more than the delivery of food and plastic sheeting. It demands what only a stronger America could provide: material partnership for promoting economic and political recovery.

Pakistan is NATO’s logistic hub for Afghanistan; without its willing support, NATO would be wholly dependent on supply routes governed by Russia. The country is a hideout for terrorists, al-Qaeda, and Taliban alike. It is also, of course, nuclear-armed. Putting greater effort into Pakistan is neither overly “interventionist” nor irrelevant to our security — and we Americans would feel ourselves much better able to do it if we were not in debt-and-government-shock from Obama’s domestic political assault. Handling Pakistan as an “economy of effort” theater is a recipe for failure, but that’s how the Obama administration has approached it. The 2010 flooding, with its dreadful economic and human toll, is basically serving to accelerate the inevitable.

As Pakistan’s situation sours, it is melancholy to observe the Obama administration’s response. The river flooding that has submerged a fifth of Pakistan’s territory is a catastrophe that warrants concerted, heroic international action. Few nations anywhere could deal effectively with domestic disaster on such a scale. The official death toll of less than 2,000 to date is misleading about the scope of the problem: the economic toll is devastating, with 17 million acres of crops and farmland lost and millions of farm animals dead or diseased. At least 20 million of Pakistan’s 170 million people have been displaced by the flooding. Now farmers are concerned that they won’t be able to plant next year’s crops, a setback that would mean two full years of near-zero agricultural production for the nation.

Pakistan’s serious ongoing problems have only worsened with the historic floods. Confidence in the feckless Zardari government has plummeted to a new low; in a high-level meeting with President Zardari on Monday, the Pakistani military demanded that some of his ministers be dismissed, an action widely interpreted as the veiled threat of a coup. Pervez Musharraf, a semi-retired coup leader himself, then clarified the significance of the threat in statements made to the media.

One of the Pakistani military’s greatest concerns is the breach of national sovereignty represented by NATO’s cross-border attacks on terrorist strongholds in the country’s northwestern region. The coup warning to Zardari was given as drone strikes on Waziristan ramped up over the past week. Today, Pakistan’s military has closed off NATO’s main supply line into Afghanistan, a move that will affect NATO operations very quickly if it can’t be reversed.

Meanwhile, here’s an excerpt from Tuesday’s sympathetic New York Times account of the Obama approach to the boiling pot in Pakistan:

In his most recent visit to Pakistan, Richard C. Holbrooke … said the international community could not be expected to provide all the billions of dollars needed to repair the flood damage, a warning interpreted here as a rebuke of the civilian government and its mismanagement.

This helpful communication is bolstered by news of a key Obama policy thrust, one that can only be introduced with the time-honored “wait for it”:

In particular, Washington wants the government to raise taxes on the wealthy landed and commercial class, a shortcoming that has become especially galling as Pakistan’s dependence on foreign donors rises.

To summarize: what Obama’s doing about Pakistan is attacking its territory, lecturing its leadership on the limits of international liability for its problems, and urging it to raise taxes on the rich. The State Department points out that U.S. military helicopters are delivering aid to Pakistan; but so are other organizations, public and private. The American aid effort isn’t standing out for either scope or effectiveness. Indeed, Pakistan’s situation is so dire that it demands much more than the delivery of food and plastic sheeting. It demands what only a stronger America could provide: material partnership for promoting economic and political recovery.

Pakistan is NATO’s logistic hub for Afghanistan; without its willing support, NATO would be wholly dependent on supply routes governed by Russia. The country is a hideout for terrorists, al-Qaeda, and Taliban alike. It is also, of course, nuclear-armed. Putting greater effort into Pakistan is neither overly “interventionist” nor irrelevant to our security — and we Americans would feel ourselves much better able to do it if we were not in debt-and-government-shock from Obama’s domestic political assault. Handling Pakistan as an “economy of effort” theater is a recipe for failure, but that’s how the Obama administration has approached it. The 2010 flooding, with its dreadful economic and human toll, is basically serving to accelerate the inevitable.

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Bad to Worse

The Obami are now groveling with Bibi to extend the moratorium: please, please, 60 more days, and we won’t ask again! They throw in promises to do what any administration should do: veto UN resolutions against Israel (but just for a year), “accept the legitimacy of Israel’s security needs and not seek to redefine them,” agree Israel could leave forces “in the Jordan Valley for an extended period of time,” and agree to further upgrades of Israel’s “defense capabilities in the even the parties reach security arrangements.” It’s embarrassing that Obama should plead so in public and pathetic that he is essentially offering nothing more than what a pro-Israel administration would grant under ordinary circumstances.

And, of course, it is making matters worse. The Arab League has postponed a meeting with its minion Abbas. Why meet if Obama can bribe Israel for them?

This won’t end well. Either Bibi will rebuff Obama again, humiliating the administration, or he’ll agree, convincing the Palestinians that throwing a temper tantrum pays off. Either way, we’re no closer to “peace.” Before the Obama team pulls any more stunts like this, perhaps they should consult with someone who actually understands the Middle East. Plainly, there is no one in the current administration who does.

The Obami are now groveling with Bibi to extend the moratorium: please, please, 60 more days, and we won’t ask again! They throw in promises to do what any administration should do: veto UN resolutions against Israel (but just for a year), “accept the legitimacy of Israel’s security needs and not seek to redefine them,” agree Israel could leave forces “in the Jordan Valley for an extended period of time,” and agree to further upgrades of Israel’s “defense capabilities in the even the parties reach security arrangements.” It’s embarrassing that Obama should plead so in public and pathetic that he is essentially offering nothing more than what a pro-Israel administration would grant under ordinary circumstances.

And, of course, it is making matters worse. The Arab League has postponed a meeting with its minion Abbas. Why meet if Obama can bribe Israel for them?

This won’t end well. Either Bibi will rebuff Obama again, humiliating the administration, or he’ll agree, convincing the Palestinians that throwing a temper tantrum pays off. Either way, we’re no closer to “peace.” Before the Obama team pulls any more stunts like this, perhaps they should consult with someone who actually understands the Middle East. Plainly, there is no one in the current administration who does.

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The Final Lie(s)

The J Streeters, aka Soros Streeters (or should we call them Goldstone Streeters?), keep digging themselves deeper. Lie piled on lie, which begets more lies. Following the latest blockbuster Eli Lake story, they put up a denial on the J Street website from Colette Avital:

I spoke at length to two reporters from the Washington Times Thursday afternoon and told them in no uncertain terms that I did not resign from J Street. In fact, I will be speaking on the organization’s behalf in the coming weeks in the United States and remain proudly affiliated with the group in a consulting role.

Further, I made clear that I was and am completely unaware of any effort by J Street to facilitate visits by Judge Richard Goldstone to Capitol Hill.

Problem: it’s not true. The Washington Times has put out the videotape. Listen for yourself. J Street also posted its own “denial”:

First, the notion that Ms. Avital resigned her post with J Street is completely false. She remains a consultant to us and will be on a speaking tour for our organization in four cities in the Midwest for a full week in October. She and we told the Washington Times this on Thursday, yet hearing it from both of us apparently wasn’t enough to persuade those bent on attacking us from publishing fiction in what some might call a newspaper.

Further, Ms. Avital made it very clear that she had no knowledge that J Street had anything to do with Judge Goldstone’s visit to Washington yet the paper devotes prominent space to charging that we “facilitated” his visit — and she is supposedly their sole source.

And it repeats its earlier statement that “J Street staff spoke to colleagues at the organizations coordinating the meetings and, at their behest, reached out to a handful of Congressional staff to inquire whether Members would be interested in seeing Judge Goldstone. We believed it to be a good idea for him and for members of Congress to meet personally, but we declined to play a role in hosting, convening or attending any of the meetings.” That would be facilitating, right? None of that is true either, as the audiotape confirms.

J Street has sealed its own fate. It’s over.

The J Streeters, aka Soros Streeters (or should we call them Goldstone Streeters?), keep digging themselves deeper. Lie piled on lie, which begets more lies. Following the latest blockbuster Eli Lake story, they put up a denial on the J Street website from Colette Avital:

I spoke at length to two reporters from the Washington Times Thursday afternoon and told them in no uncertain terms that I did not resign from J Street. In fact, I will be speaking on the organization’s behalf in the coming weeks in the United States and remain proudly affiliated with the group in a consulting role.

Further, I made clear that I was and am completely unaware of any effort by J Street to facilitate visits by Judge Richard Goldstone to Capitol Hill.

Problem: it’s not true. The Washington Times has put out the videotape. Listen for yourself. J Street also posted its own “denial”:

First, the notion that Ms. Avital resigned her post with J Street is completely false. She remains a consultant to us and will be on a speaking tour for our organization in four cities in the Midwest for a full week in October. She and we told the Washington Times this on Thursday, yet hearing it from both of us apparently wasn’t enough to persuade those bent on attacking us from publishing fiction in what some might call a newspaper.

Further, Ms. Avital made it very clear that she had no knowledge that J Street had anything to do with Judge Goldstone’s visit to Washington yet the paper devotes prominent space to charging that we “facilitated” his visit — and she is supposedly their sole source.

And it repeats its earlier statement that “J Street staff spoke to colleagues at the organizations coordinating the meetings and, at their behest, reached out to a handful of Congressional staff to inquire whether Members would be interested in seeing Judge Goldstone. We believed it to be a good idea for him and for members of Congress to meet personally, but we declined to play a role in hosting, convening or attending any of the meetings.” That would be facilitating, right? None of that is true either, as the audiotape confirms.

J Street has sealed its own fate. It’s over.

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You Know You’re in Trouble When…

Jon Stewart tears you to shreds, and the audience eats it up big-time (h/t Instapundit). For someone like President Obama, with an ego the size of a Midwestern state, this must be very, very painful to watch. For the rest of us, it’s a lot more hilarious than Steven Colbert’s recent Congressional testimony.

But because all great humor, political or otherwise, must be grounded in truth and the realities of human nature, it must also be very frightening to Obama, in particular, and Democrats, in general. When the people in a mainstream audience fall out of their chairs when Jon Stewart suggests that the slogan for the Democratic campaign this fall should be “We came, we saw, we sucked,” that’s a pretty good indication that the Democrats have lost the country and no longer control the political narrative.

I don’t think the Democrats will be laughing on Nov. 2.

Jon Stewart tears you to shreds, and the audience eats it up big-time (h/t Instapundit). For someone like President Obama, with an ego the size of a Midwestern state, this must be very, very painful to watch. For the rest of us, it’s a lot more hilarious than Steven Colbert’s recent Congressional testimony.

But because all great humor, political or otherwise, must be grounded in truth and the realities of human nature, it must also be very frightening to Obama, in particular, and Democrats, in general. When the people in a mainstream audience fall out of their chairs when Jon Stewart suggests that the slogan for the Democratic campaign this fall should be “We came, we saw, we sucked,” that’s a pretty good indication that the Democrats have lost the country and no longer control the political narrative.

I don’t think the Democrats will be laughing on Nov. 2.

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Lots and Lots of People Will Lose Their Current Coverage

Obama promised that if you liked your health-care coverage, you could keep it under ObamaCare. But not really. Not remotely close, actually:

McDonald’s Corp. has warned federal regulators that it could drop its health insurance plan for nearly 30,000 hourly restaurant workers unless regulators waive a new requirement of the U.S. health overhaul.

The move is one of the clearest indications that new rules may disrupt workers’ health plans as the law ripples through the real world.

Trade groups representing restaurants and retailers say low-wage employers might halt their coverage if the government doesn’t loosen a requirement for “mini-med” plans, which offer limited benefits to some 1.4 million Americans.

It’s not simply the mini-med plans (which don’t meet the ObamaCare regulation “to spend at least 80% to 85% of its premium revenue on medical care” because of high turnover and administrative costs). ObamaCare is already wreaking havoc throughout the health-care system:

McDonald’s move is the latest indication of possible unintended consequences from the health overhaul. Dozens of companies have taken charges against earnings—totaling more than $1 billion—over a tax change in prescription-drug benefits for retirees.

More recently, insurers have proposed a round of double-digit premium increases and said new coverage mandates in the law are partly to blame. HHS has criticized the proposed increases as unwarranted.

We also learned this week:

Harvard Pilgrim Health Care has notified customers that it will drop its Medicare Advantage health insurance program at the end of the year, forcing 22,000 senior citizens in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine to seek alternative supplemental coverage.

The decision by Wellesley-based Harvard Pilgrim, the state’s second-largest health insurer, was prompted by a freeze in federal reimbursements and a new requirement that insurers offering the kind of product sold by Harvard Pilgrim — a Medicare Advantage private fee for service plan — form a contracted network of doctors who agree to participate for a negotiated amount of money. Under current rules, patients can seek care from any doctor.

The administration kept promising that the public would like what they found in ObamaCare. However, the more they see, the more they are likely to conclude they were scammed.

UPDATE: HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says the Wall Street Journal’s story is false.  But her denial is suspect: “Sebelius suggested that McDonald’s may in fact get a waiver from HHS that would enable the fast-food giant to continue offering limited benefits plans to its employees. But neither Sebelius nor McDonald’s officials have ruled out the possibility that the company would drop such insurance coverage, which is what the Journal claimed.”

Obama promised that if you liked your health-care coverage, you could keep it under ObamaCare. But not really. Not remotely close, actually:

McDonald’s Corp. has warned federal regulators that it could drop its health insurance plan for nearly 30,000 hourly restaurant workers unless regulators waive a new requirement of the U.S. health overhaul.

The move is one of the clearest indications that new rules may disrupt workers’ health plans as the law ripples through the real world.

Trade groups representing restaurants and retailers say low-wage employers might halt their coverage if the government doesn’t loosen a requirement for “mini-med” plans, which offer limited benefits to some 1.4 million Americans.

It’s not simply the mini-med plans (which don’t meet the ObamaCare regulation “to spend at least 80% to 85% of its premium revenue on medical care” because of high turnover and administrative costs). ObamaCare is already wreaking havoc throughout the health-care system:

McDonald’s move is the latest indication of possible unintended consequences from the health overhaul. Dozens of companies have taken charges against earnings—totaling more than $1 billion—over a tax change in prescription-drug benefits for retirees.

More recently, insurers have proposed a round of double-digit premium increases and said new coverage mandates in the law are partly to blame. HHS has criticized the proposed increases as unwarranted.

We also learned this week:

Harvard Pilgrim Health Care has notified customers that it will drop its Medicare Advantage health insurance program at the end of the year, forcing 22,000 senior citizens in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine to seek alternative supplemental coverage.

The decision by Wellesley-based Harvard Pilgrim, the state’s second-largest health insurer, was prompted by a freeze in federal reimbursements and a new requirement that insurers offering the kind of product sold by Harvard Pilgrim — a Medicare Advantage private fee for service plan — form a contracted network of doctors who agree to participate for a negotiated amount of money. Under current rules, patients can seek care from any doctor.

The administration kept promising that the public would like what they found in ObamaCare. However, the more they see, the more they are likely to conclude they were scammed.

UPDATE: HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says the Wall Street Journal’s story is false.  But her denial is suspect: “Sebelius suggested that McDonald’s may in fact get a waiver from HHS that would enable the fast-food giant to continue offering limited benefits plans to its employees. But neither Sebelius nor McDonald’s officials have ruled out the possibility that the company would drop such insurance coverage, which is what the Journal claimed.”

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Does the Administration Mean What It Now Says About Human Rights?

Obama and his secretary of state are making some effort to step up — or start, some would say — support for human rights. Obama spoke on the topic at the UN. Albeit too little and too late, the administration is taking action against Iranian human rights abuses:

Citing “mounting evidence” of repression of the Iranian opposition, the Obama administration added more sanctions against Iranian government officials, members of the Revolutionary Guards Corps and others accused by the United States of being responsible for human rights abuses.

The sanctions, announced Wednesday by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, block the assets of, and prohibit U.S. citizens from engaging in any business with, those on the list, which includes the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, the country’s prosecutor general, and the ministers of welfare and intelligence.

There’s less here than meets the eye, however. As the Washington Post editors note, ” The high-profile announcement could give important encouragement to Iran’s opposition. But it’s worth noting that the sanctions themselves were recently mandated by Congress.” Oh. And why haven’t we committed ourselves to full support for the Green movement?

The real proof of the Obama administration’s devotion to democracy promotion will come with clear and decisive action. When do we adopt regime change as our official policy? When do we call it quits and pull the financial plug on the UNHRC? These would demonstrate actual, rather than rhetorical, support for human rights.

The Post editors observe that there’s another opportunity to prove the administration’s bona fides on human rights. Why not take action against the repressive Mubarak government, which is in the process of rigging another election?

[A] resolution authored by Sens. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) has won broad and bipartisan support. The resolution urges Mr. Mubarak’s regime “to take all steps necessary to ensure that upcoming elections are free, fair, transparent and credible, including granting independent international and domestic electoral observers unrestricted access.” …

After the president’s last meeting with Mr. Mubarak this month, a White House summary said Mr. Obama had referred to the need for “credible and transparent elections in Egypt.” The question is whether the administration is willing to take action in support of its words. So far, it has offered no indication that Mr. Mubarak’s failure to accept election observers will result in any consequence for a country that receives $1.5 billion annually in American aid. Nor has the White House offered support for the Senate resolution, in public or in private. It could, at least, do that.

Let’s see what the Obama administration does. Frankly, the president’s words don’t carry all that much credibility these days.

Obama and his secretary of state are making some effort to step up — or start, some would say — support for human rights. Obama spoke on the topic at the UN. Albeit too little and too late, the administration is taking action against Iranian human rights abuses:

Citing “mounting evidence” of repression of the Iranian opposition, the Obama administration added more sanctions against Iranian government officials, members of the Revolutionary Guards Corps and others accused by the United States of being responsible for human rights abuses.

The sanctions, announced Wednesday by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, block the assets of, and prohibit U.S. citizens from engaging in any business with, those on the list, which includes the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, the country’s prosecutor general, and the ministers of welfare and intelligence.

There’s less here than meets the eye, however. As the Washington Post editors note, ” The high-profile announcement could give important encouragement to Iran’s opposition. But it’s worth noting that the sanctions themselves were recently mandated by Congress.” Oh. And why haven’t we committed ourselves to full support for the Green movement?

The real proof of the Obama administration’s devotion to democracy promotion will come with clear and decisive action. When do we adopt regime change as our official policy? When do we call it quits and pull the financial plug on the UNHRC? These would demonstrate actual, rather than rhetorical, support for human rights.

The Post editors observe that there’s another opportunity to prove the administration’s bona fides on human rights. Why not take action against the repressive Mubarak government, which is in the process of rigging another election?

[A] resolution authored by Sens. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) has won broad and bipartisan support. The resolution urges Mr. Mubarak’s regime “to take all steps necessary to ensure that upcoming elections are free, fair, transparent and credible, including granting independent international and domestic electoral observers unrestricted access.” …

After the president’s last meeting with Mr. Mubarak this month, a White House summary said Mr. Obama had referred to the need for “credible and transparent elections in Egypt.” The question is whether the administration is willing to take action in support of its words. So far, it has offered no indication that Mr. Mubarak’s failure to accept election observers will result in any consequence for a country that receives $1.5 billion annually in American aid. Nor has the White House offered support for the Senate resolution, in public or in private. It could, at least, do that.

Let’s see what the Obama administration does. Frankly, the president’s words don’t carry all that much credibility these days.

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Obama: Embattled, Embittered, and Lashing Out

Barack Obama’s recent interview with Rolling Stone magazine paints a portrait of a president under siege and lashing out.

For example, the Tea Party is, according to Obama, the tool of “very powerful, special-interest lobbies” — except for those in the Tea Party whose motivations are “a little darker, that have to do with anti-immigrant sentiment or are troubled by what I represent as the president.”

Fox News, the president informs us, “is ultimately destructive for the long-term growth of a country that has a vibrant middle class and is competitive in the world.”

Then there are the Republicans, who don’t oppose Obama on philosophical grounds but decided they were “better off being able to assign the blame to us than work with us to try to solve problems.” Now there are exceptions — those two or three GOPers who Obama has been able to “pick off” and, by virtue of supporting Obama, “wanted to do the right thing” — meaning that the rest of the GOP wants to do the wrong thing.

Even progressives were on the receiving end of the presidential tongue-lashing. “The idea that we’ve got a lack of enthusiasm in the Democratic base,” Obama said, “that people are sitting on their hands complaining, is just irresponsible. … if people now want to take their ball and go home that tells me folks weren’t serious in the first place.”

Set aside the discordance of these words coming from a man who said, on the night of his election, “I will listen to you, especially when we disagree.” There is a hazardous dynamic developing.

To understand why, let’s start with this: President Obama is a man of unusual vanity and self-regard. He considers himself to be a world-historical figure who deserves treatment bordering on reverence. That is why over the years he has surrounded himself with individuals who have a romanticized view of Obama. “The blind faith in, and passion for, Obama was like nothing [Anita] Dunn had ever seen before,” we read in Game Change. Not surprisingly, Obama is unusually thin-skinned and prickly when it comes to criticism of any kind, from any quarter. It seems not only to bother him but also consume him. Hence his obsession with Fox News.

When a powerful man like this is successful, it can make him impossible to live with. When a powerful man like this is failing, he can become dangerous.

Such a person can easily become embittered and embattled. Used to adoration, he cannot process rejection. People who were once thought of as allies are viewed with suspicion and lacking in loyalty. There is a growing sense of isolation and ingratitude; no one really understands all the good that has been achieved against impossible odds (“Guys, wake up,” Obama tells Rolling Stone. “We have accomplished an incredible amount in the most adverse circumstances imaginable.”) In order to excuse his mounting failures and rebukes, he must find malevolent forces to blame. And malevolent forces need to be identified and isolated, depersonalized and defeated. Political battles are increasingly framed in apocalyptic terms, as the Children of Light vs. the Children of Darkness.

Now there is a long way to travel to get to this point — but others, including other presidents, have traveled this path before. We have no way of knowing where Obama is on this particular journey. But the warning signs are there. The president is showing mental and political habits that are disquieting. People who have standing in his life need to intercede with him — soon, now, before the president’s worst tendencies end up getting him, and us, into a genuine crisis.

On May 25, 1971, Daniel Patrick Moynihan — a Democrat but also a top aide to Richard Nixon at the time — wrote a letter to Vice President Agnew. “Moynihan privately deplored the inflammatory speeches denouncing anti-Nixon protesters by Vice President Spiro T. Agnew,” we read in the new book edited by Steven R. Weisman, Daniel Patrick Moynihan: A Portrait in Letters of an American Visionary. In his letter to Agnew, Moynihan wrote this:

You cannot win the argument you are engaged in. Frankly, the longer you pursue it, I expect the more you will lose. … If you were to ask my advice it would be this. Cease attacking. … A great deal of charity and forgiveness is going to be required on all our parts to come through this experience whole. You really can help in this, and I know you would want to do so.

Barack Obama needs to find his Daniel Patrick Moynihan — and unlike Agnew, he needs to listen to him. Otherwise, this is going to have a very unhappy ending for the president, and for all of us.

Barack Obama’s recent interview with Rolling Stone magazine paints a portrait of a president under siege and lashing out.

For example, the Tea Party is, according to Obama, the tool of “very powerful, special-interest lobbies” — except for those in the Tea Party whose motivations are “a little darker, that have to do with anti-immigrant sentiment or are troubled by what I represent as the president.”

Fox News, the president informs us, “is ultimately destructive for the long-term growth of a country that has a vibrant middle class and is competitive in the world.”

Then there are the Republicans, who don’t oppose Obama on philosophical grounds but decided they were “better off being able to assign the blame to us than work with us to try to solve problems.” Now there are exceptions — those two or three GOPers who Obama has been able to “pick off” and, by virtue of supporting Obama, “wanted to do the right thing” — meaning that the rest of the GOP wants to do the wrong thing.

Even progressives were on the receiving end of the presidential tongue-lashing. “The idea that we’ve got a lack of enthusiasm in the Democratic base,” Obama said, “that people are sitting on their hands complaining, is just irresponsible. … if people now want to take their ball and go home that tells me folks weren’t serious in the first place.”

Set aside the discordance of these words coming from a man who said, on the night of his election, “I will listen to you, especially when we disagree.” There is a hazardous dynamic developing.

To understand why, let’s start with this: President Obama is a man of unusual vanity and self-regard. He considers himself to be a world-historical figure who deserves treatment bordering on reverence. That is why over the years he has surrounded himself with individuals who have a romanticized view of Obama. “The blind faith in, and passion for, Obama was like nothing [Anita] Dunn had ever seen before,” we read in Game Change. Not surprisingly, Obama is unusually thin-skinned and prickly when it comes to criticism of any kind, from any quarter. It seems not only to bother him but also consume him. Hence his obsession with Fox News.

When a powerful man like this is successful, it can make him impossible to live with. When a powerful man like this is failing, he can become dangerous.

Such a person can easily become embittered and embattled. Used to adoration, he cannot process rejection. People who were once thought of as allies are viewed with suspicion and lacking in loyalty. There is a growing sense of isolation and ingratitude; no one really understands all the good that has been achieved against impossible odds (“Guys, wake up,” Obama tells Rolling Stone. “We have accomplished an incredible amount in the most adverse circumstances imaginable.”) In order to excuse his mounting failures and rebukes, he must find malevolent forces to blame. And malevolent forces need to be identified and isolated, depersonalized and defeated. Political battles are increasingly framed in apocalyptic terms, as the Children of Light vs. the Children of Darkness.

Now there is a long way to travel to get to this point — but others, including other presidents, have traveled this path before. We have no way of knowing where Obama is on this particular journey. But the warning signs are there. The president is showing mental and political habits that are disquieting. People who have standing in his life need to intercede with him — soon, now, before the president’s worst tendencies end up getting him, and us, into a genuine crisis.

On May 25, 1971, Daniel Patrick Moynihan — a Democrat but also a top aide to Richard Nixon at the time — wrote a letter to Vice President Agnew. “Moynihan privately deplored the inflammatory speeches denouncing anti-Nixon protesters by Vice President Spiro T. Agnew,” we read in the new book edited by Steven R. Weisman, Daniel Patrick Moynihan: A Portrait in Letters of an American Visionary. In his letter to Agnew, Moynihan wrote this:

You cannot win the argument you are engaged in. Frankly, the longer you pursue it, I expect the more you will lose. … If you were to ask my advice it would be this. Cease attacking. … A great deal of charity and forgiveness is going to be required on all our parts to come through this experience whole. You really can help in this, and I know you would want to do so.

Barack Obama needs to find his Daniel Patrick Moynihan — and unlike Agnew, he needs to listen to him. Otherwise, this is going to have a very unhappy ending for the president, and for all of us.

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No Recess Appointments This Recess

No president has abused the power to make recess appointments as much as Barack Obama. As I discussed earlier, the power has been increasingly abused — by presidents of both parties — as the Senate procedures for confirming nominees have become ever more protracted and, often, partisan. On Sept. 17, Obama named Elizabeth Warren to a White House advisory job that does not require confirmation. But it makes her, effectively, the head of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a job that requires Senate confirmation. The Senate had signaled that her confirmation was probably not possible.

Perhaps it’s a sign of Obama’s declining political clout, but the Hill is reporting that the Senate will technically not go into recess from this week until after the election. Instead, it will have pro forma sessions on Mondays and Fridays, in which the Senate will be called to order, the absence of a quorum will be noted, and the Senate will then adjourn.

This political kabuki theater was routine in the last two years of the Bush administration to prevent President Bush from making recess appointments, and the Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, was able to force it this time by threatening to invoke a Senate rule that requires all pending nominations to be returned to the executive branch when the Senate goes out of session for a protracted period unless unanimous consent is given to waive the rule. That would have meant that all those nominations would have had to be renominated and the whole process repeated.

It is to be hoped that the Senate and the White House will end this game by agreeing to a permanent compromise: that the Senate will agree to act on all nominations within a set period of time (say two months) and no longer allow the use of the filibuster with regard to nominations, and the President will agree to use the power to make recess appointments only in cases where the public good requires the office in question to be filled immediately, the reason the Founding Fathers gave the president the power in the first place.

No president has abused the power to make recess appointments as much as Barack Obama. As I discussed earlier, the power has been increasingly abused — by presidents of both parties — as the Senate procedures for confirming nominees have become ever more protracted and, often, partisan. On Sept. 17, Obama named Elizabeth Warren to a White House advisory job that does not require confirmation. But it makes her, effectively, the head of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a job that requires Senate confirmation. The Senate had signaled that her confirmation was probably not possible.

Perhaps it’s a sign of Obama’s declining political clout, but the Hill is reporting that the Senate will technically not go into recess from this week until after the election. Instead, it will have pro forma sessions on Mondays and Fridays, in which the Senate will be called to order, the absence of a quorum will be noted, and the Senate will then adjourn.

This political kabuki theater was routine in the last two years of the Bush administration to prevent President Bush from making recess appointments, and the Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, was able to force it this time by threatening to invoke a Senate rule that requires all pending nominations to be returned to the executive branch when the Senate goes out of session for a protracted period unless unanimous consent is given to waive the rule. That would have meant that all those nominations would have had to be renominated and the whole process repeated.

It is to be hoped that the Senate and the White House will end this game by agreeing to a permanent compromise: that the Senate will agree to act on all nominations within a set period of time (say two months) and no longer allow the use of the filibuster with regard to nominations, and the President will agree to use the power to make recess appointments only in cases where the public good requires the office in question to be filled immediately, the reason the Founding Fathers gave the president the power in the first place.

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False Hope

It happens about a month out before a wave election. The party about to be washed out sees a glimmer of hope — or thinks it does. The base gets a bit more engaged, but it really doesn’t amount to much. Hotline notes:

Democratic strategists have recently started experiencing a new feeling of optimism. There are indications, they say, that the party is showing the smallest signs of a turnaround, and that rumors of their electoral demise have been premature.

But instead of a comeback, Democrats are only experiencing the benefits of a base that is finally engaging. That base will help some Democratic candidates, but in total, the party still faces serious rehabilitation work with independent voters. The party’s major problems are most evident in three prominent races that are slowly, but inexorably, sliding toward Republicans.

As Stuart Rothenberg points out, trouble abounds for the Dems:

Delaware’s Republican primary may well have lulled Democrats into a sense of complacency about their ability to hold the Senate after November’s elections. They would be wise to wake up if they want to avoid a nasty surprise on election night.

Tea party activists did indeed do Democrats a huge favor in selecting Christine O’Donnell (R) to oppose New Castle County Executive Chris Coons (D) in the fall. …

O’Donnell’s primary victory notwithstanding, Republicans are still headed for major Senate gains, and a 10-seat gain isn’t impossible. With a month to go until Nov. 2, Republicans have a clear advantage in five seats held by Democrats, with another five seats still in play. Unless things change, Republicans will likely hold all 18 of their seats up this cycle. No GOP incumbent is in any trouble — even Sens. Richard M. Burr (N.C.) and David Vitter (La.), who seemed at some risk early on, look headed for comfortable victories — and Republican open seats appear to be at limited risk.

Rothenberg reels off the same list of at-risk Democratic seats that we and others have noted — West Virginia, Indiana, Illinois, Arkansas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Nevada, etc.

Part of the “Dems’ comeback” meme is pushed by the media, which are anxious to give their Democratic friends a boost and to keep some suspense going. At Conventional Wisdom Central, Dan Balz of the Washington Post, the “comeback” storyline is supported by such concrete evidence as an e-mail from a Democratic strategist. (“I definitely have seen Democrats starting to come home and feel more strongly about the importance of preventing a Republican takeover of the Congress.”) But even his heart isn’t in it. He’s compelled to acknowledge for every pollyanaish Democratic strategist, there is a realist. (“One strategist who was in the thick of the battle in 1994 said nothing the Democrats tried that fall had an impact on the voters.”) And he confesses the false optimism reminds him of 2006. (“What’s eerie is that Republicans then were saying some of the same things Democrats are saying now.”)

Until we see real signs of movement in generic polling and key Democratic races, it’s safe to say that the Dems are in for a shellacking.

It happens about a month out before a wave election. The party about to be washed out sees a glimmer of hope — or thinks it does. The base gets a bit more engaged, but it really doesn’t amount to much. Hotline notes:

Democratic strategists have recently started experiencing a new feeling of optimism. There are indications, they say, that the party is showing the smallest signs of a turnaround, and that rumors of their electoral demise have been premature.

But instead of a comeback, Democrats are only experiencing the benefits of a base that is finally engaging. That base will help some Democratic candidates, but in total, the party still faces serious rehabilitation work with independent voters. The party’s major problems are most evident in three prominent races that are slowly, but inexorably, sliding toward Republicans.

As Stuart Rothenberg points out, trouble abounds for the Dems:

Delaware’s Republican primary may well have lulled Democrats into a sense of complacency about their ability to hold the Senate after November’s elections. They would be wise to wake up if they want to avoid a nasty surprise on election night.

Tea party activists did indeed do Democrats a huge favor in selecting Christine O’Donnell (R) to oppose New Castle County Executive Chris Coons (D) in the fall. …

O’Donnell’s primary victory notwithstanding, Republicans are still headed for major Senate gains, and a 10-seat gain isn’t impossible. With a month to go until Nov. 2, Republicans have a clear advantage in five seats held by Democrats, with another five seats still in play. Unless things change, Republicans will likely hold all 18 of their seats up this cycle. No GOP incumbent is in any trouble — even Sens. Richard M. Burr (N.C.) and David Vitter (La.), who seemed at some risk early on, look headed for comfortable victories — and Republican open seats appear to be at limited risk.

Rothenberg reels off the same list of at-risk Democratic seats that we and others have noted — West Virginia, Indiana, Illinois, Arkansas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Nevada, etc.

Part of the “Dems’ comeback” meme is pushed by the media, which are anxious to give their Democratic friends a boost and to keep some suspense going. At Conventional Wisdom Central, Dan Balz of the Washington Post, the “comeback” storyline is supported by such concrete evidence as an e-mail from a Democratic strategist. (“I definitely have seen Democrats starting to come home and feel more strongly about the importance of preventing a Republican takeover of the Congress.”) But even his heart isn’t in it. He’s compelled to acknowledge for every pollyanaish Democratic strategist, there is a realist. (“One strategist who was in the thick of the battle in 1994 said nothing the Democrats tried that fall had an impact on the voters.”) And he confesses the false optimism reminds him of 2006. (“What’s eerie is that Republicans then were saying some of the same things Democrats are saying now.”)

Until we see real signs of movement in generic polling and key Democratic races, it’s safe to say that the Dems are in for a shellacking.

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Why Woodward’s Portrayal Is So Devastating

Eliot Cohen’s must-read column looks at the way various figures — from President Karzai to Bibi to our generals — would regard the portrait of the White House painted in Bob Woodward’s book. The most compelling comes from a hypothetical general. A sample:

The president fired one of our truly great commanders not for things that he said but for tolerating indiscretion, disloyalty and disrespect among his subordinates — but do these people apply anything remotely like that standard to themselves?

If the president felt he was getting bad advice, why didn’t he just stop his review until he got real options? Or fire the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff? Why does he write a six-page memo that reads more like a prenuptial agreement written by a pessimistic lawyer than a strategy document?

… He says that if he continues with the war he can’t carry the Democratic Party with him. Has he tried? When was the last speech he gave on Afghanistan? Does he understand that leading soldiers, including generals, means not just being smart and picking an option as if he were ordering from a menu at a Chinese restaurant but also giving us some steel in the spine and fire in the belly when we begin to lose hope?

Other fictionalized reactions include Ahmadinejad and Bibi, who both must regard Obama as weak. It also, most poignantly, includes the father of a lance corporal. (“They’re sending my son where a bomb or a bullet may tear a limb or his life away. Do the people in the White House still believe in this ‘war of necessity’? And if not, can any of them look me in the eye?”)

Cohen captures the sense of bewilderment experienced by serious people (determined enemies, stressed allies, beleaguered generals, etc.) upon recognition (or confirmation) that our president is decidedly unserious.

Obama, in his public actions, has confounded supporters and infuriated critics. Why set a counterproductive deadline? Why beat up on our allies? Why telegraph that we want out of Afghanistan? He has confused supporters and opponents because they have given the president, to be blunt, too much credit. What Woodward has shown us, by pulling back the curtain, is a president who is exceedingly indifferent to facts, unmoved by professional advice, and driven almost entirely by concerns for managing his liberal base. In short, he behaves as if he is still running for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Couple that with an excessive stubbornness, and you have an administration that refuses to adjust to reality. The settlement-freeze moratorium has driven Middle East talks into the ground? No, never mind. Keep at it. The generals and his cabinet insist the Afghanistan war troop deadline is helping our enemies? Whatever. Repeat it in a nationally televised speech. The same is true in domestic policy. The stimulus is a bust? Come up with a slogan instead. (“Recovery summer.”) The public hates ObamaCare? Assume the voters are dolts and tell them they’ll learn to love it.

It is ironic. The left painted George Bush as an inflexible and hyperpartisan. He was portrayed as an isolated know-nothing. In reality, he was none of these things. But Obama certainly is. And once you understand that, it becomes a whole lot easier to predict and understand what he’s up to.

Eliot Cohen’s must-read column looks at the way various figures — from President Karzai to Bibi to our generals — would regard the portrait of the White House painted in Bob Woodward’s book. The most compelling comes from a hypothetical general. A sample:

The president fired one of our truly great commanders not for things that he said but for tolerating indiscretion, disloyalty and disrespect among his subordinates — but do these people apply anything remotely like that standard to themselves?

If the president felt he was getting bad advice, why didn’t he just stop his review until he got real options? Or fire the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff? Why does he write a six-page memo that reads more like a prenuptial agreement written by a pessimistic lawyer than a strategy document?

… He says that if he continues with the war he can’t carry the Democratic Party with him. Has he tried? When was the last speech he gave on Afghanistan? Does he understand that leading soldiers, including generals, means not just being smart and picking an option as if he were ordering from a menu at a Chinese restaurant but also giving us some steel in the spine and fire in the belly when we begin to lose hope?

Other fictionalized reactions include Ahmadinejad and Bibi, who both must regard Obama as weak. It also, most poignantly, includes the father of a lance corporal. (“They’re sending my son where a bomb or a bullet may tear a limb or his life away. Do the people in the White House still believe in this ‘war of necessity’? And if not, can any of them look me in the eye?”)

Cohen captures the sense of bewilderment experienced by serious people (determined enemies, stressed allies, beleaguered generals, etc.) upon recognition (or confirmation) that our president is decidedly unserious.

Obama, in his public actions, has confounded supporters and infuriated critics. Why set a counterproductive deadline? Why beat up on our allies? Why telegraph that we want out of Afghanistan? He has confused supporters and opponents because they have given the president, to be blunt, too much credit. What Woodward has shown us, by pulling back the curtain, is a president who is exceedingly indifferent to facts, unmoved by professional advice, and driven almost entirely by concerns for managing his liberal base. In short, he behaves as if he is still running for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Couple that with an excessive stubbornness, and you have an administration that refuses to adjust to reality. The settlement-freeze moratorium has driven Middle East talks into the ground? No, never mind. Keep at it. The generals and his cabinet insist the Afghanistan war troop deadline is helping our enemies? Whatever. Repeat it in a nationally televised speech. The same is true in domestic policy. The stimulus is a bust? Come up with a slogan instead. (“Recovery summer.”) The public hates ObamaCare? Assume the voters are dolts and tell them they’ll learn to love it.

It is ironic. The left painted George Bush as an inflexible and hyperpartisan. He was portrayed as an isolated know-nothing. In reality, he was none of these things. But Obama certainly is. And once you understand that, it becomes a whole lot easier to predict and understand what he’s up to.

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Chasing Away Donors

No wonder David Axelrod and the president are whining about money. Their side is short on it. It seems the big donors who gave so lavishly in 2008 are keeping their checkbooks closed this year. The New York Times explains:

The absence of these Democratic megadonors is contributing to a huge disparity in spending between pro-Republican and pro-Democratic groups. The groups wield huge influence in many House and Senate races because they can take in contributions of unlimited size.

In the last week, Republican-leaning groups outspent their Democratic counterparts on television by more than seven to one on Senate races and nearly four to one on House races across the country, according to data from the Campaign Media Analysis Group, which tracks political advertising. The gap shows few signs of abating, even with the midterm election season in full swing.

Why the stinginess? Well, the economy is bad, the party is going to lose big time — and the president excoriated independent spending, says the Gray Lady. You mean his donors took him seriously and got nervous? Seems so — another Obama brainstorm gone bad. It seems George Soros (aside from his J Street largess) is tightening the purse strings, as are other mega-donors. “Many major donors, in fact, seem to be drawing a distinction between continuing to support left-leaning policy organizations and other institutions, and giving money to political groups focused on this election.”

In sum, Obama’s policies have turned off business and leftist donors, and his rants on expenditures dimmed these people’s enthusiasm for campaign giving:

Some more ideological donors are also upset that the Obama administration has not been more aggressive in pushing a liberal agenda. Big donors from Wall Street, including hedge fund executives and investment bankers, are also angry at the administration.

It also appears, however, that Republicans have outmaneuvered their Democratic counterparts since the Citizens United decision. They have taken advantage of Democratic broadsides against the ruling, which have inevitably had an effect on the attitudes of Democratic donors.

For a campaign operation as astute as this one was, the Obama team has managed to turn off the electorate, its donors, and the media. That’s an impressive accomplishment.

No wonder David Axelrod and the president are whining about money. Their side is short on it. It seems the big donors who gave so lavishly in 2008 are keeping their checkbooks closed this year. The New York Times explains:

The absence of these Democratic megadonors is contributing to a huge disparity in spending between pro-Republican and pro-Democratic groups. The groups wield huge influence in many House and Senate races because they can take in contributions of unlimited size.

In the last week, Republican-leaning groups outspent their Democratic counterparts on television by more than seven to one on Senate races and nearly four to one on House races across the country, according to data from the Campaign Media Analysis Group, which tracks political advertising. The gap shows few signs of abating, even with the midterm election season in full swing.

Why the stinginess? Well, the economy is bad, the party is going to lose big time — and the president excoriated independent spending, says the Gray Lady. You mean his donors took him seriously and got nervous? Seems so — another Obama brainstorm gone bad. It seems George Soros (aside from his J Street largess) is tightening the purse strings, as are other mega-donors. “Many major donors, in fact, seem to be drawing a distinction between continuing to support left-leaning policy organizations and other institutions, and giving money to political groups focused on this election.”

In sum, Obama’s policies have turned off business and leftist donors, and his rants on expenditures dimmed these people’s enthusiasm for campaign giving:

Some more ideological donors are also upset that the Obama administration has not been more aggressive in pushing a liberal agenda. Big donors from Wall Street, including hedge fund executives and investment bankers, are also angry at the administration.

It also appears, however, that Republicans have outmaneuvered their Democratic counterparts since the Citizens United decision. They have taken advantage of Democratic broadsides against the ruling, which have inevitably had an effect on the attitudes of Democratic donors.

For a campaign operation as astute as this one was, the Obama team has managed to turn off the electorate, its donors, and the media. That’s an impressive accomplishment.

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“Count the Lies”

That’s how one observer of  J Street’s meltdown put it. Honestly, it’s hard to keep track. Eli Lake reveals a bunch more in his latest bombshell report:

J Street — the self-described pro-Israel, pro-peace lobbying group — facilitated meetings between members of Congress and South African Judge Richard Goldstone, author of the U.N. report that accused the Jewish state of systematic war crimes in its three-week military campaign against Hamas in Gaza.

Aside from the inexcusable shillery for the man whose report “is widely viewed as slanderous toward the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) among the American Jewish community and in Israel,” J Street — I know, you’ll be shocked — lied about its assistance to Goldstone. Lots of times.

First, there was Knesset member Colette Avital, who arranged the visit:

“When Judge Goldstone came to Washington, [J Street leaders were] suggesting that they might help him set up his appointments on Capitol Hill,” she said. Ms. Avital later disavowed knowledge of J Street’s dealings with Judge Goldstone during a conference call arranged by J Street’s president, Jeremy Ben-Ami.

After inducing Avital to recant, there were Ben-Ami’s own deceptions:

In a statement provided to The Washington Times this week, Mr. Ben-Ami said, “J Street did not host, arrange or facilitate any visit to Washington, D.C., by Judge Richard Goldstone.”

He went on to say, however, that “J Street staff spoke to colleagues at the organizations coordinating the meetings and, at their behest, reached out to a handful of congressional staff to inquire whether members would be interested in seeing Judge Goldstone.”

But it was far more than that, Lake reveals:

A senior officer of J Street, however, played a central role in arranging Judge Goldstone’s visit.

Judge Goldstone told The Times in an interview that he had sought the meetings after a discussion with longtime friend Morton H. Halperin — president of the Open Society Institute (OSI) and one of five senior officers at J Street, according to the group’s federal tax returns. Those forms list Mr. Halperin as a “director,” and say he spends 10 hours a week on J Street business.

“He suggested — and I agreed — that it would be a good idea for me to meet with some of the leading members of Congress,” Judge Goldstone said. “I thought it was important to correct the misimpressions.” He added that Mr. Halperin had hand-delivered a personal letter he had written to members of Congress.

And it turns out it was 10 or 12 meetings.

Another Ben-Ami half-truth: he claims that J Street “criticized the process at the U.N. Human Rights Council that led to his report and urged the U.S. to veto a possible Security Council resolution based on the report.” But, in fact, Halperin drafted Goldstone’s defense on Capitol Hill, and J Street never condemned the report’s contents.

And, of course, Soros and his multipronged operation are at the center of all of this:

All three organizations associated with Judge Goldstone’s visit to Washington — J Street, NAF and OSI — receive substantial funding from Hungarian-born billionaire, George Soros, a fierce critic of AIPAC and Israeli policies.

OSI controls nearly $2 billion in assets provided by Mr. Soros over the years. NAF, in turn, received $855,000 from OSI in 2009, though the money was not set aside for the think tank’s Middle East program. The Times disclosed last week that J Street had received $750,000 from Mr. Soros and his family despite repeated denials from the group that it had received any funding from Mr. Soros in the past.

Take your pick– is it the embrace of Israel’s enemies and slanderers or the lies that should send Soros Street to the ash heap of history? Both, I would suggest. Try as they might, not even the recipients of Soros Street’s cash (nor JTA) can spin this away. If you are on Richard Goldstone’s side, you are not pro-Israel. If you lie repeatedly, you lose your credibility, even with sympathetic media outlets. J Street is guilty on both counts. Perhaps Halperin, the all-purpose fixer for Soros, will turn off the lights at J Street on his way out.

That’s how one observer of  J Street’s meltdown put it. Honestly, it’s hard to keep track. Eli Lake reveals a bunch more in his latest bombshell report:

J Street — the self-described pro-Israel, pro-peace lobbying group — facilitated meetings between members of Congress and South African Judge Richard Goldstone, author of the U.N. report that accused the Jewish state of systematic war crimes in its three-week military campaign against Hamas in Gaza.

Aside from the inexcusable shillery for the man whose report “is widely viewed as slanderous toward the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) among the American Jewish community and in Israel,” J Street — I know, you’ll be shocked — lied about its assistance to Goldstone. Lots of times.

First, there was Knesset member Colette Avital, who arranged the visit:

“When Judge Goldstone came to Washington, [J Street leaders were] suggesting that they might help him set up his appointments on Capitol Hill,” she said. Ms. Avital later disavowed knowledge of J Street’s dealings with Judge Goldstone during a conference call arranged by J Street’s president, Jeremy Ben-Ami.

After inducing Avital to recant, there were Ben-Ami’s own deceptions:

In a statement provided to The Washington Times this week, Mr. Ben-Ami said, “J Street did not host, arrange or facilitate any visit to Washington, D.C., by Judge Richard Goldstone.”

He went on to say, however, that “J Street staff spoke to colleagues at the organizations coordinating the meetings and, at their behest, reached out to a handful of congressional staff to inquire whether members would be interested in seeing Judge Goldstone.”

But it was far more than that, Lake reveals:

A senior officer of J Street, however, played a central role in arranging Judge Goldstone’s visit.

Judge Goldstone told The Times in an interview that he had sought the meetings after a discussion with longtime friend Morton H. Halperin — president of the Open Society Institute (OSI) and one of five senior officers at J Street, according to the group’s federal tax returns. Those forms list Mr. Halperin as a “director,” and say he spends 10 hours a week on J Street business.

“He suggested — and I agreed — that it would be a good idea for me to meet with some of the leading members of Congress,” Judge Goldstone said. “I thought it was important to correct the misimpressions.” He added that Mr. Halperin had hand-delivered a personal letter he had written to members of Congress.

And it turns out it was 10 or 12 meetings.

Another Ben-Ami half-truth: he claims that J Street “criticized the process at the U.N. Human Rights Council that led to his report and urged the U.S. to veto a possible Security Council resolution based on the report.” But, in fact, Halperin drafted Goldstone’s defense on Capitol Hill, and J Street never condemned the report’s contents.

And, of course, Soros and his multipronged operation are at the center of all of this:

All three organizations associated with Judge Goldstone’s visit to Washington — J Street, NAF and OSI — receive substantial funding from Hungarian-born billionaire, George Soros, a fierce critic of AIPAC and Israeli policies.

OSI controls nearly $2 billion in assets provided by Mr. Soros over the years. NAF, in turn, received $855,000 from OSI in 2009, though the money was not set aside for the think tank’s Middle East program. The Times disclosed last week that J Street had received $750,000 from Mr. Soros and his family despite repeated denials from the group that it had received any funding from Mr. Soros in the past.

Take your pick– is it the embrace of Israel’s enemies and slanderers or the lies that should send Soros Street to the ash heap of history? Both, I would suggest. Try as they might, not even the recipients of Soros Street’s cash (nor JTA) can spin this away. If you are on Richard Goldstone’s side, you are not pro-Israel. If you lie repeatedly, you lose your credibility, even with sympathetic media outlets. J Street is guilty on both counts. Perhaps Halperin, the all-purpose fixer for Soros, will turn off the lights at J Street on his way out.

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Where Else Should He Go?

Obama is running out of places to go. There are just so many college campuses, and even his advisers must know that only a fraction of those kids are going to turn out to vote. He can’t go into swing districts for mega-events, because he’s likely to generate as much (if not more) opposition as support for his Democratic candidate. So it wasn’t unreasonable for him to go to small, supposedly friendly audiences. He wants to be shown “relating” and “empathizing” with ordinary Americans. But that, too, has gone very, very wrong. It seems they are quite miffed with him.

The Washington Post reports on his trip to Iowa:

Standing in the back yard of a resident, Obama stood patiently as one woman described, at length, her fears that the U.S. health-care system will soon resemble that of Great Britain. Next, a man spent several minutes describing the way his small business works – and his unhappiness with the prospects of a tax hike.

When the man veered off into his thoughts on Chinese currency, Obama interrupted.

“Okay, we’re going way afield now,” Obama said, jumping in to address part of the man’s earlier observations.

Too far afield, or he wasn’t briefed on it? And as for the rest, it’s about time Obama heard some unfiltered, unspun public reaction.

But Obama is still ambling down memory lane, recalling better days (“it was also a little bit of a nostalgia tour: Obama dropped by Baby Boomers Cafe, the restaurant that serves a chocolate chip cookie made popular by Obama and his campaign staff in 2008″). It is hard to see how any of this is helping Obama or Democratic candidates, and it is a measure of how far his political standing has fallen that it is hard to come up with a better alternative.

Obama is running out of places to go. There are just so many college campuses, and even his advisers must know that only a fraction of those kids are going to turn out to vote. He can’t go into swing districts for mega-events, because he’s likely to generate as much (if not more) opposition as support for his Democratic candidate. So it wasn’t unreasonable for him to go to small, supposedly friendly audiences. He wants to be shown “relating” and “empathizing” with ordinary Americans. But that, too, has gone very, very wrong. It seems they are quite miffed with him.

The Washington Post reports on his trip to Iowa:

Standing in the back yard of a resident, Obama stood patiently as one woman described, at length, her fears that the U.S. health-care system will soon resemble that of Great Britain. Next, a man spent several minutes describing the way his small business works – and his unhappiness with the prospects of a tax hike.

When the man veered off into his thoughts on Chinese currency, Obama interrupted.

“Okay, we’re going way afield now,” Obama said, jumping in to address part of the man’s earlier observations.

Too far afield, or he wasn’t briefed on it? And as for the rest, it’s about time Obama heard some unfiltered, unspun public reaction.

But Obama is still ambling down memory lane, recalling better days (“it was also a little bit of a nostalgia tour: Obama dropped by Baby Boomers Cafe, the restaurant that serves a chocolate chip cookie made popular by Obama and his campaign staff in 2008″). It is hard to see how any of this is helping Obama or Democratic candidates, and it is a measure of how far his political standing has fallen that it is hard to come up with a better alternative.

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Uh, the Democrats Are in BIG Trouble

Gallup reports:

Our latest measure for the week of Sept. 20-26 shows Republicans with a 20-percentage-point lead over Democrats in terms of the percentage of voters who are “very” enthusiastic about voting. Additionally, preliminary modeling of the likely electorate using Gallup’s traditional likely voter questions (more on this next week) suggests that if current patterns persist, Republicans could have a double-digit lead in the national House vote on Election Day, which would translate into Republicans gaining well above the number of seats necessary to control the House.

President Obama’s exhortations to the Democratic troops this week remind us that it’s possible that Democratic enthusiasm and likelihood to vote could rise in the weeks remaining between now and the election. At the moment, however, the Democrats are facing a major hurdle in overcoming what looks like a substantially disproportionate turnout among Republicans.

The White House must have the same polling data. Hence, Obama is out rallying the base. But the base doesn’t like being scolded. So he’s making things worse for his party. Again.

And do remember: the passage of ObamaCare was going to ensure that the base stayed motivated. It sure didn’t turn out that way. Who knew?

Gallup reports:

Our latest measure for the week of Sept. 20-26 shows Republicans with a 20-percentage-point lead over Democrats in terms of the percentage of voters who are “very” enthusiastic about voting. Additionally, preliminary modeling of the likely electorate using Gallup’s traditional likely voter questions (more on this next week) suggests that if current patterns persist, Republicans could have a double-digit lead in the national House vote on Election Day, which would translate into Republicans gaining well above the number of seats necessary to control the House.

President Obama’s exhortations to the Democratic troops this week remind us that it’s possible that Democratic enthusiasm and likelihood to vote could rise in the weeks remaining between now and the election. At the moment, however, the Democrats are facing a major hurdle in overcoming what looks like a substantially disproportionate turnout among Republicans.

The White House must have the same polling data. Hence, Obama is out rallying the base. But the base doesn’t like being scolded. So he’s making things worse for his party. Again.

And do remember: the passage of ObamaCare was going to ensure that the base stayed motivated. It sure didn’t turn out that way. Who knew?

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Never Learn, Do They?

At a time like this, you suspect that the Obami are incapable or unwilling to learn from past errors:

Senior White House officials told a group of Jewish lawmakers Wednesday morning that the Obama administration is pushing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to extend the now-lapsed settlement building moratorium for 60 days as one way to allow Israeli-Palestinian peace talks to continue, said Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) in an exclusive interview with The Cable. …

If Netanyahu accepts the deal, which he has shown no public signs of doing, negotiations begun by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sept. 1 would likely proceed past the U.S. midterm elections on Nov. 2. It is still unclear what exactly would be different on the Israeli or Palestinian sides after the 60 day period expired that would allow the process to move forward from there.

So aside from the fact that Netanyahu would reject it, and aside from the fact that it would only produce a repetition of the current Perils of Pauline routine, it is a fine idea.

Equally telling was this: “Levin, who organized the meeting, declined to specify how the White House is trying to convince Abbas to continue with the peace talks if the 60-day freeze is not implemented.” Most likely because the Obami have no plan; their sole “plan” is to plead with and pressure Bibi in private and in public.

The Obama team has never grasped their signal failure — the obsessive fixation on settlements. That fundamental diplomatic error (coupled with their refusal to accept that the PA is neither willing nor able to put an end to terrorism and to give up the dream of a one-state solution) means one thing: the entire Obama Middle East policy has been both a waste of time and counterproductive.

At a time like this, you suspect that the Obami are incapable or unwilling to learn from past errors:

Senior White House officials told a group of Jewish lawmakers Wednesday morning that the Obama administration is pushing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to extend the now-lapsed settlement building moratorium for 60 days as one way to allow Israeli-Palestinian peace talks to continue, said Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) in an exclusive interview with The Cable. …

If Netanyahu accepts the deal, which he has shown no public signs of doing, negotiations begun by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sept. 1 would likely proceed past the U.S. midterm elections on Nov. 2. It is still unclear what exactly would be different on the Israeli or Palestinian sides after the 60 day period expired that would allow the process to move forward from there.

So aside from the fact that Netanyahu would reject it, and aside from the fact that it would only produce a repetition of the current Perils of Pauline routine, it is a fine idea.

Equally telling was this: “Levin, who organized the meeting, declined to specify how the White House is trying to convince Abbas to continue with the peace talks if the 60-day freeze is not implemented.” Most likely because the Obami have no plan; their sole “plan” is to plead with and pressure Bibi in private and in public.

The Obama team has never grasped their signal failure — the obsessive fixation on settlements. That fundamental diplomatic error (coupled with their refusal to accept that the PA is neither willing nor able to put an end to terrorism and to give up the dream of a one-state solution) means one thing: the entire Obama Middle East policy has been both a waste of time and counterproductive.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Not going to happen: “Specifically, the smartest thing Obama could do in replacing outgoing Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel would be to pick an outsider who can address some of the obvious weaknesses his administration has. … It is critically important that Emanuel’s replacement have strong ties to the business community, a history of good relations with both parties in Congress, and the independence and integrity to be able to tell the president ‘no’ when he is wrong.”

Not going to be a good Election Day for Virginia Democrats. Three of the  four at-risk House Democrats trail GOP challengers, two by double digits. The fourth Republican trails narrowly.

Not close: “Republican Marco Rubio continues to hold an 11-point lead over independent candidate Charlie Crist in Florida’s race for the U.S. Senate. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in Florida finds Rubio with 41% support, while Crist, the state’s current governor, picks up 30% of the vote. Democrat Kendrick Meek comes in third with 21%.”

Not even handpicked audiences like him. In Iowa: “Holding the latest in a series of backyard meetings with middle-class voters, Obama heard one small businessman’s fears that his tax plans could ‘strangle’ job creation. The president also fielded concerns about high unemployment and the impact of his healthcare overhaul. It was a marked contrast to the enthusiastic university crowd that greeted Obama on Tuesday in Wisconsin when he sought to fire up his youthful base of support, and showed the obstacles his Democratic Party faces in the Nov. 2 elections.”

Not only Sen. Joe Lieberman is calling for Obama to get tough on Iran: “Barack Obama’s policy to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear weapons capability is under pressure from members of Congress, who argue that Washington should make clear it will consider military action unless sanctions yield swift results. … Howard Berman, the Democratic chairman of the House of Representatives foreign affairs committee, said recently the administration had ‘months, not years’ to make sanctions work. He added that military action was preferable to accepting an Iran with nuclear weapons capability.”

Not encouraging: “One of the most remarkable aspects of Bob Woodward’s new book, ‘Obama’s Wars,’ is its portrait of a White House that has all but resigned itself to failure in Afghanistan.” In fact, it is reprehensible for the commander in chief to order young Americans into war without confidence and commitment in their mission.

Not a fan. David Brooks on Alaska’s Sen. Lisa Murkowski: “I can’t imagine what Murkowski is thinking. The lady must have too many admiring conversations with the mirrors in her house.” Ouch.

Not a vote of confidence from one of Soros Street’s more sympathetic observers: “Will J Street even be around in its current form in coming days, now that it is enveloped in a scandal (more of a cover-up than a crime, in the traditional Washington style)?”

Not going to happen: “Specifically, the smartest thing Obama could do in replacing outgoing Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel would be to pick an outsider who can address some of the obvious weaknesses his administration has. … It is critically important that Emanuel’s replacement have strong ties to the business community, a history of good relations with both parties in Congress, and the independence and integrity to be able to tell the president ‘no’ when he is wrong.”

Not going to be a good Election Day for Virginia Democrats. Three of the  four at-risk House Democrats trail GOP challengers, two by double digits. The fourth Republican trails narrowly.

Not close: “Republican Marco Rubio continues to hold an 11-point lead over independent candidate Charlie Crist in Florida’s race for the U.S. Senate. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in Florida finds Rubio with 41% support, while Crist, the state’s current governor, picks up 30% of the vote. Democrat Kendrick Meek comes in third with 21%.”

Not even handpicked audiences like him. In Iowa: “Holding the latest in a series of backyard meetings with middle-class voters, Obama heard one small businessman’s fears that his tax plans could ‘strangle’ job creation. The president also fielded concerns about high unemployment and the impact of his healthcare overhaul. It was a marked contrast to the enthusiastic university crowd that greeted Obama on Tuesday in Wisconsin when he sought to fire up his youthful base of support, and showed the obstacles his Democratic Party faces in the Nov. 2 elections.”

Not only Sen. Joe Lieberman is calling for Obama to get tough on Iran: “Barack Obama’s policy to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear weapons capability is under pressure from members of Congress, who argue that Washington should make clear it will consider military action unless sanctions yield swift results. … Howard Berman, the Democratic chairman of the House of Representatives foreign affairs committee, said recently the administration had ‘months, not years’ to make sanctions work. He added that military action was preferable to accepting an Iran with nuclear weapons capability.”

Not encouraging: “One of the most remarkable aspects of Bob Woodward’s new book, ‘Obama’s Wars,’ is its portrait of a White House that has all but resigned itself to failure in Afghanistan.” In fact, it is reprehensible for the commander in chief to order young Americans into war without confidence and commitment in their mission.

Not a fan. David Brooks on Alaska’s Sen. Lisa Murkowski: “I can’t imagine what Murkowski is thinking. The lady must have too many admiring conversations with the mirrors in her house.” Ouch.

Not a vote of confidence from one of Soros Street’s more sympathetic observers: “Will J Street even be around in its current form in coming days, now that it is enveloped in a scandal (more of a cover-up than a crime, in the traditional Washington style)?”

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