Commentary Magazine


Posts For: October 11, 2010

Why the November Election Will Be Unprecedented

Gallup just released its weekly “generic” poll, and for the second week in a row it is forecasting a colossal wipeout for Democrats — with likely voters voting Republican by a margin between 12 and 17 points. Rasmussen, widely and unfairly considered biased towards Republicans, has shown a markedly smaller Republican lead, but this week its likely-voter number has Republicans besting Democrats by 8 percent. Meanwhile, statewide and district-wide polls suggest that a minor surge by Democrats at the end of September seems either to have evaporated or was never all that real in the first place.

The potential for a GOP landslide has been much-discussed. One thing that has been less noted is the extraordinarily dramatic nature of the voter turnaround here. In 1992, the election that preceded the one in November 1994, the non-Democratic vote for president nationwide was 57 percent (Bush + Perot), and  Republicans actually picked up 9 seats in the House. It is true that the 1994 elections came as a huge surprise, but that was in part due to an odd misreading of the election results in 1992 by pundits and pollsters and Bill Clinton, who staked his first two years on a massive government health-care plan rather than taking account of the fact that 19 percent of Americans had just voted for a lunatic single-issue candidate who spent a year yelling and screaming about the size of the deficit. Those Perot voters took a look at Clinton and simply integrated themselves into the GOP electorate.

The story of America since 2006 is radically different. In the two elections preceding this one, Democratsoutperformed Republicans nationally by a margin of 53-46 both in the 2006 midterm and the 2008 Obama triumph. The results in 2010, if they go as it appears they will, are unlike those in 1992 because there was nothing in 2008 that anticipated them.

An 8-t0-15 point Republican margin in 2010, which seems increasingly possible, will represent a partisan and ideological turnaround of 15 to 24 percent. That is without precedent in the modern era. At the presidential level, Ronald Reagan’s victory over Jimmy Carter in 1980 was a landslide but still featured a shift away from Carter of 11 points among the electorate (Carter dropped from 51 percent in 1976 to 40 percent). George W. Bush did increase his own vote total by 22 percent between 2000 and 2004, but that was an affirmation of what was taken to be a successful first term, not a repudiation of the party in power (and John Kerry increased the Democratic vote total over 2000 by 15 percent).

Michael Barone has described the current political dynamic as suggestive of a new “open-field politics” in which every election is any party’s to win. Certainly, the fact that the majority of the vote went from center-left in 2000 (Gore+Nader=53 percent) to center-right in 2002 and 2004 to liberal left in 2006 and 2008 demonstrates a far greater ideological and partisan fluidity than we’ve ever seen. But Barone’s term doesn’t quite get at the vertiginous effect of a shift as extreme as the one we may be seeing in 2010.

There’s no reason to think that independents and disaffected Democrats are going to become Republicans, the way the Perotistas did. But the goings-on after Barack Obama’s inauguration may have created a new swing-voting camp of anti-liberals, at least as far as Democratic party orthodoxy defines “liberal,” and how this new camp views the post-November political dynamic will define American politics for the next decade.

Gallup just released its weekly “generic” poll, and for the second week in a row it is forecasting a colossal wipeout for Democrats — with likely voters voting Republican by a margin between 12 and 17 points. Rasmussen, widely and unfairly considered biased towards Republicans, has shown a markedly smaller Republican lead, but this week its likely-voter number has Republicans besting Democrats by 8 percent. Meanwhile, statewide and district-wide polls suggest that a minor surge by Democrats at the end of September seems either to have evaporated or was never all that real in the first place.

The potential for a GOP landslide has been much-discussed. One thing that has been less noted is the extraordinarily dramatic nature of the voter turnaround here. In 1992, the election that preceded the one in November 1994, the non-Democratic vote for president nationwide was 57 percent (Bush + Perot), and  Republicans actually picked up 9 seats in the House. It is true that the 1994 elections came as a huge surprise, but that was in part due to an odd misreading of the election results in 1992 by pundits and pollsters and Bill Clinton, who staked his first two years on a massive government health-care plan rather than taking account of the fact that 19 percent of Americans had just voted for a lunatic single-issue candidate who spent a year yelling and screaming about the size of the deficit. Those Perot voters took a look at Clinton and simply integrated themselves into the GOP electorate.

The story of America since 2006 is radically different. In the two elections preceding this one, Democratsoutperformed Republicans nationally by a margin of 53-46 both in the 2006 midterm and the 2008 Obama triumph. The results in 2010, if they go as it appears they will, are unlike those in 1992 because there was nothing in 2008 that anticipated them.

An 8-t0-15 point Republican margin in 2010, which seems increasingly possible, will represent a partisan and ideological turnaround of 15 to 24 percent. That is without precedent in the modern era. At the presidential level, Ronald Reagan’s victory over Jimmy Carter in 1980 was a landslide but still featured a shift away from Carter of 11 points among the electorate (Carter dropped from 51 percent in 1976 to 40 percent). George W. Bush did increase his own vote total by 22 percent between 2000 and 2004, but that was an affirmation of what was taken to be a successful first term, not a repudiation of the party in power (and John Kerry increased the Democratic vote total over 2000 by 15 percent).

Michael Barone has described the current political dynamic as suggestive of a new “open-field politics” in which every election is any party’s to win. Certainly, the fact that the majority of the vote went from center-left in 2000 (Gore+Nader=53 percent) to center-right in 2002 and 2004 to liberal left in 2006 and 2008 demonstrates a far greater ideological and partisan fluidity than we’ve ever seen. But Barone’s term doesn’t quite get at the vertiginous effect of a shift as extreme as the one we may be seeing in 2010.

There’s no reason to think that independents and disaffected Democrats are going to become Republicans, the way the Perotistas did. But the goings-on after Barack Obama’s inauguration may have created a new swing-voting camp of anti-liberals, at least as far as Democratic party orthodoxy defines “liberal,” and how this new camp views the post-November political dynamic will define American politics for the next decade.

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Bad News for Dems: Soros Only Bets on Winners

The New York Times politics blog reports that at an appearance last week sponsored by the Bretton Woods Committee, left-wing billionaire George Soros conceded the midterm elections to the GOP. Soros was a major backer of liberal Democratic candidates in the past three election cycles but said that he has backed off in 2010:

Asked if the prospect of Republican control of one or both houses of Congress concerned him, he said: “It does, because I think they are pushing the wrong policies, but I’m not in a position to stop it. I don’t believe in standing in the way of an avalanche.”

Soros may be wrong about almost everything in terms of policy in his financing of left-wing politicians and groups that seek to undermine the defense of American interests against Islamist terror and the U.S. alliance with Israel (J Street). But he didn’t get filthy rich by betting on losers. In other words, that rumbling sound you’ve been hearing the past few months, and which liberal writers at the Times and elsewhere have been interpreting as the upsurge of an extremist conservative Tea Party faction that will soon recede, is actually the sound of a genuine and broad-based electoral landslide that is about to bury the congressional Democratic majority that Soros worked so hard to create.

The New York Times politics blog reports that at an appearance last week sponsored by the Bretton Woods Committee, left-wing billionaire George Soros conceded the midterm elections to the GOP. Soros was a major backer of liberal Democratic candidates in the past three election cycles but said that he has backed off in 2010:

Asked if the prospect of Republican control of one or both houses of Congress concerned him, he said: “It does, because I think they are pushing the wrong policies, but I’m not in a position to stop it. I don’t believe in standing in the way of an avalanche.”

Soros may be wrong about almost everything in terms of policy in his financing of left-wing politicians and groups that seek to undermine the defense of American interests against Islamist terror and the U.S. alliance with Israel (J Street). But he didn’t get filthy rich by betting on losers. In other words, that rumbling sound you’ve been hearing the past few months, and which liberal writers at the Times and elsewhere have been interpreting as the upsurge of an extremist conservative Tea Party faction that will soon recede, is actually the sound of a genuine and broad-based electoral landslide that is about to bury the congressional Democratic majority that Soros worked so hard to create.

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Good Luck with That

West Virginia’s Senate seat is slipping away from the Democrats. In a wave election year, the voters there may decide it is more important to keep their governor home and to send to Congress someone to block Obama’s agenda. So Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin is trying to run from and against the Obama agenda:

In an interview on Fox News, Manchin said he is open to repealing the new healthcare law — the signature accomplishment of Democrats during Obama’s time in the White House.

The governor also took to the airwaves to tout his independence, releasing a TV ad in which he’s shown shooting a hole through the cap-and-trade bill favored by Obama and House Democrats.

The moves by the governor come amid new polls that show Manchin trailing Republican John Raese in the West Virginia Senate race. Manchin was once considered a shoo-in for the seat, long held by the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D), but Raese has surged ahead in polls in part by branding Manchin as a rubber-stamp for the Obama administration.

So far, it is not working. Republican John Raese has a lead of 4.5 points in the RealClearPolitics.com poll. It’s not clear that running against Obama is a viable strategy for Democrats, but neither is running on his unpopular agenda. In short, that’s why so many Democrats will lose in three weeks.

West Virginia’s Senate seat is slipping away from the Democrats. In a wave election year, the voters there may decide it is more important to keep their governor home and to send to Congress someone to block Obama’s agenda. So Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin is trying to run from and against the Obama agenda:

In an interview on Fox News, Manchin said he is open to repealing the new healthcare law — the signature accomplishment of Democrats during Obama’s time in the White House.

The governor also took to the airwaves to tout his independence, releasing a TV ad in which he’s shown shooting a hole through the cap-and-trade bill favored by Obama and House Democrats.

The moves by the governor come amid new polls that show Manchin trailing Republican John Raese in the West Virginia Senate race. Manchin was once considered a shoo-in for the seat, long held by the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D), but Raese has surged ahead in polls in part by branding Manchin as a rubber-stamp for the Obama administration.

So far, it is not working. Republican John Raese has a lead of 4.5 points in the RealClearPolitics.com poll. It’s not clear that running against Obama is a viable strategy for Democrats, but neither is running on his unpopular agenda. In short, that’s why so many Democrats will lose in three weeks.

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From the October Issue: ‘The Mosque and the Mythical Backlash’

On August 25, 2010, a New York City cabdriver was slashed and stabbed by a drunken passenger who allegedly accompanied his assault with anti-Muslim remarks. The driver, Ahmed H. Sharif, a native of Bangladesh, survived the attack, and the accused assailant was quickly arrested and faces a stiff prison sentence. Attacks on New York cabdrivers are not unheard of, but this incident quickly assumed the nature of a symbol of American intolerance for Muslims because of the contentious national debate over plans to build an Islamic community center two blocks from Ground Zero—the site of the former World Trade Center destroyed in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

To read the rest of this article from the October issue of COMMENTARY magazine, click here.

On August 25, 2010, a New York City cabdriver was slashed and stabbed by a drunken passenger who allegedly accompanied his assault with anti-Muslim remarks. The driver, Ahmed H. Sharif, a native of Bangladesh, survived the attack, and the accused assailant was quickly arrested and faces a stiff prison sentence. Attacks on New York cabdrivers are not unheard of, but this incident quickly assumed the nature of a symbol of American intolerance for Muslims because of the contentious national debate over plans to build an Islamic community center two blocks from Ground Zero—the site of the former World Trade Center destroyed in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

To read the rest of this article from the October issue of COMMENTARY magazine, click here.

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Friendly Fire

A Special Forces friend of mine once vowed that, if he were killed by “friendly fire,” he would come back from the grave and haunt any family members who dared to complain about the manner of his death. His point was that battle involves the risk of getting killed, and it doesn’t much matter whether the bullet was fired by your side or by the enemy. He didn’t want the kind of spectacle made of his death that has occurred over Pat Tillman, the former NFL player who, while serving as a Ranger in Afghanistan, was accidentally killed by fellow Rangers.

I thought of his comments as I read about the growing brouhaha over the tragic death of British aid worker Linda Norgrove in Afghanistan. There are now rumors circulating that she may have been killed by a grenade tossed by a member of the American hostage-rescue force — presumably a Navy SEAL — and not by her captors. The British prime minister says that he finds this development to be “deeply distressing.” I can understand him being distressed by the fact that this selfless aid worker was kidnapped by brutal fanatics and that she died as a result. But does it make her death any worse if it was caused inadvertently by a rescuer than deliberately by a kidnapper? As far as I am concerned, whatever the case, moral culpability rests with the heartless fanatics who grabbed her. Period. End of story.

A Special Forces friend of mine once vowed that, if he were killed by “friendly fire,” he would come back from the grave and haunt any family members who dared to complain about the manner of his death. His point was that battle involves the risk of getting killed, and it doesn’t much matter whether the bullet was fired by your side or by the enemy. He didn’t want the kind of spectacle made of his death that has occurred over Pat Tillman, the former NFL player who, while serving as a Ranger in Afghanistan, was accidentally killed by fellow Rangers.

I thought of his comments as I read about the growing brouhaha over the tragic death of British aid worker Linda Norgrove in Afghanistan. There are now rumors circulating that she may have been killed by a grenade tossed by a member of the American hostage-rescue force — presumably a Navy SEAL — and not by her captors. The British prime minister says that he finds this development to be “deeply distressing.” I can understand him being distressed by the fact that this selfless aid worker was kidnapped by brutal fanatics and that she died as a result. But does it make her death any worse if it was caused inadvertently by a rescuer than deliberately by a kidnapper? As far as I am concerned, whatever the case, moral culpability rests with the heartless fanatics who grabbed her. Period. End of story.

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Does Schumer Care About CAIR?

Chuck Schumer, the wanna-be majority (minority?) leader for the next Senate, is doing a fundraiser for the hapless Joe Sestak in Philadelphia tonight. The Toomey camp has jumped on this, challenging Sestak to answer questions about his association with CAIR. In a statement, Toomey’s campaign reminds us that in 2003, Schumer declared in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing: “We know [CAIR] has ties to terrorism.” So the Toomey camp wants to know if Sestak now agrees with Schumer, and if he thinks it’s appropriate to keynote for CAIR and praise “its good work.” The campaign also tucks in this bombshell: “Will Congressman Sestak return the $2,000 he has received from officers of CAIR?”

Wait. Sestak keynoted for them, praised them, and then got money from them — a group that refuses to condemn Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist groups and that has had multiple officials indicted for and convicted of terrorist activities? In fact, Sestak received donations from the then-president, treasurer, and chairman of the Pennsylvania chapter of CAIR. He is plainly the group’s choice candidate. (These donations were made between 2006 and 2009.)

So let’s get this straight: Sestak took money from Soros Street (which wrote Richard Goldstone’s defense case and escorted him around Capitol Hill) and from CAIR, which the Democrats’ leader-in-waiting has deemed to have terrorist ties. Sestak may already be a dead duck. But what is Chuck Schumer, the great friend of Israel, doing with this guy? Schumer has had it both ways of late. He’s made heartfelt speeches to AIPAC and grumbled about Obama in the Jewish media, but when it comes to the national Democratic stage, he seems to jettison all those concerns. At some point, Schumer’s pro-Israel supporters may want a more consistent advocate for their cause.

And in the meantime, Sestak should disgorge this money.

Chuck Schumer, the wanna-be majority (minority?) leader for the next Senate, is doing a fundraiser for the hapless Joe Sestak in Philadelphia tonight. The Toomey camp has jumped on this, challenging Sestak to answer questions about his association with CAIR. In a statement, Toomey’s campaign reminds us that in 2003, Schumer declared in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing: “We know [CAIR] has ties to terrorism.” So the Toomey camp wants to know if Sestak now agrees with Schumer, and if he thinks it’s appropriate to keynote for CAIR and praise “its good work.” The campaign also tucks in this bombshell: “Will Congressman Sestak return the $2,000 he has received from officers of CAIR?”

Wait. Sestak keynoted for them, praised them, and then got money from them — a group that refuses to condemn Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist groups and that has had multiple officials indicted for and convicted of terrorist activities? In fact, Sestak received donations from the then-president, treasurer, and chairman of the Pennsylvania chapter of CAIR. He is plainly the group’s choice candidate. (These donations were made between 2006 and 2009.)

So let’s get this straight: Sestak took money from Soros Street (which wrote Richard Goldstone’s defense case and escorted him around Capitol Hill) and from CAIR, which the Democrats’ leader-in-waiting has deemed to have terrorist ties. Sestak may already be a dead duck. But what is Chuck Schumer, the great friend of Israel, doing with this guy? Schumer has had it both ways of late. He’s made heartfelt speeches to AIPAC and grumbled about Obama in the Jewish media, but when it comes to the national Democratic stage, he seems to jettison all those concerns. At some point, Schumer’s pro-Israel supporters may want a more consistent advocate for their cause.

And in the meantime, Sestak should disgorge this money.

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Widening Conservatives’ Vision

Matt Continetti makes an extraordinarily smart point about conservatives’ agenda:

Numbercrunching is a valuable skill, but it also has a tendency to crimp the political imagination. So Republicans must be careful as they trim expenses. Otherwise they’ll fall into the austerity trap.

In the austerity trap, Republican congressmen get so outraged over earmarks to fund studies of the mating patterns of red-bellied newts, they neglect legislation that would foster long-term growth. Deficit anxiety causes conservative lawmakers to rule out sensible policies like a payroll tax cut. A myopic focus on government spending causes Republican leaders to short-change the defense budget and renege on America’s global responsibilities. The entitlement nightmare frightens GOP candidates into framing their economic agenda in strictly negative terms.

To a degree, we have already seen this in the preliminary rounds of the 2012 campaign. As Michael Barone points out, Mitch Daniels is gaining visibility as a sober-minded skinflint. No one has a better command of numbers or can come up with more creative ways of taming entitlements. But he also exhibits the danger signs that Matt enumerates. When I asked Daniels about foreign policy, it was apparent that he regarded this as a line item. He cautioned that we need to prune defense spending and also that we the need to cut back on our overseas commitments. (Which ones?)

Matt suggests one way to avoid the “austerity trap”: “The best place to combine fiscal rectitude and pro-growth economics is the tax code. After repealing Obama-care, the second agenda item for the new GOP Congress is extending current tax rates. Then, go for tax reform.”

And there is something else that is needed: a positive message centered on faith in the common man, love of liberty, and restoration of America’s greatness. Americans may be overdosed on charisma and lofty messages, you say. But perhaps it’s just substanceless rhetoric that has worn out its welcome. Conservatism needs both the notes and the melody — smart policies combined with a reminder that the rationale for limited government isn’t found in accounting manuals, but in the Preamble to the Constitution.

Matt Continetti makes an extraordinarily smart point about conservatives’ agenda:

Numbercrunching is a valuable skill, but it also has a tendency to crimp the political imagination. So Republicans must be careful as they trim expenses. Otherwise they’ll fall into the austerity trap.

In the austerity trap, Republican congressmen get so outraged over earmarks to fund studies of the mating patterns of red-bellied newts, they neglect legislation that would foster long-term growth. Deficit anxiety causes conservative lawmakers to rule out sensible policies like a payroll tax cut. A myopic focus on government spending causes Republican leaders to short-change the defense budget and renege on America’s global responsibilities. The entitlement nightmare frightens GOP candidates into framing their economic agenda in strictly negative terms.

To a degree, we have already seen this in the preliminary rounds of the 2012 campaign. As Michael Barone points out, Mitch Daniels is gaining visibility as a sober-minded skinflint. No one has a better command of numbers or can come up with more creative ways of taming entitlements. But he also exhibits the danger signs that Matt enumerates. When I asked Daniels about foreign policy, it was apparent that he regarded this as a line item. He cautioned that we need to prune defense spending and also that we the need to cut back on our overseas commitments. (Which ones?)

Matt suggests one way to avoid the “austerity trap”: “The best place to combine fiscal rectitude and pro-growth economics is the tax code. After repealing Obama-care, the second agenda item for the new GOP Congress is extending current tax rates. Then, go for tax reform.”

And there is something else that is needed: a positive message centered on faith in the common man, love of liberty, and restoration of America’s greatness. Americans may be overdosed on charisma and lofty messages, you say. But perhaps it’s just substanceless rhetoric that has worn out its welcome. Conservatism needs both the notes and the melody — smart policies combined with a reminder that the rationale for limited government isn’t found in accounting manuals, but in the Preamble to the Constitution.

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An Emotionally Satisfying Peace Process

Jeffrey Goldberg writes that he is “agnostic” about whether the Palestinians must acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state. He needs three hands to set forth his views:  (1) “on the one hand, it seems to be an unnecessary and provocative demand;” (2) but “on the other hand … it would be emotionally satisfying” if the Palestinians acknowledged Jewish ties to the Land; (3) but “on the other other hand, the success of a peace treaty will not hinge on … whether Palestinians acknowledge [a Jewish state] on paper” but on “more practical, concrete, and internationally-safeguarded guarantees.”

If adjectives were analysis, the issue would be clear: between (a) an “emotionally satisfying” paper acknowledgment and (b) “practical, concrete, and internationally-safeguarded guarantees,” one would presumably prefer the latter – at least until one reflected on the meaning of “safeguarded guarantees” (which apparently are “guaranteed guarantees” from that famously reliable guarantor, the international community).

The flurry of adjectives in Goldberg’s post obscures the issue, which is not emotional satisfaction for Israelis but a requirement that Palestinians explain why, exactly, the demand for recognition of a Jewish state is “provocative.”  Netanyahu articulated the issue last month while visiting Sderot (and returned to the subject of a Jewish state in extended remarks to the cabinet yesterday):

When the Palestinians refuse to say something so simple, the question is – why? You want to flood the State of Israel about refugees so that it will no longer have a Jewish majority? You want to tear off parts of the Galilee and the Negev into mini-states? In a peace agreement, there will be simplest symmetry: Israel recognizes the Palestinian state – and the Palestinians recognize the Jewish state. This is so simple.

Guaranteed guarantees may be emotionally satisfying to peace processors, but peace will not occur until the Palestinians and their Arab supporters are ready to recognize Israel as a Jewish state within defensible borders.

Jeffrey Goldberg writes that he is “agnostic” about whether the Palestinians must acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state. He needs three hands to set forth his views:  (1) “on the one hand, it seems to be an unnecessary and provocative demand;” (2) but “on the other hand … it would be emotionally satisfying” if the Palestinians acknowledged Jewish ties to the Land; (3) but “on the other other hand, the success of a peace treaty will not hinge on … whether Palestinians acknowledge [a Jewish state] on paper” but on “more practical, concrete, and internationally-safeguarded guarantees.”

If adjectives were analysis, the issue would be clear: between (a) an “emotionally satisfying” paper acknowledgment and (b) “practical, concrete, and internationally-safeguarded guarantees,” one would presumably prefer the latter – at least until one reflected on the meaning of “safeguarded guarantees” (which apparently are “guaranteed guarantees” from that famously reliable guarantor, the international community).

The flurry of adjectives in Goldberg’s post obscures the issue, which is not emotional satisfaction for Israelis but a requirement that Palestinians explain why, exactly, the demand for recognition of a Jewish state is “provocative.”  Netanyahu articulated the issue last month while visiting Sderot (and returned to the subject of a Jewish state in extended remarks to the cabinet yesterday):

When the Palestinians refuse to say something so simple, the question is – why? You want to flood the State of Israel about refugees so that it will no longer have a Jewish majority? You want to tear off parts of the Galilee and the Negev into mini-states? In a peace agreement, there will be simplest symmetry: Israel recognizes the Palestinian state – and the Palestinians recognize the Jewish state. This is so simple.

Guaranteed guarantees may be emotionally satisfying to peace processors, but peace will not occur until the Palestinians and their Arab supporters are ready to recognize Israel as a Jewish state within defensible borders.

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Another Strategy in the War on Free Speech

The war on free speech has taken an ominous turn. It was bad enough when campaign finance “reformers” were imploring the Congress and courts to stifle core political speech. But now they’ve adopted a new tactic:

Since the Supreme Court’s January decision in Citizens United v. FEC, Democrats in Congress have been trying to pass legislation to repeal the First Amendment for business, though not for unions. Having failed on that score, they’re now turning to legal and political threats. Funny how all of this outrage never surfaced when the likes of Peter Lewis of Progressive insurance and George Soros helped to make Democrats financially dominant in 2006 and 2008.

Chairman Max Baucus of the powerful Senate Finance Committee got the threats going last month when he asked Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Douglas Shulman to investigate if certain tax exempt 501(c) groups had violated the law by engaging in too much political campaign activity. Lest there be any confusion about his targets, the Montana Democrat flagged articles focused on GOP-leaning groups, including Americans for Job Security and American Crossroads.

Not since Richard Nixon has the IRS been employed to target political enemies. Where does the IRS commissioner stand on this? Is he going to take auditing directions from politicians seeking partisan advantage? It would be appropriate when Congress convenes in January for the new GOP chairmen to conduct some hearings and make sure the IRS isn’t going to allow itself to be used in this fashion. The surest way, however, to prevent that is for Democratic pols to cease using the tax authority to intimidate and attack their political opponents.

The war on free speech has taken an ominous turn. It was bad enough when campaign finance “reformers” were imploring the Congress and courts to stifle core political speech. But now they’ve adopted a new tactic:

Since the Supreme Court’s January decision in Citizens United v. FEC, Democrats in Congress have been trying to pass legislation to repeal the First Amendment for business, though not for unions. Having failed on that score, they’re now turning to legal and political threats. Funny how all of this outrage never surfaced when the likes of Peter Lewis of Progressive insurance and George Soros helped to make Democrats financially dominant in 2006 and 2008.

Chairman Max Baucus of the powerful Senate Finance Committee got the threats going last month when he asked Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Douglas Shulman to investigate if certain tax exempt 501(c) groups had violated the law by engaging in too much political campaign activity. Lest there be any confusion about his targets, the Montana Democrat flagged articles focused on GOP-leaning groups, including Americans for Job Security and American Crossroads.

Not since Richard Nixon has the IRS been employed to target political enemies. Where does the IRS commissioner stand on this? Is he going to take auditing directions from politicians seeking partisan advantage? It would be appropriate when Congress convenes in January for the new GOP chairmen to conduct some hearings and make sure the IRS isn’t going to allow itself to be used in this fashion. The surest way, however, to prevent that is for Democratic pols to cease using the tax authority to intimidate and attack their political opponents.

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The Israel Obsession Claims Another Victim: Europe’s Global Status

In his usual undiplomatic fashion, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told his French and Spanish counterparts yesterday that they should solve Europe’s own problems — like Kosovo and Cyprus — before trying to tell Israel how to solve its problems. That predictably infuriated his guests. Yet in this instance, Lieberman was largely echoing the advice of one of the European Union’s own members — and not one known for pro-Israel sentiment.

Last month, Finnish Foreign Minister Alex Stubb presented the results of research he conducted into what EU foreign ministers do and don’t discuss during their monthly meetings. The results were astounding.

For instance, he found that over the past four years, the ministers had held exactly one discussion on the role of China as a foreign policy power. Yet given China’s growing assertiveness on the world stage, that would surely rank at the top of just about anyone’s list of major foreign policy issues.

So what were EU foreign ministers devoting their time to instead? To quote the New York Times’ summary,

Mr. Stubb’s research shows how foreign ministers tend to devote their discussions to crises, and to issues where Europe has limited influence.

For example, in 2009 and 2010, European foreign ministers discussed the Middle East peace process 12 times.

In other words, the ministers devoted more than half of their monthly meetings during this period (since 2010 isn’t a full year) to the Middle East peace process — an issue on which, by their own admission, they have little influence. Indeed, the main purpose of this week’s Israel visit was “to raise European involvement in the current diplomatic process, at a time when the EU’s role has proven very minimal.”

As a result, they have been neglecting issues of far more importance, like how to deal with a rising China. And the result is that Europe is rapidly losing its global power and influence. As Stubb said earlier last month, “Arguably, today Turkey is more influential in the world than any of our member states together or separately” — an embarrassing admission from a bloc that has repeatedly spurned this unwanted applicant for membership from Europe’s eastern flank.

Stubb’s conclusion from his research was that “for too long we have been preaching, paternalizing the rest of the world,” and now “we need to pick our fights better.”

That’s good general advice, but his own findings indicate that the problem is a good deal more specific: it’s the EU’s obsession with Israel in particular that has served as the main distraction. This obsession has prevented it from devoting time and attention to more important issues, like China, and to issues on which the EU could have a greater impact. And consequently, it has contributed significantly to the EU’s waning global status.

I’ve written repeatedly about the price the global obsession with Israel exacts worldwide, from victims of human rights abuses whose plights are ignored owing to this obsession, to Western democracy itself. But it seems that the Israel obsession can now chalk up one more victim: European power.

In his usual undiplomatic fashion, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told his French and Spanish counterparts yesterday that they should solve Europe’s own problems — like Kosovo and Cyprus — before trying to tell Israel how to solve its problems. That predictably infuriated his guests. Yet in this instance, Lieberman was largely echoing the advice of one of the European Union’s own members — and not one known for pro-Israel sentiment.

Last month, Finnish Foreign Minister Alex Stubb presented the results of research he conducted into what EU foreign ministers do and don’t discuss during their monthly meetings. The results were astounding.

For instance, he found that over the past four years, the ministers had held exactly one discussion on the role of China as a foreign policy power. Yet given China’s growing assertiveness on the world stage, that would surely rank at the top of just about anyone’s list of major foreign policy issues.

So what were EU foreign ministers devoting their time to instead? To quote the New York Times’ summary,

Mr. Stubb’s research shows how foreign ministers tend to devote their discussions to crises, and to issues where Europe has limited influence.

For example, in 2009 and 2010, European foreign ministers discussed the Middle East peace process 12 times.

In other words, the ministers devoted more than half of their monthly meetings during this period (since 2010 isn’t a full year) to the Middle East peace process — an issue on which, by their own admission, they have little influence. Indeed, the main purpose of this week’s Israel visit was “to raise European involvement in the current diplomatic process, at a time when the EU’s role has proven very minimal.”

As a result, they have been neglecting issues of far more importance, like how to deal with a rising China. And the result is that Europe is rapidly losing its global power and influence. As Stubb said earlier last month, “Arguably, today Turkey is more influential in the world than any of our member states together or separately” — an embarrassing admission from a bloc that has repeatedly spurned this unwanted applicant for membership from Europe’s eastern flank.

Stubb’s conclusion from his research was that “for too long we have been preaching, paternalizing the rest of the world,” and now “we need to pick our fights better.”

That’s good general advice, but his own findings indicate that the problem is a good deal more specific: it’s the EU’s obsession with Israel in particular that has served as the main distraction. This obsession has prevented it from devoting time and attention to more important issues, like China, and to issues on which the EU could have a greater impact. And consequently, it has contributed significantly to the EU’s waning global status.

I’ve written repeatedly about the price the global obsession with Israel exacts worldwide, from victims of human rights abuses whose plights are ignored owing to this obsession, to Western democracy itself. But it seems that the Israel obsession can now chalk up one more victim: European power.

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Israel’s Left: Swearing Allegiance to Constitution Is ‘Fascist’

If there were an annual award for hypocrisy, the Israeli leftists now protesting a proposed amendment to the Citizenship Law would surely have this year’s title sewed up. The rhetoric has been utterly over the top: the Association for Civil Rights in Israel called the amendment “anti-democratic”; author Sefi Rachlevsky termed it “fascist”; Prof. Gavriel Solomon even compared it to the Nazis’ Nuremberg Laws.

Here are the actual facts. The amendment would require naturalized citizens, who are currently required to take an oath of allegiance only to the State of Israel, to instead swear allegiance to Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state.” That phrase first entered the law books in 1992, when two new Basic Laws on human rights defined the country as a “Jewish and democratic state.”

According to both Israel’s Supreme Court and to all the leftists now vigorously protesting the proposed amendment, the 1992 Basic Laws are part of Israel’s constitution: they supersede all ordinary legislation, and the Supreme Court has the right to overturn ordinary legislation that it deems in contravention of the Basic Laws. Indeed, the only people who challenge the Basic Laws’ constitutional status are conservatives, who argue that laws passed by less than a quarter of the Knesset do not meet the minimal procedural requirements for constitutional legislation.

But if you assume, as the entire left does, that these laws are part of Israel’s constitution, then the proposed amendment does nothing more than require naturalized citizens to swear allegiance to Israel’s constitution.

And that, needless to say, is no more than virtually every other Western democracy requires. The U.S., for instance, requires naturalized citizens to swear to “support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Indeed, the U.S. goes well beyond that: it also, for instance, requires naturalized citizens to commit to do both army service and civilian national service “when required by the law.” Israel requires no such pledge of its naturalized citizens.

So why do Israeli leftists object to something so seemingly innocuous? Because many of those who would be required to take the new oath are Palestinians who marry Israeli Arabs and then seek Israeli citizenship. These Palestinians object to recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, as do their Israeli Arab partners. Leftists thus argue that the law is discriminatory, forcing naturalized Palestinians to swear allegiance to something that violates their own beliefs.

But there’s a very simple answer to that. If you can’t bring yourself to swear allegiance to the constitution of the country you’re seeking to become a citizen of, you don’t deserve to be given citizenship. That’s the rule throughout the democratic world, and there’s no reason why Israel should be an exception. And in Israel’s case, swearing allegiance to the constitution means acknowledging the country as a “Jewish and democratic state.”

It takes real creativity to portray an oath of allegiance to the constitution as “fascist.” But then no one ever accused the Israeli left of lacking creativity.

If there were an annual award for hypocrisy, the Israeli leftists now protesting a proposed amendment to the Citizenship Law would surely have this year’s title sewed up. The rhetoric has been utterly over the top: the Association for Civil Rights in Israel called the amendment “anti-democratic”; author Sefi Rachlevsky termed it “fascist”; Prof. Gavriel Solomon even compared it to the Nazis’ Nuremberg Laws.

Here are the actual facts. The amendment would require naturalized citizens, who are currently required to take an oath of allegiance only to the State of Israel, to instead swear allegiance to Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state.” That phrase first entered the law books in 1992, when two new Basic Laws on human rights defined the country as a “Jewish and democratic state.”

According to both Israel’s Supreme Court and to all the leftists now vigorously protesting the proposed amendment, the 1992 Basic Laws are part of Israel’s constitution: they supersede all ordinary legislation, and the Supreme Court has the right to overturn ordinary legislation that it deems in contravention of the Basic Laws. Indeed, the only people who challenge the Basic Laws’ constitutional status are conservatives, who argue that laws passed by less than a quarter of the Knesset do not meet the minimal procedural requirements for constitutional legislation.

But if you assume, as the entire left does, that these laws are part of Israel’s constitution, then the proposed amendment does nothing more than require naturalized citizens to swear allegiance to Israel’s constitution.

And that, needless to say, is no more than virtually every other Western democracy requires. The U.S., for instance, requires naturalized citizens to swear to “support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Indeed, the U.S. goes well beyond that: it also, for instance, requires naturalized citizens to commit to do both army service and civilian national service “when required by the law.” Israel requires no such pledge of its naturalized citizens.

So why do Israeli leftists object to something so seemingly innocuous? Because many of those who would be required to take the new oath are Palestinians who marry Israeli Arabs and then seek Israeli citizenship. These Palestinians object to recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, as do their Israeli Arab partners. Leftists thus argue that the law is discriminatory, forcing naturalized Palestinians to swear allegiance to something that violates their own beliefs.

But there’s a very simple answer to that. If you can’t bring yourself to swear allegiance to the constitution of the country you’re seeking to become a citizen of, you don’t deserve to be given citizenship. That’s the rule throughout the democratic world, and there’s no reason why Israel should be an exception. And in Israel’s case, swearing allegiance to the constitution means acknowledging the country as a “Jewish and democratic state.”

It takes real creativity to portray an oath of allegiance to the constitution as “fascist.” But then no one ever accused the Israeli left of lacking creativity.

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Media Quits Obama

An evaluation of Obama:

Barack Obama is being politically crushed in a vise. From above, by elite opinion about his competence. From below, by mass anger and anxiety over unemployment. And it is too late for him to do anything about this predicament until after November’s elections.

With the exception of core Obama Administration loyalists, most politically engaged elites have reached the same conclusions: the White House is in over its head, isolated, insular, arrogant and clueless about how to get along with or persuade members of Congress, the media, the business community or working-class voters. This view is held by Fox News pundits, executives and anchors at the major old-media outlets, reporters who cover the White House, Democratic and Republican congressional leaders and governors, many Democratic business people and lawyers who raised big money for Obama in 2008, and even some members of the Administration just beyond the inner circle.

George Will? The Wall Street Journal editors? No, it’s Time‘s Mark Halperin, known for his talent in parroting Democratic conventional wisdom. The mainstream media, it seems, are cutting their losses. They invested enormous time, credibility, and emotion in bolstering their chosen candidate. But he hasn’t panned out, and new power players are headed to Washington. So it’s time to scramble back to some semblance of realistic coverage and concede that all those “accomplishments” in the past two years didn’t accomplish anything — not an economic recovery, not political ascendancy for Obama, not electoral success for Democrats, and not an era of bipartisan harmony. Just the opposite.

Now, don’t get your hopes up. As soon as viable 2012 presidential contenders appear on the stage or the GOP Congress faces off with Obama, expect the press to return to blocking and tackling for the president. But the magic is gone, the spell is broken. The press has figured out two years later than many of us that Obama is simply another liberal pol — and, as it turns out, an extraordinarily unpleasant and incompetent one.

An evaluation of Obama:

Barack Obama is being politically crushed in a vise. From above, by elite opinion about his competence. From below, by mass anger and anxiety over unemployment. And it is too late for him to do anything about this predicament until after November’s elections.

With the exception of core Obama Administration loyalists, most politically engaged elites have reached the same conclusions: the White House is in over its head, isolated, insular, arrogant and clueless about how to get along with or persuade members of Congress, the media, the business community or working-class voters. This view is held by Fox News pundits, executives and anchors at the major old-media outlets, reporters who cover the White House, Democratic and Republican congressional leaders and governors, many Democratic business people and lawyers who raised big money for Obama in 2008, and even some members of the Administration just beyond the inner circle.

George Will? The Wall Street Journal editors? No, it’s Time‘s Mark Halperin, known for his talent in parroting Democratic conventional wisdom. The mainstream media, it seems, are cutting their losses. They invested enormous time, credibility, and emotion in bolstering their chosen candidate. But he hasn’t panned out, and new power players are headed to Washington. So it’s time to scramble back to some semblance of realistic coverage and concede that all those “accomplishments” in the past two years didn’t accomplish anything — not an economic recovery, not political ascendancy for Obama, not electoral success for Democrats, and not an era of bipartisan harmony. Just the opposite.

Now, don’t get your hopes up. As soon as viable 2012 presidential contenders appear on the stage or the GOP Congress faces off with Obama, expect the press to return to blocking and tackling for the president. But the magic is gone, the spell is broken. The press has figured out two years later than many of us that Obama is simply another liberal pol — and, as it turns out, an extraordinarily unpleasant and incompetent one.

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Ticking Clocks

Jackson Diehl observes that Obama is very big on foreign policy deadlines — withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and a peace deal in the Middle East. He explains:

Obama’s foreign policy record hardly figures in this fall’s midterm election. That’s at least in part because of its inconclusiveness: It has neither failed nor produced tangible outcomes. A year from now, thanks to the timetables, the record should be in — just in time for the 2012 presidential campaign.

That’s a generous characterization. In fact, we haven’t impeded Iran’s nuclear program, we haven’t stop the slide of Turkey and Syria into Iran’s orbit,  and we haven’t moved the Palestinians from their rejectionist stance. Things may well get worse, but it’s not too soon to pronounce that the Obama team has yet to achieve a single success in foreign policy. To the contrary, allies are alienated, Russia has been emboldened by appeasement dressed up as a “reset,” and our human rights policy is derided by the left and the right.

As for those timetables, Diehl suggests:

Process is always important to good policy — and yes, the Bush administration sometimes demonstrated what can go wrong when there are no deadlines. Yet in the Obama administration, the timetable is becoming an end in itself. It reflects a president who is fixed on disposing of foreign policy problems — and not so much on solving them.

Or more specifically, we have a president fixed on shrinking America’s role in the world and vainly attempting to avoid confrontation (with Russia, Iran, et al.). It also fits with Obama’s imperious and arrogant presidency — the president speaks, the world should follow. After all, where’s the “Cairo effect,” that seismic shift that was to occur after Obama gave his sympatico-with-the-Muslim-world speech?

It’s telling that one country never has a deadline, at least not a real one, imposed by Obama: Iran. The door is ever open, the escape hatch is there. In that case, the clock is running out on us — to stop Iran before it goes nuclear. Obama appears not to have a solution to that one, and so we drift, ever closer, to what was once unacceptable and is now frightfully possible.

Jackson Diehl observes that Obama is very big on foreign policy deadlines — withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and a peace deal in the Middle East. He explains:

Obama’s foreign policy record hardly figures in this fall’s midterm election. That’s at least in part because of its inconclusiveness: It has neither failed nor produced tangible outcomes. A year from now, thanks to the timetables, the record should be in — just in time for the 2012 presidential campaign.

That’s a generous characterization. In fact, we haven’t impeded Iran’s nuclear program, we haven’t stop the slide of Turkey and Syria into Iran’s orbit,  and we haven’t moved the Palestinians from their rejectionist stance. Things may well get worse, but it’s not too soon to pronounce that the Obama team has yet to achieve a single success in foreign policy. To the contrary, allies are alienated, Russia has been emboldened by appeasement dressed up as a “reset,” and our human rights policy is derided by the left and the right.

As for those timetables, Diehl suggests:

Process is always important to good policy — and yes, the Bush administration sometimes demonstrated what can go wrong when there are no deadlines. Yet in the Obama administration, the timetable is becoming an end in itself. It reflects a president who is fixed on disposing of foreign policy problems — and not so much on solving them.

Or more specifically, we have a president fixed on shrinking America’s role in the world and vainly attempting to avoid confrontation (with Russia, Iran, et al.). It also fits with Obama’s imperious and arrogant presidency — the president speaks, the world should follow. After all, where’s the “Cairo effect,” that seismic shift that was to occur after Obama gave his sympatico-with-the-Muslim-world speech?

It’s telling that one country never has a deadline, at least not a real one, imposed by Obama: Iran. The door is ever open, the escape hatch is there. In that case, the clock is running out on us — to stop Iran before it goes nuclear. Obama appears not to have a solution to that one, and so we drift, ever closer, to what was once unacceptable and is now frightfully possible.

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Partisanship, Israel, and American Jewry

In the last of my posts on the fascinating McLaughlin poll, I’ll look at the cross-tabs examining partisan differences on Obama, Israel, and foreign policy and consider what the drop in Democratic support for Israel means for American Jewish leaders.

As a general matter, Obama has a problem with independents. Sixty-seven percent of them would consider voting for someone else. Overall, voters disapprove of Obama’s performance by a 50 to 48 percent margin; among independents, however, 60 percent disapprove.

More specifically, only 13 percent of Republicans and 40 percent of independents approve of Obama’s handling of foreign policy. Eighty-three percent of Democrats approve, high marks, but they reflect his base’s unease with the war in Afghanistan. The contrast grows stronger when the issue is narrowed to Israel. Among Republicans, only 13 percent approve of Obama’s handling of U.S.-Israel relations, and only 30 percent of independents do. Seventy-six percent of Democrats, by far his most enthusiastic base of support on this issue but much lower than on broader policy issues, approve of the job Obama is doing. Asked whether Obama is harming or improving Israel’s security, only 51 percent of Democrats say he is improving; they can’t, however, bring themselves to admit that he is harming Israel’s security, so 35 percent go with “undecided.” And again, independents (50 percent) are much closer to Republicans (75 percent) in thinking Obama is harming the security of the Jewish state. (Interestingly, a plurality of Democrats is willing to confess that Obama is less friendly toward Israel than past presidents.) Read More

In the last of my posts on the fascinating McLaughlin poll, I’ll look at the cross-tabs examining partisan differences on Obama, Israel, and foreign policy and consider what the drop in Democratic support for Israel means for American Jewish leaders.

As a general matter, Obama has a problem with independents. Sixty-seven percent of them would consider voting for someone else. Overall, voters disapprove of Obama’s performance by a 50 to 48 percent margin; among independents, however, 60 percent disapprove.

More specifically, only 13 percent of Republicans and 40 percent of independents approve of Obama’s handling of foreign policy. Eighty-three percent of Democrats approve, high marks, but they reflect his base’s unease with the war in Afghanistan. The contrast grows stronger when the issue is narrowed to Israel. Among Republicans, only 13 percent approve of Obama’s handling of U.S.-Israel relations, and only 30 percent of independents do. Seventy-six percent of Democrats, by far his most enthusiastic base of support on this issue but much lower than on broader policy issues, approve of the job Obama is doing. Asked whether Obama is harming or improving Israel’s security, only 51 percent of Democrats say he is improving; they can’t, however, bring themselves to admit that he is harming Israel’s security, so 35 percent go with “undecided.” And again, independents (50 percent) are much closer to Republicans (75 percent) in thinking Obama is harming the security of the Jewish state. (Interestingly, a plurality of Democrats is willing to confess that Obama is less friendly toward Israel than past presidents.)

Remarkably, only 39 percent of Democrats agree that Israel’s enemies are our enemies, while 70 percent of Republicans and 48 percent of independents do. A plurality (42 percent) of Democrats do let on that Obama’s approach in criticizing Israel but not the Palestinians is objectionable, but that figure once again is far lower than it is for Republicans (68 percent) and independents (57 percent). Should Jerusalem remain Israel’s undivided capital? Sixty-three percent of Republicans agree, but only a plurality of Democrats (42 percent) do. Who’s responsible for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Seventy-three percent of Republicans and 57 percent of independents say it is the Palestinians fault; only 46 percent of Democrats agree. Would they be more likely to vote for a pro-Israel candidate? A measly 38 percent of Democrats say yes; sixty-nine percent of Republicans would be.

On question after question, Republicans remain the most forceful defenders of Israel, with independents more divided but positive as well. Put differently, if Israel had to rely on Democrats alone, it would not enjoy a majority of American support on key issues.

That’s even clearer when it comes to Iran. Only 24 percent of Republicans say they are “strongly opposed” to Israel’s or the U.S.’s attacking Iran; nearly double that — 45 percent — of Democrats are. In a conflict with Israel’s enemies, only 21 percent of Republicans and 26 percent of independents want to pressure Israel into a ceasefire; a large plurality of Democrats, 47 percent, do. Do they think Obama’s sanction will succeed in stopping Iran from going nuclear? Less than 20 percent of Republicans and independents do; a substantial plurality of Democrats (46 percent) does. If sanctions don’t work, huge majorities of Republicans (75 percent) and independents (62 percent) favor military action against Iran; a bare plurality of Democrats (46 percent) do. And finally, if Israel is forced to attack Iran, 79 percent of Republicans and 66 percent of independents would consider that “defensive”; only 50 percent of Democrats do.

To sum up, once again, the GOP is the political party most alarmed by the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran, most supportive of our using military force to disarm the mullahs, and most willing to support Israel in the event of a military conflict. Democrats are the least supportive of Israel and military action with regard to Iran, while independents fall somewhere in the middle but closer to the GOP on these issues.

There are three lessons to be learned here.

First, the Democratic Party, once a bastion of support for the Jewish state, no longer is. Those who bemoan that Israel is becoming a divisive political issue ignore the reason for this development: Democrats aren’t as supportive of Israel as Republicans, and that view is at odds with the electorate.

Second, Jewish groups, which remain primarily Democratic and have, as we’ve seen, been reluctant to criticize a Democratic president hostile to Israel, have a fundamental problem: the strongest supporters of their mission to support the Jewish state come from the ranks of those who are normally political opponents, and, conversely, their biggest problem is Democrats. That is a political and intellectual challenge that Jewish leaders need to face. Will their membership take on Democratic policy and candidates if they threaten to undermine support for the Jewish state?

And finally, there is no upside, none at all, for American politicians to bash Israel, to attempt to restrain the Jewish state in the event of a military action, or to show timidity on Iran. These are losing propositions with the American electorate. So a caution for the president: even if he has convinced himself that his current policies are the correct ones, his approach is wildly out of sync with voters. Or put differently, if not for the right reasons, at least for political reasons, he’d be well advised to rethink his reticence toward the use of force against Iran and his policy of distancing the U.S. from Israel.

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The Media Foil

Sarah Palin’s media-bashing is popular with the conservative base and a favorite topic for her. It’s worth considering, however, as she and the rest of us ponder a potential Palin run for the White House, whether this is a message for a conservative activist or for a presidential candidate:

Palin, standing in front of a row of American flags on stage, took shots at what she called the “lamestream media,” saying, that when the media “just doesn’t get it and when they don’t believe what perhaps your message is so they want to belittle you and mock you and treat you with much disdain, you know, I think, well they can do that to me, that’s fine, because I know truth.”

She went on, “You know what, you can say whatever you want to say about me but I raised a combat vet and you can’t take that away from me.”

First, is anyone trying to “take away” her status as a combat mother? The tone is defensive. The topic projects victimhood, and it is also a tired storyline. Moreover, it’s far from clear that media bias is what the voters care about when assessing candidates.

Now certainly, Palin talks about many topics and has been dead-on with regard to the economy, ObamaCare, global warming, and the rest. But frankly, she should lose the “lamestream media” act if she wants to be a 2012 contender. It’s not improving her image as a serious candidate, and it only reminds conservative activists that a Palin candidacy would require a Herculean effort to reshape her coverage and image among those outside her hard-core base of support.

Sarah Palin’s media-bashing is popular with the conservative base and a favorite topic for her. It’s worth considering, however, as she and the rest of us ponder a potential Palin run for the White House, whether this is a message for a conservative activist or for a presidential candidate:

Palin, standing in front of a row of American flags on stage, took shots at what she called the “lamestream media,” saying, that when the media “just doesn’t get it and when they don’t believe what perhaps your message is so they want to belittle you and mock you and treat you with much disdain, you know, I think, well they can do that to me, that’s fine, because I know truth.”

She went on, “You know what, you can say whatever you want to say about me but I raised a combat vet and you can’t take that away from me.”

First, is anyone trying to “take away” her status as a combat mother? The tone is defensive. The topic projects victimhood, and it is also a tired storyline. Moreover, it’s far from clear that media bias is what the voters care about when assessing candidates.

Now certainly, Palin talks about many topics and has been dead-on with regard to the economy, ObamaCare, global warming, and the rest. But frankly, she should lose the “lamestream media” act if she wants to be a 2012 contender. It’s not improving her image as a serious candidate, and it only reminds conservative activists that a Palin candidacy would require a Herculean effort to reshape her coverage and image among those outside her hard-core base of support.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

This is what desperation looks like: “Forget the myth of an Obama recovery. The past week has been disastrous for the White House and America’s increasingly disillusioned Left. No wonder the angry and desperate Vice President Joe Biden is talking about ‘playing hell’ if his party suffers defeat in November.”

This is what old-style politics sounds like: “White House senior adviser David Axelrod said the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has the burden of proving false the charge by Democrats that the business group is funneling foreign money to Republican campaigns. Axelrod was pressed by CBS’ Bob Schieffer on Sunday for evidence that the foreign campaign contributions benefiting the GOP is more than ‘peanuts.’  ‘Do you have any evidence that it’s not, Bob?’ Axelrod said on ‘Face the Nation.’  Ed Gillespie responded that it “was ‘an unbelievable mentality’ for Axelrod to assert charges about foreign contributions without backing them up.” It’s all too believable, unfortunately.

This is what a wave election looks like: “Democrats are buying advertising in places they hadn’t previously reserved it, a strong indication the battlefield is expanding. That includes New England, which hasn’t a single Republican House member. A new ad by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee began airing this week in the Massachusetts district covering Cape Cod, where Democratic Rep. Bill Delahunt is retiring and ex-police sergeant Jeff Perry is posting a strong GOP challenge.”

This is what a lousy TV appearance looks like: “Alexi Giannoulias, the Illinois Democrat running for President Obama’s old Senate seat, said Sunday that he wants to “reform” the president’s health care overhaul, and that the $814 billion stimulus was imperfect but that it prevented Americans from standing in soup lines. Giannoulias, who appeared on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ to debate Republican Mark Kirk, was on the defensive throughout the debate regarding Obama’s policies, as well as his past work for his family’s community bank and its ties to mob figures.”

This is what an eloquent first lady’s writing looks like: “Though some Afghan leaders have condemned the violence and defended the rights of women, others maintain a complicit silence in hopes of achieving peace. But peace attained by compromising the rights of half of the population will not last. Offenses against women erode security for all Afghans — men and women. And a culture that tolerates injustice against one group of its people ultimately fails to respect and value all its citizens.” Yeah, I miss her too.

This is what the GOP sounded like in 2006. “The chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee brushed off various members’ ads touting opposition to President Obama and Speakers Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), saying that it simply shows the party is a big tent unlike the right.”

This is what “hope and change” looks like? “President Obama’s new National Security Advisor spent the decade prior to joining the White House as a legal advisor to powerful interests including Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, and as a lobbyist for Fannie Mae, where he oversaw the mortgage giant’s aggressive campaign to undermine the credibility of a probe into its accounting irregularities, according to government reports and public disclosure forms. … While housing sales were still booming, internally these were troubled years for the company. In a report first noted by ABC News in 2008, Donilon is described as someone who lobbied for and helped paint a rosy picture of Fannie Mae’s financial health to the company’s board. He did so at a time when Fannie Mae faced accusations that it was misstating its earnings from 1998 to 2004.”

This is what a flaky candidate sounds like: “Jerry Brown: Mammograms not effective.”

This is what desperation looks like: “Forget the myth of an Obama recovery. The past week has been disastrous for the White House and America’s increasingly disillusioned Left. No wonder the angry and desperate Vice President Joe Biden is talking about ‘playing hell’ if his party suffers defeat in November.”

This is what old-style politics sounds like: “White House senior adviser David Axelrod said the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has the burden of proving false the charge by Democrats that the business group is funneling foreign money to Republican campaigns. Axelrod was pressed by CBS’ Bob Schieffer on Sunday for evidence that the foreign campaign contributions benefiting the GOP is more than ‘peanuts.’  ‘Do you have any evidence that it’s not, Bob?’ Axelrod said on ‘Face the Nation.’  Ed Gillespie responded that it “was ‘an unbelievable mentality’ for Axelrod to assert charges about foreign contributions without backing them up.” It’s all too believable, unfortunately.

This is what a wave election looks like: “Democrats are buying advertising in places they hadn’t previously reserved it, a strong indication the battlefield is expanding. That includes New England, which hasn’t a single Republican House member. A new ad by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee began airing this week in the Massachusetts district covering Cape Cod, where Democratic Rep. Bill Delahunt is retiring and ex-police sergeant Jeff Perry is posting a strong GOP challenge.”

This is what a lousy TV appearance looks like: “Alexi Giannoulias, the Illinois Democrat running for President Obama’s old Senate seat, said Sunday that he wants to “reform” the president’s health care overhaul, and that the $814 billion stimulus was imperfect but that it prevented Americans from standing in soup lines. Giannoulias, who appeared on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ to debate Republican Mark Kirk, was on the defensive throughout the debate regarding Obama’s policies, as well as his past work for his family’s community bank and its ties to mob figures.”

This is what an eloquent first lady’s writing looks like: “Though some Afghan leaders have condemned the violence and defended the rights of women, others maintain a complicit silence in hopes of achieving peace. But peace attained by compromising the rights of half of the population will not last. Offenses against women erode security for all Afghans — men and women. And a culture that tolerates injustice against one group of its people ultimately fails to respect and value all its citizens.” Yeah, I miss her too.

This is what the GOP sounded like in 2006. “The chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee brushed off various members’ ads touting opposition to President Obama and Speakers Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), saying that it simply shows the party is a big tent unlike the right.”

This is what “hope and change” looks like? “President Obama’s new National Security Advisor spent the decade prior to joining the White House as a legal advisor to powerful interests including Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, and as a lobbyist for Fannie Mae, where he oversaw the mortgage giant’s aggressive campaign to undermine the credibility of a probe into its accounting irregularities, according to government reports and public disclosure forms. … While housing sales were still booming, internally these were troubled years for the company. In a report first noted by ABC News in 2008, Donilon is described as someone who lobbied for and helped paint a rosy picture of Fannie Mae’s financial health to the company’s board. He did so at a time when Fannie Mae faced accusations that it was misstating its earnings from 1998 to 2004.”

This is what a flaky candidate sounds like: “Jerry Brown: Mammograms not effective.”

Read Less




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