Commentary Magazine


Posts For: October 15, 2010

A Voice of Moderation in the Fray

I second Peter Wehner’s point that Bill O’Reilly was in error to speak of “Muslims killing us on 9/11.” Islamist extremists killed us on 9/11. The ensuing protest walkout by two of The View’s co-hosts was unhelpful – surely the ladies understand that O’Reilly’s comment was a regrettable error of truncation, from which, if pressed, he would have properly retreated. Unfortunately, the ill-considered comment and the co-host walkout are emblematic of the escalatory mode of much public debate on the topics of Islam, Muslims in America, and the Park 51 mosque.

I’m convinced that neither disputant in this latest confrontation represents a monolithic opinion bloc. Simply restating O’Reilly’s proposition as “Islamist extremists killed us on 9/11” would have engaged the concurrence of the overwhelming majority of Americans. But the confrontational drama of the walkout, which cut off discussion and clarification, hardened attitudes and thus made reconciling the positions more unlikely.

The episode forms an irresistible counterpoint to this opinion piece on the Park 51 mosque, written in late September by a retired Saudi naval officer and translated this week by MEMRI. Published in Arabic in the Arab News, it was meant for Saudi consumption. Many Americans would be surprised by the simple friendliness of its sentiments. The retired commodore’s affection for America, where he underwent training and served as a liaison officer, comes through clearly. He speaks of his American friends from flight training and his tears on visiting the site of the World Trade Center in 2005. “The U.S.,” he says, “is the most tolerant country regarding building an Islamic center. But why [did] Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf choose Ground Zero?”

He continues:

On Sept. 11, 2001, some terrorists not only hijacked four airplanes, but they hijacked Islam and the reputation of over one billion Muslims, and caused the total destruction of two Muslim countries (Afghanistan and Iraq).

In terms of hortatory persuasiveness, this officer’s essay and the dust-up on The View land at opposite ends of the spectrum. The Saudi commodore’s views don’t surprise me; the experience of American officers with their Middle Eastern counterparts is usually more positive than the average American might think. There’s a level of liaison between militaries that is often more real, pragmatic, and fraternal than the contacts enjoyed by foreign-service diplomats or mainstream journalists. Warriors have the luxury of focusing on the practical requirements of their profession and leaving politics to the politicians. Their appreciation of each other’s individual personalities and cultures develops at what the U.S. Navy calls the “deck-plate level.”

And that is a level the ordinary American of any background is culturally predisposed to understand. Although people instinctively regard the little melodrama on The View as tiresome – and for good reason – I suspect that those who read the Saudi officer’s letter will find it striking a chord that resonates with them. Its direct simplicity does more good than a hundred stagy walkouts and a thousand elaborate exegeses.

I second Peter Wehner’s point that Bill O’Reilly was in error to speak of “Muslims killing us on 9/11.” Islamist extremists killed us on 9/11. The ensuing protest walkout by two of The View’s co-hosts was unhelpful – surely the ladies understand that O’Reilly’s comment was a regrettable error of truncation, from which, if pressed, he would have properly retreated. Unfortunately, the ill-considered comment and the co-host walkout are emblematic of the escalatory mode of much public debate on the topics of Islam, Muslims in America, and the Park 51 mosque.

I’m convinced that neither disputant in this latest confrontation represents a monolithic opinion bloc. Simply restating O’Reilly’s proposition as “Islamist extremists killed us on 9/11” would have engaged the concurrence of the overwhelming majority of Americans. But the confrontational drama of the walkout, which cut off discussion and clarification, hardened attitudes and thus made reconciling the positions more unlikely.

The episode forms an irresistible counterpoint to this opinion piece on the Park 51 mosque, written in late September by a retired Saudi naval officer and translated this week by MEMRI. Published in Arabic in the Arab News, it was meant for Saudi consumption. Many Americans would be surprised by the simple friendliness of its sentiments. The retired commodore’s affection for America, where he underwent training and served as a liaison officer, comes through clearly. He speaks of his American friends from flight training and his tears on visiting the site of the World Trade Center in 2005. “The U.S.,” he says, “is the most tolerant country regarding building an Islamic center. But why [did] Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf choose Ground Zero?”

He continues:

On Sept. 11, 2001, some terrorists not only hijacked four airplanes, but they hijacked Islam and the reputation of over one billion Muslims, and caused the total destruction of two Muslim countries (Afghanistan and Iraq).

In terms of hortatory persuasiveness, this officer’s essay and the dust-up on The View land at opposite ends of the spectrum. The Saudi commodore’s views don’t surprise me; the experience of American officers with their Middle Eastern counterparts is usually more positive than the average American might think. There’s a level of liaison between militaries that is often more real, pragmatic, and fraternal than the contacts enjoyed by foreign-service diplomats or mainstream journalists. Warriors have the luxury of focusing on the practical requirements of their profession and leaving politics to the politicians. Their appreciation of each other’s individual personalities and cultures develops at what the U.S. Navy calls the “deck-plate level.”

And that is a level the ordinary American of any background is culturally predisposed to understand. Although people instinctively regard the little melodrama on The View as tiresome – and for good reason – I suspect that those who read the Saudi officer’s letter will find it striking a chord that resonates with them. Its direct simplicity does more good than a hundred stagy walkouts and a thousand elaborate exegeses.

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Will Obama Go Back to Fighting Over Jerusalem?

The announcement today that 238 housing units will be built in Jerusalem will have no impact on whether there will ever be peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The houses will go up in Ramot and Pisgat Ze’ev, Jewish neighborhoods that were created in the 1970s after Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War struck down the barriers that rendered those parts of the city that had been occupied by Jordan between 1948 and 1967 Jew-free. Approximately a quarter of a million Jews already live in East Jerusalem, and the notion that they will all be chucked out of their homes in order to allow the city to become the presumably Jew-free capital of a Palestinian Arab state is a fantasy. If the PA doesn’t want to negotiate with Israel, and it is more than obvious that by calling for building freezes they are looking for an excuse to bug out of the talks to which they have been dragged by President Obama, then whether or not Jews build homes in existing Jewish neighborhoods in their own capital won’t make a difference.

But this issue is precisely the one that caused a blowup between the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government last spring, when Washington seized on another such innocuous announcement and declared it a mortal insult to the United States because Vice President Biden happened to be passing through the town at the time. The United States has never recognized Israel’s rights in all of Jerusalem, but the decision to specifically oppose building in existing neighborhoods and to, in effect, treat them as being as illegitimate as the most remote West Bank settlements was unprecedented. But contrary to Obama’s expectations, and those left-wing supporters who had been egging him on to fight with Israel (J Street), Netanyahu didn’t fold and was warmly supported by not only the majority of Israelis but by most American Jews, too. The result was that the administration soon backed off and began a charm offensive designed to ingratiate the president with American Jews who were offended by his decision to pick a fight over Jerusalem.

However, with the midterm elections only a few weeks away, the immediate political incentive to downplay the president’s distaste for Israel’s government and his willingness to butt heads with it over Jewish rights in Jerusalem will be removed. Though much of Washington’s foreign policy establishment has not missed the fact that it was the Palestinians and not the Israelis who blew up Obama’s peace initiative, it remains to be seen whether the administration’s Jewish charm offensive will remain in place after November 2.

Though the expected rout of his party in the elections will give President Obama far bigger problems to deal with than Jewish homes in Jerusalem, a decision to push harder against Israel to force “progress” toward a peace the Palestinians don’t want will be an indication that Obama hasn’t the flexibility or the understanding of the region that will enable him to learn from his errors. While the Middle East peace process is not the only or even the most important foreign policy challenge that Obama will have to confront this winter (not with Iran flexing its muscles in the region), one of the more interesting indicators of how a post–November 2010 Obama will govern will be whether he can resist the temptation to return to his fight with Netanyahu.

The announcement today that 238 housing units will be built in Jerusalem will have no impact on whether there will ever be peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The houses will go up in Ramot and Pisgat Ze’ev, Jewish neighborhoods that were created in the 1970s after Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War struck down the barriers that rendered those parts of the city that had been occupied by Jordan between 1948 and 1967 Jew-free. Approximately a quarter of a million Jews already live in East Jerusalem, and the notion that they will all be chucked out of their homes in order to allow the city to become the presumably Jew-free capital of a Palestinian Arab state is a fantasy. If the PA doesn’t want to negotiate with Israel, and it is more than obvious that by calling for building freezes they are looking for an excuse to bug out of the talks to which they have been dragged by President Obama, then whether or not Jews build homes in existing Jewish neighborhoods in their own capital won’t make a difference.

But this issue is precisely the one that caused a blowup between the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government last spring, when Washington seized on another such innocuous announcement and declared it a mortal insult to the United States because Vice President Biden happened to be passing through the town at the time. The United States has never recognized Israel’s rights in all of Jerusalem, but the decision to specifically oppose building in existing neighborhoods and to, in effect, treat them as being as illegitimate as the most remote West Bank settlements was unprecedented. But contrary to Obama’s expectations, and those left-wing supporters who had been egging him on to fight with Israel (J Street), Netanyahu didn’t fold and was warmly supported by not only the majority of Israelis but by most American Jews, too. The result was that the administration soon backed off and began a charm offensive designed to ingratiate the president with American Jews who were offended by his decision to pick a fight over Jerusalem.

However, with the midterm elections only a few weeks away, the immediate political incentive to downplay the president’s distaste for Israel’s government and his willingness to butt heads with it over Jewish rights in Jerusalem will be removed. Though much of Washington’s foreign policy establishment has not missed the fact that it was the Palestinians and not the Israelis who blew up Obama’s peace initiative, it remains to be seen whether the administration’s Jewish charm offensive will remain in place after November 2.

Though the expected rout of his party in the elections will give President Obama far bigger problems to deal with than Jewish homes in Jerusalem, a decision to push harder against Israel to force “progress” toward a peace the Palestinians don’t want will be an indication that Obama hasn’t the flexibility or the understanding of the region that will enable him to learn from his errors. While the Middle East peace process is not the only or even the most important foreign policy challenge that Obama will have to confront this winter (not with Iran flexing its muscles in the region), one of the more interesting indicators of how a post–November 2010 Obama will govern will be whether he can resist the temptation to return to his fight with Netanyahu.

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An Admirable Exit

Harold Lewis, Emeritus Professor of Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has written a delicious resignation letter to the president of the American Physical Society. Why is he leaving the APS?

It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare. ([Andrew] Montford’s book [The Hockey Stick Illusion] organizes the facts very well.) I don’t believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist.

Turns out we’re scientists.

Harold Lewis, Emeritus Professor of Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has written a delicious resignation letter to the president of the American Physical Society. Why is he leaving the APS?

It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare. ([Andrew] Montford’s book [The Hockey Stick Illusion] organizes the facts very well.) I don’t believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist.

Turns out we’re scientists.

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Bill O’Reilly Isn’t a Bigot. But He Is Wrong.

Bill O’Reilly appeared on The View yesterday, and the conversation turned to the effort to build a mosque near Ground Zero. In the course of the discussion, O’Reilly, who opposes building the mosque at this location, pointed out that 70 percent of the public (68 percent according to a CNN/Opinion Research poll) sides with him on this matter. When pressed as to why that’s the case, O’Reilly said, “Because Muslims killed us on 9/11!” This turned an acrimonious debate into an explosive one, with co-hosts Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar walking off the set.

The whole thing was something of an embarrassment for everyone involved. Perhaps predictably, though, Mr. O’Reilly devoted much of his show, The O’Reilly Factor, to this issue (see here and here). O’Reilly’s basic argument is that everyone knows, or should know, that he’s not an anti-Muslim bigot. Rather, he sees himself as an intrepid truth-teller (“I tell it like it is” and “I’m not in the business of sugar-coating harsh realities”). Everyone by now knows the distinction between radical Muslims and moderate Muslims, O’Reilly argues, so the distinction is unnecessary. Those who are criticizing him are part of the PC police. And it’s commonplace to say that the Japanese attacked us in World War II, so why shouldn’t we say Muslims attacked us on 9/11? Read More

Bill O’Reilly appeared on The View yesterday, and the conversation turned to the effort to build a mosque near Ground Zero. In the course of the discussion, O’Reilly, who opposes building the mosque at this location, pointed out that 70 percent of the public (68 percent according to a CNN/Opinion Research poll) sides with him on this matter. When pressed as to why that’s the case, O’Reilly said, “Because Muslims killed us on 9/11!” This turned an acrimonious debate into an explosive one, with co-hosts Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar walking off the set.

The whole thing was something of an embarrassment for everyone involved. Perhaps predictably, though, Mr. O’Reilly devoted much of his show, The O’Reilly Factor, to this issue (see here and here). O’Reilly’s basic argument is that everyone knows, or should know, that he’s not an anti-Muslim bigot. Rather, he sees himself as an intrepid truth-teller (“I tell it like it is” and “I’m not in the business of sugar-coating harsh realities”). Everyone by now knows the distinction between radical Muslims and moderate Muslims, O’Reilly argues, so the distinction is unnecessary. Those who are criticizing him are part of the PC police. And it’s commonplace to say that the Japanese attacked us in World War II, so why shouldn’t we say Muslims attacked us on 9/11?

I happen to agree with O’Reilly on the mosque/Ground Zero issue. But his analogy is flawed. With Japan, we were dealing with a nation-state; with al-Qaeda, we are dealing with a small percentage of militants in a faith that includes more than 1.5 billion people in more than 200 countries.

Moreover, O’Reilly’s claim is unfair – and O’Reilly should understand why. Here’s an illustration that might help clarify things. Assume that Sam Harris went on The O’Reilly Factor and, based on the child-abuse scandals that tarnished the reputation of the Catholic Church, made the sweeping claim that “Catholics are child molesters.” My guess is that O’Reilly would (rightly) respond, “No. Some priests molested children, and it was a horrific thing. But you can’t indict an entire faith based on the sins of a relatively few number of priests.”

We shouldn’t kid ourselves; there is a not-insignificant strand of people in the Muslim world who align themselves with the ideology of al-Qaeda – and an even larger number who more or less accept its narrative of history. The condemnations by more moderate Muslims against its militant strand could certainly be more muscular. At the same time, the militant Islamists who attacked us on 9/11 don’t represent the vast majority of Muslims in the world – and certainly not the views of most Muslim Americans.

I understand that in the midst of a passionate debate on television, you can say things in imprecise and offensive ways; we have to leave some room for that to happen in our public discourse. We’re all fallible, and we all, from time to time, say things we wish we could take back. Words that wound shouldn’t necessarily be a hanging offense. Still, I do wish that, on reflection, Mr. O’Reilly, rather than defending his comments, had simply said that in thinking over his statement, he made a mistake. His comment was far too sweeping. It was, in fact, an unfair indictment against all Muslims. And the distinction between radical Islamists and the wider Muslim world (including, of course, Muslim Americans) is important to maintain.

The offense most people might take to what O’Reilly said isn’t based on political correctness, I don’t think; it is based on a deep understanding of what it means to hold and to share the title American citizen. To be an American means, at least in part, to avoid creating unnecessary divisions over matters of faith. This view was central to America’s founding. Comity, tolerance, and respect for people who hold views different from your own is a sign of civility, not weakness.

In his letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island, President Washington wrote these beautiful words:

May the Children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants, while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid.

I certainly don’t think Bill O’Reilly is a bigot. But I do believe that, in this instance, what he said was wrong. He should say so.

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‘Man Up, Harry’

That sound-bite by Sharron Angle in response to Harry Reid’s refusal to concede that we have a Social Security solvency problem may have won Angle her seat. It was pithy. It wasn’t crazy. And Reid had no effective retort.

As Nevada politico guru John Ralston put it:

Sharron Angle won The Big Debate. Angle won because she looked relatively credible, appearing not to be the Wicked Witch of the West (Christine O’Donnell is the good witch of the Tea Party) and scoring many more rhetorical points. And she won because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid looked as if he could barely stay on a linear argument, abruptly switching gears and failing to effectively parry or thrust.

The Democrats have assured themselves and instructed voters that the Tea Partiers are loons, racists, and altogether unfit for office. In other words, they have so diminished expectations for their opponents that Angle and others easily amble over the low bar.

Democratic incumbents who previously enjoyed minimal opposition are unprepared to deal with the upstarts. Ralston wonders whether Reid took “himself out, once and for all, with his dismissiveness, his sarcastic and loopy use of ‘my friend’ and Senatese, his shifting of subjects in the middle of thoughts, beginning with his opening statements.”

You see, the Democratic hacks have come to resemble the loony caricature they have painted of their opponents. Yes, the most reasonable person on that stage was Angle.

That sound-bite by Sharron Angle in response to Harry Reid’s refusal to concede that we have a Social Security solvency problem may have won Angle her seat. It was pithy. It wasn’t crazy. And Reid had no effective retort.

As Nevada politico guru John Ralston put it:

Sharron Angle won The Big Debate. Angle won because she looked relatively credible, appearing not to be the Wicked Witch of the West (Christine O’Donnell is the good witch of the Tea Party) and scoring many more rhetorical points. And she won because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid looked as if he could barely stay on a linear argument, abruptly switching gears and failing to effectively parry or thrust.

The Democrats have assured themselves and instructed voters that the Tea Partiers are loons, racists, and altogether unfit for office. In other words, they have so diminished expectations for their opponents that Angle and others easily amble over the low bar.

Democratic incumbents who previously enjoyed minimal opposition are unprepared to deal with the upstarts. Ralston wonders whether Reid took “himself out, once and for all, with his dismissiveness, his sarcastic and loopy use of ‘my friend’ and Senatese, his shifting of subjects in the middle of thoughts, beginning with his opening statements.”

You see, the Democratic hacks have come to resemble the loony caricature they have painted of their opponents. Yes, the most reasonable person on that stage was Angle.

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RE: Surprise: The Tea Party Is Important!

As a follow-up, Ken Buck, running for Senate in Colorado, has a beautiful ad in which he discusses how the elite ignored the Tea Party as long as it possibly could. But as Buck says at the close, “on November 2nd, they will ignore us no more.” (h/t Michael Barone)

As a follow-up, Ken Buck, running for Senate in Colorado, has a beautiful ad in which he discusses how the elite ignored the Tea Party as long as it possibly could. But as Buck says at the close, “on November 2nd, they will ignore us no more.” (h/t Michael Barone)

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Caddell Isn’t Waiting for Election Day

Pat Caddell is one mad Democrat:

Veteran Democratic operative Pat Caddell is unloading on the White House, saying he’s had enough with the president whose “hypocrisy” on campaign finance “is just mind-blowing.” …

“My problem with Obama started the day he blew up public financing of presidential campaigns,” Caddell said in an interview with The Daily Caller. “He’s the man whose done the most to destroy whatever integrity there was in campaign financing.”

He’s none too enamored with the Chamber of Commerce gambit, either:

The administration’s attacks, Caddell said, on groups like the Chamber of Commerce and donors like the conservative Koch brothers reek of McCarthyism. “I was the youngest person on Richard Nixon’s enemies list. I take this stuff seriously. What they’re doing is Nixonian – it’s McCarthyite,” he said.

Caddell, who has worked for a number of presidential campaigns, including Joe Biden’s in 1988, said making outside money an election issue is a risky strategy for the Democrats. “You’re 21 days out from an election and this is what you’ve got? That’s it? Nothing about jobs or the economy?”

Yeah, that’s all they’ve got. Caddell’s assessment of the Obama staff is accurate as far as it goes:

These are naive idiots who’ve come out of academia and have never done anything real in their lives, and they are actually in power,” he said. “These are the people we never let in the room when we had serious business to do. Now they’re running the country.”

Actually, the biggest problem is not the staff. The one who came out of academia and who had not done much that was “real” (other than write books about himself and get elected) before coming to the White House is Obama. That’s who has been leading the McCarthy-like attacks. That’s who’s got nothing to offer on the economy and jobs. Granted, Obama is surrounded by political hacks who lack real-world experience, but he put them there, and he’s shown himself to be sorely lacking in know-how and judgment when it comes to everything from the Middle East to “shovel-ready” jobs.

The Democrats’ finger-pointing and recriminations are only getting started. (Reminds me of the McCain campaign, which started blaming Sarah Palin before the election.) There will be plenty of blame to go around. But ultimately, Obama is head of his party as well as president. The upcoming electoral debacle will be his.

Pat Caddell is one mad Democrat:

Veteran Democratic operative Pat Caddell is unloading on the White House, saying he’s had enough with the president whose “hypocrisy” on campaign finance “is just mind-blowing.” …

“My problem with Obama started the day he blew up public financing of presidential campaigns,” Caddell said in an interview with The Daily Caller. “He’s the man whose done the most to destroy whatever integrity there was in campaign financing.”

He’s none too enamored with the Chamber of Commerce gambit, either:

The administration’s attacks, Caddell said, on groups like the Chamber of Commerce and donors like the conservative Koch brothers reek of McCarthyism. “I was the youngest person on Richard Nixon’s enemies list. I take this stuff seriously. What they’re doing is Nixonian – it’s McCarthyite,” he said.

Caddell, who has worked for a number of presidential campaigns, including Joe Biden’s in 1988, said making outside money an election issue is a risky strategy for the Democrats. “You’re 21 days out from an election and this is what you’ve got? That’s it? Nothing about jobs or the economy?”

Yeah, that’s all they’ve got. Caddell’s assessment of the Obama staff is accurate as far as it goes:

These are naive idiots who’ve come out of academia and have never done anything real in their lives, and they are actually in power,” he said. “These are the people we never let in the room when we had serious business to do. Now they’re running the country.”

Actually, the biggest problem is not the staff. The one who came out of academia and who had not done much that was “real” (other than write books about himself and get elected) before coming to the White House is Obama. That’s who has been leading the McCarthy-like attacks. That’s who’s got nothing to offer on the economy and jobs. Granted, Obama is surrounded by political hacks who lack real-world experience, but he put them there, and he’s shown himself to be sorely lacking in know-how and judgment when it comes to everything from the Middle East to “shovel-ready” jobs.

The Democrats’ finger-pointing and recriminations are only getting started. (Reminds me of the McCain campaign, which started blaming Sarah Palin before the election.) There will be plenty of blame to go around. But ultimately, Obama is head of his party as well as president. The upcoming electoral debacle will be his.

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Surprise: The Tea Party Is Important!

From ridiculed and ignored to influential. The Tea Party has made it above-the-fold in the New York Times, which accords grudging respect to those it once decried as racists and extremists:

Enough Tea Party-supported candidates are running strongly in competitive and Republican-leaning Congressional races that the movement stands a good chance of establishing a sizeable caucus to push its agenda in the House and the Senate, according to a New York Times analysis.

With a little more than two weeks till Election Day, 33 Tea Party-backed candidates are in tossup races or running in House districts that are solidly or leaning Republican, and 8 stand a good or better chance of winning Senate seats.

While the numbers are relatively small, they could exert outsize influence, putting pressure on Republican leaders to carry out promises to significantly cut spending and taxes, to repeal health care legislation and financial regulations passed this year, and to phase out Social Security and Medicare in favor of personal savings accounts.

And the Tea Party candidates have performed “better than expected” — umm, better than the Gray Lady expected — the report tells us. Yes, there is Christine O’Donnell, but the Times has figured out that there are many more viable Tea Party–backed candidates (e.g., Ron Johnson and Ken Buck). And it must have slipped the reporter’s mind, but that Marco Rubio looks pretty good, too.

This is yet another instance — the surge in Iraq was one of the more egregious examples — in which the media ignored or derided a conservative effort and then discovered that, by gosh (who could have expected it?), it’s pretty darn successful! If the media weren’t so busy telling liberals what they wanted to hear and ignoring conservative politics, they’d be surprised less.

From ridiculed and ignored to influential. The Tea Party has made it above-the-fold in the New York Times, which accords grudging respect to those it once decried as racists and extremists:

Enough Tea Party-supported candidates are running strongly in competitive and Republican-leaning Congressional races that the movement stands a good chance of establishing a sizeable caucus to push its agenda in the House and the Senate, according to a New York Times analysis.

With a little more than two weeks till Election Day, 33 Tea Party-backed candidates are in tossup races or running in House districts that are solidly or leaning Republican, and 8 stand a good or better chance of winning Senate seats.

While the numbers are relatively small, they could exert outsize influence, putting pressure on Republican leaders to carry out promises to significantly cut spending and taxes, to repeal health care legislation and financial regulations passed this year, and to phase out Social Security and Medicare in favor of personal savings accounts.

And the Tea Party candidates have performed “better than expected” — umm, better than the Gray Lady expected — the report tells us. Yes, there is Christine O’Donnell, but the Times has figured out that there are many more viable Tea Party–backed candidates (e.g., Ron Johnson and Ken Buck). And it must have slipped the reporter’s mind, but that Marco Rubio looks pretty good, too.

This is yet another instance — the surge in Iraq was one of the more egregious examples — in which the media ignored or derided a conservative effort and then discovered that, by gosh (who could have expected it?), it’s pretty darn successful! If the media weren’t so busy telling liberals what they wanted to hear and ignoring conservative politics, they’d be surprised less.

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Liberal Feminists Freak Out

Charles Krauthammer spots one of the most important political developments of 2010:

The rise of the conservative woman. Sarah Palin’s influence is the most obvious manifestation of the trend. But the bigger story is the coming of age of a whole generation of smart, aggressive Republican women, from the staunchly conservative Nikki Haley (now leading the South Carolina governor’s race) and the stauncher-still Sharron Angle (neck-and-neck with Harry Reid in Nevada) to the more moderate California variety, where both Carly Fiorina (for Senate) and Meg Whitman (for governor) are within striking distance in a state highly blue and deeply green. And they are not only a force in themselves; they represent an immense constituency that establishment feminism forgot — or disdained.

And these women are threatening to decimate the professional gender grievants’ notion that “feminism” is coterminous with a liberal, statist, abortion-on-demand agenda. The reason, I would suggest, that the left went so nuts over Christine O’Donnell is not simply because she rendered a vulnerable seat safe for the Democrats or because she showed that Tea Party enthusiasts’ judgment is not infallible. It is because she provided solace to nervous liberal feminists  –”See, this wacky dame is what conservative women are all about.” Sarah Palin has proved to be politically astute, Sharron Angle had Harry Reid on the defensive in their debate, and Carly Fiorina is showing that a pro-lifer can be competitive in California; but not to fear — O’Donnell will discredit them all. Or so the theory went.

In fact, she’s done no damage to the GOP beyond her state’s borders and arguably has taken some of the heat off Angle and others. There is a whole new generation of conservative women who threaten to narrow the gender gap and to rob liberals of the argument that opposition to abortion is misogynistic. Liberals are right to be afraid: O’Donnell won’t even rate a footnote in history, but the influence of all the “Mama Grizzlies” will be with us for a long time.

Charles Krauthammer spots one of the most important political developments of 2010:

The rise of the conservative woman. Sarah Palin’s influence is the most obvious manifestation of the trend. But the bigger story is the coming of age of a whole generation of smart, aggressive Republican women, from the staunchly conservative Nikki Haley (now leading the South Carolina governor’s race) and the stauncher-still Sharron Angle (neck-and-neck with Harry Reid in Nevada) to the more moderate California variety, where both Carly Fiorina (for Senate) and Meg Whitman (for governor) are within striking distance in a state highly blue and deeply green. And they are not only a force in themselves; they represent an immense constituency that establishment feminism forgot — or disdained.

And these women are threatening to decimate the professional gender grievants’ notion that “feminism” is coterminous with a liberal, statist, abortion-on-demand agenda. The reason, I would suggest, that the left went so nuts over Christine O’Donnell is not simply because she rendered a vulnerable seat safe for the Democrats or because she showed that Tea Party enthusiasts’ judgment is not infallible. It is because she provided solace to nervous liberal feminists  –”See, this wacky dame is what conservative women are all about.” Sarah Palin has proved to be politically astute, Sharron Angle had Harry Reid on the defensive in their debate, and Carly Fiorina is showing that a pro-lifer can be competitive in California; but not to fear — O’Donnell will discredit them all. Or so the theory went.

In fact, she’s done no damage to the GOP beyond her state’s borders and arguably has taken some of the heat off Angle and others. There is a whole new generation of conservative women who threaten to narrow the gender gap and to rob liberals of the argument that opposition to abortion is misogynistic. Liberals are right to be afraid: O’Donnell won’t even rate a footnote in history, but the influence of all the “Mama Grizzlies” will be with us for a long time.

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Not a Bush Comeback!

The left has plenty of reason to wig out. Their ideal liberal candidate is proving to be a bust as president. The public is still stubbornly center-right and suspicious of big government. The Tea Party crowd has invigorated and not divided the Republican Party. Obama has been forced to retreat, at least rhetorically, from Israel bashing. But there is one indignity too great to bear: the restoration of George W. Bush’s reputation.

Already voters in Ohio prefer Bush to Obama. Suddenly, “Bush-like” is no longer a political epithet. A chunk of Democrats are vowing to continue the Bush tax cuts. And when it comes to commander-in-chief talents and emotional connectivity to the American people, there is no contest. So be prepared for some screechy backlash.

And no one outdoes Maureen Dowd in the screechy department. She’s back to whining about Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson, citing a new movie that bears as much relationship to actual events as Gone With the Wind did to the Civil War. It’s really no more than an excuse to rage against the public’s newfound appreciation of  Bush. As this wit put it:

This version of the lives of these two Washington celebutaries  provides the Pulitzer-prize-winning columnist and plagiarist an opportunity to re-douse her favorite targets, the torturing malefactors George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, etc., with more than even the usual amount of spewage from her sulphur pot.

But Dowd herself gave it away in her opening graph, declaring to be “pathetic” a CNN headline and poll suggesting that, in fact, the public might think Bush a better president than his successor. It’s not “pathetic” — it is a political reality. The public is re-evaluating Bush in light of his successor and coming to appreciate that he got many (nearly all, I would argue) of the big things right (e.g., tax cuts, the surge, two qualified Supreme Court justices).

Dowd accuses the country of short-term memory loss. But perhaps her memory is as faulty as her journalistic ethics. It was, after all, Richard Armitage who was the leaker in the Plame affair. Is he in the movie?

The left has plenty of reason to wig out. Their ideal liberal candidate is proving to be a bust as president. The public is still stubbornly center-right and suspicious of big government. The Tea Party crowd has invigorated and not divided the Republican Party. Obama has been forced to retreat, at least rhetorically, from Israel bashing. But there is one indignity too great to bear: the restoration of George W. Bush’s reputation.

Already voters in Ohio prefer Bush to Obama. Suddenly, “Bush-like” is no longer a political epithet. A chunk of Democrats are vowing to continue the Bush tax cuts. And when it comes to commander-in-chief talents and emotional connectivity to the American people, there is no contest. So be prepared for some screechy backlash.

And no one outdoes Maureen Dowd in the screechy department. She’s back to whining about Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson, citing a new movie that bears as much relationship to actual events as Gone With the Wind did to the Civil War. It’s really no more than an excuse to rage against the public’s newfound appreciation of  Bush. As this wit put it:

This version of the lives of these two Washington celebutaries  provides the Pulitzer-prize-winning columnist and plagiarist an opportunity to re-douse her favorite targets, the torturing malefactors George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, etc., with more than even the usual amount of spewage from her sulphur pot.

But Dowd herself gave it away in her opening graph, declaring to be “pathetic” a CNN headline and poll suggesting that, in fact, the public might think Bush a better president than his successor. It’s not “pathetic” — it is a political reality. The public is re-evaluating Bush in light of his successor and coming to appreciate that he got many (nearly all, I would argue) of the big things right (e.g., tax cuts, the surge, two qualified Supreme Court justices).

Dowd accuses the country of short-term memory loss. But perhaps her memory is as faulty as her journalistic ethics. It was, after all, Richard Armitage who was the leaker in the Plame affair. Is he in the movie?

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The Permanent Things

The Washington Post’s Michael Gerson (co-author, with me, of City of Man: Religion and Politics in a New Era) has written a lovely column about Christopher Hitchens, who is now enduring a journey to what Hitchens calls “the sick country.” The column ends with this:

At the Pew Forum, Hitchens was asked a mischievous question: What positive lesson have you learned from Christianity? He replied, with great earnestness: the transience and ephemeral nature of power and all things human. But some things may last longer than he imagines, including examples of courage, loyalty and moral conviction.

I certainly don’t agree with everything Hitchens has stood for over the years — but Gerson’s tribute to him is both insightful and well-deserved.

The Washington Post’s Michael Gerson (co-author, with me, of City of Man: Religion and Politics in a New Era) has written a lovely column about Christopher Hitchens, who is now enduring a journey to what Hitchens calls “the sick country.” The column ends with this:

At the Pew Forum, Hitchens was asked a mischievous question: What positive lesson have you learned from Christianity? He replied, with great earnestness: the transience and ephemeral nature of power and all things human. But some things may last longer than he imagines, including examples of courage, loyalty and moral conviction.

I certainly don’t agree with everything Hitchens has stood for over the years — but Gerson’s tribute to him is both insightful and well-deserved.

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Another Consequence of Obama’s Failed Middle East Policy

While obsessing over a peace process with a zero chance of success, Obama has turned a blind eye to the real dangers in the region. As this report explains, Iran’s influence is steadily increasing in Lebanon:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Thursday that Lebanon was turning into an “extension of the ayatollah regime in Iran.”

Netanyahu made his remarks hours after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad concluded a visit to Israel’s northern neighbor, focusing his trip on the Hezbollah strongholds south of Beirut.

“This is a tragedy for Lebanon, but Israel knows how to defend itself,” Netanyahu said in a private meeting.

There are lots of tragedies in the Middle East — the suppression of the Green movement, the oppression of democracy protesters in Egypt, our inability and unwillingness to check the influence of even a non-nuclear Iran, and the fraying of the U.S.-Israel alliance, which is and must be the cornerstone for stability and peace in the region.

Here is a test for Obama’s foreign policy: is there a single country or group in the Middle East with which we have improved relations in the past 18 months? Iran, Syria, and Turkey regard us with contempt, continuing to provoke and drawing no response. The Israelis distrust Obama. The moderate Arab states are nervous that the U.S. is going to allow Iran to get the bomb. The Palestinians are disappointed that Obama has not served up Israel on a platter. Human rights activists bemoan the lack of meaningful action by the U.S. All in all, we’ve significantly diminished our ability to restrain aggression and bolster allies. It is a recipe for chaos. And it is the inevitable result of Obama’s diplomatic malpractice.

While obsessing over a peace process with a zero chance of success, Obama has turned a blind eye to the real dangers in the region. As this report explains, Iran’s influence is steadily increasing in Lebanon:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Thursday that Lebanon was turning into an “extension of the ayatollah regime in Iran.”

Netanyahu made his remarks hours after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad concluded a visit to Israel’s northern neighbor, focusing his trip on the Hezbollah strongholds south of Beirut.

“This is a tragedy for Lebanon, but Israel knows how to defend itself,” Netanyahu said in a private meeting.

There are lots of tragedies in the Middle East — the suppression of the Green movement, the oppression of democracy protesters in Egypt, our inability and unwillingness to check the influence of even a non-nuclear Iran, and the fraying of the U.S.-Israel alliance, which is and must be the cornerstone for stability and peace in the region.

Here is a test for Obama’s foreign policy: is there a single country or group in the Middle East with which we have improved relations in the past 18 months? Iran, Syria, and Turkey regard us with contempt, continuing to provoke and drawing no response. The Israelis distrust Obama. The moderate Arab states are nervous that the U.S. is going to allow Iran to get the bomb. The Palestinians are disappointed that Obama has not served up Israel on a platter. Human rights activists bemoan the lack of meaningful action by the U.S. All in all, we’ve significantly diminished our ability to restrain aggression and bolster allies. It is a recipe for chaos. And it is the inevitable result of Obama’s diplomatic malpractice.

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The Only Question Is How Many Democratic Casualties

The latest Fox poll has another serving of bad news for the Dems. Obama at 43 percent approval is hovering near his all-time low. The Republicans have an enthusiasm advantage — 40 percent are extremely interested in the midterms, while only 27 percent of Democrats are. Among likely voters, the GOP enjoys a nine-point lead in the generic congressional poll. By a 50 to 40 percent margin, voters think government is doing too much; 58 percent of independents think so. Fifty-four percent support repealing all or some of ObamaCare.

In other words, the basic contours of the race are and have been set for some time. The next two and a half weeks will determine which individual races will buck the trend. One thing is certain, however, many of those 2006 Democrats that Rahm Emanuel recruited into the House are going by the wayside. There is a certain political karma there, no?

The latest Fox poll has another serving of bad news for the Dems. Obama at 43 percent approval is hovering near his all-time low. The Republicans have an enthusiasm advantage — 40 percent are extremely interested in the midterms, while only 27 percent of Democrats are. Among likely voters, the GOP enjoys a nine-point lead in the generic congressional poll. By a 50 to 40 percent margin, voters think government is doing too much; 58 percent of independents think so. Fifty-four percent support repealing all or some of ObamaCare.

In other words, the basic contours of the race are and have been set for some time. The next two and a half weeks will determine which individual races will buck the trend. One thing is certain, however, many of those 2006 Democrats that Rahm Emanuel recruited into the House are going by the wayside. There is a certain political karma there, no?

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Flotsam and Jetsam

D.C. runs over black schoolkids. “Michelle Rhee—the tough broad who spent nearly four years as D.C. schools chancellor in a pitched battle against the corruption-plagued, incompetence-ridden Washington teachers union to reform a rotten public school system—was forced out today by mayor-elect Vincent Gray in what surely must be seen as a kind of triumph for the union and a potential tragedy for the city’s underprivileged, mostly-black schoolchildren.” Meanwhile, the Obamas are “tucking their own cute kids safely away in private schools.” Read the whole thing.

Officials from cities like New York should run, not walk, to grab her. “DC’s loss could be New York’s gain, and it behooves city Schools Chancellor Joel Klein to scoop her up before she departs for another system.”

Pat Toomey is running away with it in Pennsylvania. “Republican Pat Toomey now holds a 10-point lead over Democratic Congressman Joe Sestak, the widest gap between the candidates since early April in Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race. … The race now moves from Leans GOP to Solid GOP in the Rasmussen Reports Election 2010 Senate Balance of Power rankings.”

According to the Cook Political Report (subscription required), Nancy Pelosi isn’t going to be running the House come January. “At the moment, 22 Democratic seats, including 10 open seats and 12 incumbents, sit in the Lean or Likely Republican columns, while two Republican seats sit in the Lean or Likely Democratic columns, for a net of 20 Republican seats. That means Republicans only need to win 21 of the 40 seats in the Toss Up column to win a majority, not even counting many of the 30 Democratic seats in the Lean Democratic column that are rapidly becoming more competitive. At this point, all but four of the Democrats in our Toss Up column have trailed in at least one public or private poll, and Democrats’ fortunes in most of these seats are on the decline. … Overall, given the status of these Toss Up races and the length of the Lean Democratic column, Democrats’ chances of losing at least 50 seats are now greater than their chances of holding losses under 45 seats.”

By the time they start running for president in 2012, ObamaCare may be in the rear-view mirror. “A federal judge says some parts of a lawsuit by 20 states challenging the Obama administration’s health care overhaul as unconstitutional can go to trial. District Judge Roger Vinson ruled Thursday in Pensacola, Fla., that some parts of the lawsuit need to be heard. The administration had asked him to dismiss the entire lawsuit, which was spearheaded by Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum.”

He says he isn’t running in 2012, but there is — as I predicted — a “Draft Chris Christie” website. One benefit: in a Christie administration, I sincerely doubt the first lady would be nagging us to stop eating fast food.

Is Obama pitching to young voters merely to stage a practice run for the 2012 get-out-the-vote operation? The New York Times thinks so. After all, it’s always about him.

Democrats around the country are running against supposedly “extremist” Tea Partiers. But the voters have minds of their own, wouldn’t you know it? “Likely voters in battleground districts see extremists as having a more dominant influence over the Democratic Party than they do over the GOP. This result comes from The Hill 2010 Midterm Election Poll, which found that 44 percent of likely voters say the Democratic Party is more dominated by its extreme elements, whereas 37 percent say it’s the Republican Party that is more dominated by extremists.” By the end of this campaign, the public will be convinced that the Democrats are being funded by mystery foreign donors.

D.C. runs over black schoolkids. “Michelle Rhee—the tough broad who spent nearly four years as D.C. schools chancellor in a pitched battle against the corruption-plagued, incompetence-ridden Washington teachers union to reform a rotten public school system—was forced out today by mayor-elect Vincent Gray in what surely must be seen as a kind of triumph for the union and a potential tragedy for the city’s underprivileged, mostly-black schoolchildren.” Meanwhile, the Obamas are “tucking their own cute kids safely away in private schools.” Read the whole thing.

Officials from cities like New York should run, not walk, to grab her. “DC’s loss could be New York’s gain, and it behooves city Schools Chancellor Joel Klein to scoop her up before she departs for another system.”

Pat Toomey is running away with it in Pennsylvania. “Republican Pat Toomey now holds a 10-point lead over Democratic Congressman Joe Sestak, the widest gap between the candidates since early April in Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race. … The race now moves from Leans GOP to Solid GOP in the Rasmussen Reports Election 2010 Senate Balance of Power rankings.”

According to the Cook Political Report (subscription required), Nancy Pelosi isn’t going to be running the House come January. “At the moment, 22 Democratic seats, including 10 open seats and 12 incumbents, sit in the Lean or Likely Republican columns, while two Republican seats sit in the Lean or Likely Democratic columns, for a net of 20 Republican seats. That means Republicans only need to win 21 of the 40 seats in the Toss Up column to win a majority, not even counting many of the 30 Democratic seats in the Lean Democratic column that are rapidly becoming more competitive. At this point, all but four of the Democrats in our Toss Up column have trailed in at least one public or private poll, and Democrats’ fortunes in most of these seats are on the decline. … Overall, given the status of these Toss Up races and the length of the Lean Democratic column, Democrats’ chances of losing at least 50 seats are now greater than their chances of holding losses under 45 seats.”

By the time they start running for president in 2012, ObamaCare may be in the rear-view mirror. “A federal judge says some parts of a lawsuit by 20 states challenging the Obama administration’s health care overhaul as unconstitutional can go to trial. District Judge Roger Vinson ruled Thursday in Pensacola, Fla., that some parts of the lawsuit need to be heard. The administration had asked him to dismiss the entire lawsuit, which was spearheaded by Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum.”

He says he isn’t running in 2012, but there is — as I predicted — a “Draft Chris Christie” website. One benefit: in a Christie administration, I sincerely doubt the first lady would be nagging us to stop eating fast food.

Is Obama pitching to young voters merely to stage a practice run for the 2012 get-out-the-vote operation? The New York Times thinks so. After all, it’s always about him.

Democrats around the country are running against supposedly “extremist” Tea Partiers. But the voters have minds of their own, wouldn’t you know it? “Likely voters in battleground districts see extremists as having a more dominant influence over the Democratic Party than they do over the GOP. This result comes from The Hill 2010 Midterm Election Poll, which found that 44 percent of likely voters say the Democratic Party is more dominated by its extreme elements, whereas 37 percent say it’s the Republican Party that is more dominated by extremists.” By the end of this campaign, the public will be convinced that the Democrats are being funded by mystery foreign donors.

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