Commentary Magazine


Posts For: February 22, 2011

Comparing Wisconsin with Egypt

Yesterday, John Steele Gordon noted that the protests in the Middle East and in Madison all carry great significance, but beyond that there are few similarities between them.

But that hasn’t stopped activists and a very sympathetic media from trying to make cloddish comparisons between the Wisconsin rallies and the Egyptian uprising. From the beginning of the demonstrations, union supporters have labeled Gov. Scott Walker a “mini-Mubarak” and carried signs with Walker’s image next to a photo of the ousted Egyptian dictator. A Washington Post column even described him as “Wisconsin’s pharaoh.”

These analogies have increased over the past few days after one particularly enterprising pizza restaurant in Madison began accepting donations from out-of-state individuals who want to send pizza pies to the protesters. According to the restaurant, donations have come from all over the world, including Egypt. And that piece of information was all the media needed to hear in order to start crowing about the “solidarity” between the Egyptians and the union activists in Wisconsin.

“In an act of intercontinental solidarity, an Egyptian has ordered a pizza for Wisconsin protesters,” reported Slate.

“How do you go about showing your solidarity with protesters on the other side of the world?” asked Time magazine. “Making sure they are well fueled, of course.

According to Politico, a local pizza joint, Ian’s on State Street, has been inundated with phone calls from all over the country and around the world — including one caller from been-there, done-that Cairo — who are concerned with getting food to the union supporters who have gathered at the Capitol. “Someone in Egypt has been paying attention to what’s happening in Madison and wanted to send a message of solidarity from across the globe — so they ordered a pizza.”

Of course, it’s entirely ridiculous to compare the protesters in Cairo — many of whom put their physical safety by attending the demonstrations – with the disgruntled Wisconsin union workers taking the day off from cushy government jobs to carry signs around the state capitol. These people don’t even have to worry about losing their jobs for attending the protest, let along their lives. Not to mention that they’re getting free pizza out of the deal.

Yesterday, John Steele Gordon noted that the protests in the Middle East and in Madison all carry great significance, but beyond that there are few similarities between them.

But that hasn’t stopped activists and a very sympathetic media from trying to make cloddish comparisons between the Wisconsin rallies and the Egyptian uprising. From the beginning of the demonstrations, union supporters have labeled Gov. Scott Walker a “mini-Mubarak” and carried signs with Walker’s image next to a photo of the ousted Egyptian dictator. A Washington Post column even described him as “Wisconsin’s pharaoh.”

These analogies have increased over the past few days after one particularly enterprising pizza restaurant in Madison began accepting donations from out-of-state individuals who want to send pizza pies to the protesters. According to the restaurant, donations have come from all over the world, including Egypt. And that piece of information was all the media needed to hear in order to start crowing about the “solidarity” between the Egyptians and the union activists in Wisconsin.

“In an act of intercontinental solidarity, an Egyptian has ordered a pizza for Wisconsin protesters,” reported Slate.

“How do you go about showing your solidarity with protesters on the other side of the world?” asked Time magazine. “Making sure they are well fueled, of course.

According to Politico, a local pizza joint, Ian’s on State Street, has been inundated with phone calls from all over the country and around the world — including one caller from been-there, done-that Cairo — who are concerned with getting food to the union supporters who have gathered at the Capitol. “Someone in Egypt has been paying attention to what’s happening in Madison and wanted to send a message of solidarity from across the globe — so they ordered a pizza.”

Of course, it’s entirely ridiculous to compare the protesters in Cairo — many of whom put their physical safety by attending the demonstrations – with the disgruntled Wisconsin union workers taking the day off from cushy government jobs to carry signs around the state capitol. These people don’t even have to worry about losing their jobs for attending the protest, let along their lives. Not to mention that they’re getting free pizza out of the deal.

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Governor Walker: ‘The Proper Guardian of the Public Weal’

What we’re seeing on display in Madison, Wisconsin, is a powerful faction (public-sector unions) unhappy with the chief executive of the state (Scott Walker), who was elected by a comfortable margin only three months ago. Walker was elected in large part on his promise to tame the power of unions. In acting on his commitments, we’re seeing massive protests. One might think such a thing unwise, but it’s not unexpected.

What is unusual is that 14 Democratic state senators have fled Wisconsin in order to prevent Governor Walker’s policy from being voted into law — and they are the ones now taking aim at Walker for acting in a way that is contrary to American political principles.

Mark Miller, one of Democrats who fled the state, said, “The problem is, is that the governor has to agree, and the governor has not done anything except insist that it has to be his way — all or nothing.” Miller went on to say: “He should have negotiated with the workers and he refused to do that. He tried to impose his will. And he unilaterally is stripping away workers’ rights. The governor needs to recognize that this is a democracy, and in a democracy you negotiate.”

In response, Ed Morrissey makes this Madisonian point: “If Wisconsin was a democracy, then every issue would be settled by a state-wide vote, and the legislature wouldn’t exist at all. Voters elect representatives to form a legislature to debate and then decide these issues, usually based on the professed agendas of the candidates in the campaign season.”

Beyond that, though, you have legislators who are themselves throwing sand in the gears of the machinery of government. And what an innovative way they have settled on. Having lost an election, having lost the governorship, and having lost control of the state Senate, Democratic legislators are literally fleeing Wisconsin in order to avoid a vote they know they cannot win. They are thwarting the public will in a way that is making the citizens of Wisconsin enraged and that is turning their state party into a laughingstock. This strategy seems to be spreading to other states, which is an amazingly self-destructive political strategy.

Governor Walker seems serene through what James Madison called “spectacles of turbulence and contention.” Walker should be. After all, he is showing himself to be a “proper guardian of the public weal.”

What we’re seeing on display in Madison, Wisconsin, is a powerful faction (public-sector unions) unhappy with the chief executive of the state (Scott Walker), who was elected by a comfortable margin only three months ago. Walker was elected in large part on his promise to tame the power of unions. In acting on his commitments, we’re seeing massive protests. One might think such a thing unwise, but it’s not unexpected.

What is unusual is that 14 Democratic state senators have fled Wisconsin in order to prevent Governor Walker’s policy from being voted into law — and they are the ones now taking aim at Walker for acting in a way that is contrary to American political principles.

Mark Miller, one of Democrats who fled the state, said, “The problem is, is that the governor has to agree, and the governor has not done anything except insist that it has to be his way — all or nothing.” Miller went on to say: “He should have negotiated with the workers and he refused to do that. He tried to impose his will. And he unilaterally is stripping away workers’ rights. The governor needs to recognize that this is a democracy, and in a democracy you negotiate.”

In response, Ed Morrissey makes this Madisonian point: “If Wisconsin was a democracy, then every issue would be settled by a state-wide vote, and the legislature wouldn’t exist at all. Voters elect representatives to form a legislature to debate and then decide these issues, usually based on the professed agendas of the candidates in the campaign season.”

Beyond that, though, you have legislators who are themselves throwing sand in the gears of the machinery of government. And what an innovative way they have settled on. Having lost an election, having lost the governorship, and having lost control of the state Senate, Democratic legislators are literally fleeing Wisconsin in order to avoid a vote they know they cannot win. They are thwarting the public will in a way that is making the citizens of Wisconsin enraged and that is turning their state party into a laughingstock. This strategy seems to be spreading to other states, which is an amazingly self-destructive political strategy.

Governor Walker seems serene through what James Madison called “spectacles of turbulence and contention.” Walker should be. After all, he is showing himself to be a “proper guardian of the public weal.”

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The Analogy Between 1989 and 2011: The First Bush and Obama

The Washington Post’s Anne Applebaum has a wonderfully insightful op-ed in today’s paper in which she rightly points out that the proper analogy to the series of revolts breaking out across the Arab world is in the events of 1848, not 1989. The fall of the Berlin Wall was a historic moment in which tyrannies fell, but today’s events have much more of the feel of the great revolts that ended Europe’s age of reaction 163 years ago. Moreover, as Applebaum notes, the outcome of the 1989 demonstrations that led to the collapse of the Soviet Empire was very different from the probable outcomes of the various struggles in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, and Libya, with perhaps other countries to follow.

The truth about 1848 is that Europe’s year of revolution ended unhappily for the advocates of democracy. Hapsburg Austria and Tsarist Russia joined forces to brutally crush Hungary’s independence movement. Revolutions against monarchies around the Continent met with defeat everywhere. Another royal dictator, by the name of Napoleon III, soon replaced even France’s Second Republic.

But, as Applebaum correctly asserts, the defeats of 1848 were not permanent. The ferment that characterized the year of revolt would eventually bear fruit in a Europe that would ultimately reject the status quo of authoritarian monarchism. It is in this sense that we can hope that the current wave of revolution in the Middle East will be a good thing in the long run. As Applebaum writes:

It is equally true that by 2012, some or even all of these revolutions might be seen to have failed. Dictatorships might be reimposed, democracy won’t work, ethnic conflict will turn into ethnic violence. As in 1848, a change of political system might take a very long time, and it might not come about through popular revolution at all. Negotiation, as I wrote a few weeks ago, is generally a better and safer way to hand over power. Some of the region’s dictators might eventually figure that out. Read More

The Washington Post’s Anne Applebaum has a wonderfully insightful op-ed in today’s paper in which she rightly points out that the proper analogy to the series of revolts breaking out across the Arab world is in the events of 1848, not 1989. The fall of the Berlin Wall was a historic moment in which tyrannies fell, but today’s events have much more of the feel of the great revolts that ended Europe’s age of reaction 163 years ago. Moreover, as Applebaum notes, the outcome of the 1989 demonstrations that led to the collapse of the Soviet Empire was very different from the probable outcomes of the various struggles in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, and Libya, with perhaps other countries to follow.

The truth about 1848 is that Europe’s year of revolution ended unhappily for the advocates of democracy. Hapsburg Austria and Tsarist Russia joined forces to brutally crush Hungary’s independence movement. Revolutions against monarchies around the Continent met with defeat everywhere. Another royal dictator, by the name of Napoleon III, soon replaced even France’s Second Republic.

But, as Applebaum correctly asserts, the defeats of 1848 were not permanent. The ferment that characterized the year of revolt would eventually bear fruit in a Europe that would ultimately reject the status quo of authoritarian monarchism. It is in this sense that we can hope that the current wave of revolution in the Middle East will be a good thing in the long run. As Applebaum writes:

It is equally true that by 2012, some or even all of these revolutions might be seen to have failed. Dictatorships might be reimposed, democracy won’t work, ethnic conflict will turn into ethnic violence. As in 1848, a change of political system might take a very long time, and it might not come about through popular revolution at all. Negotiation, as I wrote a few weeks ago, is generally a better and safer way to hand over power. Some of the region’s dictators might eventually figure that out.

But if there is any proper analogy with 1989, it is between the reactions of the United States government to events in Europe 22 years ago and those of the present day. In 1989, the George H.W. Bush administration hardly knew what to say about the breakup of the “evil empire.” Rather than lead and speak out in favor of liberty, the first President Bush and his minions seemed at first at a loss and then actively opposed freedom for captive states.

Today we have another administration that is uncomfortable with democracy promotion and has been dragged, kicking and screaming, into support for change in the Arab world. Their attitude is not so much one of “realism” as it is rooted in a lack of faith in the value of American leadership and disgust for the democracy agenda of its predecessor. Unlike in 1989, when there was no doubt (except in the hearts of Bush and his foreign-policy team) about what side America should be on, the situation in the Islamic world is a complicated one, with bad guys to be found on both sides of the barricades. But America’s ability to influence events for good has been critically hampered by Obama’s reluctance to proclaim America’s principles.

As in 1989, America has been behind the curve at every point during the current struggle and unable or unwilling to use its influence one way or another. While Eastern Europe made its way to freedom in spite of George H.W. Bush, we can only wonder what effect the feckless and timid instincts of Barack Obama’s administration will have on the ultimate outcome of the current perilous process.

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The Difference Between Reform Rabbis and Islamists

For those who take it as their mission to expose every foolish thing said on Glenn Beck’s radio or TV program, the talk show host is a gift that keeps on giving. Today’s bon mot from the famous talker is one in which he takes a shot at the 400 rabbis who signed an ad organized by the Jewish Funds for Justice group denouncing him and FOX News’s Roger Ailes. We have previously written about the hypocrisy of this ad, which rightly chided Beck for his inappropriate language about the Holocaust but failed to mention the many examples of leftist hate speech that used the same wrongful analogies. But, of course, Beck couldn’t leave it at that.

So today, while discussing the ad’s signers, he went on to tell his listeners that rabbis from the Reform movement of Judaism are “generally political in nature. It’s almost like Islam, radicalized Islam in a way, to where it is just — radicalized Islam is less about religion than it is about politics. When you look at the Reform Judaism, it is more about politics.”

Beck then goes on to note that this analogy is not about “terror,” but a rule of thumb about analogies is that if you have to issue a disclaimer in the same breath, it’s probably not a smart analogy to start with. Read More

For those who take it as their mission to expose every foolish thing said on Glenn Beck’s radio or TV program, the talk show host is a gift that keeps on giving. Today’s bon mot from the famous talker is one in which he takes a shot at the 400 rabbis who signed an ad organized by the Jewish Funds for Justice group denouncing him and FOX News’s Roger Ailes. We have previously written about the hypocrisy of this ad, which rightly chided Beck for his inappropriate language about the Holocaust but failed to mention the many examples of leftist hate speech that used the same wrongful analogies. But, of course, Beck couldn’t leave it at that.

So today, while discussing the ad’s signers, he went on to tell his listeners that rabbis from the Reform movement of Judaism are “generally political in nature. It’s almost like Islam, radicalized Islam in a way, to where it is just — radicalized Islam is less about religion than it is about politics. When you look at the Reform Judaism, it is more about politics.”

Beck then goes on to note that this analogy is not about “terror,” but a rule of thumb about analogies is that if you have to issue a disclaimer in the same breath, it’s probably not a smart analogy to start with.

It’s true that most Reform rabbis are political liberals, just as most American Jews are liberals, a reality that COMMENTARY has been known to lament. And it is also true that a standing joke about Reform has been to say that its theology consisted of the Democratic Party platform with holidays thrown in. But if that jibe hits home about the core beliefs of many Reform Jews, it is erroneous to put down the movement per se as a purely political entity. However much many liberal Jews have come to see their faith in terms that have tended to merge their political beliefs with their religious identity, Reform Judaism is a venerable religious movement above and beyond political activism that is due the same respect that any other denomination of one of our country’s great faiths deserves. Many of its rabbis are, and have been, political activists (including many who are ardent Zionists), but that does not justify putting their faith down as mere politics. To do so is to manifest the sort of disrespect for religion that is more usually associated with the left than the right.

Moreover, any comparison between Reform rabbis and the leaders of Islamism is as untrue as it is obnoxious. Reform’s beliefs are in no way the equivalent of a creed that seeks to destroy all non-Islamic governments and faiths as Islamists do. Nor need we point out that it is also true, as Beck helpfully noted in passing, that Reform rabbis are not the spiritual leaders of a movement that sponsors terrorism as a matter of principle.

While the signers of the one-sided anti-Beck ad opened themselves up to criticism for backing an obviously partisan argument, to put down an entire religious movement as mere politics, as if a vast association of synagogues, schools, camps, and charitable endeavors exists merely to take shots at Beck, is absurd. As with some of Beck’s other glib utterances that have gotten him into trouble, it’s clear that he’d be better off not talking about topics about which his knowledge is limited.

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Libya: ‘No-Fly’ Zone in Context

As the dreadful human toll mounts in Libya, geopolitical context is beginning to obtrude on the Arab world’s revolt. The suggestions for military measures against the Qaddafi regime started yesterday with a member of Libya’s own UN mission recommending a no-fly zone. This first serious suggestion for a military response to the Arab unrest serves to highlight the fact that there are already some military responses being mounted. Nothing being done today will save imperiled Libyans: Qaddafi is slaughtering them right now, and only immediate intervention with summary force would have a hope of protecting them. But the nations of the region are recognizing military necessity (and, in one case, military opportunity) in the domestic instability of the Arab states.

The EU on Sunday inaugurated a new border-security operation, “Hermes 2011,” to deal with the influx of refugees from Tunisia into Italy’s southern islands. The Italians are coordinating the operation, to which other nations — France, Spain, the Netherlands — will contribute patrol aircraft and ships. Fearing new eruptions from Libya, Italy has put its air force on alert and moved helicopters to its southern airfields. Turkey has dispatched a naval transport ship and two commercial ferries to Libya, along with a warship escort, to retrieve Turkish nationals.

Meanwhile, the Suez Canal authorities finally affirmed on Tuesday that Iran’s warships have finished their canal transit, which raises the curtain on Act Two of this sometimes farcical but nevertheless significant drama. Iran’s tactical use of the warships will depend very much on circumstance; I don’t expect the more dire predictions about them to pan out. One small frigate is overmatched by virtually any navy in the Mediterranean. Certainly the Iranians would lose their warship if they provoked a shooting match with Israel. Read More

As the dreadful human toll mounts in Libya, geopolitical context is beginning to obtrude on the Arab world’s revolt. The suggestions for military measures against the Qaddafi regime started yesterday with a member of Libya’s own UN mission recommending a no-fly zone. This first serious suggestion for a military response to the Arab unrest serves to highlight the fact that there are already some military responses being mounted. Nothing being done today will save imperiled Libyans: Qaddafi is slaughtering them right now, and only immediate intervention with summary force would have a hope of protecting them. But the nations of the region are recognizing military necessity (and, in one case, military opportunity) in the domestic instability of the Arab states.

The EU on Sunday inaugurated a new border-security operation, “Hermes 2011,” to deal with the influx of refugees from Tunisia into Italy’s southern islands. The Italians are coordinating the operation, to which other nations — France, Spain, the Netherlands — will contribute patrol aircraft and ships. Fearing new eruptions from Libya, Italy has put its air force on alert and moved helicopters to its southern airfields. Turkey has dispatched a naval transport ship and two commercial ferries to Libya, along with a warship escort, to retrieve Turkish nationals.

Meanwhile, the Suez Canal authorities finally affirmed on Tuesday that Iran’s warships have finished their canal transit, which raises the curtain on Act Two of this sometimes farcical but nevertheless significant drama. Iran’s tactical use of the warships will depend very much on circumstance; I don’t expect the more dire predictions about them to pan out. One small frigate is overmatched by virtually any navy in the Mediterranean. Certainly the Iranians would lose their warship if they provoked a shooting match with Israel.

But the political triumph of getting the ships into the Mediterranean is the main effort for Iran. Establishing a pattern of such transits would also allow Iran to move war materiel to Hezbollah in the holds of naval supply ships, which would complicate Israel’s security planning by an order of magnitude beyond previous tactical problems. Israeli interdiction of merchant ships carrying contraband to Lebanon is a necessary inconvenience to the shipping trade. Interdicting Iranian naval vessels could be taken by Tehran and the international community as an act of war.

Much will depend on the West’s attitude about maintaining order. History suggests we will react — and slowly — rather than taking the initiative. In the case of the no-fly-zone proposal, Italy is in a predicament: the obvious base for a multinational air force, it has nevertheless been reluctant to condemn the Qaddafi regime, which is its partner in a key natural-gas pipeline to Europe. (There is no U.S. aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean; USS Enterprise moved into the Red Sea last week.) Rome and the EU have had no trouble organizing force for a minimally defensive posture, but when it comes to defending order in the common spaces, or at the untended boundaries where law and central government have broken down, there is no doing it without American leadership.

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The Polling on the Wisconsin Standoff

Very confusing numbers about what’s going on in Wisconsin. Rasmussen Reports says 48 percent of likely voters nationwide are siding with Gov. Scott Walker, while 38 percent are supporting the unions. Two other polls didn’t try to screen for voters at all, and have very different results. According to We Ask America, an automated polling outfit, 2,400 Wisconsin residents disapprove of Walker’s actions by a margin of 52-43 (though they disapproved of legislators’ fleeing the state 57-39). And today Gallup reports that in a poll of 1,000 adults, 61 percent said they would oppose “a law in your state taking away some collective bargaining rights of most public unions, including the state teachers union.”

This is fascinating, though not for the reasons you might think upon first glance. At this moment, 11.9 percent of the workforce in the United States is unionized. In the private sector, the number is even more startling: 6.9 percent. Indeed, the percentage of Americans who have ever been in a union has declined so precipitously in the past 30 years that it probably numbers no more than 20 percent overall. Which raises the question: How many people whom Gallup polled actually know what is meant, in public-policy terms, by the words “collective bargaining rights”?

Very confusing numbers about what’s going on in Wisconsin. Rasmussen Reports says 48 percent of likely voters nationwide are siding with Gov. Scott Walker, while 38 percent are supporting the unions. Two other polls didn’t try to screen for voters at all, and have very different results. According to We Ask America, an automated polling outfit, 2,400 Wisconsin residents disapprove of Walker’s actions by a margin of 52-43 (though they disapproved of legislators’ fleeing the state 57-39). And today Gallup reports that in a poll of 1,000 adults, 61 percent said they would oppose “a law in your state taking away some collective bargaining rights of most public unions, including the state teachers union.”

This is fascinating, though not for the reasons you might think upon first glance. At this moment, 11.9 percent of the workforce in the United States is unionized. In the private sector, the number is even more startling: 6.9 percent. Indeed, the percentage of Americans who have ever been in a union has declined so precipitously in the past 30 years that it probably numbers no more than 20 percent overall. Which raises the question: How many people whom Gallup polled actually know what is meant, in public-policy terms, by the words “collective bargaining rights”?

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Bill Clinton and the New Civility Center

As Alana noted this morning, former presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush will serve as honorary chairmen of a new center at the University of Arizona that will focus on civility in political debate. Mr. Clinton said in a statement that the new institute “can elevate the tone of dialogue in our country.” Perhaps, though I do wonder if a few notes of apology from our 42nd president might be in order first.

Let’s take a journey down memory lane, shall we?

It was the Clinton White House and his political machine, after all, that conducted a ferocious, unprecedented assault against Judge Ken Starr, the independent counsel during the Monica Lewinsky investigation. In the inimitable words of James Carville, “We have an out-of-control sex-crazed person that is running the [investigation], has spent $40 million of taxpayers’ money investigating people’s sex lives.” We were told that Starr’s investigation “smacks of the Gestapo” and “outstrips McCarthyism.” Starr was said to be a “spineless, gutless weasel,” a “thug” and “Grand Inquisitor for life,” a “real Nixonian character,” a “sex-obsessed person who’s out to get the president” who also “engaged in an anti-constitutional destructiveness” and used “instruments of intimidation and smear without restraint.” He was engaged in a “slimy, skuzzy, little sleazy sex investigation.” (For more, see William J. Bennett’s 1998 book The Death of Outrage.) Read More

As Alana noted this morning, former presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush will serve as honorary chairmen of a new center at the University of Arizona that will focus on civility in political debate. Mr. Clinton said in a statement that the new institute “can elevate the tone of dialogue in our country.” Perhaps, though I do wonder if a few notes of apology from our 42nd president might be in order first.

Let’s take a journey down memory lane, shall we?

It was the Clinton White House and his political machine, after all, that conducted a ferocious, unprecedented assault against Judge Ken Starr, the independent counsel during the Monica Lewinsky investigation. In the inimitable words of James Carville, “We have an out-of-control sex-crazed person that is running the [investigation], has spent $40 million of taxpayers’ money investigating people’s sex lives.” We were told that Starr’s investigation “smacks of the Gestapo” and “outstrips McCarthyism.” Starr was said to be a “spineless, gutless weasel,” a “thug” and “Grand Inquisitor for life,” a “real Nixonian character,” a “sex-obsessed person who’s out to get the president” who also “engaged in an anti-constitutional destructiveness” and used “instruments of intimidation and smear without restraint.” He was engaged in a “slimy, skuzzy, little sleazy sex investigation.” (For more, see William J. Bennett’s 1998 book The Death of Outrage.)

Mr. Clinton also engaged in smears against Kathleen Willey, Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, Dolly Kyle Browning, and Linda Tripp (Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon orchestrated the release of the personnel information about Tripp, a violation of the Privacy Act). Monica Lewinsky was next up in the cue, until the stained blue dress made her immune to further abuse.

In addition, Dick Morris has reported that under the supervision of Betsey Wright, Clinton’s former chief of staff in Arkansas, an entire operation funded with more than $100,000 of campaign money was used to hire private detectives to delve into the personal lives of women who were alleged to have had sexual relations with Clinton. And these examples do not even begin to document what Clinton said about Republican lawmakers or his accusation that conservatives like Rush Limbaugh contributed to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

I believe civility in public discourse is important. I’m even open to the idea that Bill Clinton, under the right circumstances, might be able to advance that cause a bit. But there is also something like restoration and accountability. And before we are instructed by Clinton on how to elevate the tone of dialogue in our country, it seems reasonable for him to make peace with those whom he has smeared over the years. It is a long list. Michael Kelly, who wrote as well as anyone ever has on Bill Clinton, said that “in his pathology, he does great and heartless violence to other people and to the nation.”

If Mr. Clinton were to admit the errors of his way, if there was genuine contrition and efforts at reconciliation on his part, then progress would be possible. But if not, I rather doubt many people are inclined to take his admonitions terribly seriously.

As I said, a few notes of apology may be in order.

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Obama and Donald Trump Nearly Neck-and-Neck in 2012 Poll

A bit of surprising news via the latest Newsweek/Daily Beast poll. In a 2012 matchup, Donald Trump trails President Obama by only two points — well within the margin of error:

The prospective addition of Donald Trump to the race did produce some impact, and his support was in the high single digits.

Individual head-to-head ballot tests for president show President Obama with a double-digit lead over Sarah Palin (51-40), a narrow lead over Mitt Romney (49-47) and Donald Trump (43-41), and a tie with Mike Huckabee (46-46).

So does this news, in addition to the warm reception Trump received at the Conservative Political Action Conference earlier this month, mean that the business magnate should be considered a serious contender for 2012?

Not exactly — at least not yet.

The Newsweek/Daily News poll also noted that “the particularly high percentage of undecided voters in the race with Trump underscores the substantial degree of uncertainty his prospective candidacy provokes.”

And as conservatives and independents begin learning more about Trump’s politics, they may not like what they hear. As AEI’s Kevin Hassett notes in an excellent analysis at Business Week, Trump’s past flip-flops make Mitt Romney look like an unwavering right-wing stalwart. Read More

A bit of surprising news via the latest Newsweek/Daily Beast poll. In a 2012 matchup, Donald Trump trails President Obama by only two points — well within the margin of error:

The prospective addition of Donald Trump to the race did produce some impact, and his support was in the high single digits.

Individual head-to-head ballot tests for president show President Obama with a double-digit lead over Sarah Palin (51-40), a narrow lead over Mitt Romney (49-47) and Donald Trump (43-41), and a tie with Mike Huckabee (46-46).

So does this news, in addition to the warm reception Trump received at the Conservative Political Action Conference earlier this month, mean that the business magnate should be considered a serious contender for 2012?

Not exactly — at least not yet.

The Newsweek/Daily News poll also noted that “the particularly high percentage of undecided voters in the race with Trump underscores the substantial degree of uncertainty his prospective candidacy provokes.”

And as conservatives and independents begin learning more about Trump’s politics, they may not like what they hear. As AEI’s Kevin Hassett notes in an excellent analysis at Business Week, Trump’s past flip-flops make Mitt Romney look like an unwavering right-wing stalwart.

Hassett’s piece should be read in full, but here are just a few issues from Trump’s past that could potentially come back to bite him during a 2012 GOP runoff:

Trump has jumped from registered Republican (1987-1999) to Independence Party (1999-2001) to Democrat (2001-2009) and back to the GOP again (2009). His most recent switch is perhaps the most telling, since it came just in time for him to start laying the groundwork for a 2012 run.

But his past statements would probably prove to be more damaging than his wavering affiliations, as opponents use these against him during a Republican primary.

“I probably identify more as a Democrat,” he told Wolf Blitzer in 2004. “It just seems that the economy does better under the Democrats than the Republicans.” That claim is quite a contrast to his more recent statements to Greta Van Susteren last week: “I’m Republican, a very conservative Republican. I believe strongly in just about all conservative principles, just about,” said Trump.

He’s also flipped on the abortion issue, telling Tim Russert in 1999 that “I am pro-choice in every respect,” but then telling Van Susteren last week that “I’m pro-life. I think that’s a big social issue.”

As for health care, which will probably be one of the biggest issues during the Republican primary, Trump once said that “Our people are our greatest asset. We must take care of our own. We must have universal health care.” He now contends that the health-care-reform laws are unconstitutional.

Also deeply problematic are Trump’s past calls for a steep wealth tax.

So while Trump may be enjoying some success in the polls right now, it’s likely owing to his celebrity status and President Obama’s drooping public support. Once his past political statements become more publicized, it’s unlikely that his popularity in the polls will continue.

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Jonah Goldberg: My Brother, Josh

Jonah Goldberg, COMMENTARY contributor, has just published the wonderful and heartbreaking eulogy he delivered at his brother Josh’s funeral on February 13. It evokes Josh perfectly, and, if you are a writer, makes you marvel at Jonah’s ability to compose words so carefully and eloquently in the midst of his grief at Josh’s horribly untimely passing. Please take a minute and read it here.

Jonah Goldberg, COMMENTARY contributor, has just published the wonderful and heartbreaking eulogy he delivered at his brother Josh’s funeral on February 13. It evokes Josh perfectly, and, if you are a writer, makes you marvel at Jonah’s ability to compose words so carefully and eloquently in the midst of his grief at Josh’s horribly untimely passing. Please take a minute and read it here.

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Wisconsin Protest Could Have Already Cost State Taxpayers Up to $9 Million

If all the teachers who have skipped out on school to take part in the Wisconsin protests get paid for their time off, it could end up costing taxpayers around $9 million so far, MacIver Institute is reporting:

If all the teachers in Milwaukee and Madison are paid for the days missed, the protest related salaries for just the state’s two largest districts would exceed $6.6 million dollars.

Using a figure of $100,005 for average teacher compensation in MPS and an average yearly workload of 195 days, these teachers cost approximately $513 per day in salary and benefits to employ. Spread over 5,960.3 full-time licensed teachers in the district, this adds up to $3,057,634 in daily expenses. …

These figures don’t include administrators and support staff, many of which got an unexpected paid days off thanks to the week’s protests.

While Milwaukee and Madison are the largest school districts in the state that closed for the protest, MacIver also has a chart of the costs to the other school systems that have shut down. The price tag for the smaller districts adds up to a total of nearly $2.5 million per day.

The skyrocketing costs certainly make those phony sick notes that activist doctors are handing out to teachers at the rallies seem a little less comical. Each of those sick notes is costing the Wisconsin taxpayers $513. Framed that way, there’s sure to be a good deal of support for the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine’s investigation into the doctors who were caught on camera handing out these fake medical excuses.

If all the teachers who have skipped out on school to take part in the Wisconsin protests get paid for their time off, it could end up costing taxpayers around $9 million so far, MacIver Institute is reporting:

If all the teachers in Milwaukee and Madison are paid for the days missed, the protest related salaries for just the state’s two largest districts would exceed $6.6 million dollars.

Using a figure of $100,005 for average teacher compensation in MPS and an average yearly workload of 195 days, these teachers cost approximately $513 per day in salary and benefits to employ. Spread over 5,960.3 full-time licensed teachers in the district, this adds up to $3,057,634 in daily expenses. …

These figures don’t include administrators and support staff, many of which got an unexpected paid days off thanks to the week’s protests.

While Milwaukee and Madison are the largest school districts in the state that closed for the protest, MacIver also has a chart of the costs to the other school systems that have shut down. The price tag for the smaller districts adds up to a total of nearly $2.5 million per day.

The skyrocketing costs certainly make those phony sick notes that activist doctors are handing out to teachers at the rallies seem a little less comical. Each of those sick notes is costing the Wisconsin taxpayers $513. Framed that way, there’s sure to be a good deal of support for the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine’s investigation into the doctors who were caught on camera handing out these fake medical excuses.

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Group Plays the Hypocrite on Soros and Nazi Comparisons

As Alana reported yesterday, the Jewish Funds for Justice twisted itself into a pretzel in an effort to avoid criticizing left-wing financier George Soros for his comments on CNN on Sunday in which he compared FOX News to Nazi propagandists. According to the group, all Soros was doing was discussing the history of the press in the Weimar Republic.

Nice try. But we doubt that the group that organized an ad denouncing Glenn Beck and FOX News honcho Roger Aisles for their inappropriate allusions to the Nazis when referring to the left — and that scrupulously avoided referencing any of the numerous instances of left-wing hate speech wherein Nazi terms were wrongly thrown around — wouldn’t accept that sort of a weasel-worded rationalization from supporters of Beck or anybody else on the right.

But this isn’t the first time that George Soros has played the Nazi-comparison game. In fact, it is hard to think of anyone who is fonder of this sort of insult than Soros. Here are two of the more celebrated instances of his use of this kind of language:

In November 2003, Soros told the Guardian that defeating George W. Bush’s re-election was crucial because of the administration’s “supremacist ideology.”

He uses the emotive terms like “supremacist ideology” deliberately, saying that some of the rhetoric coming from the White House reminded him of his childhood in Nazi-occupied Hungary. “When I hear Bush say, ‘You’re either with us or against us,’ it reminds me of the Germans,” he said in yesterday’s interview. “My experiences under Nazi and Soviet rule have sensitized me.”

And in 2006, in his book The Age of Fallibility, Soros compared Bush’s campaign to “the Nazi and Communist propaganda machine.” Read More

As Alana reported yesterday, the Jewish Funds for Justice twisted itself into a pretzel in an effort to avoid criticizing left-wing financier George Soros for his comments on CNN on Sunday in which he compared FOX News to Nazi propagandists. According to the group, all Soros was doing was discussing the history of the press in the Weimar Republic.

Nice try. But we doubt that the group that organized an ad denouncing Glenn Beck and FOX News honcho Roger Aisles for their inappropriate allusions to the Nazis when referring to the left — and that scrupulously avoided referencing any of the numerous instances of left-wing hate speech wherein Nazi terms were wrongly thrown around — wouldn’t accept that sort of a weasel-worded rationalization from supporters of Beck or anybody else on the right.

But this isn’t the first time that George Soros has played the Nazi-comparison game. In fact, it is hard to think of anyone who is fonder of this sort of insult than Soros. Here are two of the more celebrated instances of his use of this kind of language:

In November 2003, Soros told the Guardian that defeating George W. Bush’s re-election was crucial because of the administration’s “supremacist ideology.”

He uses the emotive terms like “supremacist ideology” deliberately, saying that some of the rhetoric coming from the White House reminded him of his childhood in Nazi-occupied Hungary. “When I hear Bush say, ‘You’re either with us or against us,’ it reminds me of the Germans,” he said in yesterday’s interview. “My experiences under Nazi and Soviet rule have sensitized me.”

And in 2006, in his book The Age of Fallibility, Soros compared Bush’s campaign to “the Nazi and Communist propaganda machine.”

At this point nobody — and that includes the Jewish Funds for Justice — should be laboring under any illusions about George Soros’s willingness to make inappropriate comparisons between Republicans and Nazis. This is not a question of interpretation or a misunderstanding or just a public figure engaging in hyperbole in the heat of the moment. Soros thinks there’s little difference between American conservatives and Nazis and has said so repeatedly.

That is why it is disappointing to see that the Jewish Funds for Justice — a group that devotes most of its energies to raising money for inner-city development projects that are praiseworthy but that has decided to raise its profile by statements that purport to defend the memory of the Holocaust from political exploitation — would rather play the hypocrite than to take on Soros for the same offense it thought so awful when committed by Beck and FOX.

We believe that any comparisons of contemporary political figures, parties, or news organizations to the Nazis are out of bounds no matter who is doing the talking. And we stand by our own criticisms of Beck’s comments about Soros’s experiences during the Holocaust that the Jewish Funds for Justice quoted in its ad.

It is one thing to criticize union extremists and Democrats in Wisconsin for their inappropriate Nazi slurs, as the Jewish Funds for Justice did this weekend, albeit while also attempting to downplay the offenses in a manner that could just as easily be applied to similar incidents involving the Tea Party. But until this group is willing to show us that they have the guts to denounce Soros, a truly powerful figure on the left, for his repeated use of the same slanders, I’m afraid no one should take seriously any further statements from this group about inappropriate rhetoric.

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Seattle Judge Rules Against ‘Israeli War Crimes’ Bus Ad

A federal judge in Seattle has ruled that county officials didn’t violate the First Amendment when they refused to run anti-Israel advertisements on public buses. The ad, which accused the Jewish state of war crimes, was sponsored by the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign. The Washington chapter of the ACLU recently took up the organization’s case and argued that the county’s rejection of the ads was unconstitutional. But according to the Seattle judge, county officials had a reasonable basis for limiting the content of advertisements on public buses:

A federal judge ruled Friday that King County officials had “a reasonable basis” for refusing to allow an ad to appear on Metro Transitå buses that alleged Israeli war crimes.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Jones denied a preliminary injunction sought by the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign that would have ordered the county to display the ad.

“The threats of violence and disruption from members of the public (in the form of e-mails, phone calls and anonymous photographs) led bus drivers and law-enforcement officials to express safety concerns, and the court finds that it was reasonable” for the county to cancel the ad, Jones wrote in an 18-page order.

This ruling does seem reasonable. Public buses shouldn’t be forced to run politically controversial advertisements, just as they aren’t forced to run sexually explicit advertisements.

But the fight may not be over yet. The Washington ACLU said it would continue to pursue this case, either by appealing the federal judge’s decision or through a District Court trial.

A federal judge in Seattle has ruled that county officials didn’t violate the First Amendment when they refused to run anti-Israel advertisements on public buses. The ad, which accused the Jewish state of war crimes, was sponsored by the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign. The Washington chapter of the ACLU recently took up the organization’s case and argued that the county’s rejection of the ads was unconstitutional. But according to the Seattle judge, county officials had a reasonable basis for limiting the content of advertisements on public buses:

A federal judge ruled Friday that King County officials had “a reasonable basis” for refusing to allow an ad to appear on Metro Transitå buses that alleged Israeli war crimes.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Jones denied a preliminary injunction sought by the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign that would have ordered the county to display the ad.

“The threats of violence and disruption from members of the public (in the form of e-mails, phone calls and anonymous photographs) led bus drivers and law-enforcement officials to express safety concerns, and the court finds that it was reasonable” for the county to cancel the ad, Jones wrote in an 18-page order.

This ruling does seem reasonable. Public buses shouldn’t be forced to run politically controversial advertisements, just as they aren’t forced to run sexually explicit advertisements.

But the fight may not be over yet. The Washington ACLU said it would continue to pursue this case, either by appealing the federal judge’s decision or through a District Court trial.

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It’s Time to Bomb the Puntland Pirates

Press reports suggest that Somali pirates have executed the four Americans they seized on a yacht. While this is tragic for the families, it is also an affront to the United States. After we won our independence from Great Britain, we fought our first war both to avenge and prevent piracy against Americans. Perhaps it is time to draw a lesson from history. While many captains in the politically correct U.S. Navy will avoid hanging the pirates they catch on the high seas, and spending millions to try pirates in U.S. courts is an obnoxious waste of taxpayer money, there are other options.

Many of the pirates base themselves in Puntland. There, the fruits of piracy are obvious, as pirates—and their families—have used both booty and ransoms to build palatial mansions.  Piracy thrives because of the profits. Perhaps it is time for U.S. drones to raise the cost and let any surviving Puntland pirates make an honest buck salvaging the rebar. Of course, just to assuage international concern, we might leaflet-bomb first to give the pirates’ family members fair warning that their villas have been condemned.

American honor matters. The world is watching. If we do not remind these pirates that they shouldn’t mess with America, we may just find that every two-bit criminal and terrorist believes he has an open invitation.

Press reports suggest that Somali pirates have executed the four Americans they seized on a yacht. While this is tragic for the families, it is also an affront to the United States. After we won our independence from Great Britain, we fought our first war both to avenge and prevent piracy against Americans. Perhaps it is time to draw a lesson from history. While many captains in the politically correct U.S. Navy will avoid hanging the pirates they catch on the high seas, and spending millions to try pirates in U.S. courts is an obnoxious waste of taxpayer money, there are other options.

Many of the pirates base themselves in Puntland. There, the fruits of piracy are obvious, as pirates—and their families—have used both booty and ransoms to build palatial mansions.  Piracy thrives because of the profits. Perhaps it is time for U.S. drones to raise the cost and let any surviving Puntland pirates make an honest buck salvaging the rebar. Of course, just to assuage international concern, we might leaflet-bomb first to give the pirates’ family members fair warning that their villas have been condemned.

American honor matters. The world is watching. If we do not remind these pirates that they shouldn’t mess with America, we may just find that every two-bit criminal and terrorist believes he has an open invitation.

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University of Arizona Launches ‘Institute for Civil Discourse’

For all those Neanderthals who haven’t been able to grasp the rules of the New Era of Civil Discourse, the University of Arizona has announced that it’s launching the National Institute on Civil Discourse to point you in the right direction. The center will reportedly “support research and policy generation and a set of innovative programs advocating for civility in public discourse, while encouraging vigorous public debate, civic engagement, and civic leadership.”

While the institute’s website says it was inspired by the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, it does add that “the tragedy was not linked in any way to contemporary public discourse.”

According to the website, the center’s purpose is based in part on the principle that the “process of publicly and civilly defending our ideas before others, and respecting others’ right to do likewise, improves the chances that diverse ideas inform our own opinions, and increases the likelihood that decisions are fully vetted.”

No word on when the institute will officially open, but the board is already reported to include former presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush as honorary chairmen, and Sandra Day O’Connor and Tom DeLay as co-chairs.

For all those Neanderthals who haven’t been able to grasp the rules of the New Era of Civil Discourse, the University of Arizona has announced that it’s launching the National Institute on Civil Discourse to point you in the right direction. The center will reportedly “support research and policy generation and a set of innovative programs advocating for civility in public discourse, while encouraging vigorous public debate, civic engagement, and civic leadership.”

While the institute’s website says it was inspired by the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, it does add that “the tragedy was not linked in any way to contemporary public discourse.”

According to the website, the center’s purpose is based in part on the principle that the “process of publicly and civilly defending our ideas before others, and respecting others’ right to do likewise, improves the chances that diverse ideas inform our own opinions, and increases the likelihood that decisions are fully vetted.”

No word on when the institute will officially open, but the board is already reported to include former presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush as honorary chairmen, and Sandra Day O’Connor and Tom DeLay as co-chairs.

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Paul Krugman, Troglodyte

If you need an example of just how much liberals live in the past, in their glory days of the New Deal, instead of in the present, consider Paul Krugman’s latest column. He writes:

On paper, we’re a one-person-one-vote nation; in reality, we’re more than a bit of an oligarchy, in which a handful of wealthy people dominate. Given this reality, it’s important to have institutions that can act as counterweights to the power of big money. And unions are among the most important of these institutions. You don’t have to love unions, you don’t have to believe that their policy positions are always right, to recognize that they’re among the few influential players in our political system representing the interests of middle- and working-class Americans, as opposed to the wealthy. Indeed, if America has become more oligarchic and less democratic over the last 30 years — which it has — that’s to an important extent due to the decline of private-sector unions.

You can practically see the top-hatted plutocrats of turn-of-the-20th-century cartoons in that paragraph. Only the brave men of labor stand between American democracy and the dark night of overweening capitalist power. Aux barricades!

But as Timothy P. Carney of the Washington Examiner points out, this is nonsense. Of the top 10 contributors to federal campaigns over the past 20 years, five are labor unions; and the top giver, ActBlue, gives exclusively to Democrats. Of the top 20 PACs in the last election, 10 were labor unions. You have to go down to number six, the National Association of Realtors, before you get to an organization that isn’t firmly of the left. Of the 10 top contributing industries in the last election, all 10 gave more money to Democrats than to Republicans. Number one were lawyers, who gave a lot more to Democrats.

No wonder the left is so up in arms in Madison. They see their biggest money bags in mortal peril.

If you need an example of just how much liberals live in the past, in their glory days of the New Deal, instead of in the present, consider Paul Krugman’s latest column. He writes:

On paper, we’re a one-person-one-vote nation; in reality, we’re more than a bit of an oligarchy, in which a handful of wealthy people dominate. Given this reality, it’s important to have institutions that can act as counterweights to the power of big money. And unions are among the most important of these institutions. You don’t have to love unions, you don’t have to believe that their policy positions are always right, to recognize that they’re among the few influential players in our political system representing the interests of middle- and working-class Americans, as opposed to the wealthy. Indeed, if America has become more oligarchic and less democratic over the last 30 years — which it has — that’s to an important extent due to the decline of private-sector unions.

You can practically see the top-hatted plutocrats of turn-of-the-20th-century cartoons in that paragraph. Only the brave men of labor stand between American democracy and the dark night of overweening capitalist power. Aux barricades!

But as Timothy P. Carney of the Washington Examiner points out, this is nonsense. Of the top 10 contributors to federal campaigns over the past 20 years, five are labor unions; and the top giver, ActBlue, gives exclusively to Democrats. Of the top 20 PACs in the last election, 10 were labor unions. You have to go down to number six, the National Association of Realtors, before you get to an organization that isn’t firmly of the left. Of the 10 top contributing industries in the last election, all 10 gave more money to Democrats than to Republicans. Number one were lawyers, who gave a lot more to Democrats.

No wonder the left is so up in arms in Madison. They see their biggest money bags in mortal peril.

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Why Doesn’t the State Department Ever Play Offense?

One of the problems in America’s practice of diplomacy is that we seldom play offense. After Frank Ricciardone commented on Turkey’s ongoing crackdown against the free press, Turkey’s interior minister, Beşir Atalay, shot back: “Turkey in terms of press freedom is much more independent a country than America. … Turkey is a country where there is more press freedom than other democratic countries.”

If only we had a State Department that was proud enough of America’s virtues to challenge such statements. Secretary Clinton might call in Turkey’s ambassador, for example, and demand an explanation. This might create a minor diplomatic spat, but it would be one that the United States would win: not only would we sustain a conversation about free press in Turkey that would ultimately benefit that country and empower the few remaining independent journalists Prime Minister Erdoğan hasn’t dumped in prison, but also Turkey’s fiercely anti-American ruling party would realize that it could not badmouth the United States without ending up with egg on its face.

The same principle extends to defending our allies. Namik Tan, who as Turkey’s ambassador to the United States is the smiling face of an anti-Semitic regime, took to the pages of the Washington Post to demand that Israel apologize for its raid on the Gaza flotilla. Tan was dishonest in his denial of Turkish-government involvement. The flotilla was planned by a senior AKP adviser and sponsored by a radical Turkish charity that the prime minister himself has embraced. The AKP even provided the ship to the Islamist radicals. But let’s put Namik Tan’s fudging of the truth aside for the moment.

Earlier this month, the Turkish Mavi Marmara delegation visited Tehran. The head of the Turkish delegation told President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:

We are here today with the longing and the determination to build a Middle East without Israel and America, and to refresh our pledge to continue on the path of the Mavi Marmara shahids. This meeting is a symbol of the unity of the umma, and the brotherhood between Muslims of Iran and Turkey. As the members of the Islamic umma, and as Muslims of Iran and Turkey we will be hand in hand, and all together we will have our Friday prayer in a free al-Quds [Jerusalem].

Because Turkey does not enjoy a free press, it will be hard for Ambassador Ricciardone to pen a column for any Turkish newspaper comparable to the op-ed Namik Tan contributed to the Washington Post. Perhaps, then, it is time for Secretary of State Clinton to have a chat with Namik Tan about Turkish incitement, anti-Semitism, and anti-Americanism. It might not be a bad thing for her to demand an explanation from Ambassador Tan and perhaps even an apology.

One of the problems in America’s practice of diplomacy is that we seldom play offense. After Frank Ricciardone commented on Turkey’s ongoing crackdown against the free press, Turkey’s interior minister, Beşir Atalay, shot back: “Turkey in terms of press freedom is much more independent a country than America. … Turkey is a country where there is more press freedom than other democratic countries.”

If only we had a State Department that was proud enough of America’s virtues to challenge such statements. Secretary Clinton might call in Turkey’s ambassador, for example, and demand an explanation. This might create a minor diplomatic spat, but it would be one that the United States would win: not only would we sustain a conversation about free press in Turkey that would ultimately benefit that country and empower the few remaining independent journalists Prime Minister Erdoğan hasn’t dumped in prison, but also Turkey’s fiercely anti-American ruling party would realize that it could not badmouth the United States without ending up with egg on its face.

The same principle extends to defending our allies. Namik Tan, who as Turkey’s ambassador to the United States is the smiling face of an anti-Semitic regime, took to the pages of the Washington Post to demand that Israel apologize for its raid on the Gaza flotilla. Tan was dishonest in his denial of Turkish-government involvement. The flotilla was planned by a senior AKP adviser and sponsored by a radical Turkish charity that the prime minister himself has embraced. The AKP even provided the ship to the Islamist radicals. But let’s put Namik Tan’s fudging of the truth aside for the moment.

Earlier this month, the Turkish Mavi Marmara delegation visited Tehran. The head of the Turkish delegation told President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:

We are here today with the longing and the determination to build a Middle East without Israel and America, and to refresh our pledge to continue on the path of the Mavi Marmara shahids. This meeting is a symbol of the unity of the umma, and the brotherhood between Muslims of Iran and Turkey. As the members of the Islamic umma, and as Muslims of Iran and Turkey we will be hand in hand, and all together we will have our Friday prayer in a free al-Quds [Jerusalem].

Because Turkey does not enjoy a free press, it will be hard for Ambassador Ricciardone to pen a column for any Turkish newspaper comparable to the op-ed Namik Tan contributed to the Washington Post. Perhaps, then, it is time for Secretary of State Clinton to have a chat with Namik Tan about Turkish incitement, anti-Semitism, and anti-Americanism. It might not be a bad thing for her to demand an explanation from Ambassador Tan and perhaps even an apology.

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