In his July 5 remarks on the “Status of Efforts to Find a Balanced Approach to Deficit Reduction,” President Obama expressed the hope that everybody would “leave their ultimatums at the door.” Today, he announced the following ultimatum:
I will not sign a 30-day or a 60-day or a 90-day extension. That is just not an acceptable approach.
Actually, it is the only approach that would allow the American people to weigh-in on this process. Let the President and the Speaker of the House put forth their respective offers, together with legislative language and a plain English summary. Let the public read, review, and debate them over the next 30, 60 or 90 days. Hold hearings on C-SPAN. Then decide.
At one point I thought it could be attributed to an unusual degree of cynicism, but now I wonder if it goes deeper than that. What I have in mind is President Obama’s obsession with portraying himself as our moral superior. Virtually every time he speaks these days, we are treated to another journey through what William Makepeace Thackeray aptly dubbed Vanity Fair.
For example, if you listened to the president’s news conference today, a theme we are by now wearily familiar with was repeated with numbing repetition: Obama, according to Obama, is quite simply better, much better, than those around him. He is a man of pure motives and unparalleled reasonableness, extraordinary intellectual depth, and unsurpassed seriousness. Others are driven by narrow self-interest, by the political calendar, by outside pressures. They are too ignorant or too weak to do the right thing, the good thing, the hard thing.
Gov. Rick Perry has started reaching out to key Republican leaders in New Hampshire, as he tests the waters for a potential presidential run, the New Hampshire Journal reports.
“He was looking for my thoughts in terms of what the presidential field looked like and what might happen if someone came in and shook things up a little bit,” New Hampshire Senate President Peter Bragdon told the AP today.
I don’t always agree with the Washington Post’s Fact Checker column, but it usually takes a clear position one way or the other on the authenticity of stands taken by politicians. But today’s version, in which author Glenn Kessler attempts to parse the truth of Republican criticisms of President Obama’s attitude toward Israel, is a sad parody of a fact check. While foreign policy may be a bit more difficult to figure out than clear cut gaffes about taxes or history, Kessler simply punts on the question of whether Obama treated Israel poorly in the last two and a half years–giving neither a pass nor fail to Republican candidates who have blasted the president.
Kessler does give Michele Bachmann the column’s “Pinocchio” strawberry for asserting that the president was trying to force Israel back to the 1967 lines. But even he admits the president’s insistence on using those lines as the starting point for future negotiations puts Israel at a disadvantage. The Post writer though claims it is beyond his ability to decipher recent events in such a way as to enable him to determine the truth of Tim Pawlenty’s claim that Obama “thinks Israel is the problem” or Mitt Romney’s assertion that the president treats Israel the same way Europe does and that he thinks it is “at fault.” Kessler seems befuddled by Democratic spin that insists Obama is still Israel’s friend simply because he has not dismantled a decades-long security alliance. But it’s really not so difficult to understand the basic truth of these GOP arguments.
Both Democrats and Republicans will need to “eat their peas” and agree to Obama’s grand budget compromise, the president said during a press conference earlier today. But now that GOP leaders rejected the proposed politically-suicidal tax increases, Democratic Party leaders have suddenly become eager to make the “tough choices” necessary to strike a deal:
Democrats who just days ago were pushing back on the potential terms for a “grand bargain” to shrink the deficit now claim they wanted that deal all along, a position they made clear after House Speaker John Boehner and fellow Republicans yanked it off the table. …
Democrats who assailed the White House for putting entitlements on the table in pursuit of a major deficit-reduction package tsk-tsked Republicans over the weekend for setting their sights on something lower.
Every time it seems as if Sarah Palin has faded from sight, she manages to inject herself back into the national conversation if not the Republican presidential contest. During the weekend, Palin returned to view with both a Newsweek cover story and a posting on Facebook that made it plain she is not going to be supporting the woman whom many in the media and the grass roots of the GOP believe to be her natural successor as the avatar of the right: Michele Bachmann.
Palin seems to thrive on the ongoing speculation about her desire to run for the presidency. However, the race has fundamentally changed since she flirted with the idea earlier in the year. While in her Newsweek interview she joined the chorus of those who long for more candidates, most Republicans have said they are hoping for a figure to emerge who can unite both the party establishment and its grass roots. Which is to say, somebody like Paul Ryan or perhaps Rick Perry but most definitely not Sarah Palin.
After months of dithering and refusing to confront Syria’s dictatorial regime over its attempts to suppress dissent, it looks like last week’s visit by the American and French ambassadors to the besieged town of Hama got the Assad government’s attention. A mob of Assad’s supporters stormed the American Embassy in Damascus today and vandalized the building.
Like his Iranian allies, Assad appears to take a dim view of the Obama administration’s seriousness when it comes to such confrontations. Since Washington has been careful up until this moment to not rile him too much, Assad clearly believes the U.S. will back down in the face of a physical threat to American personnel. The question now for Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is whether they are prepared to answer this provocation in a manner the Syrians will understand. If they do not act now to convince the Syrians to back down, the cost to the West and its friends may be measured in blood rather than broken glass.
The bleak jobs report for June was discouraging for everyone, but the one demographic hit hardest by the unemployment crisis is the same group that turned out overwhelmingly to support Obama in the 2008 election — young Americans. Nearly one-in-five 16-to-24-year-olds who are looking for work can’t find a job, reports the National Journal’s Jim Tankersley–nearly a 30-year high for youth unemployment.
In 2008, analysts argued that the record youth voter turnout may have given Obama the edge in some closely-contested states. The question now is whether young voters will once again turn out in such large numbers for Obama in 2012. While 53 percent of Americans under the age of 30 still approve of the president’s job performance according to the latest Gallup poll in June, that’s a steep drop from the 74 percent that approved of him in the spring of 2009.
The dipping numbers may be due to growing disillusion with the president. Despite being one of the groups most impacted by unemployment, in 2008, young people pinned the most hope to Obama’s ability to deal with the economic crisis:
Obama and Republicans alike should pay particular attention to youth optimism about the direction of the economy. In 2008, exit polls showed that 54 percent of young voters believed that the economy would improve over the next year, compared with 47 percent of the rest of the electorate. Obama probably needs millennials to be similarly upbeat in 2012. In other words, it’s all about confidence—like so much else in the economy these days.
The fact that these hopes have been dashed may not translate to automatic support for Republicans, but there’s a good chance it will have an impact on whether or not young people show up at the polls.
On Friday, ABC’s Jake Tapper asked White House press secretary Jay Carney to respond to a statement made by David Plouffe, a senior adviser to the president. Here’s what Plouffe said: “The average American does not view the economy through the prism of GDP or unemployment rates or even monthly jobs numbers. People won’t vote based on the unemployment rate, they’re going to vote based on, ‘How do I feel about my own situation? Do I believe the president makes decisions based on me and my family?’”
And here’s what Carney had to say in response:
Well, I understand that we’re engaged in the – or rather, the Republicans are engaged in a primary campaign, trying to get some media attention. I don’t know where the voters that some other folks might be talking to — but — or — but most people do not sit around their kitchen table and analyze GDP and unemployment numbers. They talk about how they feel, their own economic situation is. And they measure it by whether they have a job, whether they have job security; whether their house –whether they’re meeting their house payment, whether their mortgage is underwater; whether they have the money to pay for their children’s education or they don’t; whether they’re dealing with a sick parent and can afford that, or whether they can’t. They do not sit around analyzing The Wall Street Journal or other — or Bloomberg — to look at the, you know, analyze the numbers. Now, maybe some folks do, but not most Americans. I think that’s the point David Plouffe was making; that’s the point the president was making just moments ago in his statement in the Rose Garden.
Fresh off their triumph in tying the latest Gaza flotilla up in Greek legal knots, the Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center won another victory–this time in the New York courts. On Friday, the Law Center, representing victims and family members of those killed and injured by Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror attacks on southern Israel in 2006 and 2007, learned that their lawsuit against the Bank of China may proceed. The Bank of China is accused of aiding and abetting those attacks because they provided wire transfer services to both terrorist groups. These transactions allowed the terror groups to be financed and to carry on its murderous activities. United States law bans normal banking activities such as transfers when they are used to conduct terrorism.
The bank’s defense is that Hamas is not considered a terrorist group in China. Whether a New York court will decide this means the financial institution had no illegal intent remains to be seen. But the arguments by the plaintiffs that the bank knew exactly whom they were dealing with and what their client used their funds to do are compelling. The Israeli government informed the bank in 2003 that the account, which had been opened in Guangzhou, China, was being used to fund terrorism, but their warning was ignored. The bank carried out dozens of transactions from overseas sources totaling several million dollars to accounts in Gaza and the West Bank controlled by Hamas and Islamic Jihad during the period under scrutiny.
The Iowa Republican poll out late last night shows that Rep. Michele Bachmann’s sharp focus on Iowa is paying off. The congresswoman has surpassed Mitt Romney in support, 25 to 21 percent. And her 76 percent favorability rating gives even more reason for optimism:
While Bachmann’s lead over Romney is just within the margin of error, the poll’s cross tabs show how much momentum her campaign has generated in Iowa. Her favorability is ten points higher than Romney’s, who had the second highest number in that category. Her unfavorable figure is 14 points lower than Romney’s, giving her a stellar plus 65 favorability margin. Her numbers suggest that Bachmann has found a very effective way to appeal to caucus goers.
Tim Pawlenty’s presidential campaign took a body blow last month when he visibly faltered when presented with an opportunity to confront rival Mitt Romney in person on health care. But with many pundits writing his candidacy’s obituary and with his future seemingly riding on the outcome of the Ames Straw Poll in Iowa next month, Pawlenty came out swinging yesterday on Meet The Press.
With MTP’s David Gregory egging him on, it was no more “Minnesota Nice” for Pawlenty. He contrasted what he considers his own record as a governor with that of others who have never been in charge of anything. He claimed while he had actually done the things others say they want to do, some of his rivals were just “running around flapping their jaws.” When asked about Bachmann, he said her “record of accomplishment is non-existent.”
There are a number of signs the Obama White House is ready to establish something more than a modus vivendi with Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon. From siding with Beirut over Jerusalem regarding maritime resources to providing weapons to the Hezbollah-infiltrated LAF on the thinnest pretexts, the administration seems intent on “biting the bullet,” “living in the real world,” “negotiating with enemies not friends,” or whatever leaden catchphrase we’re using this week to justify bringing into the tent fanatics who want to destroy us. That’s the White House’s prerogative, obviously. Article II Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution has consequences, no matter what Democratic Jews who fixate on domestic issues would like to believe.
But let’s all keep in mind what Hezbollah is, because there was a time when even the echo of something like national honor would have precluded sitting across the table from them or anyone who refused to repudiate them. We owe more than a few Hezbollah leaders death sentences, and we owe the organization itself nothing less than unremitting hostility until we or they lose (as the world’s only hyperpower, in theory I like our odds). Instead the White House is actively searching for loopholes to maintain or enhance bilateral relations with Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon. So it’s worth reviewing how in 1984 Hezbollah kidnapped CIA Lebanon Station Chief William Buckley as he was leaving his house in the morning. They tortured him continuously for 15 months, occasionally sending videos of him naked and screaming to U.S. bureaus and agencies in Europe, until his body gave out. In the meantime, Hezbollah used the information he provided to dismantle U.S. intelligence assets in the Levant: Read More