If it’s the first week of August, it’s time for the annual session of American breast-beating about President Harry Truman’s decision to launch the first nuclear weapons attack on Japan. For decades, leftist revisionists have sought to brand Truman as a war criminal for the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, whose anniversaries are commemorated this week. Those critics have generally ignored the facts concerning Japan’s intransigence about surrender while wrongly seeking to portray as immoral a reasonable American decision-making process in the summer of 1945 about how best to achieve a quick end to the war while shedding the least blood.
But there is a new theory about why Japan surrendered that avoids the naïveté of Truman’s traditional critics while still insisting he was wrong to drop the bomb. A fascinating feature in yesterday’s Boston Globe outlines the theories of historian Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, who argues in a new book it was not the A-bomb but the last minute entry of the Soviet Union into the war in the Pacific that convinced the Japanese to give up. This thesis provides plenty of food for thought but is ultimately unpersuasive as a critique of Truman.
The market obviously agrees with Jonathan. When the president spoke at one o’clock, the market was at 11,128, down a little over 430 points from Friday’s close, 200 points from Monday’s opening. His speech did not reassure the market at all, as it continued its slide unabated and closed down 634 points at 10,822.
It was not a good day for the stock market (although the bond market held up well). But it was a worse day for the president. I must be getting used to them and he better, as he has many more ahead of him, I believe.
When a presidential candidate learns she is holding on to her slim lead in polling for Iowa’s first in the nation caucus, you’d be hard pressed to characterize it as a bad day. But along with the good news from Rasmussen about Iowa, Michele Bachmann learned Rick Perry will seek to overshadow her hoped-for victory in the Ames straw poll by scheduling the presumed announcement of his candidacy on the same day. She was also the subject of an unflattering profile in Newsweek and an even lengthier hit job in The New Yorker that were both published today.
While the two articles can be interpreted as yet another sign Bachmann is a sufficiently important enough conservative for the liberal media to seek her destruction, the Perry announcement will be a signal her quick ascent to the top tier of the GOP field will be followed by a tough battle to stay there.
The Daily Beast reports Democrats are beginning to seriously regret choosing President Obama over Hillary Clinton in 2008 – and who can blame them after the president’s performance today and during the last few weeks? Throughout the debt ceiling debate, Obama has regularly swooped in to play “referee” between Republican and Democratic lawmakers but has shied away from proposing any serious debt-cutting plans of his own.
Today, Obama once again blamed partisan gridlock for blocking progress, while refusing to acknowledge any personal fault. He claimed he’s been aware of the severity of the debt problem since his first day in office. So why has he done practically nothing so far to address it? If Republicans hadn’t taken up the debt ceiling fight, does anyone actually believe Obama would have taken any serious steps to deal with the deficit crisis?
Rick Perry supposedly plans to upstage the Iowa straw poll on Saturday with a speech that “will remove any doubt about his White House intentions,” as the Politico story phrases it.
The strategy here is clearly to compete with Iowa rather than compete in Iowa:
The death of 30 American troops, including 22 Navy SEALS, and eight Afghans in eastern Afghanistan is a sickening and grievous loss. These were individuals of extraordinary valor and patriotism who died defending the nation they loved and revered. Too many of us, who aren’t part of the military, will read this story, feel sad for a time and then move forward. Our lives will go on as before. But those in the military, and especially the friends and families of the fallen, will carry this wound to their graves. They will never forget what happened on Saturday morning south of Kabul.
“I do not know the dignity of their birth, but I do know the glory of their death,” General MacArthur said in his West Point address in 1962, speaking of the fallen American soldier. “They died unquestioning, uncomplaining, with faith in their hearts, and on their lips the hope that we would go on to victory. Always for them Duty, Honor, Country. Always their blood and sweat and tears as we sought the way and the truth and the light.”
In the aftermath of the disastrous downgrading of the credit rating of the United States, President Obama had nothing new to offer. Rather than speaking in a presidential manner and taking responsibility for what has occurred, Obama merely reverted to the same rhetoric we heard over and over during the debt ceiling debate. After a few words disagreeing with the eminently debatable decision by Standard and Poor’s, Obama spent most of his time addressing the subject in his speech to the country today, blaming those who sought to restrain his out-of-control spending. All he had to offer the nation was more of his demands for a “balanced” approach to the deficit while saying nothing about his own vast expansion of spending and entitlements via the stimulus and Obamacare.
Obama seems stuck on automatic pilot when it comes to speaking publicly of the disastrous economy he has presided over. He appears incapable of dealing with this manner in any but a campaign mode, casting blame on others while ignoring his own crucial mistakes.
Anyone tempted to underestimate the support Israel retains in Congress ought to think again. During the three-week congressional recess, an astounding 81 members of the House of Representatives will visit the Jewish state. The Jerusalem Post reports 55 Republicans (including half of the 47 GOP freshman members elected last year) and 26 Democrats will take part in the trips sponsored by the American Israel Education Foundation, a group affiliated with the AIPAC lobby. Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor as well as the Democrat’s Minority Whip Steny Hoyer will also be along for the ride. The members will be offered an opportunity to see the country up close as well as to meet with Israel’s leaders. For many of them, it will be their first visit to the country.
While one could dismiss this item as merely business as usual for a Congress that has never wavered in its backing for Israel, that’s the point. As I wrote in the July issue of COMMENTARY, at a time when Israel is confronted by a White House cooler to the Jewish state than any in the last two decades, Congress is the backstop that gives Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu the ability to say “no” to President Obama on security concessions. Far from being a minority point of view imposed on the country, the broad-based nature of the pro-Israel coalition cuts across the deep partisan divide in Washington and is deeply ingrained in the political culture of the United States.
“I will tell you ladies and gentlemen, I detest and despise everything the left stands for,” Tea Party Nation CEO Judson Phillips said at a Saturday rally in Wisconsin in support of one of the six Republican state senators facing a recall election Tuesday. “How anybody can endorse and embrace an ideology that has killed a billion people in the last century is beyond me.”
Many of us who are conservative have real concerns about modern-day liberalism. But the notion liberalism is responsible for killing a billion people in the 20th century is grossly irresponsible and ludicrous. I assume Phillips is saying American liberalism is synonymous with Nazism and Communism, that it is the animating ideology of Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Idi Amin, Saddam Hussein, the Khmer Rouge, the Hutu militia, and countless other 20th century genocidal killers and movements.
The members of the deficit-cutting “super committee” won’t be appointed until August 16, but K Street is already getting a head start on what’s sure to be the most high-pressure period of political lobbying in recent memory.
The National Journal has a roundup of some of the ways lobbyists are already working to influence the committee before it’s even formed. These tactics range from pressuring congressional leadership to appoint industry-friendly lawmakers to the committee, rallying grassroots activists, and trying to pinpoint the sub-panels that will be making recommendations to the super committee.
Standard & Poor’s downgrade of the U.S. credit rating has given putative GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney a ready-made contrast to tout. As governor of Massachusetts, Romney said, his leadership on economic matters moved the state in the right direction. Therefore, he said today, “We had a credit upgrade (from the S&P) as proposed to what you’re seeing now, a downgrade.”
Romney made the comments to reporters before speaking to a business roundtable in New Hampshire. The comments highlight what Romney sees as his greatest advantage over not just the president, but his GOP primary rivals as well. What was once thought to be a major weakness–his tenure as governor of a liberal state during which he took moderate positions on social issues and enacted a universal health care plan–is starting to provide Romney with some valuable material for his campaign.
This is a big week in Iowa as the candidates prepare for a televised debate in Ames on Thursday followed by the straw poll on Saturday. Although frontrunner Mitt Romney won’t compete in the poll, Iowa will still be the center of attention. Those who are in the mix will be seeking to, as in Michele Bachmann’s case, reinforce her first tier status or, as is the case with Tim Pawlenty, fight for survival. As to whether the straw poll deserves this much coverage, that’s a matter of opinion.
It is generally understood the poll doesn’t tell us much about who will win the Iowa caucuses this winter let alone the Republican presidential nomination. The Ames event will be a measure more of the candidates’ organizations than their ability to appeal to voters. In truth, the main reason why we pay so much attention to it is because a digital 24/7 news media desperate for material needs this story. But that doesn’t mean what will unfold in the next few days has no meaning. The debate on Thursday will be our first chance since June in New Hampshire to hear the candidates together. And it is precisely because there is no other even marginally objective measure of the candidates’ strength that Ames has taken on such significance. In the long slog to the first caucus, the straw poll is a benchmark by which we can assess how each of them is doing.
The Sydney Morning Herald passes along the sad news that Nancy Wake, a.k.a. the “White Mouse,” died yesterday. Wake grew up in Australia and then moved to Europe before World War II. She became a renowned anti-Nazi resistance fighter who received the U.S. Medal of Freedom, the French Legion of Honor, the British George Medal and was made a Companion of the Order of Australia in 2004.
Wake married a French millionaire, but was aghast at the complacency of her fellow wealthy countrymen when the Nazis invaded. So she joined the French Resistance as a courier, but it was soon clear she was cut out for tougher work:
If you want a taste for how just difficult President Obama’s re-election efforts will be, watch this short exchange between CBS’s Bob Schieffer and Obama’s chief political strategist, David Axelrod. Schieffer played clips from an interview Obama did shortly after taking office, declaring that “We’re starting to make some progress. But there’s still gonna be some pain out there. If I don’t have this done in three years, then there’s gonna be a one-term proposition.” Then this dialogue took place:
SCHIEFFER: So there you are Mr. Axelrod. That was the president at the start [of his term]. We’re getting right up to that three year point. Is this going to be a one-term presidency?
I agree with what John said. Standard & Poor’s downgrade of America’s credit rating is a crushing political blow to President Obama. It reinforces, perhaps like nothing else has, the impression Obama is overseeing, and in some respects engineering, the decline of the American republic.
There is a great deal that will unfold in the next 15 months, of course, and often events that seem monumental at the time are later seen as trivial and forgotten. That may be the case here, though I rather doubt it. What S&P did will have far-reaching psychological (and not simply economic) ramifications on the country. Indeed, it wouldn’t surprise me if, when the history of the Obama presidency is written, what occurred on Friday night will be seen as the point of no return, a moment from which Barack Obama will never fully recover. The reason is because the downgrading of our credit rating isn’t an isolated event; for many people it
will be seen as the nearly inevitable outcome of an extraordinarily reckless set of policies, implemented by a man of unusual incompetence.
As Obama prepares to hit the road for his taxpayer-funded pro-jobs bus tour later this month, it’s worth taking a look at his proposals for dealing with the country’s unemployment so far. What exactly will the president be promoting on his cross-state trip?
First, he’s likely to tout his most recent jobs pitch – an employment incentive and training program for veterans – which would give business tax breaks of $2,400 to $9,600 for hiring unemployed veterans. The $120 million plan would also reportedly provide some job training. But while the idea is obviously well-intentioned, it’s been has been panned by economists as a feel-good but ultimately ineffective plan. The Hill reports:
The Christian day of prayer and fasting Texas Governor Rick Perry organized this past weekend may have been apolitical in nature, but there’s little doubt it served notice on religious conservatives he intends to be their candidate for president. Perry was criticized in some quarters for inserting an overtly religious and specifically Christian theme into the national debate, but he doesn’t appear worried about any negative feedback. The Response, as the event was named, sounded all the right notes for a candidate who hopes to win GOP primaries. Rather than merely appeal to the large and influential evangelical voting bloc, Perry demonstrated he was one of them.
Those who have worried about whether Perry’s candidacy would suffer because of the inevitable comparisons to his predecessor in Austin may have been overstating the case. Sounding more like a pastor than a politician, the governor’s speech at the event held at a Houston pro football stadium made Bush’s professions of faith seem tame by comparison. If the event held at a Houston pro football stadium raises the question of whether Americans would be comfortable with a candidate who stands up (as many in the audience appeared to think) for the Kingdom of God in a way no major party nominee has done since William Jennings Bryan (an admittedly bad precedent as he was both a Democrat and a three-time presidential loser), it appears Perry is not afraid of the answer.