Commentary Magazine


Posts For: October 2011

Optimistic or Pessimistic About America: William Kristol

The following is from our November issue. Forty-one symposium contributors were asked to respond to the question: Are you optimistic or pessimistic about America’s future?

_____________

As Yogi Berra pointed out, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” Even more so if, to quote Yogi again, “the future ain’t what it used to be.”

What the future used to be—or at least what it used to seem to be—was intelligible. The liberal account of the future was generally optimistic, and the optimism was based on a belief in the ineluctable course of history, or on faith in the victory of enlightened leaders and progressive movements over reactionary forces and premodern prejudices. There were basically two conservative accounts of the future. One was pessimistic, judging the distempers of modernity too powerful to resist successfully for long. The other was more optimistic, looking to the possibility of some sort of conservative restoration or awakening.

Today, who knows? Post-9/11, and postfinancial crisis, and post-postmodernism, the range of possible outcomes seems amazingly wide and the odds on any of them strikingly indeterminate. I suspect our thinking about the future isn’t yet radical enough, either analytically or prescriptively. “A new political science is needed for a world altogether new.” But saying that is one thing. Thinking with the breadth and depth of a Tocqueville about our present condition is another. Read More

The following is from our November issue. Forty-one symposium contributors were asked to respond to the question: Are you optimistic or pessimistic about America’s future?

_____________

As Yogi Berra pointed out, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” Even more so if, to quote Yogi again, “the future ain’t what it used to be.”

What the future used to be—or at least what it used to seem to be—was intelligible. The liberal account of the future was generally optimistic, and the optimism was based on a belief in the ineluctable course of history, or on faith in the victory of enlightened leaders and progressive movements over reactionary forces and premodern prejudices. There were basically two conservative accounts of the future. One was pessimistic, judging the distempers of modernity too powerful to resist successfully for long. The other was more optimistic, looking to the possibility of some sort of conservative restoration or awakening.

Today, who knows? Post-9/11, and postfinancial crisis, and post-postmodernism, the range of possible outcomes seems amazingly wide and the odds on any of them strikingly indeterminate. I suspect our thinking about the future isn’t yet radical enough, either analytically or prescriptively. “A new political science is needed for a world altogether new.” But saying that is one thing. Thinking with the breadth and depth of a Tocqueville about our present condition is another.

So should one be optimistic or pessimistic? God knows. But I do know that conservatives—indeed all friends of political liberty and American greatness—should, in the short term, be agonistic. They need to fight. Fight to defeat President Obama in 2012. Then fight in 2013 to repeal ObamaCare, to rebuild our defenses, to restore U.S. credibility abroad, and to establish fiscal, regulatory, and monetary sanity at home. That’s all difficult—but relatively simple.

Then the agenda gets more ambitious and less determinate. But more interesting.

_____________

William Kristol is editor of the Weekly Standard.

Read Less

U.S. Troop Increase in Persian Gulf Won’t Make Up for Iraqi Withdrawal

U.S. officials are fooling themselves if they think their plans to bolster the U.S. troop presence in other Persian Gulf countries will make up for the complete withdrawal of our forces from Iraq. Having troops in the smaller Gulf emirates–as we currently do–is certainly a good thing: It helps to deter Iranian aggression and safeguard the world’s supply of oil. (It also can put us in an awkward position when allies like Bahrain commit human rights abuses–but that’s another story.)

In the worst case scenario, it could allow us to reenter Iraq in force. But it’s hard to imagine what that scenario might be. What, short of an Iranian invasion, would lead us to dispatch substantial troop numbers to Iraq? More likely, even if the situation deteriorates in Iraq, we will wind up sitting on the sidelines, because sending troops to a country where they are not currently present is a momentous step that we (rightly) don’t take lightly. That will leave us virtually helpless to stop the machinations of the Iranians and their agents in Iraq, even if they use Iraq to evade international sanctions–as Kim and Fred Kagan and Marissa Cochrane Sullivan warn in this trenchant Weekly Standard article.

Read More

U.S. officials are fooling themselves if they think their plans to bolster the U.S. troop presence in other Persian Gulf countries will make up for the complete withdrawal of our forces from Iraq. Having troops in the smaller Gulf emirates–as we currently do–is certainly a good thing: It helps to deter Iranian aggression and safeguard the world’s supply of oil. (It also can put us in an awkward position when allies like Bahrain commit human rights abuses–but that’s another story.)

In the worst case scenario, it could allow us to reenter Iraq in force. But it’s hard to imagine what that scenario might be. What, short of an Iranian invasion, would lead us to dispatch substantial troop numbers to Iraq? More likely, even if the situation deteriorates in Iraq, we will wind up sitting on the sidelines, because sending troops to a country where they are not currently present is a momentous step that we (rightly) don’t take lightly. That will leave us virtually helpless to stop the machinations of the Iranians and their agents in Iraq, even if they use Iraq to evade international sanctions–as Kim and Fred Kagan and Marissa Cochrane Sullivan warn in this trenchant Weekly Standard article.

The most important function U.S. troops perform anywhere in the world is to spread political stability and American influence. Those objectives are much harder to accomplish from “over the horizon” than they are with “boots on the ground.” We will soon find that out for ourselves in the case of Iraq.

 

Read Less

No Justice for Women Assaulted at OWS

Scott Olsen, an Iraq war veteran and Occupy protester who was badly injured during a scuffle with police in Oakland, has become a national symbol for the movement. His case has sparked candlelight vigils, attacks on the liberal Oakland mayor, and maudlin op-eds from leftist activists who suddenly become overcome with reverence for soldiers when it serves as propaganda.

Here’s a taste of some of the coverage, from the socialist outlet Liberation News, which is calling for a citywide strike in Oakland:

Read More

Scott Olsen, an Iraq war veteran and Occupy protester who was badly injured during a scuffle with police in Oakland, has become a national symbol for the movement. His case has sparked candlelight vigils, attacks on the liberal Oakland mayor, and maudlin op-eds from leftist activists who suddenly become overcome with reverence for soldiers when it serves as propaganda.

Here’s a taste of some of the coverage, from the socialist outlet Liberation News, which is calling for a citywide strike in Oakland:

The capitalist government’s response to the protests? Typical violence and repression. At the heart of the capitalist system is a police force whose job it is to abuse labor, people of color, the poor, the homeless, and leftists. It is their job as professional thugs to protect Wall Street from the 99 percent. The hierarchies of police forces have purposely protected and promoted the most brutal police with the least connection to humanity in order to have a police force that is always loyal to the capitalist government and capitalist class at times like this. They work for the wealthy 1 percent, not us.

So far, there’s no reason to believe Olsen’s injury (he was reportedly hit in the head with a tear gas canister) was anything more than an unfortunate accident. But there will be an independent investigation of the police anyway. If there was any foul play on their part, they’ll be brought to justice.

Unfortunately, there may be no justice for the other victims of Occupy Wall Street – the women who have reportedly been sexually assaulted and raped at the protests. In some cases, the crimes haven’t been reported to police, and the alleged assailants remain on the loose. But even when police have been alerted, the cases haven’t inspired similar candlelight vigils, newspaper columns, and nationwide calls for justice.

Instead, these alleged crimes are swept under the rug, and the perpetrators sometimes even shooed back onto the streets where they can offend again, as reported in the New York Post:

A sex fiend barged into a woman’s tent and sexually assaulted her at around 6 a.m., said protesters, who chased him from the park.

“Pervert! Pervert! Get the f–k out!” said vigilante Occupiers, who never bothered to call the cops.

“They were shining flashlights in his face and yelling at him to leave,” said a woman who called herself Leslie, but refused to give her real name.

She said that weeks earlier another woman was raped.

“We don’t tell anyone,” she said. “We handle it internally. I said too much already.”

Why isn’t the sexual violence being discussed like Scott Olsen’s case? Likely because it shines an unflattering light on the Occupy Wall Street movement. It’s “safe” for activists to accuse police of brutality, feeding into the notion that the cops are bad and the protesters are good. But accusing some OWS participants of sexually assaulting other participants undercuts the moral standing of the movement. And so organizers prefer to hide the crimes, shield the criminals, and silence the victims. It’s an unbelievable scandal, and it’s a testament to the left’s hypocrisy on women’s rights that this has been allowed to continue unprotested.

Read Less

Despite Bombing, There’s Progress in Kabul

The terrible bombing in Kabul that killed five NATO soldiers and eight civilian employees–almost all Americans–certainly resonates with anyone who has driven through the capital city. As it happens, I was doing just that a week ago, riding around in armored SUVs that would have been vaporized had they come into contact with the giant truck bomb that demolished an armored Rhino bus on Saturday. Most of the time I wasn’t even wearing body armor.

That’s not bravado on my part; it’s a reflection of the fact that, a few high profile attacks aside (e.g., the firing at the U.S. embassy last month), Kabul remains pretty safe. Certainly it’s safer than Baghdad ever was during the height of Iraq’s civil war; maybe even safer than Baghdad is today. Kabul is a bustling city full of street life, both day and night. That wouldn’t be the case if the public perceived a high risk of danger.

Read More

The terrible bombing in Kabul that killed five NATO soldiers and eight civilian employees–almost all Americans–certainly resonates with anyone who has driven through the capital city. As it happens, I was doing just that a week ago, riding around in armored SUVs that would have been vaporized had they come into contact with the giant truck bomb that demolished an armored Rhino bus on Saturday. Most of the time I wasn’t even wearing body armor.

That’s not bravado on my part; it’s a reflection of the fact that, a few high profile attacks aside (e.g., the firing at the U.S. embassy last month), Kabul remains pretty safe. Certainly it’s safer than Baghdad ever was during the height of Iraq’s civil war; maybe even safer than Baghdad is today. Kabul is a bustling city full of street life, both day and night. That wouldn’t be the case if the public perceived a high risk of danger.

The enemy is capable of staging isolated attacks like the suicide bombing on Saturday–but not of posing a consistent threat to the high level of security in the city. More needs to be done to safeguard Kabul, primarily by pushing the security bubble southward into Logar and Wardak provinces, where many attacks on the capital originate. But we should not lose sight of the real progress that has been made in the past year with enemy-initiated attacks across the country falling by 27 percent in the July-September period compared with the same period in 2010.

As long as Gen. John Allen and the troops under his command have the resources they need to do the job, they will continue to increase the level of security. But they might very well be denied the needed resources because of a lack of support on the home front–and specifically in the White House. Ultimately, that lack of will to win is a far bigger danger to the success of the war effort than a few random suicide bombers. Dangerous, deadly, and destructive as they are, they cannot stop the coalition’s momentum. Only we have the power to do that.

Read Less

Optimistic or Pessimistic About America: Bret Stephens

The following is from our November issue. Forty-one symposium contributors were asked to respond to the question: Are you optimistic or pessimistic about America’s future?

_____________

Readers of Commentary surely need few reminders that pessimism about America’s future is as old as the republic. “We shall soon see the country rushing into the extremes of confusion and violence,” wrote historian and playwright Mercy Otis Warren—in 1788. Forecasts of decline and fall have been a recurring staple of our political discourse ever since. They have always been wrong. They are wrong again today.

What is it about the present moment that inspires so much gloom? Previous generations of Americans have endured deeper recessions, waged costlier wars, suffered worse social maladies, incurred larger debts (at least as a percentage of GDP), faced tougher foreign competitors, and made graver policy mistakes. And elected worse presidents: nothing Barack Obama has done in his 33 months in office quite matches the malfeasance of James Buchanan or the obtuseness of Herbert Hoover or Jimmy Carter. And like those presidents, Obama looks increasingly like a one-termer—assuming, that is, that he has a competent opponent next fall.

Americans might also take comfort in the fact that Obama’s record as president so far amounts to a remarkable mix of defeats, retreats, and Pyrrhic victories. His bid to impose a cap-and-trade carbon-emissions scheme went nowhere, as did his union-friendly card-check legislation, as did the public-option piece of his health-care plan. He abandoned his efforts to close Guantánamo and try terrorists in civilian court. He gave up on trying to woo Iran and bully Israel. He agreed to an extension of his predecessor’s tax cuts. He made stimulus a dirty word. ObamaCare is the most unpopular legislation in memory and may soon be overturned by the Supreme Court. He led Congressional Democrats to a historic midterm defeat. Read More

The following is from our November issue. Forty-one symposium contributors were asked to respond to the question: Are you optimistic or pessimistic about America’s future?

_____________

Readers of Commentary surely need few reminders that pessimism about America’s future is as old as the republic. “We shall soon see the country rushing into the extremes of confusion and violence,” wrote historian and playwright Mercy Otis Warren—in 1788. Forecasts of decline and fall have been a recurring staple of our political discourse ever since. They have always been wrong. They are wrong again today.

What is it about the present moment that inspires so much gloom? Previous generations of Americans have endured deeper recessions, waged costlier wars, suffered worse social maladies, incurred larger debts (at least as a percentage of GDP), faced tougher foreign competitors, and made graver policy mistakes. And elected worse presidents: nothing Barack Obama has done in his 33 months in office quite matches the malfeasance of James Buchanan or the obtuseness of Herbert Hoover or Jimmy Carter. And like those presidents, Obama looks increasingly like a one-termer—assuming, that is, that he has a competent opponent next fall.

Americans might also take comfort in the fact that Obama’s record as president so far amounts to a remarkable mix of defeats, retreats, and Pyrrhic victories. His bid to impose a cap-and-trade carbon-emissions scheme went nowhere, as did his union-friendly card-check legislation, as did the public-option piece of his health-care plan. He abandoned his efforts to close Guantánamo and try terrorists in civilian court. He gave up on trying to woo Iran and bully Israel. He agreed to an extension of his predecessor’s tax cuts. He made stimulus a dirty word. ObamaCare is the most unpopular legislation in memory and may soon be overturned by the Supreme Court. He led Congressional Democrats to a historic midterm defeat.

None of this has done more than contain the damage Obama’s presidency might otherwise have wrought. But it tells us important things about America. It turns out that the cult-of-personality style of politics that served Obama well as a candidate quickly lost its charm once he was in office. It turns out that the pride we felt in electing a black president didn’t translate into guilt when it came to criticizing his policies. It turns out that a political moment that supposedly heralded the death of conservatism was nothing of the sort. It turns out that Americans have an innate suspicion of loose monetary policy, intrusive government regulation, bullying unions, socialized medicine, and runaway deficit spending.

In short, America’s political culture remains in excellent health, free and frank and largely unencumbered by the shibboleths and taboos that paralyze Europe and Japan. And a healthy political culture is what, after the inevitable fits and starts, will ensure that we return to a growth economy, contain the entitlement state, loosen the death grip of public-sector unions, fund a military adequate for our strategic purposes, assimilate immigrants, and so on.

Now, if we can just bomb Iran’s nuclear sites….

_____________

Bret Stephens is deputy editorial page editor of the Wall Street Journal and the paper’s columnist on foreign affairs.

Read Less

Optimistic or Pessimistic About America: Joseph Nye

The following is from our November issue. Forty-one symposium contributors were asked to respond to the question: Are you optimistic or pessimistic about America’s future?

_____________

Polls show widespread pessimism about America’s prospects. Such moods reflect the slow growth and fiscal problems that followed the 2008 financial crisis, but they are not historically unprecedented. After Sputnik, Americans thought the Soviets were 10 feet tall; in the 1980s, it was the Japanese. Now it is the Chinese.

The United States has very real problems, but the American economy remains highly productive. America remains first in total research-and-development expenditures, first in university rankings, first in Nobel prizes, first on indices of entrepreneurship, and fourth in the World Economic Forum’s list of the world’s most competitive economies (China ranks 27th). America, moreover, remains at the forefront of such cutting-edge technologies as biotech and nanotechnology. This is hardly a picture of absolute economic decline.

Some observers worry that America will become sclerotic like Britain, at the peak of its power a century ago. But American culture is far more entrepreneurial and decentralized than was that of Britain, where the sons of industrial entrepreneurs sought aristocratic titles and honors in London. And despite recurrent historical bouts of concern, immigration helps keep America flexible. In 2005, foreign-born immigrants had participated in onw of every four technology start-ups in the previous decade. As Singapore’s former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew once told me, China can draw on a talent pool of 1.3 billion people, but the United States can draw on a talent pool of 7 billion and recombine them in a diverse culture that enhances creativity in a way that ethnic Han nationalism cannot.

Many commentators worry about the inefficient American political system. It is true that the Founding Fathers created a system of checks and balances to preserve liberties at the price of efficiency. America, moreover, is now going through a period in which party politics have become very polarized, but nasty politics is nothing new and goes all the way back to the Founders. American government and politics have always had problems, and, though it is hard to remember in light of the current melodramas, they were sometimes worse than today’s.

The United States faces serious problems regarding debt, secondary education, and political gridlock, but one should remember that they are only part of the picture. In principle, and over a longer term, there are solutions to current American problems. Of course, such solutions may forever remain out of reach. But it is worth distinguishing problems for which there are no solutions from those that could, in theory, be solved.

Whether Americans seize the available solutions is uncertain, but Lee Kuan Yew is probably correct when he says China “will give the U.S. a run for its money” but not pass it in overall power in the first half of this century. If so, the gloomy views reported in the latest polls will turn out to be as misleading as those in decades past.

_____________

Joseph Nye is a professor at Harvard and the author of The Future of Power (Public Affairs).

The following is from our November issue. Forty-one symposium contributors were asked to respond to the question: Are you optimistic or pessimistic about America’s future?

_____________

Polls show widespread pessimism about America’s prospects. Such moods reflect the slow growth and fiscal problems that followed the 2008 financial crisis, but they are not historically unprecedented. After Sputnik, Americans thought the Soviets were 10 feet tall; in the 1980s, it was the Japanese. Now it is the Chinese.

The United States has very real problems, but the American economy remains highly productive. America remains first in total research-and-development expenditures, first in university rankings, first in Nobel prizes, first on indices of entrepreneurship, and fourth in the World Economic Forum’s list of the world’s most competitive economies (China ranks 27th). America, moreover, remains at the forefront of such cutting-edge technologies as biotech and nanotechnology. This is hardly a picture of absolute economic decline.

Some observers worry that America will become sclerotic like Britain, at the peak of its power a century ago. But American culture is far more entrepreneurial and decentralized than was that of Britain, where the sons of industrial entrepreneurs sought aristocratic titles and honors in London. And despite recurrent historical bouts of concern, immigration helps keep America flexible. In 2005, foreign-born immigrants had participated in onw of every four technology start-ups in the previous decade. As Singapore’s former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew once told me, China can draw on a talent pool of 1.3 billion people, but the United States can draw on a talent pool of 7 billion and recombine them in a diverse culture that enhances creativity in a way that ethnic Han nationalism cannot.

Many commentators worry about the inefficient American political system. It is true that the Founding Fathers created a system of checks and balances to preserve liberties at the price of efficiency. America, moreover, is now going through a period in which party politics have become very polarized, but nasty politics is nothing new and goes all the way back to the Founders. American government and politics have always had problems, and, though it is hard to remember in light of the current melodramas, they were sometimes worse than today’s.

The United States faces serious problems regarding debt, secondary education, and political gridlock, but one should remember that they are only part of the picture. In principle, and over a longer term, there are solutions to current American problems. Of course, such solutions may forever remain out of reach. But it is worth distinguishing problems for which there are no solutions from those that could, in theory, be solved.

Whether Americans seize the available solutions is uncertain, but Lee Kuan Yew is probably correct when he says China “will give the U.S. a run for its money” but not pass it in overall power in the first half of this century. If so, the gloomy views reported in the latest polls will turn out to be as misleading as those in decades past.

_____________

Joseph Nye is a professor at Harvard and the author of The Future of Power (Public Affairs).

Read Less

The Palestinian State Gets Anti-Air Missiles

Amid the clamor about the need for Israel to agree to a Palestinian state, the one that already exists is quietly boosting its military capabilities. Haaretz reported yesterday the Hamas state in-all-but-name in Gaza is the beneficiary of the chaos of the collapse of the Qaddafi regime in Libya. The paper says that some of the late dictator’s arsenal of Russian-manufactured missiles have been successfully smuggled into Gaza and given Hamas forces a credible anti-aircraft capability. This means not only could the terrorist stronghold be better able to fend off Israeli efforts to deter terrorism, but the Islamist regime may now be equipped to threaten aviation over southern Israel and in particular the city of Eilat.

While Secretary of State Clinton has said the United States will aid the new Libyan government to keep track of their military hardware, the cow may be already out of the barn door on this issue. More to the point, the buildup in Gaza may not only have shredded Israel’s ability to defend its border but also undermined the current balance of power in the West Bank.

Read More

Amid the clamor about the need for Israel to agree to a Palestinian state, the one that already exists is quietly boosting its military capabilities. Haaretz reported yesterday the Hamas state in-all-but-name in Gaza is the beneficiary of the chaos of the collapse of the Qaddafi regime in Libya. The paper says that some of the late dictator’s arsenal of Russian-manufactured missiles have been successfully smuggled into Gaza and given Hamas forces a credible anti-aircraft capability. This means not only could the terrorist stronghold be better able to fend off Israeli efforts to deter terrorism, but the Islamist regime may now be equipped to threaten aviation over southern Israel and in particular the city of Eilat.

While Secretary of State Clinton has said the United States will aid the new Libyan government to keep track of their military hardware, the cow may be already out of the barn door on this issue. More to the point, the buildup in Gaza may not only have shredded Israel’s ability to defend its border but also undermined the current balance of power in the West Bank.

Those who advocate far-reaching Israeli concessions in order to entice the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank back to the negotiating table treat Hamas’s sovereignty over Gaza as a minor detail. But the weakness of the PA and its Fatah ruling faction vis-à-vis Hamas is not just a function of the terror group’s ability to extort Israel, as was seen in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal. Missiles were fired at Israel from Gaza this week for the first time since Shalit’s release. Israel responded, but in the future, that may not be as easy as it once was. The Islamist group’s ability not only to exercise functional sovereignty in Gaza but to project military force into Israel via missile fire constitutes greater leverage over Palestinian public opinion than whether or not Israelis are building houses in existing Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem or the West Bank.

Qaddafi’s missiles that are now pointed at Israel have made the notion of Hamas statehood more than theoretical. The main question that Israelis — and those Americans seeking to influence Israel’s government — may be facing in the future is not whether they want a Palestinian state but whether they are willing to let the one in Gaza expand its reach into the West Bank.

Read Less

Freezing Out Occupy Wall Street

This isn’t as blunt as Rudy Giuliani’s “streets are not for sleeping” rule, but apparently Mayor Bloomberg is finally taking a stand against the unwashed homeless hordes in Zuccotti Park. Sort of:

Anti-Wall Street protesters’ plans to camp in a New York park throughout the city’s harsh winter were dealt a blow on Friday when the fire department confiscated six generators and about a dozen cans of fuel. …

Read More

This isn’t as blunt as Rudy Giuliani’s “streets are not for sleeping” rule, but apparently Mayor Bloomberg is finally taking a stand against the unwashed homeless hordes in Zuccotti Park. Sort of:

Anti-Wall Street protesters’ plans to camp in a New York park throughout the city’s harsh winter were dealt a blow on Friday when the fire department confiscated six generators and about a dozen cans of fuel. …

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the generators were confiscated because they were considered a safety hazard and it was not a bid to remove protesters.

“As long as they don’t take away anybody else’s rights to say what they want to say, or to not say anything, to go about their business safely … at the moment it will continue,” Bloomberg told local radio.

That means it’s going to be a long, cold weekend for the Occupiers. Tomorrow night, the city is bracing for its first snowfall of the season, with temperatures dropping to 32 degrees. Sunday won’t be much better, with a low of 34 and a high of 49.

Read Less

A Beautiful Story about Human Equality

Much has been written in recent years about how civic participation in America has declined. We are more selfish, more narcissistic, more individualistic and less bonded to one another, and to our communities, than we ever have been. There is something to this critique, though things are a good deal more nuanced and mixed than we sometimes imagine. In any event, here’s a terrifically encouraging story about the underlying strength of America.

The Richmond Times Dispatch reports that a 9-year-old boy, Robbie Wood Jr., vanished on a family outing Sunday in the north-central part of Virginia (Hanover County). Wood is severely autistic and has no verbal skills; Hanover County Sheriff David Hines said the youth has “absolutely no awareness of his personal safety concerns.” In response, we’ve seen a massive search effort, with more than 1,000 volunteers trained and dispatched into a 2,000-acre search area.
Read More

Much has been written in recent years about how civic participation in America has declined. We are more selfish, more narcissistic, more individualistic and less bonded to one another, and to our communities, than we ever have been. There is something to this critique, though things are a good deal more nuanced and mixed than we sometimes imagine. In any event, here’s a terrifically encouraging story about the underlying strength of America.

The Richmond Times Dispatch reports that a 9-year-old boy, Robbie Wood Jr., vanished on a family outing Sunday in the north-central part of Virginia (Hanover County). Wood is severely autistic and has no verbal skills; Hanover County Sheriff David Hines said the youth has “absolutely no awareness of his personal safety concerns.” In response, we’ve seen a massive search effort, with more than 1,000 volunteers trained and dispatched into a 2,000-acre search area.

When word got out about the plight of Robbie, hundreds of people turned out at Kings Dominion to volunteer to help look for him, with the line of citizen-searchers snaking through the parking lot. By Thursday an estimated 1,500 volunteers showed up.

According to this account from ABC News, “carrying walking sticks and wearing yellow reflective jackets, the searchers began lining up before dawn to be taken to the forest where they were to look for Robert Wood, Jr. ‘I have an 11 year old, and if the situation were reversed, I would hope people would be out helping me look for her,’ said a man named Don who stood in line for hours in the parking lot of an amusement park to take part in the effort to find the boy.”

This is a tremendous tribute to the decency and compassion of the people living in north-central Virginia. These are precisely the qualities, the “habits in the heart,” in Americans that de Tocqueville found so impressive. For thousands of people to set aside huge chunks of their day and week to search for a child they have never known tells us something very good about these Americans and the country from which they come.

But there’s one other element to this story that needs to be said. If Robbie had been diagnosed with a severe disability while he was still in the womb, there would have been tremendous pressure on his parents to abort him. He would be seen, in the eyes of the world, as too imperfect, too flawed, too much of a drain on his family and society, and even without worth. And yet here we have thousands of people searching for a child who is so severely autistic that he has no verbal skills. They clearly believe Robbie Wood’s life has worth, that as a child of God he has inherent dignity, that even the weakest members of a community has value, and that even a severely autistic child can be deeply loved.

In his book, Something Beautiful for God, Malcolm Muggeridge wrote, “I have never experienced so perfect a sense of human equality as with Mother Teresa among her poor. Her love for them, reflecting God’s love, makes them equal, as brothers and sisters within a family are equal, however widely they differ in intellectual and other attainments, in physical beauty and grace.”

That is a truth we’re seeing on display in Hanover County, Virginia.

An update: A tweet from CBS News reports, “A Virginia autistic boy has been found alive after going missing for six days.” What a lovely way to begin the weekend.

Read Less

Occupy’s Oakland “Martyr” Doesn’t Sanctify Demonstrator Violence

The outbreak of violence during an Occupy event in Oakland, California, illustrated the underlying threat always lurking beneath the surface of entitlement that characterized the wave of leftist demonstrations around the country. One person injured during the attempt to reclaim an area that had already been declared by the city to be off-limits has already changed the narrative to one of heroic martyrdom and alleged police brutality.

The fractured skull of Scott Olsen, a former Marine who served two tours in Iraq, has become a rallying point by the Occupy movement as vigils are being held in his honor around the country. But Olsen’s injury is serving to obscure the fact that the Oakland crowd threw rocks at police in an attempt to have their way. Rather than being a symbol of a victim of “corporate greed” and the “war economy,” the behavior of Olsen and his fellow Occupiers illustrates the fundamentally undemocratic and brutish nature of the demonstrators that gives the lie to attempts by the liberal mainstream media to cast as them as a reasonable answer to the law-abiding and peaceful Tea Party.

Read More

The outbreak of violence during an Occupy event in Oakland, California, illustrated the underlying threat always lurking beneath the surface of entitlement that characterized the wave of leftist demonstrations around the country. One person injured during the attempt to reclaim an area that had already been declared by the city to be off-limits has already changed the narrative to one of heroic martyrdom and alleged police brutality.

The fractured skull of Scott Olsen, a former Marine who served two tours in Iraq, has become a rallying point by the Occupy movement as vigils are being held in his honor around the country. But Olsen’s injury is serving to obscure the fact that the Oakland crowd threw rocks at police in an attempt to have their way. Rather than being a symbol of a victim of “corporate greed” and the “war economy,” the behavior of Olsen and his fellow Occupiers illustrates the fundamentally undemocratic and brutish nature of the demonstrators that gives the lie to attempts by the liberal mainstream media to cast as them as a reasonable answer to the law-abiding and peaceful Tea Party.

It is a source of no small amount of frustration for conservatives that the Tea Party has been slandered by the media as racist and violent even though the movement is innocent of the former and guilty of nothing more than rude and abrasive remarks directed at members of Congress at town hall meetings. Yet the presence of extremists and offensive signs (including those that were anti-Semitic) at Occupy gatherings has been either ignored or rationalized while the squatters were lionized for their supposed idealism. The question now is whether outbreaks of violence will put an end to this double standard.

One would expect that many of the Democrats who have been cheering on a group of anti-capitalists seeking to undermine the system would start to run for cover once Occupiers started throwing rocks at cops in a town where the municipal government is openly sympathetic to their aims. But by exploiting Olsen as a martyr, leftists hope to gain even more sympathy.

Olsen’s injury may bring to mind for some the “Bonus Marchers” who set up a shanty town in Washington, D.C., when veterans demanding an early payout of a service-related cash outlay swarmed the capital in 1932, much to President Herbert Hoover’s discomfit. Their “Hooverville” was a symbol of the Depression, and when the U.S. Army (under the command of Gen. Douglas MacArthur) violently expelled the marchers and their families it was a public relations disaster for a Republican administration already on the ropes.

But few of the Occupiers are veterans down on their luck as were the members of the “Bonus Army.” Instead, they are merely discontented critics of America’s economic system. They talk about corporate greed, but their ideas mostly revolve around the notion taxpayers like the middle class members of the Tea Party should be forced to pay for expanding government’s role in virtually every aspect of American life.

The Occupiers would like to think America in 2011 is on the verge of collapse the way it seemed to be in 1932. They are as wrong about that as they are on their neo-socialist economics. The thuggish nature of this movement has become increasingly obvious to more Americans who respect the right to free assembly and protest but have no patience for the sense of entitlement that is at the heart of the Occupy mindset.

There is another problem with all of this that the memory of the Bonus March should also highlight. Unlike in 1932 when it was an unpopular conservative administration that could be blamed for the country’s economic straits, the current resident of the White House is a hyper-liberal who openly sympathizes with the Occupy thugs. There is a limit to how much traction a leftist street revolt can have when it is the party on their side that runs the country.

Shifting responsibility for the state of the nation from Barack Obama’s mismanagement of the economy to the business community has been the prime motivation for the support for the Occupiers in the liberal media. One martyred veteran, no matter how pitiable his story, can’t change the fact that this support will quickly evaporate in the face of further violence.

Read Less

The High Cost of Cheap Wars

John Ennis makes a good (and depressing) point:

It seems that al Qaeda is moving into Libya. Their flag is flying in Benghazi. With no American boots on the ground, they should have training camps set up by the end of the year. Part One of the Libyan War is over. Part Two: Attack of the Drones should be coming to theaters next spring!

Read More

John Ennis makes a good (and depressing) point:

It seems that al Qaeda is moving into Libya. Their flag is flying in Benghazi. With no American boots on the ground, they should have training camps set up by the end of the year. Part One of the Libyan War is over. Part Two: Attack of the Drones should be coming to theaters next spring!

Obama fans have been talking up the Libya campaign as if the president had discovered the perpetual motion machine of warfare: low-cost regime change without risk or accountability. Add to the al-Qaeda develop the following report: “Hamas recently managed to smuggle relatively advanced Russian missiles, which were looted from Libyan military warehouses, into the Gaza Strip.”

Qaddafi needed to go and America needed to do the job. But wading into the shallow end with our water wings on wasn’t the way to get it done. There’s no such thing as a cheap victory.

 

Read Less

Worry About the Nominee, Not the Field

There’s been a lot of commentary about how weak the GOP’s presidential field is, including by me.

And so I’d offer a qualifier to my own analysis: what matters in the end isn’t how strong the field is, but how strong the eventual nominee is. It’s quite easy to get caught up in the moment and worry third-tier candidates will discredit a political party. But the party is judged by the nominee it produces, not by the candidates who were defeated.

Read More

There’s been a lot of commentary about how weak the GOP’s presidential field is, including by me.

And so I’d offer a qualifier to my own analysis: what matters in the end isn’t how strong the field is, but how strong the eventual nominee is. It’s quite easy to get caught up in the moment and worry third-tier candidates will discredit a political party. But the party is judged by the nominee it produces, not by the candidates who were defeated.

For example, in 1992 the Democratic field included Jerry Brown, Paul Tsongas, Tom Harkin, Doug Wilder, and former Irvine, California, Mayor Larry Agran (you can look it up)–hardly imposing or impressive figures. Yet the person who eventually emerged, Bill Clinton, won the election (and re-election) by a comfortable margin.

That doesn’t mean those of us who comment on politics should offer, in real time, our views about the merits and demerits of the GOP candidates. It simply means all but one of them will (mostly) fade from our memory soon enough.

The key question is whether the person the Republican Party chooses to run against Barack Obama will acquit himself well. And that’s what the primary process is supposed to determine. We’ll see how well it does this time around.

 

Read Less

Brace Yourself for Super Committee Failure

The automatic defense and Medicare cuts that go into effect if a Super Committee deal isn’t reached are supposed to be enough of an incentive for both parties to get together and compromise. But it’s hard to be optimistic while reading stories like this:

With the panel facing a looming November 23 deadline, the plans unveiled by Republican members of the committee, and their Democratic counterparts on Tuesday, failed to narrow partisan differences over the contentious issue of taxes and appeared to do little to advance negotiations.

Instead, Republicans and Democrats traded barbs over their competing plans. A Democratic aide called the Republican initiative a “joke,” while Republican aides called the Democratic offer “not serious.”

Read More

The automatic defense and Medicare cuts that go into effect if a Super Committee deal isn’t reached are supposed to be enough of an incentive for both parties to get together and compromise. But it’s hard to be optimistic while reading stories like this:

With the panel facing a looming November 23 deadline, the plans unveiled by Republican members of the committee, and their Democratic counterparts on Tuesday, failed to narrow partisan differences over the contentious issue of taxes and appeared to do little to advance negotiations.

Instead, Republicans and Democrats traded barbs over their competing plans. A Democratic aide called the Republican initiative a “joke,” while Republican aides called the Democratic offer “not serious.”

Predictably, the Democratic deal included too many tax hikes for the GOP to accept, and the Republican deal cut too much spending for the Democrats to agree to. But it seems impossible such a sharply divided committee could ever manage to reach a middle ground, much less in the next 31 days. For conservatives concerned about the crushing defense cut triggers, this is a disaster. But those who aren’t as worried about the impact on the DoD budget seem resigned to accept sequestration as the best feasible option. At Reason, Peter Suderman writes:

The ideal outcome from the Super Committee would be a deal to reduce spending even more than the sequestration process calls for. But with predictable gridlock between panel members over taxes and entitlements already setting in, that doesn’t seem likely. Sequestration may not be perfect, but, even with its limitations, it’s probably the best plausible result. So go ahead, Super Committee. Pull that trigger.

Obviously, there have always been conservatives who’ve embraced defense cuts. But if the Super Committee negotiations prove to be as frustrating as the debt-ceiling debacle, there’s always a chance the “just pull the trigger” sentiment could grow. And that would leave Republicans, and national defense, in a very precarious position.

Read Less

In Defense of Debates

I wanted to add a few thoughts to Jonathan’s fine post regarding debates.

My view is they have intrinsic limits but are certainly worthwhile — and good debating skills are crucial if one hopes to be elected.

Read More

I wanted to add a few thoughts to Jonathan’s fine post regarding debates.

My view is they have intrinsic limits but are certainly worthwhile — and good debating skills are crucial if one hopes to be elected.

Let me take these observations in order.

I accept the fact that how well one debates doesn’t necessarily reflect how well a president will govern. But that is true of stump speeches, ads, and retail politics, too. Debates are simply one piece of a much larger puzzle — and they certainly tell us more about a candidate than an attack ad and stump speeches do.

Among other things, debates force a candidate to study briefing books and develop a mastery of the issues, which isn’t a bad thing (the forthcoming foreign policy debate, for example, has inspired Herman Cain to actually try to learn the basics of international affairs, something he has so far resisted). It can also reveal insights– sometimes limited and sometimes more than limited insights — into the personality and disposition of candidates.

In addition, debates put on display what is commonly referred to as one’s “communication skills” — skills that are vital to any successful presidency.

It’s also worth pointing out that some excellent presidents have also turned out to be excellent debaters, too. The most obvious example is Abraham Lincoln. But it’s worth mentioning Ronald Reagan as well. He was, in fact, a marvelous debater, especially in his younger years. For example, in a debate remembered only by a few these days, CBS News hosted a 1967 “Town Meeting of the World” in which Reagan debated Senator Robert Kennedy over the Vietnam war.  Reagan was simply masterful (a clip of the debate can be found here: and a transcript of it can be found here:). The late historian David Halberstam, no conservative, acknowledged that “the general consensus” was that “Reagan …destroyed Kennedy.”

Yet even if one believes debates are worthless in terms of what they pre-shadow about a person’s governing abilities, they are still crucial when it comes to winning votes.

Many people forget it now, but as late as 10 days before the 1980 election Jimmy Carter was still slightly ahead of Ronald Reagan in some polls (a CBS-New York Times poll had Carter ahead of Reagan 39 percent v. 38 percent, with the rest going to John Anderson). The public was certainly inclined to vote against Carter — but they had to be sold on Reagan, who had been savaged by the Carter campaign. And the place for the sale was a debate stage in Cleveland, where Reagan destroyed Carter and went on to win 44 states. If Reagan had done badly in the debates, it’s conceivable he would have lost the election.

All of which is to say I’m in favor of debates, the more the better. They don’t tell us everything we need to know about a candidate by any means; but they tell us more than we would otherwise know.

 

Read Less

Dems Need to Speak Out Against Anti-Semitism at Occupy Protests

A British MP, John Mann, has tabled an early day motion in Parliament blasting “the anti-Semitic nature” of the Occupy protests in London, noting that signs referring to “Hitler’s Bankers” and “Google Jewish Billionaires” – which also are at Occupy Wall Street (see here and here) – “are offensive and have no place at such protests.”

Furthermore, the motion notes, “the verbal or physical abuse of Jews by demonstrators is unacceptable,” also a feature of Occupy Wall Street.

Read More

A British MP, John Mann, has tabled an early day motion in Parliament blasting “the anti-Semitic nature” of the Occupy protests in London, noting that signs referring to “Hitler’s Bankers” and “Google Jewish Billionaires” – which also are at Occupy Wall Street (see here and here) – “are offensive and have no place at such protests.”

Furthermore, the motion notes, “the verbal or physical abuse of Jews by demonstrators is unacceptable,” also a feature of Occupy Wall Street.

Granted, John Mann, as the leader of the All-Parliamentary Group Against Anti-Semitism and the recipient of the AJC’s 2009 Jan Karski award, keeps a closer eye than most on anti-Semitism in Britain and elsewhere. But he is also a Labour Party politician and a trade union man, and therefore a more likely sympathizer with the protests. If he is able, politics aside, to speak out against anti-Semitism at the Occupy protests, then why not Democratic leaders here, too?

 

Read Less

The Left’s Palestinian Halloween Trick

Who destroyed Israel? That’s the question a cartoon by Eli Valley, the Forward’s artist-in-residence, asks in a Halloween-themed fantasy in which he poses in a graphic cartoon which begins with the Olympic Games taking place in Tel Aviv, Palestine in 2052. Going backward, he tells us the demise of the Jewish state was the fault of settlers, Israeli right-wingers and their American friends who refused to accede to a two-state solution, leading inevitably to the United States abandoning an “apartheid” Jewish state. The graphic, titled “Never Miss an Opportunity,” attempts to turn Abba Eban’s famous line about the Palestinians “never missing an opportunity” to make peace on the Jews. But his false narrative is an absurd distortion of both recent history and the current situation.

The problem here is not just that it is the Palestinians who refused an Israeli offer of a Palestinian state in 2000, 2001 and 2008 and have refused to negotiate with Prime Minister Netanyahu even during a settlement building freeze. Rather, it is that the Palestinians don’t really exist in the imagination of the Jewish left. Their actions, the reality of Hamas rule in Gaza, incitement, terrorism and inability to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state within any borders not only isn’t mentioned, it doesn’t even enter the debate. For Valley and other American Jewish leftists, peace is solely in the hands of the Jews; therefore the lack of an agreement is the fault of Israel and its enablers. In Valley’s vision, the true role of American Jewry should be in opposing Israeli policies and sending “reparations” to the Palestinians.

Read More

Who destroyed Israel? That’s the question a cartoon by Eli Valley, the Forward’s artist-in-residence, asks in a Halloween-themed fantasy in which he poses in a graphic cartoon which begins with the Olympic Games taking place in Tel Aviv, Palestine in 2052. Going backward, he tells us the demise of the Jewish state was the fault of settlers, Israeli right-wingers and their American friends who refused to accede to a two-state solution, leading inevitably to the United States abandoning an “apartheid” Jewish state. The graphic, titled “Never Miss an Opportunity,” attempts to turn Abba Eban’s famous line about the Palestinians “never missing an opportunity” to make peace on the Jews. But his false narrative is an absurd distortion of both recent history and the current situation.

The problem here is not just that it is the Palestinians who refused an Israeli offer of a Palestinian state in 2000, 2001 and 2008 and have refused to negotiate with Prime Minister Netanyahu even during a settlement building freeze. Rather, it is that the Palestinians don’t really exist in the imagination of the Jewish left. Their actions, the reality of Hamas rule in Gaza, incitement, terrorism and inability to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state within any borders not only isn’t mentioned, it doesn’t even enter the debate. For Valley and other American Jewish leftists, peace is solely in the hands of the Jews; therefore the lack of an agreement is the fault of Israel and its enablers. In Valley’s vision, the true role of American Jewry should be in opposing Israeli policies and sending “reparations” to the Palestinians.

This above all explains the radical disconnect between Israelis and American Jews these days. In Israel, the left, at least as far as war and peace and security issues, is a wreck with virtually no influence or support. That’s not because the majority love the settlers or have embraced the ethos of the right, but because they understand there is no Palestinian peace partner. Should the Palestinian ever finally say, “yes” to a two-state solution, no Israeli government, including the one led by Netanyahu, could stop it. But they haven’t and until they do, Israelis won’t be giving up any more land that will serve as missile firing bases for Hamas or any other terrorist movement.

But this hard-won knowledge hasn’t penetrated into the consciousness of the Jewish left here. So, like Valley, they continue to argue about the Middle East conflict in terms rendered obsolete by two decades of Israeli concessions that have been met with more Palestinian rejectionism.

Valley’s Halloween trick transforms Israel’s defenders into its callous destroyers who are motivated, as columnist J.J. Goldberg writes in a column in the same issue, solely by hatred for Arabs. This serves to both demonize Netanyahu and the mainstream pro-Israel community and to get the Palestinians off the hook for their own behavior and goals. That this appears in the same newspaper that has often published editorials calling for civil debate about the issues is an irony apparently lost on no one but the current staff of the Forward.

Read Less

Santorum’s Exploitive Focus on the Family

While many politicians intentionally shield their families from the public eye, presidential contender Rick Santorum has decided to put them center stage. During debates, Santorum often brings the conversation back to the importance of marriage and family values. While other candidates also mention their families (Michele Bachmann being the prime example), much of Santorum’s campaign has focused not on his record as a former senator from Pennsylvania, but instead on the trials and tribulations of his large family.

The latest ad from the Santorum campaign doesn’t focus on the economy, job creation, foreign policy, immigration or defense. The ad is instead a three and a half minute mini-documentary about his youngest daughter, Bella, who suffers from developmental disabilities. The purpose of the video is to highlight Santorum’s pro-life stance and family values platform, but it falls flat.

Read More

While many politicians intentionally shield their families from the public eye, presidential contender Rick Santorum has decided to put them center stage. During debates, Santorum often brings the conversation back to the importance of marriage and family values. While other candidates also mention their families (Michele Bachmann being the prime example), much of Santorum’s campaign has focused not on his record as a former senator from Pennsylvania, but instead on the trials and tribulations of his large family.

The latest ad from the Santorum campaign doesn’t focus on the economy, job creation, foreign policy, immigration or defense. The ad is instead a three and a half minute mini-documentary about his youngest daughter, Bella, who suffers from developmental disabilities. The purpose of the video is to highlight Santorum’s pro-life stance and family values platform, but it falls flat.

When Sarah Palin opened her family to the public eye, her disabled son was lampooned on the national stage. Many potential presidential candidates have since decided against running because of the damage that could be done to their families.

This is not the first time Santorum has used his family before a big election. Before his failed 2006 reelection campaign for Senate, Santorum sat down for an interview with the Washington Post devoted entirely to a son, Gabriel, who died hours after his birth. Santorum explained in detail his family’s response to the infant’s death:

Upon their son’s death, Rick and Karen Santorum opted not to bring his body to a funeral home. Instead, they bundled him in a blanket and drove him to Karen’s parents’ home in Pittsburgh. There, they spent several hours kissing and cuddling Gabriel with his three siblings, ages 6, 4 and 1 1/2.

While many social conservatives may gravitate towards Santorum’s pro-family persona, most voters will view the publicity Santorum generates for his family for what it is: exploitive.

Read Less

Limbaugh–I Mean Bill Daley–Crosses a Line

Rush Limbaugh has finally gone over the line.

In a hyperbolic, profanity-laced rant yesterday, during his opening monologue, Limbaugh twice referred to the (almost) three years of the Obama presidency as “ungodly.” He went on to say it’s been a “brutal” three years — a “very, very difficult three years.”

Read More

Rush Limbaugh has finally gone over the line.

In a hyperbolic, profanity-laced rant yesterday, during his opening monologue, Limbaugh twice referred to the (almost) three years of the Obama presidency as “ungodly.” He went on to say it’s been a “brutal” three years — a “very, very difficult three years.”

It’s one thing to be critical of the Obama presidency; it’s quite another to use such extreme, divisive rhetoric. Has Limbaugh no shame?

Oh my; I seem to have been mistaken. It turns out those words weren’t said by Rush Limbaugh; they were said by William Daley, President Obama’s chief of staff, in an interview with Roger Simon of Politico.

I’m not kidding.

It is mind-boggling to me a president’s chief of staff would refer to his boss’s stewardship as “brutal” and “ungodly,” though I suppose I’m willing to give Daley credit for candor.

I’ve said before the easiest job in America would be to be an ad man for the eventual Republican nominee. That job just got a good deal easier.

 

Read Less

Warren Dubbed “Matriarch of Mayhem”

It was only a matter of time before attack ads started running about Elizabeth Warren taking credit for creating Occupy Wall Street’s “intellectual foundation.” Dave Weigel argues the ad is unfair, and it’s true that Warren has walked back her original comments a bit. But she handed the MassGOP a gift by linking herself to the movement, even just ideologically, and it would have been more of a surprise if her comments never made it to video:

Read More

It was only a matter of time before attack ads started running about Elizabeth Warren taking credit for creating Occupy Wall Street’s “intellectual foundation.” Dave Weigel argues the ad is unfair, and it’s true that Warren has walked back her original comments a bit. But she handed the MassGOP a gift by linking herself to the movement, even just ideologically, and it would have been more of a surprise if her comments never made it to video:

But beyond whether the attack is fair, I wonder whether it’s actually effective. Warren’s camaraderie with OWS isn’t nearly as controversial in Massachusetts as it would be in a red state. Warren may be a far-left progressive, but the same can be said for a lot of Massachusetts voters – many of whom probably support OWS and admire Warren for standing up for the movement. Obviously that could change if the violence and mass arrests we’ve seen in Oakland and other cities moves to Boston. But for now, attack ads like this might not be persuasive in turning voters against Warren.

Read Less

George Will Vents His Romney Frustration

The excerpt of George Will’s forthcoming Sunday column released by Politico is getting some buzz. Here’s the paragraph that’s been making the rounds, taking aim at the central argument in favor of nominating Mitt Romney:

Romney, supposedly the Republican most electable next November, is a recidivist reviser of his principles who is not only becoming less electable, he might damage GOP chances of capturing the Senate: Republican successes down the ticket will depend on the energies of the Tea Party and other conservatives, who will be deflated by a nominee whose blurry profile in caution communicates only calculated trimming. Republicans may have found their Michael Dukakis, a technocratic Massachusetts governor who takes his bearings from “data” … Has conservatism come so far, surmounting so many obstacles, to settle, at a moment of economic crisis, for THIS?

Read More

The excerpt of George Will’s forthcoming Sunday column released by Politico is getting some buzz. Here’s the paragraph that’s been making the rounds, taking aim at the central argument in favor of nominating Mitt Romney:

Romney, supposedly the Republican most electable next November, is a recidivist reviser of his principles who is not only becoming less electable, he might damage GOP chances of capturing the Senate: Republican successes down the ticket will depend on the energies of the Tea Party and other conservatives, who will be deflated by a nominee whose blurry profile in caution communicates only calculated trimming. Republicans may have found their Michael Dukakis, a technocratic Massachusetts governor who takes his bearings from “data” … Has conservatism come so far, surmounting so many obstacles, to settle, at a moment of economic crisis, for THIS?

Will is certainly not alone in his frustration with the GOP’s inability so far to offer up a possible nominee who appears to be both electable and ideologically conservative enough to carry the movement’s flag in 2012.

It will be interesting to read the full column, however, to see if Will proposes an alternative scenario that addresses the dilemma. Will wrote a fantastic column back in August about the conservative enthusiasm for a possible Chris Christie candidacy. But that’s clearly not on the table anymore. And, as Jonathan noted back in June, Will sometimes seems less in search of the conservatism that has “come so far” and more in search of a candidate who just wants to bring the troops home. Before he was on the Christie bandwagon, Will was on the bandwagon of Jon Huntsman, who has spent much of the campaign offering up saccharine slogans and mocking the Republican party.

But there’s a reason Will is writing a column about the likelihood of a Romney nomination. In Will’s own newspaper, Dan Balz has an article based on a focus group conducted among voters in Ohio. When the group was asked to raise their hands if they were comfortable with Herman Cain becoming president, “not a hand went up.” And the ABC News story today about a New Hampshire Republican rescinding his endorsement of Rick Perry isn’t major news, but it is a further indication of the skepticism with which even many of Perry’s supporters now view his candidacy.

So, while Romney is still far from a sure thing–it’s still too early to grant anyone “inevitability”–those opposed to Romney’s nomination have been steadily running out of options. Will knows this, and he may just be getting this off his chest. It may be too late for Romney’s conservative opponents, but this steady drumbeat of discontent will be a major general election obstacle should he win the nomination. He’ll get Republicans’ votes, but the grumbling and lack of enthusiasm will create the perception of a candidate no one really wants.

Read Less




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.