As Alana noted, Republicans are rightly concerned about Ron Paul playing a destructive role in the presidential campaign this fall. Efforts to keep him on the reservation are already beginning, and there is little doubt the significant number of delegates he may win for the party’s national convention in Tampa will have to be dealt with carefully lest they cause trouble and sabotage what will in all likelihood be Mitt Romney’s coronation.
But I think the GOP would be foolish to go too far in seeking to make nice with Paul. His followers are just as likely to vote for Barack Obama or simply stay home as they are to back Romney or any other mainstream Republican. That’s why giving Paul a prime time speech at the convention would be a disaster.
If you weren’t already worried about the direction events are heading in in Egypt, here’s one more reason to be worried: Jimmy Carter’s feeling good about things. Carter, who was in the country monitoring the recent elections, had this to say about the impact of the new Egyptian government on the Middle East peace process:
This new government will probably be much more concerned about the rights of the Palestinians than have the previous rulers or leaders in Egypt, but in my opinion that will be conducive to a better prospect of peace between Israel and its neighbors.
But the only real difference between the Mubarak government and his successors is that the latter are good friends with the Hamas terrorists who run Gaza. In Carter’s distorted worldview, support for Palestinian Islamists is synonymous with “Palestinian rights.” That’s bad enough, but to think the opening up of Hamas’s supply lines and its increased influence will actually lead to peace is so contrary to logic and reason the only conclusion one can draw from such a statement is that any development that heightens Israel’s isolation and increases the danger of terrorism is something the 39th president regards with complacence.
The Taliban’s moral standing to be complaining about the desecration of corpses is, to put it mildly, rather limited. Recall, after all, the fate suffered by former Afghan ruler Najibullah at the hands of the Taliban in 1996. First he was castrated, then dragged through the streets by a car before his corpse was finally left dangling from a lamppost. Yet there is no question that U.S. troops are held to a higher standard and the decision by four Marines to urinate on the corpses of Taliban fighters–and then videotape it!–could do harm to the American mission in Afghanistan.
It is, after all, a war crime and a violation of religious dictates to desecrate war dead. More than that it is stupid and pointless if perhaps understandable as a venting of stress after battle. The desecration of the enemy after death has been common in all wars–even “good wars” like World War II, where GIs and Marines often took Japanese skulls, teeth or other body parts or articles of uniform home as souvenirs. It is hardly surprising that the Afghan War should be no exception. What is different today is that the act was videotaped and then witnessed around the world. Another difference is the Marines are fighting not a total war but a counterinsurgency in which their goal is not only to militarily defeat the enemy but to win over the population. This could potentially make that job harder.
Evelyn’s post articulates well what should be the governing paradigm for how diaspora Jewish leaders can criticize Israel responsibly.
Strangely absent though from the Moment symposium she linked to is any mention of the traditional consensus that has for so long governed the thinking of American Jewish communal leaders and is now under threat.
This consensus holds that organizations or individuals who claim to speak in the name of American Jewry –especially when lobbying the government – should support the policies of the elected government of Israel. It has a far deeper moral and practical basis than its many critics seem to understand.
Barack Obama ran for office promising to heal the breach that divides Americans. It was at the core of his candidacy. What we have gotten instead is, according to polling data, the most polarizing president in our lifetime. Unable to defend his record or offer a compelling vision for the future, he and his allies have premised his re-election campaign on creating division among Americans based on class. His hope is to stoke the embers of resentment and envy, most especially among the middle class toward the wealthy. And he’s having some success at it.
According to a new Pew Research Center survey, about two-thirds of Americans now believe there are “strong conflicts” between rich and poor in the United States — an increase of about 50 percent from a 2009 survey. Not only have perceptions of class conflict grown more prevalent; so, too, has the belief that these disputes are intense. (An important caveat in the survey is that while we’ve seen a significant shift in public perceptions of class conflict in American life, they do not necessarily signal an increase in grievances toward the wealthy. Key attitudes toward the wealthy have remained largely unchanged.)
The efforts to gently guide Ron Paul out of the race while coaxing his supporters to Mitt Romney are already beginning. It’s an entertaining dance to watch, especially from conservatives like Jim DeMint, who’s been bubbling with praise this week for a candidate who he clearly thinks is a complete lunatic on foreign policy and social issues.
“I really don’t want Ron Paul to drop out until whoever our frontrunner is is collecting some of the ideas that he’s talking about,” DeMint told the Daily Caller. “I don’t know whether Ron Paul expects to be our nominee, but if Republicans don’t listen to a lot of things he talks about, I don’t see how we can become a majority party.”
Translation: “Ron Paul will never be the nominee. Never. Now banish that idea from your head, while I say some patronizing things to appeal to his supporters.”
Watching the Romney campaign fumble around as it tried to respond to the Bain attacks was initially pretty alarming. The Democrats and the progressive-left have obviously been gearing up for months to launch this attack line as soon as Romney secures the nomination: the administration’s class warfare rhetoric, the sudden focus on “income inequality” and even the Occupy Wall Street movement will all play a role in trying to take down Romney.
But once the attacks started coming from Gingrich, it became painfully apparent that Romney hasn’t laid nearly as much groundwork as the Democrats. Probably because he didn’t expect to be confronted on this issue until after the primaries. According to his campaign, he’s just starting to catch up:
All may be fair in love, war and politics, but Newt Gingrich’s ad campaign against Mitt Romney is plumbing the depths of absurdity. His super PAC-funded documentary accusing Romney of being an evil capitalist was ridiculous coming from a man claiming to be the “true conservative,” but his latest ad, “The French Connection” to run in South Carolina gives us another lesson in how to go over the top.
The conceit of the ad is an attempt to compare Romney to Michael Dukakis and John Kerry. Dredging up his past as a “Massachusetts moderate” who distanced himself from the GOP when he ran for the Senate in 1994 is fair game. But the closing argument, “Just like John Kerry, he speaks French, too” is the stuff of satire. Twitter is already overflowing with jokes about Gingrich’s own Francophone tendencies. Meanwhile, Joshua Keating at Foreign Policy sums up the evidence pointing to Newt’s ability to speak the language of Voltaire, Victor Hugo and, yes, his hero, Charles de Gaulle.
Greg Sheridan, the foreign editor of The Australian, is spending a week in Israel and the West Bank and reports it is “dangerous” to visit Israel — “because it is impossible to reconcile the evidence of your eyes with the accepted international narrative”:
“In the international media, Israel is presented as militarist, right-wing, oppressive. In fact it is the only pluralist democracy in the Middle East, the only nation where women’s rights — and gay rights — are protected. It has a vibrant left wing, a cacophonous democracy and an innovative economy.”
It’s easy to see why New York’s Mayor Mike Bloomberg is now focused on closing down liquor retail outlets and correcting New Yorkers’ behavior. How can he not push ahead with his continued social-engineering schemes, seeing as the city is running so smoothly otherwise: “Every escalator at the 53rd Street and Lexington Avenue subway station, one of the busiest in the city, was offline Thursday morning,” Fox’s local news reports. “Seven of seven escalators are out at the height of the morning commute 8:15 to 9:15, when tens of thousands of commuters are rushing to work.”
The words of Mark Steyn (actually writing about escalators) come to mind:
It appears that CNN is waving its rules about qualifications to allow Rick Perry to take part in next Thursday’s debate in South Carolina. The network had said candidates would have had to place in the top four in either Iowa or New Hampshire and then register at least 7 percent in either national or South Carolina polls conducted in January. After flopping in Iowa and not even competing in New Hampshire, Perry doesn’t meet any of those criteria.
So in order to squeeze Perry into their debate, CNN Washington bureau chief Sam Feist decided to average three polls, two of which had Perry below the 7 percent mark. Exactly why the network felt compelled to do him a favor is not clear, but whatever its motivation, Perry will get one last chance to make his case to South Carolinians two days before the primary that will probably seal his fate as a presidential candidate. But given the fact that Perry’s decline is directly related to his debate performances, one wonders why, other than the humiliation of being excluded, he would care about getting into the CNN debate.
According to a new Gallup Survey, 2011 marks the third straight year that conservatives have outnumbered moderates, after more than a decade in which moderates mainly tied or outnumbered conservatives. The specific findings were these: 40 percent of Americans continue to describe their views as conservative, 35 percent as moderate, and 21 percent as liberal.
Some additional findings:
The percentage of Americans calling themselves “moderate” has gradually diminished in the U.S. since it was 43 percent in 1992.
The majority of Republicans say they are either very conservative or conservative, but the total proportion of conservatives grew 10 percentage points between 2002 and 2010, from 62 percent to 72 percent.
The percentage of Republicans who say they are moderates fell from 31 percent to 23 percent.
Relatively few Republicans say they are liberal — just 4 percent in 2011. Republicans’ ideology largely held at the 2010 levels in 2011.
Like most anything that has to do with Newt Gingrich, the 28-minute long hit video on Bain Capital is wildly over-the-top: ominous music, shadowy b-roll of cigar smokers counting piles of hundred-dollar bills. It’s unvarnished propaganda, but the question is, will it be effective propaganda?
Depending on how it’s used, and how well it’s countered by the Romney campaign, it could be. But many of the facts in the movie are already being challenged. At CNN Money, Dan Primack points out that the film is riddled with timeline inaccuracies and verifiably false claims. The movie focuses on four companies that Bain Capital allegedly plundered and wiped out, destroying thousands of lives in the process. But according to Primack, three of these companies – UniMac, KB Toys and DDI Corp – laid off employees and shut down well after Romney left Bain Capital in 1999. Two of those companies, UniMac and DDI Corp., weren’t even owned by Bain at the time of the layoffs.
Moment magazine’s latest issue has an interesting symposium on what it means to be pro-Israel today. Though some of the choices are bizarre (the contributors include two Palestinians, one of whom formerly advised the Palestinian Authority, and John Mearsheimer, author of the notorious “Jews-control-Washington” screed The Israel Lobby), other pieces are illuminating.
I found Hillel Halkin’s definition particularly helpful. But I’d like to add one thing to his list. Clearly, it’s okay to criticize any particular Israeli policy; Israelis do it all the time. But those with influence in the Jewish community, like rabbis or officials of Jewish organizations, also have an obligation to try to understand – and explain to his community – why Israelis might view the issue differently.
Liberal myths die hard, but if there is one thing the 2012 Republican presidential race has achieved it is to undermine the misperceptions that many on the left have had about the force they’ve called a menace to American democracy: the Tea Party movement. Liberal attacks on the Tea Party have been a staple of American political discourse for the last two years and persist to this day. An example is the slur uttered by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chair of the Democratic National Committee who revived the canard that Tea Partiers were somehow responsible for the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords a year ago. For many liberals who understood little about the people or the ideas that drove this phenomenon, it was a sinister force that was a catch-all repository for everything about American society they hated including racism and violence, even if they had nothing to do with the political activism that helped turn the 2010 elections into a debacle for the Democrats. In particular, they’ve attempted to pretend that rather than being a genuine grass roots movement, it was merely a top-down conspiracy fomented and funded by the Koch brothers.
But the failure of the movement to unite around a single conservative candidate and the way its members have been unable to act in concert on the 2012 race illustrates a diversity that people who had actually followed its activities — as opposed to the liberal fearmongers — always understood. Having bubbled up from the grass roots of American politics, the movement was always far more about some basic ideas: the size of government and its out-of-control spending and taxing and not accepting the status quo rather the specific agendas of any one politician or faction. It was bigger than that and some of that comes across in a New York Times Magazine feature by Matt Bai.