Commentary Magazine


Posts For: February 14, 2012

The Real Source of Media Bias on Israel

I have not been the biggest fan of Ethan Bronner of the New York Times. The reportage by Bronner, who spent the last four years as the Jerusalem bureau chief of the New York Times, was a mixed bag. Though he was clearly a talented reporter who often did some good work highlighting the realities of the Palestinian war on Israel, he was also prone–as virtually every other member of the foreign press corps in Israel–to take Palestinian claims at face value and to omit the context of Palestinian rejectionism from accounts of diplomatic and political encounters there.

Nevertheless, Bronner spent the last two years under constant fire, not so much for his role in the Times’s blatant bias against Israel (for which the editors back in New York were chiefly responsible anyway), but because his son served in the Israel Defense Force. Once the news came out about Bronner’s son serving in the army like most Jewish boys his age in Israel, he was subjected to withering criticism from the pro-Palestinian left as well as a nasty column from Clark Hoyt, the paper’s public editor at the time. Now that Bronner’s leaving the post after a four-year term, the story is being recycled, but the notion that he was compromised by his son’s service is just as absurd today as it was then.

Read More

I have not been the biggest fan of Ethan Bronner of the New York Times. The reportage by Bronner, who spent the last four years as the Jerusalem bureau chief of the New York Times, was a mixed bag. Though he was clearly a talented reporter who often did some good work highlighting the realities of the Palestinian war on Israel, he was also prone–as virtually every other member of the foreign press corps in Israel–to take Palestinian claims at face value and to omit the context of Palestinian rejectionism from accounts of diplomatic and political encounters there.

Nevertheless, Bronner spent the last two years under constant fire, not so much for his role in the Times’s blatant bias against Israel (for which the editors back in New York were chiefly responsible anyway), but because his son served in the Israel Defense Force. Once the news came out about Bronner’s son serving in the army like most Jewish boys his age in Israel, he was subjected to withering criticism from the pro-Palestinian left as well as a nasty column from Clark Hoyt, the paper’s public editor at the time. Now that Bronner’s leaving the post after a four-year term, the story is being recycled, but the notion that he was compromised by his son’s service is just as absurd today as it was then.

Hoyt took the position, as did many cheerleaders for the Palestinians, that: “The Times sent a reporter overseas to provide disinterested coverage of one of the world’s most intense and potentially explosive conflicts, and now his son has taken up arms for one side.”

The problem with this formulation is the assumption that the Times ought to regard an ongoing war to extinguish the life of the Jewish state with complete objectivity. But that is no more reasonable than to expect any American journalist with relatives in the U.S. military to have no opinions or stake in attacks on the United States or its forces abroad. While news reporters ought not to take part in partisan politics or advocacy on issues related to their beats, the notion that they should take no position on wars between Western democracy and Islamist terrorists extends rules about objectivity beyond reason. Those who are neutral about the idea that it is okay to single out the one Jewish state in the world for destruction should be accused of a far worse sin than a lack of complete objectivity.

Just as American reporters can and do report stories that can put the government and/or the U.S. military in a bad light while still acting as loyal citizens of this country, so, too, can any person living in Israel report honestly while not choosing to remain completely aloof from that country’s war of survival. Having a son in the IDF did not make Bronner a stooge of the Israeli government.

On the contrary, the vast majority of the foreign press contingent in Israel who proclaim neutrality about the conflict but treat Arab terrorism with kid gloves and assist the delegitimization of the democratic state in which they are living are the ones who deserve censure for bias. Whatever Ethan Bronner’s sins, at least he was not guilty of that. Let’s hope his successor is no worse than him.

Read Less

Romney Narrows in on Santorum’s Voting History

Even though Rick Santorum has billed himself as the conservative in the GOP race, he has a history of big government votes during his time in the Senate that are starting to get attention from conservative bloggers. At the Washington Examiner, Phil Klein ticks off a few controversial votes that Santorum will no doubt be forced to explain in the coming weeks:

To his credit, Santorum did not support the kind of mandate and subsidize approach to health care as Romney, but as senator, he still voted like a big government Republican on many occasions. Some of this had to do with being a loyal soldier during the Bush era, when he backed the Medicare prescription drug plan and No Child Left Behind. But a lot of it had to do with his parochialism.

As a senator from Pennsylvania, Santorum took earmarks, pushed a support program for dairy farmers, sided with unions and backed steel tariffs. In these instances, when free market principles clashed with local concerns, he abandoned limited government conservatives.

Read More

Even though Rick Santorum has billed himself as the conservative in the GOP race, he has a history of big government votes during his time in the Senate that are starting to get attention from conservative bloggers. At the Washington Examiner, Phil Klein ticks off a few controversial votes that Santorum will no doubt be forced to explain in the coming weeks:

To his credit, Santorum did not support the kind of mandate and subsidize approach to health care as Romney, but as senator, he still voted like a big government Republican on many occasions. Some of this had to do with being a loyal soldier during the Bush era, when he backed the Medicare prescription drug plan and No Child Left Behind. But a lot of it had to do with his parochialism.

As a senator from Pennsylvania, Santorum took earmarks, pushed a support program for dairy farmers, sided with unions and backed steel tariffs. In these instances, when free market principles clashed with local concerns, he abandoned limited government conservatives.

Santorum has been blasting Mitt Romney as a supporter of big government, but his own history complicates that line of attack. More than that, his voting record provides plenty of fodder for Romney’s two-pronged attack strategy, which BuzzFeed detailed today:

In an interview with BuzzFeed, a Romney advisor offered details of the campaign’s coming two-front attack, which the campaign expects will be echoed by the Super PAC, which cannot legally coordinate its message, but which has already bought hundreds of thousands of dollars of airtime in key states. …

The first is a comparison to Barack Obama: “[Santorum’s] never run anything,” said the advisor. The Pennyslvanian’s experience is limited to roles as a legislator and legislative staffer. “The biggest thing he ever ran is his Senate office,” he siad.

The second is a challenge to Santorum’s Washington experience.

“They’re going to hit him very hard on earmarks, lobbying, voting to raise the federal debt limit five times,” said the advisor. “The story of Santorum is going to be told over the next few weeks in a big way.”

Even though the chief argument against Santorum is that his staunch social conservatism would alienate independent voters in a general election, Romney can’t officially make that case during the primaries. His only option at this point is to try to chip away at Santorum’s conservative credentials. Romney won’t be able to convince primary voters he’s more of a conservative than the former Pennsylvania senator. But by dampening conservative enthusiasm for Santorum, Romney might be able to a) reduce conservative voter turnout, and b) convince some conservatives to take a less emotional look at Santorum’s general election chances, and potentially choose Romney as the more electable candidate.

As we’ve seen time and time again in this race, Republican primary voters only start gravitating to Romney after his main rival candidates have had their conservative credentials tarnished in some way. If Romney wants the nomination, he’ll have to do the same to Santorum, but he’ll also need to tread carefully.

Read Less

Romney’s Campaign Goes to the Dogs

It’s been a rough week for Mitt Romney since getting swept last Tuesday in Minnesota, Colorado and Missouri. Rick Santorum has caught up to or passed him in the national polls. Even worse, a new poll of Michigan Republicans shows him trailing Santorum in his home state of Michigan. Losing Michigan could kill his hopes of winning the GOP nomination. But if that wasn’t bad enough, now the dogs, or more specifically liberal dog owners, are mobilizing against him.

As the New York Times reports, a small group calling itself “Dogs Against Romney,” showed up outside Madison Square Garden in New York today to garner a little free publicity while the Westminster Kennel Dog Show was being held there. A dozen protesters with pooches in tow carried signs saying “Mitt is Mean,” which was intended to reference a story about a Romney family trip in which their dog Seamus was transported in a dog carrier on top of the car. The organizers and, no doubt, President Obama, hope this odd tale will, as the Times helpfully notes, serve “as a window into Mr. Romney’s character.” The group is an obvious front for the Democrats, so it is unlikely this publicity stunt will cost the GOP candidate too many votes in Republican primaries. But if you actually get into the details of the story, rather than the popular caricature of it that has Romney literally tying some poor dog to the roof of a car, the charges of animal cruelty fall flat.

Read More

It’s been a rough week for Mitt Romney since getting swept last Tuesday in Minnesota, Colorado and Missouri. Rick Santorum has caught up to or passed him in the national polls. Even worse, a new poll of Michigan Republicans shows him trailing Santorum in his home state of Michigan. Losing Michigan could kill his hopes of winning the GOP nomination. But if that wasn’t bad enough, now the dogs, or more specifically liberal dog owners, are mobilizing against him.

As the New York Times reports, a small group calling itself “Dogs Against Romney,” showed up outside Madison Square Garden in New York today to garner a little free publicity while the Westminster Kennel Dog Show was being held there. A dozen protesters with pooches in tow carried signs saying “Mitt is Mean,” which was intended to reference a story about a Romney family trip in which their dog Seamus was transported in a dog carrier on top of the car. The organizers and, no doubt, President Obama, hope this odd tale will, as the Times helpfully notes, serve “as a window into Mr. Romney’s character.” The group is an obvious front for the Democrats, so it is unlikely this publicity stunt will cost the GOP candidate too many votes in Republican primaries. But if you actually get into the details of the story, rather than the popular caricature of it that has Romney literally tying some poor dog to the roof of a car, the charges of animal cruelty fall flat.

As Michael Kranish and Scot Helman related in their book, The Real Romney, excerpted here in Vanity Fair, the truth is not quite that bad, even if it is unusual. According to the book, Seamus traveled in a carrier atop a station wagon that was overcrowded with five boys and the family luggage during a lengthy car trip on a summer vacation in Canada. It’s not clear the “hulking Irish setter” would have been more comfortable inside the car rather than atop it though Seamus’s need to relieve himself apparently ran afoul of Romney’s decision to stick to a strict schedule of rest stops. That aside, as anyone who has owned a dog knows, they love to stick their heads out of the window and enjoy the breeze, and Seamus certainly would have liked that aspect of his transportation.

Moreover, the story does actually provide a window into Romney’s character, though not necessarily of the “mean Mitt” variety. Presented with the problem of how to convey his large family and large dog on a car trip, Romney sought to come up with a solution that would make both his family comfortable and not inconvenience Seamus. Thus, as Kranish and Helman write, the future GOP candidate built a makeshift windshield for the carrier to accommodate the dog. The worst you can say of Romney is that the story demonstrates, as the authors claim, “a trait he would grow famous for in business: emotion-free crisis management.”

In an era when children are expected to wear helmets under virtually all circumstances of play, there are those who will say the Seamus story illustrates Romney’s indifference to the safety of his dog. But if that is cruel, then so are farm owners who allow their dogs to ride in the back of their pickup trucks.

Of course, Romney could have bought or rented a bus or some larger vehicle in order to allow everyone more space. But that would have contradicted another basic premise of Romney’s character that Kranish and Helman write about: though he is extremely wealthy, he’s also very cheap. That is not the worst trait for a man who seeks to cut back the size of government if he gets to the White House.

Read Less

The Obama Administration’s Systematic Deconstruction of Truth

Three years ago this month, Barack Obama made a public promise: “Today I’m pledging to cut the deficit we inherited in half by the end of my first term in office,” the new president said. The president reiterated his promise here, and here. In fact, Obama was repeating his commitment as late as December 2009, which is terribly inconvenient for those who say the president’s original broken promise can be forgiven because “there was a deeper hole to dig out of than anyone could have envisioned in January 2009.”

In fact, Obama and his team knew how deep the hole was in February 2009. But certainly by December 2009 – 11 months after he had been sworn in – it was clear to all the world just how deep the hole was.

Read More

Three years ago this month, Barack Obama made a public promise: “Today I’m pledging to cut the deficit we inherited in half by the end of my first term in office,” the new president said. The president reiterated his promise here, and here. In fact, Obama was repeating his commitment as late as December 2009, which is terribly inconvenient for those who say the president’s original broken promise can be forgiven because “there was a deeper hole to dig out of than anyone could have envisioned in January 2009.”

In fact, Obama and his team knew how deep the hole was in February 2009. But certainly by December 2009 – 11 months after he had been sworn in – it was clear to all the world just how deep the hole was.

For the record, at the time Obama promised to cut the budget deficit in half by the end of his first term the deficit was $1.4 trillion. Yesterday we learned Obama’s own budget estimates an end-of-term budget deficit of $1.33 trillion. Which means the president not only didn’t break his promise; he shattered it into roughly 700 billion pieces.

That would be bad enough. What makes it worse is the Obama administration is simply denying the promise is broken.

On Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace played a video clip of Obama’s promise to cut the deficit in half. He then said to his guest, White House chief of staff Jack Lew, “Mr. Lew, the president isn’t close to keeping his promise to cut the deficit in half.”

Lew didn’t address this in his response. So Wallace tried again. “Would you agree that he didn’t keep the promise?”

To which Lew said, “No.”

Now there are some things that are legitimate matters of interpretation (for example, how effective or ineffective the stimulus package has been). But his is not one of them. That Obama broke his promise is not a matter of opinion; it is a matter of mathematics.

Let’s see if we can help the Obama White House, shall we? To go from a budget deficit of $1.4 trillion to $1.33 trillion is not cutting the deficit in half. And to deny that a promise to do so has been broken is what is sometimes referred to as “dishonest.” Or, if you like, a “lie.”

It is also another example of the post-modernism of the Obama White House. Obama and his aides seem to believe facts mean nothing and “narrative” means everything. In other words, they can make it up as they go along. Now the systematic deconstruction of truth is something that happens fairly frequently in college liberal arts courses across America. But it’s something that is far more unusual to see in an American president.

Obama is basing his re-election on the premise that the American people are as indifferent to truth and facts as he is. I’m guessing he’s wrong, but we’ll know soon enough.

 

Read Less

Good News and Bad News in Burma

Burma may very well play an outsized role in the success or failure of the Obama administration’s “pivot” to Asia–the White House’s attempt to undo some of the damage it did earlier in its administration in places like India, South Korea, and Burma. Burma was an exception because unlike the others, it was not an ally and was oppressing its citizenry, so it obviously required a different approach.

The administration wisely recognized that Burma’s location, combined with the shifting of global economic focus eastward, gives the country a strategic relevance it has not had since World War II. Though it’s been ruled by a vicious military junta, new leader Thein Sein has begun a process of liberalization in return for the restoration of diplomatic ties to the United States–a step we took–along with the request that we relax economic sanctions, which is under consideration. In the last week, the administration received some good news and some bad news out of Burma. First, the bad news:

Read More

Burma may very well play an outsized role in the success or failure of the Obama administration’s “pivot” to Asia–the White House’s attempt to undo some of the damage it did earlier in its administration in places like India, South Korea, and Burma. Burma was an exception because unlike the others, it was not an ally and was oppressing its citizenry, so it obviously required a different approach.

The administration wisely recognized that Burma’s location, combined with the shifting of global economic focus eastward, gives the country a strategic relevance it has not had since World War II. Though it’s been ruled by a vicious military junta, new leader Thein Sein has begun a process of liberalization in return for the restoration of diplomatic ties to the United States–a step we took–along with the request that we relax economic sanctions, which is under consideration. In the last week, the administration received some good news and some bad news out of Burma. First, the bad news:

A prominent Burmese monk who was freed last month as part of a mass release of political prisoners was briefly detained again on Friday in Yangon, Myanmar’s main city, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a group that tracks the plight of dissidents and democracy advocates in the country.

The monk, Ashin Gambira, was one of the organizers of the 2007 uprising against the military government that ruled Myanmar at the time. His arrest on Friday, after four weeks of freedom, appeared to demonstrate the limits of tolerance under Myanmar’s new civilian government.

[…]

Fighting continues between ethnic Kachin rebels and government troops in northern Myanmar, a longstanding conflict that was reignited last year and has resulted in a wave of refugees across the border into China. Separately, a cease-fire agreement signed last month with the Karen ethnic group appears to be fraying, with some Karen leaders denying that there even is an agreement.

Some of this was inevitable, and the clashes with upland peoples and minority groups are not necessarily proof that Burma’s rulers are unwilling to rein in the military. But it’s also important for the West to ensure that Burma’s leaders haven’t pulled a bait-and-switch scheme by releasing Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the only Burmese dissident most people have heard of, while imprisoning those who have not had the opportunity to pose for photo ops with American officials.

Both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell made historic visits to Burma in recent months, and both were careful to stress that the challenges in Burma going forward are just as great as the opportunities. And on that front, the good news:

As Myanmar pursues dramatic reforms, its relationship with China — the Southeast Asian nation’s biggest investor and second-biggest trade partner — is changing. In some cases, long-festering resentment is flaring into the open.

During decades of isolation, the former Burma relied on China as its closest diplomatic and military ally. Wide-reaching Western sanctions put in place after a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations in 1988 forced Myanmar to deepen economic ties with China.

But as Myanmar embarks on the road back to democracy, a once-muffled debate about China’s role is growing louder. The reforms are also taking place as the geopolitical rivalry between the United States and China has sharpened since the Obama administration’s “pivot” toward Asia after preoccupation with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan the past decade.

This is encouraging for the administration because it identifies–correctly–a desire among the Burmese population to look west. China has taken advantage of the lack of Western involvement in Burmese commerce by using parts of Burma accessible to China–which happens to include Burma’s former capital, Mandalay–as a backyard. In “Where China Meets India: Burma and the New Crossroads of Asia,” Thant Myint-U writes of returning to Burma to find that his parents’ countrymen (he was born in New York City but his parents are native Burmese) had not been lifted out of poverty, but Chinese immigrants and businessmen didn’t seem to be living in the same grim economic reality.

He tells of seeing a brightly lit cell phone store in Mandalay filled with Chinese customers while a Burmese woman was bathing in an outdoor well nearby, among a pack of stray dogs:

There was nothing intrinsically wrong with what the Chinese were doing. But the Chinese were entering a vacuum, and this once proud capital of a little kingdom, and later a city of British India, was being transformed into an outpost of the world’s biggest industrial revolution. They were helping create an unequal society. It wasn’t clear at all what the consequences might be.

There can be no doubt China understands grand strategy and Burma’s role in a new great game. But they are not at all concerned about the Burmese people, or the country itself. India is, and the U.S. should be as well. Smart American policy toward Burma–which seems to be what Clinton is carrying out, with McConnell’s support–can hopefully tip the scales in the right direction.

Read Less

Gingrich: I’m Not Going Anywhere

Via the Washington Examiner, Newt Gingrich declines to take the National Review’s friendly advice to drop out of the race and endorse Rick Santorum:

“The National Review wanted me to drop out in June,” Gingrich said to reporters last night, calling such speculation, “silly.”

“You guys go around and pick up the same people that said that I was dead in June, that said that I was dead after Iowa, you know, twice I lead in the Gallup poll, ok?” Gingrich said.

Gingrich said that he had no plans to drop out before Super Tuesday and boasted that his campaign was still competitive.

Read More

Via the Washington Examiner, Newt Gingrich declines to take the National Review’s friendly advice to drop out of the race and endorse Rick Santorum:

“The National Review wanted me to drop out in June,” Gingrich said to reporters last night, calling such speculation, “silly.”

“You guys go around and pick up the same people that said that I was dead in June, that said that I was dead after Iowa, you know, twice I lead in the Gallup poll, ok?” Gingrich said.

Gingrich said that he had no plans to drop out before Super Tuesday and boasted that his campaign was still competitive.

First of all, I don’t remember the National Review calling on Gingrich to drop out last June, and a quick search of the website didn’t bring one up. So if you know which NR piece Gingrich is referring to, please send it my way.

But Gingrich is absolutely correct on one point here. He was pronounced dead by the media twice, only to rise again. And as farfetched as it might seem at the moment, it could absolutely happen again.

The thing is, even if Newt manages to pull off another comeback, it’s not going to last. At some point he’ll crash back down. He has too much baggage, too many enemies, and not enough discipline. Just to take one example, here’s what Gingrich said about Rick Santorum and Rick Perry when he was leading the field in South Carolina last month:

“If we win on Saturday, I think I will be the nominee,” Gingrich said during a town hall meeting with voters here. “I’m the only conservative who realistically has a chance to be the nominee.”

“So any vote for [Rick] Santorum or [Rick] Perry, in effect, is a vote to allow Romney to become the nominee, because we’ve got to bring conservatives together in order to stop him,” Gingrich said.

With Santorum now leading Gingrich in primary victories, it’s now clear Santorum has a much more realistic chance to win the nomination than Gingrich does. If nominating a conservative is Newt’s main goal, as he claimed last month, then – by his own standards – shouldn’t he drop out and pave the way for Santorum? You would think. But then, Gingrich’s standards always seem to be things that only apply to other people – never to him.

Read Less

Defining Terrorism

Real Clear World‘s Greg Sclobete takes issue with a post I penned yesterday, in which I argued “the fact that some argue Israel “started it” shows moral blindness and ignorance of context.” Sclobete then falsely summarizes my argument by suggesting I said some terrorism is bad and other is good. But that was not the point of the post Sclobete selectively cites, nor is it even a fair reading of it. Rather, I list a litany of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish terrorism sponsored by Iran during the past two decades and exclaim that pundits who are jumping on the terrorism bandwagon now show their selectivity by having ignored for so long Iranian sponsorship of terrorism against Israel, Israelis, and Jews.

As for assassination, a tactic used to prevent a wider conflict or an existential challenge, I see nothing wrong with it nor, for that matter, does the Obama administration. Assassination does not violate international law; it is not terrorism.

Read More

Real Clear World‘s Greg Sclobete takes issue with a post I penned yesterday, in which I argued “the fact that some argue Israel “started it” shows moral blindness and ignorance of context.” Sclobete then falsely summarizes my argument by suggesting I said some terrorism is bad and other is good. But that was not the point of the post Sclobete selectively cites, nor is it even a fair reading of it. Rather, I list a litany of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish terrorism sponsored by Iran during the past two decades and exclaim that pundits who are jumping on the terrorism bandwagon now show their selectivity by having ignored for so long Iranian sponsorship of terrorism against Israel, Israelis, and Jews.

As for assassination, a tactic used to prevent a wider conflict or an existential challenge, I see nothing wrong with it nor, for that matter, does the Obama administration. Assassination does not violate international law; it is not terrorism.

The broader problem, however, is that there is simply no universally accepted definition of terrorism. As I noted in this paper on asymmetric threat concept, as of 1988 there were more than 100 definitions of terrorism in use in Western countries, and that number has only proliferated in the past quarter century.

So how to move beyond the very real problem of moral equivalence or a la carte terrorism definition? Perhaps it’s time for the United States to tie counter-terrorism assistance to an agreement by its partners on a universal definition of terrorism.

Read Less

Obama Hedge Fund Attack Dog Now Flacking for Hedge Funds?

In mafia parlance, I believe they call this the “protection racket”:

After attacking hedge funds and their managers during her tenure in the Obama administration, Anita Dunn is now working as a public relations consultant to improve the industry’s image, according to a secret proposal obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

Dunn, formerly the interim White House communications director for the Obama administration and currently a managing director at the Democratic consulting firm SKDKnickerbocker (SKDK), is being promoted by the public relations firm McLean/Clark LLC as a director of “paid media” for a pro-hedge-fund campaign. The project is described by promotional material as a “comprehensive public affairs operation” to “raise awareness about the positive role hedge funds play in the American economy” and to “eliminate the need for politicians to take aim at hedge funds.”

Read More

In mafia parlance, I believe they call this the “protection racket”:

After attacking hedge funds and their managers during her tenure in the Obama administration, Anita Dunn is now working as a public relations consultant to improve the industry’s image, according to a secret proposal obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

Dunn, formerly the interim White House communications director for the Obama administration and currently a managing director at the Democratic consulting firm SKDKnickerbocker (SKDK), is being promoted by the public relations firm McLean/Clark LLC as a director of “paid media” for a pro-hedge-fund campaign. The project is described by promotional material as a “comprehensive public affairs operation” to “raise awareness about the positive role hedge funds play in the American economy” and to “eliminate the need for politicians to take aim at hedge funds.”

As the Washington Free Beacon notes in its bombshell report, Dunn continues to attend frequent meetings at the White House. Incidentally, Wall Street has been pumping money into anti-Obama and anti-Democratic campaigns, Politico reported yesterday. Which means Obama certainly has an interest in making nice with the investment industry:

The beleaguered sector is pumping tens of millions of dollars into campaigns and newly dominant super PACS as one of Wall Street’s own seeks the White House and the industry looks to roll back key parts of the Dodd-Frank financial reforms. The goal is to oust a president and some members of Congress whom many bankers view as openly hostile toward them.

Employees of securities and investment firms have already given $52.8 million to candidates and party committees in the 2012 cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. That makes it the No. 1 industry, up from fourth place in 2010 and third in the 2008 campaign.

The timing here is pretty perfect. While Obama ramps up attacks on Wall Street and investors, Dunn is now reaching out to offer some of them paid protection – and, implicitly, a friendly channel to the White House. If there’s a better example of the corrupt ties between Big Government and Big Business, it’s difficult to think of one.

Read Less

Obama’s Continued War on Philanthropy

Lost amid the debate about the budget put forward by the White House yesterday was a provision that continues the administration’s war on philanthropy. Obama’s call for dangerous cuts in defense spending he says he will spend on infrastructure at home got most of the headlines. But the budget also called for limiting itemized deductions, a measure that could have a grievous impact on philanthropies that are more desperate for funds than ever in a shrinking economy.

Though Obama will attempt to sell this package as part of his now standard class warfare tactics in which the wealthy are demonized, the attempt to cut back those deductions is just as much about the administration’s statist goal of granting more power to government and restricting the private sector’s ability to impact society. The losers here are not the rich who will find other ways to spend their money but the poor, medical research, the arts and other philanthropic causes that will suffer from the president’s crusade for “fairness.”

Read More

Lost amid the debate about the budget put forward by the White House yesterday was a provision that continues the administration’s war on philanthropy. Obama’s call for dangerous cuts in defense spending he says he will spend on infrastructure at home got most of the headlines. But the budget also called for limiting itemized deductions, a measure that could have a grievous impact on philanthropies that are more desperate for funds than ever in a shrinking economy.

Though Obama will attempt to sell this package as part of his now standard class warfare tactics in which the wealthy are demonized, the attempt to cut back those deductions is just as much about the administration’s statist goal of granting more power to government and restricting the private sector’s ability to impact society. The losers here are not the rich who will find other ways to spend their money but the poor, medical research, the arts and other philanthropic causes that will suffer from the president’s crusade for “fairness.”

The measure got the attention of two major Jewish organizations, the Jewish Federations of North America — which brings together the umbrella group of local Jewish charitable giving — and the Orthodox Union. The Federations rightly complained the budget will “disincentivize large charitable gifts” upon which philanthropies depend. The OU noted that the changes could cost American charities up to $4 billion annually.

While Obama put this forward in the name of tax reform, nothing in this scheme promotes fairness. By hamstringing the private and religious charities that are often far more effective in aiding the needy than the government, the net result will be more sacrifice by the poor, not the rich.

COMMENTARY first brought attention to this issue back in 2009 with David Billet’s still apt article on the subject. As Billet wrote then, Obama’s desire to cut back on deductions to charity does not harm the wealthy. Instead, it is rooted in a liberal suspicion of the free market world of private philanthropy that Obama and his minions would like to see replaced by a system rooted in more central government planning and control. In 2009, then Budget Director Peter Orszag said the pain the crackdown on charitable donations would create would be offset by the benefits to society that would accrue from the extra cash government could spend. Orszag even said the creation of a national health care law would more than compensate the country for the decimation of private charities.

Seen in this light, this war on philanthropy is all part of the mindset that sees Obamacare as being not only a panacea for the country’s health care problems but also the lynchpin of a vast expansion of state power over every sector of American life. Far from being a minor clause in a controversial budget and tax plan, the bid to cut back on charitable giving is actually a key element of the administration’s plan to remake America in the image of European-style governments.

As much as some fear the impact of a second Obama administration on foreign policy issues such as Israel and Iran, the prospect of a re-elected president pursuing his anti-philanthropy agenda ought to send a chill down the spines of those committed to a variety of causes that will be impacted by his plans.

Read Less

Where Are You When We Need You, Ronnie?

Whenever I hear myself crying, “Where are you when we need you, Ronnie?” I give myself a couple of smart slaps in the face and tell myself, “Naomi, get over it! A Ronald Reagan doesn’t come around every century.”

Doesn’t mean Republicans can’t have a solid, electable candidate – even one who could morph into a powerful president when the call came (think George W. Bush).

Read More

Whenever I hear myself crying, “Where are you when we need you, Ronnie?” I give myself a couple of smart slaps in the face and tell myself, “Naomi, get over it! A Ronald Reagan doesn’t come around every century.”

Doesn’t mean Republicans can’t have a solid, electable candidate – even one who could morph into a powerful president when the call came (think George W. Bush).

Thankfully, those two monuments to pasty-faced nerdiness, Paul Ryan and Mitch Daniels, aren’t running. Sadly, Chris Christie isn’t either. Newt is — sort of — and though it seems clear now he doesn’t have a chance at the nomination, he has managed to convince at least one voter (Callista) that he’s our next Reagan. Right. If Reagan had been a whiny, petulant kook.

I did not know Ronald Reagan; he was not a friend of mine. But I was there when he was elected, and I remember it well. In fact, one of the sweetest experiences I’ve ever had was working through election night at Newsweek, where I was on staff at the time, and witnessing the dismayed disbelief of my colleagues as the “amiable dunce” became the next president of the United States.

Well, he was no dunce (as those who viciously vilified him back then now pretend they knew all along). But amiable he certainly was–and tough and funny, not to mention handsome.

Note to Rick S.:  Ronnie didn’t win because he was a conservative icon (though he was).

Note to Mitt R.:  Ronnie didn’t win because he knew how to fix the economy (though he did).

Note to media idiots:  Ronnie didn’t win because he could “‘empathize” with the poor (though he could).

He didn’t win because of his position on earmarks or healthcare or the budget or abortion. He won (in my humble, non-expert opinion) because he exuded a calm, unwavering and cheerful confidence in our goodness and our ability to overcome our national nightmare: a president who scrunched up his sourpuss (super-cautionary note to Rick Santorum) to lecture us about our moral failings, while emboldening our enemies to abuse us.

So, if we must make do with what we have, let’s hope the two remaining viable candidates can find a way to channel that spirit. Mitt shows the occasional glimmer; Rick not so much. They both need work.

 

Read Less

Irrationality of Obama Budget Mortifies Democrats

Those seeking to understand President Obama’s new budget and what it says about the crushing disappointment Obama has been to a central mode of liberal self-congratulation need look no further than John Steele Gordon’s post from last week about the proposed “Zuckerberg tax.” John wrote about how Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg was about to make a lot of money from his successful business, and liberals began trying to come up with a new rule that would allow the government to confiscate some of it.

John noted that “the perverse economic consequences of this would be almost without end” and wondered whether anything could “be more revelatory of the utter intellectual bankruptcy of latter-day liberalism” than the economically illiterate squawking parrot it has become. The answer is yes. While the Zuckerberg tax could be written off as one more ridiculous scheme, the president’s budget carries far more significance. And in this way, the damage to modern liberalism continues. Here’s James Pethokoukis at AEI:

Read More

Those seeking to understand President Obama’s new budget and what it says about the crushing disappointment Obama has been to a central mode of liberal self-congratulation need look no further than John Steele Gordon’s post from last week about the proposed “Zuckerberg tax.” John wrote about how Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg was about to make a lot of money from his successful business, and liberals began trying to come up with a new rule that would allow the government to confiscate some of it.

John noted that “the perverse economic consequences of this would be almost without end” and wondered whether anything could “be more revelatory of the utter intellectual bankruptcy of latter-day liberalism” than the economically illiterate squawking parrot it has become. The answer is yes. While the Zuckerberg tax could be written off as one more ridiculous scheme, the president’s budget carries far more significance. And in this way, the damage to modern liberalism continues. Here’s James Pethokoukis at AEI:

Here’s pretty much all you need to know about Obamanomics: In 2011, the Obama White House suggested raising the top dividend tax rate to 20 percent from 15 percent. Keeping the dividend rate at a relatively low level, the White House said, “reduces the tax bias against equity investment and promotes a more efficient allocation of capital.” Makes sense, right? Basic economics.

Yet in his brand-new, 2013 budget, Obama calls for taxing dividends as ordinary income, essentially raising the top rate all the way to 39.6 percent. And then when you tack on the 3.8 percentage point Obamacare surtax — and an additional 1.2 percentage point itemized deduction phase-out for high-end taxpayers — the rate rises to 44.6 percent.

So apparently Obama is now in favor of a greater bias against equity investment (and in favor of debt) and promoting less efficient allocation of capital.

Liberals of late have been working round the clock to convince the country that the difference between liberalism and conservatism is that liberals follow the empirical evidence and conservatives mindlessly follow ideology. No one has done more to refute this than Obama himself. It began before he was even elected. In an April 2008 debate with Hillary Clinton, Obama made remarks that instantly became famous. Moderator Charlie Gibson asked Obama if history shows cutting capital gains taxes increases revenues and raising capital gains taxes decreases revenues–and Gibson read Obama the history of raising and cutting capital gains taxes to demonstrate this was so–would he still want to raise capital gains taxes?

“Well, Charlie, what I’ve said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness,” Obama answered. That is, not only does the evidence against his plan not deter him from instituting it, but the facts were never even a part of the calculation. He was not concerned with economics or history; ideology was his only consideration.

As Pethokoukis shows, nothing has changed on that front. Obama himself refuted the economics behind his budget. He has identified the facts, stated them, and then ostentatiously ignored them in favor of ideology. No wonder the Democrats were afraid to bring the president’s budget up for a vote, and it was the GOP immediately promising to bring it to the floor. When the irrationality of your proposals embarrasses Harry Reid, you’re not doing your party any favors.

Read Less

The Animating Concern of Charles Murray

In his interview with Charlie Rose, Charles Murray speaks about his new book, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010.  Murray’s argument is that the upper middle class and working class in America are separating on some key, core behaviors and values. We’re seeing the “collapse of the central cultural institution in one particular part of America” – meaning the collapse of marriage among the working class. The most stunning statistic in his data-filled book, Murray says, is this one: In 2010, among the white upper middle class, 83 percent of adults 30-49 years old were married. In 2010, only 48 percent of working class whites were married. (Murray, by the way, says he has changed his mind on same-sex marriage, an arrangement he once opposed.)

In addition, we’re seeing a “clustering” among the new upper class and elite, which is leading to an increasing isolation between them and the rest of American society, something Murray believes is creating problems for both the upper class and the working class. Murray praises the new upper class for its commitment to traditional values, something he would not have done in the early 1970s, but criticizes it for not “preaching what it practices.” He says they should act more like the elite in Victorian England at the end of the 19th century, who helped “re-moralize” their society (for more, see the groundbreaking work of the historian Gertrude Himmelfarb).

Read More

In his interview with Charlie Rose, Charles Murray speaks about his new book, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010.  Murray’s argument is that the upper middle class and working class in America are separating on some key, core behaviors and values. We’re seeing the “collapse of the central cultural institution in one particular part of America” – meaning the collapse of marriage among the working class. The most stunning statistic in his data-filled book, Murray says, is this one: In 2010, among the white upper middle class, 83 percent of adults 30-49 years old were married. In 2010, only 48 percent of working class whites were married. (Murray, by the way, says he has changed his mind on same-sex marriage, an arrangement he once opposed.)

In addition, we’re seeing a “clustering” among the new upper class and elite, which is leading to an increasing isolation between them and the rest of American society, something Murray believes is creating problems for both the upper class and the working class. Murray praises the new upper class for its commitment to traditional values, something he would not have done in the early 1970s, but criticizes it for not “preaching what it practices.” He says they should act more like the elite in Victorian England at the end of the 19th century, who helped “re-moralize” their society (for more, see the groundbreaking work of the historian Gertrude Himmelfarb).

In speaking about what concerns him the most, Murray mentions the increasing denial of access to what he calls “institutions of meaning” – marriage, community, faith, and vocation. Those are the domains within which human beings find deeply satisfying lives. Murray argues that we have “denuded those sources of satisfaction” for the working class in ways we haven’t for the upper class, and that has harmful human consequences.

A personal word on Charles Murray. For some of us of a certain age, Murray was an influential figure in our journey to conservatism. His 1984 book, Losing Ground, argued that the ambitious social programs of the Great Society not only did not accomplish what they set out to do (help the poor and disadvantaged); they often made things worse. I recall hearing Murray speak about welfare and poverty at an event and being struck by his decency, intelligence, and obvious care for the poor. (Murray was a member of the Peace Corps in the late 1960s.) His critique wasn’t based on indifference to their condition; it was based on concern for their well-being. He believed liberalism had failed “the least of these” and conservatism had something to offer in its place. (I would call it an early iteration of compassionate conservatism. Murray would not.)

The world has turned many times since Losing Ground was published. And now, almost 30 years later, Murray has written yet another climate-changing book. He ranks among America’s most important public intellectuals. And among its most humane as well.

 

Read Less

The Nixonian Paranoia of David Brock

Reading the Daily Caller’s stellar investigative series into Media Matters, the organization begins to sound less like a left-wing media watchdog and more like a drug cartel in the days before the feds close in. There are armed bodyguards, fears of sniper assassins, enemy lists and talk of sending private eyes to follow around high-profile adversaries. All this at a non-profit organization.

It’s no wonder Media Matters’ head David Brock comes off as an unhinged paranoid in the story. When you stake your career on dirty tricks and smear tactics, you start expecting everyone else is out to do the same to you. As the Caller reports, Media Matters was apparently so obsessed with digging up dirt on Fox News it considered hiring detectives to track its employees. To Brock, the declaration that his organization was at “war with Fox News” wasn’t hyperbole – his personal assistant reportedly carried a Glock to prove it.

Read More

Reading the Daily Caller’s stellar investigative series into Media Matters, the organization begins to sound less like a left-wing media watchdog and more like a drug cartel in the days before the feds close in. There are armed bodyguards, fears of sniper assassins, enemy lists and talk of sending private eyes to follow around high-profile adversaries. All this at a non-profit organization.

It’s no wonder Media Matters’ head David Brock comes off as an unhinged paranoid in the story. When you stake your career on dirty tricks and smear tactics, you start expecting everyone else is out to do the same to you. As the Caller reports, Media Matters was apparently so obsessed with digging up dirt on Fox News it considered hiring detectives to track its employees. To Brock, the declaration that his organization was at “war with Fox News” wasn’t hyperbole – his personal assistant reportedly carried a Glock to prove it.

But behind the colorful detail, there’s also a serious story about media manipulation. In one memo obtained by the Caller, a top Media Matters staffer writes about its plan to turn the Murdoch phone-hacking scandal into major U.S. news:

In at least two places, the memo makes suggestions that in retrospect look like prescient predictions. The first concerns Rupert Murdoch: “Murdoch’s problems in the U.K. (hacking the cell phones of prominent Brits) are hardly known to U.S. news consumers. We should do our best to bring embarrassing Murdoch news to the attention of his U.S. audience.” The effort appears to have succeeded.

The phone-hacking scandal did start catching on in the U.S., thanks in part to reporting campaigns launched by two prominent and respected nonprofit investigative journalism outlets: Pro Publica and the Center for Public Integrity. Note that both organizations have received extensive funding from George Soros, who also funds Media Matters. Was there any coordination between the three groups? At the very least, this raises questions about the independence of non-profit investigative reporting outlets.

Read Less

Self-Defeating, But Dangerous Terror Acts

Last October, the Justice Department uncovered what it said was an Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington. There were many skeptics who claimed the Iranians were far too skillful and suave to have connived at such an amateurish plot involving a deadbeat Iranian expatriate in Texas and a Mexican drug cartel. Don’t the Iranians at least practice better tradecraft?

Apparently not, to judge by today’s explosions in Bangkok. A man suspected of being an Iranian agent tried to throw a hand grenade at pursuing police officers but instead blew his own legs off.

Read More

Last October, the Justice Department uncovered what it said was an Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington. There were many skeptics who claimed the Iranians were far too skillful and suave to have connived at such an amateurish plot involving a deadbeat Iranian expatriate in Texas and a Mexican drug cartel. Don’t the Iranians at least practice better tradecraft?

Apparently not, to judge by today’s explosions in Bangkok. A man suspected of being an Iranian agent tried to throw a hand grenade at pursuing police officers but instead blew his own legs off.

This Keystone Kops episode comes on top of yesterday’s attacks in New Delhi and Tblisi where suspected Iranian agents bungled the attempted assassination of the wife of an Israeli defense official and an embassy worker. The attack in New Delhi actually wounded the victim, but the bomb in Tblisi was found and defused.

On one level these events are comforting because they suggest that Iran and its proxies in Hezbollah are not as skillful as generally assumed. But on another level these events should be deeply discomfiting to anyone who subscribes to the notion that the Iranians are calculating Realpolitikers who act so cautiously they can even be trusted with the possession of nuclear weapons. Au contraire: The events of the last two days suggest the Iranian regime, assuming it is responsible for these attacks, is capable of acting in self-defeating, irrational but dangerous ways. In short, hardly the sort of people we should trust with a BB gun–much less nuclear weapons.

 

Read Less

Peter Beinart’s End Zone Dance

The day he published his 2010 essay in the New York Review of Books castigating the American Jewish establishment for too-strong support of Israel, Peter Beinart tweeted that it was the “hardest thing I’ve ever written.” As Noah Pollak noted at the time, there was nothing easier than Beinart’s criticism; there was already a wide market for it within the media.

Beinart subsequently received a book deal from Times Books, the publishing arm of the New York Times, and the book will be published next month. Last week, he circulated an email that Rabbi David Wolpe describes as “an end zone dance, a strutting lack of humility.” Here is the beginning of Beinart’s email:

Read More

The day he published his 2010 essay in the New York Review of Books castigating the American Jewish establishment for too-strong support of Israel, Peter Beinart tweeted that it was the “hardest thing I’ve ever written.” As Noah Pollak noted at the time, there was nothing easier than Beinart’s criticism; there was already a wide market for it within the media.

Beinart subsequently received a book deal from Times Books, the publishing arm of the New York Times, and the book will be published next month. Last week, he circulated an email that Rabbi David Wolpe describes as “an end zone dance, a strutting lack of humility.” Here is the beginning of Beinart’s email:

Sometimes you get lucky.
I’ve spent the last year writing a new book, The Crisis of Zionism. It tells the story of how a young Barack Obama fell in love with the Jewish social justice tradition, only to discover the deep chasm between that tradition and the American Jewish Establishment when it comes to Israel.
It tells the story of an Israeli Prime Minister who rejects the very tradition that Obama reveres.
Finally, it offers an agenda for what American Jews — especially young American Jews — must do if we don’t want to be the generation that watches the dream of a democratic Jewish state die.
And that’s where I get lucky. Because by a wonderful convergence of events, the book will be released at this year’s J Street National Conference. …

The assertion that the Israeli prime minister (along with the American Jewish establishment) “rejects” the Jewish social justice tradition that Barack Obama “reveres” (ever since he “fell in love” with it at summer camp) lacks a certain nuance and subtlety. And the email goes on from there.

Rabbi Wolpe provides a substantive rebuttal of the email – particularly its invocation of the American civil rights movement as an analogy for those who rain rockets on children in Sderot – and offers some rabbinic wisdom for Beinart’s “smug dismissal” of Israel’s democratic leadership. He describes the email as “demagoguery” and suggests that Beinart is “better than this.”

It is a fairly low bar. But if the email is any indication, the coming book will exhibit the same lack of proportionality that Jeffrey Goldberg suggested in his 2010 interview of Beinart. Goldberg noted “the unseemly interest the left takes in Israel’s moral failings,” which ignores the fact that no other country does “a better job of protecting individual rights and freedoms while at war with a foe that seeks its physical elimination,” and he pressed Beinart to put the criticisms in his essay in context:

Are Israel’s failings, in fact, so terrible, especially given the line-up of enemies Israel is facing? I’m asking you to confront reality, not your utopian vision of what a Jewish country should be. The reality is that there are organizations and countries trying to physically eliminate the Jewish state. Even with this existential problem, Israel still manages to be the freest and most democratic state in the Middle East, and one that even grants its Muslim citizens the right to build minarets and wear burqas, unlike many countries in Europe. Again, I’m asking about proportionality. … [V]ery little (the settlements, etc.) is actually that different than it was five or ten years ago, except that Israel removed its settlements from Gaza and got rockets in return. …

[Muslim extremists] are pointing 40,000 rockets at Israel from Lebanon right now — and they are not pointing these rockets at Israel in order to bring about the creation of a Palestinian state on the West Bank. They are seeking the physical destruction of 5.5 million Jews in their historic homeland. I take this seriously, and I think you should take it seriously, as well. …You don’t have to be an Israeli extremist to believe that the Arab side is not especially enamored with the ideas of peace and compromise, despite the existence of Salam Fayyad and other Palestinian moderates. Perhaps we here in America should take these Israeli concerns more seriously, and have more respect for the hard-earned experience of Israelis.

Beinart’s email suggests he has gotten over his hand-wringing about the “hardest thing I’ve ever written.” He is positively giddy about the book-length version. What luck.

Read Less

Progressive Journalist Says Israel Bombed its Own Diplomats

During the Nixon administration, Secretary of State Kissinger sought to tighten the rotation of American diplomats to just a couple of years in any particular country, and to ensure they were posted at the State Department regularly. He believed the loss of in-depth knowledge when a diplomat left a long-term posting was more than offset by the fact that so many diplomats posted overseas lost perspective, accepted conspiracies by osmosis, and adopted the biases of foreign societies.

The same holds true for journalists. Foreign correspondents and their military beat colleagues stationed overseas sometimes drink too much of the local water. Usually their editors catch the nonsense, but sometimes craziness slips through. Thomas Ricks, at the time a military correspondent for the Washington Post, and now a blogger for ForeignPolicy.com, suggested that Israel purposely allowed Hezbollah to launch missiles into northern Israel in order to have an excuse to retaliate. According to Ricks:

One of the things that is going on, according to some U.S. military analysts, is that Israel purposely has left pockets of Hezbollah rockets in Lebanon, because as long as they’re being rocketed, they can continue to have a sort of moral equivalency in their operations in Lebanon.

Read More

During the Nixon administration, Secretary of State Kissinger sought to tighten the rotation of American diplomats to just a couple of years in any particular country, and to ensure they were posted at the State Department regularly. He believed the loss of in-depth knowledge when a diplomat left a long-term posting was more than offset by the fact that so many diplomats posted overseas lost perspective, accepted conspiracies by osmosis, and adopted the biases of foreign societies.

The same holds true for journalists. Foreign correspondents and their military beat colleagues stationed overseas sometimes drink too much of the local water. Usually their editors catch the nonsense, but sometimes craziness slips through. Thomas Ricks, at the time a military correspondent for the Washington Post, and now a blogger for ForeignPolicy.com, suggested that Israel purposely allowed Hezbollah to launch missiles into northern Israel in order to have an excuse to retaliate. According to Ricks:

One of the things that is going on, according to some U.S. military analysts, is that Israel purposely has left pockets of Hezbollah rockets in Lebanon, because as long as they’re being rocketed, they can continue to have a sort of moral equivalency in their operations in Lebanon.

Ricks never named those military analysts; he appeared to simply couch his own bias in made-up sources, and later left the newspaper.

Now, it seems the craziness has spread to former journalists’ commentary about the terrorist attacks on Israeli diplomats in Georgia and India. Genieve Abdo, a long-time correspondent for London’s Guardian, and a frequent contributor to The Economist and New York Times, is now a fellow at The Century Foundation, a progressive think-tank. She has also been affiliated with the National Security Network, a group with close ties to the Obama White House. At the think tank, she no longer has an editor to screen away personal biases, so her radicalism shines through. Yesterday, for example, she told Australian public radio that Israel had bombed its own diplomats in order to have an excuse to blame Iran:

ELEANOR HALL: Iran’s leadership says it’s sheer lies that it’s behind the attacks and that the Israelis have planted the bombs themselves to discredit Iran?

GENEIVE ABDO: Well I think that’s entirely possible. I mean, if you consider what the Israelis did for many years in Lebanon and other parts of the Middle East, that theory is not so farfetched.

What progressive analysis would be complete without obsessing about the dark shadow of a “Jewish lobby?”

ELEANOR HALL: So how dangerous do you think the situation is right now?

GENEIVE ABDO: Well, I think it’s very dangerous. It’s far more dangerous than probably any escalation tension that we’ve seen in 30 years. So, you know, you have the Israelis not willing to live with a nuclear Iran. You have the Iranians going forward with their nuclear program. And you have an American president trying to be re-elected with a Jewish lobby in the United States that’s extremely powerful.

So who’s to blame? Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei who has called Israel a malignancy which must be removed, or Benjamin Netanyahu, the democratically-elected leader of a broad-based coalition? Obviously, for Abdo, it’s Netanyahu. “Netanyahu,” Abdo declares, “has shown that we’re dealing with a very extremist Israeli government.”

Perhaps if Abdo and the good folks at The Century Foundation would be a bit more introspective, they might realize the problem is instead with a very extremist journalist.

Read Less

New Polls Give More Bad News for Romney

There were some in the Mitt Romney camp who spent the last two days downplaying a Public Policy Polling survey that showed their candidate trailing Rick Santorum by a wide margin among Republican voters nationwide. Because PPP is a Democratic-leaning firm, they argued the stunning 38-23 percentage point lead given Santorum in that poll was unreliable. But with the release of three other national polls in the last day, there can be no doubt Santorum has, at the very least, caught up to Romney.

A new CBS News/New York Times poll shows Santorum with a 30-27 point lead over Romney with Ron Paul in third with 12 percent and Newt Gingrich bringing up the rear with only 10 percent. A just-published Pew Research Center for the People and Press poll shows a nearly identical spread for the two leaders with Santorum leading Romney 30-28, though it differs over the second tier candidates as its results give Gingrich 17 percent and Paul 12 percent. The latest Gallup tracking poll provides somewhat better news for Romney. It shows him still ahead by a slender 32-30 margin with Gingrich at 16 percent and Paul at 8 percent. These three polls provide solid proof that Santorum and Romney are now in a statistical dead heat. But no matter how you spin these numbers, it’s all bad news for Romney. The polls show him losing support among the independents who made him more electable in a November match-up against Barack Obama and show him trailing Santorum among the Tea Partiers, social conservatives and the political conservatives who make up the base of the Republican Party.

Read More

There were some in the Mitt Romney camp who spent the last two days downplaying a Public Policy Polling survey that showed their candidate trailing Rick Santorum by a wide margin among Republican voters nationwide. Because PPP is a Democratic-leaning firm, they argued the stunning 38-23 percentage point lead given Santorum in that poll was unreliable. But with the release of three other national polls in the last day, there can be no doubt Santorum has, at the very least, caught up to Romney.

A new CBS News/New York Times poll shows Santorum with a 30-27 point lead over Romney with Ron Paul in third with 12 percent and Newt Gingrich bringing up the rear with only 10 percent. A just-published Pew Research Center for the People and Press poll shows a nearly identical spread for the two leaders with Santorum leading Romney 30-28, though it differs over the second tier candidates as its results give Gingrich 17 percent and Paul 12 percent. The latest Gallup tracking poll provides somewhat better news for Romney. It shows him still ahead by a slender 32-30 margin with Gingrich at 16 percent and Paul at 8 percent. These three polls provide solid proof that Santorum and Romney are now in a statistical dead heat. But no matter how you spin these numbers, it’s all bad news for Romney. The polls show him losing support among the independents who made him more electable in a November match-up against Barack Obama and show him trailing Santorum among the Tea Partiers, social conservatives and the political conservatives who make up the base of the Republican Party.

Going forward, Romney has advantages over Santorum in terms of financial resources and campaign organization. But if Santorum emerges in the next round of primaries as the leading conservative candidate who has the passion of the GOP grass roots, it could spell disaster for Romney. That is especially true if Gingrich continues to fade. Should the former speaker fail to raise enough money to continue a viable candidacy and thus drop into single digits, that could set up a one-on-one match-up between Santorum and Romney. This would be an interesting test of whether Republicans prefer a “true conservative” like Santorum over a relative moderate like Romney, who seems more electable.

Unfortunately for Romney, Santorum’s surge has come just at the moment when he has lost ground in matchups against Obama. Romney’s strongest argument for the nomination has always been that he has a much better chance of winning over wavering Democrats and independents who voted for Obama in 2008 than any Republican who is more identified with the Christian right. But in the wake of the tough attacks on Romney’s business record and taxes by Gingrich in the last month, as well as his gaffe about not caring about the poor, Romney is slipping in the match-ups against Obama and now appears to be doing not much better than Santorum.

This creates a difficult dilemma for the former Massachusetts governor. On the one hand, he must do his best to win over conservatives if he is going to prevail in the upcoming primaries. On the other, he must also not lose any more ground among independents if he is to maintain his edge in electability. But as it’s not possible to achieve both ends simultaneously, he must choose to concentrate on convincing conservatives he is one of them. It is on that uphill battle his hopes for the presidency rest.

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.