Just to add a few observations to Pete’s right-on post regarding the Washington Post’s hit-job on Romney, it should be noted, as reported by Brietbart, that the Post misquoted one of the main sources for the story. The paper reported that a fellow student had been bothered by the incident for years, but it turns out that he only heard about it this year. The Post, hiding its journalistic misfeasance, made a silent correction to its website regarding this.
The subject of the incident, John Lauber, died in 2004, but his sisters have issued a statement objecting to the story: “The family of John Lauber is releasing a statement saying the portrayal of John is factually incorrect and we are aggrieved that he would be used to further a political agenda. There will be no more comments from the family.” Said another sister, “If he were alive today, he would be furious [about the story].”
Contentions has already explored the contradictions at the heart of Elizabeth Warren’s use of her slim ties to a Native American ancestor to portray herself as a member of a minority group at Harvard University Law School. The Democratic candidate has become something of a poster child for the excesses of the world of affirmative action, but the story got a bit more damaging today when the Boston Herald reported that in addition to using her status as a 1/32 Cherokee Indian, she also went native during her time at the University of Pennsylvania.
The Herald discovered that Penn (where she worked from 1987 to 1994), listed her as a minority in a “Minority Equity Report.” Warren’s office is probably right to say that her reputation was good enough in the world of liberal jurisprudence to have earned her a job at prestigious universities. But the revelation that she was touted as a minority hire at yet another school makes her claim that she was unaware of her status as an affirmative action case that much less credible. When added to the fact that she admits listing herself as a minority in the Association of American Law Schools directory for a decade (supposedly in order to meet “other Native Americans”), this new information gives the story new life.
The Washington Free Beacon’s Adam Kredo went public yesterday about an increasingly pitched family feud in the Jewish world. In 1,100 words, Kredo cataloged the decline of the once-proud and now largely irrelevant Forward newspaper, which has gone from being one of America’s top Jewish outlets to publishing left-wing wishful thinking and agitprop. The responses from the Forward’s defenders have begun pouring in, including this frankly shrill outburst from Tablet’s Dan Klein.
Before getting to the substance of the debate: no one expects the anti-Israel wing of the pro-Israel community to make good arguments. They’re cooking with bad ingredients. But is it too much to ask that they limit themselves to mumbling through pro-forma talking points rather than launching sneering attacks? The choice should be between terrible arguments or smug self-satisfaction. Not both.
Remember the phrase “No Drama Obama”? Perhaps it should be retired after this week.
After all, we learned that Obama’s vice president, Joe Biden, apologized to the president for forcing him to accelerate the timetable when it came to announcing Obama’s support of same-sex marriage. The West Wing is reportedly enraged at Biden. Here’s how Politico put it:
Biden’s remarks on “Meet the Press” deeply annoyed Obama’s team, people close to the situation tell Politico, because it aggrandized his role at the expense of Obama’s yeoman efforts on behalf of the community and pushed up the timing of a sensitive announcement they had hoped to break — at a time and place of their own choosing — in the weeks leading up to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte this fall.
Nor did it tickle anyone, from Obama on down, that Biden — who backed the Defense of Marriage Act while serving in the Senate in the 1990s — seemed to be getting more credit in the LGBT community than a president who has actually taken steps to repeal the Clinton-era law that defined marriage as something that could only take place between a man and a woman.
And it chafed Obama’s team that Biden had, at times, privately argued for the president to hold off on his support of marriage equality to avoid a backlash among Catholic voters in battleground states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania, according to two officials familiar with those discussions.
It’s not a good situation for any vice president to steal the applause and credit from the president; that must be triply the case when it comes to a man with Obama’s self-regard and tendency toward narcissism.
After making every possible effort to undercut the coal industry, President Obama seemed oddly surprised that he ran such a close primary against a federal inmate in West Virginia. But this is a week for evolving, and the Obama campaign has quietly decided to add “clean coal” to its list of energy priorities, Chris Moody reports:
President Obama’s campaign website added “clean coal” to a list of energy priorities late this week, days after Republican lawmakers noted the omission and a federal inmate received about 40 percent of the vote against Obama in the Democratic primary in coal-heavy West Virginia.
Previously, the campaign’s website highlighted “fuel efficiency” on a list of seven energy priorities, but it has been replaced by “clean coal” and the site now touts Obama’s “10-year goal to develop and deploy cost-effective clean coal technology.”
The Obama campaign denies it’s a flip-flop, and claims he’s always supported coal production. And that may be true rhetorically, just like he’s always been a supporter of Israel and human rights and domestic oil production and reducing the deficit. Of course his policies and actions have often suggested otherwise.
Many conservatives are confidently dismissing the impact of the Washington Post’s assault on Mitt Romney’s character in the form of its story on his high school pranks. They believe most Americans can see through the bias of the piece as well as the timing of its publication online yesterday so as to coincide with President Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage. They hope that along with the nasty attacks on Romney’s religion and the effort to portray him as an aloof rich guy who doesn’t understand Americans, this latest outrageous illustration of the liberal media’s tilt against Republicans will backfire.
They may be right, as it is doubtful that too many voters worried about the country’s sinking economy will regard an investigative piece about what Romney did at school nearly 50 years ago as a reason to re-elect President Obama. Yet Republicans should not underestimate the impact of what is probably only one of the opening salvos in a campaign to delegitimize the GOP standard bearer by Obama’s cheerleaders in the press. The plain fact is that although Mitt Romney has been in the public eye for many years, including a presidential run in 2008, most Americans have probably yet to really understand who he is and what kind of man he is. With the liberal media starting to pile on Romney in the wake of the Post attack, it’s becoming clear that one of the critical aspects of the 2012 election will be whether it will be Romney or his detractors who will have the last word on his image.
As I’ve been writing this, the link to today’s Rasmussen poll showing Mitt Romney with a growing lead on Obama has gone dead and then come back up (possibly because it’s headlining Drudge), but here’s the relevant part of the findings from HotAir’s Ed Morrissey:
The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Friday shows Mitt Romney earning 50% of the vote and President Obama attracting 43% support. Four percent (4%) would vote for a third party candidate, while another three percent (3%) are undecided.
This is the first time Romney has reached the 50% level of support and is his largest lead ever over the president. It comes a week after a disappointing jobs report that raised new questions about the state of the economy.
This is a daily tracking poll, and keep in mind that those tend to be more prone to static. But this is still Romney’s biggest lead on Obama yet, and it does follow a trend. Yesterday’s Rasmussen daily tracker had Romney leading Obama by 4 percent. The two days before that, Romney was up by 5 percent. He was leading by 2 percent on May 7th, one percent on May 6th, and trailed Obama by one point on May 5th. So clearly there has been consistent upward movement for Romney.
In early 2011, along with a handful of other American journalists, I interviewed Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon in Jerusalem. Ayalon pressed the need for recognition of Israel on the part of the Palestinian leadership–but not in English or Hebrew. “Say it in Arabic, to your own children and to your own people,” Ayalon had said. The habit of Arab leaders to say one thing in English and another in Arabic has been a hallmark of Palestinian politics perfected by Yasir Arafat, and it’s long been a sticking point in Israel’s objection to Palestinian media manipulation.
“Say it in Arabic” encompasses more than just the Palestinian Authority. American intelligence agencies have been unusually public about their need for Arabic speakers. The language barrier gives Arab leaders unrestrained leeway to say whatever they want, and tracking what these leaders say in Arabic to their home audiences has been an essential part of attempting to hold these leaders accountable. So it’s encouraging to see a new report from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies spearheaded by FDD’s vice president for research (and COMMENTARY contributor) Jonathan Schanzer.
Now that the childhood hijinks of our national candidates are fair game, the Washington Post might want to devote some investigative resources toward the background of Vice President Joseph Biden. That’s right, “Sheriff Joe” was reportedly involved in a spate of anti-social activities as a child and adolescent, including but not limited to elaborate neighborhood pranks, street brawls, and even an assault on a lowly dorm employee in college.
From the book What It Takes: The Way to the White House, a story of the 1988 presidential election by reporter Richard Ben Cramer, a troubling snapshot of young Biden emerges:
Once Joey [Biden] set his mind, it was like he didn’t think at all—he just did. That’s why you didn’t want to fight him. Most guys who got into a fight, they’d square off, there’d be a minute or so of circling around, while they jockeyed for position. Joey didn’t do that. He decided to fight … BANGO—he’d punch the guy in the face. Joe was kind of skinny, and he stuttered, and the kids called him Bye-Bye, for the way he sounded when he tried to say his name. But Joey would never back down, and he knew how to box, when no one else did. …
Even after he left, after Mr. Biden got the job selling cars in Wilmington and moved the family away, Charlie Roth would still (in moments of duress) tell guys that his friend Joey Biden would come back and beat them up, if they didn’t watch out. (When Joe did come back, Charlie always had a list.)
I wanted to add to what Alana and Jonathan wrote about the nearly endless front page story in today’s Washington Post.
The title of the story is “Romney’s pranks could go too far.” Indeed they could. As Ed Morrissey wrote, what Mitt Romney, then in prep school, did — clip the bleached-blond hair of a high school student while he was pinned to the ground and crying for help – is pretty cruel. “It’s one reason not to vote for a teenager for president,” according to Morrissey.
As for other things that could go too far, in addition to Barack Obama’s admitted drug use, we could add to the list Jeremiah Wright’s sermons, Bill Ayers’s domestic terrorism, and Obama’s support as a state senator for infanticide, to name just three. But did the Washington Post devote 5,000 words to each of those stories? Did it devote 5,000 words to all of those stories combined? I doubt it.
Richard Lugar’s defeat in the Indiana Republican Senate primary has engendered new interest in a popular theme in the mainstream liberal press about how the current crop of conservative Republicans are the cause of political gridlock. Lugar’s graceless concession speech in which he blasted winner Richard Mourdock’s unwillingness to pay homage at the altar of bipartisanship was straight out of the liberal playbook in which only one side of the ideological divide is to be blamed for the mess in Washington. Lugar’s speech was catnip to liberal pundits like the New York Times’ Andrew Rosenthal, who had been looking for a news hook to echo an op-ed published last month in the Washington Post by two prominent D.C. think tank establishment figures sounding the same theme. In their April 27 essay, Thomas E. Mann and Norman Ornstein gave a non-partisan gloss to a the highly partisan theme that “Republicans are the problem.”
Though Mann and Ornstein claim this is in part because the new generation of conservative Republicans is less civil than most Democrats, even they don’t really believe that. For every Allen West on the right there is an Alan Grayson or Steve Cohen on the left. And even liberal editors and columnists may have noticed the incivility of some Tea Partiers doesn’t hold a candle to the violence and the attempts to stifle the free speech of others that is the hallmark of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Rather, it is Mann and Ornstein’s thesis that by seeking fundamental reforms of taxes, spending and entitlements, conservatives are breaking the unwritten contract between members of the governing class. By refusing to play ball like the docile Republicans of the past whose guiding philosophy was to offer the public the Democratic platform minus ten percent, today’s conservatives threaten a spirit of bipartisanship that existed largely to support a governing philosophy they disagree with. And that is something for which they cannot be forgiven.
Max Boot last month argued that the State Department and USAID should largely be spared budget cuts. That may be true of the State Department, although (like the Pentagon), the Department has layers of bureaucratic fat and unnecessary positions. Various undersecretaries, for example, have their own press advisers, a wholly unnecessary position that not only might come with a six-figure salary, but also can run up hundreds of thousands of dollars each in flight, hotel, and benefit cost. Simply put, if a Foreign Service officer or a political appointee is smart enough to become an undersecretary, then they should be smart enough to handle their own press. And if they are not up to the task, there are dozens of ambitious diplomats or politicos who probably are. This might, indeed, make for more skilled diplomats because it would benefit those who have a broader array of experiences than simply passing a “trivial pursuit”-like written exam and then a contrived oral exam upon leaving college and entering the State Department’s bubble. It would enable those who have backgrounds in business or law, for example, to apply a skill set to their careers which would benefit everybody.
To be fair, the same is true for the Pentagon. Last month, I attended a conference in Europe in which a senior U.S. general spoke. The general was worth his stars, but came to Europe from Washington with a delegation of aides and assistants whose sole mission was to ensure that the general hewed close to a script which they developed. “We don’t want him to make any comment which the press might pick up on,” one explained. Now, these aides duplicated the work of the defense attaché and American embassy which was also working overtime to babysit the three-star. Surely, there are better uses for taxpayer money than hiring press aides and minders whose sole job is to obfuscate and do damage control. If a general is able to navigate the politics of the Pentagon, then he can understand the minefield of the fourth estate without spending millions of dollars to ensure that he says nothing.
Question: When does a flip flop become an evolution? Answer: When the flip-flop leads to a liberal outcome.
I have in mind the omnipresent use by the media of President Obama’s “evolution” on gay marriage. In fact, this evolution was a rather jagged one.
As it’s been pointed out on this web site before, in 1996, Obama said he supported gay marriage. Then, in 2004, he said he opposed gay marriage. He reiterated that stand in 2008. Then, after Obama was elected president, he was neutral on the subject. And now that he’s (re)-embraced his position from more than 15 years ago, the press – using precisely the word Obama does to describe his shifting stance – says the president has “evolved.” As in “became more enlightened.”
The State Department laid out an ambitious budget for the forthcoming year and, on Wednesday, Rep. Steve Chabot, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, held a hearing to discuss U.S. assistance. Among those testifying was Mara Rudman, the assistant administrator for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Middle East bureau. While Rudman might brag about the supposed achievements of USAID, few aid organizations are so inefficient and self-defeating.
Take branding: Throughout the Middle East, especially in areas where anti-American sentiment is especially strong, the USAID refuses to put the USAID logo on its projects. To do so might lead insurgents to target USAID-funded schools, wells, or medical clinics. The problem is that skipping branding reduces to almost zero the benefit of the project. The goal of U.S. aid should not altruistic, but rather to bolster U.S. interests and influence. Diplomats talk about the need to win hearts and minds, but the multibillion dollar organization at the forefront of the battle too often surrenders before the fight. Nothing is more frustrating than to drive around Iraq and Afghanistan, seeing signs crediting Japan, Kuwait, the Badr Corps’ Shahid al-Mihrab Foundation or the Imam Khomeini Relief Committee for visible projects—gardens in traffic circles; housing projects; clinics; and electrical substations—but see no branding for USAID.
Yesterday, I wrote about the damage that leaks can do to sensitive intelligence operations. Now, ABC News has reported: “The long running operation with the deep cover operative was one that intelligence agencies planned to keep running. It was pulled up short in the past week when leaks developed and put the infiltrator in jeopardy. Sources involved in the intelligence operation said the plan was to keep the operation running until a more complete picture of the still developing plots and plans of the Yemen based group and its sinister, creative bombmaker, were learned.”
This provides further evidence of the damage of spilling secrets. The question is who leaked and why? It does not necessarily have to have been an American leak although the fact that the story was broken by Kimberly Dozier of the Associated Press, an American reporter based in Washington working for an American news organization, suggests that it was. Heads should roll–if the administration can figure out who was responsible. Even if this operation were blown by a senator or representative based on classified briefings, the culprit should at least be named and shamed. If it was an executive branch official, he or she should be not only fired but prosecuted as well.
Several decades ago, Lyndon Johnson declared the “war on poverty.” Since then, the war metaphor has been turned on its head, with those involved in political debates insisting that their opponents are waging war on the subject de jure. In the last few weeks, for example, liberals have said that Republicans are declaring a “war on women.” Conservatives, on the other hand, have said the president and Democrats are now declaring a “war on marriage.”
The martial metaphor is inappropriate as a general matter — but particularly when real wars are being fought around the world and real servicemen and servicewomen are being killed in combat.