Commentary Magazine


Posts For: August 24, 2012

Romney Has a Natural Convention Advantage over Obama

Three days before the GOP convention begins, the race is effectively tied. The first CNN poll to feature “likely voters” has it 49-47 with Barack Obama on top; Gallup and Rasmussen, which have daily tracking polls, have it dead even. I go into greater detail about Mitt Romney’s pretty good position here.

More important, though, is the opportunity Romney has when he delivers his convention speech Thursday night with the entire country watching. It is likely that 75 percent of the people who will see him on Thursday may never have heard him say more than a soundbite or two. Romney tends to rise to occasions, like the 20 Republican debates in which he performed—never badly, and probably outright won 15 of them. But this is the occasion of occasions—the most important night of his life and potentially a turning point in the nation’s life.

This is obviously a huge opportunity for Romney; and it’s an opportunity that Barack Obama does not have.

Read More

Three days before the GOP convention begins, the race is effectively tied. The first CNN poll to feature “likely voters” has it 49-47 with Barack Obama on top; Gallup and Rasmussen, which have daily tracking polls, have it dead even. I go into greater detail about Mitt Romney’s pretty good position here.

More important, though, is the opportunity Romney has when he delivers his convention speech Thursday night with the entire country watching. It is likely that 75 percent of the people who will see him on Thursday may never have heard him say more than a soundbite or two. Romney tends to rise to occasions, like the 20 Republican debates in which he performed—never badly, and probably outright won 15 of them. But this is the occasion of occasions—the most important night of his life and potentially a turning point in the nation’s life.

This is obviously a huge opportunity for Romney; and it’s an opportunity that Barack Obama does not have.

As far as the convention speeches go, Romney has a surprising advantage over Barack Obama: The gift of novelty. What he will be doing the nation will never have seen him doing before. People will be curious to see how Romney does, interested to hear what he says—and, in a country that has spent a decade watching “American Idol,” will be full of opinions about how he performs.

Obama’s speech will generate nothing comparable. Quite the opposite. In the four years since his nomination in 2008, he has delivered a convention speech, an inaugural address, four State of the Unions, and (by my unofficial count) eight nationally televised prime-time addresses either in front of Congress or from within the White House. He has spoken and spoken and spoken—and at least judging from the response for the past two years, his speeches have not served to push the needle of public opinion in his direction.

So the public knows what Obama has to offer. Those who love him will love him; those who think he’s okay will think he’s okay; everybody else who doesn’t like him to varying degrees are unlikely to alter their views. Which means unless he delivers a masterpiece on September 6, his speech (and the convention that preceded it) are not likely to make much of a difference for him.

For Romney, therefore, the stakes are high and the rewards potentially higher. For Obama, it may just be another day being a rather gabby president.

Read Less

Obama Ad Misses the Point on “Small Government”

“If you’re a conservative woman and believe in small government, then Barack Obama is your candidate because he’s keeping the government out of the decisions that should remain between you and God and you and your own conscience.” Those words are from a new ad from the Obama campaign–really–centered on women’s “rights.” In the ad, several self-described Republican women explain why, for the first time, they’re crossing the aisle to vote for Barack Obama: social issues.

Many of the women in the ad seem to misunderstand what the term “small government” means. Several mention the issue of birth control, now mandated by ObamaCare to be provided to women through their health insurance plans. This is the exact opposite of “small government” in action. The opposition to this provision to ObamaCare isn’t that Republicans or conservatives don’t believe in women taking birth control and wish to prevent them from doing so. Opponents of the provision are believers in the First Amendment, who do not wish to see their Catholic brethren forced to pay for something in direct opposition to their theology. Big government is forcing Catholic individuals, hospitals and businesses to violate their religious obligations.

Read More

“If you’re a conservative woman and believe in small government, then Barack Obama is your candidate because he’s keeping the government out of the decisions that should remain between you and God and you and your own conscience.” Those words are from a new ad from the Obama campaign–really–centered on women’s “rights.” In the ad, several self-described Republican women explain why, for the first time, they’re crossing the aisle to vote for Barack Obama: social issues.

Many of the women in the ad seem to misunderstand what the term “small government” means. Several mention the issue of birth control, now mandated by ObamaCare to be provided to women through their health insurance plans. This is the exact opposite of “small government” in action. The opposition to this provision to ObamaCare isn’t that Republicans or conservatives don’t believe in women taking birth control and wish to prevent them from doing so. Opponents of the provision are believers in the First Amendment, who do not wish to see their Catholic brethren forced to pay for something in direct opposition to their theology. Big government is forcing Catholic individuals, hospitals and businesses to violate their religious obligations.

Another provision hotly opposed by conservatives in the ObamaCare bill is the issue of publicly funded abortions. The CT Mirror reports, “Starting in 2014, all health plans nationwide must cover certain essential health benefits, and each state will determine how far those minimum levels of coverage will go.” Already, some states have determined that abortion is an “essential health benefit” and have included them in the services that Americans will be forced to pay for through their insurance company premiums. Despite the fact that it is almost always an elective procedure (barring the rare times that they are performed to save the life of the mother), it is an incredible overreach of government power to mandate that Americans pay for a procedure that half consider against their beliefs. Nevertheless, these self-described small-government Republican women seem to believe that it is the role of the government to force their fellow Americans pay for their elective procedures, despite any moral or religious objections they might have.

This ad is yet another in a series of attempts from the Obama campaign to attempt to divert attention from the economy and the failed record of this administration on everything it has touched. It’ll be interesting to see if this tactic will succeed in distracting Americans from mounting debt, stalled unemployment, and an Iranian regime bent on nuclear weapons. Somehow, I doubt it.

Read Less

Obama Campaign: Romney’s a “Birther”

Mitt Romney decided to shake up a very slow Friday by cracking a joke about birth certificates on the campaign trail (“joke” is being used in the loosest sense of the word). Within minutes, the Obama campaign hysterically declared that he had fully embraced the birther movement:

“I love being home in this place where Ann and I were raised, where both of us were born,” [Romney] said. “Ann was born at Henry Ford hospital, I was born at Harper hospital. No one has ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised.” …

In a statement responding to Romney’s comments, Obama campaign press secretary Ben LaBolt mentioned Trump and others who have raised the birth certificate issue previously.

“Throughout this campaign, Governor Romney has embraced the most strident voices in his party instead of standing up to them,” LaBolt said. “It’s one thing to give the stage in Tampa to Donald Trump, Sheriff Arpaio, and Kris Kobach. But Governor Romney’s decision to directly enlist himself in the birther movement should give pause to any rational voter across America.”

There’s a long way between telling a stupid joke and “directly enlist[ing] in the birther movement,” a group of fringe crazies who believe Obama is lying about being born in the United States and has carried out an elaborate cover-up. Romney has long denounced the birther conspiracies, and as Politico notes, Arpaio and Trump don’t have speaking slots at the convention. Romney didn’t even mention Obama in his comment.

Read More

Mitt Romney decided to shake up a very slow Friday by cracking a joke about birth certificates on the campaign trail (“joke” is being used in the loosest sense of the word). Within minutes, the Obama campaign hysterically declared that he had fully embraced the birther movement:

“I love being home in this place where Ann and I were raised, where both of us were born,” [Romney] said. “Ann was born at Henry Ford hospital, I was born at Harper hospital. No one has ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised.” …

In a statement responding to Romney’s comments, Obama campaign press secretary Ben LaBolt mentioned Trump and others who have raised the birth certificate issue previously.

“Throughout this campaign, Governor Romney has embraced the most strident voices in his party instead of standing up to them,” LaBolt said. “It’s one thing to give the stage in Tampa to Donald Trump, Sheriff Arpaio, and Kris Kobach. But Governor Romney’s decision to directly enlist himself in the birther movement should give pause to any rational voter across America.”

There’s a long way between telling a stupid joke and “directly enlist[ing] in the birther movement,” a group of fringe crazies who believe Obama is lying about being born in the United States and has carried out an elaborate cover-up. Romney has long denounced the birther conspiracies, and as Politico notes, Arpaio and Trump don’t have speaking slots at the convention. Romney didn’t even mention Obama in his comment.

Not to mention, Obama and his campaign have joked about his birth certificate on numerous occasions, and currently sell overpriced campaign merchandise mocking the conspiracy. “There’s really no way to make the conspiracy about President Obama’s birth certificate completely go away, so we might as well laugh at it,” says the Obama campaign website.

That seems to be what Romney was doing — or at least trying to do. His joke wasn’t very funny, and it probably wasn’t a smart topic to delve into, but it’s a desperate reach for the Obama campaign to claim he’s a birther.

Read Less

MSM’s Selective Interest in Romney’s Youth

Back in May, the Washington Post published a story about a childhood bullying incident allegedly perpetrated by Mitt Romney while he was in high school at a prestigious private school in Michigan. Later, the victim’s sister told ABC News that she had “no knowledge” of the incident in question and his family later went on to release a statement calling the portrayal “factually incorrect.” The victim’s brother tweeted that if he were still alive, his brother would “be furious” about the story. That follow-up, unsurprisingly, didn’t make it outside of the conservative media.

Many liberals defended this attack on Romney’s teenage years claiming that his past actions reflect on the kind of man he is today. These same liberals apparently had no issues with President Obama’s years of drug use (including cocaine), that started in high school and ended in college.

Yesterday, Bloomberg News came out with a profile of Mitt Romney’s early years that will certainly not be reported on quite as breathlessly as the Washington Post‘s hit piece.

Read More

Back in May, the Washington Post published a story about a childhood bullying incident allegedly perpetrated by Mitt Romney while he was in high school at a prestigious private school in Michigan. Later, the victim’s sister told ABC News that she had “no knowledge” of the incident in question and his family later went on to release a statement calling the portrayal “factually incorrect.” The victim’s brother tweeted that if he were still alive, his brother would “be furious” about the story. That follow-up, unsurprisingly, didn’t make it outside of the conservative media.

Many liberals defended this attack on Romney’s teenage years claiming that his past actions reflect on the kind of man he is today. These same liberals apparently had no issues with President Obama’s years of drug use (including cocaine), that started in high school and ended in college.

Yesterday, Bloomberg News came out with a profile of Mitt Romney’s early years that will certainly not be reported on quite as breathlessly as the Washington Post‘s hit piece.

At the age that the president was experimenting with drugs, Mitt Romney was unexpectedly thrust into a significant leadership experience while on his religious mission in France. Bloomberg News explains:

Mitt Romney had about six months left to serve as a Mormon missionary in France when tragedy struck.

The 21-year-old was driving mission leaders to Bordeaux in June, 1968, when a car driven by a Catholic priest who’d been drinking crossed into their lane and smashed head-on into their Citroen DS. The accident killed the Mormon mission president’s wife, who had been seated in the front between her husband and Romney. She was 57.

When Mission President H. Duane Anderson, then 55, took her body back to California for burial, Romney and another recruit jointly managed the church’s France operation of about 200 missionaries for the next seven weeks.

“We were all devastated; she was our mom away from home,” said Byron Hansen, who lived for a period with Romney and the Andersons in the mission home in Paris. “The Mormon church entrusted these two young men with the responsibility of assuming the role and basically running the mission for a two- month period. Mitt was very gung-ho and he kind of cracked the whip on us even more so than had been done previously.”

This tough but effective style of leadership, first exhibited in France, has been described by many who have dealt with Romney in his adult years as well. If liberals in the mainstream media really believed that the actions in someone’s youth shape that person’s adulthood, they would be reporting on this story from Romney’s past as well as digging into the many unknown details from President Obama’s. The fact that the Washington Post started and stopped with the “expose” on Romney’s high school years shows where their agenda truly lies.

Read Less

No Wonder Obama Can’t Move the Needle

John Podhoretz on Fox and Friends this morning noted that the Obama campaign has spent $120 million since June trying to tear down Mitt Romney. But in June, the Real Clear Politics average of polls had Obama ahead by two points and this morning he is ahead by less than 1 percent, not much of a return on his investment.

One reason for his failure to demonize Romney and pull away from him in the polls might be found here (h/t Instapundit). Since the so-called recovery began in June 2009, the median household income has fallen by 4.8 percent. That’s more than it fell during the recession (2.6 percent).

Real median annual household income fell to $53,508 from $54,916 during the 18-month recession from December 2007 to June 2009, according to the firm’s study of income data for the 36-month period ended in June 2012. Incomes kept falling during the 36-month period since then, dropping to $50,964 in June 2012.

Read More

John Podhoretz on Fox and Friends this morning noted that the Obama campaign has spent $120 million since June trying to tear down Mitt Romney. But in June, the Real Clear Politics average of polls had Obama ahead by two points and this morning he is ahead by less than 1 percent, not much of a return on his investment.

One reason for his failure to demonize Romney and pull away from him in the polls might be found here (h/t Instapundit). Since the so-called recovery began in June 2009, the median household income has fallen by 4.8 percent. That’s more than it fell during the recession (2.6 percent).

Real median annual household income fell to $53,508 from $54,916 during the 18-month recession from December 2007 to June 2009, according to the firm’s study of income data for the 36-month period ended in June 2012. Incomes kept falling during the 36-month period since then, dropping to $50,964 in June 2012.

As Gordon Green of Sentier Research, who did the number crunching based on U.S. Census data, put it: “Almost every group is worse off than it was three years ago, and some groups had very large declines in income. We’re in an unprecedented period of economic stagnation.”

It’s tough to get people to vote for a president whose economic policies have produced only “an unprecedented period of economic stagnation.”

 

Read Less

Romney Explains Bain in His Own Words

Mitt Romney opened up with some new details about his Bain Capital career in a Wall Street Journal op-ed today, explaining how the lessons he learned in business help make him ideally suited for the presidency. This new anecdote about his time at Damon Corp., where a manager was engaged in Medicare fraud, is particularly interesting:

Running a business also brings lessons in tackling challenges. I was on the board of a medical diagnostic-laboratory company, Damon, when a competitor announced that it had settled with the government over a charge of fraudulent Medicare billing. I and fellow Damon outside board members joined together and immediately hired an independent law firm to examine Damon’s own practices.

The investigation revealed a need to make some changes, which we did. The company, along with several other clinical-laboratory companies, ended up being fined for billing practices. And a Damon manager who was responsible for the fraud went to jail. The experience taught me that when you see a problem, run toward it or it will only get worse.

That will be my approach to our federal budget problem. I am committed to capping federal spending below 20% of GDP and reducing nondefense discretionary spending by 5%. This will surely result in much wailing and gnashing of teeth in Washington. But a failure of leadership has created our debt crisis, and ducking responsibility will only cripple the economy and smother opportunity for our children and grandchildren.

Read More

Mitt Romney opened up with some new details about his Bain Capital career in a Wall Street Journal op-ed today, explaining how the lessons he learned in business help make him ideally suited for the presidency. This new anecdote about his time at Damon Corp., where a manager was engaged in Medicare fraud, is particularly interesting:

Running a business also brings lessons in tackling challenges. I was on the board of a medical diagnostic-laboratory company, Damon, when a competitor announced that it had settled with the government over a charge of fraudulent Medicare billing. I and fellow Damon outside board members joined together and immediately hired an independent law firm to examine Damon’s own practices.

The investigation revealed a need to make some changes, which we did. The company, along with several other clinical-laboratory companies, ended up being fined for billing practices. And a Damon manager who was responsible for the fraud went to jail. The experience taught me that when you see a problem, run toward it or it will only get worse.

That will be my approach to our federal budget problem. I am committed to capping federal spending below 20% of GDP and reducing nondefense discretionary spending by 5%. This will surely result in much wailing and gnashing of teeth in Washington. But a failure of leadership has created our debt crisis, and ducking responsibility will only cripple the economy and smother opportunity for our children and grandchildren.

As Politico notes, “the involvement of Damon Corp. in Medicare fraud has long been viewed as a target for Romney’s foes,” including Newt Gingrich and public workers unions. Here’s what one AFSCME ad said about Romney in January:

“What kind of businessman is Mitt Romney?” the ad asks. “While Romney was a director of the Damon Corp., the company was defrauding Medicare of millions. Prosecutors called it ‘corporate greed run amok.’ The company was fined $100 million. But Romney himself made a fortune. Corporate greed … Medicare fraud. Sound familiar?”

Politifact reported in January that there has been confusion over what role Romney played in detecting the fraud — according to some reports he’s said he helped uncover it, and according to others he’s said he wasn’t aware of it. Coming out with a clear story and concrete details was a good way for Romney to preempt the Obama campaign attacks that will surely come up soon. It also makes the Damon story less of a “bombshell revelation” when some newspaper inevitably publishes a deep-dive investigation into it in a few weeks.

Read Less

When Israel and the Arab States Agree

The New York Times’s regular feature “Room for Debate” often brings together a fairly diverse and interesting group of commenters on the chosen topic, and today’s is no different. The topic this time is about American support for Israel, and whether that hampers American influence in the Middle East. The debate group features Aaron David Miller, Rashid Khalidi, Daniel Gordis, Daoud Kuttab, and others.

But the strangest part of the debate is not what any of the contributors said, but how the topic is introduced. Here’s the Times’s opening explanation for the debate:

The president of Israel is resisting calls for a unilateral strike against Iran, but it’s just the “unilateral” part that he finds troubling: “It is clear to us that we have to proceed together with America.” Even if this is just posturing, the statement shows one reason the U.S. struggles to make allies in the Arab world: Israelis and Arabs alike assume that the U.S. will take a side in Mideast conflicts, and that the U.S. will side with Israel. Are they right?

In light of the long history of lobbying (and junkets for members of Congress), is support for Israel so entrenched in American politics that the U.S. can no longer exert influence and broker peace?

Read More

The New York Times’s regular feature “Room for Debate” often brings together a fairly diverse and interesting group of commenters on the chosen topic, and today’s is no different. The topic this time is about American support for Israel, and whether that hampers American influence in the Middle East. The debate group features Aaron David Miller, Rashid Khalidi, Daniel Gordis, Daoud Kuttab, and others.

But the strangest part of the debate is not what any of the contributors said, but how the topic is introduced. Here’s the Times’s opening explanation for the debate:

The president of Israel is resisting calls for a unilateral strike against Iran, but it’s just the “unilateral” part that he finds troubling: “It is clear to us that we have to proceed together with America.” Even if this is just posturing, the statement shows one reason the U.S. struggles to make allies in the Arab world: Israelis and Arabs alike assume that the U.S. will take a side in Mideast conflicts, and that the U.S. will side with Israel. Are they right?

In light of the long history of lobbying (and junkets for members of Congress), is support for Israel so entrenched in American politics that the U.S. can no longer exert influence and broker peace?

Using the Iran example to touch off this debate is nonsensical. First of all, including Iran in the “Arab world” usually leads to a misunderstanding of the Islamic Republic, since it is not an Arab state (though that doesn’t mean it has nothing in common with its Arab neighbors). But even more bizarre is the fact that the Times thinks Israel and the Arab states are on opposing sides on the issue. They are not. Last year, as Oren Kessler reported, the WikiLeaks cables proved what anyone with any experience with the region’s politics and history already expected: there was “unanimous” support for taking out Iran’s nuclear facilities. Kessler wrote:

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah urged Washington to “cut off the head of the snake,” and both he and then-Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak described the Islamic Republic as “evil” and untrustworthy.

An Iranian nuclear weapon, Mubarak warned, was liable to set off a region-wide arms race.

“Bomb Iran, or live with an Iranian bomb,” added Zeid Rifai, then president of the Jordanian senate. “Sanctions, carrots, incentives won’t matter.”

In the Persian Gulf, the rulers of Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates were all reportedly in favor of a strike.

So too was the king of Bahrain, where a Sunni elite rules over a large Shi’ite majority and which officials in Iran have described as the country’s “fifteenth province.”

Mubarak may be gone, but there seems to be no other outdated exception to the story. This wasn’t the only such report, however. Saudi Arabia appears to be making preparations for any oil disruption caused by an attack on Iran. That is in their interest whether they support an attack or not, since they would still need to get their product to market safely, but it would also keep the price of their oil from skyrocketing, which dramatically reduces the harm to the West in the event of an attack or disruption.

And as Shai Feldman wrote with regard to the region’s Sunni Arab states, “None of these countries uttered a word when in 2007 Israel destroyed the nuclear reactor of Sunni-Arab Syria.”

So contra the New York Times, the Arab states are not only assuming the U.S. would support Israel on the Iran issue, but hoping and lobbying for such support.

As for the Times’s discredited and debunked suggestion that strong support for Israel works against American diplomacy, I suppose it’s worth repeating that Israel has proven time and again to be far more willing to make sacrifices for the sake of the peace process when U.S. support is strong and “daylight” between the two is minimized. But that’s the obvious part of this that everyone knows. The Iran aspect of the debate introduction, however, shows the Times to be strikingly unaware of what the Arab states actually want from the United States.

Read Less

Anderson Cooper Demolishes DWS Abortion Claim

This hasn’t been the best month for Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Last week, Wolf Blitzer called her out for misleading comments on Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan, and last night Anderson Cooper tore apart her allegations about Mitt Romney’s abortion position (via Allahpundit):

As usual, Wasserman Schultz refused to back down, but since she’s defending a completely indefensible and obviously false claim there’s only so much she can say. When Cooper reads her the Los Angeles Times article that she completely took out of context in a fundraising email, it’s pretty much game over.

Does this mean the Democratic National Committee will stop sending out breathless, over-the-top fundraising emails about how the Romney campaign wants to send women back to the dark ages? Somehow, I doubt it.

This hasn’t been the best month for Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Last week, Wolf Blitzer called her out for misleading comments on Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan, and last night Anderson Cooper tore apart her allegations about Mitt Romney’s abortion position (via Allahpundit):

As usual, Wasserman Schultz refused to back down, but since she’s defending a completely indefensible and obviously false claim there’s only so much she can say. When Cooper reads her the Los Angeles Times article that she completely took out of context in a fundraising email, it’s pretty much game over.

Does this mean the Democratic National Committee will stop sending out breathless, over-the-top fundraising emails about how the Romney campaign wants to send women back to the dark ages? Somehow, I doubt it.

Read Less

A Second Front in Obama’s War on History

Back in May, I wrote about how President Obama had his name dropped into the official White House online biographies of other presidents going back to Calvin Coolidge, to attempt to share credit for their accomplishments. The Heritage Foundation’s Rory Cooper was the first to notice the changes when he saw the administration’s added note to Ronald Reagan’s biography in order to misrepresent Reagan’s tax plan as basically his own, which was quite far from reality.

Then a week ago, Jim Roberts, who works for Heritage and the Wall Street Journal on the jointly produced Index of Economic Freedom, noticed another oddity: the Obama State Department has been removing the comprehensive “background notes” on other countries in favor of brief, far less informative, descriptions of the countries’ relationships with the Obama administration. Roberts, who has worked for the State Department writing background notes in the past, said he was in the process of going through this latest messianic presidential prank-on-history, and has published this morning at the Wall Street Journal what he found.

Read More

Back in May, I wrote about how President Obama had his name dropped into the official White House online biographies of other presidents going back to Calvin Coolidge, to attempt to share credit for their accomplishments. The Heritage Foundation’s Rory Cooper was the first to notice the changes when he saw the administration’s added note to Ronald Reagan’s biography in order to misrepresent Reagan’s tax plan as basically his own, which was quite far from reality.

Then a week ago, Jim Roberts, who works for Heritage and the Wall Street Journal on the jointly produced Index of Economic Freedom, noticed another oddity: the Obama State Department has been removing the comprehensive “background notes” on other countries in favor of brief, far less informative, descriptions of the countries’ relationships with the Obama administration. Roberts, who has worked for the State Department writing background notes in the past, said he was in the process of going through this latest messianic presidential prank-on-history, and has published this morning at the Wall Street Journal what he found.

Here’s one example of the change:

Compare the nearly 1,200-word Fact Sheet published last week by the U.S. Embassy in Brazil with the last Background Note written during the George W. Bush administration. The 4,100-word Bush document was full of information and statistics about Brazil—that it’s a constitutional federal republic, for example, with 196 million people of whom 74% are Roman Catholic, and annual economic output of nearly $2 trillion. The section on U.S.-Brazil relations was 300 words long, or 7% of the total.

By contrast, 70% (or 830 words) of the new Brazil Fact Sheet is dedicated to U.S.-Brazilian relations—and most of that either discusses President Obama directly or in the context of the educational, scientific and cultural programs he launched during a March 2011 visit to the country.

The Bush-era document noted similar joint efforts, but it did so briefly and after offering thousands of words of historical context. (Both the Bush and Obama administrations failed to include information about the costs of these foreign-aid programs to U.S. taxpayers—a bipartisan weakness.)

Roberts writes that the administration’s new “fact sheets” treat left-wing and right-wing governments differently, with left-wing governments more likely to receive effusive praise from The One. Other times the president tries to take credit for the successful policies of others, such as the fact sheet on sub-Saharan African countries noting President Bush’s incredibly successful and lifesaving Pepfar AIDS relief program without actually mentioning that the program predated Obama.

The fact sheet on China removes much of the information on China’s human rights abuses and other problems, and the fact sheet on Pakistan has been reduced to practically a note card’s worth of information, mostly beginning in 2009. Roberts adds:

In simpler times, the hot fires of domestic political polarization were said to stop at the waters’ edge. Americans agreed that it made sense to project a united front abroad, both to our enemies and our friends. The State Department’s stodgy Background Notes were a reflection of that old consensus, in addition to being a valuable source of information to the American public.

Such information shouldn’t be reduced to just another taxpayer-subsidized campaign commercial. But that’s just what the Obama administration is doing.

That gets at the two problems with the change. First, the president is once again erasing history, or at the very least manipulating it, because in the fantasy world he is trying to project he seems far less unimpressive a president. But the larger problem is the president’s erasure of information. In the White House biographies, Obama didn’t actually erase history (though the White House was caught doing so in George W. Bush’s biography, but that obsessive pettiness doesn’t seem to have been applied elsewhere).

But with the removal of the background notes, the president is displaying a shocking lack of interest in the world. He was caught, because others aren’t nearly so dismissive of intellectual pursuit and curiosity about the world as Obama seems to be.

Obama’s lack of knowledge about world affairs has landed him in trouble in the past—glaring mistakes about Middle Eastern history, confusion about Russia and Georgia, offensive mishaps with regard to World War II and European history, etc. But most disappointing is the fact that rather than fill in those gaps in his knowledge, the president would rather pass those gaps along to others who might otherwise be interested educating themselves.

Read Less

Iran Strike Wouldn’t End Sanctions Regime

Among the plethora of arguments made against an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, one of the most bizarre is that the ensuing wave of international sympathy for Iran would destroy the international sanctions regime and allow Iran to race for the bomb unhindered – an argument made by both Israeli and American security experts opposed to a strike.

After all, U.S. President Barack Obama has said repeatedly that preventing a nuclear Iran is “profoundly” in America’s security interest; various other world leaders have also said a nuclear Iran threatens their own security. So why would all of them suddenly decide that a nuclear Iran no longer threatens their countries’ interests just because Israel launched an attack? And unless they changed their minds in this fashion, why would any of them suddenly stop trying to prevent Iran from going nuclear? Normal countries don’t stop pursuing their own security interests merely because they are annoyed with another country.

Read More

Among the plethora of arguments made against an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, one of the most bizarre is that the ensuing wave of international sympathy for Iran would destroy the international sanctions regime and allow Iran to race for the bomb unhindered – an argument made by both Israeli and American security experts opposed to a strike.

After all, U.S. President Barack Obama has said repeatedly that preventing a nuclear Iran is “profoundly” in America’s security interest; various other world leaders have also said a nuclear Iran threatens their own security. So why would all of them suddenly decide that a nuclear Iran no longer threatens their countries’ interests just because Israel launched an attack? And unless they changed their minds in this fashion, why would any of them suddenly stop trying to prevent Iran from going nuclear? Normal countries don’t stop pursuing their own security interests merely because they are annoyed with another country.

In fact, there’s only one conceivable reason why any country currently backing the sanctions regime should reverse its position following an Israeli strike: If it never actually cared about preventing a nuclear Iran in the first place, and backed sanctions only in an effort to prevent an Israeli attack.

It’s certainly possible that many countries fall into this category. But if so, that’s an argument in favor of an Israeli strike – because if world leaders aren’t actually committed to stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, there’s no chance the sanctions regime will be maintained long enough and strictly enough to do so.

Indeed, the opposite is the case: If the world’s only interest in sanctions is preventing Israeli military action against Iran, those sanctions are sure to be eased once Iran has entered the “zone of immunity,” meaning its nuclear facilities are sufficiently protected that Israel no longer has the ability even to significantly delay its quest for the bomb. After all, most of the countries now participating in sanctions, especially in Europe, conducted a thriving trade with Iran until recently, and reviving that trade would benefit their own faltering economies. Thus the incentive to lift the sanctions would be overwhelming once the danger of an Israeli attack had passed.

In short, if other countries don’t truly believe it’s in their own interest to keep Iran from going nuclear, the sanctions effort will soon lapse regardless of whether or not Israel attacks – meaning Israel’s best play is to attack now and achieve whatever delay it can. That, as I’ve written before, isn’t an ideal solution, but it’s better than the certainty of Iran getting the bomb: Just as Israel’s 1981 attack on Iraq’s nuclear reactor bought just enough time for Saddam Hussein to provoke international intervention by invading Kuwait, an attack on Iran now could buy time for, say, a successful Iranian revolution, or an Iranian blunder (like closing the Straits of Hormuz) that would provoke international military action.

And if other countries do believe that preventing a nuclear Iran is in their own interests, they’ll continue working toward that end regardless of whether or not Israel attacks.

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.