Commentary Magazine


Posts For: October 1, 2012

Aid to Egypt Makes Sense

I can see why some influential Republicans on Capitol Hill would be reluctant to support the administration’s request to provide $450 million in emergency aid to Egypt. The recent mob attack on our embassy in Cairo, and President Mohammad Morsi’s slowness in condemning the attack, are hardly an advertisement for the new regime. But ask yourself this: Is Egypt likely to produce more or fewer terrorists if its economy collapses?

The question answers itself, and to the extent that an emergency infusion of cash from the U.S. and IMF can tide over the Egyptian economy for a while, it is likely to promote stability and deter the potential radicalization of Egyptian youth. It may even buy time for the new Muslim Brotherhood government to implement some of the free-market reforms it promised during the campaign, if it is so inclined and if it can overcome intense internal resistance from many sectors including the army. Conversely if the Egyptian debt crisis blows up, a la Greece or Iceland, the results are likely to be much more serious than in those countries, given the number of Salafist radicals already present in Egypt and given Egypt’s important strategic position as the largest Arab state.

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I can see why some influential Republicans on Capitol Hill would be reluctant to support the administration’s request to provide $450 million in emergency aid to Egypt. The recent mob attack on our embassy in Cairo, and President Mohammad Morsi’s slowness in condemning the attack, are hardly an advertisement for the new regime. But ask yourself this: Is Egypt likely to produce more or fewer terrorists if its economy collapses?

The question answers itself, and to the extent that an emergency infusion of cash from the U.S. and IMF can tide over the Egyptian economy for a while, it is likely to promote stability and deter the potential radicalization of Egyptian youth. It may even buy time for the new Muslim Brotherhood government to implement some of the free-market reforms it promised during the campaign, if it is so inclined and if it can overcome intense internal resistance from many sectors including the army. Conversely if the Egyptian debt crisis blows up, a la Greece or Iceland, the results are likely to be much more serious than in those countries, given the number of Salafist radicals already present in Egypt and given Egypt’s important strategic position as the largest Arab state.

Foreign aid is intensely unpopular among American voters and it has often backfired and failed to produce growth, as Governor Romney noted in a recent speech. But in this case the U.S. aid is not designed to promote long-term growth; it is designed to tide Egypt over to prevent an immediate crisis. And extending more aid to Egypt actually enhances our leverage over the new government—something that President Obama was able to take advantage of after the embassy attack to tough talk with Morsi, forcing Egypt’s president to strongly condemn the anti-American violence and to order a more vigilant role by the security forces in protecting the American diplomatic outpost.

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A No-Fly Zone Could End Syria Stalemate

Last week, Michael Doran of the Brookings Institution and I had an op-ed in the New York Times arguing for a greater level of American involvement in Syria. Among the steps we advocated was putting an initial focus on helping the rebels to take Aleppo, the country’s second-largest city and commercial hub.

Today you can read in the Weekly Standard a first-hand report on how the battle of Aleppo is progressing by Jonathan Spyer, a Jerusalem Post columnist. Spyer, who recently visited the area, confirms the extent to which Assad has lost control of the land between Aleppo and the Turkish border:


I entered Aleppo governorate in broad daylight, crossing through an olive grove on the Turkish border. Once over, I was picked up by a driver affiliated with the Free Syrian Army, and we continued on our peaceful way, taking the highway to the warzone of Aleppo city. The Assad regime no longer exists as a functioning presence in the surrounding countryside. The FSA, in its various local manifestations and with its various political allies, has the final word.

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Last week, Michael Doran of the Brookings Institution and I had an op-ed in the New York Times arguing for a greater level of American involvement in Syria. Among the steps we advocated was putting an initial focus on helping the rebels to take Aleppo, the country’s second-largest city and commercial hub.

Today you can read in the Weekly Standard a first-hand report on how the battle of Aleppo is progressing by Jonathan Spyer, a Jerusalem Post columnist. Spyer, who recently visited the area, confirms the extent to which Assad has lost control of the land between Aleppo and the Turkish border:


I entered Aleppo governorate in broad daylight, crossing through an olive grove on the Turkish border. Once over, I was picked up by a driver affiliated with the Free Syrian Army, and we continued on our peaceful way, taking the highway to the warzone of Aleppo city. The Assad regime no longer exists as a functioning presence in the surrounding countryside. The FSA, in its various local manifestations and with its various political allies, has the final word.

However, Assad retains an ace card—his air force. Spyer goes on to note:

The relative tranquility in the villages between the border and Aleppo city is deceptive, however. Assad’s power is not manifested in the few remaining points on the ground he controls but in his near-complete mastery of the air. This enables the dictator to maintain a reign of terror even over areas physically held by his opponents, as we would discover.

That is why Doran and I argued for the U.S. and its allies to impose a no-fly zone, thus taking away from Assad the major advantage he continues to hold—and without running the risk of providing to the rebels sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles that could fall into the wrong hands. As Spyer notes, the battle of Aleppo is currently a stalemate but the U.S. could break that stalemate easily—and help to bring about Assad’s downfall.

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Whence Sacrifice?

“We live in a sacrifice-free bubble of volitional delusion.” If Mitt Romney put his private fundraising speeches through a syllable-multiplying machine he might come up with something like that—generalizing, demonizing, and dismissive of entitlement-happy American moochers. And liberal columnists would mug him for it.

But in fact a liberal columnist wrote it. The line appeared in Frank Bruni’s Sunday New York Times column about the lost American virtue of sacrifice. “It’s odd,” writes Bruni. “We revere the Americans who lived through World War II and call them the ‘greatest generation’ precisely because of the sacrifices they made. But we seem more than content to let that brand of greatness pass us by.”

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“We live in a sacrifice-free bubble of volitional delusion.” If Mitt Romney put his private fundraising speeches through a syllable-multiplying machine he might come up with something like that—generalizing, demonizing, and dismissive of entitlement-happy American moochers. And liberal columnists would mug him for it.

But in fact a liberal columnist wrote it. The line appeared in Frank Bruni’s Sunday New York Times column about the lost American virtue of sacrifice. “It’s odd,” writes Bruni. “We revere the Americans who lived through World War II and call them the ‘greatest generation’ precisely because of the sacrifices they made. But we seem more than content to let that brand of greatness pass us by.”

Indeed we do. And he certainly tells conservatives nothing new when he writes: “The size of the federal debt and the pace of its growth can’t be ignored.” And those of us who’ve long been dismayed by the Obama administration’s use of class warfare can only agree with Bruni’s contention that “[t]hese days sacrifice is what you recommend for others, not what you volunteer for yourself.”

But there is an extraordinary absence in Bruni’s discussion: the word “culture” appears nowhere. The column redefines sacrifice as a government ask, and not a personal or cultural virtue at all. For Bruni, sacrifice is to be reclaimed with an eleventh hour pronouncement from the president to render unto Caesar. Government will tell us to part with what is ours so that it can get America’s house in order. Simple as that. He wants Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to talk seriously about American sacrifice in the upcoming debates so that Americans will in turn think seriously about it themselves.

There is a great and growing divide between what our political reality demands and what our culture now produces, and Bruni gets nowhere near it. Sacrifice is vanishing because the cultural institutions that promote or sanctify it—family, faith, and patriotism—are on the wane. “In 1960, two-thirds (68%) of all [American] twenty-somethings were married,” a 2010 Pew study found. “In 2008, just 26% were.” And in 2011, American births fell to a 12-year low. To previous generations the demands of family meant a life defined by self-denial, delayed gratification, and the giving of one’s time, energy, and money. Is a 42 percent drop in those who claim such an existence supposed to have no effect on the quality of our national character?  Can this be fixed with a White House call to duty?

To the snickering celebration of progressives, religious belief is tumbling in America as well.  Particularly among the so-called “millennial” generation. Among Americans 30 and younger, belief in God has fallen 15 percentage points in the last five years. With that belief  goes the divine endorsement of selflessness, charity, and sacrifice. Indeed, the simultaneous rise in youth devotion to the Occupy movement offers a beautiful illustration of a generation’s transition out of an institution of sacrifice and into a sub-culture of entitlement. Frank Bruni should try interrupting an anti-banking drum-circle chant to tell Occupiers they need to sacrifice more because Obama says so.

And of course there’s the fading belief in American exceptionalism, today considered by progressives to be a kind of imperialist thought crime. Last November, Pew found that 49 percent of Americans agree with the statement, “Our people are not perfect, but our culture is superior to others,” while 46 percent of Americans disagreed. (In 2007, 55 percent said American culture was superior; in 2002, it was 60 percent).  Why make sacrifices for a country that’s no better than any other on the planet?

It makes sense that Bruni avoids discussing the cultural underpinnings of our increasingly selfish citizenry. As Yuval Levin discusses in a brilliant essay in the current issue of the Weekly Standard, “the progressive view of government has long involved the effort to shrink and clear the space between the individual and the state.” Culture, in the progressive view, should collapse itself to make room for increased government as needed. It is not surprising then that Bruni not only looks to the president to simply decree a renewed sense of sacrifice but that he also considers the end of military conscription as a possible culprit for sacrifice’s waning.

The challenge of course goes beyond the nature of our government. One can rail against the entitlement policies of Barack Obama and others but in a sense those policies are a form of accommodation with a culture that’s turning away from the non-governmental institutions that promote personal responsibility, charity, and sacrifice. Frank Bruni finds it “odd” that we’re giving up on a virtue we praise only because he pays no attention to how that virtue was instilled and passed on. He quotes a string of presidents who spoke of American sacrifice in this or that light, as if “sacrifice” is an incantation or logic command to be programmed into our political life when desperately needed.  It is not. Sacrifice, rather, is the personal and cultural reality of people who’ve toiled in hopes of seeing its delayed rewards—for themselves or for others. A sense of sacrifice is what generations of Americans found in the institutions that they built and maintained specifically because they expected neither moral nor material elevation from their government.

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OMB: We’ll Reimburse Employers for WARN Act Fallout

The Office of Management and Budget is now promising to compensate defense contractors for any legal penalties that would stem from violating the WARN Act, a federal law that requires employers to warn employees at least 60 days in advance of mass layoffs. The Obama administration had already been urging contractors to ignore the WARN Act in the case of the looming sequestration cuts, since the 60-day-minimum would mean hundreds of thousands of employees could get notices of pending layoffs just days before the presidential election.

But it’s one thing for the Obama administration to tell contractors that they shouldn’t worry about the law. It’s quite another to promise that the cost of any resulting lawsuits will be covered by the government (read: the taxpayers):

But the Friday guidance from the Office of Management and Budget raised the stakes in the dispute, telling contractors that they would be compensated for legal costs if layoffs occur due to contract cancellations under sequestration — but only if the contractors follow the Labor guidance.

The guidance said that if plant closings or mass layoffs occur under sequestration, then “employee compensation costs for [Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification] WARN act liability as determined by a court” would be paid for covered by the contracting federal agency.

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The Office of Management and Budget is now promising to compensate defense contractors for any legal penalties that would stem from violating the WARN Act, a federal law that requires employers to warn employees at least 60 days in advance of mass layoffs. The Obama administration had already been urging contractors to ignore the WARN Act in the case of the looming sequestration cuts, since the 60-day-minimum would mean hundreds of thousands of employees could get notices of pending layoffs just days before the presidential election.

But it’s one thing for the Obama administration to tell contractors that they shouldn’t worry about the law. It’s quite another to promise that the cost of any resulting lawsuits will be covered by the government (read: the taxpayers):

But the Friday guidance from the Office of Management and Budget raised the stakes in the dispute, telling contractors that they would be compensated for legal costs if layoffs occur due to contract cancellations under sequestration — but only if the contractors follow the Labor guidance.

The guidance said that if plant closings or mass layoffs occur under sequestration, then “employee compensation costs for [Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification] WARN act liability as determined by a court” would be paid for covered by the contracting federal agency.

There’s also a catch: employers have to agree to play by the “Department of Labor’s guidance” if they want any potential legal costs covered. The DOL’s guidance asks them not to send out layoff notices before the election.

That seems to have satisfied defense contractors. Today, Lockheed Martin announced it would not issue layoff notices in advance of the sequestration cuts. Where is the campaign media on this? The Obama administration just told defense contractors that taxpayers would pay for any legal penalties for not complying with a law that would have complicated Obama’s reelection campaign. Does that not warrant some scrutiny, or do we need a billionth article on Romney’s “47 percent gaffe” instead?

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Why Is Benghazi Still Being Treated as a Law Enforcement Issue?

It’s been over 20 days since the attack in Libya, and while the Obama administration has finally acknowledged that it was an act of terrorism, it’s still being handled as a law enforcement issue. Reports indicate that the FBI still hasn’t been able to get into Benghazi to investigate, due to security concerns — concerns that are apparently very new, since the consulate was not heavily secured before the attack.

Sen. Bob Corker sent a letter to the administration yesterday, demanding to know when and why the security situation became so perilous in Benghazi that even the FBI could not get to the city:

As of this morning, reports indicate that our well-trained FBI agents still have not been able to get into Benghazi to investigate. Yet just 18 days ago the administration apparently judged that it was appropriate for our consulate to be lightly guarded and it was safe for our ambassador to come through the city with a small security detail. What has changed in Libya in such a short time that even FBI agents, our most elite investigative personnel, cannot safely enter the city?

What has led to such a precipitous decline?

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It’s been over 20 days since the attack in Libya, and while the Obama administration has finally acknowledged that it was an act of terrorism, it’s still being handled as a law enforcement issue. Reports indicate that the FBI still hasn’t been able to get into Benghazi to investigate, due to security concerns — concerns that are apparently very new, since the consulate was not heavily secured before the attack.

Sen. Bob Corker sent a letter to the administration yesterday, demanding to know when and why the security situation became so perilous in Benghazi that even the FBI could not get to the city:

As of this morning, reports indicate that our well-trained FBI agents still have not been able to get into Benghazi to investigate. Yet just 18 days ago the administration apparently judged that it was appropriate for our consulate to be lightly guarded and it was safe for our ambassador to come through the city with a small security detail. What has changed in Libya in such a short time that even FBI agents, our most elite investigative personnel, cannot safely enter the city?

What has led to such a precipitous decline?

Good question. Nobody expected the FBI to be there the next day. But why is it taking weeks to set up a secure area for investigators to operate from?

The FBI has offices in war zones. For years agents have worked alongside combat troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Bureau has an International Fusion Cell, staffed with well-trained agents who have deployed multiple times. And yet Benghazi is too dangerous?

If that’s the case, why is the Obama administration still treating this as a law enforcement issue? Reports indicate the attack was carried out by an al Qaeda-affiliated group, which should give Obama the power to respond with military force under the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Terrorists.

By the time the Bureau gets to Benghazi, what exactly will agents be able to do? By all accounts, the crime scene has already been picked over. CNN reporters made it to the consulate before the FBI. This is, frankly, an embarrassment.

The United States is the greatest superpower in the world. Twenty days after a terrorist attack, we’re still waiting for enough security so that the FBI — the best of the best — is safe enough to enter Benghazi and sift through the charred remains of our consulate. Four Americans were murdered, and the terrorists who killed them are still walking around as free men. Where is the urgency?

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Turkey’s Ruling Party Celebrates Hamas

This weekend saw the convention of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), Turkey’s ruling Islamist party. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that he would remain active in politics until 2023, thereby confirming his role as the Turkish equivalent of Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

The AKP’s convention played host to a number of foreign officials, including the leader of Hamas:

Among the many high-profile leaders from around the world, Khaled Meshaal, the head of the Hamas movement, was by far the most popular foreign guest for the thousands of supporters of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) who gathered for the party’s convention in Ankara yesterday. In his opening remarks, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan introduced all foreign dignitaries attending the convention one by one. The biggest applause from the AKP supporters present came for Meshaal, prompting him to stand up and greet the audience. While Meshaal was greeting the audience, slogans such as “Damn Israel” echoed around the convention hall.

That President Obama describes Erdoğan as one of his closest foreign friends is scandalous. Erdoğan has transformed Turkey from an aspiring democracy to a country which ranks below even Russia in terms of basic freedoms. And it has transformed Turkey from a country fighting terrorism to, in effect, a country cheerleading terrorists.

This weekend saw the convention of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), Turkey’s ruling Islamist party. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that he would remain active in politics until 2023, thereby confirming his role as the Turkish equivalent of Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

The AKP’s convention played host to a number of foreign officials, including the leader of Hamas:

Among the many high-profile leaders from around the world, Khaled Meshaal, the head of the Hamas movement, was by far the most popular foreign guest for the thousands of supporters of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) who gathered for the party’s convention in Ankara yesterday. In his opening remarks, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan introduced all foreign dignitaries attending the convention one by one. The biggest applause from the AKP supporters present came for Meshaal, prompting him to stand up and greet the audience. While Meshaal was greeting the audience, slogans such as “Damn Israel” echoed around the convention hall.

That President Obama describes Erdoğan as one of his closest foreign friends is scandalous. Erdoğan has transformed Turkey from an aspiring democracy to a country which ranks below even Russia in terms of basic freedoms. And it has transformed Turkey from a country fighting terrorism to, in effect, a country cheerleading terrorists.

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Cuba Anxiously Eyes Venezuelan Election

Over the last week, indications have emerged from Venezuela that the fourteen year rule of President Hugo Chavez may be coming to an end this Sunday, when voters will choose between El Comandante and his dynamic opposition rival, Henrique Capriles. There are the polls from local companies like Datanalisis and Consultores 21 which show that Capriles has slashed Chavez’s lead, and may even be edging ahead. There is the large pool of “undecided” voters—anywhere between 10 and 20 percent—who will probably vote for Capriles, but are too afraid to let a pollster know. And there was the opposition rally in Caracas yesterday which drew tens of thousands onto the streets of the capital, all chanting “You See It! You Feel It! President Capriles!”

Perhaps the most striking suggestion that change is in the air came from a group of Cuban doctors who were sent to Venezuela under the Misión Barrio Adentro, a Chavez-financed social welfare program whose core purpose is to lock up the votes of poorer Venezuelans for the current regime. Back in 2006, the George W. Bush administration, having registered the large number of Cuban medical personnel working on such solidarity missions in countries like Venezuela, created the Cuban Medical Professional Parole program to assist those wishing to defect. Now, the Venezuelan newspaper El Universal reports (English translation here) that the Cubans are deserting their posts at a rate of 80 per month, in large part because they anticipate a Capriles victory in Sunday’s election.

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Over the last week, indications have emerged from Venezuela that the fourteen year rule of President Hugo Chavez may be coming to an end this Sunday, when voters will choose between El Comandante and his dynamic opposition rival, Henrique Capriles. There are the polls from local companies like Datanalisis and Consultores 21 which show that Capriles has slashed Chavez’s lead, and may even be edging ahead. There is the large pool of “undecided” voters—anywhere between 10 and 20 percent—who will probably vote for Capriles, but are too afraid to let a pollster know. And there was the opposition rally in Caracas yesterday which drew tens of thousands onto the streets of the capital, all chanting “You See It! You Feel It! President Capriles!”

Perhaps the most striking suggestion that change is in the air came from a group of Cuban doctors who were sent to Venezuela under the Misión Barrio Adentro, a Chavez-financed social welfare program whose core purpose is to lock up the votes of poorer Venezuelans for the current regime. Back in 2006, the George W. Bush administration, having registered the large number of Cuban medical personnel working on such solidarity missions in countries like Venezuela, created the Cuban Medical Professional Parole program to assist those wishing to defect. Now, the Venezuelan newspaper El Universal reports (English translation here) that the Cubans are deserting their posts at a rate of 80 per month, in large part because they anticipate a Capriles victory in Sunday’s election.

“Many see that things are not going well and have brought forward their decision to desert because they think the defeat of Chávez is imminent,” Yumar Gomez, a doctor who found his way to Miami, told El Universal. “And let me tell you… many don’t want to go back to Cuba.” Delia Garcia, a Cuban nurse, added: “Our leaders tell us that Chávez is not certain for October and say that the rate of desertions is now accelerating. That’s why I’m leaving. If there isn’t going to be any more misión in Venezuela, where will they send us then? To Burundi?”

The revelation that Havana’s communist rulers aren’t betting on a Chavez victory is another welcome boost for the Capriles campaign. After all, Chavez has never looked as vulnerable as he does now. His grandiose public works schemes are coming undone through the incompetence and corruption that inevitably accompanies the stuffing of political appointees into state-owned companies. For example, FONDEN, a Chavez-controlled fund that has spent $100 billion of Venezuelan oil revenue over the last seven years while bypassing the approval of the country’s congress, has come under fire for a range of misdemeanours, from abandoned building projects to the purchase of Russian fighter jets. And after a series of devastating fires and explosions at various oil installations, including one at the Amuay refinery in August in which more than 40 people were killed, it is hard to find a single Venezuelan who retains faith in PDVSA, the national oil company milked as a cash cow by Chavez.

As talk of an opposition victory on Sunday gathers pace, so does speculation that Chavez will consult the playbook of his close friend, the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and manipulate the election, perhaps by intimidating voters in areas that lean towards Capriles, or even by stealing it outright. Last week, the Spanish newspaper ABC claimed that Chavez has been readying revolutionary militias, modeled on the feared Basij units in Iran, for mobilization in the event that he is defeated.

Still, as Diego Arria, the former Venezuelan Ambassador to the UN and a leading opposition figure, pointed out in a recent interview with New York’s WABC radio, such action is unlikely to be successful without the backing of the Venezuelan armed forces. And so far, Venezuela’s military commanders, mindful that Chavez may shortly succumb to the cancer eating away at him, have stated that they will respect the choice of the voters.

Is the Chavez era coming to an end? One would be foolhardy to make that exact prediction, but even so, the signs all point to the Comandante emerging from Sunday’s election chastened, and the opposition further empowered.

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Romney Campaign Finally Pivoting to Foreign Policy?

The Romney campaign has been oddly mute on the questions surrounding the Benghazi attacks, giving the political media yet another excuse to ignore the story altogether. But now that the Obama administration’s narrative on Libya has collapsed and the drumbeat of questions has started getting louder, the Romney campaign seems finally to be picking up the issue. The candidate penned an op-ed on Middle East policy for the Wall Street Journal today, and his campaign is slamming the White House over its conflicting story on Libya:

Ryan Williams, Romney campaign spokesman, said in a statement: “The Obama White House and the Obama campaign can’t seem to get their stories straight on the attack on our consulate in Libya. This morning, they offered conflicting stories on if and when the President thought the attack in Benghazi was a terrorist act.”

“These inconsistencies raise even more questions about the confusion and mixed messages that have marked the White House’s response from the very beginning,” Williams added.

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The Romney campaign has been oddly mute on the questions surrounding the Benghazi attacks, giving the political media yet another excuse to ignore the story altogether. But now that the Obama administration’s narrative on Libya has collapsed and the drumbeat of questions has started getting louder, the Romney campaign seems finally to be picking up the issue. The candidate penned an op-ed on Middle East policy for the Wall Street Journal today, and his campaign is slamming the White House over its conflicting story on Libya:

Ryan Williams, Romney campaign spokesman, said in a statement: “The Obama White House and the Obama campaign can’t seem to get their stories straight on the attack on our consulate in Libya. This morning, they offered conflicting stories on if and when the President thought the attack in Benghazi was a terrorist act.”

“These inconsistencies raise even more questions about the confusion and mixed messages that have marked the White House’s response from the very beginning,” Williams added.

Could this be the issue that reenergizes and refocuses the Romney campaign? A Bloomberg opinion poll out late last week found that Romney has pulled ahead of President Obama on the question of which candidate would be tougher on terrorism. As Foreign Policy reports, this has been an issue Obama led consistently on up until the terrorist attack in Benghazi:

The foreign-policy results of the new Bloomberg National Poll haven’t gotten much attention yet, but the survey contains some bad news for the Obama campaign. According to the poll, Mitt Romney has a 48-42 advantage over Barack Obama on the question of which candidate would be tougher on terrorism. Romney, in other words, has encroached on one of Obama’s signature strengths.

What makes this result so surprising is that the president has consistently trounced Romney when it comes to counterterrorism.

Obviously the economy is the overriding concern among voters, but foreign policy issues still register. A new Foreign Policy Initiative poll found that terrorism remains a major concern for Americans, despite the killing of Osama bin Laden:

A majority of Americans (61.2%) do not think that the threat of “additional terrorism on American soil” has decreased since September 11, 2001, with 44.0 percent of respondents saying that threat actually has increased and 17.2 percent saying the threat has stayed constant.  The level of concern about future terrorist attacks against America appears to vary along partisan lines.  Whereas 55.7 percent of self-identified Republicans and 43.0 percent of self-identified Independents say the threat of foreign terrorism within the United States has increased, only 33.3 percent of self-identified Democrats share that view.

Romney has an opening here, and it looks like he may finally be seizing it.

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The Times Chimes in on Debates

Well, pardon me for repeating myself, but we’ve just been treated to another sure sign that the Obama media cult is the littlest bit worried about Wednesday’s debate.  This time it’s in the form of a “Political Memo”  in the New York Times from CNBC Chief Washington Correspondent John Harwood.

Mr. Harwood’s memo, “Debates Can Shift a Race’s Outcome, but It’s Not Easy,” takes a different tack from Gwen Ifill’s debates-don’t-really-matter op-ed in yesterday’s Washington Post.

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Well, pardon me for repeating myself, but we’ve just been treated to another sure sign that the Obama media cult is the littlest bit worried about Wednesday’s debate.  This time it’s in the form of a “Political Memo”  in the New York Times from CNBC Chief Washington Correspondent John Harwood.

Mr. Harwood’s memo, “Debates Can Shift a Race’s Outcome, but It’s Not Easy,” takes a different tack from Gwen Ifill’s debates-don’t-really-matter op-ed in yesterday’s Washington Post.

Al Gore, for example, lost his debates with George W. Bush because of some “minor factual inaccuracies,” “poor makeup that gave [Gore] an orange tint” and (special note to Mr. Obama) a “condescending, impatient demeanor.”

Read the whole thing to get the full treatment, but suffice it to say that Mr. Harwood concludes by reminding us about the Walter Mondale-Ronald Reagan debates in 1984. Mr. Reagan did poorly in the first but wiped the floor with Mr. Mondale in the second. “’I said to myself, this is probably over now,’ Mr. Mondale said. He ultimately carried one state, his native Minnesota.”  “These debates are the one chance to change how they look at him, and how they look at Obama,” Mr. Mondale is quoted as saying. And, finally, “The lesson of his own experience? ‘That’s a high hill to climb.’”

I, for one, look forward to seeing the post-debate spin.

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