Commentary Magazine


Posts For: October 3, 2012

Romney Debates His Way Back Into Race

Coming into tonight’s first presidential debate, the polls and most of the mainstream media were all agreed on the fact that President Obama was coasting to a win in November. But after more than 90 minutes on the stage in Denver, there was little doubt the campaign had changed. After months of gaffes, ineffective strategies and relentless pounding from Democrats, Romney had debated his way back into the race.

Despite being allowed four less minutes than Obama, Romney used his time to score point after point on the economy, entitlements and ObamaCare. The challenger looked confident, sure of his facts and able to connect with the viewers. By contrast, the president looked angry and offended most of the night, almost as if he regarded the need to defend his policies was beneath his dignity. The result was a lopsided debate that provided Romney with his finest moment of his long slog toward the presidency, while Obama suddenly looks very beatable.

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Coming into tonight’s first presidential debate, the polls and most of the mainstream media were all agreed on the fact that President Obama was coasting to a win in November. But after more than 90 minutes on the stage in Denver, there was little doubt the campaign had changed. After months of gaffes, ineffective strategies and relentless pounding from Democrats, Romney had debated his way back into the race.

Despite being allowed four less minutes than Obama, Romney used his time to score point after point on the economy, entitlements and ObamaCare. The challenger looked confident, sure of his facts and able to connect with the viewers. By contrast, the president looked angry and offended most of the night, almost as if he regarded the need to defend his policies was beneath his dignity. The result was a lopsided debate that provided Romney with his finest moment of his long slog toward the presidency, while Obama suddenly looks very beatable.

Democrats grasping at straws may contend that while Obama lost, there were no game-changing moments in the debate that will transform the race. But Romney’s use of the key phrase “trickle down government” to describe Obama’s approach to the economy was telling. So, too, was the spectacle of Obama smirking and refusing to look at the challenger. It not only conjured up memories of Al Gore’s telling sighs while George W. Bush spoke, it also gave the public an excellent idea of his arrogance. After four years of not being asked tough questions by an accommodating mainstream media, being confronted by someone who refused to take him at face value looked like it shocked and dismayed him.

Romney was the focused CEO presenting a coherent plan for his approach to government while reminding us of Obama’s failures. Obama was long-winded and rambled on almost every issue. He seemed flat and unprepared, lacking clear ideas about the economy other than his desire to tax the rich. Romney tied everything to his desire to create jobs and acted as if he knew the issues better than the supposedly brilliant president. Confronted with an Obama riposte about cutting education spending and oil company subsidies, Romney executed a neat slam-dunk by pointing out the vast sums the president had wasted on green energy boondoggles for Democratic donors.

One telling point was that President Obama’s presentation omitted the vicious personal attacks on Romney that have been the keynote of his entire campaign. But face to face with the former Massachusetts governor, he seemed to lack the will to use these attacks and it showed that without the smears, he hasn’t all that much to say about his opponent. That’s a crucial flaw, since the president doesn’t have much of a record to run on, as even he seemed to admit himself in his downbeat closing statements. But absent mention of the 47 percent gaffe or smears about Romney killing babies or throwing grandma over the cliff, Obama has nothing.

It should be stipulated that one debate doesn’t decide an election. Obama’s advantages with the media and his historic status as the first African-American president are still crucial. And it’s likely he’ll do better in subsequent debates. But a time when many were counting Romney out, he didn’t just win the debate but may have also debunked the notion that he couldn’t win the election. We’ll have to see how much of a bounce the Republican gets in the polls this week. It will also be interesting to see whether on the heels of this terrible night, the next monthly jobs report has a bigger impact on public opinion on the race than the September report.

But no matter what lies ahead, Romney has energized his base (conservatives will ignore the fact that he moved to the center on taxes because he gives them hope about victory in November), discouraged Democrats and showed for the first time in months that Barack Obama has feet of clay. This election is up for grabs.

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The Presidential Debate

The COMMENTARY staff is live-tweeeting the presidential debate tonight. But come back throughout the evening as we add blog items as the evening progresses.

The COMMENTARY staff is live-tweeeting the presidential debate tonight. But come back throughout the evening as we add blog items as the evening progresses.

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Fetishizing Holocaust Tattoos

The gradual disappearance of Holocaust survivors has long been viewed with worry by those tasked with ensuring that the world never forgets the crimes of the Nazis and their collaborators. The passage of time means that the most able advocates of remembrance will soon be but a memory themselves. Fear that their experiences would be forgotten have fueled the proliferation of Holocaust museums and memorials, as well as praiseworthy efforts to create libraries of survivor testimony that will all remain once they are gone. But for some that is not enough.

For some grandchildren of survivors and others who care about the subject, that has led to a bizarre fad in which they have taken to having the numbers that the Nazis branded on the survivors tattooed on their own arms. As a New York Times feature published on Monday shows, this phenomenon has grown from isolated instances to what must considered a trend with large numbers of youths in Israel. While the motives behind this seem pure, one cannot help but wonder at anyone embracing a practice whose purpose was to dehumanize captive Jews. While survivors who lived long enough eventually saw that most considered those numbers to be a badge of honor rather than a mark of shame, the act of fetishizing this evidence of the Nazis’ crimes seems like something that says more about the current generation than it does about the experience of the survivors.

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The gradual disappearance of Holocaust survivors has long been viewed with worry by those tasked with ensuring that the world never forgets the crimes of the Nazis and their collaborators. The passage of time means that the most able advocates of remembrance will soon be but a memory themselves. Fear that their experiences would be forgotten have fueled the proliferation of Holocaust museums and memorials, as well as praiseworthy efforts to create libraries of survivor testimony that will all remain once they are gone. But for some that is not enough.

For some grandchildren of survivors and others who care about the subject, that has led to a bizarre fad in which they have taken to having the numbers that the Nazis branded on the survivors tattooed on their own arms. As a New York Times feature published on Monday shows, this phenomenon has grown from isolated instances to what must considered a trend with large numbers of youths in Israel. While the motives behind this seem pure, one cannot help but wonder at anyone embracing a practice whose purpose was to dehumanize captive Jews. While survivors who lived long enough eventually saw that most considered those numbers to be a badge of honor rather than a mark of shame, the act of fetishizing this evidence of the Nazis’ crimes seems like something that says more about the current generation than it does about the experience of the survivors.

It is true that in the past insults directed at Jews have become symbols that transcended their original intent. Secret practitioners of Judaism in Catholic Spain were taunted as “Marranos” — a word that meant “pigs” but history has accepted the label as a mark of heroism. Yet while tattoos are — for reasons that completely escape me — all the rage in 2012, this is a very different sort of thing than a mere word.

For those grounded in traditional Judaism, the idea of using tattoos to memorialize the Shoah is intrinsically abhorrent since Jewish religious law forbids the practice under any circumstances. While not all the victims were religious any more than all the survivors and their descendants are, there is something profoundly distasteful about adopting a practice that was, in part, a Nazi effort to outrage Jewish sensibilities as well as to dehumanize the victims by replacing their name with a number.

But even if we were to somehow ignore this rather important point which is mentioned only in passing in the Times article, let’s understand that the tattoo craze seems like an effort to personalize an experience that can never truly belong to the person copying a survivor’s numbers.

Advocates for the practice will say that those who are appalled by this don’t understand today’s youth who see nothing wrong with tattoos and relate better to such individual gestures than more amorphous concepts. That may be so. A number on an arm may have a deep personal meaning for individuals, but turning oneself into a living Holocaust memorial via a tattoo is to merely become, as some of those interviewed for the Times story seemed to want, a conversation piece.

It might be admitted, as historian Michael Berenbaum told the Times, that a Holocaust number is preferable to some of the other things people pay to have drawn on their skin these days. But no one should be under the illusion that a tattoo can properly memorialize the six million slain in the Shoah or those who emerged from it.

The most important challenge for Jews today is to reconnect with Judaism, Jewish peoplehood and to act to protect the living Jewish state that is the best guarantee that the Holocaust will never happen again. That requires joint action that seems the antithesis of elevating a tattooed number inspired by Nazi dehumanization into a conversation starter.

It needs to be restated that the only proper memorial to the victims is a living breathing Jewish people determined to survive and thrive in a world still filled with anti-Semites who might like to emulate Hitler. Drawing a number on your skin may have meaning to individuals (or, as in one case, serve as a reminder to a young man to call his grandfather) but Jewish identity can’t be rooted in a vain attempt to relive a tragic past. Judaism is an affirmation of life not death. Seen in that light, the attempt by some secular Jews to grab onto a symbol of the slaughter as a way to connect with the past seems more like a futile provocation than a method of perpetuating the memory of this great tragedy.

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Obama’s the Real Teflon President

Many conservatives are boiling mad about the emergence of a videotape of a 2007 speech given by President Obama at Hampton University. In it, the president — then just a senator from Illinois running for the White House — engages in some disgraceful racial incitement. He claimed the Bush administration deliberately shortchanged Hurricane Katrina victims because of racism. He also lavishly praised Rev. Jeremiah Wright and said he was a mentor. For many Obama critics, this is one more smoking gun proving the president is every bit the radical who is comfortable lying about race and extolling those, like Wright, who hate America and promote conspiracy theories. Tucker Carlson, whose Daily Caller broke the story of the tape, is right to term Obama a shameless demagogue for having the gall to say that Republicans didn’t care as much about poor black hurricane survivors as they did about the families of the 9/11 victims.

But as bad as it is, anyone who thinks the tape will change any votes next month is dreaming. Candidates for president may be judged on their backgrounds but sitting presidents are judged on their records. Nor can we entirely blame the fact that this story got buried by the press. It is true, as Politico notes in a feature about the video, that the liberal mainstream media did not make a big deal about the remarks when they were reported early in 2008 much as they failed to hold Obama accountable for another statement made that year in which he derided Americans for “clinging to guns and religion.” But let’s also understand that the problem goes deeper than just the press.

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Many conservatives are boiling mad about the emergence of a videotape of a 2007 speech given by President Obama at Hampton University. In it, the president — then just a senator from Illinois running for the White House — engages in some disgraceful racial incitement. He claimed the Bush administration deliberately shortchanged Hurricane Katrina victims because of racism. He also lavishly praised Rev. Jeremiah Wright and said he was a mentor. For many Obama critics, this is one more smoking gun proving the president is every bit the radical who is comfortable lying about race and extolling those, like Wright, who hate America and promote conspiracy theories. Tucker Carlson, whose Daily Caller broke the story of the tape, is right to term Obama a shameless demagogue for having the gall to say that Republicans didn’t care as much about poor black hurricane survivors as they did about the families of the 9/11 victims.

But as bad as it is, anyone who thinks the tape will change any votes next month is dreaming. Candidates for president may be judged on their backgrounds but sitting presidents are judged on their records. Nor can we entirely blame the fact that this story got buried by the press. It is true, as Politico notes in a feature about the video, that the liberal mainstream media did not make a big deal about the remarks when they were reported early in 2008 much as they failed to hold Obama accountable for another statement made that year in which he derided Americans for “clinging to guns and religion.” But let’s also understand that the problem goes deeper than just the press.

In 2008, Americans eager to believe in a post-racial, post-partisan African-American candidate for president filtered out any evidence that contradicted their desire for “hope and change.” In 2012, many appear ready to do the same thing when it comes to ignoring the reality of the president’s failed record on the economy and foreign policy. Much of the press may be in the tank for Obama, but the half of the electorate that may vote for him join them there. It’s time to face up to the fact that Obama, not Ronald Reagan, is the real Teflon president.

What conservatives have always failed to understand about Obama is that the rules that constrain other politicians do not apply to him. This speech should have been damning evidence of Obama being more fit to serve as Al Sharpton’s sidekick than the presidency. But though the mainstream media reported the story, other than conservatives who were already against him few cared about it because it contradicted their desire to view the future president as someone who was above such behavior.

The Obama they wanted to believe in was the man who made a speech in Philadelphia in the spring of 2008 that was treated as the best speech given in Pennsylvania since Abraham Lincoln began an address with the words, “Four score and seven years ago.” In that one, Obama carefully distanced himself from the same man that he embraced as a hero only a few months before because he had become a liability. In that speech to a racially mixed audience at the Constitution Center, Obama not only eschewed the “black dialect” he affected at Hampton (and which Joe Biden would use four years later when he told another black audience in Virginia that Mitt Romney would “put y’all back in chains”) but put forward an argument asking us all to rise above racial divisions. It was a clever piece of rhetorical ju-jitsu and worked like a charm, even if it was patently insincere.

The point here is that none of this was a secret when Obama gave his Philadelphia speech. Those who wanted to know about his radical connections and to draw the dots between Wright and people like former terrorist Bill Ayers and Obama’s future policies had the evidence to do so. The problem is liberals and many independents wanted so badly to believe in him that they simply ignored anything that didn’t fit the story they wanted to hear or exposed his hypocrisy.

It’s not only too late now for this video to change the country’s opinion of a man for whom they’ve been playing “Hail to the Chief” for the last four years. It was probably too late even in the spring and summer of 2008 to convince those who were already beguiled by the notion of Obama’s messianic appeal.

Republicans are befuddled by a president who leads in the polls despite giving himself an “incomplete” on a failed economy. But Obama is impervious to the truth about his past racial incitement for the same reason a majority may not wish to hold him accountable for his mismanagement of the economy. Those who will ignore both do so not just because they still blame President Bush for the economy but because they think the first African American president deserves re-election no matter what he has done in office.

That leaves Mitt Romney with a still viable but extremely narrow path to the presidency. This is yet another reminder that Republicans need to forget about old tapes that won’t influence the small group of undecided voters and concentrate on economic arguments that can flip them back to the GOP.

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Brown-Warren “Civility” and the Law of Unintended Consequences

In February, Lindsay Mark Lewis, a former Democratic National Committee finance director, wrote a heavy-hearted piece for the New York Times. Lewis wrote that he has always supported campaign finance reform, but something funny had recently happened. The Law of Unintended Consequences, that bane of liberal social engineers and red tape wielding bureaucrats, had hit Lewis–and hard. One of the effects of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform legislation was that it didn’t take money out of politics after all; it merely redirected money to less accountable groups like 527s and super PACs. Wrote a defeated Lewis:

Nevertheless, I’ve decided that the best way forward may be to go in the opposite direction: repeal what’s left of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, commonly known as McCain-Feingold, which severely limits the amount of money the parties can collect for their candidates.

Well what do you know–the cure was worse than the disease. So much worse, in fact, that the country’s biggest boosters of that cure were turning against it, ruing the day they went after the First Amendment with malice aforethought. Something similar, but slightly less ironic, is now taking place in Massachusetts between Senator Scott Brown and his liberal challenger, Elizabeth Warren. To great fanfare—OK, modest fanfare—Brown and Warren signed a pledge that would effectively ban third-party groups from the race. When Brown announced the deal to Fox News in January, the station’s website reported it this way:

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In February, Lindsay Mark Lewis, a former Democratic National Committee finance director, wrote a heavy-hearted piece for the New York Times. Lewis wrote that he has always supported campaign finance reform, but something funny had recently happened. The Law of Unintended Consequences, that bane of liberal social engineers and red tape wielding bureaucrats, had hit Lewis–and hard. One of the effects of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform legislation was that it didn’t take money out of politics after all; it merely redirected money to less accountable groups like 527s and super PACs. Wrote a defeated Lewis:

Nevertheless, I’ve decided that the best way forward may be to go in the opposite direction: repeal what’s left of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, commonly known as McCain-Feingold, which severely limits the amount of money the parties can collect for their candidates.

Well what do you know–the cure was worse than the disease. So much worse, in fact, that the country’s biggest boosters of that cure were turning against it, ruing the day they went after the First Amendment with malice aforethought. Something similar, but slightly less ironic, is now taking place in Massachusetts between Senator Scott Brown and his liberal challenger, Elizabeth Warren. To great fanfare—OK, modest fanfare—Brown and Warren signed a pledge that would effectively ban third-party groups from the race. When Brown announced the deal to Fox News in January, the station’s website reported it this way:

The Senate race in Massachusetts is going for the civility vote as Republican Sen. Scott Brown and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren have agreed — under threat of financial penalty to themselves — to ban third party ads from their race.

Ah, civility at last. There was just simply no way this could end up having the opposite effect, right? Yet today, Rosie Gray reports from Lowell, Massachusetts:

The poison that runs through this state’s Senate race seemed to spill over into the traffic Tuesday night: Everyone was paralyzed, furious, and headed to the same place, the University of Massachusetts-Lowell’s Tsongas Center.

Everyone sounds really angry and on-edge. What happened? Gray explains:

The Massachusetts Senate Campaign, between a moderate Republican and a liberal hero, began with a pledge that was meant to keep things clean. The campaigns promised not to let outside groups run radio and television advertisements on their behalves. That agreement appears to have accomplished roughly the opposite of its goal: Now, instead of letting outsiders do the dirty work for them, Warren and Brown have had to do it themselves. And a race that was always going to be tough has reached an unusual depth of personal nastiness[.]

So it didn’t take the negativity out of the election, it simply caused the candidates to stoop to the levels of incivility previously only occupied by third parties—“an unusual depth of personal nastiness,” in Gray’s telling. As Gray describes it, the fact that the candidates themselves are behaving this way has set the tone for everyone involved, so even the debate audience seemed on the edge of a brawl.

Of course, they didn’t mean for this to happen. They just signed legally binding agreements to curtail free political speech, and somehow it didn’t work out. They had good intentions—and paved the road to Lowell with them.

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Graham, McCain: No Compensation for WARN Act Violations

Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain are pushing back against the Obama administration’s promise to compensate contractors for legal fallout from WARN Act violations, a law requiring large companies to provide 60-day minimum notice of potential layoffs. As I wrote yesterday, the administration has urged contractors in advance of the Jan. 2 sequestration not to issue WARN notices, which would otherwise be sent just days before the presidential election. After contractors expressed concern about potential lawsuits, the OMB released a directive offering to pay for resulting legal penalties in certain situations.

Graham vowed that congress would block any attempt to reimburse contractors for WARN Act legal fallout in an interview with NRO’s Charles C.W. Cooke today:

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Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain are pushing back against the Obama administration’s promise to compensate contractors for legal fallout from WARN Act violations, a law requiring large companies to provide 60-day minimum notice of potential layoffs. As I wrote yesterday, the administration has urged contractors in advance of the Jan. 2 sequestration not to issue WARN notices, which would otherwise be sent just days before the presidential election. After contractors expressed concern about potential lawsuits, the OMB released a directive offering to pay for resulting legal penalties in certain situations.

Graham vowed that congress would block any attempt to reimburse contractors for WARN Act legal fallout in an interview with NRO’s Charles C.W. Cooke today:

What we have here, I suggested, is the government instructing people to violate the law, and offering to mitigate the consequences. “Yes,” Graham agreed. “It’s crazy legal analysis. We are in danger of being no longer a rule of law nation. It’s a mini-coup.” I asked how this compared to June’s unilateral imposition of the DREAM Act? “This takes the DREAM Act instinct to a new level,” the senator told me. “That was a bastardization of the law — interpreting the law outside of its intent — but this is more dangerous as it ignores what the statute actually says.”

So, what can be done? “Lockheed Martin will give into the administration and ignore the law at their peril,” Graham warned. I asked what happens if the president attempts to reimburse them? “If he tries to go through Congress, well, that’ll never happen.” And if he tries to reallocate funds? “We would shut that down. The Constitution has a balance of powers for a reason. Congressional law cannot be unilaterally discarded by the executive branch.”

Sen. McCain took a similar position, saying that he “intends to deny” any effort to compensate contractors for lawsuits.

Lockheed Martin announced earlier this week that it won’t issue the 60-day notices, and it sounds like that’s what has Graham seething in the interview. What I don’t understand is why a contractor would want to get on Graham’s (or McCain’s) bad side on this very issue. These are two of the people leading the fight to save the defense industry.

Saving defense is what the whole WARN Act debate comes down to. Of course, there are legitimate concerns that employees could be laid off without proper notice if sequestration kicks in — but the possibility of that happening is small. Obama knows Republicans will do anything in their power to protect national defense, and he knows if he wins reelection he’ll be able to use that as leverage to crack the GOP on tax hikes. Hence, the Republican focus on the WARN Act. They view it as the only leverage they have to force a fair deal out of the Democrats before the election. The Obama administration appears to have neutralized that problem by offering taxpayer-funded reimbursement to contractors in the event of lawsuits. So unless companies like Lockheed Martin reconsider, Republicans have lost a major bargaining chip to achieve a pre-election deal.

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Don’t Underestimate Iranian Tyrants

As Michael Rubin noted yesterday, the unrest in Iran yesterday shows that the people of that country are not so foolish as to believe their troubles are the result of anything but the Islamist regime’s economic mismanagement. The turmoil in Tehran reinforces their dissatisfaction with Iran’s plight under the rule of the mullahs and front men like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But the latest clashes in Tehran as security forces sought to break up black market moneychangers must also not be interpreted as a sign that the fall of the regime is imminent.

Sanctions have caused a good deal of pain for the Iranian people, but as was demonstrated clearly in 2009, the Islamist government has no compunction about the use of force to protect their survival. This is a lesson that those who have been predicting the collapse of the government in Syria haven’t learned despite the demonstrated resiliency of that Iranian ally over the last year and a half. But while it is principally the Syrian people who have suffered because of the false Western belief that Bashar Assad would quickly fall without any help from the outside world, Western complacency about the future of Iran will have terrible consequences for the entire region as well as the security of the rest of the world.

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As Michael Rubin noted yesterday, the unrest in Iran yesterday shows that the people of that country are not so foolish as to believe their troubles are the result of anything but the Islamist regime’s economic mismanagement. The turmoil in Tehran reinforces their dissatisfaction with Iran’s plight under the rule of the mullahs and front men like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But the latest clashes in Tehran as security forces sought to break up black market moneychangers must also not be interpreted as a sign that the fall of the regime is imminent.

Sanctions have caused a good deal of pain for the Iranian people, but as was demonstrated clearly in 2009, the Islamist government has no compunction about the use of force to protect their survival. This is a lesson that those who have been predicting the collapse of the government in Syria haven’t learned despite the demonstrated resiliency of that Iranian ally over the last year and a half. But while it is principally the Syrian people who have suffered because of the false Western belief that Bashar Assad would quickly fall without any help from the outside world, Western complacency about the future of Iran will have terrible consequences for the entire region as well as the security of the rest of the world.

It needs to be reiterated that it is an iron rule of history that tyrants fall only when they lose their will to shed blood, not when the rest of the world says so. The mere fact of opposition in the streets of Tehran is no more of an indicator that the end of the Islamist nightmare is near than it was in the summer of 2009, when a stolen presidential election set off an even greater response than the collapse of the rial.

Even the willingness of some to take up arms against the regime, as is the case in Syria, is not a guarantee of change, so long as the government retains the loyalty of the armed forces and security apparatus and is able to fight back. Even as much of the Arab world abandoned Assad, something that happened in no small part because of his alliance with Iran, his army’s ability to hold Damascus and its willingness to kill as many people as necessary in order to assure their own survival as well as that of the dictator has been enough to hold the rebels at bay.

If a shaky government like that of Syria, whose power base is a minority group, can persist, how much more solid is that of its Iranian ally, which can still count on the backing of the religious establishment as well as the military.

There are things that can be done to heighten the Islamists’ problems in Iran. Sanctions must be increased and more stringently enforced. After all, though ordinary Iranians are suffering, the amount of oil income flowing into the country is still enough to support the needs of the government, the military and the nuclear program.

Just as important would be the demonstration of Western resolve that has been lacking in recent years. In 2009, President Obama’s relative silence about the violence in Tehran discouraged protesters and assured the ayatollahs that they had nothing to fear from the United States. That set the stage for the last three years of failed diplomacy because Iran’s leaders have never believed that the president meant what he said about preventing them from going nuclear.

If Washington continues to soft pedal its Iran policy and places its hopes on domestic unrest producing a change in policy, the only result will be to perpetuate the current stalemate. Like Assad, the ayatollahs have no plans to give up power.

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Admin Had a Dozen Reports Linking Attack to AQ “Within Hours”

We already heard that the Obama administration had intercepts linking one of the suspected leaders of the Benghazi attack to al-Qaeda on day one, but the extent of the intelligence wasn’t clear. Now Reuters adds another piece to the puzzle, reporting that the Obama administration received about a dozen intelligence reports tying the attack to AQ “within hours”:

Within hours of last month’s attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, President Barack Obama’s administration received about a dozen intelligence reports suggesting militants connected to al Qaeda were involved, three government sources said.

Despite these reports, in public statements and private meetings, top U.S. officials spent nearly two weeks highlighting intelligence suggesting that the attacks were spontaneous protests against an anti-Muslim film, while playing down the involvement of organized militant groups.

It was not until last Friday that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s office issued an unusual public statement, which described how the picture that intelligence agencies presented to U.S. policymakers had “evolved” into an acknowledgement that the attacks were “deliberate and organized” and “carried out by extremists.”

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We already heard that the Obama administration had intercepts linking one of the suspected leaders of the Benghazi attack to al-Qaeda on day one, but the extent of the intelligence wasn’t clear. Now Reuters adds another piece to the puzzle, reporting that the Obama administration received about a dozen intelligence reports tying the attack to AQ “within hours”:

Within hours of last month’s attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, President Barack Obama’s administration received about a dozen intelligence reports suggesting militants connected to al Qaeda were involved, three government sources said.

Despite these reports, in public statements and private meetings, top U.S. officials spent nearly two weeks highlighting intelligence suggesting that the attacks were spontaneous protests against an anti-Muslim film, while playing down the involvement of organized militant groups.

It was not until last Friday that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s office issued an unusual public statement, which described how the picture that intelligence agencies presented to U.S. policymakers had “evolved” into an acknowledgement that the attacks were “deliberate and organized” and “carried out by extremists.”

No wonder Clapper didn’t put his own name on last week’s statement, letting his press guy take the hit instead. A dozen intelligence reports pointing to al-Qaeda within 24 hours of the attack is not a narrative that “evolved.” If the administration didn’t want to get into the details of the attack until more information came in, that would have been understandable. But that’s different from them spending nearly two weeks blaming the attack on a protest over an anti-Islam video that they knew didn’t cause it.

It also raises another issue. If the administration had a dozen immediate reports of al-Qaeda involvement, then obviously the scapegoats in the intelligence community were not responsible for the changing narrative. Did the White House put pressure on intelligence officials to provide knowingly false conclusions to Congress and the public in the days following the attack? And what exactly would the implications of that be?

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U.S. Support for Iran Strike Rises as MSM Influence Recedes

The relentlessly negative coverage of Israel in the Western press over the last few years has centered on the flawed assumption that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been on the verge of ordering a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, any day now, since the moment he took office three years ago. This has resulted in coverage of Israel and Israeli politics that is utterly divorced from reality.

Reporters credulously published rumors, seemingly completely unaware they were being spun by those trying to shape public policy, and opinion writers sounded the alarm. This created the effect of the media—not Netanyahu—swearing war was imminent and then attacking Netanyahu for the impending doom they insisted was coming. All the while Netanyahu did what he has been doing all along: concentrating on sanctions. The Obama administration continued to act as the primary obstacle to tough sanctions—first delaying them, then watering them down over Congress’s objections, then handing out exemptions like candy—making a military strike more likely by not fully utilizing other means to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. In the last two weeks, two media events have displayed what should represent—one can only hope—the bottoming out of the coverage before it bounces back up closer to reality.

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The relentlessly negative coverage of Israel in the Western press over the last few years has centered on the flawed assumption that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been on the verge of ordering a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, any day now, since the moment he took office three years ago. This has resulted in coverage of Israel and Israeli politics that is utterly divorced from reality.

Reporters credulously published rumors, seemingly completely unaware they were being spun by those trying to shape public policy, and opinion writers sounded the alarm. This created the effect of the media—not Netanyahu—swearing war was imminent and then attacking Netanyahu for the impending doom they insisted was coming. All the while Netanyahu did what he has been doing all along: concentrating on sanctions. The Obama administration continued to act as the primary obstacle to tough sanctions—first delaying them, then watering them down over Congress’s objections, then handing out exemptions like candy—making a military strike more likely by not fully utilizing other means to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. In the last two weeks, two media events have displayed what should represent—one can only hope—the bottoming out of the coverage before it bounces back up closer to reality.

The first was the publication in Foreign Affairs of a particularly insidious accusation against Netanyahu and Israel: the claim by Michael Desch that “Netanyahu is trying to commit the United States to fighting a preventive war on Israel’s behalf.” The second was when Netanyahu held up a picture of a bomb at his UN General Assembly speech and the media lost its collective mind, with liberal opinion writers so distressed by the fact that the bomb was drawn in anachronistic style that they were left mumbling incoherently to themselves about children’s cartoons. That latter story faded quickly when Netanyahu’s picture soon accompanied the front-page story of nearly every major news service, and Buzzfeed patiently explained to the outraged writers how modern media works, revealing that the joke was on them.

But the former story is a pernicious belief in the theory of the shadowy “Israel Lobby” willing to sacrifice American lives for Israel’s security. On that front, we received some good news yesterday when the results of the most recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll were released, showing that Americans do not buy into the idea that the budding Iranian nuclear weapons program is a threat only to Israel and that Israel is on its own. The poll asked the following question: “If Iran continues with its nuclear research and is close to developing a nuclear weapon, do you believe that the United States should or should not initiate military action to destroy Iran’s ability to make nuclear weapons?” A majority of 58 percent said the United States should initiate military action to stop Iran’s nuclear program, with 33 percent opposed. As the following chart accompanying the poll shows, those numbers are a high and low respectively on this question since 2006:

Leftist journalists may mock Netanyahu’s sometimes simplistic visual devices, but no one has worked harder over the last fifteen years to raise the issue of Iran’s nuclear program in the West and keep it on the press’s radar screen. Netanyahu has also been the most consistent proponent of sanctions—not military action—to stop the program. Yet the media has largely missed that story while beating the drums of war. On that note, we have seen in the last two weeks another story crop up: that Netanyahu has suddenly decided to support sanctions. As Jonathan noted, both Haaretz and the New York Times made this mistake, and the Times does so again in today’s paper.

Netanyahu will be visiting European capitals to push for more sanctions, and the media thinks his dedication to sanctions is new. It’s not. Netanyahu has always preferred a diplomatic solution to the Iranian threat; he believes, however, that a credible threat of force will boost the diplomatic strategy, and that if all else fails, no option should be taken off the table to stop Iran. President Obama has said the same thing. As such, it’s a bit disconcerting to watch the media argue that Netanyahu and Obama are on the same page in terms of strategy and toughness on Iran, but also that Obama is patient and careful while Netanyahu is supposedly an out-of-control warmonger for agreeing with the Wise Man of Peace Obama.

That cognitive dissonance is largely the product of reporters allowing their personal preferences and emotions to dictate the tone of their reporting. Sometimes this results in embarrassing Twitter tantrums, such as the one during the UNGA. Most of the time, however, it manifests in lousy reporting that bounces off the walls of the media’s echo chamber. In the age of new and alternative media, it seems, the American public has become increasingly inured to such histrionics and able, as the WSJ/NBC poll shows, to see things as they are.

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Romney Has No Time for Surrogates

As anyone who has ever seen Mitt and Ann Romney up close can attest, there’s little doubt that the would-be first lady seems to be more of a political natural than her husband. While the Republican presidential candidate can seem awkward at times even in small groups, his spouse has the ease and grace of a seasoned professional. So it’s little wonder that not only is Mrs. Romney a popular GOP attraction on the stump, but that the media has begun to focus not only on what she is saying but also her role in her husband’s campaign. Both the New York Times and Politico ran features about her today in which her fierce defense of Mitt’s attitude toward women, as well as his campaign strategies, are examined. If the stories are to be believed, Mrs. Romney’s position is that her husband should be left alone to be who he is and that Republicans should be spending more time talking about his virtues rather than carping about tactical mistakes.

She’s probably right, but the arguments about how best to portray the candidate go to the heart of the problem. Mrs. Romney is quoted as admitting that her husband isn’t very good at telling people stories about himself, especially the really flattering ones about his compassion for others. But that’s not something that his wife, or anyone else for that matter, can do for him. In the end, voters are looking to evaluate Romney, and not a surrogate’s version of him. That’s why tonight’s debate, when he will finally be alone on the stage with the president, is so important.

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As anyone who has ever seen Mitt and Ann Romney up close can attest, there’s little doubt that the would-be first lady seems to be more of a political natural than her husband. While the Republican presidential candidate can seem awkward at times even in small groups, his spouse has the ease and grace of a seasoned professional. So it’s little wonder that not only is Mrs. Romney a popular GOP attraction on the stump, but that the media has begun to focus not only on what she is saying but also her role in her husband’s campaign. Both the New York Times and Politico ran features about her today in which her fierce defense of Mitt’s attitude toward women, as well as his campaign strategies, are examined. If the stories are to be believed, Mrs. Romney’s position is that her husband should be left alone to be who he is and that Republicans should be spending more time talking about his virtues rather than carping about tactical mistakes.

She’s probably right, but the arguments about how best to portray the candidate go to the heart of the problem. Mrs. Romney is quoted as admitting that her husband isn’t very good at telling people stories about himself, especially the really flattering ones about his compassion for others. But that’s not something that his wife, or anyone else for that matter, can do for him. In the end, voters are looking to evaluate Romney, and not a surrogate’s version of him. That’s why tonight’s debate, when he will finally be alone on the stage with the president, is so important.

Though mainstream media outlets are attempting to feast on inside information about his campaign that seems like a teaser for a future “Game Change” style expose of the GOP effort, the backbiting about letting Mitt be Mitt or whether Ann is protecting him too much against those trying to turn the campaign around is irrelevant. So, too, is the debate expectation game that both Republicans and Democrats have been playing in which they seek to inflate their opponent’s standing while deprecating their own man’s likelihood to emerge the victor in Denver.

The point isn’t whether Romney wins or loses, since both sides are sure to claim victory no matter what happens. The chances that the president’s media cheering section will ever admit he was bested, even if he clearly was, are nil. But what can happen tonight is for the American people to see Romney at his best, quoting facts and figures and demonstrating his complete grasp of many complex issues while also being able to destroy his opponent’s arguments. That’s the Romney we saw in some, though not all of his debates with his Republican rivals last winter. That Romney didn’t need his wife to explain him to the public or to defend his campaign strategies. With less than five weeks to go before Election Day, there is simply no more time left for surrogates and strategies to either help or transform Romney’s candidacy. He must either demonstrate his ability to go toe-to-toe with Barack Obama or start thinking about going home.

While Ann Romney is an able surrogate, a sure sign that Romney has gotten back on the right track after tonight will be if we see fewer of these stories about her and whether she is a positive or negative influence in his Boston headquarters. Though she may be a positive influence for him and his party, only Mitt Romney can affect the momentum swing he needs to win in November.

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National Journal Poll: Obama, Romney Tied Heading into Debate

The last National Journal poll two weeks ago showed Obama leading by seven points, so this dead-heat seems to mark a significant shift:

Obama and Romney each pulled in 47 percent support in the poll among likely voters. It is among the narrowest margins of several presidential surveys published ahead of the debate this week. Other polls have shown the president with a slim lead. In this survey, while the race is tied among likely voters, Obama has a 5-point lead, 49 percent to 44 percent, among registered voters.

The survey was conducted Sept. 27-30 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

Romney led in the poll among independents, 49 percent to 41 percent, with both candidates winning more than 90 percent support from their respective parties. The survey had Obama winning 81 percent of the nonwhite vote and Romney carrying 55 percent of white voters.

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The last National Journal poll two weeks ago showed Obama leading by seven points, so this dead-heat seems to mark a significant shift:

Obama and Romney each pulled in 47 percent support in the poll among likely voters. It is among the narrowest margins of several presidential surveys published ahead of the debate this week. Other polls have shown the president with a slim lead. In this survey, while the race is tied among likely voters, Obama has a 5-point lead, 49 percent to 44 percent, among registered voters.

The survey was conducted Sept. 27-30 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

Romney led in the poll among independents, 49 percent to 41 percent, with both candidates winning more than 90 percent support from their respective parties. The survey had Obama winning 81 percent of the nonwhite vote and Romney carrying 55 percent of white voters.

Is a trend in the works? It may be too early to say, but the WSJ/NBC News poll also shows slightly improved numbers for Romney (he’s down three points, as opposed to five points mid-September), and Gallup has encouraging news for the Romney campaign’s economic message in its latest poll:

Romney also fares better than Obama when Americans are asked to say whether the economy will be better or worse in four years if each is elected. Overall, 50% say the economy will be better if Romney is elected and 35% worse, for a net score of +15. Obama’s net score on the same question is +8, with 48% predicting the economy would be better in four years if he is re-elected and 40% saying it will be worse.

Romney also fares better than Obama when Americans are asked to say whether the economy will be better or worse in four years if each is elected. Overall, 50% say the economy will be better if Romney is elected and 35% worse, for a net score of +15. Obama’s net score on the same question is +8, with 48% predicting the economy would be better in four years if he is re-elected and 40% saying it will be worse.

Despite snap-predictions from so-called expert pundits, this race certainly didn’t end in September. Obama’s post-convention bounce is flattening out, and his alarming response to the terrorist attack in Libya appears to be eroding his lead on foreign policy. The WSJ/NBC News poll shows Obama leading Romney by six points on that issue (46 percent to 40 percent), as opposed to the 15-point advantage he had in July (47 percent to 32 percent).

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The Georgian Election and Democracy

The electoral defeat of the ruling party of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili — which helped usher in Georgia’s Rose Revolution — is being greeted with mixed feelings from democracy promoters. On one hand, the free and fair election and Saakashvili’s concession were a remarkable success in a region that’s known for its rigged votes. On the other hand, the party that won the parliamentary elections, and gets to choose a new prime minister and cabinet, is run by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, a man who supporters of Saakashvili and others worry is a cutout for Russia.

Whether or not that’s true remains to be seen. Ivanishvili made his billions in Russian state-owned industries, and was recently able to sell off these assets at a fair rate, something that just doesn’t happen without the green light from Russian President Vladimir Putin. As James Kirchick explains at the Wall Street Journal:

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The electoral defeat of the ruling party of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili — which helped usher in Georgia’s Rose Revolution — is being greeted with mixed feelings from democracy promoters. On one hand, the free and fair election and Saakashvili’s concession were a remarkable success in a region that’s known for its rigged votes. On the other hand, the party that won the parliamentary elections, and gets to choose a new prime minister and cabinet, is run by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, a man who supporters of Saakashvili and others worry is a cutout for Russia.

Whether or not that’s true remains to be seen. Ivanishvili made his billions in Russian state-owned industries, and was recently able to sell off these assets at a fair rate, something that just doesn’t happen without the green light from Russian President Vladimir Putin. As James Kirchick explains at the Wall Street Journal:

Announcing entry into Georgian politics last year, Mr. Ivanishvili promised to sell off his assets in Russia. He began selling to Russian state-owned concerns and other Kremlin-friendly businessmen, an option not afforded to oligarchs (such as Alexander Lebedev) who have run afoul of the Kremlin. One doesn’t become a billionaire in Russia in the 1990s, maintain that wealth and sell those assets at a fair price without the approval of President Vladimir Putin.

What’s clear is that Ivanishvili has pushed for much more favorable relations with Russian than Saakashvili, an arch adversary of Putin’s. And Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s enthusiastic response to Ivanishvili’s party’s victory certainly raises red flags:

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev yesterday said the opposition’s victory showed a desire for change and offered a chance for dialog with Georgia.

“We can only welcome this as it likely means that there will be more constructive and responsible forces in parliament,” Medvedev told reporters in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, the Russian region neighboring Georgia.

The Russian Foreign Ministry today said Saakashvili’s defeat may allow the Black Sea nation to bring about the “normalization” of ties with its neighbors and to establish “constructive and respectful relations.”

It’s reasonable to be concerned about Ivanishvili’s victory, but it’s also too early to say that Georgia’s democratic reforms will be rolled back or that it will devolve into a Russian satellite. While Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream party will now choose a prime minister and cabinet, Saakashvili will still hold the presidency until the 2013 elections. It will be important to watch how the current transition takes place, who the Georgian Dream party elevates to key roles, what policies they pursue in office, and how the relationship with Russia changes. Saakashvili has set a critical example in the region for how a democratic leader acts, and Ivanishvili’s party should be expected to follow that lead.

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NYT Iran “Analysis” Ignores History

I am trying, and failing, to follow the logic of this “news analysis” (read: editorial) by New York Times reporter William Broad in the Sunday paper. In it, he argues, citing “a surprising number of scholars and military and arms-control experts” (six by my count), that “a strike could actually lead to Iran’s speeding up its efforts, ensuring the realization of a bomb and hastening its arrival.” Therefore, he suggests, an Israeli or American attack on Iran would result in the very thing we most want to avoid: a nuclear Iran.

But wait: Is there any reason to think that, absent a strike, Iran won’t get nuclear weapons anyway? In fact, all the evidence suggests that, despite all of the international opprobrium and sanctions Iran has suffered, it remains hell-bent on acquiring a nuclear weapon and could well be past the point of no return by next spring. Is Broad actually arguing that Iran will get a nuke sooner if the U.S. or Israeli attack its nuclear installations? That seems unlikely. While experts debate how long a strike will set back the Iranian program, I have never heard anyone suggest that air strikes would have no effect at all on Iran’s ability to manufacture nukes.

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I am trying, and failing, to follow the logic of this “news analysis” (read: editorial) by New York Times reporter William Broad in the Sunday paper. In it, he argues, citing “a surprising number of scholars and military and arms-control experts” (six by my count), that “a strike could actually lead to Iran’s speeding up its efforts, ensuring the realization of a bomb and hastening its arrival.” Therefore, he suggests, an Israeli or American attack on Iran would result in the very thing we most want to avoid: a nuclear Iran.

But wait: Is there any reason to think that, absent a strike, Iran won’t get nuclear weapons anyway? In fact, all the evidence suggests that, despite all of the international opprobrium and sanctions Iran has suffered, it remains hell-bent on acquiring a nuclear weapon and could well be past the point of no return by next spring. Is Broad actually arguing that Iran will get a nuke sooner if the U.S. or Israeli attack its nuclear installations? That seems unlikely. While experts debate how long a strike will set back the Iranian program, I have never heard anyone suggest that air strikes would have no effect at all on Iran’s ability to manufacture nukes.

Not even Broad makes such an indefensible claim, although that would have to be the case for the logic of his article to hold together. The most he can say with any degree of plausibility is that, in the wake of air strikes, Iran may well redouble its efforts to rebuild its nuclear capacity. That may very well be true, although the record of the only two air strikes ever taken against nascent nuclear facilities–Israel’s attack on an Iraqi reactor in 1981 and on a Syrian reactor in 2007–does not support Broad’s assertion. Neither Iraq nor Syria has come close to acquiring a nuclear weapon after those attacks. Iraq was still not there even a decade later when it fought the U.S. and its allies in the Gulf War. Granted, Iran’s facilities are more dispersed, advanced, and hardened than those in Syria and, therefore, harder to take out, but Iran too would suffer a serious setback if its installations were bombed. By contrast North Korea, which was not bombed (even though the Clinton administration seriously debated doing so), acquired nuclear weapons. So did Pakistan, which also wasn’t bombed. Those are all examples that Broad, however, omits from his unconvincing editorial.

It is true that no air strikes could eradicate the Iranian nuclear program forever, but it remains a matter of speculation what Iran would do in the wake of such strikes. It may well try to restart the nuclear program–or maybe it would figure there was no point because of the probability of another round of air strikes. The air strikes might also cause the Iranian people to rally around the regime as Broad suggests–or they may undermine the aura of the regime’s invincibility that the rulers count upon to cow the ruled. No one knows. The only thing we do know is that if we do nothing the odds are very high that Iran will go nuclear. That, to my mind, is the worst-case scenario.

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Voter ID: When Judges Play Politics

Liberals celebrated yesterday when the same Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court judge who upheld the state’s voter ID law in August reversed himself and enjoined its enforcement on Election Day. There’s no denying that this is a defeat for the legislature that passed the bill as well as the overwhelming majority of Americans who back ID laws as a commonsense measure to deter voter fraud. But frustrating as it is, it is but a temporary setback. Both Judge Robert Simpson and the state Supreme Court have indicated that the law is constitutional. Yet Simpson, like many another judge when asked to affirm legal principles that are under attack by influential liberal forces, wavered when put to the test.

When Pennsylvanians go to the polls next month, they will be still asked to identify themselves with a photo card. But, as was the case in April when the rules were rolled out during the state’s primary, no one will be denied a ballot, even if they have no such documentation. The left-wingers who sued to strike down the law claimed voters would be unfairly disenfranchised. Simpson did not fully accept their assertions, but rather than face the storm that fully upholding the law would bring down on his head, he said there was not enough time before the election to ensure “liberal access.” While this means it will still be possible this year for political machines to turn out fictitious voters without fear of being caught — a time-honored political tradition in Philadelphia — in the future such shenanigans will be more difficult.

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Liberals celebrated yesterday when the same Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court judge who upheld the state’s voter ID law in August reversed himself and enjoined its enforcement on Election Day. There’s no denying that this is a defeat for the legislature that passed the bill as well as the overwhelming majority of Americans who back ID laws as a commonsense measure to deter voter fraud. But frustrating as it is, it is but a temporary setback. Both Judge Robert Simpson and the state Supreme Court have indicated that the law is constitutional. Yet Simpson, like many another judge when asked to affirm legal principles that are under attack by influential liberal forces, wavered when put to the test.

When Pennsylvanians go to the polls next month, they will be still asked to identify themselves with a photo card. But, as was the case in April when the rules were rolled out during the state’s primary, no one will be denied a ballot, even if they have no such documentation. The left-wingers who sued to strike down the law claimed voters would be unfairly disenfranchised. Simpson did not fully accept their assertions, but rather than face the storm that fully upholding the law would bring down on his head, he said there was not enough time before the election to ensure “liberal access.” While this means it will still be possible this year for political machines to turn out fictitious voters without fear of being caught — a time-honored political tradition in Philadelphia — in the future such shenanigans will be more difficult.

At the heart of this case are a couple of fallacies. The plaintiffs and their myriad supporters in the mainstream liberal press continue to promote the idea that hordes of legal voters are going to be stopped from casting their ballots. But Simpson’s concerns about the fact that the state hadn’t already issued enough new free state IDs that can be used in place of a drivers’ license tells us something that many political analysts already knew. There has been no surge of voters demanding IDs, because the vast majority of Pennsylvanians already have them since they are necessary for virtually every possible transaction a citizen can make, as well as travel. But it is equally true that many of those few who don’t are the least likely to care about voting. Though the state embarked on a massive campaign of voter information via ads and mailings, the number of ID cards issued is far below the numbers the law’s opponents claimed needed one. That makes it likely that it is their estimates that are widely inflated.

Despite the talk of the state placing obstacles in the path of those who seek IDs, the evidence actually shows that in most cases anyone who really wants an ID can get one with a minimum of effort. That was proved, to the embarrassment of the law’s opponents, when the lady whose name still sits atop the decision as the lead plaintiff got her state photo ID. Viviette Applewhite, a 93-year-old woman who had marched with Martin Luther King Jr. for civil rights, was the ideal symbol of the effort to brand voter ID as a new version of Jim Crow. But all she had to do get an ID was to was to stroll into a DMV branch office and ask for one.

At bottom, the attempt to strike down the law isn’t a defense of genuine voting rights. After all, what could be more reasonable than requiring a person who presents themselves at the polls to show they are who they say they are. The law’s opponents are stuck in a logical dead-end in which they are effectively asserting that no questions should ever be asked of a potential voter, even if they are not registered, registered in another district or state or even not a citizen–they should just be allowed to vote. They claim there is no such thing as voter fraud in the U.S., a proposition that requires us to forget everything we know about American political history and human nature, but seem to have as their only purpose the enabling of such fraud.

But it would have taken a judge with more intestinal fortitude than Robert Simpson to point this out. Like U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who conjured up an absurd rationale for affirming the constitutionality of ObamaCare this past June so as to dodge the charge that the court was being political, Simpson also sought an expedient compromise in which he could affirm a legal principle without actually defending it.

This sorry chapter proves again that courage is the most important of all the virtues, since in its absence it is impossible to uphold the others. When judges play politics in this manner, they may think they are evading criticism but what they are really doing is bringing the legal system into disrepute.

In the future, Pennsylvania will have a voter ID law, since it will not be possible in 2014 or 2016 for even the most cowardly of judges to claim that the state needs more time to implement a law that is clearly constitutional. The same will probably be true of other states where liberals have sought to stop the laws through the courts. But in the meantime, it will be business as usual for those who seek to cheat and those determined to enable such practices.

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