Commentary Magazine


Topic: ABC News

Re: Saving Obama from Himself

Linda, if logic rules the day and Obama takes the lesson of Massachusetts to hear,t then you are on the money. Certainly a course correction after a year in office is not unprecedented and would likely be welcomed by most voters. But all that assumes Obama and his congressional allies are amenable to reason and willing to listen to the electorate. That remains an open question. They didn’t, after all, take New Jersey and Virginia voters’ messages to heart in decisive gubernatorial losses for the Democrats in 2009. They ignored polling all year on health-care reform. So would a Scott Brown victory be any different?

Some Democrats are nervous it won’t be. ABC News reports:

Even before the votes are counted, Senator Evan Bayh is warning fellow Democrats that ignoring the lessons of the Massachusetts Senate race will “lead to even further catastrophe” for their party. “There’s going to be a tendency on the part of our people to be in denial about all this,” Bayh told ABC News, but “if you lose Massachusetts and that’s not a wake-up call, there’s no hope of waking up. . . It’s why moderates and independents even in a state as Democratic as Massachusetts just aren’t buying our message,”  he said.  “They just don’t believe the answers we are currently proposing are solving their problems.  That’s something that has to be corrected.”

As many a nostalgic Republican has remarked during the Obama presidency, “Obama is no Bill Clinton.” By that, they are referring not to Clinton’s personal morals but to his ability to read the electorate, shift gears, and slide back into the public’s good graces. Maybe Obama has that capacity too, but his contemptuous attitude toward opposition and disinclination to hear bad news suggest otherwise. If Brown does pull off a Massachusetts Miracle, we’ll find out soon enough.

Linda, if logic rules the day and Obama takes the lesson of Massachusetts to hear,t then you are on the money. Certainly a course correction after a year in office is not unprecedented and would likely be welcomed by most voters. But all that assumes Obama and his congressional allies are amenable to reason and willing to listen to the electorate. That remains an open question. They didn’t, after all, take New Jersey and Virginia voters’ messages to heart in decisive gubernatorial losses for the Democrats in 2009. They ignored polling all year on health-care reform. So would a Scott Brown victory be any different?

Some Democrats are nervous it won’t be. ABC News reports:

Even before the votes are counted, Senator Evan Bayh is warning fellow Democrats that ignoring the lessons of the Massachusetts Senate race will “lead to even further catastrophe” for their party. “There’s going to be a tendency on the part of our people to be in denial about all this,” Bayh told ABC News, but “if you lose Massachusetts and that’s not a wake-up call, there’s no hope of waking up. . . It’s why moderates and independents even in a state as Democratic as Massachusetts just aren’t buying our message,”  he said.  “They just don’t believe the answers we are currently proposing are solving their problems.  That’s something that has to be corrected.”

As many a nostalgic Republican has remarked during the Obama presidency, “Obama is no Bill Clinton.” By that, they are referring not to Clinton’s personal morals but to his ability to read the electorate, shift gears, and slide back into the public’s good graces. Maybe Obama has that capacity too, but his contemptuous attitude toward opposition and disinclination to hear bad news suggest otherwise. If Brown does pull off a Massachusetts Miracle, we’ll find out soon enough.

Read Less

The Once-Appealing Barack Obama

Wednesday marks the one-year anniversary of Barack Obama’s inauguration. It has been, by almost any measure, a difficult and disappointing year for him and his party.

Mr. Obama now has the highest disapproval rating in Gallup’s history for a president entering his second year in office. According to a new Washington Post–ABC News poll, among independents, only 49 percent approve — the lowest of any of his recent predecessors at this point in their presidencies. (Obama has lost a stunning 18 points among independents in just a year’s time.) In November, Democrats suffered crushing defeats in the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial campaigns — and if Republican Scott Brown prevails in his race against Martha Coakley in tomorrow’s Senate election in Massachusetts, it will rank among the most important non-presidential elections in our lifetime.

It has been a staggering collapse by a president who entered office with enormous support and an unprecedented amount of goodwill. Read More

Wednesday marks the one-year anniversary of Barack Obama’s inauguration. It has been, by almost any measure, a difficult and disappointing year for him and his party.

Mr. Obama now has the highest disapproval rating in Gallup’s history for a president entering his second year in office. According to a new Washington Post–ABC News poll, among independents, only 49 percent approve — the lowest of any of his recent predecessors at this point in their presidencies. (Obama has lost a stunning 18 points among independents in just a year’s time.) In November, Democrats suffered crushing defeats in the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial campaigns — and if Republican Scott Brown prevails in his race against Martha Coakley in tomorrow’s Senate election in Massachusetts, it will rank among the most important non-presidential elections in our lifetime.

It has been a staggering collapse by a president who entered office with enormous support and an unprecedented amount of goodwill.

The reasons for this slide include unemployment rates that are much higher than the Obama administration predicted, job growth that never materialized despite the president’s promises, a record-setting spending binge, a massive and hugely unpopular health-care proposal, and an agenda that is far too liberal for most Americans.

But there is another, and I think quite important, explanation that was reinforced to me while reading John Heilemann and Mark Halperin’s book, Game Change, which is a fascinating (and very well-written) account of the 2008 presidential campaign.

One is reminded once again of how the core of Obama’s popularity was an appeal not to policy or to a governing agenda; instead it was an appeal to thematics and narrative. “Obama cast himself as a figure uncorrupted and unco-opted by evil Washington,” the authors write. He was the candidate who “promised to be a unifier and not a polarizer; someone nondogmatic and uncontaminated by the special-interest cesspool that Washington had become.” Obama’s appeal was romantic and aesthetic, built on the rhetoric of hope and change, on his “freshness and sense of promise.” A cult of personality built up around Obama — not because of what he had achieved but because of what he seemed to embody. (“Maybe one day he’ll do something to merit all this attention,” Michelle Obama dryly told a reporter.)

“We have something very special here,” Obama’s top political aide Axelrod is quoted as saying. “I feel like I’ve been handed a porcelain baby.” Axelrod tells Obama — dubbed by his aides as the “Black Jesus” — that voters were looking for “a president who can bring the country together, who can reach beyond partisanship, and who’ll be tough on special interests.”

That was what we were promised. What we got instead is a president who increased the divisions in our nation, the most partisan and polarizing figure in the history of polling, one who is dogmatic and has been as generous to special interests as any we have seen. The efforts to buy votes in pursuit of the Obama agenda has added sewage to the cesspool.

This would hurt any president under any circumstances; for Barack Obama, whose allure was based almost entirely on his ability to convince the public that he embodied a “new politics,” it has been doubly damaging. It was Hillary Clinton of all people who understood Obama best when she said during the campaign, “We have to make people understand that he’s not real.”

Not real indeed. Obama’s stirring call for Americans to reject the “politics of cynicism” was itself deeply cynical. Perhaps none of this should come as a surprise. After all, Heilemann and Halperin write, Axelrod was “a master of the dark arts of negative campaigning.” The first major profile of him, more than 20 years ago, was titled, “Hatchet Man: The Rise of David Axelrod.”

Obama and Axelrod might have been able to get away with this if Obama’s presidency had been viewed as successful and skilled. But it’s not. And when combined with the growing realization that Obama is not up to the task of governing, that he is pursuing policies that exacerbate our problems and takes us down a wrong and even perilous path, it is poison. The toxicity is such that what was once unthinkable now seems more likely than not: Democrats losing the Senate seat held by Ted Kennedy for almost half a century. And even if they don’t, 2010 is shaping up to be a perfectly awful year for Democrats. It’s a safe bet that in response they and their allies will lash out in rage, angry at the perceived injustice of it all, furious at the fate that has befallen them. They will blame Obama’s predecessor, Republicans in Congress, the conservative movement, angry white males, Fox News, Sarah Palin’s tweets, and the wrong alignment of the stars. It won’t work.

Having created a myth, they must now live with its unmasking.

Read Less

Digging Deeper into Those Afghanistan Poll Numbers

The latest poll of Afghan opinion by ABC News, the BBC, and ARD of Germany — their fifth since 2005 — contains both good news and bad. Naturally the BBC account accentuates the negative: “People in Afghanistan have far less confidence in the direction their country is taking than four years ago, a new BBC/ABC opinion poll suggests.” But dig a little deeper in the full poll results and you find that, while more Afghans than ever before think their country is headed in the “wrong direction” (38 percent, up from 24 percent in 2007), due primarily to lack of security, only 4 percent would like to be ruled by the Taliban; 82 percent prefer the current government. Hamid Karzai’s popularity rating has slipped; today he is rated as “excellent” by only 16 percent, down from 26 percent in 2007 and a whopping 45 percent in 2005. But if you combine the number who still rate him as an “excellent,” “good,” or “fair” leader, you still get to 81 percent of the population; only 18 percent describe him as a “poor” president.

Moreover, while support for the U.S. has fallen, largely, I suspect, because U.S. troops haven’t delivered security for most people, 63 percent still support the presence of U.S. troops (36 percent oppose), and 69 percent think the U.S.-led overthrow of the Taliban in 2001 was a good thing. By contrast, Taliban fighters are supported by just 8 percent of the population and opposed by 90 percent. Moreover, when asked who is to blame for the violence occurring in their country, only 18 percent blame the U.S.; 49 percent blame the Taliban or foreign jihadists.

In short, this polls suggests that, though the U.S. has its work cut out for it in Afghanistan, there is a considerable base of public support that our troops can tap into — and more important, public revulsion against the enemy they are fighting, the Taliban. The Russians in the 1980s had nowhere near this level of support. If NATO forces do a better job of beating back the Taliban, expect their support to go from merely high, which it is today, back to the stellar levels recorded in 2005, when 68 percent gave the U.S. forces good or excellent marks for their job performance (now down to 32 percent).

The latest poll of Afghan opinion by ABC News, the BBC, and ARD of Germany — their fifth since 2005 — contains both good news and bad. Naturally the BBC account accentuates the negative: “People in Afghanistan have far less confidence in the direction their country is taking than four years ago, a new BBC/ABC opinion poll suggests.” But dig a little deeper in the full poll results and you find that, while more Afghans than ever before think their country is headed in the “wrong direction” (38 percent, up from 24 percent in 2007), due primarily to lack of security, only 4 percent would like to be ruled by the Taliban; 82 percent prefer the current government. Hamid Karzai’s popularity rating has slipped; today he is rated as “excellent” by only 16 percent, down from 26 percent in 2007 and a whopping 45 percent in 2005. But if you combine the number who still rate him as an “excellent,” “good,” or “fair” leader, you still get to 81 percent of the population; only 18 percent describe him as a “poor” president.

Moreover, while support for the U.S. has fallen, largely, I suspect, because U.S. troops haven’t delivered security for most people, 63 percent still support the presence of U.S. troops (36 percent oppose), and 69 percent think the U.S.-led overthrow of the Taliban in 2001 was a good thing. By contrast, Taliban fighters are supported by just 8 percent of the population and opposed by 90 percent. Moreover, when asked who is to blame for the violence occurring in their country, only 18 percent blame the U.S.; 49 percent blame the Taliban or foreign jihadists.

In short, this polls suggests that, though the U.S. has its work cut out for it in Afghanistan, there is a considerable base of public support that our troops can tap into — and more important, public revulsion against the enemy they are fighting, the Taliban. The Russians in the 1980s had nowhere near this level of support. If NATO forces do a better job of beating back the Taliban, expect their support to go from merely high, which it is today, back to the stellar levels recorded in 2005, when 68 percent gave the U.S. forces good or excellent marks for their job performance (now down to 32 percent).

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

Cliff May tries to explain satire to the Beagle Blogger. And it doesn’t even involve Sarah Palin.

COMMENTARY contributor Jamie Kirchick, on designating the Christmas Day bomber as a criminal defendant rather than an enemy combatant: “The question of what type of legal status we ought to grant Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab remains a live question with serious implications for the national security of the United States. As the situation now stands, with an untold number of plots in the works, treating this man as a criminal defendant requires us to count upon the discretion and good will of a would-be mass murderer.”

Former CIA Director James Woolsey doesn’t think Flight 253 was “a problem of coordination”: “It was about people within the agencies pulling in their horns. The only person who can turn this around is the president. Not much will change unless he speaks up. He needs to tell people that this is a long struggle against radical Islam and its manifestations.” I hope I am wrong but somehow I don’t think Obama is the one to “smash political correctness upside the head.”

A top-tier GOP contender shows interest in a Blue state senate race: “Republican Rep. Pete King (N.Y.) signaled Monday that he is reconsidering his decision not to run for Senate in 2010 .King said he’s actively looking at a run for statewide office this year after he’d ruled out such a campaign last summer.” If they suspect it will be a wave election, many more well-known challengers may want to jump into races that in ordinary years would be considered out of reach.

Benny Avni explains why “targeted” sanctions on Iran are a dumb idea: “No one in last week’s well-organized pro-regime mass demonstrations carried a sign advocating diplomacy to defuse tensions with America (and anti-government demonstrators aren’t itching for it either). A diplomatic solution exists only in our head. Some (like [John] Kerry) cling to last year’s foolishness, but for others it’s replaced by a new ‘boomerang’ theory: If we sanction the Iranian people too heavily, they ‘will be fooled into thinking we are to blame,’ as an unnamed administration official told the Washington Post. Nonsense, says Israel Radio’s Farsi Service veteran Menashe Amir, whose broadcasts are often cited by Iranian media as instigating the antigovernment protesters. . . Once again, the ideas underlying Washington’s new policy miss the target. At this late date, sanctions can only be helpful if they facilitate regime change, which should be the top objective of the new strategy. Targeting for sanctions only a handful of evil regime operators would hardly impress the Iranian masses (although it will be widely applauded in Washington and the United Nations).”

The State Department goes rushing to the defense of Hannah Rosenthal (who is supposed to be working on anti-Semitism but took some time out to lash out at Israel’s Ambassador Michael Oren for not being nice to her J Street pals). “Separately, Rosenthal’s predecessor, Gregg Rickman, has slammed her for her remarks about Oren. ‘Ms. Rosenthal’s criticisms of Ambassador Oren strike a chord particularly because this is not her policy portfolio to advocate . . . She is supposed to fight anti-Semitism, not defend J-Street, an organization on whose Advisory Board she formally sat before her appointment to the State Department.”

If “Big is bad” is catching on as a political message, how long before voters exact revenge once they figure out that the Democrats have struck a health-care deal with big and bad insurance companies?

James Taranto goes on a roll: “We suppose Napolitano is a glass-is-half-full kind of gal. And it’s true that, apart from allowing a known extremist to board a plane while carrying a bomb, the system worked. . . ABC News reports that ‘one of the four leaders allegedly behind the al Qaeda plot to blow up a Northwest Airlines passenger jet over Detroit was released by the U.S. from the Guantanamo prison in November 2007.’ Said Ali Shari, a Saudi national, was released into the custody of our friends the Saudis and “has since emerged in leadership roles in Yemen,” says ABC. Heckuva job, Nayef. In fairness, we should note that in November 2007, Barack Obama was only the junior senator from Illinois. This is a problem he inherited from the Bush administration. And he has responded by putting a stop to the release of terrorists from Guantanamo. Just kidding!” Looks like the joke is on us.

Worse than returning the Churchill bust: “The name of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was included in a dossier of people believed to have made attempts to deal with known extremists that was shared with American intelligence. . . Abdulmutallab came to the attention of intelligence agencies because of ‘multiple communications’ he had with Islamic extremists in Britain while a student between 2006 and 2008. However, denying reports that the information had not been divulged, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said: ‘Clearly there was security information about this individual’s activities and that was information that was shared with the US authorities. That is the key point.'”

Cliff May tries to explain satire to the Beagle Blogger. And it doesn’t even involve Sarah Palin.

COMMENTARY contributor Jamie Kirchick, on designating the Christmas Day bomber as a criminal defendant rather than an enemy combatant: “The question of what type of legal status we ought to grant Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab remains a live question with serious implications for the national security of the United States. As the situation now stands, with an untold number of plots in the works, treating this man as a criminal defendant requires us to count upon the discretion and good will of a would-be mass murderer.”

Former CIA Director James Woolsey doesn’t think Flight 253 was “a problem of coordination”: “It was about people within the agencies pulling in their horns. The only person who can turn this around is the president. Not much will change unless he speaks up. He needs to tell people that this is a long struggle against radical Islam and its manifestations.” I hope I am wrong but somehow I don’t think Obama is the one to “smash political correctness upside the head.”

A top-tier GOP contender shows interest in a Blue state senate race: “Republican Rep. Pete King (N.Y.) signaled Monday that he is reconsidering his decision not to run for Senate in 2010 .King said he’s actively looking at a run for statewide office this year after he’d ruled out such a campaign last summer.” If they suspect it will be a wave election, many more well-known challengers may want to jump into races that in ordinary years would be considered out of reach.

Benny Avni explains why “targeted” sanctions on Iran are a dumb idea: “No one in last week’s well-organized pro-regime mass demonstrations carried a sign advocating diplomacy to defuse tensions with America (and anti-government demonstrators aren’t itching for it either). A diplomatic solution exists only in our head. Some (like [John] Kerry) cling to last year’s foolishness, but for others it’s replaced by a new ‘boomerang’ theory: If we sanction the Iranian people too heavily, they ‘will be fooled into thinking we are to blame,’ as an unnamed administration official told the Washington Post. Nonsense, says Israel Radio’s Farsi Service veteran Menashe Amir, whose broadcasts are often cited by Iranian media as instigating the antigovernment protesters. . . Once again, the ideas underlying Washington’s new policy miss the target. At this late date, sanctions can only be helpful if they facilitate regime change, which should be the top objective of the new strategy. Targeting for sanctions only a handful of evil regime operators would hardly impress the Iranian masses (although it will be widely applauded in Washington and the United Nations).”

The State Department goes rushing to the defense of Hannah Rosenthal (who is supposed to be working on anti-Semitism but took some time out to lash out at Israel’s Ambassador Michael Oren for not being nice to her J Street pals). “Separately, Rosenthal’s predecessor, Gregg Rickman, has slammed her for her remarks about Oren. ‘Ms. Rosenthal’s criticisms of Ambassador Oren strike a chord particularly because this is not her policy portfolio to advocate . . . She is supposed to fight anti-Semitism, not defend J-Street, an organization on whose Advisory Board she formally sat before her appointment to the State Department.”

If “Big is bad” is catching on as a political message, how long before voters exact revenge once they figure out that the Democrats have struck a health-care deal with big and bad insurance companies?

James Taranto goes on a roll: “We suppose Napolitano is a glass-is-half-full kind of gal. And it’s true that, apart from allowing a known extremist to board a plane while carrying a bomb, the system worked. . . ABC News reports that ‘one of the four leaders allegedly behind the al Qaeda plot to blow up a Northwest Airlines passenger jet over Detroit was released by the U.S. from the Guantanamo prison in November 2007.’ Said Ali Shari, a Saudi national, was released into the custody of our friends the Saudis and “has since emerged in leadership roles in Yemen,” says ABC. Heckuva job, Nayef. In fairness, we should note that in November 2007, Barack Obama was only the junior senator from Illinois. This is a problem he inherited from the Bush administration. And he has responded by putting a stop to the release of terrorists from Guantanamo. Just kidding!” Looks like the joke is on us.

Worse than returning the Churchill bust: “The name of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was included in a dossier of people believed to have made attempts to deal with known extremists that was shared with American intelligence. . . Abdulmutallab came to the attention of intelligence agencies because of ‘multiple communications’ he had with Islamic extremists in Britain while a student between 2006 and 2008. However, denying reports that the information had not been divulged, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said: ‘Clearly there was security information about this individual’s activities and that was information that was shared with the US authorities. That is the key point.'”

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

Jamie Fly on Obama’s new expression of “deep admiration” for the Iranian protesters: “Now that the President seems so concerned about the events unfolding on Iran’s streets, perhaps someone should ask the White House whether the President believes that Sen. Kerry should even contemplate a visit to Tehran to meet with the very officials that are ordering the beatings and killings he has just condemned.  The answer might tell us how far he is really willing to go to ‘bear witness.'”

Stephen Hayes observes that Obama’s comments “fell so flat,” given the lack of any “action item” other than calling for the Iranian regime to meet its international obligations. It was a “silly statement,” he says. Charles Krauthammer adds: “Meaningless words. . . This is a hinge of history. . . This is a moment in history and he is missing it.”

It isn’t easy being a Democratic incumbent in the Obama era: “Political observers should expect more retirement announcements from centrist Democrats, according to Rep. Dan Boren (Okla.), himself a centrist Democrat.”

Rep. Pete Hoekstra blasts Obama: “After eleven months in office, the president is still sending contradictory messages on national security. . . He says he wants to address the threats yet look at how he has responded to this, how he responded to Fort Hood, how he’s open to prosecuting folks in the CIA, how he’s closing Guantanamo Bay, and how he’s bringing terror suspects to New York City.”

Rory Cooper of Heritage on Obama’s reaction to the Christmas Day bombing attack: “The overwhelming negative opinion of the President’s reaction is a result of Obama’s reckless complacency over the past year. President Obama spent the past 12 months beating up on the men and women of the CIA, on the soldiers who ably run Gitmo, campaigning against the Patriot Act (even though he now recognizes its importance), making terrorism a law enforcement issue, announcing a show trial for KSM in NYC, and cutting defense appropriations in favor of sweetheart stimulus deals. The first thing he did with Abdulmutallab was to read him his rights.”

Only a day before Obama spinmeister Marc Ambinder was praising the “strategy” of having Obama hide after a terrorist attack. Now he muses: “Did Obama, attempting to make a clean break from the Bush years vis-a-vis communicating to the public about terrorism, put too much faith in DHS Secretary Napolitano to serve as the front-line communicator?” Really, the obsession with being “not Bush” is getting to be pathological — Bush talked to the public directly about terrorism so Obama shouldn’t? Good grief.

You want horrifying? Ann Althouse takes us through the entire Janet Napolitano interview. The full interview is actually worse than the “system worked” snippet. Okay, she’s not the real problem but she’s a horrid Homeland Security Secretary and really should go.

Marc Thiessen warns us: “Instead of looking for ways to release these dangerous men, we should be capturing and interrogating more of them for information on planned attacks. But that is something the U.S. no longer does. President Obama has shut down the CIA interrogation program that helped stop a series of planned attacks — and in the year since he took office, not one high-value terrorist has been interrogated by the CIA. . . The problem with this approach is that dead terrorists cannot tell their plans. According to ABC News, Abdulmutallab has told investigators there are ‘more just like him in Yemen who would strike soon.’ Who are these terrorists? Where have they been deployed? We may not find out until it is too late because we launched a strike intended to kill the al-Qaeda leaders who could give us vital intelligence.”

Sobering: “A dangerous explosive allegedly concealed by Nigerian student Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in his underwear could have blown a hole in the side of his Detroit-bound aircraft if it had been detonated, according to two federal sources briefed on the investigation.”

Jamie Fly on Obama’s new expression of “deep admiration” for the Iranian protesters: “Now that the President seems so concerned about the events unfolding on Iran’s streets, perhaps someone should ask the White House whether the President believes that Sen. Kerry should even contemplate a visit to Tehran to meet with the very officials that are ordering the beatings and killings he has just condemned.  The answer might tell us how far he is really willing to go to ‘bear witness.'”

Stephen Hayes observes that Obama’s comments “fell so flat,” given the lack of any “action item” other than calling for the Iranian regime to meet its international obligations. It was a “silly statement,” he says. Charles Krauthammer adds: “Meaningless words. . . This is a hinge of history. . . This is a moment in history and he is missing it.”

It isn’t easy being a Democratic incumbent in the Obama era: “Political observers should expect more retirement announcements from centrist Democrats, according to Rep. Dan Boren (Okla.), himself a centrist Democrat.”

Rep. Pete Hoekstra blasts Obama: “After eleven months in office, the president is still sending contradictory messages on national security. . . He says he wants to address the threats yet look at how he has responded to this, how he responded to Fort Hood, how he’s open to prosecuting folks in the CIA, how he’s closing Guantanamo Bay, and how he’s bringing terror suspects to New York City.”

Rory Cooper of Heritage on Obama’s reaction to the Christmas Day bombing attack: “The overwhelming negative opinion of the President’s reaction is a result of Obama’s reckless complacency over the past year. President Obama spent the past 12 months beating up on the men and women of the CIA, on the soldiers who ably run Gitmo, campaigning against the Patriot Act (even though he now recognizes its importance), making terrorism a law enforcement issue, announcing a show trial for KSM in NYC, and cutting defense appropriations in favor of sweetheart stimulus deals. The first thing he did with Abdulmutallab was to read him his rights.”

Only a day before Obama spinmeister Marc Ambinder was praising the “strategy” of having Obama hide after a terrorist attack. Now he muses: “Did Obama, attempting to make a clean break from the Bush years vis-a-vis communicating to the public about terrorism, put too much faith in DHS Secretary Napolitano to serve as the front-line communicator?” Really, the obsession with being “not Bush” is getting to be pathological — Bush talked to the public directly about terrorism so Obama shouldn’t? Good grief.

You want horrifying? Ann Althouse takes us through the entire Janet Napolitano interview. The full interview is actually worse than the “system worked” snippet. Okay, she’s not the real problem but she’s a horrid Homeland Security Secretary and really should go.

Marc Thiessen warns us: “Instead of looking for ways to release these dangerous men, we should be capturing and interrogating more of them for information on planned attacks. But that is something the U.S. no longer does. President Obama has shut down the CIA interrogation program that helped stop a series of planned attacks — and in the year since he took office, not one high-value terrorist has been interrogated by the CIA. . . The problem with this approach is that dead terrorists cannot tell their plans. According to ABC News, Abdulmutallab has told investigators there are ‘more just like him in Yemen who would strike soon.’ Who are these terrorists? Where have they been deployed? We may not find out until it is too late because we launched a strike intended to kill the al-Qaeda leaders who could give us vital intelligence.”

Sobering: “A dangerous explosive allegedly concealed by Nigerian student Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in his underwear could have blown a hole in the side of his Detroit-bound aircraft if it had been detonated, according to two federal sources briefed on the investigation.”

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

The latest sign of GOP competitiveness and of growing disaffection with Obama: “Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter and Republican challenger Pat Toomey are deadlocked 44-44 percent in Pennsylvania’s marquee 2010 U.S. Senate race, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. President Barack Obama’s job approval in this pivotal swing state remains below 50 percent at 49 – 45 percent.” That’s in Pennsylvania.

Three cheers for the status quo: “Fifty-seven percent (57%) of voters nationwide say that it would be better to pass no health care reform bill this year instead of passing the plan currently being considered by Congress. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 34% think that passing that bill would be better.”

The president of the Club for Growth mocks the non-binding Copenhagen climate control deal: “Like most Americans, I feared President Obama went to Copenhagen to sign a binding, job-killing, economic suicide pact. I am greatly relieved that the last-minute agreement President Obama negotiated is being widely described as ‘meaningful.’  When politicians call something ‘meaningful,’ that means it isn’t. Without even reading the accord, pro-growth, limited government conservatives today can celebrate the word, ‘meaningful.’  Today that adjective probably saved thirty million jobs.”

The New York Times says the same thing: “Leaders here concluded a climate change deal on Friday that the Obama administration called ‘meaningful’ but that falls short of even the modest expectations for the summit meeting here.”

I think Lou Dobbs has a better shot with Hispanics. From ABC News (not The Onion): “Al-Qaeda Reaches Out to Women.”

James Capretta: “Senator Nelson is clearly uncomfortable with the bill as written. Any fiscal conservative would be. It’s not a close call. As the senator said yesterday, the country would be far better off with a more scaled-back bill. He’s right about that. And it’s in his power to deliver just such a bill. Pushing the discussions into 2010 would not end the health-care debate. It would only make it more likely the Senate voted in the end for something the public — and Nebraskans — would find acceptable.”

MoveOn.org doesn’t think it’s a close call either.

No hope but rather some unwelcome change for poor D.C. school kids: “Democrats in Congress voted to kill the District’s Opportunity Scholarship Program, which provides 1,700 disadvantaged kids with vouchers worth up to $7,500 per year to attend a private school. On Sunday the Senate approved a spending bill that phases out funding for the five-year-old program. . . President Obama signed the bill Thursday.”

The latest sign of GOP competitiveness and of growing disaffection with Obama: “Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter and Republican challenger Pat Toomey are deadlocked 44-44 percent in Pennsylvania’s marquee 2010 U.S. Senate race, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. President Barack Obama’s job approval in this pivotal swing state remains below 50 percent at 49 – 45 percent.” That’s in Pennsylvania.

Three cheers for the status quo: “Fifty-seven percent (57%) of voters nationwide say that it would be better to pass no health care reform bill this year instead of passing the plan currently being considered by Congress. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 34% think that passing that bill would be better.”

The president of the Club for Growth mocks the non-binding Copenhagen climate control deal: “Like most Americans, I feared President Obama went to Copenhagen to sign a binding, job-killing, economic suicide pact. I am greatly relieved that the last-minute agreement President Obama negotiated is being widely described as ‘meaningful.’  When politicians call something ‘meaningful,’ that means it isn’t. Without even reading the accord, pro-growth, limited government conservatives today can celebrate the word, ‘meaningful.’  Today that adjective probably saved thirty million jobs.”

The New York Times says the same thing: “Leaders here concluded a climate change deal on Friday that the Obama administration called ‘meaningful’ but that falls short of even the modest expectations for the summit meeting here.”

I think Lou Dobbs has a better shot with Hispanics. From ABC News (not The Onion): “Al-Qaeda Reaches Out to Women.”

James Capretta: “Senator Nelson is clearly uncomfortable with the bill as written. Any fiscal conservative would be. It’s not a close call. As the senator said yesterday, the country would be far better off with a more scaled-back bill. He’s right about that. And it’s in his power to deliver just such a bill. Pushing the discussions into 2010 would not end the health-care debate. It would only make it more likely the Senate voted in the end for something the public — and Nebraskans — would find acceptable.”

MoveOn.org doesn’t think it’s a close call either.

No hope but rather some unwelcome change for poor D.C. school kids: “Democrats in Congress voted to kill the District’s Opportunity Scholarship Program, which provides 1,700 disadvantaged kids with vouchers worth up to $7,500 per year to attend a private school. On Sunday the Senate approved a spending bill that phases out funding for the five-year-old program. . . President Obama signed the bill Thursday.”

Read Less

RE: No Risk, They Say?

I seldom find myself in disagreement with my colleague Jen Rubin. This is one of those rare occasions. I am not as alarmed as she is by the prospect of moving detainees from Guantanamo to a super-max prison in Illinois. She cites an ABC News report to highlight the dangers but, in fact, I think the ABC report makes the case for the transfer. It notes that ultra-dangerous al-Qaeda prisoners are already being held at the supermax prison in Florence, Colordao, including the so-called “20th hijacker” Zacharias Moussaoui, the shoe bomber Richard Reid, the first World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef, and dirty bomber Jose Padilla. All of them “ have essentially disappeared inside the Colorado facility.” One of their defense attorneys is quoted complaining, “ It’s a bleak and brutal existence that’s defined by, essentially an 8 x 10 rectangle in which they live. There is no socialization whatsoever and the isolation itself is extremely damaging.”

While it may not make a defense attorney happy, that’s exactly the fate that I would like to see befall more terrorists. What about the risks that Jen mentions? It’s true that the “blind sheikh,” Omar Abdel Rahman, was able to communicate with his followers via his lawyer but that’s also possible in Guantanamo where the detainees now have access to attorneys. And it’s true that another al-Qaeda terrorist, Mamdouh Salim, who was being held temporarily at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York, was able to stab a guard with a sharpened comb in an unsuccessful attempt to escape. But that could happen at Gitmo too. In any case, security is tighter at supermax facilities. No one, as far as I know, has ever escaped from such a facility.

The most compelling argument against transferring the Gitmo detainees isn’t the worry that they will break out or convey forbidden information through their lawyers. Rather, it is that they may gain new legal rights by being brought to U.S. soil. I am not a lawyer, and stand ready to be corrected on this score, but my understanding is that they have already gained a lot of rights even while in Gitmo thanks to Supreme Court rulings. Only if they gain significant new legal protections that make their release more likely should a transfer to the mainland be banned. If they can be held securely in a supermax facility without having to be brought before a civilian court for trial, it makes sense to do so because, essentially, that would be a cosmetic change that would undo some of the public-relations damage wrought to America’s reputation by the Gitmo facility while not compromising our security.

I seldom find myself in disagreement with my colleague Jen Rubin. This is one of those rare occasions. I am not as alarmed as she is by the prospect of moving detainees from Guantanamo to a super-max prison in Illinois. She cites an ABC News report to highlight the dangers but, in fact, I think the ABC report makes the case for the transfer. It notes that ultra-dangerous al-Qaeda prisoners are already being held at the supermax prison in Florence, Colordao, including the so-called “20th hijacker” Zacharias Moussaoui, the shoe bomber Richard Reid, the first World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef, and dirty bomber Jose Padilla. All of them “ have essentially disappeared inside the Colorado facility.” One of their defense attorneys is quoted complaining, “ It’s a bleak and brutal existence that’s defined by, essentially an 8 x 10 rectangle in which they live. There is no socialization whatsoever and the isolation itself is extremely damaging.”

While it may not make a defense attorney happy, that’s exactly the fate that I would like to see befall more terrorists. What about the risks that Jen mentions? It’s true that the “blind sheikh,” Omar Abdel Rahman, was able to communicate with his followers via his lawyer but that’s also possible in Guantanamo where the detainees now have access to attorneys. And it’s true that another al-Qaeda terrorist, Mamdouh Salim, who was being held temporarily at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York, was able to stab a guard with a sharpened comb in an unsuccessful attempt to escape. But that could happen at Gitmo too. In any case, security is tighter at supermax facilities. No one, as far as I know, has ever escaped from such a facility.

The most compelling argument against transferring the Gitmo detainees isn’t the worry that they will break out or convey forbidden information through their lawyers. Rather, it is that they may gain new legal rights by being brought to U.S. soil. I am not a lawyer, and stand ready to be corrected on this score, but my understanding is that they have already gained a lot of rights even while in Gitmo thanks to Supreme Court rulings. Only if they gain significant new legal protections that make their release more likely should a transfer to the mainland be banned. If they can be held securely in a supermax facility without having to be brought before a civilian court for trial, it makes sense to do so because, essentially, that would be a cosmetic change that would undo some of the public-relations damage wrought to America’s reputation by the Gitmo facility while not compromising our security.

Read Less

No Risk, They Say?

ABC News has an informative report, making clear what conservative critics of Obama’s policy of moving the terrorists to U.S. prisons have long argued: that once here, they pose to Americans a risk that did not exist when they were housed at Guantanamo. The report explains that while the Obama team is assuring us that we “have nothing to fear” from the detainees, the result, in at least two situations, is quite different:

They are supposed to be cut off from the outside world, but the man called the blind Sheikh, Omar Abdel Rahman, convicted of inspiring attacks on the U.S., used his lawyer to pass messages back to his violent followers in Egypt. But even a warning from the FBI to officials at this New York prison wasn’t enough to stop one al Qaeda terrorist, Mamdouh Salim, from making a bloody escape attempt in the year 2000. His victim was prison guard Louis Pepe who Salim first blinded with hot sauce stored up in these empty honey bottles he somehow hid in his cell. Then Salim stabbed Pepe in the eye with a sharpened comb that went deep into Pepe’s brain, causing permanent damage.

It is no wonder that Republicans are seizing on the issue and intend to make it a top 2010 campaign issue. As Sen. John Cornyn said bluntly, the president and Congress’s job is to “prevent future attacks and not just punish people after there’s dead bodies lying around.” And again, one comes back to why all of this risk and expense. It is not as if we’re going to be scoring any brownie points with anyone. We can expect to hear more of this:

“It’s a bleak and brutal existence that’s defined by, essentially an 8 x 10 rectangle in which they live,” said defense attorney Joshua Dratel, who defended al-Qaeda terrorist Wadih El-Hage, now serving life in Florence. “There is no socialization whatsoever and the isolation itself is extremely damaging.”

Maybe Congress will go along with this scheme, as it has so far with the KSM trial. But at some point those running for office may hear from voters who wonder why they are being endangered and for what possible benefit.

ABC News has an informative report, making clear what conservative critics of Obama’s policy of moving the terrorists to U.S. prisons have long argued: that once here, they pose to Americans a risk that did not exist when they were housed at Guantanamo. The report explains that while the Obama team is assuring us that we “have nothing to fear” from the detainees, the result, in at least two situations, is quite different:

They are supposed to be cut off from the outside world, but the man called the blind Sheikh, Omar Abdel Rahman, convicted of inspiring attacks on the U.S., used his lawyer to pass messages back to his violent followers in Egypt. But even a warning from the FBI to officials at this New York prison wasn’t enough to stop one al Qaeda terrorist, Mamdouh Salim, from making a bloody escape attempt in the year 2000. His victim was prison guard Louis Pepe who Salim first blinded with hot sauce stored up in these empty honey bottles he somehow hid in his cell. Then Salim stabbed Pepe in the eye with a sharpened comb that went deep into Pepe’s brain, causing permanent damage.

It is no wonder that Republicans are seizing on the issue and intend to make it a top 2010 campaign issue. As Sen. John Cornyn said bluntly, the president and Congress’s job is to “prevent future attacks and not just punish people after there’s dead bodies lying around.” And again, one comes back to why all of this risk and expense. It is not as if we’re going to be scoring any brownie points with anyone. We can expect to hear more of this:

“It’s a bleak and brutal existence that’s defined by, essentially an 8 x 10 rectangle in which they live,” said defense attorney Joshua Dratel, who defended al-Qaeda terrorist Wadih El-Hage, now serving life in Florence. “There is no socialization whatsoever and the isolation itself is extremely damaging.”

Maybe Congress will go along with this scheme, as it has so far with the KSM trial. But at some point those running for office may hear from voters who wonder why they are being endangered and for what possible benefit.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

Well this is a relief: “Gibbs: Obama knows he’s no Gandhi.”

One minute (1:56 p.m.) Robert Gibbs decries the “blame game” and the next (1:57 p.m.) he’s back blaming the Bush administration.

Sen. Chris Dodd trails all challengers.

Yuval Levin on Harry Reid’s grand health-care deal: “The parts make very little policy sense, individually or together, and don’t really make political sense outside the Senate either (for instance, sending huge numbers of younger people into Medicare is likely to turn off the AMA, which hates the way Medicare treats doctors, and will send the hospitals screaming for the same reason). But the idea is to cobble together whatever it takes to get 60 votes in the short term and worry about it later.”

But there really isn’t a deal, it seems: “Two centrist Democrats at the center of the Senate’s tense healthcare reform negotiations insisted that there has been no compromise deal on the legislation despite Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) pronouncements. ‘There’s no specific compromise. There were discussions,’ Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) said at a press conference Wednesday.” Blanche Lincoln says all they agreed to was to send the proposal to the CBO. You mean Harry Reid lied? Shocking.

But if there is a deal, liberals don’t like it. ABC News explains: “One week after President Obama’s liberal base opposed his decision to escalate the war in Afghanistan, several liberal groups are once again lining up against the president and Senate Democrats on the health care reform compromise worked out by the so-called Gang of Ten. … It will certainly be fascinating to watch how the White House and congressional Democrats will tend to their base and get them energized as the calendar turns to the midterm election year in January.”

Deal or no deal, the public doesn’t like what Obama is doing on health care. Pollster.com’s survey average shows 52.9 percent disapproval and 40.7 approval.

Another Democrat retires: “Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA) announced his retirement tonight, becoming the third Dem in a vulnerable seat to announce his departure in the last few weeks. … Baird is the third Dem in as many weeks to call it quits. Reps. Dennis Moore (R-KS) and John Tanner (R-TN) are the other two Dems, and all three sit in very marginal CDs. Dems explained Moore and Tanner’s retirements away as individual cases, and not the beginning of a coming wave of retirements. But Baird’s decision, which was unexpected, is sure to crank up expectations for further retirements.”

Elite opinion makers are always surprised when stories they’d like to ignore catch on: “‘Climategate’ has muddied the good green message that was supposed to come out of the United Nations climate change talks here, forcing leaders to spend time justifying the science behind global warming when they want to focus on ending it. … But again and again this week, U.N. officials and government leaders have felt the need to defend climate science in public — something few of them would have thought necessary just a few weeks ago.” Gotta love the “news” report defending the “good green message” from pesky distractions (that would be a massive scientific fraud challenging the basis for environmental hysteria).

Well this is a relief: “Gibbs: Obama knows he’s no Gandhi.”

One minute (1:56 p.m.) Robert Gibbs decries the “blame game” and the next (1:57 p.m.) he’s back blaming the Bush administration.

Sen. Chris Dodd trails all challengers.

Yuval Levin on Harry Reid’s grand health-care deal: “The parts make very little policy sense, individually or together, and don’t really make political sense outside the Senate either (for instance, sending huge numbers of younger people into Medicare is likely to turn off the AMA, which hates the way Medicare treats doctors, and will send the hospitals screaming for the same reason). But the idea is to cobble together whatever it takes to get 60 votes in the short term and worry about it later.”

But there really isn’t a deal, it seems: “Two centrist Democrats at the center of the Senate’s tense healthcare reform negotiations insisted that there has been no compromise deal on the legislation despite Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) pronouncements. ‘There’s no specific compromise. There were discussions,’ Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) said at a press conference Wednesday.” Blanche Lincoln says all they agreed to was to send the proposal to the CBO. You mean Harry Reid lied? Shocking.

But if there is a deal, liberals don’t like it. ABC News explains: “One week after President Obama’s liberal base opposed his decision to escalate the war in Afghanistan, several liberal groups are once again lining up against the president and Senate Democrats on the health care reform compromise worked out by the so-called Gang of Ten. … It will certainly be fascinating to watch how the White House and congressional Democrats will tend to their base and get them energized as the calendar turns to the midterm election year in January.”

Deal or no deal, the public doesn’t like what Obama is doing on health care. Pollster.com’s survey average shows 52.9 percent disapproval and 40.7 approval.

Another Democrat retires: “Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA) announced his retirement tonight, becoming the third Dem in a vulnerable seat to announce his departure in the last few weeks. … Baird is the third Dem in as many weeks to call it quits. Reps. Dennis Moore (R-KS) and John Tanner (R-TN) are the other two Dems, and all three sit in very marginal CDs. Dems explained Moore and Tanner’s retirements away as individual cases, and not the beginning of a coming wave of retirements. But Baird’s decision, which was unexpected, is sure to crank up expectations for further retirements.”

Elite opinion makers are always surprised when stories they’d like to ignore catch on: “‘Climategate’ has muddied the good green message that was supposed to come out of the United Nations climate change talks here, forcing leaders to spend time justifying the science behind global warming when they want to focus on ending it. … But again and again this week, U.N. officials and government leaders have felt the need to defend climate science in public — something few of them would have thought necessary just a few weeks ago.” Gotta love the “news” report defending the “good green message” from pesky distractions (that would be a massive scientific fraud challenging the basis for environmental hysteria).

Read Less

Research?

When word first came that Major Nadal Hasan had been in contact with a radical imam in northern Virginia, we were told he was doing “research.” It was quite a research project, according to ABC News:

United States Army Major Nidal Hasan told a radical cleric considered by authorities to be an al-Qaeda recruiter, “I can’t wait to join you” in the afterlife, according to an American official with top secret access to 18 e-mails exchanged between Hasan and the cleric, Anwar al Awlaki, over a six month period between Dec. 2008 and June 2009.

“It sounds like code words,” said Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer, a military analyst at the Center for Advanced Defense Studies. “That he’s actually either offering himself up or that he’s already crossed that line in his own mind.”

Other messages include questions, the official with access to the e-mails said, that include when is jihad appropriate, and whether it is permissible if there are innocents killed in a suicide attack.

“Hasan told Awlaki he couldn’t wait to join him in the discussions they would having over non-alcoholic wine in the afterlife.”

The Pentagon has opened not one but two internal reviews and declined to participate, at least for now, in the congressional investigation. But given the exquisite concern for diversity above all else, as so vividly displayed by Army Chief of Staff General George Casey days after the attack (“And as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse”), one wonders if the Army is capable of sizing itself up.

For example, the Washington Post reports that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was at it again. He expressed concern “over the possibility that the incident could lead to suspicion against ‘certain categories of people,’ apparently referring to Muslims. ‘In a nation as diverse as the United States, the last thing we need to do is start pointing fingers at each other,’ he said.” Hmm. It would seem that the point of an investigation is precisely that — to finger those people responsible and to note their ideological motives. It seems there is great squeamishness about doing that, though. Maybe it’s time for an 11/5 Commission. That’s what we did after the last terrorist attack.

When word first came that Major Nadal Hasan had been in contact with a radical imam in northern Virginia, we were told he was doing “research.” It was quite a research project, according to ABC News:

United States Army Major Nidal Hasan told a radical cleric considered by authorities to be an al-Qaeda recruiter, “I can’t wait to join you” in the afterlife, according to an American official with top secret access to 18 e-mails exchanged between Hasan and the cleric, Anwar al Awlaki, over a six month period between Dec. 2008 and June 2009.

“It sounds like code words,” said Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer, a military analyst at the Center for Advanced Defense Studies. “That he’s actually either offering himself up or that he’s already crossed that line in his own mind.”

Other messages include questions, the official with access to the e-mails said, that include when is jihad appropriate, and whether it is permissible if there are innocents killed in a suicide attack.

“Hasan told Awlaki he couldn’t wait to join him in the discussions they would having over non-alcoholic wine in the afterlife.”

The Pentagon has opened not one but two internal reviews and declined to participate, at least for now, in the congressional investigation. But given the exquisite concern for diversity above all else, as so vividly displayed by Army Chief of Staff General George Casey days after the attack (“And as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse”), one wonders if the Army is capable of sizing itself up.

For example, the Washington Post reports that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was at it again. He expressed concern “over the possibility that the incident could lead to suspicion against ‘certain categories of people,’ apparently referring to Muslims. ‘In a nation as diverse as the United States, the last thing we need to do is start pointing fingers at each other,’ he said.” Hmm. It would seem that the point of an investigation is precisely that — to finger those people responsible and to note their ideological motives. It seems there is great squeamishness about doing that, though. Maybe it’s time for an 11/5 Commission. That’s what we did after the last terrorist attack.

Read Less

Re: They Don’t Like It

More evidence that they don’t like ObamaCare comes from the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll, which George Stephanopoulos sums up:

The poll shows that public skepticism is hardening.  Most Americans believe that reform will make their own health care worse — especially on the key issue of cost — with 54 percent fearing their own costs will rise, and 56 percent believing the costs to the country will increase. … [The administration’s] hope: once the bill is signed into law, the public will reward them for delivering on a big promise. But can they deliver on the details?

I don’t recall politicians ever being so openly disdainful of the public. The poor dears don’t understand what is good for them, are befuddled, and will like it once they see our handiwork. That’s what the Democrats are telling themselves — and the voters.

Other little nuggets from the poll: 41 percent “strongly” disapprove of Obama’s handling of health care, and 60 percent think the public option will push private employers out of the market. By a 37-to-19 margin, people think the quality of their own health care will get worse. And more people say they’d oppose a candidate (29 percent, and 20 percent would “strongly” oppose) who backed ObamaCare than one who supported it (25 percent).

It’s quite a gamble that ObamaCare supporters are taking: they’re rolling the dice, hoping that voters don’t really mean what they say and that they’ll be rewarded for defying the public’s wishes, enacting new taxes, and slashing Medicare. I guess anything in politics is possible. But congressmen and senators facing elections may have their doubts, as well they should.

More evidence that they don’t like ObamaCare comes from the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll, which George Stephanopoulos sums up:

The poll shows that public skepticism is hardening.  Most Americans believe that reform will make their own health care worse — especially on the key issue of cost — with 54 percent fearing their own costs will rise, and 56 percent believing the costs to the country will increase. … [The administration’s] hope: once the bill is signed into law, the public will reward them for delivering on a big promise. But can they deliver on the details?

I don’t recall politicians ever being so openly disdainful of the public. The poor dears don’t understand what is good for them, are befuddled, and will like it once they see our handiwork. That’s what the Democrats are telling themselves — and the voters.

Other little nuggets from the poll: 41 percent “strongly” disapprove of Obama’s handling of health care, and 60 percent think the public option will push private employers out of the market. By a 37-to-19 margin, people think the quality of their own health care will get worse. And more people say they’d oppose a candidate (29 percent, and 20 percent would “strongly” oppose) who backed ObamaCare than one who supported it (25 percent).

It’s quite a gamble that ObamaCare supporters are taking: they’re rolling the dice, hoping that voters don’t really mean what they say and that they’ll be rewarded for defying the public’s wishes, enacting new taxes, and slashing Medicare. I guess anything in politics is possible. But congressmen and senators facing elections may have their doubts, as well they should.

Read Less

Not So Fast

ABC News reports:

The Obama administration, under fire for inflating job growth from the $787 billion stimulus plan, slashed over 60,000 jobs from its most recent report on the program because the reporting outlets had submitted “unrealistic data,” according to a document obtained by ABC News. A document from the Office of Management and Budget obtained by ABC News shows that before an Oct. 30 progress report on the government stimulus program the administration asked the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board to remove information from 12 stimulus recipients that contained “unrealistic data,” including “unrealistic job data.”

This, of course, adds to the sense that the Obama team is resorting to phony numbers to justify the boondoggle-ridden stimulus, which everyone but the most fervent pro-Obama spinners regards as a bust. Keep in mind that it’s now November, and the stimulus package is still the primary and most highly touted “accomplishment” of the Obama domestic agenda. With each revelation, there is even less to tout.

Moreover, this news report comes at the very time the Obami are trying to jam through a massive health-care plan, far more dubious in its promises and more controversial than the gargantuan stimulus bill. If the biggest hurdle to health-care reform is Americans’ innate distrust of big government, more evidence that we can’t really trust what is coming out of Washington will plainly make harder the task of ramming through that reform.

Simply put, the last thing the Obama team needed was evidence that it is prone to spend too much, is too cavalier with the facts, and delivers too little to the American people.

ABC News reports:

The Obama administration, under fire for inflating job growth from the $787 billion stimulus plan, slashed over 60,000 jobs from its most recent report on the program because the reporting outlets had submitted “unrealistic data,” according to a document obtained by ABC News. A document from the Office of Management and Budget obtained by ABC News shows that before an Oct. 30 progress report on the government stimulus program the administration asked the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board to remove information from 12 stimulus recipients that contained “unrealistic data,” including “unrealistic job data.”

This, of course, adds to the sense that the Obama team is resorting to phony numbers to justify the boondoggle-ridden stimulus, which everyone but the most fervent pro-Obama spinners regards as a bust. Keep in mind that it’s now November, and the stimulus package is still the primary and most highly touted “accomplishment” of the Obama domestic agenda. With each revelation, there is even less to tout.

Moreover, this news report comes at the very time the Obami are trying to jam through a massive health-care plan, far more dubious in its promises and more controversial than the gargantuan stimulus bill. If the biggest hurdle to health-care reform is Americans’ innate distrust of big government, more evidence that we can’t really trust what is coming out of Washington will plainly make harder the task of ramming through that reform.

Simply put, the last thing the Obama team needed was evidence that it is prone to spend too much, is too cavalier with the facts, and delivers too little to the American people.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

From Rasmussen: “Forty-five percent (45%) of U.S. voters now give President Obama poor marks for his handling of the economy, the highest level of disapproval this year. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 39% believe the president is doing a good or excellent job on the economy following the announcement last week that unemployment in October rose to 10.2 percent, the highest level in 26 years.”

Maybe the White House and Democratic congressional leadership should start paying attention to the voters: “The health-care battle appears to be helping Republicans running for the Senate. Two Quinnipiac polls released Thursday show the leading GOP candidates in Connecticut and Ohio growing their leads. Former Rep. Rob Simmons (R-Conn.) leads Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), 49-38, and former Rep. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) has opened his first leads over two potential Democratic opponents.”

And the White House and Congress want to spend lots more money: “The federal budget deficit for October rose more than expected to $176.36 billion, the government announced moments ago, up from $155.53 billion in October 2008. This is the largest October deficit on record. It is the first month of fiscal 2010. The total national debt — the sum of all deficits from the beginning of the republic until today — is now up to nearly $12 trillion. A healthy economy should not have a deficit that’s more than about 3 percent of its GDP. Even with a GDP that’s gone positive in the third quarter, the U.S. deficit now projects out to about 11 to 12 percent of GDP. And that’s scary.” Scary indeed, especially for incumbents.

On Major Nadal Hasan’s business cards identifying himself as a Soldier of Allah: “‘He was making no secret of allegiances,’ said former FBI agent Brad Garrett, an ABC News consultant. ‘It’s one more piece of evidence that might have come out if investigators had taken a hard look at Hasan,’ said Garrett. “‘It doesn’t say he’s about to go out and shoot a bunch of people, but there’s something not quite right for an Army major to self-identify that way.'” Not quite.

Charles Krauthammer: “What a surprise — that someone who shouts ‘Allahu Akbar’ (the ‘God is great’ jihadist battle cry) as he is shooting up a room of American soldiers might have Islamist motives. It certainly was a surprise to the mainstream media, which spent the weekend after the Fort Hood massacre playing down Nidal Hasan’s religious beliefs.”

Sarah Palin denounces PelosiCare and suggests her own version: “Let’s get back to discussing market-driven, patient-centered, result-driven solutions, like, for example, allowing people to purchase insurance across state lines, tackling existing government waste and fraud, and reforming medical malpractice laws (tort reform) to stop unwarranted lawsuits that force doctors to order unnecessary procedures just to cover themselves.” Take away the names, describe PelosiCare, and I suspect that a majority of Americans would favor PalinCare.

David Broder agrees with Palin on one thing: PelosiCare is a financial train wreck. “Just as it did under Republican control in the George W. Bush years, when it passed but did not pay for a Medicare prescription drug benefit, it is about to hand out the goodies and leave it to the next generation to pick up the bill.”

From Rasmussen: “Forty-five percent (45%) of U.S. voters now give President Obama poor marks for his handling of the economy, the highest level of disapproval this year. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 39% believe the president is doing a good or excellent job on the economy following the announcement last week that unemployment in October rose to 10.2 percent, the highest level in 26 years.”

Maybe the White House and Democratic congressional leadership should start paying attention to the voters: “The health-care battle appears to be helping Republicans running for the Senate. Two Quinnipiac polls released Thursday show the leading GOP candidates in Connecticut and Ohio growing their leads. Former Rep. Rob Simmons (R-Conn.) leads Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), 49-38, and former Rep. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) has opened his first leads over two potential Democratic opponents.”

And the White House and Congress want to spend lots more money: “The federal budget deficit for October rose more than expected to $176.36 billion, the government announced moments ago, up from $155.53 billion in October 2008. This is the largest October deficit on record. It is the first month of fiscal 2010. The total national debt — the sum of all deficits from the beginning of the republic until today — is now up to nearly $12 trillion. A healthy economy should not have a deficit that’s more than about 3 percent of its GDP. Even with a GDP that’s gone positive in the third quarter, the U.S. deficit now projects out to about 11 to 12 percent of GDP. And that’s scary.” Scary indeed, especially for incumbents.

On Major Nadal Hasan’s business cards identifying himself as a Soldier of Allah: “‘He was making no secret of allegiances,’ said former FBI agent Brad Garrett, an ABC News consultant. ‘It’s one more piece of evidence that might have come out if investigators had taken a hard look at Hasan,’ said Garrett. “‘It doesn’t say he’s about to go out and shoot a bunch of people, but there’s something not quite right for an Army major to self-identify that way.'” Not quite.

Charles Krauthammer: “What a surprise — that someone who shouts ‘Allahu Akbar’ (the ‘God is great’ jihadist battle cry) as he is shooting up a room of American soldiers might have Islamist motives. It certainly was a surprise to the mainstream media, which spent the weekend after the Fort Hood massacre playing down Nidal Hasan’s religious beliefs.”

Sarah Palin denounces PelosiCare and suggests her own version: “Let’s get back to discussing market-driven, patient-centered, result-driven solutions, like, for example, allowing people to purchase insurance across state lines, tackling existing government waste and fraud, and reforming medical malpractice laws (tort reform) to stop unwarranted lawsuits that force doctors to order unnecessary procedures just to cover themselves.” Take away the names, describe PelosiCare, and I suspect that a majority of Americans would favor PalinCare.

David Broder agrees with Palin on one thing: PelosiCare is a financial train wreck. “Just as it did under Republican control in the George W. Bush years, when it passed but did not pay for a Medicare prescription drug benefit, it is about to hand out the goodies and leave it to the next generation to pick up the bill.”

Read Less

Not Just Lieberman

Joe Lieberman has promised to join a Republican filibuster. Now Sen. Ben Nelson says he isn’t going for anything that looks like PelosiCare:

“Well, first of all, it has more than a robust public option, it’s got a totally government-run plan, the costs are extraordinary associated with it, it increases taxes in a way that will not pass in the Senate and I could go on and on and on,” Nelson said in an interview that is part of ABC News’ Subway Series with Jonathan Karl. “Faced with a decision about whether or not to move a bill that is bad, I won’t vote to move it,” he added. “For sure.” The $1.1 trillion price tag on the House bill, Nelson said, is “absolutely” too high.

It seems as though the House Democrats who walked the plank may now, as on cap-and-trade, be hung out to dry if their efforts are now portrayed as the unacceptable, pie-in-the-sky handiwork of the party’s far Left. We’ll see if Nelson has company among other Red State senators who don’t think voting for PelosiCare is good for their political health.

Joe Lieberman has promised to join a Republican filibuster. Now Sen. Ben Nelson says he isn’t going for anything that looks like PelosiCare:

“Well, first of all, it has more than a robust public option, it’s got a totally government-run plan, the costs are extraordinary associated with it, it increases taxes in a way that will not pass in the Senate and I could go on and on and on,” Nelson said in an interview that is part of ABC News’ Subway Series with Jonathan Karl. “Faced with a decision about whether or not to move a bill that is bad, I won’t vote to move it,” he added. “For sure.” The $1.1 trillion price tag on the House bill, Nelson said, is “absolutely” too high.

It seems as though the House Democrats who walked the plank may now, as on cap-and-trade, be hung out to dry if their efforts are now portrayed as the unacceptable, pie-in-the-sky handiwork of the party’s far Left. We’ll see if Nelson has company among other Red State senators who don’t think voting for PelosiCare is good for their political health.

Read Less

Israel Derangement Syndrome

The basic formula of IDS is that almost any negative consequences which derive from Arab attacks on Israel are blamed by enlightened elites not on the attackers themselves, but on Israel, especially when the Jewish state’s response to being assaulted does not take the form of absolute and total moral perfection as defined by the UN and the Guardian‘s editorial board. IDS in its more subtle forms is so pervasive it largely escapes notice. But it’s still worth noting, once in a while. Here are a couple of examples from recent days:

1. Reporting on a conversation in which Joschka Fischer claimed that Israel would attack Iran’s nuclear facilities before the end of the year, Nouriel Roubini, an NYU business professor, declared that

if such action were to be taken by Israel the consequences outlined above would be the clear outcome: a major global recession, wars throughout the Middle East (Iran, Iraq, Gaza, Lebanon, Israel, etc.) and a major increase in geopolitical instability.

In other words, a litany of catastrophes would befall the world not because Iran is in violation of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and three UN Security Council resolutions, is developing nuclear weapons, waging war against America, Israel, and Lebanon through proxy forces, and has repeatedly threatened to annihilate the state of Israel. None of those items inform the moral calculus. No, Roubini’s argument runs, Israel is to blame, because not allowing itself to be destroyed would upset global harmony. Nice.

2. The Gaza Fulbright scholars. Reports ABC News:

Seven Palestinian scholars may lose their prized Fulbright scholarships to attend American universities because Israel won’t let them out of the Gaza Strip.

So Israel is now responsible for ensuring the educational opportunities of Gaza students? The young soldiers of the IDF, according to this logic, must be put in harm’s way at the crossing points of Gaza — which are Hamas’ favorite ambush and attack sites — so that seven people may leave a territory into and out of which they would be able to freely travel any day they wished if Hamas was not engaged in a terror war against Israel. The point is not that limitations on Palestinian educational opportunities are a good thing; it is that such hardships have their origins not in Israeli cruelty, but in Palestinian violence. As someone once said, the Jewish state is expected to act like the only Christian nation in the world.

There are dozens more examples. But there is a group of people on whose behalf anything is rarely said. They are the Palestinians who detest the manner in which Hamas has imprisoned them in Gaza. These people have no spokesmen, not even among the western reporters who derive so much smug satisfaction in imagining themselves the champions of the voiceless. By falsely incriminating Israel and thereby apologizing for Hamas, such journalists only prolong the suffering of Palestinians. IDS hurts Arabs, too.

The basic formula of IDS is that almost any negative consequences which derive from Arab attacks on Israel are blamed by enlightened elites not on the attackers themselves, but on Israel, especially when the Jewish state’s response to being assaulted does not take the form of absolute and total moral perfection as defined by the UN and the Guardian‘s editorial board. IDS in its more subtle forms is so pervasive it largely escapes notice. But it’s still worth noting, once in a while. Here are a couple of examples from recent days:

1. Reporting on a conversation in which Joschka Fischer claimed that Israel would attack Iran’s nuclear facilities before the end of the year, Nouriel Roubini, an NYU business professor, declared that

if such action were to be taken by Israel the consequences outlined above would be the clear outcome: a major global recession, wars throughout the Middle East (Iran, Iraq, Gaza, Lebanon, Israel, etc.) and a major increase in geopolitical instability.

In other words, a litany of catastrophes would befall the world not because Iran is in violation of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and three UN Security Council resolutions, is developing nuclear weapons, waging war against America, Israel, and Lebanon through proxy forces, and has repeatedly threatened to annihilate the state of Israel. None of those items inform the moral calculus. No, Roubini’s argument runs, Israel is to blame, because not allowing itself to be destroyed would upset global harmony. Nice.

2. The Gaza Fulbright scholars. Reports ABC News:

Seven Palestinian scholars may lose their prized Fulbright scholarships to attend American universities because Israel won’t let them out of the Gaza Strip.

So Israel is now responsible for ensuring the educational opportunities of Gaza students? The young soldiers of the IDF, according to this logic, must be put in harm’s way at the crossing points of Gaza — which are Hamas’ favorite ambush and attack sites — so that seven people may leave a territory into and out of which they would be able to freely travel any day they wished if Hamas was not engaged in a terror war against Israel. The point is not that limitations on Palestinian educational opportunities are a good thing; it is that such hardships have their origins not in Israeli cruelty, but in Palestinian violence. As someone once said, the Jewish state is expected to act like the only Christian nation in the world.

There are dozens more examples. But there is a group of people on whose behalf anything is rarely said. They are the Palestinians who detest the manner in which Hamas has imprisoned them in Gaza. These people have no spokesmen, not even among the western reporters who derive so much smug satisfaction in imagining themselves the champions of the voiceless. By falsely incriminating Israel and thereby apologizing for Hamas, such journalists only prolong the suffering of Palestinians. IDS hurts Arabs, too.

Read Less

What Took Twenty Years?

John, as you just noted, Barack Obama is leaving Trinity Church. Here’s the ABC News report:

Sources tell ABC News that Obama felt that as the campaign continued, the media would continue to focus on the church, to the detriment of the church community, that Obama would be held responsible for what happened in the church, and that the Church would be held responsible for his campaign. It would be best, Obama felt, to simply cut ties. He has not yet joined a new church. (Emphasis added.)

Well, we can now call Obama’s claim that he is devoted to the church and not Wright “inoperative.” This seems to undermine the argument of his apologists that there was nothing wrong Trinity United and lots of people attend places with rabbis or ministers with whom they “disagree.” Now that it is plain that this church welcomed and celebrated anti-white, anti-woman and anti-Semitic hate speech it is fair to ask why now, why only now would he leave? Well, he’s got a general election to run and the old Obama – the one with Rev. Wright and Father Pfleger as mentors – needs to be pushed out of view.

Imagine if the roles were reversed and John McCain had attended a white separatist church for twenty years. Would his resignation after two decades cure the concern that he had lived some sort of weird double life, cavorting with racists but talking about equal opportunity in his public life? I would imagine he’d have been forced out of the presidential race by now.

So the question remains: was Obama the least observant church congegrant on the planet (racism and anti-Semitism at Trinity? No!) or a hypocrite? Let the voters decide.

John, as you just noted, Barack Obama is leaving Trinity Church. Here’s the ABC News report:

Sources tell ABC News that Obama felt that as the campaign continued, the media would continue to focus on the church, to the detriment of the church community, that Obama would be held responsible for what happened in the church, and that the Church would be held responsible for his campaign. It would be best, Obama felt, to simply cut ties. He has not yet joined a new church. (Emphasis added.)

Well, we can now call Obama’s claim that he is devoted to the church and not Wright “inoperative.” This seems to undermine the argument of his apologists that there was nothing wrong Trinity United and lots of people attend places with rabbis or ministers with whom they “disagree.” Now that it is plain that this church welcomed and celebrated anti-white, anti-woman and anti-Semitic hate speech it is fair to ask why now, why only now would he leave? Well, he’s got a general election to run and the old Obama – the one with Rev. Wright and Father Pfleger as mentors – needs to be pushed out of view.

Imagine if the roles were reversed and John McCain had attended a white separatist church for twenty years. Would his resignation after two decades cure the concern that he had lived some sort of weird double life, cavorting with racists but talking about equal opportunity in his public life? I would imagine he’d have been forced out of the presidential race by now.

So the question remains: was Obama the least observant church congegrant on the planet (racism and anti-Semitism at Trinity? No!) or a hypocrite? Let the voters decide.

Read Less

“It’s Hard To Say No”

In today’s Los Angeles Times, Mahdi Army commander Abu Baqr cops to getting weapons from Iran to use against Americans.

He still hates Iran. But now, he said, he accepts its weapons to fight the U.S. military, figuring he can deal with his distaste for the Iranians later. So he takes bombs that can rip a hole in a U.S. tank and rockets that can pound Baghdad’s Green Zone without apology or regret.

“I think that the Iranians are more dangerous than the Americans. I hate them and I don’t trust them,” he said in an interview over soft drinks. But the militia has limited resources, he said, and “therefore, when somebody gives you or offers help, it’s hard to say no.”

He laughed: “If it came from Israel, we would use it.”

This supports what the U.S. has been saying for a long time: Iran is arming Iraqis who kill Americans. When General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker testified on Capitol Hill last month, General Petraeus engaged in the following exchange with Joe Lieberman:

LIEBERMAN: Is it fair to say that the Iranian-backed special groups in Iraq are responsible for the murder of hundreds of thousands – excuse me – hundreds of American soldiers and thousands of Iraqi soldiers and civilians?

PETRAEUS: It certainly is. I do believe that is correct.

Yet, in an interview shortly after the testimony, when ABC News asked Ryan Crocker if Americans were in a “proxy war” with Iran, Crocker responded, “It may be that the Iranians see it in that light, we certainly do not.”

If one country decides to go to war (proxy or otherwise) with another country and the second country doesn’t acknowledge it, does that mean only one country is at war? With today’s admission from Abu Baqr, we have to admit that we’re choosing not to defend ourselves in the proxy war with Iran. Of course, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton has just announced he’s all for moving things out of the “proxy” realm altogether. It’s hard to figure out just what it will take before the U.S. decides to do something about Iran.

In today’s Los Angeles Times, Mahdi Army commander Abu Baqr cops to getting weapons from Iran to use against Americans.

He still hates Iran. But now, he said, he accepts its weapons to fight the U.S. military, figuring he can deal with his distaste for the Iranians later. So he takes bombs that can rip a hole in a U.S. tank and rockets that can pound Baghdad’s Green Zone without apology or regret.

“I think that the Iranians are more dangerous than the Americans. I hate them and I don’t trust them,” he said in an interview over soft drinks. But the militia has limited resources, he said, and “therefore, when somebody gives you or offers help, it’s hard to say no.”

He laughed: “If it came from Israel, we would use it.”

This supports what the U.S. has been saying for a long time: Iran is arming Iraqis who kill Americans. When General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker testified on Capitol Hill last month, General Petraeus engaged in the following exchange with Joe Lieberman:

LIEBERMAN: Is it fair to say that the Iranian-backed special groups in Iraq are responsible for the murder of hundreds of thousands – excuse me – hundreds of American soldiers and thousands of Iraqi soldiers and civilians?

PETRAEUS: It certainly is. I do believe that is correct.

Yet, in an interview shortly after the testimony, when ABC News asked Ryan Crocker if Americans were in a “proxy war” with Iran, Crocker responded, “It may be that the Iranians see it in that light, we certainly do not.”

If one country decides to go to war (proxy or otherwise) with another country and the second country doesn’t acknowledge it, does that mean only one country is at war? With today’s admission from Abu Baqr, we have to admit that we’re choosing not to defend ourselves in the proxy war with Iran. Of course, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton has just announced he’s all for moving things out of the “proxy” realm altogether. It’s hard to figure out just what it will take before the U.S. decides to do something about Iran.

Read Less

Where Are We Losing?

Yesterday ABC News posted a story about the new State Department report on terrorism. There’s been, it seems, an uptick in global terror victims. From the story:

Most dramatically, there was a 50 percent increase worldwide in suicide bombings last year. All told, 66,995 people were killed or wounded in terror attacks in 2007 (up from 59,327 in 2006 and 39,469 in 2005).

They then break down some of the figures by country and offer this:

“Around the globe people are getting increasingly efficient at killing other people,” said Russ Travers of the National Counterterrorism Center, which compiled the data for the report.

The war on terror has been dispiriting in a number of ways, and even as there’s progress being made, we’re sure to encounter many more unforeseeable setbacks. But we are still very much in a live war. And reading something conclusive into these numbers is disingenuous. It’s like visiting one’s car in the body shop, seeing the pieces scattered about, and determining that the mechanics have made things worse.

The bigger problem lies in the fact that the MSM is so eager to seize upon these figures as confirmation of the Bush administration’s incompetence. In a new piece at National Review, Victor Davis Hanson writes that we’re winning the war abroad and losing it here:

After years of learning how to fight an unfamiliar war in Afghanistan and Iraq, and to protect us at home, we are finally getting most things right. But if our soldiers and intelligence agencies have learned how to win, our politically-correct diplomats and the American consumer haven’t – and are doing as much at home to empower radical Islam as those on the front lines are to defeat it.

As Hanson points out, the U.S. military is making long-awaited and tangible progress. But if news outlets remain obsessed with exploiting the “most dramatically” depressing numbers, ignoring the positives, and looking to diminish every potential gain, then they’ll continue to make the overall fight that much harder.

Yesterday ABC News posted a story about the new State Department report on terrorism. There’s been, it seems, an uptick in global terror victims. From the story:

Most dramatically, there was a 50 percent increase worldwide in suicide bombings last year. All told, 66,995 people were killed or wounded in terror attacks in 2007 (up from 59,327 in 2006 and 39,469 in 2005).

They then break down some of the figures by country and offer this:

“Around the globe people are getting increasingly efficient at killing other people,” said Russ Travers of the National Counterterrorism Center, which compiled the data for the report.

The war on terror has been dispiriting in a number of ways, and even as there’s progress being made, we’re sure to encounter many more unforeseeable setbacks. But we are still very much in a live war. And reading something conclusive into these numbers is disingenuous. It’s like visiting one’s car in the body shop, seeing the pieces scattered about, and determining that the mechanics have made things worse.

The bigger problem lies in the fact that the MSM is so eager to seize upon these figures as confirmation of the Bush administration’s incompetence. In a new piece at National Review, Victor Davis Hanson writes that we’re winning the war abroad and losing it here:

After years of learning how to fight an unfamiliar war in Afghanistan and Iraq, and to protect us at home, we are finally getting most things right. But if our soldiers and intelligence agencies have learned how to win, our politically-correct diplomats and the American consumer haven’t – and are doing as much at home to empower radical Islam as those on the front lines are to defeat it.

As Hanson points out, the U.S. military is making long-awaited and tangible progress. But if news outlets remain obsessed with exploiting the “most dramatically” depressing numbers, ignoring the positives, and looking to diminish every potential gain, then they’ll continue to make the overall fight that much harder.

Read Less

A Moment Of Clarity

Morton Kondracke stands apart from the media hysteria to explain Barack Obama’s fall to earth from Olympian heights:

He’s also now revealed as the most liberal Member of the U.S. Senate — and one who has never, ever departed from party orthodoxy to form the kind of bipartisan coalition he says — correctly — that it will take to solve America’s problems. It’s all about “vetting.” When somebody has been in national life for only three years and is running for the highest office in the land, it’s only natural that voters — and journalists — find out what the candidate is made of, what his character is. Which is why it was perfectly appropriate for ABC News interrogators Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos to ask questions about Obama’s remark that small-town Pennsylvanians “cling” to their guns and religion because they are “bitter,” about his refusal to wear a flag pin and about his association with radicals such as former Weatherman Bill Ayers and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

That seems all perfectly rational (Stuart Taylor has similar thoughts), but there is something more at work here. The promise that Obama would offer a post-racial and post-partisan vision of America has been revealed to be hokum. (Well, some of us from the start may have doubted that post-partisan anything is possible in a vigorous democracy.) It took a while, but now it is painfully obvious that Obama and his campaign don’t seem to believe their own “no division, no Red and Blue America” routine.

It’s getting harder and harder to recognize the Obama who said this after his victory in Iowa:

You said the time has come to move beyond the bitterness and pettiness and anger that’s consumed Washington; to end the political strategy that’s been all about division and instead make it about addition – to build a coalition for change that stretches through Red States and Blue States. Because that’s how we’ll win in November, and that’s how we’ll finally meet the challenges that we face as a nation. . . .That is what we started here in Iowa, and that is the message we can now carry to New Hampshire and beyond; the same message we had when we were up and when we were down; the one that can change this country brick by brick, block by block, calloused hand by calloused hand – that together, ordinary people can do extraordinary things; because we are not a collection of Red States and Blue States, we are the United States of America; and at this moment, in this election, we are ready to believe again.

Moving beyond the “bitterness” we surely have not done. Somewhere along the way we recognized the gap between a speech–a very uplifting one, but just a speech–and what Obama and his campaign operatives believe. That, I think, is why the Left blogosphere, in part, is so depressed: Obama, it turns out, is just like all the rest. (Only with less of a résumé.)

Morton Kondracke stands apart from the media hysteria to explain Barack Obama’s fall to earth from Olympian heights:

He’s also now revealed as the most liberal Member of the U.S. Senate — and one who has never, ever departed from party orthodoxy to form the kind of bipartisan coalition he says — correctly — that it will take to solve America’s problems. It’s all about “vetting.” When somebody has been in national life for only three years and is running for the highest office in the land, it’s only natural that voters — and journalists — find out what the candidate is made of, what his character is. Which is why it was perfectly appropriate for ABC News interrogators Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos to ask questions about Obama’s remark that small-town Pennsylvanians “cling” to their guns and religion because they are “bitter,” about his refusal to wear a flag pin and about his association with radicals such as former Weatherman Bill Ayers and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

That seems all perfectly rational (Stuart Taylor has similar thoughts), but there is something more at work here. The promise that Obama would offer a post-racial and post-partisan vision of America has been revealed to be hokum. (Well, some of us from the start may have doubted that post-partisan anything is possible in a vigorous democracy.) It took a while, but now it is painfully obvious that Obama and his campaign don’t seem to believe their own “no division, no Red and Blue America” routine.

It’s getting harder and harder to recognize the Obama who said this after his victory in Iowa:

You said the time has come to move beyond the bitterness and pettiness and anger that’s consumed Washington; to end the political strategy that’s been all about division and instead make it about addition – to build a coalition for change that stretches through Red States and Blue States. Because that’s how we’ll win in November, and that’s how we’ll finally meet the challenges that we face as a nation. . . .That is what we started here in Iowa, and that is the message we can now carry to New Hampshire and beyond; the same message we had when we were up and when we were down; the one that can change this country brick by brick, block by block, calloused hand by calloused hand – that together, ordinary people can do extraordinary things; because we are not a collection of Red States and Blue States, we are the United States of America; and at this moment, in this election, we are ready to believe again.

Moving beyond the “bitterness” we surely have not done. Somewhere along the way we recognized the gap between a speech–a very uplifting one, but just a speech–and what Obama and his campaign operatives believe. That, I think, is why the Left blogosphere, in part, is so depressed: Obama, it turns out, is just like all the rest. (Only with less of a résumé.)

Read Less

“Shameful”?

In an article today, Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post cites various media figures–from Tom Shales of the Post to Greg Mitchell of Editor & Publisher to Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News to MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann–who are outraged at the performance of George Stephanopoulos and Charles Gibson during Wednesday’s Democratic debate. The ABC News duo’s performance, we are told, was “despicable,” “shameful,” and “disgraced democracy itself.”

And what did Stephanopoulos and Gibson do to earn this scorn? Why, they asked Barack Obama some probing questions, including one about his past relationships with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Jr. and a former leader of the Weather Underground, William Ayers.

Consider this thought experiment: Assume that a conservative candidate for the GOP nomination spent two decades at a church whose senior pastor was a white supremacist who uttered ugly racial (as well as anti-American) epithets from the pulpit. Assume, too, that this minister wasn’t just the candidate’s pastor but also a close friend, the man who married the candidate and his wife, baptized his two daughters, and inspired the title of his best-selling book.

In addition, assume that this GOP candidate, in preparing for his entry into politics, attended an early organizing meeting at the home of a man who, years before, was involved in blowing up multiple abortion clinics and today was unrepentant, stating his wish that he had bombed even more clinics. And let’s say that the GOP candidate’s press spokesman described the relationship between the two men as “friendly.”

Do you think that if those moderating a debate asked the GOP candidate about these relationships for the first time, after 22 previous debates had been held, that other journalists would become apoplectic at the moderators for merely asking about the relationships? Not only would there be a near-universal consensus that those questions should be asked; there would be a moral urgency in pressing for answers. We would, I predict, be seeing an unprecedented media “feeding frenzy.”

The truth is that a close relationship with a white supremacist pastor and a friendly relationship with an abortion clinic bomber would, by themselves, torpedo a conservative candidate running for president. There is an enormous double standard at play here, one rooted in the fawning regard many journalists have for Barack Obama. They have a deep, even emotional, investment in his candidacy. And, as we are seeing, they will turn on anyone, even their colleagues, who dare raise appropriate and searching questions–the kind journalists are supposed to ask. The reaction to Stephanopoulos and Gibson is a revealing and depressing glimpse into the state of modern journalism.

In an article today, Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post cites various media figures–from Tom Shales of the Post to Greg Mitchell of Editor & Publisher to Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News to MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann–who are outraged at the performance of George Stephanopoulos and Charles Gibson during Wednesday’s Democratic debate. The ABC News duo’s performance, we are told, was “despicable,” “shameful,” and “disgraced democracy itself.”

And what did Stephanopoulos and Gibson do to earn this scorn? Why, they asked Barack Obama some probing questions, including one about his past relationships with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Jr. and a former leader of the Weather Underground, William Ayers.

Consider this thought experiment: Assume that a conservative candidate for the GOP nomination spent two decades at a church whose senior pastor was a white supremacist who uttered ugly racial (as well as anti-American) epithets from the pulpit. Assume, too, that this minister wasn’t just the candidate’s pastor but also a close friend, the man who married the candidate and his wife, baptized his two daughters, and inspired the title of his best-selling book.

In addition, assume that this GOP candidate, in preparing for his entry into politics, attended an early organizing meeting at the home of a man who, years before, was involved in blowing up multiple abortion clinics and today was unrepentant, stating his wish that he had bombed even more clinics. And let’s say that the GOP candidate’s press spokesman described the relationship between the two men as “friendly.”

Do you think that if those moderating a debate asked the GOP candidate about these relationships for the first time, after 22 previous debates had been held, that other journalists would become apoplectic at the moderators for merely asking about the relationships? Not only would there be a near-universal consensus that those questions should be asked; there would be a moral urgency in pressing for answers. We would, I predict, be seeing an unprecedented media “feeding frenzy.”

The truth is that a close relationship with a white supremacist pastor and a friendly relationship with an abortion clinic bomber would, by themselves, torpedo a conservative candidate running for president. There is an enormous double standard at play here, one rooted in the fawning regard many journalists have for Barack Obama. They have a deep, even emotional, investment in his candidacy. And, as we are seeing, they will turn on anyone, even their colleagues, who dare raise appropriate and searching questions–the kind journalists are supposed to ask. The reaction to Stephanopoulos and Gibson is a revealing and depressing glimpse into the state of modern journalism.

Read Less




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.