Commentary Magazine


Topic: Bill Ayers

Loughner, McVeigh, and Ted Kaczynski

Over at the Daily Beast, the suddenly hawkish Peter Beinart is incensed that nobody else has the guts to call Arizona gunman Jared Loughner a terrorist. According to Beinart, there’s only one logical explanation for this — Americans are unaware that white people can be terrorists too:

Had the shooters’ name been Abdul Mohammed, you’d be hearing the familiar drumbeat about the need for profiling and the pathologies of Islam. But since his name was Jared Lee Loughner, he gets called “mentally unstable”; the word “terrorist” rarely comes up. When are we going to acknowledge that good old-fashioned white Americans are every bit as capable of killing civilians for a political cause as people with brown skin who pray to Allah?

I’m curious about whom Beinart is accusing of not acknowledging that white people can be terrorists. It certainly couldn’t be the conservatives — you could barely turn on Fox News during the 2008 election without hearing the phrase “unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers.” And it’s clearly not the left, which seems to constantly live in fear that right-wing anti-government terrorists are on the verge of taking over the Republican Party.

Still, Beinart needlessly goes on to inform readers (just in case we weren’t aware) about the history of Ted Kaczynski and Timothy McVeigh. Yes, Beinart, we all realize that these two white men are terrorists — the media brings it up only every single time an Islamist terror attack occurs in this country.

But it seems that he isn’t the only person struggling to twist the Arizona tragedy into a denouncement of America’s racial attitudes. At the Huffington Post, Charles D. Ellison makes a similar argument, claiming that Loughner’s skin color has prevented people from calling him a terrorist:

When a “crazy” white guy with a gun, wound up on polarized talking points and manifestos, indiscriminately kills innocent Americans in broad daylight, it takes several days in the aftermath before the larger public will even accept a hint of premeditation. Typically, the collective American psyche will initially trivialize the event by calling the perpetrator “deranged” or “mentally unstable.” The social response script is fashioned to fake us into a false sense of security. It’s isolated, they say. Just one crazed nut with a gun.

It’s worth noting that the left vehemently attacked any suggestion that the Ford Hood shooter was a terrorist in the days after the incident, even though there was a great deal of evidence that Nidal Hasan was motivated by radical Islam. But even that’s besides the point. The reason Jared Loughner hasn’t been called a terrorist has nothing to do with his skin color — it’s because there isn’t enough evidence at this point to conclude that his actions were (a) politically motivated and (b) meant to intimidate or coerce for a political purpose. Not all acts of violence, no matter how horrific, meet the definition of terrorism.

Of course, the left can’t grasp that, since it views the entire issue of terrorism in terms of race. To them, any type of crackdown on terrorism is seen as a concerted effort to target all Muslims, not just Islamic radicals. And, in that respect, in seems like they’re the ones who should probably stop focusing so much on skin color.

Over at the Daily Beast, the suddenly hawkish Peter Beinart is incensed that nobody else has the guts to call Arizona gunman Jared Loughner a terrorist. According to Beinart, there’s only one logical explanation for this — Americans are unaware that white people can be terrorists too:

Had the shooters’ name been Abdul Mohammed, you’d be hearing the familiar drumbeat about the need for profiling and the pathologies of Islam. But since his name was Jared Lee Loughner, he gets called “mentally unstable”; the word “terrorist” rarely comes up. When are we going to acknowledge that good old-fashioned white Americans are every bit as capable of killing civilians for a political cause as people with brown skin who pray to Allah?

I’m curious about whom Beinart is accusing of not acknowledging that white people can be terrorists. It certainly couldn’t be the conservatives — you could barely turn on Fox News during the 2008 election without hearing the phrase “unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers.” And it’s clearly not the left, which seems to constantly live in fear that right-wing anti-government terrorists are on the verge of taking over the Republican Party.

Still, Beinart needlessly goes on to inform readers (just in case we weren’t aware) about the history of Ted Kaczynski and Timothy McVeigh. Yes, Beinart, we all realize that these two white men are terrorists — the media brings it up only every single time an Islamist terror attack occurs in this country.

But it seems that he isn’t the only person struggling to twist the Arizona tragedy into a denouncement of America’s racial attitudes. At the Huffington Post, Charles D. Ellison makes a similar argument, claiming that Loughner’s skin color has prevented people from calling him a terrorist:

When a “crazy” white guy with a gun, wound up on polarized talking points and manifestos, indiscriminately kills innocent Americans in broad daylight, it takes several days in the aftermath before the larger public will even accept a hint of premeditation. Typically, the collective American psyche will initially trivialize the event by calling the perpetrator “deranged” or “mentally unstable.” The social response script is fashioned to fake us into a false sense of security. It’s isolated, they say. Just one crazed nut with a gun.

It’s worth noting that the left vehemently attacked any suggestion that the Ford Hood shooter was a terrorist in the days after the incident, even though there was a great deal of evidence that Nidal Hasan was motivated by radical Islam. But even that’s besides the point. The reason Jared Loughner hasn’t been called a terrorist has nothing to do with his skin color — it’s because there isn’t enough evidence at this point to conclude that his actions were (a) politically motivated and (b) meant to intimidate or coerce for a political purpose. Not all acts of violence, no matter how horrific, meet the definition of terrorism.

Of course, the left can’t grasp that, since it views the entire issue of terrorism in terms of race. To them, any type of crackdown on terrorism is seen as a concerted effort to target all Muslims, not just Islamic radicals. And, in that respect, in seems like they’re the ones who should probably stop focusing so much on skin color.

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Dohrn vs. the Tea Party

The supposedly racist Tea Partiers helped elect two African-American congressmen, an Indian-American woman governor of South Carolina, Hispanic governors in Nevada and New Mexico, and even a couple of Jewish Republicans (provided Randy Altschuler’s new lead holds up in the NY-1). But the left is not dissuaded by facts. As “angry” as they supposedly were, the Tea Partiers, as Mark Hemingway points out, peacefully gathered in thousands of locations over two years and changed their government — at the ballot box.

Contrast that with unrepentant ex-terrorist Bernardine Dohrn, wife of Bill Ayers and pal of Obama, before it became inconvenient to be so. She insists that the right is racist, armed (presumably, the Second Amendment is one that the hard left would rather do without), and violent. And she — who helped lead a violent, armed revolutionary group that resorted to bombs rather than the ballot box — is terribly concerned about the right’s dangerous propensities. And what of her past? She laughs — ah, well, they were trying to open a “front” in the heartland.

Remorse? Not from her. She still oozes with resentment, understandable given the utter lack of acceptance by the American people of her views. Perhaps her fury at the Tea Partiers, then, is nothing more than jealousy. After all, they are the embodiment of grassroots, peaceful change. And she is a has-been terrorist.

The supposedly racist Tea Partiers helped elect two African-American congressmen, an Indian-American woman governor of South Carolina, Hispanic governors in Nevada and New Mexico, and even a couple of Jewish Republicans (provided Randy Altschuler’s new lead holds up in the NY-1). But the left is not dissuaded by facts. As “angry” as they supposedly were, the Tea Partiers, as Mark Hemingway points out, peacefully gathered in thousands of locations over two years and changed their government — at the ballot box.

Contrast that with unrepentant ex-terrorist Bernardine Dohrn, wife of Bill Ayers and pal of Obama, before it became inconvenient to be so. She insists that the right is racist, armed (presumably, the Second Amendment is one that the hard left would rather do without), and violent. And she — who helped lead a violent, armed revolutionary group that resorted to bombs rather than the ballot box — is terribly concerned about the right’s dangerous propensities. And what of her past? She laughs — ah, well, they were trying to open a “front” in the heartland.

Remorse? Not from her. She still oozes with resentment, understandable given the utter lack of acceptance by the American people of her views. Perhaps her fury at the Tea Partiers, then, is nothing more than jealousy. After all, they are the embodiment of grassroots, peaceful change. And she is a has-been terrorist.

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Another Liberal with Radical Ties (Part One)

In 2008, Obama’s supporters and campaign flacks assured us that his association with a grab bag of radical leftists (e.g. Bill Ayers), a racist and anti-Semitic preacher (Rev. Wright), and a PLO spokesman (Rashid Khalidi), and a Senate voting record that rated him more liberal than Ted Kennedy were irrelevant to his candidacy. It turns out that all that was more revealing of his values and political inclinations than his campaign platitudes. If it weren’t for Obama, Rep. Joe Sestak’s associations (CAIR, J Street) and voting record (97.8 percent agreement with Nancy Pelosi) might not be of concern to Pennsylvania voters. But frankly, they and voters around the country now should sense what is truly enlightening and what is not about a candidate’s associations and allies.

Sestak has made much of his service in the U.S. Navy, which certainly is worthy of respect (although he’s refused to release records that would shed light on the reasons for his resignation). But that service should not obscure his very radical foreign policy associates. Much has already been written about his views on the Middle East and Israel, but practically unnoticed is his association with a group that goes by the name Citizens for Global Solutions (CGS), until recently known by the Orwellian name “the World Federalist Association.” Who are they, and why have they endorsed Sestak and raised $5,700 for him this year and $4,000 in previous years? (The numbers are not extraordinarily large, but Sestak is far and away the top beneficiaries of the group’s largess.) Read More

In 2008, Obama’s supporters and campaign flacks assured us that his association with a grab bag of radical leftists (e.g. Bill Ayers), a racist and anti-Semitic preacher (Rev. Wright), and a PLO spokesman (Rashid Khalidi), and a Senate voting record that rated him more liberal than Ted Kennedy were irrelevant to his candidacy. It turns out that all that was more revealing of his values and political inclinations than his campaign platitudes. If it weren’t for Obama, Rep. Joe Sestak’s associations (CAIR, J Street) and voting record (97.8 percent agreement with Nancy Pelosi) might not be of concern to Pennsylvania voters. But frankly, they and voters around the country now should sense what is truly enlightening and what is not about a candidate’s associations and allies.

Sestak has made much of his service in the U.S. Navy, which certainly is worthy of respect (although he’s refused to release records that would shed light on the reasons for his resignation). But that service should not obscure his very radical foreign policy associates. Much has already been written about his views on the Middle East and Israel, but practically unnoticed is his association with a group that goes by the name Citizens for Global Solutions (CGS), until recently known by the Orwellian name “the World Federalist Association.” Who are they, and why have they endorsed Sestak and raised $5,700 for him this year and $4,000 in previous years? (The numbers are not extraordinarily large, but Sestak is far and away the top beneficiaries of the group’s largess.)

CGS has some very radical ideas, which make Obama seem like a raging nationalist. Its history as a champion of world government, multinational institutions and treaties (which subsume the laws of nation-states), and devotion to the international redistribution of wealth is no secret:

Seeking to create a world in which nations work together to abolish war, protect our rights and freedoms, and solve the problems facing humanity that no nation can solve alone, Citizens for Global Solutions has a long, proud tradition of activism. Tracing its earliest roots back to the years prior to World War II, United World Federalists (later the World Federalist Association) was created in 1947 as a partnership between a number of like-minded organizations that united to achieve their commons goals.

CGS and its predecessor group, the World Federalist Association (WFA), haven’t been shy about their views. They have decried the “myth” of national sovereignty, supported expansion of international entities like the UN Human Rights Council, the International Criminal Court, and even a standing UN army, all to be funded by the U.S. and new global taxes. (“The United States would benefit from an increased involvement in United Nations peacekeeping missions,” the group explains.) In 1999 in the Washington Times, the issues director for the WFA wrote in an op-ed: “This could bring into favor a global e-commerce tax that could be redistributed back to local, state, and national governments.” He explained the organization’s focus:

The crisis-filled future we face is primarily a result of policy-makers holding onto the myth of independence or national sovereignty and a reliance primarily on unilateral action for dealing with global problems. If Congress continues cutting foreign aid and undermining the vital work of the United Nations, we will have to give up either our personal freedoms or our security.

Under its new name (World Federalist Association probably creeped out too many people), CGS has kept up the internationalist drumbeat and the preference for a slew of agreements that diminish U.S. sovereignty, from the Law of the Seas Treaty to global warming accords to the enhancement of the UN authority. The group thinks the UN Human Rights Council is swell:

Currently, the HRC is the primary global intergovernmental body able to address human rights issues and this is the first time the U.S. has been an active participant. Membership will help generate goodwill toward the U.S. and prove the United States’ commitment to multilateral diplomacy. The HRC is direct, resultant, and demands accountability in human rights from its members and the world. Through HRC actions, a strong basis in international action is created so countries can collectively come to the aid of any human rights crisis.

(Of course, it should also get an A+ in Israel-bashing.) Unsurprisingly, this isn’t the only instance in which CGS has demonstrated a marked anti-Israel bias. Its deputy director of government relations, Drew Asson, went after Israel in the Lebanon war, bellowing from his website: “When will this senseless onslaught by Israeli hawks end? When will the UN Security Council step up to the plate and condemn this vicious obviously disproportionate response by Israel?”

You get the picture. This isn’t the first time a politician’s association with CGS has landed him in hot water. In his 2006 Senate run (the same year CGS started giving Sestak money), Bob Casey was pressured to return campaign donations from the group.

Sestak’s relationship with CGS is indicative of a pattern — he solicits support and receives backing from groups whose agenda is at the far left of the political spectrum. (As such, his supporters and donors have a decidedly anti-Israel cast.) So there is reason for the voters to ask what he sees in these groups’ agendas and, more important, what do they see in him?

The answer may lie in his answers on the CGS questionnaire. It’s an eye-opener, to be discussed in Part Two.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Independents are fleeing from Obama and the Democrats: “Independents who embraced President Barack Obama’s call for change in 2008 are ready for a shift again, and that’s worrisome news for Democrats. Only 32 percent of those citing no allegiance to either major party say they want Democrats to keep control of Congress in this November’s elections, according to combined results of recent Associated Press-GfK polls.”

Johnny Rotten is showing more brains and character than what passes for the liberal intelligentsia: “”If Elvis-f***ing-Costello wants to pull out of a gig in Israel because he’s suddenly got this compassion for Palestinians, then good on him. But I have absolutely one rule, right? Until I see an Arab country, a Muslim country, with a democracy, I won’t understand how anyone can have a problem with how they’re treated.”

Dore Gold is warning about the Obami’s infatuation with the “1967 borders” (in other words, the status quo after the 1990 armistice, a nonstarter for Israel, and another instance of reneging on the Bush-Sharon 2004 letter, which recognized that “it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949″). But then this is all moot so long as the PA refuses to get in the room with the Israelis and lacks the will and ability to make a binding peace deal.

The left is reeling from Obama’s backtracking on the Ground Zero mosque: “Glenn Greenwald, a lawyer and liberal blogger, summed up the frustration of those on the Left … by tweeting on the microblogging website Twitter: ‘Well, it was nice spending a day thinking Obama did something courageous.'” Silly them.

The shills are straining to explain Obama’s reversal. David A. Harris of the NDJC: “I applaud his clarion statements on this matter that cut to the heart of what our country stands for — including religious liberty for all peoples and the separation of church and state.” The clarion statement praising a mosque on the graves of 3,000 dead Americans or the clarion statement that he didn’t mean it?

The Democratic leadership is sounding desperate to shut up not just the public but also the media and even Obama. “Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and appeared on CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ to talk about the upcoming election, was asked for his personal view on whether the mosque should be built in New York. ‘It would be wrong to politicize the issue,’ he said, adding that the decision should be ‘up to the people of New York’ on where the Islamic center should be built.'” The people of NYC don’t want it, and Obama made it front-page news, so I think he’ll have to do better than that.

Conservative blog readers are putting it together. Here’s a particularly apt summary of Obama’s behavior on the Ground Zero mosque debacle: “He is a man of the Left, and for him and many others in this country 9/11 was the big comeuppance. There were many people who came out after 9/11 to say America had it coming, and one of them was Obama’s old friend and ghost autohagiographer Bill Ayers. In his ideas about America’s relationship with the Muslim world, Obama has much more in common with Imam Rauf than with he does with ordinary Americans and he’s not afraid to say so; he’s just really really bad at handling the blow back.”

Obama is still tanking in the polls, reaching a new low in Gallup.

Gen. David Petraeus is struggling to get out from under his commander in chief’s troop deadline for Afghanistan: “‘I don’t find it that stifling,’ he said. ‘I’m not bowed over by, you know, the knowledge that July 2011 is out there. In fact the president has been very clear, Vice President [Joe] Biden has been very clear as well more recently that this is a date when a process begins, that is conditions-based. And as the conditions permit, we transition tasks to our Afghan counterparts and the security forces and in various governmental institutions, and that enables a quote ‘responsible’ drawdown of our forces.'”

Independents are fleeing from Obama and the Democrats: “Independents who embraced President Barack Obama’s call for change in 2008 are ready for a shift again, and that’s worrisome news for Democrats. Only 32 percent of those citing no allegiance to either major party say they want Democrats to keep control of Congress in this November’s elections, according to combined results of recent Associated Press-GfK polls.”

Johnny Rotten is showing more brains and character than what passes for the liberal intelligentsia: “”If Elvis-f***ing-Costello wants to pull out of a gig in Israel because he’s suddenly got this compassion for Palestinians, then good on him. But I have absolutely one rule, right? Until I see an Arab country, a Muslim country, with a democracy, I won’t understand how anyone can have a problem with how they’re treated.”

Dore Gold is warning about the Obami’s infatuation with the “1967 borders” (in other words, the status quo after the 1990 armistice, a nonstarter for Israel, and another instance of reneging on the Bush-Sharon 2004 letter, which recognized that “it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949″). But then this is all moot so long as the PA refuses to get in the room with the Israelis and lacks the will and ability to make a binding peace deal.

The left is reeling from Obama’s backtracking on the Ground Zero mosque: “Glenn Greenwald, a lawyer and liberal blogger, summed up the frustration of those on the Left … by tweeting on the microblogging website Twitter: ‘Well, it was nice spending a day thinking Obama did something courageous.'” Silly them.

The shills are straining to explain Obama’s reversal. David A. Harris of the NDJC: “I applaud his clarion statements on this matter that cut to the heart of what our country stands for — including religious liberty for all peoples and the separation of church and state.” The clarion statement praising a mosque on the graves of 3,000 dead Americans or the clarion statement that he didn’t mean it?

The Democratic leadership is sounding desperate to shut up not just the public but also the media and even Obama. “Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and appeared on CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ to talk about the upcoming election, was asked for his personal view on whether the mosque should be built in New York. ‘It would be wrong to politicize the issue,’ he said, adding that the decision should be ‘up to the people of New York’ on where the Islamic center should be built.'” The people of NYC don’t want it, and Obama made it front-page news, so I think he’ll have to do better than that.

Conservative blog readers are putting it together. Here’s a particularly apt summary of Obama’s behavior on the Ground Zero mosque debacle: “He is a man of the Left, and for him and many others in this country 9/11 was the big comeuppance. There were many people who came out after 9/11 to say America had it coming, and one of them was Obama’s old friend and ghost autohagiographer Bill Ayers. In his ideas about America’s relationship with the Muslim world, Obama has much more in common with Imam Rauf than with he does with ordinary Americans and he’s not afraid to say so; he’s just really really bad at handling the blow back.”

Obama is still tanking in the polls, reaching a new low in Gallup.

Gen. David Petraeus is struggling to get out from under his commander in chief’s troop deadline for Afghanistan: “‘I don’t find it that stifling,’ he said. ‘I’m not bowed over by, you know, the knowledge that July 2011 is out there. In fact the president has been very clear, Vice President [Joe] Biden has been very clear as well more recently that this is a date when a process begins, that is conditions-based. And as the conditions permit, we transition tasks to our Afghan counterparts and the security forces and in various governmental institutions, and that enables a quote ‘responsible’ drawdown of our forces.'”

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Obama’s Reality Gap

Morton Kondracke writes:

From BP to banks, health insurance companies to special interest lobbyists, Obama & Co. pass up no opportunity to slash and bash — except when they are asking for industry cooperation or appealing for national unity.

The dichotomy between one rhetorical mood and the other is so pronounced, you almost suspect that the administration and its leader are bipolar. …

President Barack Obama certainly is not a socialist — let alone a communist — as some of his far-out detractors claim. But he and his aides certainly are in populist, “whack industry” mode.

From BP to banks, health insurance companies to special interest lobbyists, Obama & Co. pass up no opportunity to slash and bash — except when they are asking for industry cooperation or appealing for national unity.

The dichotomy between one rhetorical mood and the other is so pronounced, you almost suspect that the administration and its leader are bipolar.

Kondrake wonders if Obama is just a liberal with a deep suspicion of free enterprise. Perhaps — but that does not explain the rank hypocrisy that permeates not only his tone with businesses but also with an array of adversaries and critics.

Here’s another theory: the Obama self-created image — practiced in the Ivy League, cultivated in memoirs, nurtured on the campaign trail, and enhanced by the media — of an intellectual, a moderate, a unifier, and most of all a charismatic figure whose mere presence is transformative has a life of its own, unrelated to Obama’s actual political agenda and beliefs. To discover the latter one need only look at his pre-senatorial associations (from Rev. Wright to Bill Ayers), his record in the Senate (the most liberal among many liberals), his legislative goals (a mix of special-interest trinkets and monstrously complicated statist measures), and his staff’s fetish for bullying (from Bibi to Fox News to Rush Limbaugh). So naturally the result is what Kondrake calls “bipolar” and others call “hypocrisy.” It is also why Obama is so expert — perhaps the only thing in which he is expert — in campaigning. For campaigning is the art of spinning a discrete image, a reality that may or may not coincide with the outside world, and selling it relentlessly to the public. That, after all, is what Obama does and has done throughout his adult life. Unfortunately, eventually the public catches on — and then poll numbers sink, a wave election builds, and the facade crumbles. But it takes a while for people to catch on.

Morton Kondracke writes:

From BP to banks, health insurance companies to special interest lobbyists, Obama & Co. pass up no opportunity to slash and bash — except when they are asking for industry cooperation or appealing for national unity.

The dichotomy between one rhetorical mood and the other is so pronounced, you almost suspect that the administration and its leader are bipolar. …

President Barack Obama certainly is not a socialist — let alone a communist — as some of his far-out detractors claim. But he and his aides certainly are in populist, “whack industry” mode.

From BP to banks, health insurance companies to special interest lobbyists, Obama & Co. pass up no opportunity to slash and bash — except when they are asking for industry cooperation or appealing for national unity.

The dichotomy between one rhetorical mood and the other is so pronounced, you almost suspect that the administration and its leader are bipolar.

Kondrake wonders if Obama is just a liberal with a deep suspicion of free enterprise. Perhaps — but that does not explain the rank hypocrisy that permeates not only his tone with businesses but also with an array of adversaries and critics.

Here’s another theory: the Obama self-created image — practiced in the Ivy League, cultivated in memoirs, nurtured on the campaign trail, and enhanced by the media — of an intellectual, a moderate, a unifier, and most of all a charismatic figure whose mere presence is transformative has a life of its own, unrelated to Obama’s actual political agenda and beliefs. To discover the latter one need only look at his pre-senatorial associations (from Rev. Wright to Bill Ayers), his record in the Senate (the most liberal among many liberals), his legislative goals (a mix of special-interest trinkets and monstrously complicated statist measures), and his staff’s fetish for bullying (from Bibi to Fox News to Rush Limbaugh). So naturally the result is what Kondrake calls “bipolar” and others call “hypocrisy.” It is also why Obama is so expert — perhaps the only thing in which he is expert — in campaigning. For campaigning is the art of spinning a discrete image, a reality that may or may not coincide with the outside world, and selling it relentlessly to the public. That, after all, is what Obama does and has done throughout his adult life. Unfortunately, eventually the public catches on — and then poll numbers sink, a wave election builds, and the facade crumbles. But it takes a while for people to catch on.

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Standing by Their Man

In the New York Times, Robert Wright argues that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq served to radicalize Maj. Nidal Hasan, and that:

The Fort Hood shooting, then, is an example of Islamist terrorism being spread partly by the war on terrorism — or, actually, by two wars on terrorism, in Iraq and Afghanistan. And Fort Hood is the biggest data point we have — the most lethal Islamist terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11. It’s only one piece of evidence, but it’s a salient piece, and it supports the liberal, not the conservative, war-on-terrorism paradigm.

By this reckoning, facing down the Soviet Union was a failure because it radicalized Bill Ayers. (Never mind that Hasan was connected to radical imams before the U.S. was involved in either war.)

Wright’s argument shows us the shape of liberal things to come. When the Fort Hood attack first happened, liberals jumped into the breach to declare Hasan a nut job with no religious or political motivation. Within twenty-four hours they were buried with evidence to the contrary. If jihad can’t be painted over with a medical condition, what, then, is a good Lefty to do? Blame the U.S. for jihad, of course.

We’ve come full circle. When 9/11 happened it was our fault because we supported the Mujahadeen against the Soviets in Afghanistan. Eight years later, Fort Hood is our fault for fighting the operational offspring of the Mujahadeen.

Wright thinks he’s been terribly clever in managing to hoist us hawks by our own petards. “When the argument is framed like this, don’t be surprised if conservatives, having insisted that we not medicalize Major Hasan’s crime by calling him crazy, start underscoring his craziness.”

No sale. Hasan is not crazy. He is an Islamist terrorist who carried out a plan. Fortunately, our efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere have killed thousands just like him.

In the New York Times, Robert Wright argues that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq served to radicalize Maj. Nidal Hasan, and that:

The Fort Hood shooting, then, is an example of Islamist terrorism being spread partly by the war on terrorism — or, actually, by two wars on terrorism, in Iraq and Afghanistan. And Fort Hood is the biggest data point we have — the most lethal Islamist terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11. It’s only one piece of evidence, but it’s a salient piece, and it supports the liberal, not the conservative, war-on-terrorism paradigm.

By this reckoning, facing down the Soviet Union was a failure because it radicalized Bill Ayers. (Never mind that Hasan was connected to radical imams before the U.S. was involved in either war.)

Wright’s argument shows us the shape of liberal things to come. When the Fort Hood attack first happened, liberals jumped into the breach to declare Hasan a nut job with no religious or political motivation. Within twenty-four hours they were buried with evidence to the contrary. If jihad can’t be painted over with a medical condition, what, then, is a good Lefty to do? Blame the U.S. for jihad, of course.

We’ve come full circle. When 9/11 happened it was our fault because we supported the Mujahadeen against the Soviets in Afghanistan. Eight years later, Fort Hood is our fault for fighting the operational offspring of the Mujahadeen.

Wright thinks he’s been terribly clever in managing to hoist us hawks by our own petards. “When the argument is framed like this, don’t be surprised if conservatives, having insisted that we not medicalize Major Hasan’s crime by calling him crazy, start underscoring his craziness.”

No sale. Hasan is not crazy. He is an Islamist terrorist who carried out a plan. Fortunately, our efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere have killed thousands just like him.

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One Out Of Two

Robert Novak spots two signals from the McCain camp: they will come out blazing about Barack Obama’s odd associations(Bill Ayers specifically) and they aren’t going to spend time on “health care mandates and home foreclosures.”

As to the first, this may come as a relief to conservatives who were dismayed that McCain seemed queasy about taking on his foe on issues which it turns out the public cares about. Noteworthy in its absence, however, is any mention of Reverend Wright. One wonders then if we will face some Byzantine rules about which anti-American, hate mangers are fair game and which are not.

The second, if an accurate representation of the McCain camp thinking, is potentially disastrous. There seems no surer formula for electoral calamity than for him than to live up to the Democrats’ favorite cartoonish portrait of an out-of-touch and indifferent Republican. By ignoring two top issues on most voters’ minds–health care and economic insecurity–he will surely forfeit whatever chances he has to pull in independent voters and even some of those disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters.

McCain’s hopes lie not replaying George H.W. Bush, who was dinged as oblivious to the recession (which in retrospect was mild) and bored with a domestic agenda, but in a reform-minded vision which offers some real alternatives to Barack Obama’s standard-fare liberalism. While some might like to encourage his natural predilection to ignore domestic matters, it is one entreaty he should ignore.

Robert Novak spots two signals from the McCain camp: they will come out blazing about Barack Obama’s odd associations(Bill Ayers specifically) and they aren’t going to spend time on “health care mandates and home foreclosures.”

As to the first, this may come as a relief to conservatives who were dismayed that McCain seemed queasy about taking on his foe on issues which it turns out the public cares about. Noteworthy in its absence, however, is any mention of Reverend Wright. One wonders then if we will face some Byzantine rules about which anti-American, hate mangers are fair game and which are not.

The second, if an accurate representation of the McCain camp thinking, is potentially disastrous. There seems no surer formula for electoral calamity than for him than to live up to the Democrats’ favorite cartoonish portrait of an out-of-touch and indifferent Republican. By ignoring two top issues on most voters’ minds–health care and economic insecurity–he will surely forfeit whatever chances he has to pull in independent voters and even some of those disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters.

McCain’s hopes lie not replaying George H.W. Bush, who was dinged as oblivious to the recession (which in retrospect was mild) and bored with a domestic agenda, but in a reform-minded vision which offers some real alternatives to Barack Obama’s standard-fare liberalism. While some might like to encourage his natural predilection to ignore domestic matters, it is one entreaty he should ignore.

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Clean Hands, Empty Record

Barack Obama took a swipe at John McCain for his staff’s violation of the campaign’s stated ethics/lobbying policy. The McCain campaign blasted back. The media focused on a McCain spokesman’s eye-catching suggestion that the friend of unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers did not want to get into the game of guilt by association.

We have seen the Obama camp play fast and loose with the identity and role of its advisors. Robert Malley really wasn’t one, we were told. Zbigniew Brzezinski really isn’t that important, we’re assured. Austan Goolsbee really isn’t an official spokesman, you see. All of this sets up a fog of unaccountability and makes it virtually impossible to determine whether conflicts of interest exist, and more importantly who has the ear of the presumptive nominee. So much for a new era of transparency.

In the case of supposedly tainted legislative actions, the McCain camp has scrambled to demonstrate that McCain acted independently of any lobbying influence, in keeping with his own policy viewpoints and/or as part of a bipartisan effort. (Somehow we don’t hear much about Obama’s $1M earmark for his wife’s employer.) But Obama hasn’t done much of anything in Washington and hasn’t sponsored or participated in many legislative battles small or large. So his hands and his associations in Washington can remain relatively pristine. And he’s attempted to transform his paucity of experience into an advantage. McCain is a “creature of Washington,” he says. But what is he? What is his comparable record of accomplishment? What are the means by which we can assess his ability to withstand illicit influence?

Barack Obama took a swipe at John McCain for his staff’s violation of the campaign’s stated ethics/lobbying policy. The McCain campaign blasted back. The media focused on a McCain spokesman’s eye-catching suggestion that the friend of unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers did not want to get into the game of guilt by association.

We have seen the Obama camp play fast and loose with the identity and role of its advisors. Robert Malley really wasn’t one, we were told. Zbigniew Brzezinski really isn’t that important, we’re assured. Austan Goolsbee really isn’t an official spokesman, you see. All of this sets up a fog of unaccountability and makes it virtually impossible to determine whether conflicts of interest exist, and more importantly who has the ear of the presumptive nominee. So much for a new era of transparency.

In the case of supposedly tainted legislative actions, the McCain camp has scrambled to demonstrate that McCain acted independently of any lobbying influence, in keeping with his own policy viewpoints and/or as part of a bipartisan effort. (Somehow we don’t hear much about Obama’s $1M earmark for his wife’s employer.) But Obama hasn’t done much of anything in Washington and hasn’t sponsored or participated in many legislative battles small or large. So his hands and his associations in Washington can remain relatively pristine. And he’s attempted to transform his paucity of experience into an advantage. McCain is a “creature of Washington,” he says. But what is he? What is his comparable record of accomplishment? What are the means by which we can assess his ability to withstand illicit influence?

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Stepping Up Their Game

The McCain camp was wary, while the Democratic primary still looked undecided, of taking on Barack Obama too forcefully. Yes on Hamas and Bill Ayers, no on Reverend Wright, with not much fire directed at some of the recent Obama gaffes. Now that the primary is drawing to an end, the McCain camp may be stepping up its rhetoric, and the rules of engagement are being set.

After the John Edwards endorsement event in Michigan last night, the McCain camp put out a statement which took Obama to task in some of its strongest language to date:

Whether it’s Senator Obama’s pledges to raise taxes on millions of hardworking families or his senseless foreign policy of meeting with anti-American regimes abroad, he shows a lack of judgment that voters will reject.

Staffers also sent out some stats from their research files detailing the lack of bipartisanship in Obama’s record, in advance of McCain’s speech today on bipartisanship.

Likewise, when Obama’s communications director Robert Gibbs tried to hedge on Obama’s position that he will meet directly with state sponsors of terrorism (“Let’s not confuse precondition with preparation,” he told John Roberts during a CNN interview), the McCain team struck back. With plenty of YouTube material and Obama’s own website detailing the candidate’s repeated determination to meet with rogue states’ leaders without preconditions, it wasn’t hard to show that Obama’s spokesman had been engaging in old-style double talk.

McCain’s people will need to do more of this if they are going to force Obama to define what “change” is and make clear exactly what policies he has in store. Allowing Obama to escape scrutiny in a media environment already shown to be excessively deferential to the Agent of Change would be a grave and even fatal error: It’s one Hillary Clinton made for all of 2007.

The McCain camp was wary, while the Democratic primary still looked undecided, of taking on Barack Obama too forcefully. Yes on Hamas and Bill Ayers, no on Reverend Wright, with not much fire directed at some of the recent Obama gaffes. Now that the primary is drawing to an end, the McCain camp may be stepping up its rhetoric, and the rules of engagement are being set.

After the John Edwards endorsement event in Michigan last night, the McCain camp put out a statement which took Obama to task in some of its strongest language to date:

Whether it’s Senator Obama’s pledges to raise taxes on millions of hardworking families or his senseless foreign policy of meeting with anti-American regimes abroad, he shows a lack of judgment that voters will reject.

Staffers also sent out some stats from their research files detailing the lack of bipartisanship in Obama’s record, in advance of McCain’s speech today on bipartisanship.

Likewise, when Obama’s communications director Robert Gibbs tried to hedge on Obama’s position that he will meet directly with state sponsors of terrorism (“Let’s not confuse precondition with preparation,” he told John Roberts during a CNN interview), the McCain team struck back. With plenty of YouTube material and Obama’s own website detailing the candidate’s repeated determination to meet with rogue states’ leaders without preconditions, it wasn’t hard to show that Obama’s spokesman had been engaging in old-style double talk.

McCain’s people will need to do more of this if they are going to force Obama to define what “change” is and make clear exactly what policies he has in store. Allowing Obama to escape scrutiny in a media environment already shown to be excessively deferential to the Agent of Change would be a grave and even fatal error: It’s one Hillary Clinton made for all of 2007.

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Obama’s Bad Numbers

New NBC/Wall Street Journal and NY Times/CBS polls have plenty of data to worry Obamaphiles. In the head-to-head national RealClearPolitics.com averages Barack Obama’s lead over Hillary Clinton is shrinking fast. (And many of these polls surveyed voters in significant part before the latest Wright eruption.)

A few tidbits from the NBC/WSJ poll: Obama has dropped 5 points in the “has background/set of values I identify with” and 48% find Obama’s associations with Wright and Bill Ayers a major or moderate concern.

From the NY Times/CBS poll: Obama now is tied with John McCain while Clinton beats him in the head-to-head match ups. And things are heading in the wrong direction on other counts as the Times explains:

Fifty-one percent of Democratic voters say they expect Mr. Obama to win their party’s nomination, down from 69 percent a month ago. Forty-eight percent of Democrats say Mr. Obama is the candidate with the best chance of beating Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, down from 56 percent a month ago.

Obama still leads Clinton in both of these polls. But what will the polls say after the public has digested the latest epsiode in the Wright-Obama debacle?

The real news is now Clinton has more than Harold Ickes’ hunches to discuss with the superdelegates. The Times lets on that “some party leaders and superdelegates said the Wright controversy has given them pause, raising questions about Mr. Obama’s electability in the general election next fall.” Imagine that. Superdelegates are precisely the type of people (elected official, professional poll watchers, scared of their constituents) who are the most likely to “pause” ( which may be Times-speak for “break out in a cold sweat”) when they see a political firestorm and don’t know if all the shoes have dropped.

But perhaps by Tuesday all will be forgotten and Obama will cruise to wins in Indiana and North Carolinaes with an impressive coalition of whites/women/African Americans/union voters/seniors. Why, just like he did last time he won a primary in a populous state — Wisconsin. That was on February 19.

New NBC/Wall Street Journal and NY Times/CBS polls have plenty of data to worry Obamaphiles. In the head-to-head national RealClearPolitics.com averages Barack Obama’s lead over Hillary Clinton is shrinking fast. (And many of these polls surveyed voters in significant part before the latest Wright eruption.)

A few tidbits from the NBC/WSJ poll: Obama has dropped 5 points in the “has background/set of values I identify with” and 48% find Obama’s associations with Wright and Bill Ayers a major or moderate concern.

From the NY Times/CBS poll: Obama now is tied with John McCain while Clinton beats him in the head-to-head match ups. And things are heading in the wrong direction on other counts as the Times explains:

Fifty-one percent of Democratic voters say they expect Mr. Obama to win their party’s nomination, down from 69 percent a month ago. Forty-eight percent of Democrats say Mr. Obama is the candidate with the best chance of beating Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, down from 56 percent a month ago.

Obama still leads Clinton in both of these polls. But what will the polls say after the public has digested the latest epsiode in the Wright-Obama debacle?

The real news is now Clinton has more than Harold Ickes’ hunches to discuss with the superdelegates. The Times lets on that “some party leaders and superdelegates said the Wright controversy has given them pause, raising questions about Mr. Obama’s electability in the general election next fall.” Imagine that. Superdelegates are precisely the type of people (elected official, professional poll watchers, scared of their constituents) who are the most likely to “pause” ( which may be Times-speak for “break out in a cold sweat”) when they see a political firestorm and don’t know if all the shoes have dropped.

But perhaps by Tuesday all will be forgotten and Obama will cruise to wins in Indiana and North Carolinaes with an impressive coalition of whites/women/African Americans/union voters/seniors. Why, just like he did last time he won a primary in a populous state — Wisconsin. That was on February 19.

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The Virtue of Obama’s Trials

The consensus is that Barack Obama’s candidacy has been wounded over the past six weeks. His partisans are enraged that he is taking heat for things said by his pastor (even as some Obama Kool-aid drinkers actually waste words trying to defend said pastor), and that he is asked questions of a non-substantive nature (as though there is anything remotely substantive in his own cotton-candy-and-brimstone speeches). Those who feared him now fear him less. Those who want Hillary to win are building strength for their case that she should be the nominee because he can’t make it to November.

Yes, these are bad days for Barack Obama, but the fact is, he’s lucky to have had them now. If he had knocked Hillary out of the race early and simply walked into the nomination, the media love affair with him would have been so profoundly deep that it would have taken months for the infatuation to dissipate even a little bit. At which point Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers and all of Obama’s baggage would have been hauled out of storage and become fodder not for a Democratic debate that angered liberals, but for a presidential debate in September or October with an audience of 100 million or more.

If Wright and Ayers had come to dominate the news in October, that would have spelled the end to Obama’s presidential hopes. The fact that they have dominated the news in April will, I suspect, prove to have been something of a lucky break. He was never going to get away without having to deal with his leftist and black-nationalist baggage, and if he had dealt with it three weeks before the election in the same manner he did in the weeks before the Pennsylvania primary, he would have collapsed faster than a left-brained person in a right-brained school system.

He’s not the Messiah any longer, but he can still win.

The consensus is that Barack Obama’s candidacy has been wounded over the past six weeks. His partisans are enraged that he is taking heat for things said by his pastor (even as some Obama Kool-aid drinkers actually waste words trying to defend said pastor), and that he is asked questions of a non-substantive nature (as though there is anything remotely substantive in his own cotton-candy-and-brimstone speeches). Those who feared him now fear him less. Those who want Hillary to win are building strength for their case that she should be the nominee because he can’t make it to November.

Yes, these are bad days for Barack Obama, but the fact is, he’s lucky to have had them now. If he had knocked Hillary out of the race early and simply walked into the nomination, the media love affair with him would have been so profoundly deep that it would have taken months for the infatuation to dissipate even a little bit. At which point Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers and all of Obama’s baggage would have been hauled out of storage and become fodder not for a Democratic debate that angered liberals, but for a presidential debate in September or October with an audience of 100 million or more.

If Wright and Ayers had come to dominate the news in October, that would have spelled the end to Obama’s presidential hopes. The fact that they have dominated the news in April will, I suspect, prove to have been something of a lucky break. He was never going to get away without having to deal with his leftist and black-nationalist baggage, and if he had dealt with it three weeks before the election in the same manner he did in the weeks before the Pennsylvania primary, he would have collapsed faster than a left-brained person in a right-brained school system.

He’s not the Messiah any longer, but he can still win.

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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.)

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Highlights From McCain Blogger Call

John McCain held another blogger call, beginning by highlighting his differences with the Democrats on the economy. (“If people want their taxes raised,” he said, “I’m not their guy.”) But the most noteworthy comments came on the subject of Hamas and Bill Ayers.

I asked about Hamas’s endorsement of Barack Obama. McCain bluntly responded, ” It’s clear who Hamas wants to be the next President of the United States.” He continued “I will be Hamas’ worst nightmare” and said that he “never expects” to hear a Hamas official say they want him as President. On the subject of Bill Ayers, McCain displayed none of the hesitancy he has shown about discussing Reverend Wright. He said he was “a bit surprised” the media had not made more of Obama’s association with “an unrepentant terrorist” and Obama’s equation of his relationship with Ayers to his friendship with Senator Tom Coburn. McCain said he was “offended” by the latter and that a “repudiation and apology” are due from Obama to the American people.

Bottom line? McCain is not above going after his likely opponent on his association with radicals (and his apparent popularity with extremists worldwide)–so long as the subject is not Reverend Wright.

John McCain held another blogger call, beginning by highlighting his differences with the Democrats on the economy. (“If people want their taxes raised,” he said, “I’m not their guy.”) But the most noteworthy comments came on the subject of Hamas and Bill Ayers.

I asked about Hamas’s endorsement of Barack Obama. McCain bluntly responded, ” It’s clear who Hamas wants to be the next President of the United States.” He continued “I will be Hamas’ worst nightmare” and said that he “never expects” to hear a Hamas official say they want him as President. On the subject of Bill Ayers, McCain displayed none of the hesitancy he has shown about discussing Reverend Wright. He said he was “a bit surprised” the media had not made more of Obama’s association with “an unrepentant terrorist” and Obama’s equation of his relationship with Ayers to his friendship with Senator Tom Coburn. McCain said he was “offended” by the latter and that a “repudiation and apology” are due from Obama to the American people.

Bottom line? McCain is not above going after his likely opponent on his association with radicals (and his apparent popularity with extremists worldwide)–so long as the subject is not Reverend Wright.

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Two Decades of Public Service?

Obama just described himself, with 12 years as an elected official, as having performed two decades of public service. Maybe he took math lessons from education professor Bill Ayers.

Obama just described himself, with 12 years as an elected official, as having performed two decades of public service. Maybe he took math lessons from education professor Bill Ayers.

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McCain’s Base

The media coverage is catching up with reality, at least on John McCain’s acceptance by the conservative base. Gone are the “James Dobson is not pleased” and “Conservatives aren’t happy” stories. Now, grudging “Conservatives respect McCain but they aren’t enthusiastic” reporting dominates the scene.

Conservative support (as reflected in polling) hasn’t changed much. The coverage has. Why? Partially because conservatives may be willing to speak up on McCain’s behalf in the wake of the negative coverage of Barack Obama. Partially because of a fear that Obama will bring a grab-bag of 1960’s counterculture characters to the White House. Certainly conservative talk show hosts have a plethora of targets (e.g. Reverend Wright, Bill Ayers) far juicier than McCain’s past violations of conservative orthodoxy. (Even Rick Santorum offers McCain grudging support because, after all, “He’s not Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.”) At some point, also, it becomes silly to trot out more “conservatives aren’t happy” tale. The real story in base defection and fragmentation is, of course, on the Democratic side, where more and more incidents reflect the looming challenge in healing the wounds left by an increasingly vitriolic primary race. Even commentators on the left have begun to recognize this.

The media coverage is catching up with reality, at least on John McCain’s acceptance by the conservative base. Gone are the “James Dobson is not pleased” and “Conservatives aren’t happy” stories. Now, grudging “Conservatives respect McCain but they aren’t enthusiastic” reporting dominates the scene.

Conservative support (as reflected in polling) hasn’t changed much. The coverage has. Why? Partially because conservatives may be willing to speak up on McCain’s behalf in the wake of the negative coverage of Barack Obama. Partially because of a fear that Obama will bring a grab-bag of 1960’s counterculture characters to the White House. Certainly conservative talk show hosts have a plethora of targets (e.g. Reverend Wright, Bill Ayers) far juicier than McCain’s past violations of conservative orthodoxy. (Even Rick Santorum offers McCain grudging support because, after all, “He’s not Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.”) At some point, also, it becomes silly to trot out more “conservatives aren’t happy” tale. The real story in base defection and fragmentation is, of course, on the Democratic side, where more and more incidents reflect the looming challenge in healing the wounds left by an increasingly vitriolic primary race. Even commentators on the left have begun to recognize this.

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What Matters?

ABC’s This Week Roundtable featured a thoughtful debate on a fundamental question in presidential politics: is it the policy or the person that matters most? Cokie Roberts posited that the elections are decided more on a “gut check” and that voters pay less attention to the details of tax, healthcare, or other policy matters. But George Will thinks that much of the “gut check” involves a consideration of where candidates stand on those policy issues. This is the more troubling issue for Obama’s supporters: how a far-left candidate is going to sell himself to a center-right electorate.

The McCain team seems to believe Roberts. McCain’s staffers are trying to set up a contrast between Obama and McCain mostly on character questions. The danger? In those debates in the fall, when the entire country is watching, Obama will seem the picture of middle-class virtue and voters will conclude that he doesn’t seem nearly as bad as all those 527 ads have painted him to be. So at some point it may behoove McCain to engage on Obama on the issues. Such criticism may be harder for Obama to explain away than his collegial relationship with Bill Ayers. That is, unless Obama seeks to repudiate his positions (articulated during the Democratic primary) on taxes, trade, Iraq, abortion, etc.

For that reason, although Ms. Roberts may be correct in emphasizing the “gut check,” McCain may have no choice but to start engaging Obama in a battle of political philosophy.

ABC’s This Week Roundtable featured a thoughtful debate on a fundamental question in presidential politics: is it the policy or the person that matters most? Cokie Roberts posited that the elections are decided more on a “gut check” and that voters pay less attention to the details of tax, healthcare, or other policy matters. But George Will thinks that much of the “gut check” involves a consideration of where candidates stand on those policy issues. This is the more troubling issue for Obama’s supporters: how a far-left candidate is going to sell himself to a center-right electorate.

The McCain team seems to believe Roberts. McCain’s staffers are trying to set up a contrast between Obama and McCain mostly on character questions. The danger? In those debates in the fall, when the entire country is watching, Obama will seem the picture of middle-class virtue and voters will conclude that he doesn’t seem nearly as bad as all those 527 ads have painted him to be. So at some point it may behoove McCain to engage on Obama on the issues. Such criticism may be harder for Obama to explain away than his collegial relationship with Bill Ayers. That is, unless Obama seeks to repudiate his positions (articulated during the Democratic primary) on taxes, trade, Iraq, abortion, etc.

For that reason, although Ms. Roberts may be correct in emphasizing the “gut check,” McCain may have no choice but to start engaging Obama in a battle of political philosophy.

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McCain Takes On Bill Ayers

John McCain, in an interview on Sunday, went on the offensive against Barack Obama on the subject of Bill Ayers:

Because if you’re going to associate and have as a friend and serve on a board and have a guy kick off your campaign that says he’s unrepentant, that he wished bombed more — and then, the worst thing of all, that, I think, really indicates Senator Obama’s attitude, is he had the incredible statement that he compared Mr. Ayers, an unrepentant terrorist, with Senator Tom Coburn, Senator Coburn, a physician who goes to Oklahoma on the weekends and brings babies into life — comparing those two — I mean, that’s not –that’s an attitude, frankly, that certainly isn’t in keeping with the overall attitude… And it’s very insulting to a great man, a great doctor, a great humanitarian, to compare to him with a guy who says, after 2001, I wish we had bombed more. . . But how can you countenance someone who was engaged in bombings which could have or did kill innocent people…”

And he wasn’t buying Obama’s excuse that he was only eight at the time of the bombings:

But he became friends with him and spent time with him while the guy was unrepentant over his activities as a member of a terrorist organization, the Weathermen. I don’t — and then to compare him with Dr. Tom Coburn, who spends so much of his life bringing babies into this world — that, in my view is really — borders out outrage.

And so it went. Obviously, this is an issue it makes sense for McCain to focus on: it raises questions about Obama which McCain wants voters to ponder. You can expect to hear from his team about Obama’s support from groups like Hamas and his association with individuals like Wright and Ayers. The challenge for Obama will be to explain why voters shouldn’t hold his associations with Wright, Ayers, and many others against him.

John McCain, in an interview on Sunday, went on the offensive against Barack Obama on the subject of Bill Ayers:

Because if you’re going to associate and have as a friend and serve on a board and have a guy kick off your campaign that says he’s unrepentant, that he wished bombed more — and then, the worst thing of all, that, I think, really indicates Senator Obama’s attitude, is he had the incredible statement that he compared Mr. Ayers, an unrepentant terrorist, with Senator Tom Coburn, Senator Coburn, a physician who goes to Oklahoma on the weekends and brings babies into life — comparing those two — I mean, that’s not –that’s an attitude, frankly, that certainly isn’t in keeping with the overall attitude… And it’s very insulting to a great man, a great doctor, a great humanitarian, to compare to him with a guy who says, after 2001, I wish we had bombed more. . . But how can you countenance someone who was engaged in bombings which could have or did kill innocent people…”

And he wasn’t buying Obama’s excuse that he was only eight at the time of the bombings:

But he became friends with him and spent time with him while the guy was unrepentant over his activities as a member of a terrorist organization, the Weathermen. I don’t — and then to compare him with Dr. Tom Coburn, who spends so much of his life bringing babies into this world — that, in my view is really — borders out outrage.

And so it went. Obviously, this is an issue it makes sense for McCain to focus on: it raises questions about Obama which McCain wants voters to ponder. You can expect to hear from his team about Obama’s support from groups like Hamas and his association with individuals like Wright and Ayers. The challenge for Obama will be to explain why voters shouldn’t hold his associations with Wright, Ayers, and many others against him.

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The Friends You Keep

Among the many negatives for Barack Obama from the debate is the increased focus on his connections to unsavory characters. The Bill Ayers connection has been reported before, but the debate last night certainly helped bring it to national attention. The New York Sun, for example, reports:

[Ayers] and Mr. Obama served together on the nine-member board of the Woods Fund, a Chicago nonprofit, for three years beginning in 1999, and they have also appeared jointly on two academic panels, one in 1997 and another in 2001. Mr. Ayers, who was never convicted in the Weather Underground bombings, is now a professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The Sun (and others) also have noted that Ayers, an unrepentant Weather Underground terrorist, made a small contribution to Obama’s campaign.

Perhaps just as troubling for Obama as his domestic friends are the international supporters he is collecting. Yesterday, Hamas gave him the thumbs up. Previously, Daniel Ortega said that he likes what he sees, labeling Obama a “revolutionary phenomenon.” FARC is banking on an Obama presidency to nix U.S. aid to Colombia and shut down the free trade deal. Fidel Castro also sent word that he likes the Dream Ticket.

Is Obama responsible for the grab-bag of terrorists and dictators backing him? Well, he hasn’t given them the impression he would make their jobs harder. By suggesting he will meet with dictators without preconditions, he holds out the possibility that they too can get some “dignity promotion.” And he still hasn’t given these groups and individuals any indication that their support is unwelcome. It’s odd in the extreme that he (or his campaign) hasn’t already repudiated these pledges of support. But if he won’t return Bill Ayers’s donation or renounce Reverend Wright, why would he distance himself from thugs abroad? He just doesn’t do repudiation.

Among the many negatives for Barack Obama from the debate is the increased focus on his connections to unsavory characters. The Bill Ayers connection has been reported before, but the debate last night certainly helped bring it to national attention. The New York Sun, for example, reports:

[Ayers] and Mr. Obama served together on the nine-member board of the Woods Fund, a Chicago nonprofit, for three years beginning in 1999, and they have also appeared jointly on two academic panels, one in 1997 and another in 2001. Mr. Ayers, who was never convicted in the Weather Underground bombings, is now a professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The Sun (and others) also have noted that Ayers, an unrepentant Weather Underground terrorist, made a small contribution to Obama’s campaign.

Perhaps just as troubling for Obama as his domestic friends are the international supporters he is collecting. Yesterday, Hamas gave him the thumbs up. Previously, Daniel Ortega said that he likes what he sees, labeling Obama a “revolutionary phenomenon.” FARC is banking on an Obama presidency to nix U.S. aid to Colombia and shut down the free trade deal. Fidel Castro also sent word that he likes the Dream Ticket.

Is Obama responsible for the grab-bag of terrorists and dictators backing him? Well, he hasn’t given them the impression he would make their jobs harder. By suggesting he will meet with dictators without preconditions, he holds out the possibility that they too can get some “dignity promotion.” And he still hasn’t given these groups and individuals any indication that their support is unwelcome. It’s odd in the extreme that he (or his campaign) hasn’t already repudiated these pledges of support. But if he won’t return Bill Ayers’s donation or renounce Reverend Wright, why would he distance himself from thugs abroad? He just doesn’t do repudiation.

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Ouch

Sometimes a candidate has an off debate night. Sometimes he leaves his best lines out on the stump. But a performance as bad as Barack Obama’s, this late in the campaign before a critical primary is unusual. And don’t take our word for it: Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch and ouch. The most devoted Obamaphile sums it up:

It was a lifeless, exhausted, drained and dreary Obama we saw tonight. I’ve seen it before when he is tired, but this was his worst performance yet on national television. He seemed crushed and unable to react. This is big-time politics and he’s up against the Clinton wood-chipper. But there is no disguising the fact that he wilted, painfully. . . .Obama has to survive and even thrive under this assault if he is to win. He failed tonight in a big way. And so this was indeed a huge night for the Republicans, and the first real indicator to me that Clinton is gaining in her fundamental goal at this point: the election of John McCain against Barack Obama. How else will she rescue the Democrats from hope?

And the post-debate fact-checking on guns and Bill Ayers is not helping matters. In short, the media may now be off Snobgate, but they will spend the next few days on “What The Heck Went Wrong?” analysis.

With all the geshrying over how hard the questions were, one wonders what the Obama supporters and media fan club think a general election would look like. Did they really believe that Bill Ayers would not come up? Did they think no 527 ads would mention the flag pin? Was the media not going to ever mention Reverend Wright again?

This only seems to confirm Hillary Clinton’s argument that Obama is unprepared to take the scrutiny which will come with the nomination. The more they holler “Foul!” the more Clinton will say “Told ‘ya so.”

Her audience, don’t forget, is not just Pennsylvania voters but lots of superdelegates who watch the debate and read the coverage. Harold Ickes, Clinton’s superdelegate persuader-in-chief, now will have something new to talk to them about.

Sometimes a candidate has an off debate night. Sometimes he leaves his best lines out on the stump. But a performance as bad as Barack Obama’s, this late in the campaign before a critical primary is unusual. And don’t take our word for it: Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch and ouch. The most devoted Obamaphile sums it up:

It was a lifeless, exhausted, drained and dreary Obama we saw tonight. I’ve seen it before when he is tired, but this was his worst performance yet on national television. He seemed crushed and unable to react. This is big-time politics and he’s up against the Clinton wood-chipper. But there is no disguising the fact that he wilted, painfully. . . .Obama has to survive and even thrive under this assault if he is to win. He failed tonight in a big way. And so this was indeed a huge night for the Republicans, and the first real indicator to me that Clinton is gaining in her fundamental goal at this point: the election of John McCain against Barack Obama. How else will she rescue the Democrats from hope?

And the post-debate fact-checking on guns and Bill Ayers is not helping matters. In short, the media may now be off Snobgate, but they will spend the next few days on “What The Heck Went Wrong?” analysis.

With all the geshrying over how hard the questions were, one wonders what the Obama supporters and media fan club think a general election would look like. Did they really believe that Bill Ayers would not come up? Did they think no 527 ads would mention the flag pin? Was the media not going to ever mention Reverend Wright again?

This only seems to confirm Hillary Clinton’s argument that Obama is unprepared to take the scrutiny which will come with the nomination. The more they holler “Foul!” the more Clinton will say “Told ‘ya so.”

Her audience, don’t forget, is not just Pennsylvania voters but lots of superdelegates who watch the debate and read the coverage. Harold Ickes, Clinton’s superdelegate persuader-in-chief, now will have something new to talk to them about.

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Hillary Tax Moderate

Was that her saying a capital gains tax might not be a good idea? Was that her objecting to a raise in the payroll tax cap? Nah, must be my imagination. In fact, I’m highly suspicious that there is an imposter on the stage tonight – not a screech, not a fumble and not a oppo point missed (“But I think he was on a board with Bill Ayers,” she drops casually into the conversation.). The real Hillary must be tied up back stage.

Was that her saying a capital gains tax might not be a good idea? Was that her objecting to a raise in the payroll tax cap? Nah, must be my imagination. In fact, I’m highly suspicious that there is an imposter on the stage tonight – not a screech, not a fumble and not a oppo point missed (“But I think he was on a board with Bill Ayers,” she drops casually into the conversation.). The real Hillary must be tied up back stage.

Read Less




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