Commentary Magazine


Topic: David A. Paterson

Shifting Blame for the Israel Debacle

Via the Washington Examiner, Obama advisor David Axelrod appeared on CBS today and blamed “others” for removing pro-Israel language from the Democratic platform while Obama was distracted with other obligations:

David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett played cleanup this morning on the Democratic platform mess, blaming ‘others’ for allowing ‘Jerusalem’ and ‘God’ to drop out of the platform language.

“Honestly Charlie, he was counting on others, he had some other duties and responsibilities so when he learned that it had been taken out of the platform, he had it put back in,” Axelrod said, explaining that the President learned about the missing language yesterday.

Who are the “others” Axelrod is referring to? We actually don’t have to wonder, since it’s listed on the DNC website.

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Via the Washington Examiner, Obama advisor David Axelrod appeared on CBS today and blamed “others” for removing pro-Israel language from the Democratic platform while Obama was distracted with other obligations:

David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett played cleanup this morning on the Democratic platform mess, blaming ‘others’ for allowing ‘Jerusalem’ and ‘God’ to drop out of the platform language.

“Honestly Charlie, he was counting on others, he had some other duties and responsibilities so when he learned that it had been taken out of the platform, he had it put back in,” Axelrod said, explaining that the President learned about the missing language yesterday.

Who are the “others” Axelrod is referring to? We actually don’t have to wonder, since it’s listed on the DNC website.

The platform drafting committee was organized jointly by the Obama campaign and the DNC, and included the following members:

The Platform Drafting Committee will be chaired by former Governor Ted Strickland of Ohio. Named to serve as members on the committee are former U.S. Representative Tony Coelho, Tino Cuellar, U.S. Representative Barney Frank, Donna Harris-Aikens, Colin Kahl, Nancy Keenan, Heather Kendall Miller, Thea Lee, U.S. Representative Barbara Lee, Susan Ness, Mayor Michael Nutter, Carlos Odio, former U.S. Representative Robert Wexler and Christen Young. Serving as ex-officio members are Governor Deval Patrick, DNC Secretary Alice Germond, and Tom Wheeler.

Not only was this group responsible for drafting the initial platform, but also all publicly proposed changes to the original draft had to be approved by a majority of the board members. If Axelrod wants us to believe Obama and/or his staff didn’t see the platform until yesterday (which is absurd), his only option is to shift the blame to the DNC.

Which raises additional problems for the Democrats. Remember, the DNC attacked the Romney campaign for segments of the GOP platform that Romney has publicly disagreed with. According to Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, “he had an opportunity during the drafting of that platform language to make sure that his own view, if that really is his view, is in that party’s platform language.”

“There is no way that a presidential candidate, a party’s nominee, can separate themselves from that party’s platform,” she told Anderson Cooper in August.

It’s difficult to see how DWS could stand by that comment at this point.

The fiasco has had an unintended benefit for the Romney campaign, beyond just highlighting Obama’s poor record on Israel and distracting from the convention. It’s also destroyed the biggest link Democrats had between Romney and “extremist” positions on abortion. Democrats had planned to contrast Romney and Obama on women’s issues, and they were going to do that (in part) by continuing to link Romney to segments of his party’s platform that he doesn’t support. After elevating the importance of the RNC platform, Democrats really have no excuse for dropping the ball on their own.

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The Gray Lady Discovers It’s 2006 All Over Again

Even the Gray Lady must recognize the trend:

The ethical woes facing Democrats are piling up, with barely a day passing in recent weeks without headlines from Washington to New York and beyond filled with word of scandal or allegations of wrongdoing.

The troubles of Gov. David A. Paterson of New York, followed by those of two of the state’s congressmen, Charles B. Rangel and Eric J. Massa, have added to the ranks of episodes involving prominent Democrats like Eliot Spitzer, Rod R. Blagojevich and John Edwards.

Taken together, the cases have opened the party to the same lines of criticism that Democrats, led by Representatives Nancy Pelosi, now the House speaker, and Rahm Emanuel, now White House chief of staff, used effectively against Republicans in winning control of the House and Senate four years ago.

The Times breaks the news to their readership that voters are already mad and that this just makes it worse (“with voters appearing to be in an angry mood and many already inclined to view all things Washington with mistrust, the risks for Democrats could be that much greater this year”). Left unsaid, of course, is why voters are mad. (It might have something to do with pushing an agenda quite popular on the Upper West Side but not elsewhere.)

Democrats are scrambling to give back money they snagged from Rangel’s fundraising committees, and Pelosi is predictably pronouncing that she is too presiding over an ethical Congress. But even Pelosi’s defense has a jumbo loophole. She insists: “My commitment to the American people is that the public trust will always be honored. … And on the floor of the House, that happens.” Yes, the scandals generally happen elsewhere.

Oh, and if that weren’t all, the Times reminds us that Blago’s trial will come along “at the very moment that Democrats are battling in several races, including a campaign for the Senate seat once held by the man who now sits in the Oval Office.” That would be the race in which the Democratic nominee is Tony Rezko’s banker. Well, for Republicans, let’s just say it’s a golden political opportunity.

Even the Gray Lady must recognize the trend:

The ethical woes facing Democrats are piling up, with barely a day passing in recent weeks without headlines from Washington to New York and beyond filled with word of scandal or allegations of wrongdoing.

The troubles of Gov. David A. Paterson of New York, followed by those of two of the state’s congressmen, Charles B. Rangel and Eric J. Massa, have added to the ranks of episodes involving prominent Democrats like Eliot Spitzer, Rod R. Blagojevich and John Edwards.

Taken together, the cases have opened the party to the same lines of criticism that Democrats, led by Representatives Nancy Pelosi, now the House speaker, and Rahm Emanuel, now White House chief of staff, used effectively against Republicans in winning control of the House and Senate four years ago.

The Times breaks the news to their readership that voters are already mad and that this just makes it worse (“with voters appearing to be in an angry mood and many already inclined to view all things Washington with mistrust, the risks for Democrats could be that much greater this year”). Left unsaid, of course, is why voters are mad. (It might have something to do with pushing an agenda quite popular on the Upper West Side but not elsewhere.)

Democrats are scrambling to give back money they snagged from Rangel’s fundraising committees, and Pelosi is predictably pronouncing that she is too presiding over an ethical Congress. But even Pelosi’s defense has a jumbo loophole. She insists: “My commitment to the American people is that the public trust will always be honored. … And on the floor of the House, that happens.” Yes, the scandals generally happen elsewhere.

Oh, and if that weren’t all, the Times reminds us that Blago’s trial will come along “at the very moment that Democrats are battling in several races, including a campaign for the Senate seat once held by the man who now sits in the Oval Office.” That would be the race in which the Democratic nominee is Tony Rezko’s banker. Well, for Republicans, let’s just say it’s a golden political opportunity.

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Why Shouldn’t Holder Be Fired?

Some of us suspected that the Obama team would find a reason to pull the plug on the KSM trial as it became increasingly apparent how unworkable and dangerous a public trial of a jihadist was. Few suspected that the entire stunt would collapse so quickly. But it has. The New York Times reports:

The Obama administration on Friday gave up on its plan to try the Sept. 11 plotters in Lower Manhattan, bowing to almost unanimous pressure from New York officials and business leaders to move the terrorism trial elsewhere.

“I think I can acknowledge the obvious,” an administration official said. “We’re considering other options.”

How did we get from there to here so quickly? The Times explains:

The story of how prominent New York officials seemed to have so quickly moved from a kind of “bring it on” bravado to an “anywhere but here” involves many factors, including a new anxiety about terrorism after the attempted airliner bombing on Christmas Day.

Ultimately, it appears, New York officials could not tolerate ceding much of the city to a set of trials that could last for years.

But something else, I suspect, more fundamental has occurred. The entire premise of the Obama anti-terrorism approach, which entailed  a willful ignorance on the nature of our enemy, a cavalier indifference to the concerns of ordinary Americans (be they 9/11 families or New York tax payers), and a headlong plunge into uncharted legal terrain has evaporated in the wake of the Christmas Day bomber and the general perception that the Obama team has not a clue what they are doing. The public is no longer willing to accept it on faith that the Obami know best. To the contrary, the illusion of competence has been shattered. Elected leaders are now willing to stand up and say what we all knew to be true. As Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert at Georgetown University quoted by the Times, observes, “This will be one more stroke for al-Qaeda’s propaganda.” And a nightmare for New York.

The question remains as the White House scramble for Plan B: what is Eric Holder still doing there? It was he, the president tells us, who came up with this scheme. (His Department also implemented the “Mirandize the terrorist” policy.) It appears as though Holder exercised no due diligence (just as there had been none exercised prior to the announcement to close Guantanamo):

Mr. Holder called Mr. Bloomberg and Gov. David A. Paterson only a few hours before his public announcement on Nov. 13; and Mr. Kelly got a similar call that morning from Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, whose office had been picked to prosecute the cases.

But by the time those calls were made, the decision had already been reported in the news media, which was how Mr. Bloomberg learned about it, according to mayoral aides.

One senior Bloomberg official, speaking on condition of anonymity so as not to antagonize the White House, said: “When Holder was making the decision he didn’t call Ray Kelly and say, ‘What do you think?’ He didn’t call the mayor and say, ‘What would your position be?’ They didn’t reach out until it got out there.”

There seems to have been, aside from the lack of any reasoned legal judgment, no basic political groundwork laid for this momentous decision. Had we not grown accustomed to the jaw-dropping incompetence of the Obami, this would be stunning. Now, it frankly seems to be par for the course.

Two things are clear from all of this. First, the administration’s critics have been vindicated. And second, those who came up with this harebrained scheme, including but not limited to Holder, should be canned. The president isn’t fond of firing anyone, but if ever there was a time to show that the president really does possess some rudimentary executive skills, this is it. Otherwise, the public will assume that bungling through one national-security issue after another is simply business as usual in the Obama administration.

Some of us suspected that the Obama team would find a reason to pull the plug on the KSM trial as it became increasingly apparent how unworkable and dangerous a public trial of a jihadist was. Few suspected that the entire stunt would collapse so quickly. But it has. The New York Times reports:

The Obama administration on Friday gave up on its plan to try the Sept. 11 plotters in Lower Manhattan, bowing to almost unanimous pressure from New York officials and business leaders to move the terrorism trial elsewhere.

“I think I can acknowledge the obvious,” an administration official said. “We’re considering other options.”

How did we get from there to here so quickly? The Times explains:

The story of how prominent New York officials seemed to have so quickly moved from a kind of “bring it on” bravado to an “anywhere but here” involves many factors, including a new anxiety about terrorism after the attempted airliner bombing on Christmas Day.

Ultimately, it appears, New York officials could not tolerate ceding much of the city to a set of trials that could last for years.

But something else, I suspect, more fundamental has occurred. The entire premise of the Obama anti-terrorism approach, which entailed  a willful ignorance on the nature of our enemy, a cavalier indifference to the concerns of ordinary Americans (be they 9/11 families or New York tax payers), and a headlong plunge into uncharted legal terrain has evaporated in the wake of the Christmas Day bomber and the general perception that the Obama team has not a clue what they are doing. The public is no longer willing to accept it on faith that the Obami know best. To the contrary, the illusion of competence has been shattered. Elected leaders are now willing to stand up and say what we all knew to be true. As Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert at Georgetown University quoted by the Times, observes, “This will be one more stroke for al-Qaeda’s propaganda.” And a nightmare for New York.

The question remains as the White House scramble for Plan B: what is Eric Holder still doing there? It was he, the president tells us, who came up with this scheme. (His Department also implemented the “Mirandize the terrorist” policy.) It appears as though Holder exercised no due diligence (just as there had been none exercised prior to the announcement to close Guantanamo):

Mr. Holder called Mr. Bloomberg and Gov. David A. Paterson only a few hours before his public announcement on Nov. 13; and Mr. Kelly got a similar call that morning from Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, whose office had been picked to prosecute the cases.

But by the time those calls were made, the decision had already been reported in the news media, which was how Mr. Bloomberg learned about it, according to mayoral aides.

One senior Bloomberg official, speaking on condition of anonymity so as not to antagonize the White House, said: “When Holder was making the decision he didn’t call Ray Kelly and say, ‘What do you think?’ He didn’t call the mayor and say, ‘What would your position be?’ They didn’t reach out until it got out there.”

There seems to have been, aside from the lack of any reasoned legal judgment, no basic political groundwork laid for this momentous decision. Had we not grown accustomed to the jaw-dropping incompetence of the Obami, this would be stunning. Now, it frankly seems to be par for the course.

Two things are clear from all of this. First, the administration’s critics have been vindicated. And second, those who came up with this harebrained scheme, including but not limited to Holder, should be canned. The president isn’t fond of firing anyone, but if ever there was a time to show that the president really does possess some rudimentary executive skills, this is it. Otherwise, the public will assume that bungling through one national-security issue after another is simply business as usual in the Obama administration.

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The Ballot Box Solution

The Wall Street Journal editors zero in on Sen. Ben Nelson’s infamous deal, the “Cornhusker Kickback,” which is going to replace the Bridge To Nowhere in legislative infamy. They explain:

Under the “Cornhusker Kickback,” the federal government will pay all of Nebraska’s new Medicaid costs forever, while taxpayers in the other 49 states will see their budgets explode as this safety-net program for the poor is expanded to one out of every five Americans.

“In addition to violating the most basic and universally held notions of what is fair and just,” the AGs wrote last week to the Democratic leadership, the Article I spending clause is limited to “general Welfare.” If Congress claims to be legitimately serving that interest by expanding the joint state-federal Medicaid program, then why is it relieving just one state of a mandate that otherwise applies to all states? In other words, serving the non-general welfare of Nebraska—for no other reason than political expediency—violates a basic Supreme Court check on the “display of arbitrary power” that was established in 1937′s Helvering v. Davis.

I am not a fan of reconstituting policy arguments as Constitutional claims, even when the legislative offense is as gross as this. At bottom, noxious legislation calls out for a legislative solution: a no vote by the other lawmakers whose constituents rightly see this as unfair and, at bottom, immoral. After all, why are Californians’ health needs not given the same consideration as Nebraskans’? And just because Sen. Feinstein and Boxer allowed Nelson to get away with a better deal in the Christmas rush doesn’t mean they and their colleagues shouldn’t take a second look. As the Journal‘s editors point out, Blue states really have reason to gripe:

In a December letter Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger lamented that ObamaCare would impose the “crushing new burden” of as much as $4 billion per year in new Medicaid spending in a state that is already deeply in the red. And in a Christmas Day op-ed in the Buffalo News, New York Governor David A. Paterson protested the almost $1 billion in new costs as well as the “unfairness of the Senate bill” when “New York already sends significantly more money to Washington than it gets back.”

There are, after all, Senate races in New York and California this year. It seems as though it would behoove Sens. Boxer and Gillibrand to defend their taxpayers’ interests. The same goes for the 53 California House members and the 29 New York representatives. Don’t at least a handful of the Democrats in those and other states object to the fact that their voters are going to be subsidizing Nebraskans only so that the latter don’t get too mad at Ben Nelson?

Perhaps the courts will find some legal infirmity with the deal. But the ultimate solution to this sort of chicanery is found at the ballot box.

The Wall Street Journal editors zero in on Sen. Ben Nelson’s infamous deal, the “Cornhusker Kickback,” which is going to replace the Bridge To Nowhere in legislative infamy. They explain:

Under the “Cornhusker Kickback,” the federal government will pay all of Nebraska’s new Medicaid costs forever, while taxpayers in the other 49 states will see their budgets explode as this safety-net program for the poor is expanded to one out of every five Americans.

“In addition to violating the most basic and universally held notions of what is fair and just,” the AGs wrote last week to the Democratic leadership, the Article I spending clause is limited to “general Welfare.” If Congress claims to be legitimately serving that interest by expanding the joint state-federal Medicaid program, then why is it relieving just one state of a mandate that otherwise applies to all states? In other words, serving the non-general welfare of Nebraska—for no other reason than political expediency—violates a basic Supreme Court check on the “display of arbitrary power” that was established in 1937′s Helvering v. Davis.

I am not a fan of reconstituting policy arguments as Constitutional claims, even when the legislative offense is as gross as this. At bottom, noxious legislation calls out for a legislative solution: a no vote by the other lawmakers whose constituents rightly see this as unfair and, at bottom, immoral. After all, why are Californians’ health needs not given the same consideration as Nebraskans’? And just because Sen. Feinstein and Boxer allowed Nelson to get away with a better deal in the Christmas rush doesn’t mean they and their colleagues shouldn’t take a second look. As the Journal‘s editors point out, Blue states really have reason to gripe:

In a December letter Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger lamented that ObamaCare would impose the “crushing new burden” of as much as $4 billion per year in new Medicaid spending in a state that is already deeply in the red. And in a Christmas Day op-ed in the Buffalo News, New York Governor David A. Paterson protested the almost $1 billion in new costs as well as the “unfairness of the Senate bill” when “New York already sends significantly more money to Washington than it gets back.”

There are, after all, Senate races in New York and California this year. It seems as though it would behoove Sens. Boxer and Gillibrand to defend their taxpayers’ interests. The same goes for the 53 California House members and the 29 New York representatives. Don’t at least a handful of the Democrats in those and other states object to the fact that their voters are going to be subsidizing Nebraskans only so that the latter don’t get too mad at Ben Nelson?

Perhaps the courts will find some legal infirmity with the deal. But the ultimate solution to this sort of chicanery is found at the ballot box.

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See What I Mean?

The New York Times this morning has a front-page story on the difficulty of balancing New York State’s budget, which is gushing red ink. The governor, David Paterson, called the legislature into session this week and delivered an address to both houses, asking — begging, really — for serious budget cuts to cover a $3 billion deficit in this year’s budget and far larger deficits in future years.

Good luck with that, governor. As the Times explains:

Gov. David A. Paterson is imploring the Legislature to finally reckon with the state’s ugly financial reality.

But first the governor must reckon with the likes of Senator Carl Kruger.

Mr. Kruger, a Brooklyn Democrat who is the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has amassed a campaign war chest of $2.1 million, in part because of generous contributions from his labor union allies.

Despite a deficit of more than $3 billion, Mr. Kruger has threatened to block any significant cuts to health care and education, the biggest spending areas in the budget. He has presented his own budget plan, which has startled even Albany veterans for its reliance on one-time maneuvers and financial gimmickry.

Last week, the state’s most powerful union, 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, had a rally in Albany, with 2,000 people screaming for no cuts. The SEIU and other public-service unions don’t hesitate to launch aggressive TV-advertising campaigns against politicians who do not toe the union line, while donating generously to the campaign war chests of those who do, such as Senator Kruger. The taxpayers have no means to push back, since the legislature is thoroughly gerrymandered. As a result, politicians take the path of least resistance: like Kruger, they prefer to use creative accounting to get around the state constitution’s requirement that the expense budget be balanced, rather than face fiscal reality. This, of course, simply makes the problem worse in the future, as more and more of today’s budget is funded with tomorrow’s money.

The Times has finally woken up to the fact that gerrymandering is an affront to the very principle of democratic government. And unless it and the rest of the New York media world finally acknowledge that allowing politicians to keep the state’s books as they please guarantees gimmickry instead of hard choices, disaster is inevitable. Like every corporation in the country, governments need the discipline that comes from having to adhere to rigorous accounting principles, and relying on independent accountants to ensure that they do.

The New York Times this morning has a front-page story on the difficulty of balancing New York State’s budget, which is gushing red ink. The governor, David Paterson, called the legislature into session this week and delivered an address to both houses, asking — begging, really — for serious budget cuts to cover a $3 billion deficit in this year’s budget and far larger deficits in future years.

Good luck with that, governor. As the Times explains:

Gov. David A. Paterson is imploring the Legislature to finally reckon with the state’s ugly financial reality.

But first the governor must reckon with the likes of Senator Carl Kruger.

Mr. Kruger, a Brooklyn Democrat who is the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has amassed a campaign war chest of $2.1 million, in part because of generous contributions from his labor union allies.

Despite a deficit of more than $3 billion, Mr. Kruger has threatened to block any significant cuts to health care and education, the biggest spending areas in the budget. He has presented his own budget plan, which has startled even Albany veterans for its reliance on one-time maneuvers and financial gimmickry.

Last week, the state’s most powerful union, 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, had a rally in Albany, with 2,000 people screaming for no cuts. The SEIU and other public-service unions don’t hesitate to launch aggressive TV-advertising campaigns against politicians who do not toe the union line, while donating generously to the campaign war chests of those who do, such as Senator Kruger. The taxpayers have no means to push back, since the legislature is thoroughly gerrymandered. As a result, politicians take the path of least resistance: like Kruger, they prefer to use creative accounting to get around the state constitution’s requirement that the expense budget be balanced, rather than face fiscal reality. This, of course, simply makes the problem worse in the future, as more and more of today’s budget is funded with tomorrow’s money.

The Times has finally woken up to the fact that gerrymandering is an affront to the very principle of democratic government. And unless it and the rest of the New York media world finally acknowledge that allowing politicians to keep the state’s books as they please guarantees gimmickry instead of hard choices, disaster is inevitable. Like every corporation in the country, governments need the discipline that comes from having to adhere to rigorous accounting principles, and relying on independent accountants to ensure that they do.

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