Commentary Magazine


Topic: Democratic National Convention

A Wedge Issue Obama Created Himself

We now know that recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is a wedge issue — within the Democratic Party itself. After three voice votes yesterday in which the “no” votes equalled or exceeded the “yes” votes, the chairman ruled that the proposal had received the necessary two-thirds vote. But it obviously hadn’t, and the division within the Democratic Party is now obvious as well.

The Democrats did not even try to restore the prior platform positions regarding Israel as the strongest U.S. ally in the Middle East, opposition to the Palestinian goal of destroying the Jewish state with a “right of return,” or isolation of Hamas. If you can’t even win a vote on Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, you don’t dare vote on the other wedge issues within the party.

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We now know that recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is a wedge issue — within the Democratic Party itself. After three voice votes yesterday in which the “no” votes equalled or exceeded the “yes” votes, the chairman ruled that the proposal had received the necessary two-thirds vote. But it obviously hadn’t, and the division within the Democratic Party is now obvious as well.

The Democrats did not even try to restore the prior platform positions regarding Israel as the strongest U.S. ally in the Middle East, opposition to the Palestinian goal of destroying the Jewish state with a “right of return,” or isolation of Hamas. If you can’t even win a vote on Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, you don’t dare vote on the other wedge issues within the party.

Initially approving a platform that omitted the prior provisions, and then demonstrating in the process of restoring one of them that the omissions were not inadvertent, is the culmination of a longer process: (1) administration spokespersons who repeatedly refused to identify the capital of Israel; (2) a formal warning to the Supreme Court against even symbolically recognizing Jerusalem as being in Israel on the passports of Americans born there; (c) doctoring pictures on the White House website regarding Vice President Biden’s 2010 visit to “Jerusalem, Israel” (and similar references in State Department documents); and (4) failing to visit Jerusalem despite requests by liberal Israeli columnists, every Jewish Democrat in Congress, friendly rabbis, and the Israeli prime minister.

Back in 2008, Barack Obama had four different positions on Jerusalem, disingenuously denying the changes as he made them. Ironically, yesterday he found it necessary to intervene to restore a portion of the 2008 platform that had been omitted this year because of a process he had initiated himself.

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Did Bill Clinton Save Obama?

The anticipation for Bill Clinton’s speech at the Democratic National Convention was so great that it’s not clear what he could have done to exceed those high expectations. His 50-minute oration was classic Clinton, cajoling, seducing, lecturing and attacking. The Democrats in the hall loved every second of it even if television networks and many of their viewers may have switched off long before he finally concluded. Nor is there any doubt most of the media will also applaud it. But those who somehow expected Clinton to magically rescue Barack Obama’s re-election campaign with this one speech may ultimately be disappointed.

What Clinton did do was deliver a full-throated defense of President Obama’s failures and an equally strong dissection of his Republican opponents even if his detailed takedowns of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan may not survive fair fact checking. Though much of what he said was more spin than reality as well as being a laundry list of liberal talking points, these were effective arguments. But what he did not and perhaps could not do was make a case for what a second Obama administration would do. Nor, despite his attempt to use the example of his own success in turning around an economy to show that Obama might do the same, did he bridge the gap between his own move to the center and his successor’s consistent lurch to the left. More than that, it’s not clear that Clinton’s looking into the camera and telling us he believed in what he said with “all his heart” will have the least effect on the electorate.

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The anticipation for Bill Clinton’s speech at the Democratic National Convention was so great that it’s not clear what he could have done to exceed those high expectations. His 50-minute oration was classic Clinton, cajoling, seducing, lecturing and attacking. The Democrats in the hall loved every second of it even if television networks and many of their viewers may have switched off long before he finally concluded. Nor is there any doubt most of the media will also applaud it. But those who somehow expected Clinton to magically rescue Barack Obama’s re-election campaign with this one speech may ultimately be disappointed.

What Clinton did do was deliver a full-throated defense of President Obama’s failures and an equally strong dissection of his Republican opponents even if his detailed takedowns of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan may not survive fair fact checking. Though much of what he said was more spin than reality as well as being a laundry list of liberal talking points, these were effective arguments. But what he did not and perhaps could not do was make a case for what a second Obama administration would do. Nor, despite his attempt to use the example of his own success in turning around an economy to show that Obama might do the same, did he bridge the gap between his own move to the center and his successor’s consistent lurch to the left. More than that, it’s not clear that Clinton’s looking into the camera and telling us he believed in what he said with “all his heart” will have the least effect on the electorate.

The best that Clinton could do was to tell us that Obama deserved that “incomplete” the president said he deserved as his grade on the economy. To justify this judgment, the former president went on long wonkish digressions in his trademark style. That satisfied Clinton’s desire to lecture the country in his usual self-indulgent manner. But it fell short of the soaring rhetoric that could truly rally the country behind Obama.

Clinton’s longwinded endorsement of the president may help Obama keep Democrats in the fold. That is not unimportant. Democrats love Clinton and would, probably have sat through even another 50 minutes of his speechifying and perhaps even would prefer to give him a third term rather than a second for the incumbent. And that’s the rub with having to employ the 42nd president on behalf of the 44th.

For all of the raves Clinton will get from liberals who enjoyed the shots he took at Romney and Ryan, very little of this will attach itself to Obama. Though the speech had its powerful moments, we never stopped thinking about Clinton’s ego and his desire to hog the podium even while the president stood waiting, no doubt impatiently, for him to finally wind it up. Though this was probably a better argument that Obama could make for himself, it is a stretch to believe people will believe the president deserves a pass for his struggles just because Clinton says he deserved one.

Clinton’s detailed explanations also don’t recapture Obama’s 2008 “hope and change” messianism that he desperately needs to offset his shaky record. The night was a triumph for Clinton but Obama is still left locked in a tight, difficult race hoping desperately to be rescued by good economic news in the next several weeks. That, and not any speech by Clinton, is the only magic elixir that can re-elect him.

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What Are They Going to Do About Debbie?

Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz is not having a good convention. The Washington Examiner’s Phillip Klein busted her yesterday. Klein reported that DWS falsely claimed that Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren had told her that what Republicans were doing “was dangerous for Israel.” Oren flatly denied that he said it. DWS then went on Fox to claim that Klein was misquoting her and that she never quoted Oren in that manner. Of course she had and Klein had the audio to prove it.

That earned her a “pants on fire” truth rating from PoliticFact but unfortunately when she next appeared on national television she wasn’t asked about it. Yet CNN’s convention floor interview with DWS was not without some interest. Wasserman Schultz was asked about the embarrassing moment earlier that night when a majority of Democratic delegates seemed to vote no on changing their platform to include God and reaffirm support for Israel on Jerusalem. With a straight face Wasserman Schultz not only falsely claimed there had been a two-thirds majority for the change, she insisted that Jerusalem had actually never been taken out of the original draft! While politicians like DWS are used to lying with impunity and not being called on it, when CNN cut back to the commentators in the booth, her statements were met with incredulity and laughter.

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Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz is not having a good convention. The Washington Examiner’s Phillip Klein busted her yesterday. Klein reported that DWS falsely claimed that Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren had told her that what Republicans were doing “was dangerous for Israel.” Oren flatly denied that he said it. DWS then went on Fox to claim that Klein was misquoting her and that she never quoted Oren in that manner. Of course she had and Klein had the audio to prove it.

That earned her a “pants on fire” truth rating from PoliticFact but unfortunately when she next appeared on national television she wasn’t asked about it. Yet CNN’s convention floor interview with DWS was not without some interest. Wasserman Schultz was asked about the embarrassing moment earlier that night when a majority of Democratic delegates seemed to vote no on changing their platform to include God and reaffirm support for Israel on Jerusalem. With a straight face Wasserman Schultz not only falsely claimed there had been a two-thirds majority for the change, she insisted that Jerusalem had actually never been taken out of the original draft! While politicians like DWS are used to lying with impunity and not being called on it, when CNN cut back to the commentators in the booth, her statements were met with incredulity and laughter.

Anderson Cooper quickly said she was clearly operating in “an alternate universe.” The rest of the crew laughed along and noted the brazen matter in which she misrepresented the issue and the truth.

As for her lie about Oren, Fox News, the network where she had falsely accused Phil Klein of distorting her words, did revisit the issue and played the audio of her quote in which she lied about the Israeli ambassador’s opinion of the GOP. They were not able to snag an interview with her but noted her spokesman was still trying to claim that she had been taken out of context even after the audiotape proved the contrary.

All of which leads us to ask what exactly are the Democrats to do about DWS? As the rumors out of Washington indicate, there’s little doubt President Obama’s inner circle is unhappy about her performance at the DNC. Some of their criticism of her whiny partisanship is unfair. As party chair, she’s supposed to be a whiny partisan. But getting caught in barefaced lies is something else.

We expect politicians to spin reality to conform to their political views. Indeed most of what we have heard from the two conventions is nothing but spin. It may be hard for Congress, the parties and the political system to sink any lower in the eyes of the public, but if it is at all possible, the spectacle of DWS lying to the cameras, and then being laughed at by a group of commentators on a network friendly to the Democrats, must do it.

Wasserman Shultz has a safe Democratic Congressional seat and is in no danger of losing it. But her record of public deceit is catching up with her. The day is coming when she will no longer be able to continue to traipse about the country pretending to represent her party and American Jews without being called out for these lies.

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Re: Democratic Delegates Boo “Jerusalem”

The Democratic platform once again acknowledges Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but the reinstitution of the language in question (and the reinstituted reference to God) was more alarming than the initial change. When Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called for Yeas and Nays on the decision he found a roughly even split among delegates. After repeating the process two more times, a befuddled Villaraigosa was visited on stage by a party official who seemingly advised him to declare the needed two-thirds in favor of the change regardless of what the delegates actually conveyed. This he promptly did, eliciting a wave of boos.

Let the paranoia begin. For the professional alarmists who see an all-powerful Israel lobby lurking behind every bush, rock, and cloud, today’s debacle is a goldmine. What could be a greater demonstration of the Israel Lobby’s dangerous subversion of American democracy than the sham vote at the Democratic National Convention that saw pro-Israel language shoved into the party platform over the heads of party delegates?

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The Democratic platform once again acknowledges Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but the reinstitution of the language in question (and the reinstituted reference to God) was more alarming than the initial change. When Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called for Yeas and Nays on the decision he found a roughly even split among delegates. After repeating the process two more times, a befuddled Villaraigosa was visited on stage by a party official who seemingly advised him to declare the needed two-thirds in favor of the change regardless of what the delegates actually conveyed. This he promptly did, eliciting a wave of boos.

Let the paranoia begin. For the professional alarmists who see an all-powerful Israel lobby lurking behind every bush, rock, and cloud, today’s debacle is a goldmine. What could be a greater demonstration of the Israel Lobby’s dangerous subversion of American democracy than the sham vote at the Democratic National Convention that saw pro-Israel language shoved into the party platform over the heads of party delegates?

The reality of the situation, however, is both more interesting and more frightening than intrepid Zionist-spotters would have you believe. Today, America got an unvarnished look at the Democratic Party’s internal conflict on Israel. Half of the Party represents the pro-Israel consensus in America. The other half? Not so much. For all the talk about the unrecognizably extreme new Republican Party, it’s the Democrats whose fringe has quietly made deep inroads into the center—especially when it concerns Israel—and fundamentally altered the nature of the Party.

When Villaraigosa heard the split vote he looked like a performer suddenly forced to work off-script—because that’s exactly what he was. The Democratic script is composed of declarations about America’s special relationship with Israel, the continued U.S. commitment to Israeli security, and the unbreakable bonds that unite Israelis and Americans against common foes. Democratic politicians can rattle off those proclamations in their sleep. What the Israel-Lobby paranoids ignore is that it’s all meant to satisfy the majority American opinion of support for Israel, not appease some shifty cabal of wealthy bigots.

Today’s fiasco might do tremendous damage to Jewish support for Democrats but it will certainly open a new chapter in anti-Israel paranoia. The Democrats, including Barack Obama, will take hits coming and going: from Israel supporters whose eyes have been opened to the nature of the Democratic Party and from Israel bashers who see the Zionist hand behind the convention chaos. Such is the price paid for a party divided.

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Democratic Delegates Boo “Jerusalem”

Under pressure from pro-Israel Democrats, the DNC held a floor vote to reinstate language affirming Jerusalem as the capital of Israel that had been omitted from its 2012 platform. The stadium full of Democratic delegates loudly booed the resolution and rejected it three times in a voice vote, before convention chairman Antonio Villaraigosa went ahead and unilaterally approved it (h/t BuzzFeed):

It’s hard not to have sympathy for Villaraigosa. Pro-Israel Democrats have been lobbying the DNC all day to change the platform, and convention leadership probably assumed this vote would be the end of it. The shock on Villaraigosa’s face shows you how far in denial the Democratic Party has been about the anti-Israel sentiment spreading among its ranks. Think he’s picturing how many TV ads replaying this moment Sheldon Adelson’s money can buy in Florida?

This video should chill every pro-Israel Democrat to the bone — actually, scratch that, it should chill every pro-Israel American to the bone. Israel relies on bipartisan political support from the U.S., it’s strongest ally. This floor vote at the DNC portends a day when that bipartisan support may cease to exist.

Under pressure from pro-Israel Democrats, the DNC held a floor vote to reinstate language affirming Jerusalem as the capital of Israel that had been omitted from its 2012 platform. The stadium full of Democratic delegates loudly booed the resolution and rejected it three times in a voice vote, before convention chairman Antonio Villaraigosa went ahead and unilaterally approved it (h/t BuzzFeed):

It’s hard not to have sympathy for Villaraigosa. Pro-Israel Democrats have been lobbying the DNC all day to change the platform, and convention leadership probably assumed this vote would be the end of it. The shock on Villaraigosa’s face shows you how far in denial the Democratic Party has been about the anti-Israel sentiment spreading among its ranks. Think he’s picturing how many TV ads replaying this moment Sheldon Adelson’s money can buy in Florida?

This video should chill every pro-Israel Democrat to the bone — actually, scratch that, it should chill every pro-Israel American to the bone. Israel relies on bipartisan political support from the U.S., it’s strongest ally. This floor vote at the DNC portends a day when that bipartisan support may cease to exist.

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Where’s Al Gore? Where He Belongs

Tonight is Bill Clinton’s much-anticipated speech to the Democratic National Convention, but as Politico noted this morning, a very high-profile member of Clinton’s administration will be missing his first convention since he left office: Al Gore.

Politico offers the reason–the country’s complete lack of interest in the global warming crusade–but gets the progression of Gore’s fading from the spotlight backwards. Politico writes:

Gore’s evolution over the past four years — from a central figure in the Democratic Party to a no-show at its biggest event — matches what has happened to the issue of climate change itself, which moved to the sidelines alongside its chief crusader, environmentalists and some Democrats say.

It’s not like Gore hasn’t noticed — and his frustration with Obama has been on display. He’s leveled criticism at Obama for abandoning the push for a climate change bill. He accused him of failing to use the bully pulpit to spread the word about the dangers of rising global temperatures. And he faulted Obama for putting off tough new smog regulations.

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Tonight is Bill Clinton’s much-anticipated speech to the Democratic National Convention, but as Politico noted this morning, a very high-profile member of Clinton’s administration will be missing his first convention since he left office: Al Gore.

Politico offers the reason–the country’s complete lack of interest in the global warming crusade–but gets the progression of Gore’s fading from the spotlight backwards. Politico writes:

Gore’s evolution over the past four years — from a central figure in the Democratic Party to a no-show at its biggest event — matches what has happened to the issue of climate change itself, which moved to the sidelines alongside its chief crusader, environmentalists and some Democrats say.

It’s not like Gore hasn’t noticed — and his frustration with Obama has been on display. He’s leveled criticism at Obama for abandoning the push for a climate change bill. He accused him of failing to use the bully pulpit to spread the word about the dangers of rising global temperatures. And he faulted Obama for putting off tough new smog regulations.

It’s true that as Gore’s discredited claims and hypocritical lifestyle were shoved aside by concerns about the economy, Gore’s presence in the media went with them. But Gore marginalized global warming as much as global warming marginalized him. And more specifically, had Gore been a well-rounded politician with a general grasp on a range of subjects who retained the admiration of his peers—as a vice president and almost-president should—he would never have disappeared from view.

Instead, Gore went from stolid but respected vice president to sidelined enviro-zealot building an invisible cable television station around Keith Olbermann (who has also since disappeared completely from view). That’s not a sad commentary on a supposedly indifferent public whistling past the polar bear graveyard; rather, it’s an indication that Gore gave up on serious public policy and has appropriately and expectedly lost the attention of the public because of it.

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Another Day, Another DNC Nazi Reference

In case you’ve lost count, South Carolina Democratic Chairman Dick Harpootlian is the third Democrat to compare Republicans to the Nazis in the past three days. The State reported on Harpootlian’s comments during a delegate breakfast (h/t Dan Halper):

S.C. Democratic Chairman Dick Harpootlian, never a loss for a quick quip, tossed a few stinging one-liners at the Wednesday delegation breakfast.

On Gov. Nikki Haley participating in daily news briefings in a basement studio at the NASCAR Hall of Fame: “She was down in the bunker a la [Adolf Hitler’s wife] Eva Braun.”

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In case you’ve lost count, South Carolina Democratic Chairman Dick Harpootlian is the third Democrat to compare Republicans to the Nazis in the past three days. The State reported on Harpootlian’s comments during a delegate breakfast (h/t Dan Halper):

S.C. Democratic Chairman Dick Harpootlian, never a loss for a quick quip, tossed a few stinging one-liners at the Wednesday delegation breakfast.

On Gov. Nikki Haley participating in daily news briefings in a basement studio at the NASCAR Hall of Fame: “She was down in the bunker a la [Adolf Hitler’s wife] Eva Braun.”

California Democratic Party chair John Burton compared Paul Ryan to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels earlier this week, and Kansas Democratic delegate Pat Lehman came under fire for likening the Republican Party to Hitler yesterday. While Burton gave a hasty apology before fleeing the convention for a dentist appointment in California, Lehman is standing by her comment, according to the Wichita Eagle:

Lehman says she’s not going anywhere and was wholly unapologetic about the outrage her comment generated among conservatives.

“They’re used to getting away with lying and nobody calling them out on it,” Lehman said. “When pigs get caught under the gate, they usually squeal.”

Is this a reflection of the state of affairs in the Democratic Party? Apparently delegates are under the impression that it’s totally acceptable behavior to call their opponents pigs and Nazis at the national convention. And why not? They’re taking the cue from the Obama campaign, which spent the summer smearing Mitt Romney as a felon and a murderer. It’s amazing how quickly the 2008 fluffy bipartisan healing rhetoric outlived its effectiveness. This year’s convention is fueled by contempt, and lot’s of it.

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Will Media Confront DWS Over Falsehoods?

At the Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol draws a comparison between disgraced Senate candidate Todd Akin — who was promptly branded a pariah by Republican officials after his comments about “legitimate rape” — and DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was caught misrepresenting comments from the Israeli ambassador this week:

Every important Republican was asked about Akin in the days following his comment. Will reporters ask leading Democrats whether they stand by their national chair, who has doubly lied about a matter of international import? Will any Democrats have the courage to call on Debbie to go?

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At the Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol draws a comparison between disgraced Senate candidate Todd Akin — who was promptly branded a pariah by Republican officials after his comments about “legitimate rape” — and DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was caught misrepresenting comments from the Israeli ambassador this week:

Every important Republican was asked about Akin in the days following his comment. Will reporters ask leading Democrats whether they stand by their national chair, who has doubly lied about a matter of international import? Will any Democrats have the courage to call on Debbie to go?

Not only should the media press Democrats on this issue, they should also confront Wasserman Schultz. It’s not just that she was caught misrepresenting a statement by the Israeli ambassador, or denying that she made comments that were recorded on audiotape. Journalists should be even more concerned to see the DNC chair uttering blatantly false claims so casually, knowing full well that audio evidence and an objection from the Israeli ambassador could (and did) emerge to discredit her.

Will the media challenge Wasserman Schultz and other Democrats over her falsehoods at the convention? Or will reporters let her get away with something that RNC chair Reince Priebus would have been hammered over?

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Rise From Poverty, Don’t Glorify It

The motto of the Republican Convention in Tampa last week was “We Built It.” Speakers repeated the line (sometimes to excess), videos were played on the theme, signs and banners lined the convention center. By the end of the week, nobody present in Tampa could be unaware that during a speech earlier this year, President Obama claimed that small business owners didn’t build their businesses alone.

The GOP highlighted several speakers during the week that had inspiring stories of building small businesses out of nothing, who risked what little they had to build companies that would become employers. One speaker, Sher Valenzuela, appeared in the early evening on Tuesday and set the tone for the rest of the convention. Valenzuela and her husband (a second-generation Mexican-American), devastated by their son’s autism diagnosis, started a business in order to pay for his care.

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The motto of the Republican Convention in Tampa last week was “We Built It.” Speakers repeated the line (sometimes to excess), videos were played on the theme, signs and banners lined the convention center. By the end of the week, nobody present in Tampa could be unaware that during a speech earlier this year, President Obama claimed that small business owners didn’t build their businesses alone.

The GOP highlighted several speakers during the week that had inspiring stories of building small businesses out of nothing, who risked what little they had to build companies that would become employers. One speaker, Sher Valenzuela, appeared in the early evening on Tuesday and set the tone for the rest of the convention. Valenzuela and her husband (a second-generation Mexican-American), devastated by their son’s autism diagnosis, started a business in order to pay for his care.

Her husband learned his craft from a mail-order course while in the army, and took what he learned about sewing from this course and turned it into an upholstery  business that, fifteen years later, would employ more than 70 people in a 70,000-square-foot factory in their home state of Delaware. Her speech was inspiring and uplifting, exactly what the convention was hoping to accomplish with this relatively unknown candidate for Lt. Governor of a state they in all likelihood will not be able to win.

The next night, Paul Ryan also discussed his family’s rise from poverty. After his father passed away when Ryan was sixteen, his mother started a small business. He told the audience,

My Mom started a small business, and I’ve seen what it takes. Mom was 50 when my Dad died. She got on a bus every weekday for years, and rode 40 miles each morning to Madison. She earned a new degree and learned new skills to start her small business. It wasn’t just a new livelihood. It was a new life. And it transformed my Mom from a widow in grief to a small businesswoman whose happiness wasn’t just in the past. Her work gave her hope. It made our family proud. And to this day, my Mom is my role model.

Many of the GOP’s speakers from the three nights of the convention spoke about their family’s humble roots and their rise not only to positions of political power, but also to the role of small business owner and employer. The latter, being an employer, was valued more than that of being a politician, and those on stage made sure the audience was aware of that fact.

Contrast this with the speeches last night from the Democratic National Convention. Two speakers, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and First Lady Michelle Obama, also discussed the poverty of their upbringings. The difference between their speeches and that of Valenzuela and Ryan was that while the Republicans spent the evening discussing their rise from poverty, the Democrats dwelled on their former poverty. Castro and Michelle Obama could have spoken about their first jobs, their struggles (and triumphs), getting through college, the successes they’ve made of their lives, but they chose not to. While they both honored their parents’ sacrifices, which enabled them to have better lives, they did not discuss how they or their parents achieved personal success. Neither Castro nor Obama discussed any experiences in business, and Castro measured his success in terms of holding public office, but never explained how he came to occupy it.

The contrast between these four speeches is remarkable and they set the tone for both parties and their conventions. The Republicans went to extraordinary lengths to showcase their commitment to small business, personal responsibility and ingenuity. Democrats spent the evening making martyrs out of the poor without ever encouraging them to reach higher than their government-sponsored lots in life. Republicans showed themselves to be the party of making the poor rich, and Democrats are the party of the poor. Which will resonate more with lower-class voters?

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Obama Speech Moving Indoors

Shortly after the Daily Mail reported yesterday that President Obama’s speech would be moved to a smaller, easier-to-fill indoor stadium due to inclement weather, the Obama campaign came out and vociferously denied it, insisting that the speech would take place as planned in the 74,000-capacity Bank of America Stadium “rain or shine.”

Well, not even a full day later, the campaign did an about-face. Obama’s speech will now take place in a 20,000-capacity indoor arena. Due to weather concerns:

Democrats are significantly downsizing the final night of their national convention, moving the events — including President Obama’s acceptance speech — from Bank of America Stadium to the Time Warner Cable Arena because of threats of thunder and lightning.

Mr. Obama was slated to accept the Democratic presidential nomination Thursday night in the open-air football stadium before a crowd of more than 65,000. The basketball and hockey arena, however, seats just around 20,000.

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Shortly after the Daily Mail reported yesterday that President Obama’s speech would be moved to a smaller, easier-to-fill indoor stadium due to inclement weather, the Obama campaign came out and vociferously denied it, insisting that the speech would take place as planned in the 74,000-capacity Bank of America Stadium “rain or shine.”

Well, not even a full day later, the campaign did an about-face. Obama’s speech will now take place in a 20,000-capacity indoor arena. Due to weather concerns:

Democrats are significantly downsizing the final night of their national convention, moving the events — including President Obama’s acceptance speech — from Bank of America Stadium to the Time Warner Cable Arena because of threats of thunder and lightning.

Mr. Obama was slated to accept the Democratic presidential nomination Thursday night in the open-air football stadium before a crowd of more than 65,000. The basketball and hockey arena, however, seats just around 20,000.

Note that the CBS News story above reports that the crowd at Bank of America Stadium would have been around 65,000 — not 74,000, which is the arena’s actual capacity. That 65,000 number is from the Obama campaign, which claimed yesterday that the stadium seats less than its full capacity for non-football events, for whatever reason. Sounds like somebody in Obamaland might have been preparing the media for seeing rows of unoccupied seats in case Obama gave the speech in Bank of America Stadium.

The 20,000-seat stadium will be much better for the president. Now the campaign will have an overflow crowd instead of thousands of empty chairs — which, after Clint Eastwood’s speech, would certainly have had an added significance.

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Julian Castro’s Dud: What Went Wrong

Democrats are feeling encouraged after last night’s speech from first lady Michelle Obama—and with good reason. She turned in a stirring performance, taking a speech that was well written and delivering it just as well, if not better. But the communications team at the Democratic National Convention should also be left wondering why some of the other speeches of the night fell flat, most notably that of Julian Castro, the San Antonio mayor for whom the unreasonably high expectations turned out to be a burden rather than spring board.

Part of the problem is that when you get compared to Barack Obama in 2004, you better be charismatic, and Castro doesn’t quite have the easy yet confident charm Obama displayed. Castro, like an actor who looks like he’s acting, was visibly working to produce what didn’t come naturally. Another factor was the general tone of the evening: whereas the GOP convention theme was that Obama is a good man but not a good president, last night’s DNC lineup was a particularly nasty string of speakers clawing at Mitt Romney’s character. In 2004, Obama showed an ability to speak above the partisan fray. Last night, Castro was just another participant in a one-sided cafeteria food fight.

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Democrats are feeling encouraged after last night’s speech from first lady Michelle Obama—and with good reason. She turned in a stirring performance, taking a speech that was well written and delivering it just as well, if not better. But the communications team at the Democratic National Convention should also be left wondering why some of the other speeches of the night fell flat, most notably that of Julian Castro, the San Antonio mayor for whom the unreasonably high expectations turned out to be a burden rather than spring board.

Part of the problem is that when you get compared to Barack Obama in 2004, you better be charismatic, and Castro doesn’t quite have the easy yet confident charm Obama displayed. Castro, like an actor who looks like he’s acting, was visibly working to produce what didn’t come naturally. Another factor was the general tone of the evening: whereas the GOP convention theme was that Obama is a good man but not a good president, last night’s DNC lineup was a particularly nasty string of speakers clawing at Mitt Romney’s character. In 2004, Obama showed an ability to speak above the partisan fray. Last night, Castro was just another participant in a one-sided cafeteria food fight.

But it was also the text of the speech. It started off well, with Castro telling poignant stories of his grandmother, noting that when Castro and his twin brother (who introduced him last night) were born, their grandmother paid the hospital bill with prize money from winning a cook-off. He told his family’s classic immigrant story, made all the more powerful by describing the Texas bootstrap culture they ended up in—a place where the hard work was only beginning.

But the speech quickly got bogged down in awkward phrases and unsteady delivery. Castro transitioned clumsily from describing the American dream and upward mobility to this: “And that’s the middle class—the engine of our economic growth. With hard work, everybody ought to be able to get there. And with hard work, everybody ought to be able to stay there!” And then, almost as an afterthought, finished the line: “—and go beyond!” From that, the paragraph veered into confused metaphors and clunky lines: “The dream of raising a family in a place where hard work is rewarded is not unique to Americans. It’s a human dream, one that calls across oceans and borders. The dream is universal, but America makes it possible. And our investment in opportunity makes it a reality.”

And unfortunately with Obama in office, the DNC was never far from demonstrating the cult of personality that has followed the president since his presidential run four years ago. Castro, rather than offering ideas, served up one of the most cringe-inducing examples of it when he said: “We all celebrate individual success. But the question is, how do we multiply that success? The answer is President Barack Obama.”

And there were lines that were plain awful–not just cheesy, but bordering on the nonsensical. The worst example was this: “In the end, the American dream is not a sprint, or even a marathon, but a relay. Our families don’t always cross the finish line in the span of one generation. But each generation passes on to the next the fruits of their labor.”

You can only elevate bad writing so high, and Castro was saddled with a speech few could have elevated to meet the expectations of the moment.

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Rabbi David Wolpe in COMMENTARY

Last week, COMMENTARY contributor Rabbi Meir Soloveichik spoke at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. This week, the Democrats make it a double-dip of COMMENTARY authors by having Rabbi David Wolpe speak at their gathering in Charlotte. Rabbi Wolpe will give the benediction at the conclusion of the roll call to renominate President Obama this evening following former President Bill Clinton’s speech.

Rabbi Wolpe of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, California, is one of America’s leading pulpit rabbis as well as an author and advocate of great wisdom. As with Soloveichik, those who hear his words at the convention would do well to get a sampler of his work published in COMENTARY:

Why Are Jews Liberal? — A Symposium – September 2009

Mitzvah Girls – December 2009

Trials of the Diaspora – July 2010

Last week, COMMENTARY contributor Rabbi Meir Soloveichik spoke at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. This week, the Democrats make it a double-dip of COMMENTARY authors by having Rabbi David Wolpe speak at their gathering in Charlotte. Rabbi Wolpe will give the benediction at the conclusion of the roll call to renominate President Obama this evening following former President Bill Clinton’s speech.

Rabbi Wolpe of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, California, is one of America’s leading pulpit rabbis as well as an author and advocate of great wisdom. As with Soloveichik, those who hear his words at the convention would do well to get a sampler of his work published in COMENTARY:

Why Are Jews Liberal? — A Symposium – September 2009

Mitzvah Girls – December 2009

Trials of the Diaspora – July 2010

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Can Dems Rekindle Obama Worship?

The Democrats’ biggest problem this year is the failed economy that Barack Obama gives himself an “incomplete” on after four years in power. Their only way to overcome this is to somehow recapture the “hope and change” messianism that catapulted Obama to the presidency. In 2008, Obama wasn’t merely the Democratic alternative to the Republicans. He was the embodiment of the nation’s hopes for itself. His election was an intrinsic achievement for every voter since it reversed a legacy of racism and conferred a certain honor on everyone who took part in his elevation. More than that, he was a put forward as a near godlike figure that was above partisan politics.

Inevitably, the reality of Barack Obama collided with the messianism. Four years later, there is a noticeable drop in enthusiasm among the young voters and others who created the Obama surge. How could it be otherwise when the president’s conduct in office has been anything but post-partisan? Four years of massive government spending, liberal patent nostrums and business as usual have made his feet of clay all too apparent.

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The Democrats’ biggest problem this year is the failed economy that Barack Obama gives himself an “incomplete” on after four years in power. Their only way to overcome this is to somehow recapture the “hope and change” messianism that catapulted Obama to the presidency. In 2008, Obama wasn’t merely the Democratic alternative to the Republicans. He was the embodiment of the nation’s hopes for itself. His election was an intrinsic achievement for every voter since it reversed a legacy of racism and conferred a certain honor on everyone who took part in his elevation. More than that, he was a put forward as a near godlike figure that was above partisan politics.

Inevitably, the reality of Barack Obama collided with the messianism. Four years later, there is a noticeable drop in enthusiasm among the young voters and others who created the Obama surge. How could it be otherwise when the president’s conduct in office has been anything but post-partisan? Four years of massive government spending, liberal patent nostrums and business as usual have made his feet of clay all too apparent.

The Democrats have sought to counter this harsh dose of reality by stoking the partisan juices of their base with a first night of their convention that ignored the political center and stuck to efforts to appeal to the left. That meant a mantra of support for ObamaCare, gay marriage and abortion even though these positions are not only extreme but of doubtful utility in winning swing states where independents are key. But most of all they seemed desperate to rekindle the Obama worship that allowed their candidate to stride out in front of his 2008 convention amid fake Greek columns and promise to turn back the oceans and not be laughed out of the stadium.

That meant not just a routine pledge of allegiance to the president’s re-election from each speaker but a willingness to treat Obama as a magical figure. When keynote speaker Julian Castro acknowledged the power of individualism that Republicans celebrated last week with their “We built it” slogan, he countered on saying that such success can only be multiplied through the intercession of the godlike president.

First Lady Michelle Obama delivered the best speech of the evening for the Democrats but her moving stories of the first family were not meant to humanize Barack Obama as Ann Romney’s did for her husband Mitt but to do the opposite. Michelle’s husband was portrayed as not so much an ordinary guy but as a superhuman creature that cares for all. She strained credulity by claiming he listens to all and cares nothing for partisan labels — an assertion that bore no resemblance to the arrogant man Congressional Republicans have tried unsuccessfully to deal with — but it was all part of an effort to go back to the stained glass image that was crafted for Barack Obama in 2008.

The incessant flow of Obama worship played well in a hall full of party zealots. The Democrats will also have the advantage of a liberal mainstream media that assisted in the creation of that false image four years ago and may be willing to go back into the tank for the Democrat. But getting the rest of the country to buy back into the baloney and to go back to swooning over the president is a more difficult task. The Democrats had a successful night in Charlotte but it will take more than a nightlong worship service to convince a majority of Americans that the “incomplete” president is still the god of hope and change they once adored.

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Dems Ignore Independents at Convention

It may well be that only political junkies are glued to the television channels showing the political conventions these days but they remain a valuable medium for the parties to reach out to potential voters. That’s why the choices made by the organizers in terms of speakers and topics are significant in that they signal which demographic groups the parties are most interested in reaching.

Last week, the Republicans devoted some time to playing to their base but the main focus was on convincing wavering Democrats and independents that President Obama’s economic failures were a reason to turn him out of office. Their sloganeering centered on the president’s denigrating individual initiative. They mentioned their opposition to ObamaCare but most of their convention rhetoric wasn’t aimed at conservatives or Tea Partiers but at those who voted for the president four years ago.

But the first night of the Democratic National Convention has been strictly about rallying the liberal base.

For hours, Democratic speakers have been speaking about abortion, ObamaCare and lauding big government initiatives. Democratic delegates have loved it.

But does the Obama campaign really think offering a speaking position to the most extreme advocates of abortion on demand, including late term and partial birth procedures appeals to the majority of Americans who do not wish to make all abortions illegal but support reasonable restrictions?

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It may well be that only political junkies are glued to the television channels showing the political conventions these days but they remain a valuable medium for the parties to reach out to potential voters. That’s why the choices made by the organizers in terms of speakers and topics are significant in that they signal which demographic groups the parties are most interested in reaching.

Last week, the Republicans devoted some time to playing to their base but the main focus was on convincing wavering Democrats and independents that President Obama’s economic failures were a reason to turn him out of office. Their sloganeering centered on the president’s denigrating individual initiative. They mentioned their opposition to ObamaCare but most of their convention rhetoric wasn’t aimed at conservatives or Tea Partiers but at those who voted for the president four years ago.

But the first night of the Democratic National Convention has been strictly about rallying the liberal base.

For hours, Democratic speakers have been speaking about abortion, ObamaCare and lauding big government initiatives. Democratic delegates have loved it.

But does the Obama campaign really think offering a speaking position to the most extreme advocates of abortion on demand, including late term and partial birth procedures appeals to the majority of Americans who do not wish to make all abortions illegal but support reasonable restrictions?

Do Democrats really think bragging about the passage of ObamaCare, a vast expansion of government power that restricted religious freedom and which is deeply unpopular with most Americans, as something they think will persuade undecided voters to back the president?

Many have questioned whether Mitt Romney can appeal to the political center and whether his campaign thinks they can win only by mobilizing the Republican base. But the GOP answered these challenges by devoting much of their infomercial to trying to persuade the center to think twice about four more years of Obama. But Democrats appear to believe they don’t need to appeal to anyone but those on the left.

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DNC Blames Obama for Israel Platform

The Democratic National Committee has responded to the controversy over pro-Israel language being deleted from its 2012 platform by pinning the blame on President Obama’s Israel policies. CNN’s Dana Bash reports:

CNN’s Dana Bash: I asked the DNC [why it omitted sections of its 2008 Israel plank from its 2012 platform] and we have an answer. And their answer was that they were simply following what the Obama administration’s policy is, and the White House said several months ago that the status of Jerusalem is an issue that should be resolved in the final status negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and that is why it is not in the platform as it was in 2008.

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The Democratic National Committee has responded to the controversy over pro-Israel language being deleted from its 2012 platform by pinning the blame on President Obama’s Israel policies. CNN’s Dana Bash reports:

CNN’s Dana Bash: I asked the DNC [why it omitted sections of its 2008 Israel plank from its 2012 platform] and we have an answer. And their answer was that they were simply following what the Obama administration’s policy is, and the White House said several months ago that the status of Jerusalem is an issue that should be resolved in the final status negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and that is why it is not in the platform as it was in 2008.

That was obviously the reason for the platform changes, but it’s still interesting that the Democratic National Committee pointed the finger at Obama so quickly. It’s possible the DNC was worried about the long-term fallout with donors; this seems like one of those issues that would outrage the DNC’s pro-Israel Democratic contributors.

It’s easy to see how this could snowball into a serious problem for both the Obama campaign and the Democratic Party. Democrats have been telling the Jewish community since 2008 that Obama can be trusted on Israel — and now it turns out his administration isn’t just pursuing some questionable Israel policies, but also eroding the entire party’s previous pro-Israel stances.

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Fluke’s Battle Cry: Lysistrata or Insomnia?

Georgetown University Law student Sandra Fluke became the poster child for the Democrats faux “war on women” theme this past spring when she was brutally mocked as a “slut” by Rush Limbaugh for whining to Congress about her Catholic university’s refusal to pay for her contraceptives. Fluke has parlayed that foolish insult into a full-time career as a liberal activist and will appear at the Democratic National Convention to denounce the Republicans and urge President Obama’s re-election. Fluke has no interest in the fact that her fight for free contraceptives infringes on the religious liberty of Catholics and others who object to being compelled to pay for services that violate their consciences. She believes her demands trump the constitutional rights of others.

Today, she appeared at a pre-convention Planned Parenthood rally at which she urged women to work for the GOP’s defeat. The group was reportedly disappointed by the poor turnout for the event that was apparently caused by an Occupy Wall Street standoff with police preventing Democrats and activists from getting to the rally. But thanks to Fluke, they got some publicity because of the catchy battle cry she issued to supporters:

She announced her new rule: “No sleep ’til November!” Fluke called on Planned Parenthood supporters to talk to “everyone…if there is one woman or one man who loves women in America who doesn’t understand what these candidates stand for in November,” Planned Parenthood supporters will have failed.

But what exactly does the would-be lawyer mean by that? It might be just an awkward metaphor.  But does she expect all women to be pulling all-nighters working at Obama call centers or knocking on doors canvassing? Or is she channeling Greek poet Aristophanes’ play Lysistrata, first performed in 411 B.C.E., in which the women of Athens vow to withhold their sexual favors until their men obey their demand to change a state policy?

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Georgetown University Law student Sandra Fluke became the poster child for the Democrats faux “war on women” theme this past spring when she was brutally mocked as a “slut” by Rush Limbaugh for whining to Congress about her Catholic university’s refusal to pay for her contraceptives. Fluke has parlayed that foolish insult into a full-time career as a liberal activist and will appear at the Democratic National Convention to denounce the Republicans and urge President Obama’s re-election. Fluke has no interest in the fact that her fight for free contraceptives infringes on the religious liberty of Catholics and others who object to being compelled to pay for services that violate their consciences. She believes her demands trump the constitutional rights of others.

Today, she appeared at a pre-convention Planned Parenthood rally at which she urged women to work for the GOP’s defeat. The group was reportedly disappointed by the poor turnout for the event that was apparently caused by an Occupy Wall Street standoff with police preventing Democrats and activists from getting to the rally. But thanks to Fluke, they got some publicity because of the catchy battle cry she issued to supporters:

She announced her new rule: “No sleep ’til November!” Fluke called on Planned Parenthood supporters to talk to “everyone…if there is one woman or one man who loves women in America who doesn’t understand what these candidates stand for in November,” Planned Parenthood supporters will have failed.

But what exactly does the would-be lawyer mean by that? It might be just an awkward metaphor.  But does she expect all women to be pulling all-nighters working at Obama call centers or knocking on doors canvassing? Or is she channeling Greek poet Aristophanes’ play Lysistrata, first performed in 411 B.C.E., in which the women of Athens vow to withhold their sexual favors until their men obey their demand to change a state policy?

If the latter, it would be a highly inventive campaign tactic as well as a tribute to Fluke’s erudition. It would, of course, be very bad news for Democrats of all sexual proclivities and, no doubt, cause some strife in households where the partners are of different political persuasions. In Aristophanes’ version of history, the women eventually do prevail and manage to bring a halt to the Peloponnesian War.

Far be it from me to offer any advice about how any attendee at the DNC should make use any of the sexual organs that some of them are dressed up as this week. But one imagines that Democratic women would be far better off going Lysistrata until November rather than suffering the horrors of insomnia. There is also the added benefit that at least for the next two months, it would cut down on the costs of the contraceptives that Fluke and her supporters are so anxious to have paid by taxpayers and Catholic institutions.

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Dems See Women as Objects, Not Voters

At the Democratic Convention this week in Charlotte, we’ve learned what mainstream feminism has become. What was once a movement to fight for equality for women in every sector of society has somehow turned into a parody of itself. Since the feminist movement began in the mid-1800s, feminists strove to move past the era where women were seen merely as sexual and reproductive objects. These feminists fought for women to have roles outside of their marriages and their homes, to have equal opportunities in education, the workplace and the political arena.

Cut to Charlotte in early September 2012 and these “feminists” are representing themselves solely as human beings with female reproductive organs. At the DNC this week, women are promoting the Democratic agenda by walking around the convention wearing pins that read “I’m a slut and I vote” in addition to dressing up in costume as birth control dispensers and vaginas. These female reproductive organs, devoid of any other identifying characteristics, are duty-bound to vote for Democrats in order to protect themselves from government (while simultaneously demanding governmental involvement in their reproductive choices). Democrats demand that government respect their “right” to abort or obtain birth control and at the same time demand that government also pay for these decisions. The lack of awareness at the inconsistency of this position is astonishing.

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At the Democratic Convention this week in Charlotte, we’ve learned what mainstream feminism has become. What was once a movement to fight for equality for women in every sector of society has somehow turned into a parody of itself. Since the feminist movement began in the mid-1800s, feminists strove to move past the era where women were seen merely as sexual and reproductive objects. These feminists fought for women to have roles outside of their marriages and their homes, to have equal opportunities in education, the workplace and the political arena.

Cut to Charlotte in early September 2012 and these “feminists” are representing themselves solely as human beings with female reproductive organs. At the DNC this week, women are promoting the Democratic agenda by walking around the convention wearing pins that read “I’m a slut and I vote” in addition to dressing up in costume as birth control dispensers and vaginas. These female reproductive organs, devoid of any other identifying characteristics, are duty-bound to vote for Democrats in order to protect themselves from government (while simultaneously demanding governmental involvement in their reproductive choices). Democrats demand that government respect their “right” to abort or obtain birth control and at the same time demand that government also pay for these decisions. The lack of awareness at the inconsistency of this position is astonishing.

It appears the Democratic party would like to send the feminist movement back to its earliest stages–back to when women were sexual objects. Unfortunately for these Democrats obsessed with portraying an imaginary Republican War on Women, women are not single-issue voters. American women have wallets, they are employers and employees, they were and continue to be affected by the economic crisis that has worsened under Obama’s presidency. American women are taxpayers who, like men, will be horrified to watch the national debt surpass $16 trillion as the Democratic convention gets under way. Women are parents who want to provide their children with quality health insurance, a quality education and a life better than their own. As much as Democrats might want the feminist movement to regress, it’s too late. Women won’t be voting as a bloc, mindlessly obeying leaders who call themselves feminists into the voting booth. The legacy of genuine feminism has guaranteed that.

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Does DNC Platform Indicate Policy Shift on “Right of Return”?

In 2008, the DNC platform stated that “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel.” Apparently the DNC forgot to add: “until President Obama takes office.” That affirmation of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was removed from this year’s platform:

For Jerusalem, the new platform has been brought into line with the Obama administration’s policy of not recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and supporting its division. Jerusalem is unmentioned in the 2012 document, whereas the 2008 and 2004 Democratic Party platforms declared “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel…It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.”

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In 2008, the DNC platform stated that “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel.” Apparently the DNC forgot to add: “until President Obama takes office.” That affirmation of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was removed from this year’s platform:

For Jerusalem, the new platform has been brought into line with the Obama administration’s policy of not recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and supporting its division. Jerusalem is unmentioned in the 2012 document, whereas the 2008 and 2004 Democratic Party platforms declared “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel…It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.”

It’s troubling that the administration would remove pro-Israel language from the platform, but it’s also not particularly surprising. The Obama administration has repeatedly refused to name Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, much to the dismay of Israel supporters.

But that’s not even the most disturbing omission in the latest DNC platform. The 2008 document included this strong objection to the Palestinian “right of return,” which would destroy Israel’s identity as a Jewish state:

The creation of a Palestinian state through final status negotiations, together with an international compensation mechanism, should resolve the issue of Palestinian refugees by allowing them to settle there, rather than in Israel. All understand that it is unrealistic to expect the outcome of final status negotiations to be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949. Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel. The parties have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations. It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.

This language is nowhere to be found in the 2012 platform. While the RNC also removed references to the refugee issue in its platform this year, that’s actually an improvement from its vague 2008 stance, which called for the Israelis and Palestinians to settle the issue between themselves. The RNC platforms from 2008 and 2012 affirm Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The DNC, in contrast, weakened its positions on both the refugee issue and Jerusalem since 2008. Why did they water it down? Was it to conform with Obama administration stances that are less supportive of Israel?

While the DNC 2012 platform omitted these critical statements, it also made some additions since 2008: Roughly 178 words touting President Obama as a great friend to Israel. Apparently the DNC had to remove the parts about Jerusalem and the Palestinian right of return to make room for the paragraph telling us what a pro-Israel stalwart Obama is.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu famously lectured Obama about the right of return in 2011, indicating their disagreement on the issue. But until now, it was assumed that the Obama administration at least held the standard position that the Palestinian refugee situation would be settled within the confines of a future Palestinian state. Is the Obama administration now indicating that the refugee issue will be up for debate during negotiations? If not, why was the language removed?

UPDATE: Full quote on Palestinian refugees from the 2008 DNC platform added above.

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Does Bill Clinton Want Obama to Win?

One of the risks in asking Bill Clinton for help, as Barack Obama is finding out this week, is that before he utters a word he dominates the conversation. The Democrats gather this week in Charlotte to renominate the first black president–who in some cases, like health care reform and the killing of Osama bin Laden—accomplished what Clinton famously failed to do. Yet no one wants to talk about Barack Obama—not the campaign surrogates who get asked whether voters are better off now than they were four years ago (they aren’t); not the party faithful wondering where hope and change went; and not the Democratic elected officials grumbling about the self-centered behavior of the president.

And not the media, either. Yesterday’s political talk shows and round tables seemed consumed by the Clinton-Obama dynamic—have you heard that a source told a source who told a reporter that Clinton told Ted Kennedy that Obama would have been carrying Bill and Ted’s bags just a few years before he had the audacity run for president against party royalty? Yes, you have heard. Everyone has, because no one will stop talking about it. It comes from Ryan Lizza’s comprehensive review of the relationship between the two men, which also offers a good window into how Clinton weighs using his powers of persuasion. (Clinton finally decided Obama’s election was worth supporting because with his wife as secretary of state he could fundraise the heck out of rich foreign donors for the Clinton Global Initiative. Welcome to the mind of Bill Clinton.)

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One of the risks in asking Bill Clinton for help, as Barack Obama is finding out this week, is that before he utters a word he dominates the conversation. The Democrats gather this week in Charlotte to renominate the first black president–who in some cases, like health care reform and the killing of Osama bin Laden—accomplished what Clinton famously failed to do. Yet no one wants to talk about Barack Obama—not the campaign surrogates who get asked whether voters are better off now than they were four years ago (they aren’t); not the party faithful wondering where hope and change went; and not the Democratic elected officials grumbling about the self-centered behavior of the president.

And not the media, either. Yesterday’s political talk shows and round tables seemed consumed by the Clinton-Obama dynamic—have you heard that a source told a source who told a reporter that Clinton told Ted Kennedy that Obama would have been carrying Bill and Ted’s bags just a few years before he had the audacity run for president against party royalty? Yes, you have heard. Everyone has, because no one will stop talking about it. It comes from Ryan Lizza’s comprehensive review of the relationship between the two men, which also offers a good window into how Clinton weighs using his powers of persuasion. (Clinton finally decided Obama’s election was worth supporting because with his wife as secretary of state he could fundraise the heck out of rich foreign donors for the Clinton Global Initiative. Welcome to the mind of Bill Clinton.)

But that nugget of information about the Global Initiative stands out to me far more than some of the other pieces of the story. And that’s in part because of what Jonathan wrote about earlier: the possibility that Obama may run again 2016 if he loses in November. Every guest and “expert” called upon to opine on Clinton’s motives took for granted the idea that Clinton does not want Obama to be reelected, and therefore his speech this week is intended to play scorpion to Obama’s frog.

But I’m not so sure. If Obama loses in November and decides not to run again in 2016, the path is basically cleared for Hillary Clinton. But if Obama loses and decides to run in 2016, it will almost surely herald the end of Hillary’s hopes for the presidency. Even if Obama loses in November and gives Hillary the shot in 2016, it would mean she would have to unseat a sitting president—far from impossible, but a challenge nonetheless.

So what’s the best possible scenario for Hillary Clinton? It might just be an Obama victory, and then a wide open race in 2016, cleared of serious primary opposition and without an incumbent to unseat. Now, this does not mean it would be easy. And it’s possible to envision a scenario in which beating an incumbent Romney, if he were unpopular, would be easier than if the Clintons—perpetual ambassadors to the past—tried to rise to the throne once more by beating some of the GOP’s young stars. And you could argue that expecting a party to win the White House three times in a row would be just as tough as beating an incumbent.

Additionally, if Hillary had to follow a two-term historic president the expectations would be higher and the failure, if she indeed failed, more acute. Bill’s own legacy would be left somewhat intact as well with an Obama loss. Nonetheless, mutual victory is almost certainly more desirable for the Clintons than mutual failure. Thus, Clinton may see more value in an Obama victory than pundits seem to think.

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Oren Rejects Wasserman Schultz Claim

Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren “categorically” rejected DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s claim that he told her Republican actions are “dangerous” to Israel this afternoon. The ambassador issued this statement in response to Phil Klein’s report in the Washington Examiner:

“I categorically deny that I ever characterized Republican policies as harmful to Israel. Bipartisan support is a paramount national interest for Israel, and we have great friends on both sides of the aisle.”

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Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren “categorically” rejected DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s claim that he told her Republican actions are “dangerous” to Israel this afternoon. The ambassador issued this statement in response to Phil Klein’s report in the Washington Examiner:

“I categorically deny that I ever characterized Republican policies as harmful to Israel. Bipartisan support is a paramount national interest for Israel, and we have great friends on both sides of the aisle.”

Being directly contradicted by the Israeli ambassador is a major embarrassment for the DNC and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, particularly since she’s one of Obama’s top Jewish outreach surrogates. It’s hard to imagine the embassy is happy it was ensnared in this controversy, all thanks to DWS’s (apparently inaccurate) claims.

The question now is whether Wasserman Schultz responds. She’d be better off keeping her mouth shut, but obviously that’s going to be hard to do at a convention teeming with reporters. What’s her best option here? Dig in against the embassy, and say she stands by her characterization of Oren’s comments? Make up some lame excuse for why she apparently manufactured a remark from the Israeli ambassador? Schedule an emergency root canal?

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