Commentary Magazine


Topic: District Attorney

Foreign Policy in 2010

Let’s be honest: domestic policy is going to dominate the 2010 election campaign. But that isn’t to say foreign policy and Obama’s disastrous Middle East strategy will be unimportant. Let’s take the Pennsylvania 7th congressional district, currently held by Democrat Joe Sestak. It’s rated a “toss up” by Charlie Cook. Here is the lowdown on the district:

Inner suburban Delaware County’s recent electoral performance makes it hard to believe this area was once Republican territory. Sure, President Obama won this district with 56 percent in 2008. But Republican Curt Weldon held this seat easily for 20 years until the FBI began investigating whether he had improperly influenced government contracts and Sestak thrashed him in 2006. The Delaware County GOP machine is not what it was, but now that Sestak is running for Senate, this seat is likely to host a very competitive race to succeed him.

Two state representatives are vying for the Democratic nomination. The Republicans have found a viable candidate in Pat Meehan, the former Delaware County district attorney who dropped out of the governor’s race to run in the 7th. As Cook notes, “If 2010 turns out to be a great Republican year, the old Delaware County GOP machine could come back to life for a candidate like Meehan.”

So what may be a key issue in the district race? Meehan is pointing to Obama’s Israel policy, blasting away:

Israel has long been a close ally of the United States, a shining example of democracy and a free market economy in the Middle East. … I am extremely troubled with the Secretary of State’s very public rebuke and questioning of Israel’s commitment to peace. Over the course of the past year, Israel has made many concessions, including the removal of hundreds of roadblocks and checkpoints and a ten month moratorium on new construction in the West Bank. These are significant steps, with Secretary of State Clinton calling the latter move “unprecedented.”

Israel has been a long-time friend and ally of the United States and it is concerning that some experts have stated relations are at their worst point in decades. … To date, the Administration’s policy on Israel has appeared haphazard and somewhat one-sided.  Surrounded by Arab states that in the past have stated their desire for its complete destruction, Israel deserves better treatment and support from America. It is my hope that the rift that formed in recent weeks will be repaired and that Israel and the United States can move forward together toward brokering a lasting peace agreement.

This Philadelphia suburban district (with a significant Jewish population, although not as large as the one in the 6th) is one place to begin to test popular support for Obama’s anti-Israel bent. Meehan plainly thinks it’s a loser with that electorate. As the race plays out, we’ll see if any Democrat is willing to defend the Obami Israel-bashing and weak-kneed approach to Iran.

Let’s be honest: domestic policy is going to dominate the 2010 election campaign. But that isn’t to say foreign policy and Obama’s disastrous Middle East strategy will be unimportant. Let’s take the Pennsylvania 7th congressional district, currently held by Democrat Joe Sestak. It’s rated a “toss up” by Charlie Cook. Here is the lowdown on the district:

Inner suburban Delaware County’s recent electoral performance makes it hard to believe this area was once Republican territory. Sure, President Obama won this district with 56 percent in 2008. But Republican Curt Weldon held this seat easily for 20 years until the FBI began investigating whether he had improperly influenced government contracts and Sestak thrashed him in 2006. The Delaware County GOP machine is not what it was, but now that Sestak is running for Senate, this seat is likely to host a very competitive race to succeed him.

Two state representatives are vying for the Democratic nomination. The Republicans have found a viable candidate in Pat Meehan, the former Delaware County district attorney who dropped out of the governor’s race to run in the 7th. As Cook notes, “If 2010 turns out to be a great Republican year, the old Delaware County GOP machine could come back to life for a candidate like Meehan.”

So what may be a key issue in the district race? Meehan is pointing to Obama’s Israel policy, blasting away:

Israel has long been a close ally of the United States, a shining example of democracy and a free market economy in the Middle East. … I am extremely troubled with the Secretary of State’s very public rebuke and questioning of Israel’s commitment to peace. Over the course of the past year, Israel has made many concessions, including the removal of hundreds of roadblocks and checkpoints and a ten month moratorium on new construction in the West Bank. These are significant steps, with Secretary of State Clinton calling the latter move “unprecedented.”

Israel has been a long-time friend and ally of the United States and it is concerning that some experts have stated relations are at their worst point in decades. … To date, the Administration’s policy on Israel has appeared haphazard and somewhat one-sided.  Surrounded by Arab states that in the past have stated their desire for its complete destruction, Israel deserves better treatment and support from America. It is my hope that the rift that formed in recent weeks will be repaired and that Israel and the United States can move forward together toward brokering a lasting peace agreement.

This Philadelphia suburban district (with a significant Jewish population, although not as large as the one in the 6th) is one place to begin to test popular support for Obama’s anti-Israel bent. Meehan plainly thinks it’s a loser with that electorate. As the race plays out, we’ll see if any Democrat is willing to defend the Obami Israel-bashing and weak-kneed approach to Iran.

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Coakley: The Buzzards Gather

Just as I suggested this week, Democrats are now attempting, according to Byron York, to Creigh Deeds-ize Martha Coakley. If she is in fact tanking, now is the time to write her off as a damaged and enfeebled candidate, lest anyone suspect that this is a reflection on Democrats’ political liabilities. York suggests that Coakley’s own polls show her trailing by 5 points. So the buzzards are circling:

“This is a Creigh Deeds situation,” the Democrat says. “I don’t think it says that the Obama agenda is a problem. I think it says, 1) that she’s a terrible candidate, 2) that she ran a terrible campaign, 3) that the climate is difficult but she should have been able to overcome it, and 4) that Democrats beware — you better run good campaigns, or you’re going to lose.”

They do have a point. Not only is she a lackluster candidate, she has, as Dorothy Rabinowitz documents in painstaking fashion, shown herself to be profoundly lacking in judgment, as evidenced by her conduct in a sensational child-sexual-abuse case in which horrifying, and ultimately unsubstantiated, accusations were made against the Amirault family. Rabinowitz describes Coakley’s role in the case’s unraveling as Gerald Amirault was spared his full 30-to-40-year sentence:

In 2000, the Massachusetts Governor’s Board of Pardons and Paroles met to consider a commutation of Gerald’s sentence. After nine months of investigation, the board, reputed to be the toughest in the country, voted 5-0, with one abstention, to commute his sentence. Still more newsworthy was an added statement, signed by a majority of the board, which pointed to the lack of evidence against the Amiraults, and the “extraordinary if not bizarre allegations” on which they had been convicted.

Editorials in every major and minor paper in the state applauded the Board’s findings. District Attorney Coakley was not idle either, and quickly set about organizing the parents and children in the case, bringing them to meetings with Acting Gov. Jane Swift, to persuade her to reject the board’s ruling. Ms. Coakley also worked the press, setting up a special interview so that the now adult accusers could tell reporters, once more, of the tortures they had suffered at the hands of the Amiraults, and of their panic at the prospect of Gerald going free.

Rabinowitz argues that if Coakley believed the preposterous allegations in that case, which “no serious citizen does,” then “that is powerful testimony to the mind and capacities of this aspirant to a Senate seat. It is little short of wonderful to hear now of Ms. Coakley’s concern for the rights of terror suspects at Guantanamo—her urgent call for the protection of the right to the presumption of innocence.”

Perhaps, then, there’s a measure of truth to Democrats’ whispering campaign. Coakley may simply be in over her head, a woman of flawed judgment and limited political skills. In any other year, that might not be a barrier to election for a Democrat in a deep Blue State. But this is no ordinary year.

Just as I suggested this week, Democrats are now attempting, according to Byron York, to Creigh Deeds-ize Martha Coakley. If she is in fact tanking, now is the time to write her off as a damaged and enfeebled candidate, lest anyone suspect that this is a reflection on Democrats’ political liabilities. York suggests that Coakley’s own polls show her trailing by 5 points. So the buzzards are circling:

“This is a Creigh Deeds situation,” the Democrat says. “I don’t think it says that the Obama agenda is a problem. I think it says, 1) that she’s a terrible candidate, 2) that she ran a terrible campaign, 3) that the climate is difficult but she should have been able to overcome it, and 4) that Democrats beware — you better run good campaigns, or you’re going to lose.”

They do have a point. Not only is she a lackluster candidate, she has, as Dorothy Rabinowitz documents in painstaking fashion, shown herself to be profoundly lacking in judgment, as evidenced by her conduct in a sensational child-sexual-abuse case in which horrifying, and ultimately unsubstantiated, accusations were made against the Amirault family. Rabinowitz describes Coakley’s role in the case’s unraveling as Gerald Amirault was spared his full 30-to-40-year sentence:

In 2000, the Massachusetts Governor’s Board of Pardons and Paroles met to consider a commutation of Gerald’s sentence. After nine months of investigation, the board, reputed to be the toughest in the country, voted 5-0, with one abstention, to commute his sentence. Still more newsworthy was an added statement, signed by a majority of the board, which pointed to the lack of evidence against the Amiraults, and the “extraordinary if not bizarre allegations” on which they had been convicted.

Editorials in every major and minor paper in the state applauded the Board’s findings. District Attorney Coakley was not idle either, and quickly set about organizing the parents and children in the case, bringing them to meetings with Acting Gov. Jane Swift, to persuade her to reject the board’s ruling. Ms. Coakley also worked the press, setting up a special interview so that the now adult accusers could tell reporters, once more, of the tortures they had suffered at the hands of the Amiraults, and of their panic at the prospect of Gerald going free.

Rabinowitz argues that if Coakley believed the preposterous allegations in that case, which “no serious citizen does,” then “that is powerful testimony to the mind and capacities of this aspirant to a Senate seat. It is little short of wonderful to hear now of Ms. Coakley’s concern for the rights of terror suspects at Guantanamo—her urgent call for the protection of the right to the presumption of innocence.”

Perhaps, then, there’s a measure of truth to Democrats’ whispering campaign. Coakley may simply be in over her head, a woman of flawed judgment and limited political skills. In any other year, that might not be a barrier to election for a Democrat in a deep Blue State. But this is no ordinary year.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

What comes from a commander in chief who sends mixed messages? “Nearly a month after Obama unveiled his revised Afghanistan strategy, military and civilian leaders have come away with differing views of several fundamental aspects of the president’s new approach, according to more than a dozen senior administration and military officials involved in Afghanistan policy, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.”

Matthew Continetti: “There really are two Americas. There’s the America of the ‘expert’ schemers, planners, and centralizers inside the Beltway, who think they know what’s good for the people, whether the people like it or not. And there’s the America of just about everyone else. They are no doubt the ones Irving Kristol had in mind when he wrote, ‘The common people in such a democracy are not uncommonly wise, but their experience tends to make them uncommonly sensible.’” It is a good thing indeed that there are more of the latter.

David Axelrod says we will learn to love ObamaCare: “When people focus on what this bill is and not what it isn’t and recognize what an enormous landmark achievement it is, progressive achievement, you’ll see folks rallying around this and not running away from it.” Notice how they assume the public will be awed by the “landmark” quality of the bill. That’s how politicians think; ordinary people tend to focus on what legislation is actually going to do for or to them.

The Washington Post editors blast the Obami’s human-rights policy, seeking to mix economic progress with fundamental rights as “standard doctrine of the Soviet Bloc, which used to argue at every East-West conference that human rights in Czechoslovakia were superior to those in the United States, because one provided government health care that the other lacked.” Ouch. The editors rightly condemn this as a sly effort to downplay democracy, especially in the Middle East: “If the Obama administration believes that liberty is urgently needed in the homelands of al-Qaeda, Ms. Clinton still has offered no sign of it.”

Yes, in the end, all Democrats on health-care “reform” turned out to be liberals in favor of a big government power grab: “We trust voters in Nebraska, Louisiana, Indiana, Virginia and elsewhere noticed that these votes ultimately ensured the passage of a bill that will increase insurance costs, retard medical innovation and sorely damage the country’s fiscal position.” Judging from the polls, I think they are noticing.

Looks like our fellow citizens are our best defense: “Despite the billions spent since 2001 on intelligence and counterterrorism programs, sophisticated airport scanners and elaborate watch lists, it was something simpler that averted disaster on a Christmas Day flight to Detroit: alert and courageous passengers and crew members.”

New York District Attorney Robert Morgenthau on the Obami’s Iran engagement policy: “The president is smoking pot or something if he thinks that being nice to these guys is going to get him anywhere.”

Respected legal scholar Randy Barnett makes the argument that the individual mandate to buy health insurance is unconstitutional: “A mandate requiring all individuals to purchase health insurance would be an unprecedented form of federal action. The government has never required people to buy any good or service as a condition of lawful residence in the United States. . . First, it would impose a duty on individuals as members of society. Second, it would require people to purchase a specific service that would be heavily regulated by the federal government.” And if not unconstitutional, it is at the very least, enormously objectionable to a great number of Americans on both the Right and the Left.

What comes from a commander in chief who sends mixed messages? “Nearly a month after Obama unveiled his revised Afghanistan strategy, military and civilian leaders have come away with differing views of several fundamental aspects of the president’s new approach, according to more than a dozen senior administration and military officials involved in Afghanistan policy, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.”

Matthew Continetti: “There really are two Americas. There’s the America of the ‘expert’ schemers, planners, and centralizers inside the Beltway, who think they know what’s good for the people, whether the people like it or not. And there’s the America of just about everyone else. They are no doubt the ones Irving Kristol had in mind when he wrote, ‘The common people in such a democracy are not uncommonly wise, but their experience tends to make them uncommonly sensible.’” It is a good thing indeed that there are more of the latter.

David Axelrod says we will learn to love ObamaCare: “When people focus on what this bill is and not what it isn’t and recognize what an enormous landmark achievement it is, progressive achievement, you’ll see folks rallying around this and not running away from it.” Notice how they assume the public will be awed by the “landmark” quality of the bill. That’s how politicians think; ordinary people tend to focus on what legislation is actually going to do for or to them.

The Washington Post editors blast the Obami’s human-rights policy, seeking to mix economic progress with fundamental rights as “standard doctrine of the Soviet Bloc, which used to argue at every East-West conference that human rights in Czechoslovakia were superior to those in the United States, because one provided government health care that the other lacked.” Ouch. The editors rightly condemn this as a sly effort to downplay democracy, especially in the Middle East: “If the Obama administration believes that liberty is urgently needed in the homelands of al-Qaeda, Ms. Clinton still has offered no sign of it.”

Yes, in the end, all Democrats on health-care “reform” turned out to be liberals in favor of a big government power grab: “We trust voters in Nebraska, Louisiana, Indiana, Virginia and elsewhere noticed that these votes ultimately ensured the passage of a bill that will increase insurance costs, retard medical innovation and sorely damage the country’s fiscal position.” Judging from the polls, I think they are noticing.

Looks like our fellow citizens are our best defense: “Despite the billions spent since 2001 on intelligence and counterterrorism programs, sophisticated airport scanners and elaborate watch lists, it was something simpler that averted disaster on a Christmas Day flight to Detroit: alert and courageous passengers and crew members.”

New York District Attorney Robert Morgenthau on the Obami’s Iran engagement policy: “The president is smoking pot or something if he thinks that being nice to these guys is going to get him anywhere.”

Respected legal scholar Randy Barnett makes the argument that the individual mandate to buy health insurance is unconstitutional: “A mandate requiring all individuals to purchase health insurance would be an unprecedented form of federal action. The government has never required people to buy any good or service as a condition of lawful residence in the United States. . . First, it would impose a duty on individuals as members of society. Second, it would require people to purchase a specific service that would be heavily regulated by the federal government.” And if not unconstitutional, it is at the very least, enormously objectionable to a great number of Americans on both the Right and the Left.

Read Less




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