Commentary Magazine


Topic: Jake Tapper

Do They Want to Win?

At times you wonder if Obama and his minions want to win the war in Afghanistan. Oh, horror — can you say such things? Accuse them of less-than-steely determination to pursue victory? Well, to be blunt, it’s becoming hard to think of explanations for the Obama team’s insistence, childlike and illogical as it is, for defending what even sympathetic observers regard as the heart of our difficulty in our Afghanistan effort – the president’s timeline for a troop pullout. There was this exchange yesterday on This Week between Jake Tapper and Rahm Emanuel:

TAPPER: So what exactly does the July 2011 deadline mean? Is it going to be a whole lot of people moving out, definitely, as Vice President Biden says? Or could it be more nuanced, as General Petraeus says, maybe just a couple of people leaving one province?

EMANUEL: Well, no, everybody knows there’s a firm date. And that firm date is a date — deals with the troops that are part of the surge, the additional 30,000. What will be determined at that date or going into that date will be the scale and scope of that reduction.

But there will be no doubt that that’s going to happen. And I know actually — I look at both of those, and they’re not inconsistent. But remember where we were on Afghanistan policy, that war had waxed and waned. And there really hadn’t been a focus on how to bring that war to — and the effort (INAUDIBLE), even with al Qaeda and Taliban, to a point given what was going on in Iraq.

When pressed further, Emanuel praised the utility of the timeline:

TAPPER: But it could be any number of people.

EMANUEL: That’s what you’ll evaluate based on the conditions on the ground. That is — but what had to happen prior to that was having a date that gave everybody, the NATO, international forces, as well as Afghanistan, that sense of urgency to move.

We can speculate that Obama doesn’t want to admit his error. Or we can assume that Emanuel is panicked about the turnout of the administration’s liberal base in November. (The DNC is apparently so desperate that they are spending millions to get college kids and other first-time 2008 voters to turn out in a midterm election.) But whatever the explanation, they are doing the opposite of what the military and bipartisan supporters of the war tell us must be done: dispel the image that we are getting ready to cut and run.

Some still insist that Obama fully understands the responsibilities of commander in chief and is dedicated to avoiding a hugely damaging defeat in a war he deemed critical. At this point, those people have the burden of proof. By Obama’s actions and words, the evidence is mounting that neither is true.

At times you wonder if Obama and his minions want to win the war in Afghanistan. Oh, horror — can you say such things? Accuse them of less-than-steely determination to pursue victory? Well, to be blunt, it’s becoming hard to think of explanations for the Obama team’s insistence, childlike and illogical as it is, for defending what even sympathetic observers regard as the heart of our difficulty in our Afghanistan effort – the president’s timeline for a troop pullout. There was this exchange yesterday on This Week between Jake Tapper and Rahm Emanuel:

TAPPER: So what exactly does the July 2011 deadline mean? Is it going to be a whole lot of people moving out, definitely, as Vice President Biden says? Or could it be more nuanced, as General Petraeus says, maybe just a couple of people leaving one province?

EMANUEL: Well, no, everybody knows there’s a firm date. And that firm date is a date — deals with the troops that are part of the surge, the additional 30,000. What will be determined at that date or going into that date will be the scale and scope of that reduction.

But there will be no doubt that that’s going to happen. And I know actually — I look at both of those, and they’re not inconsistent. But remember where we were on Afghanistan policy, that war had waxed and waned. And there really hadn’t been a focus on how to bring that war to — and the effort (INAUDIBLE), even with al Qaeda and Taliban, to a point given what was going on in Iraq.

When pressed further, Emanuel praised the utility of the timeline:

TAPPER: But it could be any number of people.

EMANUEL: That’s what you’ll evaluate based on the conditions on the ground. That is — but what had to happen prior to that was having a date that gave everybody, the NATO, international forces, as well as Afghanistan, that sense of urgency to move.

We can speculate that Obama doesn’t want to admit his error. Or we can assume that Emanuel is panicked about the turnout of the administration’s liberal base in November. (The DNC is apparently so desperate that they are spending millions to get college kids and other first-time 2008 voters to turn out in a midterm election.) But whatever the explanation, they are doing the opposite of what the military and bipartisan supporters of the war tell us must be done: dispel the image that we are getting ready to cut and run.

Some still insist that Obama fully understands the responsibilities of commander in chief and is dedicated to avoiding a hugely damaging defeat in a war he deemed critical. At this point, those people have the burden of proof. By Obama’s actions and words, the evidence is mounting that neither is true.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

Ben Smith spots bias at the Washington Post.

CEOs spots the worst place to do business: “California ranks last among the states and Washington D.C. as a place to do business, according to Chief Executive magazine. It is the second year in a row that the state was given that dubious distinction.”

Stuart Rothenberg spots trouble for Russ Feingold: “When former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) announced recently that he wouldn’t enter the 2010 Senate race and challenge Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold, many of us crossed the state off our list of competitive races. Maybe we were a bit premature. Two more Republicans — former state Commerce Secretary Dick Leinenkugel and businessman Ron Johnson — are joining the two GOPers already in the contest, businessman Terrence Wall and Dave Westlake, and the newly expanded field is just one reason for reconsidering my knee-jerk judgment. None of these four hopefuls possesses all of the qualities of the ideal challenger. But this cycle, Republicans may not need ideal challengers to win, even in the Badger State.”

And Rothenberg spots a pickup possibility for the GOP in the Hawaii House special election. “According to recent polling, Republicans now have a legitimate chance to takeover Hawaii’s 1st District in this month’s special election. What was once only a scenario now looks like a real possibility, and even Democratic observers are worried about the race.”

Victor Davis Hanson spots the pattern: “The jihadist symptoms of Major Hasan were ignored; General Casey lamented the possible ramifications of Hasan’s killings to the army’s diversity program; the warnings of Mr. Mutallab’s father about his son’s jihadist tendencies were ignored but the latter’s Miranda rights were not; and the Times Square would-be bomber was quite rashly and on little evidence falsely equated with a ‘white’ bomber with perhaps domestic-terrorism overtones (when it looks like there is a Pakistani radical-Islamist connection) — a sort of pattern has been established, one both implicit and explicit.”

It’s not hard to spot a rising GOP star: “Once again showing that he means to shake up Trenton, Gov. Christopher J. Christie declined on Monday to reappoint a sitting justice to the New Jersey Supreme Court, instead appointing someone who he said would show the restraint that was missing from the court. … Speaking to reporters in Trenton, Mr. Christie had only kind words for Justice Wallace, but he described the historically liberal court as ‘out of control’ over the last three decades, usurping the roles of the governor and the Legislature in setting social and tax policies.” (As a bonus, Christie succeeded in freaking out the Democrats: “New Jersey Democrats, furious with Gov. Chris Christie over his decision to replace a moderate African-American on the state Supreme Court, vowed Tuesday not even to consider the Republican governor’s nominee.”)

Fox News spots the latest evidence that Obama is failing to thwart the mullahs’ nuclear ambitions or to isolate the regime. “Two of the world’s worst dictators are thumbing their noses at the U.N. as it tries to shore up support for increased sanctions against Iran. According to press reports, Iran secretly agreed last month to provide Zimbabwe with oil in return for exclusive access to the crippled African nation’s precious uranium ore.”

Jake Tapper spots a sign of improvement in the Obama administration’s terror-fighting operation: “ABC News has learned that the High-Value Interrogation Group, or HIG, is involved in the interrogation of Faisal Shahzad, the man arrested last night in the investigation into the failed Times Square bombing. After the arrest of the failed Christmas Day 2009 bomber Umar Farouq Abdulmutallab, the Obama administration was criticized for not having yet made operational the HIG, a special interrogation team for high-value terrorist suspects, though the Special Task Force on Interrogations and Transfer Policies had announced its recommendation to form such a group in August 2009.”

Newsbusters spots the left down in the dumps that the Times Square bomber wasn’t a Tea Partier: “It appears that it wasn’t only media types such as MSNBC’s Contessa Brewer who were disappointed that the Times Square bombing suspect turned out to be a Muslim. They were joined by virtually the entire leftwing blogosphere in their frustration that the suspect wasn’t a tea party activist or a member of a ‘rightwing’ militia group.”

Ben Smith spots bias at the Washington Post.

CEOs spots the worst place to do business: “California ranks last among the states and Washington D.C. as a place to do business, according to Chief Executive magazine. It is the second year in a row that the state was given that dubious distinction.”

Stuart Rothenberg spots trouble for Russ Feingold: “When former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) announced recently that he wouldn’t enter the 2010 Senate race and challenge Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold, many of us crossed the state off our list of competitive races. Maybe we were a bit premature. Two more Republicans — former state Commerce Secretary Dick Leinenkugel and businessman Ron Johnson — are joining the two GOPers already in the contest, businessman Terrence Wall and Dave Westlake, and the newly expanded field is just one reason for reconsidering my knee-jerk judgment. None of these four hopefuls possesses all of the qualities of the ideal challenger. But this cycle, Republicans may not need ideal challengers to win, even in the Badger State.”

And Rothenberg spots a pickup possibility for the GOP in the Hawaii House special election. “According to recent polling, Republicans now have a legitimate chance to takeover Hawaii’s 1st District in this month’s special election. What was once only a scenario now looks like a real possibility, and even Democratic observers are worried about the race.”

Victor Davis Hanson spots the pattern: “The jihadist symptoms of Major Hasan were ignored; General Casey lamented the possible ramifications of Hasan’s killings to the army’s diversity program; the warnings of Mr. Mutallab’s father about his son’s jihadist tendencies were ignored but the latter’s Miranda rights were not; and the Times Square would-be bomber was quite rashly and on little evidence falsely equated with a ‘white’ bomber with perhaps domestic-terrorism overtones (when it looks like there is a Pakistani radical-Islamist connection) — a sort of pattern has been established, one both implicit and explicit.”

It’s not hard to spot a rising GOP star: “Once again showing that he means to shake up Trenton, Gov. Christopher J. Christie declined on Monday to reappoint a sitting justice to the New Jersey Supreme Court, instead appointing someone who he said would show the restraint that was missing from the court. … Speaking to reporters in Trenton, Mr. Christie had only kind words for Justice Wallace, but he described the historically liberal court as ‘out of control’ over the last three decades, usurping the roles of the governor and the Legislature in setting social and tax policies.” (As a bonus, Christie succeeded in freaking out the Democrats: “New Jersey Democrats, furious with Gov. Chris Christie over his decision to replace a moderate African-American on the state Supreme Court, vowed Tuesday not even to consider the Republican governor’s nominee.”)

Fox News spots the latest evidence that Obama is failing to thwart the mullahs’ nuclear ambitions or to isolate the regime. “Two of the world’s worst dictators are thumbing their noses at the U.N. as it tries to shore up support for increased sanctions against Iran. According to press reports, Iran secretly agreed last month to provide Zimbabwe with oil in return for exclusive access to the crippled African nation’s precious uranium ore.”

Jake Tapper spots a sign of improvement in the Obama administration’s terror-fighting operation: “ABC News has learned that the High-Value Interrogation Group, or HIG, is involved in the interrogation of Faisal Shahzad, the man arrested last night in the investigation into the failed Times Square bombing. After the arrest of the failed Christmas Day 2009 bomber Umar Farouq Abdulmutallab, the Obama administration was criticized for not having yet made operational the HIG, a special interrogation team for high-value terrorist suspects, though the Special Task Force on Interrogations and Transfer Policies had announced its recommendation to form such a group in August 2009.”

Newsbusters spots the left down in the dumps that the Times Square bomber wasn’t a Tea Partier: “It appears that it wasn’t only media types such as MSNBC’s Contessa Brewer who were disappointed that the Times Square bombing suspect turned out to be a Muslim. They were joined by virtually the entire leftwing blogosphere in their frustration that the suspect wasn’t a tea party activist or a member of a ‘rightwing’ militia group.”

Read Less

Which Is It, Senator?

Ron Kampeas spots Chuck Schumer avoiding a fairly straightforward question from Jake Tapper on Obama’s assault on Israel:

TAPPER: The Israeli newspaper Yedioth Achronoth quoted an anonymous confidante to Prime Minister Netanyahu calling President Obama “The greatest disaster for Israel, a strategic disaster.” I’m sure you have some constituents who share those views and perhaps those concerns. Do you think that the White House has behaved toward Israel and the prime minister of Israel as you would want them to?

SCHUMER: Well let me say this: I think everybody here in the United States, virtually everybody, and the vast majority of Israelis, want peace, they’re willing to accept a two state solution. The best way to bring about that peace is let the two sides negotiate and bring them together. I think one of the problems we have faced in the Middle East is that too many of the Palestinians, they elected Hamas, sworn to Israel’s destruction, don’t really believe in peace. And I do believe that you have to let the two parties come together. If the United States imposes preconditions, particularly on the Palestinian and Arab side, they’ll say we won’t come and negotiate.

Tapper didn’t follow up, and Schumer escaped unscathed. But perhaps Schumer’s constituents deserve an answer. After all, Schumer  fancies himself a great friend of Israel and gave a robust speech at AIPAC declaring Iran engagement a failure. In the past he’s signed on to resolutions affirming Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel. So there are two possibilities: (1) he’s changed his mind and now agrees that we need more daylight between the U.S. and Israel, or 2) he’s appalled by Obama’s onslaught but lacks the political courage to speak up. Which is it?

Ron Kampeas spots Chuck Schumer avoiding a fairly straightforward question from Jake Tapper on Obama’s assault on Israel:

TAPPER: The Israeli newspaper Yedioth Achronoth quoted an anonymous confidante to Prime Minister Netanyahu calling President Obama “The greatest disaster for Israel, a strategic disaster.” I’m sure you have some constituents who share those views and perhaps those concerns. Do you think that the White House has behaved toward Israel and the prime minister of Israel as you would want them to?

SCHUMER: Well let me say this: I think everybody here in the United States, virtually everybody, and the vast majority of Israelis, want peace, they’re willing to accept a two state solution. The best way to bring about that peace is let the two sides negotiate and bring them together. I think one of the problems we have faced in the Middle East is that too many of the Palestinians, they elected Hamas, sworn to Israel’s destruction, don’t really believe in peace. And I do believe that you have to let the two parties come together. If the United States imposes preconditions, particularly on the Palestinian and Arab side, they’ll say we won’t come and negotiate.

Tapper didn’t follow up, and Schumer escaped unscathed. But perhaps Schumer’s constituents deserve an answer. After all, Schumer  fancies himself a great friend of Israel and gave a robust speech at AIPAC declaring Iran engagement a failure. In the past he’s signed on to resolutions affirming Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel. So there are two possibilities: (1) he’s changed his mind and now agrees that we need more daylight between the U.S. and Israel, or 2) he’s appalled by Obama’s onslaught but lacks the political courage to speak up. Which is it?

Read Less

Gates Agrees with Cheney and Palin

Last week both Liz Cheney and Sarah Palin suggested it might be a good idea not to publicly antagonize President Hamid Karzai. On This Week, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates seemed to agree:

Well I think, you know, this is a — a man who’s first of all a political leader. He has domestic audiences as well as foreign audiences. What I can tell you is that General McChrystal continues to meet with him regularly. They have a very positive relationship. He gets very good cooperation out of President Karzai. I think that the — the Afghans are very concerned about their sovereignty. And they are very concerned that — that it be clear who — who is the president of Afghanistan.

And — and that he be treated with respect, because he is the representative of the people of Afghanistan and their sovereignty. And I think that — I think that that kind of cooperative relationship, certainly that he has with — I can only speak for General McChrystal’s side of it. But I think General McChrystal feels that this is a man he can work easily with. And — and he has taken him to Kandahar. He has indicated he’s willing to go to Kandahar repeatedly for the Shuras as the Kandahar campaign gets underway. … And I think — I think we frankly have to be sensitive in our own comments about President Karzai in terms of being mindful that he is the embodiment of sovereignty for Afghanistan also in the way we treat him.

Jake Tapper didn’t follow up, but the obvious question is: why have we been bashing and snubbing the “embodiment of sovereignty for Afghanistan”? It’s sometimes hard to discern whether this administration operates by design or out of pique. It’s been accustomed to rolling over the opposition, sneering and shoving back (whether it’s Republicans, the Supreme Court, or Fox News), and it often appears to conduct its foreign policy in much the same way as a political campaign.  But hitting back, instantaneous responses, and ad hominem attacks rarely work to bring allies around. Instead, such behavior widens divisions and alerts our foes that the relationships are less than … what’s the term? … “rock solid.” We await the introduction of some smart diplomacy.

Last week both Liz Cheney and Sarah Palin suggested it might be a good idea not to publicly antagonize President Hamid Karzai. On This Week, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates seemed to agree:

Well I think, you know, this is a — a man who’s first of all a political leader. He has domestic audiences as well as foreign audiences. What I can tell you is that General McChrystal continues to meet with him regularly. They have a very positive relationship. He gets very good cooperation out of President Karzai. I think that the — the Afghans are very concerned about their sovereignty. And they are very concerned that — that it be clear who — who is the president of Afghanistan.

And — and that he be treated with respect, because he is the representative of the people of Afghanistan and their sovereignty. And I think that — I think that that kind of cooperative relationship, certainly that he has with — I can only speak for General McChrystal’s side of it. But I think General McChrystal feels that this is a man he can work easily with. And — and he has taken him to Kandahar. He has indicated he’s willing to go to Kandahar repeatedly for the Shuras as the Kandahar campaign gets underway. … And I think — I think we frankly have to be sensitive in our own comments about President Karzai in terms of being mindful that he is the embodiment of sovereignty for Afghanistan also in the way we treat him.

Jake Tapper didn’t follow up, but the obvious question is: why have we been bashing and snubbing the “embodiment of sovereignty for Afghanistan”? It’s sometimes hard to discern whether this administration operates by design or out of pique. It’s been accustomed to rolling over the opposition, sneering and shoving back (whether it’s Republicans, the Supreme Court, or Fox News), and it often appears to conduct its foreign policy in much the same way as a political campaign.  But hitting back, instantaneous responses, and ad hominem attacks rarely work to bring allies around. Instead, such behavior widens divisions and alerts our foes that the relationships are less than … what’s the term? … “rock solid.” We await the introduction of some smart diplomacy.

Read Less

No Denying White House Animus Toward Israel

This White House likes symbolism. After Barack Obama moved in, one of the first things his staff did was to unceremoniously remove the bronze bust of Winston Churchill that had been in the Oval Office and return it to Great Britain, thus signaling that this president no longer valued the special relationship with the UK, which had been a cornerstone of American diplomacy from the days of FDR to those of George W. Bush. And when Obama finally met with the Dalai Lama last month, the visit was kept low key, with no official welcome and no media allowed to witness the event for fear of offending China. The one picture that was released of the meeting appeared to show the president lecturing the exiled Tibetan so no one might think that a former editor of the Harvard Law Review had anything to learn from a legendary spiritual leader.

But the cold reception of the Dalai Lama now seems like a wild party compared to the way Obama received Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House this week. Oh, I know, Bibi is in the doghouse because we’re all supposed to think that Israel gravely insulted Vice President Joe Biden by allowing the announcement of a housing-project start in an existing Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem to coincide with his recent visit there. But the reason this is such a “big f@!%ing deal,” as the vice president might put it, is not because it was a real insult but because it was an excuse for the administration to renew its war on Netanyahu.

This is not the first president to dislike an Israeli prime minister or even Israel itself. The elder George Bush and his secretary of state, James “f@!% the Jews” Baker despised Yitzhak Shamir. But never has the leader of America’s ally Israel been treated with such open contempt as shown by Obama to Netanyahu. The Israeli’s visit to the White House was closed to the press — with not even one photo released of their encounter. The fact is that Obama didn’t even want his picture taken with Netanyahu. That’s particularly strange since the president has never any qualms about getting snapped next to a wide variety of international leaders on his travels. In yesterday’s press briefing, spokesman Robert Gibbs was quizzed on this startling behavior by Jake Tapper. In response to repeated questions as to why the White House chose to treat a democratically elected head of the government of a close U.S. ally in this manner, Gibbs did not try very hard to pretend that it was anything but an indication of Obama’s dislike for the Israeli and the country he represents. Coming from a president that has spent his time in office making non-stop efforts to reach out to and engage America’s enemies around the world, this open hostility to Israel is breathtaking in its brazenness.

As for the policy fallout of the meetings, the whole point of the get-together was to bludgeon Netanyahu into conceding that Jews may no longer build homes in parts of their capital. Wisely, the prime minister did not give in to this unprecedented demand, which is something that not even the elder Bush and James Baker ever tried to shove down Shamir’s throat. There was no joint statement released after the talks ended but the White House let it be known that they expected the Israelis to make further concessions as an indication of their willingness to build confidence. Pointedly, the Palestinians, who have refused to even negotiate directly with Israel and who refused only a year and a half ago to accept an Israeli offer of an independent state that would have included part of Jerusalem, have not been asked by Obama to make any gestures of their own to enhance the non-existent chances of peace.

This White House’s cold shoulder to Netanyahu may be just an act of symbolism but not even the most shameless Obama apologist can pretend that it was anything but an indication of the president’s hostility. When the first president Bush used the occasion of an AIPAC conference in Washington in 1991 to show his contempt for Israel, even Jewish Republicans were aghast. Many deserted him at the next election — the GOP’s share of the Jewish vote dropped to a record low in 1992. The question for Jewish Democrats and other liberal friends of Israel is whether they are prepared to hold Barack Obama accountable in the same fashion.

This White House likes symbolism. After Barack Obama moved in, one of the first things his staff did was to unceremoniously remove the bronze bust of Winston Churchill that had been in the Oval Office and return it to Great Britain, thus signaling that this president no longer valued the special relationship with the UK, which had been a cornerstone of American diplomacy from the days of FDR to those of George W. Bush. And when Obama finally met with the Dalai Lama last month, the visit was kept low key, with no official welcome and no media allowed to witness the event for fear of offending China. The one picture that was released of the meeting appeared to show the president lecturing the exiled Tibetan so no one might think that a former editor of the Harvard Law Review had anything to learn from a legendary spiritual leader.

But the cold reception of the Dalai Lama now seems like a wild party compared to the way Obama received Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House this week. Oh, I know, Bibi is in the doghouse because we’re all supposed to think that Israel gravely insulted Vice President Joe Biden by allowing the announcement of a housing-project start in an existing Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem to coincide with his recent visit there. But the reason this is such a “big f@!%ing deal,” as the vice president might put it, is not because it was a real insult but because it was an excuse for the administration to renew its war on Netanyahu.

This is not the first president to dislike an Israeli prime minister or even Israel itself. The elder George Bush and his secretary of state, James “f@!% the Jews” Baker despised Yitzhak Shamir. But never has the leader of America’s ally Israel been treated with such open contempt as shown by Obama to Netanyahu. The Israeli’s visit to the White House was closed to the press — with not even one photo released of their encounter. The fact is that Obama didn’t even want his picture taken with Netanyahu. That’s particularly strange since the president has never any qualms about getting snapped next to a wide variety of international leaders on his travels. In yesterday’s press briefing, spokesman Robert Gibbs was quizzed on this startling behavior by Jake Tapper. In response to repeated questions as to why the White House chose to treat a democratically elected head of the government of a close U.S. ally in this manner, Gibbs did not try very hard to pretend that it was anything but an indication of Obama’s dislike for the Israeli and the country he represents. Coming from a president that has spent his time in office making non-stop efforts to reach out to and engage America’s enemies around the world, this open hostility to Israel is breathtaking in its brazenness.

As for the policy fallout of the meetings, the whole point of the get-together was to bludgeon Netanyahu into conceding that Jews may no longer build homes in parts of their capital. Wisely, the prime minister did not give in to this unprecedented demand, which is something that not even the elder Bush and James Baker ever tried to shove down Shamir’s throat. There was no joint statement released after the talks ended but the White House let it be known that they expected the Israelis to make further concessions as an indication of their willingness to build confidence. Pointedly, the Palestinians, who have refused to even negotiate directly with Israel and who refused only a year and a half ago to accept an Israeli offer of an independent state that would have included part of Jerusalem, have not been asked by Obama to make any gestures of their own to enhance the non-existent chances of peace.

This White House’s cold shoulder to Netanyahu may be just an act of symbolism but not even the most shameless Obama apologist can pretend that it was anything but an indication of the president’s hostility. When the first president Bush used the occasion of an AIPAC conference in Washington in 1991 to show his contempt for Israel, even Jewish Republicans were aghast. Many deserted him at the next election — the GOP’s share of the Jewish vote dropped to a record low in 1992. The question for Jewish Democrats and other liberal friends of Israel is whether they are prepared to hold Barack Obama accountable in the same fashion.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

Jane Hamsher or Bill Kristol? “This bill will mandate that millions of people who are currently uninsured purchase insurance from private companies, or the IRS will collect up to 2% of their annual income in penalties. … The bill was written so that most Wal-Mart employees will qualify for subsidies, and taxpayers will pick up a large portion of the cost of their coverage. … In 2009, health care costs were 17.3% of GDP [but] in 2019 [under the] Senate bill [they'll be] 20.9% of GDP. … This bill does not bring down costs.”

The end of the Blue Dogs: “The party made a concerted effort in 2006 and 2008 to recruit candidates that could win moderate or GOP-leaning districts. That’s a key reason why Democrats won such big congressional majorities. But after forging a big-tent caucus, Speaker Pelosi has not governed that way. Instead, she pushed Blue Dog and other moderate Democrats to vote as if they represented her San Francisco district.” When the Republicans did this, I think the media narrative was that the party was risking majority support for ideological extremism.

Quin Hillyer channels the anti–Bart Stupak anger: “And if he thinks he will be ever live it down or be allowed to forget it, well, maybe he doesn’t think very well.”

How incompetent is NPR to get duped by a fake AIPAC release saying the group favors a settlement freeze? Doesn’t public radio know anything about AIPAC? Your tax dollars at work.

Marco Rubio is crushing potential opponents: “Former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio for now runs well ahead in a three-way race for the U.S. Senate in Florida, should Governor Charlie Crist decide to run as an independent. The first Rasmussen Repots telephone survey of a potential three-candidate Senate race finds Rubio earning 42% support from likely voters in the state. Democrat Kendrick Meek picks up 25%, and Crist runs third with 22%. Eleven percent (11%) are undecided.”

Gov. Bob McDonnell on ObamaCare: “[T]his massive and complex piece of legislation allows the federal government to exercise control over one-sixth of the United States economy. … Most disconcerting is the provision mandating that every American must purchase health insurance or face a monetary penalty. … Just a few days ago I approved a bill, passed on a bipartisan basis, which prohibits mandatory insurance purchases for Virginians. Virginia’s Attorney General has rightly chosen to challenge the constitutionality of the federal mandate. I anticipate that he will be joined by a number of other states.” It now becomes an issue in every state race.

Yuval Levin on the latest regarding the Cornhusker Kickback: “That kickback was of course offered as an enticement to win the vote of Senator Ben Nelson, and to help him forget about his pro-life principles. Well lo and behold, Nelson has now announced that he opposes the reconciliation bill and will vote against it. Apparently it taxes and spends too much. It really renews your faith in politicians, doesn’t it?”

Not just a headache or fodder but potential grounds for prosecution: “The formidable Patrick Fitzgerald is leading a probe of Guantanamo Bay defense lawyers whom the CIA accused of giving detainees photos of CIA agents in an attempt to identify interrogators. … The investigation could be a headache for the Justice Department, and fodder for the attacks from Liz Cheney and others on the Guantanamo Bay lawyers.”

Perhaps Obama picked a fight on the wrong issue. Most Israelis think Bibi Netanyahu was aware of the decision to approve additional housing units in Jerusalem, but “most of those asked by the survey supported the view that construction in east Jerusalem should be treated like construction in Tel Aviv, despite the harsh criticism launched at the government over the recent diplomatic dispute with the US. Only a quarter of those polled believe the construction project should not have been approved, with 41% saying that only the timing was wrong. The number of people supportive of the construction in Ramat Shlomo neighborhood is twice that of its objectors.”

ABC staffers are grumbling over the hiring of Christiane Amanpour for This Week. Well, if it’s any consolation to the eminently qualified Jake Tapper, the criterion used was apparently “celebrity.” It certainly wasn’t objectivity. Or accuracy. Remember this one.

Jane Hamsher or Bill Kristol? “This bill will mandate that millions of people who are currently uninsured purchase insurance from private companies, or the IRS will collect up to 2% of their annual income in penalties. … The bill was written so that most Wal-Mart employees will qualify for subsidies, and taxpayers will pick up a large portion of the cost of their coverage. … In 2009, health care costs were 17.3% of GDP [but] in 2019 [under the] Senate bill [they'll be] 20.9% of GDP. … This bill does not bring down costs.”

The end of the Blue Dogs: “The party made a concerted effort in 2006 and 2008 to recruit candidates that could win moderate or GOP-leaning districts. That’s a key reason why Democrats won such big congressional majorities. But after forging a big-tent caucus, Speaker Pelosi has not governed that way. Instead, she pushed Blue Dog and other moderate Democrats to vote as if they represented her San Francisco district.” When the Republicans did this, I think the media narrative was that the party was risking majority support for ideological extremism.

Quin Hillyer channels the anti–Bart Stupak anger: “And if he thinks he will be ever live it down or be allowed to forget it, well, maybe he doesn’t think very well.”

How incompetent is NPR to get duped by a fake AIPAC release saying the group favors a settlement freeze? Doesn’t public radio know anything about AIPAC? Your tax dollars at work.

Marco Rubio is crushing potential opponents: “Former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio for now runs well ahead in a three-way race for the U.S. Senate in Florida, should Governor Charlie Crist decide to run as an independent. The first Rasmussen Repots telephone survey of a potential three-candidate Senate race finds Rubio earning 42% support from likely voters in the state. Democrat Kendrick Meek picks up 25%, and Crist runs third with 22%. Eleven percent (11%) are undecided.”

Gov. Bob McDonnell on ObamaCare: “[T]his massive and complex piece of legislation allows the federal government to exercise control over one-sixth of the United States economy. … Most disconcerting is the provision mandating that every American must purchase health insurance or face a monetary penalty. … Just a few days ago I approved a bill, passed on a bipartisan basis, which prohibits mandatory insurance purchases for Virginians. Virginia’s Attorney General has rightly chosen to challenge the constitutionality of the federal mandate. I anticipate that he will be joined by a number of other states.” It now becomes an issue in every state race.

Yuval Levin on the latest regarding the Cornhusker Kickback: “That kickback was of course offered as an enticement to win the vote of Senator Ben Nelson, and to help him forget about his pro-life principles. Well lo and behold, Nelson has now announced that he opposes the reconciliation bill and will vote against it. Apparently it taxes and spends too much. It really renews your faith in politicians, doesn’t it?”

Not just a headache or fodder but potential grounds for prosecution: “The formidable Patrick Fitzgerald is leading a probe of Guantanamo Bay defense lawyers whom the CIA accused of giving detainees photos of CIA agents in an attempt to identify interrogators. … The investigation could be a headache for the Justice Department, and fodder for the attacks from Liz Cheney and others on the Guantanamo Bay lawyers.”

Perhaps Obama picked a fight on the wrong issue. Most Israelis think Bibi Netanyahu was aware of the decision to approve additional housing units in Jerusalem, but “most of those asked by the survey supported the view that construction in east Jerusalem should be treated like construction in Tel Aviv, despite the harsh criticism launched at the government over the recent diplomatic dispute with the US. Only a quarter of those polled believe the construction project should not have been approved, with 41% saying that only the timing was wrong. The number of people supportive of the construction in Ramat Shlomo neighborhood is twice that of its objectors.”

ABC staffers are grumbling over the hiring of Christiane Amanpour for This Week. Well, if it’s any consolation to the eminently qualified Jake Tapper, the criterion used was apparently “celebrity.” It certainly wasn’t objectivity. Or accuracy. Remember this one.

Read Less

The Palestinian “Condemnation”

Yesterday afternoon, Jake Tapper interviewed Vice President Biden, who recalled a condemnation that did not actually occur:

TAPPER: … Some supporters of Israel say the same week that you were there, on Thursday I believe, a square in the Palestinian territories was named after a woman who led a terrorist [attack] against Israeli civilians that killed civilians, children, and one American photojournalist. Where was the condemnation of that?

BIDEN: Well, they did not name square when I was there.  So that didn’t happen –

TAPPER: They waited until you left.

BIDEN: They waited till I left.  But — and one of the things I said while I was there to the Palestinians, Abbas and Fayyed, I would condemn that, they should not do that. Subsequently, since I got home and they did that, not only did we condemn that, we also condemned the violence used by the Palestinians that recently occurred in Jerusalem. …

When, exactly, did we “condemn” that? We didn’t. We didn’t even use the word, much less accompany it with what went with a condemnation of Israel for approving housing units in a Jewish area of its capital.

Did the secretary of state personally call Abbas and Fayyed and tell them the issue wasn’t the timing but the substance? Did she tell them that it would destroy the confidence of Israelis in their “peace partner”? Did she demand they take “specific actions” to demonstrate their commitment to the peace process and “American interests”? Did she require they establish a process to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again? Did she demand a public apology? Did she call the establishment of a public square to honor a terrorist who murdered an American an “insult” and an “affront” to the United States? Did she direct her press spokesman to call a press conference to announce her call and relay to the world what she had said? Did she send anyone out to the Sunday talk shows to repeat the condemnation? Did she demand a prompt call-back to inform her of what they had decided to do in response to her condemnation?

Did she insist on a condemnation of the Palestinian action in the “Joint Statement by the Quartet” issued late last night — in which she joined in still another condemnation of Israel? No, she did not.

Yesterday afternoon, Jake Tapper interviewed Vice President Biden, who recalled a condemnation that did not actually occur:

TAPPER: … Some supporters of Israel say the same week that you were there, on Thursday I believe, a square in the Palestinian territories was named after a woman who led a terrorist [attack] against Israeli civilians that killed civilians, children, and one American photojournalist. Where was the condemnation of that?

BIDEN: Well, they did not name square when I was there.  So that didn’t happen –

TAPPER: They waited until you left.

BIDEN: They waited till I left.  But — and one of the things I said while I was there to the Palestinians, Abbas and Fayyed, I would condemn that, they should not do that. Subsequently, since I got home and they did that, not only did we condemn that, we also condemned the violence used by the Palestinians that recently occurred in Jerusalem. …

When, exactly, did we “condemn” that? We didn’t. We didn’t even use the word, much less accompany it with what went with a condemnation of Israel for approving housing units in a Jewish area of its capital.

Did the secretary of state personally call Abbas and Fayyed and tell them the issue wasn’t the timing but the substance? Did she tell them that it would destroy the confidence of Israelis in their “peace partner”? Did she demand they take “specific actions” to demonstrate their commitment to the peace process and “American interests”? Did she require they establish a process to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again? Did she demand a public apology? Did she call the establishment of a public square to honor a terrorist who murdered an American an “insult” and an “affront” to the United States? Did she direct her press spokesman to call a press conference to announce her call and relay to the world what she had said? Did she send anyone out to the Sunday talk shows to repeat the condemnation? Did she demand a prompt call-back to inform her of what they had decided to do in response to her condemnation?

Did she insist on a condemnation of the Palestinian action in the “Joint Statement by the Quartet” issued late last night — in which she joined in still another condemnation of Israel? No, she did not.

Read Less

It Gets Worse

The White House is, as this report suggests, upping the ante with continued criticism of Israel. Taking to the morning talk shows, David Axelrod — a political operative who now seems at the center of foreign-policy formulation (more on this later) — went on the Fox, ABC, and NBC Sunday talk shows to repeat how insulted the Obami were over Israeli building in Jerusalem and what an affront this was to them. And what is the affront? Well, for some context, this report is enlightening:

The Likud Party’s Danny Dadon, deputy speaker of the Knesset, called Clinton’s “meddling in internal Israeli decisions regarding the development” of Jerusalem “uninvited and unhelpful. In fact it is sheer chutzpah.”

“I cannot remember another time that a senior American official deemed it ‘insulting’ when a sovereign nation announced urban zoning decisions regarding its primary city,” Dadon said.

In the past, U.S. administrations have tended to more gently chide Israel on construction in Jerusalem that is over the “Green Line” boundary from the 1967 war, in areas where the Palestinians hope to build a capital as part of a future peace deal. More often, U.S. officials would call such construction “unhelpful,” and note that the future of Jerusalem is an issue to be decided in final status negotiations between the parties.

The reaction of the Obami is even more startling considering the location and strategic importance of Ramat Shlomo. But this administration doesn’t make such fine distinctions and is not like past ones, we are learning. It might have something to do with the fact that Axelrod and the Chicago pols are running foreign policy. It’s attack, attack, attack — just as they do any domestic critic (even the Supreme Court Chief Justice). It’s about bullying and discrediting, trying to force the opponent into a corner. And in this case, their opponent is plainly the Israeli government. For that is the party the Obami is now demanding make further concessions to… well, to what end is not clear. Perhaps we are back to regime change — an effort to topple the duly elected government of Israel to obtain a negotiating partner more willing to yield to American bullying.

The language the Obami employ – “personal,” “insulting,” and “affront” – suggests an unusual degree of personal peevishness and hostility toward an ally. That, I suppose, is the mentality of Chicago pols and of those who regard Israel not as a valued friend but as an irritant. And it is the language not of negotiators but of intimidators.

Illinois Rep. Mark Kirk, now a Senate candidate, issued this statement as the mess unfolded last week:

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the Jerusalem Embassy Act, making it official United States policy that Jerusalem should remain the undivided capital of Israel,” Congressman Kirk said.  “As a staff member, I helped draft this historic legislation; as a Congressman I continue to urge its enforcement.  History teaches us that a divided Jerusalem leads to conflict while a unified Jerusalem protects the rights of all faiths.  I urge the Administration to spend more time working to stop Iran from building nuclear bombs and less time concerned with zoning issues in Jerusalem.  As Iran accelerates its uranium enrichment, we should not be condemning one of America’s strongest democratic allies in the Middle East.

And that really sums it up: what end is served by this conflagration with an ally, and what does it say about the administration’s priorities? The Obami seem to have a strange notion about what motivates our foes and what the key threats to American security are. This exchange with Jake Tapper is telling — both for how extraordinarily irrational and how ill-formulated the administration’s rhetoric has become:

TAPPER:  All right, last question.  Vice President Biden went to Israel this week and he was greeted by a slap in the face, the announcement by the Israeli government of the approval of new housing units in an Arab section of Jerusalem.  President Obama was said to be very upset about it.  Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Clinton made very strong comments about it.  Will there be any consequences, tangible consequences beyond the tough talk?  And does Israel’s intransigence on the housing issue put the lives of U.S. troops at risk?

AXELROD:  Well, look, what happened there was an affront.  It was an insult, but that’s not the most important thing.  What it did was it made more difficult a very difficult process.  We’ve just gotten proximity, so-called proximity talks going between the Palestinians and the Israelis, and this seemed calculated to undermine that, and that was — that was distressing to everyone who is promoting the idea of peace — and security in the region.

Israel is a strong and special ally.  The bonds run deep.  But for just that very reason, this was not the right way to behave.  That was expressed by the secretary of state, as well as the vice president.  I am not going to discuss what diplomatic talks we’ve had underneath that, but I think the Israelis understand clearly why we were upset and what, you know, what we want moving forward.

TAPPER:  I hate to say this, but yes or no, David, does the intransigence of the Israeli government on the housing issue, yes or no, does it put U.S. troops lives at risk?

AXELROD:  I believe that that region and that issue is a flare point throughout the region, and so I’m not going to put it in those terms.  But I do believe that it is absolutely imperative, not just for the security of Israel and the Palestinian people, who were, remember, at war just a year ago, but it is important for our own security that we move forward and resolve this very difficult issue.

A squirrely response at the end, revealing that much of what the administration says is irrational and, upon any reflection, ridiculous. It is disturbing indeed to hear an American administration adopt the Arab rhetorical line — Israel’s settlements endanger Americans. Which president has ever given voice to such rubbish? There is, regrettably, a first for everything.

The White House is, as this report suggests, upping the ante with continued criticism of Israel. Taking to the morning talk shows, David Axelrod — a political operative who now seems at the center of foreign-policy formulation (more on this later) — went on the Fox, ABC, and NBC Sunday talk shows to repeat how insulted the Obami were over Israeli building in Jerusalem and what an affront this was to them. And what is the affront? Well, for some context, this report is enlightening:

The Likud Party’s Danny Dadon, deputy speaker of the Knesset, called Clinton’s “meddling in internal Israeli decisions regarding the development” of Jerusalem “uninvited and unhelpful. In fact it is sheer chutzpah.”

“I cannot remember another time that a senior American official deemed it ‘insulting’ when a sovereign nation announced urban zoning decisions regarding its primary city,” Dadon said.

In the past, U.S. administrations have tended to more gently chide Israel on construction in Jerusalem that is over the “Green Line” boundary from the 1967 war, in areas where the Palestinians hope to build a capital as part of a future peace deal. More often, U.S. officials would call such construction “unhelpful,” and note that the future of Jerusalem is an issue to be decided in final status negotiations between the parties.

The reaction of the Obami is even more startling considering the location and strategic importance of Ramat Shlomo. But this administration doesn’t make such fine distinctions and is not like past ones, we are learning. It might have something to do with the fact that Axelrod and the Chicago pols are running foreign policy. It’s attack, attack, attack — just as they do any domestic critic (even the Supreme Court Chief Justice). It’s about bullying and discrediting, trying to force the opponent into a corner. And in this case, their opponent is plainly the Israeli government. For that is the party the Obami is now demanding make further concessions to… well, to what end is not clear. Perhaps we are back to regime change — an effort to topple the duly elected government of Israel to obtain a negotiating partner more willing to yield to American bullying.

The language the Obami employ – “personal,” “insulting,” and “affront” – suggests an unusual degree of personal peevishness and hostility toward an ally. That, I suppose, is the mentality of Chicago pols and of those who regard Israel not as a valued friend but as an irritant. And it is the language not of negotiators but of intimidators.

Illinois Rep. Mark Kirk, now a Senate candidate, issued this statement as the mess unfolded last week:

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the Jerusalem Embassy Act, making it official United States policy that Jerusalem should remain the undivided capital of Israel,” Congressman Kirk said.  “As a staff member, I helped draft this historic legislation; as a Congressman I continue to urge its enforcement.  History teaches us that a divided Jerusalem leads to conflict while a unified Jerusalem protects the rights of all faiths.  I urge the Administration to spend more time working to stop Iran from building nuclear bombs and less time concerned with zoning issues in Jerusalem.  As Iran accelerates its uranium enrichment, we should not be condemning one of America’s strongest democratic allies in the Middle East.

And that really sums it up: what end is served by this conflagration with an ally, and what does it say about the administration’s priorities? The Obami seem to have a strange notion about what motivates our foes and what the key threats to American security are. This exchange with Jake Tapper is telling — both for how extraordinarily irrational and how ill-formulated the administration’s rhetoric has become:

TAPPER:  All right, last question.  Vice President Biden went to Israel this week and he was greeted by a slap in the face, the announcement by the Israeli government of the approval of new housing units in an Arab section of Jerusalem.  President Obama was said to be very upset about it.  Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Clinton made very strong comments about it.  Will there be any consequences, tangible consequences beyond the tough talk?  And does Israel’s intransigence on the housing issue put the lives of U.S. troops at risk?

AXELROD:  Well, look, what happened there was an affront.  It was an insult, but that’s not the most important thing.  What it did was it made more difficult a very difficult process.  We’ve just gotten proximity, so-called proximity talks going between the Palestinians and the Israelis, and this seemed calculated to undermine that, and that was — that was distressing to everyone who is promoting the idea of peace — and security in the region.

Israel is a strong and special ally.  The bonds run deep.  But for just that very reason, this was not the right way to behave.  That was expressed by the secretary of state, as well as the vice president.  I am not going to discuss what diplomatic talks we’ve had underneath that, but I think the Israelis understand clearly why we were upset and what, you know, what we want moving forward.

TAPPER:  I hate to say this, but yes or no, David, does the intransigence of the Israeli government on the housing issue, yes or no, does it put U.S. troops lives at risk?

AXELROD:  I believe that that region and that issue is a flare point throughout the region, and so I’m not going to put it in those terms.  But I do believe that it is absolutely imperative, not just for the security of Israel and the Palestinian people, who were, remember, at war just a year ago, but it is important for our own security that we move forward and resolve this very difficult issue.

A squirrely response at the end, revealing that much of what the administration says is irrational and, upon any reflection, ridiculous. It is disturbing indeed to hear an American administration adopt the Arab rhetorical line — Israel’s settlements endanger Americans. Which president has ever given voice to such rubbish? There is, regrettably, a first for everything.

Read Less

Democrats in the Spotlight

Even among high-ranking and dependable veteran House Democrats, enthusiasm for ObamaCare is underwhelming. The Hill reports:

A handful of House committee chairmen are either undecided about or plan to reject the healthcare reform bill that is expected to be voted on as early as next week.

The prospect of several panel chairmen voting against the healthcare bill comes as the White House and Democratic leaders are ramping up their efforts to attract the necessary votes to move the Senate-passed bill. The White House wants the House to clear the bill by March 18 and then have the upper chamber amend the measure through reconciliation. … According to the survey conducted by The Hill. … there are already 11 firm “no” votes.

Needless to say, if committee chairmen are underwhelmed with the president’s arguments, it may be hard to corral the rank and file. Jake Tapper and Hotline are keeping tabs, and so far, there are a lot of noes and undecideds. But for now the Obama-spun (and media-favorite) storyline that “Republicans Obstruct ObamaCare!” has been properly tossed aside. The issue has never been whether Republicans oppose the monstrous tax-and-spend bill. They do. (The unanimity is perhaps a bit of a surprise.) The issue has been and remains whether moderate Democrats can be persuaded to vote for something their constituents hate and that, if they vote for it, will quite possibly end their careers. Stay tuned.

Even among high-ranking and dependable veteran House Democrats, enthusiasm for ObamaCare is underwhelming. The Hill reports:

A handful of House committee chairmen are either undecided about or plan to reject the healthcare reform bill that is expected to be voted on as early as next week.

The prospect of several panel chairmen voting against the healthcare bill comes as the White House and Democratic leaders are ramping up their efforts to attract the necessary votes to move the Senate-passed bill. The White House wants the House to clear the bill by March 18 and then have the upper chamber amend the measure through reconciliation. … According to the survey conducted by The Hill. … there are already 11 firm “no” votes.

Needless to say, if committee chairmen are underwhelmed with the president’s arguments, it may be hard to corral the rank and file. Jake Tapper and Hotline are keeping tabs, and so far, there are a lot of noes and undecideds. But for now the Obama-spun (and media-favorite) storyline that “Republicans Obstruct ObamaCare!” has been properly tossed aside. The issue has never been whether Republicans oppose the monstrous tax-and-spend bill. They do. (The unanimity is perhaps a bit of a surprise.) The issue has been and remains whether moderate Democrats can be persuaded to vote for something their constituents hate and that, if they vote for it, will quite possibly end their careers. Stay tuned.

Read Less

Not the Voters!

Greg Sargent observes:

One possible scenario that reform proponents dread is that Congress fails to pass reform before the Easter break — leaving Congressional Dems in the position of returning to their constituents empty-handed, just as they did over last summer’s recess. In the Capitol just now, a top spokesperson for Nancy Pelosi refused to endorse the White House’s prefered timetable for passing reform. Yesterday Robert Gibbs declared, perhaps unrealistically, that the White House would like the House to pass the Senate bill by March 18th, before the President goes abroad.

There are a few points worth noting. First, it’s quite obvious that Pelosi is a long way from getting her votes lined up. There is no reason to drag this out, unless, of course, Pelosi still can’t put together a majority. Jake Tapper has been keeping an unofficial whip count and there is far more bad news than good news for Pelosi, as the no’s are hardening and previous supporters are turning undecided. Second, the underlying problem, as it was last year, is that their members need to be kept as far from the voters as possible. Send them back home with the vote still pending and they risk an avalanche of opposition. Not in recent memory (or ever?) can I recall congressional leaders so wary of their members’ encounter with the electorate. That alone should tell those wavering members something. And finally, the time when Congress took the White House very seriously is over: the White House can no longer influence the substance, let alone the timing, of the vote on the bill. Right now it comes down to House Democrats — can they be bullied into doing something so plainly not in their self-interest? Stay tuned.

Greg Sargent observes:

One possible scenario that reform proponents dread is that Congress fails to pass reform before the Easter break — leaving Congressional Dems in the position of returning to their constituents empty-handed, just as they did over last summer’s recess. In the Capitol just now, a top spokesperson for Nancy Pelosi refused to endorse the White House’s prefered timetable for passing reform. Yesterday Robert Gibbs declared, perhaps unrealistically, that the White House would like the House to pass the Senate bill by March 18th, before the President goes abroad.

There are a few points worth noting. First, it’s quite obvious that Pelosi is a long way from getting her votes lined up. There is no reason to drag this out, unless, of course, Pelosi still can’t put together a majority. Jake Tapper has been keeping an unofficial whip count and there is far more bad news than good news for Pelosi, as the no’s are hardening and previous supporters are turning undecided. Second, the underlying problem, as it was last year, is that their members need to be kept as far from the voters as possible. Send them back home with the vote still pending and they risk an avalanche of opposition. Not in recent memory (or ever?) can I recall congressional leaders so wary of their members’ encounter with the electorate. That alone should tell those wavering members something. And finally, the time when Congress took the White House very seriously is over: the White House can no longer influence the substance, let alone the timing, of the vote on the bill. Right now it comes down to House Democrats — can they be bullied into doing something so plainly not in their self-interest? Stay tuned.

Read Less

No Half a Loaf for These Guys!

As John outlined, there are no great or even good options for Democrats, unless of course they were to regroup, come up with a more modest package of health-care reforms, and get a solid but unassuming bill passed. But, no. The Democrats won’t entertain anything of the sort. Jake Tapper reports:

Before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., brings the Senate Democrats’ health care reform legislation to the floor for a vote, she and her team are currently assessing whether or not they have the votes to pass it.

They need 217 votes, a majority of the 432 members currently in Congress. They don’t have them right now.

If the House doesn’t have the votes, senior White House officials say they would like Congress to pursue a more modest health care reform bill.

But there seems little desire for that among House Democrats, who would like to focus on jobs.

“We are NOT doing scaled back bill,” a senior House leadership source emails ABC News.

Tapper goes through the math, as many of us have, ticking off the loss of some “yes” votes from last year’s vote. So non-deluded political pundits and politicians all are reaching the same conclusion: there is no there there. Observers scratch their heads, shuffle their feet, and wonder: just how is Obama-Reid-Pelosi going to get out of this one?

Because the troika has egged on its base and refused to come to terms with the political reality, it will be mighty hard to go to what Tapper calls “Plan C” (a scaled-down bill) until ObamaCare finally loses. And by then, in the wake of a humiliating defeat, it’s not clear there will be the stomach to regroup and do it all again. (In 1994, once HillaryCare couldn’t garner enough votes, health-care reform was kaput and Bill Clinton moved on to other things.)

Obama and the Democrats are giving themselves four weeks — another inexplicable move. What will occur in that time? Why Republicans, Tea Party activists, and other anti-ObamaCare forces will work themselves into a fevered pitch, and the Reid-Pelosi-Obama brain trust will twist in the wind. It is yet another nearly unimaginable move in a series of calamitous political decisions. If Obama and the Democrats had tried, they couldn’t have come up with an approach better designed to invigorate their opponents and dispirit their own base.

As John outlined, there are no great or even good options for Democrats, unless of course they were to regroup, come up with a more modest package of health-care reforms, and get a solid but unassuming bill passed. But, no. The Democrats won’t entertain anything of the sort. Jake Tapper reports:

Before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., brings the Senate Democrats’ health care reform legislation to the floor for a vote, she and her team are currently assessing whether or not they have the votes to pass it.

They need 217 votes, a majority of the 432 members currently in Congress. They don’t have them right now.

If the House doesn’t have the votes, senior White House officials say they would like Congress to pursue a more modest health care reform bill.

But there seems little desire for that among House Democrats, who would like to focus on jobs.

“We are NOT doing scaled back bill,” a senior House leadership source emails ABC News.

Tapper goes through the math, as many of us have, ticking off the loss of some “yes” votes from last year’s vote. So non-deluded political pundits and politicians all are reaching the same conclusion: there is no there there. Observers scratch their heads, shuffle their feet, and wonder: just how is Obama-Reid-Pelosi going to get out of this one?

Because the troika has egged on its base and refused to come to terms with the political reality, it will be mighty hard to go to what Tapper calls “Plan C” (a scaled-down bill) until ObamaCare finally loses. And by then, in the wake of a humiliating defeat, it’s not clear there will be the stomach to regroup and do it all again. (In 1994, once HillaryCare couldn’t garner enough votes, health-care reform was kaput and Bill Clinton moved on to other things.)

Obama and the Democrats are giving themselves four weeks — another inexplicable move. What will occur in that time? Why Republicans, Tea Party activists, and other anti-ObamaCare forces will work themselves into a fevered pitch, and the Reid-Pelosi-Obama brain trust will twist in the wind. It is yet another nearly unimaginable move in a series of calamitous political decisions. If Obama and the Democrats had tried, they couldn’t have come up with an approach better designed to invigorate their opponents and dispirit their own base.

Read Less

Turning the Tables

Michael Gerson echoes what many of us observed yesterday:

President Obama, as usual, was fluent, professorial and occasionally prickly. Some are impressed by the president’s informed, academic manner. Others (myself included) find an annoying condescension in Obama’s never-ending seminar. All the students — I mean elected legislators — were informed if their arguments were “legitimate” or not. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was arrogantly instructed that the “election’s over.”

There was a stature gap in the room, but not between Obama and the Republicans (as at the House Republican retreat). The stature gap was between Obama and his fellow Democrats. I would bet against any legislative team that includes Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who turned in a nasty, embarrassing performance.

As Gerson notes, Republicans got the tone right. What is great fun and inspiring for the base on talk radio doesn’t necessarily do the trick in a nationally televised summit facing the President of the United States. Republicans took that to heart and conducted themselves with poise, decorum, and a certain policy sophistication we don’t always see on display. They didn’t need to beat Obama in the who-can-be-the-more-ponderous-wonk department. They needed to show they were not the know-nothings Obama had painted them to be. And in that, they succeeded handsomely. Or as David Gergen put it, the Republicans “intellectually had their best day in years.”

Nor is it so easy, as it becomes obvious that nothing has changed, to pretend there is broad-based support for Obama’s approach. It wasn’t just the poll numbers that Republicans recited at every chance. As Jake Tapper reported:

Unfortunately for President Obama, the bipartisan agreement is outside Blair House where today’s health care summit is taking place, and the agreement is among liberal and conservative protestors arguing for different reason that the Democrats’ current health care reform proposal isn’t the correct prescription. Conservatives argue that it’s too much government intrusion and socialism. Liberals argue that the various leading Democratic proposals don’t go far enough.

It took Obama and the inept duo of Reid and Pelosi to shove Dennis Kucinich, Jane Hamsher, Jim DeMint, and Olympia Snowe (who refused to show up yesterday) all on the same side of the debate – that is, in opposition to his monstrous plan. And it took the health-care summit to reveal that the rigid, unpleasant ones are not the members of “the party of no.” David Brooks observes:

The Republican leaders, Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, were smart enough to stand back and let Senator Lamar Alexander lead the way, which he did genially and intelligently. While Alexander was speaking, Reid and Pelosi wouldn’t even deign to look at him. … f you thought Republicans were a bunch of naysayers who don’t know or care about health care, then this was not the event for you. They more than held their own.

Obama then essentially failed to pin the blame on the Republicans, who generally seemed a bit more reasonable and genial than Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and company.  (Political Rule No. 1: Get inept opponents.) As Gerson sums up: “The whole exercise, in short, was an ambush. But the quarry, it seems, got away.” And with it, mostly likely, did the Democrats’ dream of passing ObamaCare.

Michael Gerson echoes what many of us observed yesterday:

President Obama, as usual, was fluent, professorial and occasionally prickly. Some are impressed by the president’s informed, academic manner. Others (myself included) find an annoying condescension in Obama’s never-ending seminar. All the students — I mean elected legislators — were informed if their arguments were “legitimate” or not. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was arrogantly instructed that the “election’s over.”

There was a stature gap in the room, but not between Obama and the Republicans (as at the House Republican retreat). The stature gap was between Obama and his fellow Democrats. I would bet against any legislative team that includes Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who turned in a nasty, embarrassing performance.

As Gerson notes, Republicans got the tone right. What is great fun and inspiring for the base on talk radio doesn’t necessarily do the trick in a nationally televised summit facing the President of the United States. Republicans took that to heart and conducted themselves with poise, decorum, and a certain policy sophistication we don’t always see on display. They didn’t need to beat Obama in the who-can-be-the-more-ponderous-wonk department. They needed to show they were not the know-nothings Obama had painted them to be. And in that, they succeeded handsomely. Or as David Gergen put it, the Republicans “intellectually had their best day in years.”

Nor is it so easy, as it becomes obvious that nothing has changed, to pretend there is broad-based support for Obama’s approach. It wasn’t just the poll numbers that Republicans recited at every chance. As Jake Tapper reported:

Unfortunately for President Obama, the bipartisan agreement is outside Blair House where today’s health care summit is taking place, and the agreement is among liberal and conservative protestors arguing for different reason that the Democrats’ current health care reform proposal isn’t the correct prescription. Conservatives argue that it’s too much government intrusion and socialism. Liberals argue that the various leading Democratic proposals don’t go far enough.

It took Obama and the inept duo of Reid and Pelosi to shove Dennis Kucinich, Jane Hamsher, Jim DeMint, and Olympia Snowe (who refused to show up yesterday) all on the same side of the debate – that is, in opposition to his monstrous plan. And it took the health-care summit to reveal that the rigid, unpleasant ones are not the members of “the party of no.” David Brooks observes:

The Republican leaders, Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, were smart enough to stand back and let Senator Lamar Alexander lead the way, which he did genially and intelligently. While Alexander was speaking, Reid and Pelosi wouldn’t even deign to look at him. … f you thought Republicans were a bunch of naysayers who don’t know or care about health care, then this was not the event for you. They more than held their own.

Obama then essentially failed to pin the blame on the Republicans, who generally seemed a bit more reasonable and genial than Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and company.  (Political Rule No. 1: Get inept opponents.) As Gerson sums up: “The whole exercise, in short, was an ambush. But the quarry, it seems, got away.” And with it, mostly likely, did the Democrats’ dream of passing ObamaCare.

Read Less

Muslim Envoy Lied: He Did Vouch for Terrorist

When last we left the tale of Rashad Hussain, Obama’s envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, he had denied vouching for a convicted terrorist. Yesterday was Friday, the official news dump day, so of course that’s when the confession came. He really did. Jake Tapper reports:

Presented with a transcript of his remarks at a 2004 conference, Rashad Hussain, President Obama’s nominee to be special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, issued a statement Friday evening acknowledging having criticized the U.S. government’s case against Sami Al-Arian, who pleaded guilty in 2006 to conspiracy to aid Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Originally, the White House claimed that Hussain denied having made the comments, attributing them instead to Al-Arian’s daughter, Laila. But Politico’s Josh Gerstein obtained an audiotape of the remarks, in which Hussain said that Al-Arian’s case was one of many “politically motivated persecutions.”

But it gets worse. You see, he tried to cover his tracks:

Hussain, currently in the White House counsel’s office, said, “I made statements on that panel that I now recognize were ill-conceived or not well-formulated.” The controversy was all the more confusing because the remarks were reported in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs in 2004, but the editor, Delinda Hanley,  later removed the comments from the Web site, though she didn’t recall why. The then-intern who reported Hussain’s comments, Shereen Kandil, who currently also works for the Obama administration, stood by the remarks. Now we know at least part of the story as to why the comments were removed: Hussain called the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs to protest.

So let’s get this straight. The president’s choice to represent us to the OIC complained that a convicted terrorist was the victim of political persecution. That sounds a lot like what you’d hear from CAIR. But that makes sense because Hussain goes to CAIR training events. Then he lies about his comment and tries to conceal the evidence. Is he still the president’s choice? Hmm. It’s not an auspicious debut, to put it mildly.

But it is revealing of the sort of characters whom Obama thinks fit to conduct “outreach” to the “Muslim World” — those that will confirm the victimization mindset, which is at the root of much of what prevents peace from being processed as well as real economic and political reform from being advanced in many of the member nations of the OIC.

Perhaps we instead should find someone who can deliver this sort of message to the “Muslim World”:

“When the Palestinian leadership visits and honors families of those who have murdered innocent Israeli civilians, or when produce is destroyed rather than used only because it originates from the West Bank, that sets back our confidence of peace. . . . The Israeli prime minister is clear about Israel’s needs to be recognized as a Jewish state. Yet, not only do the Palestinians refuse to acknowledge Israel’s Jewish nature, but clearly state, in Article 19 of the Fatah constitution, that there must be an armed struggle with the Zionist entity.”

No, I don’t think Alan Solow wants the job. But that message, as opposed to the suck-uppery of a dishonest envoy, is precisely what we — and the “Muslim World” – need. And in the meantime, unless the Obami want to once again be on the side of an indefensible appointee, they should dump the candor-challenged Hussain.

When last we left the tale of Rashad Hussain, Obama’s envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, he had denied vouching for a convicted terrorist. Yesterday was Friday, the official news dump day, so of course that’s when the confession came. He really did. Jake Tapper reports:

Presented with a transcript of his remarks at a 2004 conference, Rashad Hussain, President Obama’s nominee to be special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, issued a statement Friday evening acknowledging having criticized the U.S. government’s case against Sami Al-Arian, who pleaded guilty in 2006 to conspiracy to aid Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Originally, the White House claimed that Hussain denied having made the comments, attributing them instead to Al-Arian’s daughter, Laila. But Politico’s Josh Gerstein obtained an audiotape of the remarks, in which Hussain said that Al-Arian’s case was one of many “politically motivated persecutions.”

But it gets worse. You see, he tried to cover his tracks:

Hussain, currently in the White House counsel’s office, said, “I made statements on that panel that I now recognize were ill-conceived or not well-formulated.” The controversy was all the more confusing because the remarks were reported in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs in 2004, but the editor, Delinda Hanley,  later removed the comments from the Web site, though she didn’t recall why. The then-intern who reported Hussain’s comments, Shereen Kandil, who currently also works for the Obama administration, stood by the remarks. Now we know at least part of the story as to why the comments were removed: Hussain called the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs to protest.

So let’s get this straight. The president’s choice to represent us to the OIC complained that a convicted terrorist was the victim of political persecution. That sounds a lot like what you’d hear from CAIR. But that makes sense because Hussain goes to CAIR training events. Then he lies about his comment and tries to conceal the evidence. Is he still the president’s choice? Hmm. It’s not an auspicious debut, to put it mildly.

But it is revealing of the sort of characters whom Obama thinks fit to conduct “outreach” to the “Muslim World” — those that will confirm the victimization mindset, which is at the root of much of what prevents peace from being processed as well as real economic and political reform from being advanced in many of the member nations of the OIC.

Perhaps we instead should find someone who can deliver this sort of message to the “Muslim World”:

“When the Palestinian leadership visits and honors families of those who have murdered innocent Israeli civilians, or when produce is destroyed rather than used only because it originates from the West Bank, that sets back our confidence of peace. . . . The Israeli prime minister is clear about Israel’s needs to be recognized as a Jewish state. Yet, not only do the Palestinians refuse to acknowledge Israel’s Jewish nature, but clearly state, in Article 19 of the Fatah constitution, that there must be an armed struggle with the Zionist entity.”

No, I don’t think Alan Solow wants the job. But that message, as opposed to the suck-uppery of a dishonest envoy, is precisely what we — and the “Muslim World” – need. And in the meantime, unless the Obami want to once again be on the side of an indefensible appointee, they should dump the candor-challenged Hussain.

Read Less

Jobs Saved or Created?

Here is a press report on an event in New Hampshire on Tuesday:

“Now, if you hear some of the critics, they’ll say, well, the Recovery Act, I don’t know if that’s really worked, because we still have high unemployment,” the president said. “But what they fail to understand is that every economist, from the Left and the Right, has said, because of the Recovery Act, what we’ve started to see is at least a couple of million jobs that have either been created or would have been lost. The problem is, seven million jobs were lost during the course of this recession.

Uh, no. Not “every” economist has said such a thing. In fact, it might be closer to say that no serious economist has said any such thing.

For Obama to pretend that what he says is true is not only wrong; it is quite ludicrous. The “saved or created” meme has rightly evoked belly laughs from all sorts of quarters. Even the president’s own Office of Management and Budget has given up on using it. And for good reason: It is an utterly meaningless and indefensible claim. The numbers were grabbed out of thin air, made up, pure fiction. The Obama administration has proven unable to document anything like what it claims.

For Mr. Obama — who promised to do away with “phony accounting” as part of his “turn the page” politics — to continue to say such things will simply further damage to his credibility, which is already in a state of considerable disrepair.

For more on this see ABC’s Jake Tapper and Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey.

Here is a press report on an event in New Hampshire on Tuesday:

“Now, if you hear some of the critics, they’ll say, well, the Recovery Act, I don’t know if that’s really worked, because we still have high unemployment,” the president said. “But what they fail to understand is that every economist, from the Left and the Right, has said, because of the Recovery Act, what we’ve started to see is at least a couple of million jobs that have either been created or would have been lost. The problem is, seven million jobs were lost during the course of this recession.

Uh, no. Not “every” economist has said such a thing. In fact, it might be closer to say that no serious economist has said any such thing.

For Obama to pretend that what he says is true is not only wrong; it is quite ludicrous. The “saved or created” meme has rightly evoked belly laughs from all sorts of quarters. Even the president’s own Office of Management and Budget has given up on using it. And for good reason: It is an utterly meaningless and indefensible claim. The numbers were grabbed out of thin air, made up, pure fiction. The Obama administration has proven unable to document anything like what it claims.

For Mr. Obama — who promised to do away with “phony accounting” as part of his “turn the page” politics — to continue to say such things will simply further damage to his credibility, which is already in a state of considerable disrepair.

For more on this see ABC’s Jake Tapper and Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey.

Read Less

Re: Taking His Own Sweet Time

Abe, just as much a concern as Barack Obama’s delinquency in recognizing problems is his staffing and supervision of the that staff. Jake Tapper does yeoman’s work in compiling the list of “the staff did it” excuses that Obama has trotted out whenever things go awry. Sometimes staff does mess up, but it seems that a primary complaint from Democrats about George W. Bush was that he was never “accountable.”

After all, Presidents and Presidential candidates hire these people and are supposed to keep an eye on what they are up to. If staff is forever embarrassing the candidate it seems that he has hired poorly or failed to exercise rudimentary supervisory skills. Isn’t Obama the one who keeps telling us “No more Scooter Libby Justice! No more Brownie incompetence!”? Perhaps it’s time for Obama to stop blaming the little people.

Abe, just as much a concern as Barack Obama’s delinquency in recognizing problems is his staffing and supervision of the that staff. Jake Tapper does yeoman’s work in compiling the list of “the staff did it” excuses that Obama has trotted out whenever things go awry. Sometimes staff does mess up, but it seems that a primary complaint from Democrats about George W. Bush was that he was never “accountable.”

After all, Presidents and Presidential candidates hire these people and are supposed to keep an eye on what they are up to. If staff is forever embarrassing the candidate it seems that he has hired poorly or failed to exercise rudimentary supervisory skills. Isn’t Obama the one who keeps telling us “No more Scooter Libby Justice! No more Brownie incompetence!”? Perhaps it’s time for Obama to stop blaming the little people.

Read Less

A Tougher Crowd

I’ve observed that the mainstream media is getting a bit tougher on their favorite candidate. There are two further signs of that.

First, ABC’s Jake Tapper actually looked into Barack Obama’s claims of moral superiority and found them to be bunk. Well, one of them at least. Obama claims that he doesn’t take money from corporate bad guys like “oil companies.” No candidate is allowed to take corporate money directly. And Obama has actually taken more money than Hillary Clinton has from oil company employees. Second, the press has been downright fair in setting the record straight and taking Obama and the DNC to task for misconstruing John McCain’s “100 year” Iraq comment.

Perhaps this is a long overdue course correction. Or maybe all that time on the bus with the press is paying off for McCain. But for now, Obama is facing a more skeptical audience. We’ll see if it lasts.

I’ve observed that the mainstream media is getting a bit tougher on their favorite candidate. There are two further signs of that.

First, ABC’s Jake Tapper actually looked into Barack Obama’s claims of moral superiority and found them to be bunk. Well, one of them at least. Obama claims that he doesn’t take money from corporate bad guys like “oil companies.” No candidate is allowed to take corporate money directly. And Obama has actually taken more money than Hillary Clinton has from oil company employees. Second, the press has been downright fair in setting the record straight and taking Obama and the DNC to task for misconstruing John McCain’s “100 year” Iraq comment.

Perhaps this is a long overdue course correction. Or maybe all that time on the bus with the press is paying off for McCain. But for now, Obama is facing a more skeptical audience. We’ll see if it lasts.

Read Less

John Kerry: Obama Has That Old Black Magic

ABC News’ Jake Tapper just reported on a startling interview given by Senator John Kerry:

Kerry said that a President Obama would help the US, in relations with Muslim countries, “in some cases go around their dictator leaders to the people and inspire the people in ways that we can’t otherwise.”

“He has the ability to help us bridge the divide of religious extremism,” Kerry said. “To maybe even give power to moderate Islam to be able to stand up against this radical misinterpretation of a legitimate religion.”

Kerry was asked what gives Obama that credibility.

“Because he’s African-American. Because he’s a black man. Who has come from a place of oppression and repression through the years in our own country.”

Where to begin! Have notable Democrats become so intellectually sloppy as to draw some baffling equivalence between blacks and Muslims? The last I checked, Arab Muslims were none too happy with their black countrymen in northern Africa.

Also, where is this “place of oppression and repression” in which Obama has suffered “through the years”? Hawaii? Harvard? The Senate? We should find out immediately and do something about this horrific crisis.

Another thing. Let’s pretend John Kerry is right: Obama, as a result of the concentration of melanin in his skin, is endowed with the power to inspire moderate Islam to crush radicals. How does this play out exactly? A nice Shiite shop owner in Iran sees President Obama give a speech on television and then the next thing he knows he’s slaying a phalanx of mullahs Matrix-style? Let’s hope Obama understands that a power like that requires the close observation of international bodies.

Last, how is what John Kerry said less outrageous than what Geraldine Ferraro said? How is it different at all? They’re both attributing success solely to skin color.

Every day the race-obsessed Left discovers a new low. There is no end in sight for the Democrats’ identity nightmare. But an end to the Democrats’ chance at the White House is taking visible shape on the horizon.

ABC News’ Jake Tapper just reported on a startling interview given by Senator John Kerry:

Kerry said that a President Obama would help the US, in relations with Muslim countries, “in some cases go around their dictator leaders to the people and inspire the people in ways that we can’t otherwise.”

“He has the ability to help us bridge the divide of religious extremism,” Kerry said. “To maybe even give power to moderate Islam to be able to stand up against this radical misinterpretation of a legitimate religion.”

Kerry was asked what gives Obama that credibility.

“Because he’s African-American. Because he’s a black man. Who has come from a place of oppression and repression through the years in our own country.”

Where to begin! Have notable Democrats become so intellectually sloppy as to draw some baffling equivalence between blacks and Muslims? The last I checked, Arab Muslims were none too happy with their black countrymen in northern Africa.

Also, where is this “place of oppression and repression” in which Obama has suffered “through the years”? Hawaii? Harvard? The Senate? We should find out immediately and do something about this horrific crisis.

Another thing. Let’s pretend John Kerry is right: Obama, as a result of the concentration of melanin in his skin, is endowed with the power to inspire moderate Islam to crush radicals. How does this play out exactly? A nice Shiite shop owner in Iran sees President Obama give a speech on television and then the next thing he knows he’s slaying a phalanx of mullahs Matrix-style? Let’s hope Obama understands that a power like that requires the close observation of international bodies.

Last, how is what John Kerry said less outrageous than what Geraldine Ferraro said? How is it different at all? They’re both attributing success solely to skin color.

Every day the race-obsessed Left discovers a new low. There is no end in sight for the Democrats’ identity nightmare. But an end to the Democrats’ chance at the White House is taking visible shape on the horizon.

Read Less

The Sleeping Giant Awakens

No, it is not Hillary or Bill Clinton that has woken up from a stupor; it’s the media. Either because they were guilted into some self-reflection by Saturday Night Live or because the Clinton team’s harping on biased media coverage took its toll, the media seems to be dropping its reverential tone toward Barack Obama.

Jake Tapper on NAFTA-gate: “And in fact, the story seems today more alive than ever. That is, if the press does its job.” Clinton goads them further with this, reported by MSNBC:

I would ask you to look at this story, substitute my name for Sen. Obama’s name and see what you would do with this story. That’s what I would ask you to do. If some of my economic advisers had been having private meetings with foreign governments basically saying ignore what I’m saying because it’s only political rhetoric, I think it raises serious questions.

And Howard Kurtz devotes an entire column to the question of whether Barack Obama’s soft coverage (I suppose we can now all admit publicly that is was soft) is toughening. Kurtz cites an exchange in which Obama was finally asked about dropping his flag label pin, asking if it signifies “the end of a long period in which the media have gone easy on the man who could all but clinch the Democratic nomination in tomorrow’s primaries.” The heightened media coverage is one more reason (in addition to some brightening poll trends) why Clinton, I think, will be sticking around for quite a while after Tuesday.

No, it is not Hillary or Bill Clinton that has woken up from a stupor; it’s the media. Either because they were guilted into some self-reflection by Saturday Night Live or because the Clinton team’s harping on biased media coverage took its toll, the media seems to be dropping its reverential tone toward Barack Obama.

Jake Tapper on NAFTA-gate: “And in fact, the story seems today more alive than ever. That is, if the press does its job.” Clinton goads them further with this, reported by MSNBC:

I would ask you to look at this story, substitute my name for Sen. Obama’s name and see what you would do with this story. That’s what I would ask you to do. If some of my economic advisers had been having private meetings with foreign governments basically saying ignore what I’m saying because it’s only political rhetoric, I think it raises serious questions.

And Howard Kurtz devotes an entire column to the question of whether Barack Obama’s soft coverage (I suppose we can now all admit publicly that is was soft) is toughening. Kurtz cites an exchange in which Obama was finally asked about dropping his flag label pin, asking if it signifies “the end of a long period in which the media have gone easy on the man who could all but clinch the Democratic nomination in tomorrow’s primaries.” The heightened media coverage is one more reason (in addition to some brightening poll trends) why Clinton, I think, will be sticking around for quite a while after Tuesday.

Read Less

The Creeping Cult of Obama

On his blog at ABC News, Jake Tapper has a great round-up of the messianism of Obama supporters (and to some extent that of the candidate himself). Tapper cites Obama fan Kathleen Geier, who writes of conversations with her fellow travelers:

Excuse me, but this sounds more like a cult than a political campaign. The language used here is the language of evangelical Christianity – the Obama volunteers speak of ‘coming to Obama’ in the same way born-again Christians talk about ‘coming to Jesus.’

Then there’s Joe Klein at Time:

Rather than focusing on any specific issue or cause — other than an amorphous desire for change — the message is becoming dangerously self-referential. The Obama campaign all too often is about how wonderful the Obama campaign is.

Here’s Chris Matthews:

I’ve been following politics since I was about 5. I’ve never seen anything like this. This is bigger than Kennedy. [Obama] comes along, and he seems to have the answers. This is the New Testament.

If level-headed observers are beginning to re-employ critical judgement as they consider Obama, we may see a split between acolytes and the participants of a backlash. The Obama enthusiasm seems to have become so gigantic that it suddenly has to answer for itself. This is precisely Hillary’s dream come true.

On his blog at ABC News, Jake Tapper has a great round-up of the messianism of Obama supporters (and to some extent that of the candidate himself). Tapper cites Obama fan Kathleen Geier, who writes of conversations with her fellow travelers:

Excuse me, but this sounds more like a cult than a political campaign. The language used here is the language of evangelical Christianity – the Obama volunteers speak of ‘coming to Obama’ in the same way born-again Christians talk about ‘coming to Jesus.’

Then there’s Joe Klein at Time:

Rather than focusing on any specific issue or cause — other than an amorphous desire for change — the message is becoming dangerously self-referential. The Obama campaign all too often is about how wonderful the Obama campaign is.

Here’s Chris Matthews:

I’ve been following politics since I was about 5. I’ve never seen anything like this. This is bigger than Kennedy. [Obama] comes along, and he seems to have the answers. This is the New Testament.

If level-headed observers are beginning to re-employ critical judgement as they consider Obama, we may see a split between acolytes and the participants of a backlash. The Obama enthusiasm seems to have become so gigantic that it suddenly has to answer for itself. This is precisely Hillary’s dream come true.

Read Less




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

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

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

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

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