Commentary Magazine


Topic: local congressman

Dump ObamaCare, Win the Wars

The Wall Street Journal/NBC poll reaffirms the bad news the Obama administration so dearly wishes Democratic House members would ignore:

The survey found that opinions have solidified around the health-care legislation, with 48% calling it a “bad idea” and 36% viewing it as a “good idea” when presented with a choice between those two. That gap is consistent with surveys dating to the fall.

That 48 percent is up two points from last month and up one from December, the previous high, which is when we last focused intently on ObamaCare’s passage. The more attention paid to the bill, the more intense the opposition becomes.

And indeed there seems to be a related “enthusiasm” gap: “The survey found a 21-point enthusiasm gap between the parties, with 67% of Republicans saying they are very interested in the November elections, compared with 46% of Democrats.” Democrats conclude that the solution is to rev up their base by passing a health-care bill that everyone else hates quite a lot. (“Democratic voters strongly favor the legislation being pushed by President Barack Obama, particularly constituencies such as blacks, Latinos and self-described liberals. Those groups mobilized in 2008 to help elect Mr. Obama, but are far less enthusiastic than core Republicans about voting in this year’s midterm elections.”)

There are two problems with this notion. First, it does not persuade the relevant individual House members in specific swing districts who can’t win purely on the turnout of “blacks, Latinos and self-described liberals.” In fact, as we saw in Massachusetts, it’s hard in many locales to win purely with the liberal base. (When turn-out-the-base Republican strategy was all the rage, liberal pundits had no trouble debunking the idea that a party could be successful without capturing the vast center of the political spectrum.) The problem for House members in Ohio and Pennsylvania is that independent voters and conservative activists have forged an alliance in opposition to ObamaCare. Knowing that Nancy Pelosi’s base will be tickled by the passage of the bill is small consolation for these House members.

Second, passing ObamaCare, especially with the jaw-dropping procedural stunts, will quite likely drive anti-Obama voters to the polls in even greater numbers. And in a midterm election, many of those newly mobilized 2008 Obama voters aren’t going to show up. They simply aren’t that interested in voting for their local congressman. (Anti-Obama activists and independents determined to “send a message” are a different story.)

The bottom line: wavering House Democrats should be skeptical that a vote for Obama’s health-care scheme makes political sense.

There is another set of polling data of which Obama might want to take note. A robust foreign policy appeals to the American voters. Where Obama has continued and bolstered his predecessor’s policies — Iraq and Afghanistan — he gets his highest approval ratings (53 percent). And on Iran, “a 51%-38% majority in the survey supported initiating military action to destroy Iran’s ability to make nuclear weapons if Tehran continues its nuclear program and is close to developing a weapon. Thirty-nine percent said they strongly supported military action.”

The message from this may be that Obama’s path to political success will come not from pursuing his radical domestic agenda but in successfully fighting  the war against Islamic fundamentalism. Yes, it is ironic.

The Wall Street Journal/NBC poll reaffirms the bad news the Obama administration so dearly wishes Democratic House members would ignore:

The survey found that opinions have solidified around the health-care legislation, with 48% calling it a “bad idea” and 36% viewing it as a “good idea” when presented with a choice between those two. That gap is consistent with surveys dating to the fall.

That 48 percent is up two points from last month and up one from December, the previous high, which is when we last focused intently on ObamaCare’s passage. The more attention paid to the bill, the more intense the opposition becomes.

And indeed there seems to be a related “enthusiasm” gap: “The survey found a 21-point enthusiasm gap between the parties, with 67% of Republicans saying they are very interested in the November elections, compared with 46% of Democrats.” Democrats conclude that the solution is to rev up their base by passing a health-care bill that everyone else hates quite a lot. (“Democratic voters strongly favor the legislation being pushed by President Barack Obama, particularly constituencies such as blacks, Latinos and self-described liberals. Those groups mobilized in 2008 to help elect Mr. Obama, but are far less enthusiastic than core Republicans about voting in this year’s midterm elections.”)

There are two problems with this notion. First, it does not persuade the relevant individual House members in specific swing districts who can’t win purely on the turnout of “blacks, Latinos and self-described liberals.” In fact, as we saw in Massachusetts, it’s hard in many locales to win purely with the liberal base. (When turn-out-the-base Republican strategy was all the rage, liberal pundits had no trouble debunking the idea that a party could be successful without capturing the vast center of the political spectrum.) The problem for House members in Ohio and Pennsylvania is that independent voters and conservative activists have forged an alliance in opposition to ObamaCare. Knowing that Nancy Pelosi’s base will be tickled by the passage of the bill is small consolation for these House members.

Second, passing ObamaCare, especially with the jaw-dropping procedural stunts, will quite likely drive anti-Obama voters to the polls in even greater numbers. And in a midterm election, many of those newly mobilized 2008 Obama voters aren’t going to show up. They simply aren’t that interested in voting for their local congressman. (Anti-Obama activists and independents determined to “send a message” are a different story.)

The bottom line: wavering House Democrats should be skeptical that a vote for Obama’s health-care scheme makes political sense.

There is another set of polling data of which Obama might want to take note. A robust foreign policy appeals to the American voters. Where Obama has continued and bolstered his predecessor’s policies — Iraq and Afghanistan — he gets his highest approval ratings (53 percent). And on Iran, “a 51%-38% majority in the survey supported initiating military action to destroy Iran’s ability to make nuclear weapons if Tehran continues its nuclear program and is close to developing a weapon. Thirty-nine percent said they strongly supported military action.”

The message from this may be that Obama’s path to political success will come not from pursuing his radical domestic agenda but in successfully fighting  the war against Islamic fundamentalism. Yes, it is ironic.

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Re: Obama Envoy Vouched for a Convicted Terrorist?

A few other data points regarding Obama’s Muslim envoy are worth noting. First, Obama’s envoy Rashad Hussain appeared at a CAIR Leadership Training Event this year. CAIR has created its own cottage industry by hassling airlines, intimidating government investigators, and generally spraying lawsuits and claims of “discrimination” at those who single out Muslims for additional scrutiny in efforts to defend ourselves in a war waged by Islamic fascists against our civilization. (CAIR figures also had their share of encounters with the law. See here and here.) So does Hussain share an affinity for the CAIR grievance-mongering perspective and its dedication to disrupting and litigating any anti-terrorism activity that might focus on those we should be focusing on? We don’t know, but again, it’s worth exploring.

Second, a helpful reader points out that George W. Bush also appointed a Muslim envoy to the Organization of Islamic Conference, Sada Cumber, a Texas businessman. That, I would contend, was an ill-advised move. But at least there was no apology offensive for America’s stance toward the “Muslim World.” When interviewed last year, Cumber listed among his greatest accomplishments “’strengthening the OIC’s denunciations of suicide bombing and terrorism in general,’ and said his efforts had been an ‘important catalyst’ in the case of a statement by [OIC secretary-general Ekmeleddin] Ihsanoglu last January calling suicide bombers ‘enemies of Islam’” Suffice it to say, I think Hussain has a different agenda in mind.

And finally, Hussain is not the only U.S. official with an apparent connection to Sami Al-Arian. This report explains:

Sami al-Arian, a University of South Florida computer-science professor and prominent Muslim activist, handed out $1,000 contributions to [Rep. Cynthia] McKinney and other lawmakers during a short burst of political giving between 1998 and 2001. … Al-Arian’s first legal campaign contribution on record was a $200 donation in 1998 to re-elect his local congressman, Rep. Jim Davis (D-Fla.), according to FEC records. Between 1999 and early 2001, the Islamist leader and his wife, Nahla, gave larger, multiple contributions to the campaigns of McKinney ($2,000), [David] Bonior ($3,200) and [Tom] Campbell ($1,300).

What was Al-Arian up to and why did he favor then Congressman (and now Senate candidate) Tom Campbell? The report continues that Al-Arian and other Muslim figures were looking to do away with “provisions of the 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, which allowed federal authorities to use classified information as a basis on which to hold foreign terrorist suspects and to deny that information to the suspects’ defense attorneys. The thinking behind the law, congressional sources say, was to allow domestic law-enforcement services to use foreign intelligence as evidence on which to detain and deport the foreign suspects. Much of that intelligence could not be revealed to the defense because it would put the sources of that intelligence in physical danger.” (Campbell, in fact, testified in favor of his donor’s position at a congressional hearing.)

Beyond that, the report tells us that a Campbell staffer “serve[d] as point man on the issue. That staffer, according to the program and subsequent AMC newsletter, spoke to an event for training Muslim activists on ‘How to Lobby Congress.’ The published agenda of the AMC’s June 2001 national conference shows that al-Arian was another AMC lobbying coach who helped train activists from around the country in lobbying Congress.” That staffer was most likely Suhail Khan, who  served as Campbell’s policy director and press secretary. And lo and behold, he appeared at the very same CAIR conference in 2009 – with none other than Hussain. (Campbell, too, was a CAIR fan. When a new headquarters opened in June 2000, “several members of Congress, including Republican Congressmen Tom Campbell and Democrat James Moran also came to lend their support.”) What a small world.

A few other data points regarding Obama’s Muslim envoy are worth noting. First, Obama’s envoy Rashad Hussain appeared at a CAIR Leadership Training Event this year. CAIR has created its own cottage industry by hassling airlines, intimidating government investigators, and generally spraying lawsuits and claims of “discrimination” at those who single out Muslims for additional scrutiny in efforts to defend ourselves in a war waged by Islamic fascists against our civilization. (CAIR figures also had their share of encounters with the law. See here and here.) So does Hussain share an affinity for the CAIR grievance-mongering perspective and its dedication to disrupting and litigating any anti-terrorism activity that might focus on those we should be focusing on? We don’t know, but again, it’s worth exploring.

Second, a helpful reader points out that George W. Bush also appointed a Muslim envoy to the Organization of Islamic Conference, Sada Cumber, a Texas businessman. That, I would contend, was an ill-advised move. But at least there was no apology offensive for America’s stance toward the “Muslim World.” When interviewed last year, Cumber listed among his greatest accomplishments “’strengthening the OIC’s denunciations of suicide bombing and terrorism in general,’ and said his efforts had been an ‘important catalyst’ in the case of a statement by [OIC secretary-general Ekmeleddin] Ihsanoglu last January calling suicide bombers ‘enemies of Islam’” Suffice it to say, I think Hussain has a different agenda in mind.

And finally, Hussain is not the only U.S. official with an apparent connection to Sami Al-Arian. This report explains:

Sami al-Arian, a University of South Florida computer-science professor and prominent Muslim activist, handed out $1,000 contributions to [Rep. Cynthia] McKinney and other lawmakers during a short burst of political giving between 1998 and 2001. … Al-Arian’s first legal campaign contribution on record was a $200 donation in 1998 to re-elect his local congressman, Rep. Jim Davis (D-Fla.), according to FEC records. Between 1999 and early 2001, the Islamist leader and his wife, Nahla, gave larger, multiple contributions to the campaigns of McKinney ($2,000), [David] Bonior ($3,200) and [Tom] Campbell ($1,300).

What was Al-Arian up to and why did he favor then Congressman (and now Senate candidate) Tom Campbell? The report continues that Al-Arian and other Muslim figures were looking to do away with “provisions of the 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, which allowed federal authorities to use classified information as a basis on which to hold foreign terrorist suspects and to deny that information to the suspects’ defense attorneys. The thinking behind the law, congressional sources say, was to allow domestic law-enforcement services to use foreign intelligence as evidence on which to detain and deport the foreign suspects. Much of that intelligence could not be revealed to the defense because it would put the sources of that intelligence in physical danger.” (Campbell, in fact, testified in favor of his donor’s position at a congressional hearing.)

Beyond that, the report tells us that a Campbell staffer “serve[d] as point man on the issue. That staffer, according to the program and subsequent AMC newsletter, spoke to an event for training Muslim activists on ‘How to Lobby Congress.’ The published agenda of the AMC’s June 2001 national conference shows that al-Arian was another AMC lobbying coach who helped train activists from around the country in lobbying Congress.” That staffer was most likely Suhail Khan, who  served as Campbell’s policy director and press secretary. And lo and behold, he appeared at the very same CAIR conference in 2009 – with none other than Hussain. (Campbell, too, was a CAIR fan. When a new headquarters opened in June 2000, “several members of Congress, including Republican Congressmen Tom Campbell and Democrat James Moran also came to lend their support.”) What a small world.

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