Commentary Magazine


Topic: Phil Klein

Flotsam and Jetsam

The problem for Senate Democrats: likely voters prefer Republicans this year. “Republican Senate candidate Pat Toomey holds six-point lead over Senator Arlen Specter thanks to his strength with Republicans, likely voters and independents, according to a new poll.”

SEIU pollsters tell Democrats that their problems stem from the “perception that they’ve turned into deal-making insiders on their path to achieving it.” The solution, naturally, is to use reconciliation to jam through the Cornhusker Kickback.

Meanwhile: “White House aides say deals such as in Nebraska will be allowed if they benefit more than one state.”

Rasmussen reports: “Democrats in Congress are vowing to pass their national health care plan with a vote in the House possible by the end of this week. But most voters still oppose the plan the same way they have for months. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 43% favor the health care plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats, while 53% oppose it.”

Phil Klein wants to know: “If Obama refuses to look at public opinion polls, then how can he profess to know what the American people want? And if he doesn’t care about polls, then how come the White House is circulating polls on Capitol Hill asserting that support for health care legislation is rising?”

But really, the problem is mostly in swing districts. “By approximately 2-1 margins, voters in these districts oppose the current legislation, oppose a mandate to buy health insurance, believe the government can’t afford the legislation and believe that health care legislation is distracting attention from more important issues.” Well, yes, these would be the very same congressional districts with the wavering congressmen. The trick for the Democratic leadership is to get these members to disregard all available polling data.

Gary Bauer is a voice of moral clarity on this one: “It is obvious that in recent days the Obama Administration has manufactured a crisis with Israel and is doing everything it can to humiliate our ally and weaken the Israeli government on the eve of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. We shouldn’t lose sight of what set off the administration’s tirade. It was the on-going process of authorizing homes to be built in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel for its people.”

James Carafano tells the Obami to Focus! “Iran is problem #1 in the Middle East, but the Arab countries don’t want to face that problem so they whine, ‘We can’t do anything till you (White House) solve the Israeli-Palestinian issue first.’ The White House trots off Lemming-like to try to solve the problem and earn the president’s Nobel Prize.” Meanwhile, Iran’s nuclear program progresses.

Hmm … do you think a critical word would have been raised with David Axelrod at this National Jewish Democratic Council event? Word has it that it was postponed. Good idea.

J Street predictably loves the Israel-bashing.

The Orthodox Union joins the ADL and AIPAC in calling on the Obami “to move away from the kind of public statements it has directed at Israel over the past few days.  These statements have escalated tensions between the two governments, which the Obama Administration must now de-escalate.” The AJC issues a similar call.

The problem for Senate Democrats: likely voters prefer Republicans this year. “Republican Senate candidate Pat Toomey holds six-point lead over Senator Arlen Specter thanks to his strength with Republicans, likely voters and independents, according to a new poll.”

SEIU pollsters tell Democrats that their problems stem from the “perception that they’ve turned into deal-making insiders on their path to achieving it.” The solution, naturally, is to use reconciliation to jam through the Cornhusker Kickback.

Meanwhile: “White House aides say deals such as in Nebraska will be allowed if they benefit more than one state.”

Rasmussen reports: “Democrats in Congress are vowing to pass their national health care plan with a vote in the House possible by the end of this week. But most voters still oppose the plan the same way they have for months. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 43% favor the health care plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats, while 53% oppose it.”

Phil Klein wants to know: “If Obama refuses to look at public opinion polls, then how can he profess to know what the American people want? And if he doesn’t care about polls, then how come the White House is circulating polls on Capitol Hill asserting that support for health care legislation is rising?”

But really, the problem is mostly in swing districts. “By approximately 2-1 margins, voters in these districts oppose the current legislation, oppose a mandate to buy health insurance, believe the government can’t afford the legislation and believe that health care legislation is distracting attention from more important issues.” Well, yes, these would be the very same congressional districts with the wavering congressmen. The trick for the Democratic leadership is to get these members to disregard all available polling data.

Gary Bauer is a voice of moral clarity on this one: “It is obvious that in recent days the Obama Administration has manufactured a crisis with Israel and is doing everything it can to humiliate our ally and weaken the Israeli government on the eve of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. We shouldn’t lose sight of what set off the administration’s tirade. It was the on-going process of authorizing homes to be built in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel for its people.”

James Carafano tells the Obami to Focus! “Iran is problem #1 in the Middle East, but the Arab countries don’t want to face that problem so they whine, ‘We can’t do anything till you (White House) solve the Israeli-Palestinian issue first.’ The White House trots off Lemming-like to try to solve the problem and earn the president’s Nobel Prize.” Meanwhile, Iran’s nuclear program progresses.

Hmm … do you think a critical word would have been raised with David Axelrod at this National Jewish Democratic Council event? Word has it that it was postponed. Good idea.

J Street predictably loves the Israel-bashing.

The Orthodox Union joins the ADL and AIPAC in calling on the Obami “to move away from the kind of public statements it has directed at Israel over the past few days.  These statements have escalated tensions between the two governments, which the Obama Administration must now de-escalate.” The AJC issues a similar call.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

The ObamaCare votes don’t seem to be there. Could those “votes” have figured out that they are the sacrificial lambs in the Obami’s game plan?

Well, as Steny Hoyer says, “At this point in time we don’t have a bill. … It’s a little difficult to count votes if you don’t have a bill.”

Republicans can’t quite believe their good fortune. “First, it has allowed what is a relatively fractious group of Republicans Senators to appear entirely united — a sharp contrast to the divisions that have played out publicly between the moderate and liberal wings of the Democratic party. Second, Republicans argue, the health care focus is the main reason for the abandonment of Democratic candidates by independent voters in gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey as well as in Sen. Scott Brown’s (R) special election victory in January.”

You need a lineup card: Rangel is out, Stark is out: “Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) will be the acting chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced to her caucus on Thursday. … [Rep. Pete] Stark was the next in line for the post in terms of seniority, but some panel members recoiled at the idea of his leading the committee. Stark is known for making controversial and eccentric remarks, and in 2007 he apologized on the House floor for comments about President George W. Bush and the Iraq War.”

Phil Klein proves once again that all wisdom is contained in the Bible and The Godfather (I and II, definitely not III). It’s the Frankie Pentangeli moment — get the brother. “Obama has just awarded a judicial appointment to the brother of Utah Rep. Jim Matheson, who voted against the health care bill in November but who is now undecided.”

DNC chairman Tim Kaine says that something other than merit may be at work here. After all, “Life is life.” I imagine Republicans are collecting these pearls for their ad campaigns.

Speaking of criminal intrigue: did the White House violate federal statutes by dangling federal jobs in front of Joe Sestak and Andrew Romanoff to try to get them out of Senate primaries? “The real question, of course, is whether Eric Holder, who was so quick to reopen an investigation into CIA employees dedicated to trying to protect this country, will open an investigation into his political patrons in the White House who, in their dedication to furthering political objectives, may have violated several federal criminal laws.” I’m not holding my breath either.

I think there’s something to Megan McArdle’s theory of the Democrats’ scandal-a-thon: “The more members you have, the more members you have who can do something disastrous to your party’s public image. … Any party is going to have a given percentage of people in it doing fairly appalling things. If you up the numbers, and the transparency, you get about what we’re seeing now. And no doubt will see again, once the Republicans are back in power. ” Which will be fairly soon, many predict.

Andrew Roberts (a COMMENTARY contributor) goes after his own Israel-bashing Financial Times on its coverage of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh’s assassination: “All that the Dubai operation will do is remind the world that the security services of states at war — and Israel’s struggle with Hamas, Fatah and Hizbollah certainly constitutes that — occasionally employ targeted assassination as one of the weapons in their armoury, and that this in no way weakens their legitimacy. … The intelligence agents of states — sometimes operating with direct authority, sometimes not — have carried out many assassinations and assassination attempts in peacetime without the legitimacy of those states being called into question, or their being described as ‘rogue.’ … No, that insult is reserved for only one country: Israel.”

The ObamaCare votes don’t seem to be there. Could those “votes” have figured out that they are the sacrificial lambs in the Obami’s game plan?

Well, as Steny Hoyer says, “At this point in time we don’t have a bill. … It’s a little difficult to count votes if you don’t have a bill.”

Republicans can’t quite believe their good fortune. “First, it has allowed what is a relatively fractious group of Republicans Senators to appear entirely united — a sharp contrast to the divisions that have played out publicly between the moderate and liberal wings of the Democratic party. Second, Republicans argue, the health care focus is the main reason for the abandonment of Democratic candidates by independent voters in gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey as well as in Sen. Scott Brown’s (R) special election victory in January.”

You need a lineup card: Rangel is out, Stark is out: “Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) will be the acting chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced to her caucus on Thursday. … [Rep. Pete] Stark was the next in line for the post in terms of seniority, but some panel members recoiled at the idea of his leading the committee. Stark is known for making controversial and eccentric remarks, and in 2007 he apologized on the House floor for comments about President George W. Bush and the Iraq War.”

Phil Klein proves once again that all wisdom is contained in the Bible and The Godfather (I and II, definitely not III). It’s the Frankie Pentangeli moment — get the brother. “Obama has just awarded a judicial appointment to the brother of Utah Rep. Jim Matheson, who voted against the health care bill in November but who is now undecided.”

DNC chairman Tim Kaine says that something other than merit may be at work here. After all, “Life is life.” I imagine Republicans are collecting these pearls for their ad campaigns.

Speaking of criminal intrigue: did the White House violate federal statutes by dangling federal jobs in front of Joe Sestak and Andrew Romanoff to try to get them out of Senate primaries? “The real question, of course, is whether Eric Holder, who was so quick to reopen an investigation into CIA employees dedicated to trying to protect this country, will open an investigation into his political patrons in the White House who, in their dedication to furthering political objectives, may have violated several federal criminal laws.” I’m not holding my breath either.

I think there’s something to Megan McArdle’s theory of the Democrats’ scandal-a-thon: “The more members you have, the more members you have who can do something disastrous to your party’s public image. … Any party is going to have a given percentage of people in it doing fairly appalling things. If you up the numbers, and the transparency, you get about what we’re seeing now. And no doubt will see again, once the Republicans are back in power. ” Which will be fairly soon, many predict.

Andrew Roberts (a COMMENTARY contributor) goes after his own Israel-bashing Financial Times on its coverage of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh’s assassination: “All that the Dubai operation will do is remind the world that the security services of states at war — and Israel’s struggle with Hamas, Fatah and Hizbollah certainly constitutes that — occasionally employ targeted assassination as one of the weapons in their armoury, and that this in no way weakens their legitimacy. … The intelligence agents of states — sometimes operating with direct authority, sometimes not — have carried out many assassinations and assassination attempts in peacetime without the legitimacy of those states being called into question, or their being described as ‘rogue.’ … No, that insult is reserved for only one country: Israel.”

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Flotsam and Jetsam

The day after the health-care summit: “The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Friday shows that 23% of the nation’s voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. Forty-three percent (43%) Strongly Disapprove giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -20. For President Obama, the Approval Index has been lower only once.” (Only a third of the response was post-summit, so we don’t know if he’s going downhill again because of or in spite of his latest “game changing” event.)

Not a headline the Obami want to see: “The aftermath of the health-care summit: Confusion, conflict.”

Forget about ObamaCare for a moment, Nancy Pelosi may not have votes for the jobs bill: “Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) praised the $15 billion measure at a Friday news conference. But behind the scenes, House leaders were working to assuage Democratic members on the Reft and Right, whose very objections could doom the bill before it is placed on the schedule.”

Republican senate candidate Mike Castle is cruising in Delaware. House Democratic leaders are struggling to get their members to back the Senate-passed jobs bill, leadership aides said Friday.

Hillary Clinton on the administration’s efforts to aid the Iranian pro-democracy protesters doesn’t exactly fill one with confidence: “State is looking at what more we can do to work in partnership with the private sector to unblock Internet and to speak out against the abuses going on.” Looking at ways, you see. It seems there is always an excuse: “Some technology that we’d like to see used to unblock the Iranian Internet is very valuable technology. We have to be careful how it’s utilized so it doesn’t get in the wrong hands.” Like Chinese dissidents?

Phil Klein on Tom Campbell’s travails: “So, in 2000, Campbell was raising money from Muslim groups on the basis of his votes against Israel and his views on foreign policy, and now he’s claiming those same positions are being misrepresented. Meanwhile, a month after Sept. 11, he was willing to accept an award from a group that was pushing the view that the root causes of the attacks were poverty in the Muslim world as well as U.S. support for Israel. Either Campbell was misrepresenting himself then, or he’s misrepresenting himself now. It can’t be both.”

The Carly Fiorina campaign points to four Campbell donors from his 2000 failed senate campaign: “The campaign manager for former Hewlett Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina on Thursday criticized past donations to Campbell from four men. One was arrested for spying on Congress for Saddam Hussein. Another pleaded guilty to conspiring to aid a Palestinian terrorist group. Campaign manager Marty Wilson said the donations reinforce a congressional voting record by Campbell that was decidedly anti-Israel. He noted that Campbell had voted to cut foreign aid to the country while he served in the House.”

After more than a year: “For the first time, former President George W. Bush has said publicly that he approves of former Vice President Dick Cheney’s high-profile role in defending the past administration’s national security policies. ‘I’m glad Cheney is out there,’ Bush said Friday morning at a reunion breakfast that was the inaugural event for the Bush-Cheney Alumni Association.”

J Street will be so disappointed if it loses a reliable Israel basher. Democrats seem to have another retirement: “Rep. William Delahunt blew nearly $560,000 in campaign cash last year — much of it on lavish meals and a family-friendly payroll that includes his ex-wife, son-in-law and daughter — stoking speculation the Quincy Democrat is emptying his war chest and won’t seek re-election.”

Desiree Rogers probably got lucky to leave on the same day Gov. David Paterson announced that he won’t run for re-election. Most people won’t be focused, then, on this sort of coverage: “The security fiasco at the state dinner for the prime minister of India proved to be an embarrassment, and when she tried to reassert herself, she was quickly shot down, forced into a lower profile. ‘Once the state dinner deal went down,’ said the official, ‘people who had other political agendas started micromanaging every part of her business.’” Ouch. Maybe it was the invocation of executive privilege that rubbed people the wrong way.

The day after the health-care summit: “The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Friday shows that 23% of the nation’s voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. Forty-three percent (43%) Strongly Disapprove giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -20. For President Obama, the Approval Index has been lower only once.” (Only a third of the response was post-summit, so we don’t know if he’s going downhill again because of or in spite of his latest “game changing” event.)

Not a headline the Obami want to see: “The aftermath of the health-care summit: Confusion, conflict.”

Forget about ObamaCare for a moment, Nancy Pelosi may not have votes for the jobs bill: “Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) praised the $15 billion measure at a Friday news conference. But behind the scenes, House leaders were working to assuage Democratic members on the Reft and Right, whose very objections could doom the bill before it is placed on the schedule.”

Republican senate candidate Mike Castle is cruising in Delaware. House Democratic leaders are struggling to get their members to back the Senate-passed jobs bill, leadership aides said Friday.

Hillary Clinton on the administration’s efforts to aid the Iranian pro-democracy protesters doesn’t exactly fill one with confidence: “State is looking at what more we can do to work in partnership with the private sector to unblock Internet and to speak out against the abuses going on.” Looking at ways, you see. It seems there is always an excuse: “Some technology that we’d like to see used to unblock the Iranian Internet is very valuable technology. We have to be careful how it’s utilized so it doesn’t get in the wrong hands.” Like Chinese dissidents?

Phil Klein on Tom Campbell’s travails: “So, in 2000, Campbell was raising money from Muslim groups on the basis of his votes against Israel and his views on foreign policy, and now he’s claiming those same positions are being misrepresented. Meanwhile, a month after Sept. 11, he was willing to accept an award from a group that was pushing the view that the root causes of the attacks were poverty in the Muslim world as well as U.S. support for Israel. Either Campbell was misrepresenting himself then, or he’s misrepresenting himself now. It can’t be both.”

The Carly Fiorina campaign points to four Campbell donors from his 2000 failed senate campaign: “The campaign manager for former Hewlett Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina on Thursday criticized past donations to Campbell from four men. One was arrested for spying on Congress for Saddam Hussein. Another pleaded guilty to conspiring to aid a Palestinian terrorist group. Campaign manager Marty Wilson said the donations reinforce a congressional voting record by Campbell that was decidedly anti-Israel. He noted that Campbell had voted to cut foreign aid to the country while he served in the House.”

After more than a year: “For the first time, former President George W. Bush has said publicly that he approves of former Vice President Dick Cheney’s high-profile role in defending the past administration’s national security policies. ‘I’m glad Cheney is out there,’ Bush said Friday morning at a reunion breakfast that was the inaugural event for the Bush-Cheney Alumni Association.”

J Street will be so disappointed if it loses a reliable Israel basher. Democrats seem to have another retirement: “Rep. William Delahunt blew nearly $560,000 in campaign cash last year — much of it on lavish meals and a family-friendly payroll that includes his ex-wife, son-in-law and daughter — stoking speculation the Quincy Democrat is emptying his war chest and won’t seek re-election.”

Desiree Rogers probably got lucky to leave on the same day Gov. David Paterson announced that he won’t run for re-election. Most people won’t be focused, then, on this sort of coverage: “The security fiasco at the state dinner for the prime minister of India proved to be an embarrassment, and when she tried to reassert herself, she was quickly shot down, forced into a lower profile. ‘Once the state dinner deal went down,’ said the official, ‘people who had other political agendas started micromanaging every part of her business.’” Ouch. Maybe it was the invocation of executive privilege that rubbed people the wrong way.

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Mainstream Media Discovers Tom Campbell’s Israel Issue

After Phil Klein and I have written about this for a week, the mainstream media, reporting on the Republican Senate primary in California, have finally discovered the controversy concerning Tom Campbell’s record and rhetoric on Israel. The Los Angeles Times has now weighed in:

In a dispute that commingles foreign policy and a quest for political advantage, U.S.-Israel relations have taken an unexpectedly central role in the California race for Senate.

Rivals in the race for the Republican nomination are questioning whether former Rep. Tom Campbell is sufficiently supportive of Israel. They base their criticisms on his voting record, statements about a Palestinian homeland and capital, and some of his past associates.

After some back-and-forth regarding whether his rivals have dubbed him anti-Semitic (they say they have not) we learn that Campbell has rounded up former Secretary of State George Shultz to vouch for him. But then we get to the meat of the concern regarding Campbell’s record:

Criticism of Campbell’s voting record centers on efforts to reduce foreign aid for Israel. While in Congress, Campbell said, he supported military aid for Israel but twice sought to reduce economic aid. In the late 1990s, when foreign aid to other nations was being cut to help balance the budget, Israel’s allocation was not affected. Campbell said he favored allowing the military aid to remain unchanged but supported slightly reducing economic aid.

A second instance occurred when he voted against giving Israel an additional $30 million in economic aid, which was to have been taken from funds set aside for the neediest nations, such as those in Africa. That money, he said, was on top of a $700-million aid request that he supported and an earlier $3-billion appropriation. . . Campbell also drew criticism in the past for saying that Jerusalem should be the shared capital of both Israel and a Palestinian state. He said in the interview that he stands by that view.

Now Campbell is back to admitting he did accept a contribution from convicted terrorist Sami Al-Arian. (He flatly denied it in his New Ledger interview yesterday.) The story now is:

His opponents also questioned Campbell’s past associates, notably Sami Al-Arian, a former University of South Florida professor who pleaded guilty in 2006 to conspiring to help a terrorist organization. Al-Arian had donated $1,300 to Campbell’s 2000 campaign for Senate. Campbell, who was the business school dean at UC Berkeley and now teaches at Chapman University, wrote a letter to the University of South Florida protesting its decision to fire Al-Arian over comments he made. He also visited Al-Arian’s brother in jail.

Campbell said he did not know about Al-Arian’s illegal activities at the time and said that if he had he would not have written the letter.

“None of that had come out,” he said. Al-Arian was also photographed with George W. Bush during his first presidential campaign, Campbell noted.

(Al-Arian had, of course, been the subject of a 1994 documentary, had been under investigation for years before 2000, and had long spewed jihadist rhetoric.)

But on this one, the lede is buried, and perhaps with it Campbell’s standing in the Jewish community:

“He’s a brilliant gentlemen and an engaging personality, and I don’t think he’s particularly pro-Israel,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, who has known Campbell since the 1980s. “I think there’s enough there on the record that would send real alarms that this is someone who maybe doesn’t fully understand, doesn’t fully value or fully support a strong ongoing relationship with the state of Israel, an alliance with the state of Israel.”

Campbell can whine all he likes that his rivals’ attacks are “unacceptable” and “personally hurtful,” but that probably isn’t getting him anywhere. He is, however, reportedly to meet with representatives of AIPAC. Perhaps he can convince those Jewish leaders that his record is a stellar one on Israel, that his praise of Alison Weir (not mentioned in the Times report) is nothing, that his support of Al-Arian is also nothing, and that past rhetoric is not indicative of his views on Israel and a Palestinian state. Stranger things have happened. But first he should, on matters such as Sami Al-Arian, pick one story and stick to it.

After Phil Klein and I have written about this for a week, the mainstream media, reporting on the Republican Senate primary in California, have finally discovered the controversy concerning Tom Campbell’s record and rhetoric on Israel. The Los Angeles Times has now weighed in:

In a dispute that commingles foreign policy and a quest for political advantage, U.S.-Israel relations have taken an unexpectedly central role in the California race for Senate.

Rivals in the race for the Republican nomination are questioning whether former Rep. Tom Campbell is sufficiently supportive of Israel. They base their criticisms on his voting record, statements about a Palestinian homeland and capital, and some of his past associates.

After some back-and-forth regarding whether his rivals have dubbed him anti-Semitic (they say they have not) we learn that Campbell has rounded up former Secretary of State George Shultz to vouch for him. But then we get to the meat of the concern regarding Campbell’s record:

Criticism of Campbell’s voting record centers on efforts to reduce foreign aid for Israel. While in Congress, Campbell said, he supported military aid for Israel but twice sought to reduce economic aid. In the late 1990s, when foreign aid to other nations was being cut to help balance the budget, Israel’s allocation was not affected. Campbell said he favored allowing the military aid to remain unchanged but supported slightly reducing economic aid.

A second instance occurred when he voted against giving Israel an additional $30 million in economic aid, which was to have been taken from funds set aside for the neediest nations, such as those in Africa. That money, he said, was on top of a $700-million aid request that he supported and an earlier $3-billion appropriation. . . Campbell also drew criticism in the past for saying that Jerusalem should be the shared capital of both Israel and a Palestinian state. He said in the interview that he stands by that view.

Now Campbell is back to admitting he did accept a contribution from convicted terrorist Sami Al-Arian. (He flatly denied it in his New Ledger interview yesterday.) The story now is:

His opponents also questioned Campbell’s past associates, notably Sami Al-Arian, a former University of South Florida professor who pleaded guilty in 2006 to conspiring to help a terrorist organization. Al-Arian had donated $1,300 to Campbell’s 2000 campaign for Senate. Campbell, who was the business school dean at UC Berkeley and now teaches at Chapman University, wrote a letter to the University of South Florida protesting its decision to fire Al-Arian over comments he made. He also visited Al-Arian’s brother in jail.

Campbell said he did not know about Al-Arian’s illegal activities at the time and said that if he had he would not have written the letter.

“None of that had come out,” he said. Al-Arian was also photographed with George W. Bush during his first presidential campaign, Campbell noted.

(Al-Arian had, of course, been the subject of a 1994 documentary, had been under investigation for years before 2000, and had long spewed jihadist rhetoric.)

But on this one, the lede is buried, and perhaps with it Campbell’s standing in the Jewish community:

“He’s a brilliant gentlemen and an engaging personality, and I don’t think he’s particularly pro-Israel,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, who has known Campbell since the 1980s. “I think there’s enough there on the record that would send real alarms that this is someone who maybe doesn’t fully understand, doesn’t fully value or fully support a strong ongoing relationship with the state of Israel, an alliance with the state of Israel.”

Campbell can whine all he likes that his rivals’ attacks are “unacceptable” and “personally hurtful,” but that probably isn’t getting him anywhere. He is, however, reportedly to meet with representatives of AIPAC. Perhaps he can convince those Jewish leaders that his record is a stellar one on Israel, that his praise of Alison Weir (not mentioned in the Times report) is nothing, that his support of Al-Arian is also nothing, and that past rhetoric is not indicative of his views on Israel and a Palestinian state. Stranger things have happened. But first he should, on matters such as Sami Al-Arian, pick one story and stick to it.

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RE: Tom Campbell and Israel

Tom Campbell in an interview with the New Ledger discusses some of the issues that both Phil Klein of American Spectator and I have brought to light over the past week. In response, Phil points out that in the interview, Campbell misrepresents his acceptance of campaign money from Sami Al-Arian. As I did, Phil checked the FEC records but went one step further and got a comment from Campbell’s own campaign, which does not dispute the donation. In response to the point I raised concerning Campbell’s boosterism of Alison Weir, known Israel-defamer, Campbell only weakly argued out that there was no specific statement that he endorsed. Phil responds: “But even putting aside Weir’s recent dabbling with blood libel, she runs an organization called If Americans Knew, the entire purpose of which is to argue that Israel is using U.S. tax dollars to carry out atrocities.” And so it goes — Campbell denies that he criticized Bill Clinton as too pro-Israel, but Phil provides the quote.

One additional, if not unimportant, point: Alison Weir appears as a commenter on Phil’s article from yesterday. She helpfully adds to the conversation, confirming that she, in fact, advocates this drivel:

I have written a great many articles about Israel-Palestine; two of them are detailed, footnoted investigations of Israeli organ harvesting and theft, a reality that the Israeli media have covered in considerable depth — in fact, most of my information comes from published Israeli articles.

Following the publication of my articles, Israel’s chief pathologist (still among Israel’s highest paid public officials) admitted that for years he had been taking Palestinian body parts. People may wish to read my articles on this topic, and others, for themselves.

Now what says David Frum, Campbell’s staunchest ally on this (I think the only noteworthy public one), whose name Campbell invoked repeatedly in the New Ledger interview? To be fair, Frum’s post seems to have “crossed” with Phil’s response and therefore did not have the benefit of Phil’s dissection.

Regarding Weir, Frum is curiously mute. He simply repeats Campbell’s defense that there was not a particular statement of hers that he took issue with. I wonder if Campbell had  vouched for Pat Buchanan or other well known Israel-haters whether Frum would have considered that acceptable. Well why isn’t this further evidence of Campbell’s strange affinity with those who hate Israel? Frum doesn’t say. (By way of excuse, as discussed below, Frum tries to put Weir in the larger context of Campbell’s misguided folly in the 1990s.)

Frum then states: “On the issues, Tom Campbell has always supported Israel in every important way.” This simply isn’t so. Campbell’s record speaks for itself, and in fact Frum later acknowledges that Campbell simply got it wrong in the 1990s:

In the late 1990s, Campbell joined the so-called Muslim outreach strategy then being pushed hard by important party leaders. It was this strategy that led him to speak to the Council for American Islamic Relations – that entangled him in the al-Arian case – and that (I would guess) prompted his artfully hedged compliments to Alison Weir a decade ago.

The strategy failed, and Campbell was badly burned by it. The groups that offered their support to the GOP in the late 1990s did not in fact represent the sensible majority of American Muslims. They belonged to the radical fringe. Far from strengthening the GOP, they exploited the credulity of the GOP to enhance their own prestige.

Frum then goes on to list some dumb things that George W. Bush did in his outreach to Muslims. Let me simply say that Tom Campbell is no George W. Bush when it comes to his Israel record; but, in any case, Bush isn’t running for the Senate.

Unlike Frum, however, Campbell admits that there is no error in his record and continues to perpetuate the notion that he has always been a stalwart defender of Israel. Voters concerned about a fulsome relationship with and defense of the Jewish state will decide for themselves whether Campbell’s record is one that indicates good judgment and affinity for Israel. And they will also decide whether his lack of candor is one they find troubling.

Tom Campbell in an interview with the New Ledger discusses some of the issues that both Phil Klein of American Spectator and I have brought to light over the past week. In response, Phil points out that in the interview, Campbell misrepresents his acceptance of campaign money from Sami Al-Arian. As I did, Phil checked the FEC records but went one step further and got a comment from Campbell’s own campaign, which does not dispute the donation. In response to the point I raised concerning Campbell’s boosterism of Alison Weir, known Israel-defamer, Campbell only weakly argued out that there was no specific statement that he endorsed. Phil responds: “But even putting aside Weir’s recent dabbling with blood libel, she runs an organization called If Americans Knew, the entire purpose of which is to argue that Israel is using U.S. tax dollars to carry out atrocities.” And so it goes — Campbell denies that he criticized Bill Clinton as too pro-Israel, but Phil provides the quote.

One additional, if not unimportant, point: Alison Weir appears as a commenter on Phil’s article from yesterday. She helpfully adds to the conversation, confirming that she, in fact, advocates this drivel:

I have written a great many articles about Israel-Palestine; two of them are detailed, footnoted investigations of Israeli organ harvesting and theft, a reality that the Israeli media have covered in considerable depth — in fact, most of my information comes from published Israeli articles.

Following the publication of my articles, Israel’s chief pathologist (still among Israel’s highest paid public officials) admitted that for years he had been taking Palestinian body parts. People may wish to read my articles on this topic, and others, for themselves.

Now what says David Frum, Campbell’s staunchest ally on this (I think the only noteworthy public one), whose name Campbell invoked repeatedly in the New Ledger interview? To be fair, Frum’s post seems to have “crossed” with Phil’s response and therefore did not have the benefit of Phil’s dissection.

Regarding Weir, Frum is curiously mute. He simply repeats Campbell’s defense that there was not a particular statement of hers that he took issue with. I wonder if Campbell had  vouched for Pat Buchanan or other well known Israel-haters whether Frum would have considered that acceptable. Well why isn’t this further evidence of Campbell’s strange affinity with those who hate Israel? Frum doesn’t say. (By way of excuse, as discussed below, Frum tries to put Weir in the larger context of Campbell’s misguided folly in the 1990s.)

Frum then states: “On the issues, Tom Campbell has always supported Israel in every important way.” This simply isn’t so. Campbell’s record speaks for itself, and in fact Frum later acknowledges that Campbell simply got it wrong in the 1990s:

In the late 1990s, Campbell joined the so-called Muslim outreach strategy then being pushed hard by important party leaders. It was this strategy that led him to speak to the Council for American Islamic Relations – that entangled him in the al-Arian case – and that (I would guess) prompted his artfully hedged compliments to Alison Weir a decade ago.

The strategy failed, and Campbell was badly burned by it. The groups that offered their support to the GOP in the late 1990s did not in fact represent the sensible majority of American Muslims. They belonged to the radical fringe. Far from strengthening the GOP, they exploited the credulity of the GOP to enhance their own prestige.

Frum then goes on to list some dumb things that George W. Bush did in his outreach to Muslims. Let me simply say that Tom Campbell is no George W. Bush when it comes to his Israel record; but, in any case, Bush isn’t running for the Senate.

Unlike Frum, however, Campbell admits that there is no error in his record and continues to perpetuate the notion that he has always been a stalwart defender of Israel. Voters concerned about a fulsome relationship with and defense of the Jewish state will decide for themselves whether Campbell’s record is one that indicates good judgment and affinity for Israel. And they will also decide whether his lack of candor is one they find troubling.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

I think most Americans expect consequences for incompetence: “Two senators said Sunday that despite President Barack Obama saying the buck stops with him on the Christmas Day bombing attempt, disciplinary action should be taken against those who let Nigerian suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab slip through the cracks and get on the Detroit-bound flight. ‘People should be held responsible for what happened’ Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday. ‘And we can’t go back to the old Washington kind of routine, we are all responsible so therefore nobody is responsible. Somebody has got to be held responsible.’” Sen. Joe Lieberman agrees.

The mainstream media have figured it out: good campaigner, not so good president. “In winning the White House, Barack Obama’s team earned a reputation for skill and discipline in dominating the communications wars with opponents. In office, virtually the same team has struggled, spending much of the past year defending the administration’s actions on the two biggest domestic issues — the economy and health care.”

The Boston Globe poll has Martha Coakley up 15 points in Massachusetts. But here’s the interesting part: “Brown matches Coakley — both were at 47 percent — among the roughly 1 in 4 respondents who said they were ‘extremely interested’ in the race.”

Phil Klein notes that the Globe didn’t poll many independents.

The Nation or National Review? “The new unemployment numbers are devastating, and they should send up red flares in Washington, a city where officials have so far has been absurdly neglectful of the most serious social, economic and political crisis facing the country. …  President Obama and the Democrats in Congress face the prospect of serious setbacks in 2010 congressional and state races if they do not recognize that there is a disconnect between their focus and that of the American people who will decide the political direction of the country in November.”

Democrats probably didn’t need this: “Republican leaders called on Harry Reid to step down as Senate majority leader, Sunday, after the Nevada senator apologized for calling Barack Obama as a ‘light-skinned’ African-American who lacked a ‘Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.’ … Forgiveness from Obama and other black political leaders is unlikely to bring an end to the controversy. While it does not appear that Reid will be forced out of his leadership post for his racially insensitive comments, Democratic strategists describe the incident as a serious blow to his already difficult re-election campaign.”

But Democrats generally have faith that they can say anything and get away with it: “[Sen. Diane] Feinstein said she ‘saw no Democrats jumping out there and condemning Senator Lott. I know Senator Lott. I happen to be very fond of him. And he made a mistake.” Huh? Al Gore sure did. Obama did.

This sounds right: “The nation’s first elected African-American governor said on Sunday that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) should apologize to the entire country for his comments about President Barack Obama’s skin color. ‘The Reid apology should be to the totality of the American people,’ said Doug Wilder, former Virginia governor.”

Liz Cheney thinks we should stop making it worse: “It was actually a year ago today that the president announced the stimulus, because he said that we needed to put this in place in order to prevent — prevent unemployment from nearing double digits. So here we are, a year later, with unemployment, you know, over double digits, over 10 percent, having gone deeper into debt, and — and I think that the uncertainty in the economy isn’t because people are worried the stimulus won’t continue. I think the uncertainty is because people are watching things like the debate over the health care bill here, which has gone on and on and on, the actions by the administration, which I think are actually creating a drag on this recovery.”

I think most Americans expect consequences for incompetence: “Two senators said Sunday that despite President Barack Obama saying the buck stops with him on the Christmas Day bombing attempt, disciplinary action should be taken against those who let Nigerian suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab slip through the cracks and get on the Detroit-bound flight. ‘People should be held responsible for what happened’ Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday. ‘And we can’t go back to the old Washington kind of routine, we are all responsible so therefore nobody is responsible. Somebody has got to be held responsible.’” Sen. Joe Lieberman agrees.

The mainstream media have figured it out: good campaigner, not so good president. “In winning the White House, Barack Obama’s team earned a reputation for skill and discipline in dominating the communications wars with opponents. In office, virtually the same team has struggled, spending much of the past year defending the administration’s actions on the two biggest domestic issues — the economy and health care.”

The Boston Globe poll has Martha Coakley up 15 points in Massachusetts. But here’s the interesting part: “Brown matches Coakley — both were at 47 percent — among the roughly 1 in 4 respondents who said they were ‘extremely interested’ in the race.”

Phil Klein notes that the Globe didn’t poll many independents.

The Nation or National Review? “The new unemployment numbers are devastating, and they should send up red flares in Washington, a city where officials have so far has been absurdly neglectful of the most serious social, economic and political crisis facing the country. …  President Obama and the Democrats in Congress face the prospect of serious setbacks in 2010 congressional and state races if they do not recognize that there is a disconnect between their focus and that of the American people who will decide the political direction of the country in November.”

Democrats probably didn’t need this: “Republican leaders called on Harry Reid to step down as Senate majority leader, Sunday, after the Nevada senator apologized for calling Barack Obama as a ‘light-skinned’ African-American who lacked a ‘Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.’ … Forgiveness from Obama and other black political leaders is unlikely to bring an end to the controversy. While it does not appear that Reid will be forced out of his leadership post for his racially insensitive comments, Democratic strategists describe the incident as a serious blow to his already difficult re-election campaign.”

But Democrats generally have faith that they can say anything and get away with it: “[Sen. Diane] Feinstein said she ‘saw no Democrats jumping out there and condemning Senator Lott. I know Senator Lott. I happen to be very fond of him. And he made a mistake.” Huh? Al Gore sure did. Obama did.

This sounds right: “The nation’s first elected African-American governor said on Sunday that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) should apologize to the entire country for his comments about President Barack Obama’s skin color. ‘The Reid apology should be to the totality of the American people,’ said Doug Wilder, former Virginia governor.”

Liz Cheney thinks we should stop making it worse: “It was actually a year ago today that the president announced the stimulus, because he said that we needed to put this in place in order to prevent — prevent unemployment from nearing double digits. So here we are, a year later, with unemployment, you know, over double digits, over 10 percent, having gone deeper into debt, and — and I think that the uncertainty in the economy isn’t because people are worried the stimulus won’t continue. I think the uncertainty is because people are watching things like the debate over the health care bill here, which has gone on and on and on, the actions by the administration, which I think are actually creating a drag on this recovery.”

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I Know Him from Somewhere . . .

To judge from the dueling e-mails coming out of the McCain and Romney camps in the last few days, one would think we were back in New Hampshire. Romney is the flip flopper, McCain’s team explains; McCain, warns the Romney camp, is a tax-hiking open-borders proponent. However, aside from the e-mails, the race bears little resemblance to the one that took place only three weeks ago, in large part because McCain is running against a different candidate. Gone are Romney’s references to “full spectrum” conservatism and the “three legs of the conservative stool.” Romney’s latest TV ad does not even mention the word “Republican” and touts him instead as a Washington outsider. Phil Klein observes:

This is a clearly a persona that fits Romney much more comfortably, because it’s basically who he is–a moderate Republican businessman who believes that when competently managed, the government can help solve people’s problems.

There are at least a couple of problems with this. First, it assumes the Florida electorate reads no national newspapers and doesn’t watch the debates or national TV news. If this assumption is false, as it surely is, this becomes the “Darrin on Bewitched” problem–a whole new guy shows up and everyone is expected to act like nothing has changed. (Here, the two Romneys look more or less the same, but the transformation is no less startling.) This, of course, has the potential for voters to recognize another Romney “evolution,” this time from conservative stalwart to Ross Perot-like outsider.

The second problem is that there may not be an available voting bloc receptive to Romney’s message. Thompson’s absence and Hucakbee’s retreat from Florida were supposed to leave an opening for the New Hampshire Romney, the conservative standard-bearer. With Giuliani running on his New York success story and McCain on his role straightening out Iraq policy and rooting out government waste, it is not clear there is room for another Mr. Fix-It. Moreover, it is far from clear that Republicans want someone touting the wonders–like universal healthcare coverage–that can be achieved by an active federal government.

Nevertheless, as Klein points out, the newest Romney has a timely message and may be sincere. In that regard, he may actually win.

To judge from the dueling e-mails coming out of the McCain and Romney camps in the last few days, one would think we were back in New Hampshire. Romney is the flip flopper, McCain’s team explains; McCain, warns the Romney camp, is a tax-hiking open-borders proponent. However, aside from the e-mails, the race bears little resemblance to the one that took place only three weeks ago, in large part because McCain is running against a different candidate. Gone are Romney’s references to “full spectrum” conservatism and the “three legs of the conservative stool.” Romney’s latest TV ad does not even mention the word “Republican” and touts him instead as a Washington outsider. Phil Klein observes:

This is a clearly a persona that fits Romney much more comfortably, because it’s basically who he is–a moderate Republican businessman who believes that when competently managed, the government can help solve people’s problems.

There are at least a couple of problems with this. First, it assumes the Florida electorate reads no national newspapers and doesn’t watch the debates or national TV news. If this assumption is false, as it surely is, this becomes the “Darrin on Bewitched” problem–a whole new guy shows up and everyone is expected to act like nothing has changed. (Here, the two Romneys look more or less the same, but the transformation is no less startling.) This, of course, has the potential for voters to recognize another Romney “evolution,” this time from conservative stalwart to Ross Perot-like outsider.

The second problem is that there may not be an available voting bloc receptive to Romney’s message. Thompson’s absence and Hucakbee’s retreat from Florida were supposed to leave an opening for the New Hampshire Romney, the conservative standard-bearer. With Giuliani running on his New York success story and McCain on his role straightening out Iraq policy and rooting out government waste, it is not clear there is room for another Mr. Fix-It. Moreover, it is far from clear that Republicans want someone touting the wonders–like universal healthcare coverage–that can be achieved by an active federal government.

Nevertheless, as Klein points out, the newest Romney has a timely message and may be sincere. In that regard, he may actually win.

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