Commentary Magazine


Topic: Senate Majority Leader

The Difference a Day Makes in American Politics

In his excellent essay in the Claremont Review of Books, titled “The Great Repudiation,” Professor James Ceaser wrote

The results of the 2010 election changed the landscape of American politics. … In fact, 2010 is the closest the nation has ever come to a national referendum on overall policy direction or “ideology.” … There is only one label that can describe the result: the Great Repudiation.

To understand just how much the landscape of American politics changed, consider (as John does) yesterday’s events — a day in which the Democratic majority in Congress averted across-the-board tax increases and enacted new tax breaks for individuals and businesses and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was forced to pull an almost $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill, replacing it (presumably) with a Continuing Resolution.

These were major substantive achievements by Republicans — and enormous substantive concessions by President Obama and his party. We have the Great Repudiation to thank for them.

In his excellent essay in the Claremont Review of Books, titled “The Great Repudiation,” Professor James Ceaser wrote

The results of the 2010 election changed the landscape of American politics. … In fact, 2010 is the closest the nation has ever come to a national referendum on overall policy direction or “ideology.” … There is only one label that can describe the result: the Great Repudiation.

To understand just how much the landscape of American politics changed, consider (as John does) yesterday’s events — a day in which the Democratic majority in Congress averted across-the-board tax increases and enacted new tax breaks for individuals and businesses and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was forced to pull an almost $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill, replacing it (presumably) with a Continuing Resolution.

These were major substantive achievements by Republicans — and enormous substantive concessions by President Obama and his party. We have the Great Repudiation to thank for them.

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The Extremism of E.J. Dionne Jr.

E.J. Dionne Jr. has a column registering his concerns about the “No Labels” group. But he isn’t entirely critical. Dionne makes it clear that there are some things he’s sympathetic to, including this:

The No Labelers are also right to be repulsed by the replacement of real argument with a vicious brand of name-calling. When a president of the United States is attacked simultaneously as an “extreme liberal liar” and a “Nazi,” there is a sick irrationality at work in our discourse.

It’s perhaps worth noting that during the Bush presidency, when George W. Bush was slandered by leading members of the Democratic Party as a “moral coward” (Vice President Al Gore), as a “loser” and a “liar” who had “betrayed his country” (Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid), and who “Week after week after week after week … told lie after lie after lie after lie” (Senator Edward Kennedy), Dionne, in an amazing feat of self-control, held his outrage in abeyance. Back then, it was not “sick irrationality at work in our discourse”; it was just the normal, good-spirited back and forth of American politics. And if E.J. has written a column reprimanding the loathsome Representative Alan Grayson for his vicious brand of name-calling, I missed it. (Grayson dubbed his opponent Daniel Webster “Taliban Dan” in a deeply dishonest ad. He has also said, “If you get sick, America, the Republican health-care plan is this: Die quickly.” And for good measure, Grayson has compared Republicans to “knuckle-dragging Neanderthals” and Nazis burning the Reichstag.)

In any event, in his column Dionne goes on to assure us that “I am still devoted to moderation.” Of course he is. But what’s really troubling him are those right-wing extremist Republicans and conservatives. Moderation, you see, is “very much alive on the center-left and among Democrats” — but it is “so dead in the Republican Party and on the right.” The No Labelers can yet be a constructive force, Dionne instructs us, “if they remind us of how extreme the right has become and help broker an alliance between the center and the left, the only coalition that can realistically stop an ever more zealous brand of conservatism.”

E.J. faces a bit of a problem, of course. The GOP he deems to be so radical, so zealous, and so outside the mainstream is barely a month removed from a historically successful midterm election. Republicans picked up more House seats (63) than in any election since 1938 and have not enjoyed this much power in state capitals since the 1920s. In addition, Americans, by a greater than 2-to-1 margin, self-identify as conservative rather than liberal. Public trust in government is at record lows; so is the approval rating for the Democratically controlled Congress. And the signature domestic initiative of the Obama presidency, health-care reform, is quite unpopular and falling short of virtually every promise its advocates made on its behalf. Read More

E.J. Dionne Jr. has a column registering his concerns about the “No Labels” group. But he isn’t entirely critical. Dionne makes it clear that there are some things he’s sympathetic to, including this:

The No Labelers are also right to be repulsed by the replacement of real argument with a vicious brand of name-calling. When a president of the United States is attacked simultaneously as an “extreme liberal liar” and a “Nazi,” there is a sick irrationality at work in our discourse.

It’s perhaps worth noting that during the Bush presidency, when George W. Bush was slandered by leading members of the Democratic Party as a “moral coward” (Vice President Al Gore), as a “loser” and a “liar” who had “betrayed his country” (Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid), and who “Week after week after week after week … told lie after lie after lie after lie” (Senator Edward Kennedy), Dionne, in an amazing feat of self-control, held his outrage in abeyance. Back then, it was not “sick irrationality at work in our discourse”; it was just the normal, good-spirited back and forth of American politics. And if E.J. has written a column reprimanding the loathsome Representative Alan Grayson for his vicious brand of name-calling, I missed it. (Grayson dubbed his opponent Daniel Webster “Taliban Dan” in a deeply dishonest ad. He has also said, “If you get sick, America, the Republican health-care plan is this: Die quickly.” And for good measure, Grayson has compared Republicans to “knuckle-dragging Neanderthals” and Nazis burning the Reichstag.)

In any event, in his column Dionne goes on to assure us that “I am still devoted to moderation.” Of course he is. But what’s really troubling him are those right-wing extremist Republicans and conservatives. Moderation, you see, is “very much alive on the center-left and among Democrats” — but it is “so dead in the Republican Party and on the right.” The No Labelers can yet be a constructive force, Dionne instructs us, “if they remind us of how extreme the right has become and help broker an alliance between the center and the left, the only coalition that can realistically stop an ever more zealous brand of conservatism.”

E.J. faces a bit of a problem, of course. The GOP he deems to be so radical, so zealous, and so outside the mainstream is barely a month removed from a historically successful midterm election. Republicans picked up more House seats (63) than in any election since 1938 and have not enjoyed this much power in state capitals since the 1920s. In addition, Americans, by a greater than 2-to-1 margin, self-identify as conservative rather than liberal. Public trust in government is at record lows; so is the approval rating for the Democratically controlled Congress. And the signature domestic initiative of the Obama presidency, health-care reform, is quite unpopular and falling short of virtually every promise its advocates made on its behalf.

If you want to place the Devoted-to-Moderation Dionne on the political spectrum, consider that he’s a great defender of the soon-to-be-ex-Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose own extremism led to her registering an 8 percent favorability rating among independents just prior to the election (61 percent viewed her unfavorably).

The main problem for E.J., though, is that the 2010 midterm election was a massive repudiation of contemporary liberalism, as embodied by people like President Obama and E.J. Dionne. It was among the most nationalized midterm elections in our history. Having lived under liberal governance for two years, the public reacted to it like the human body reacts to food poisoning. This is something that Dionne doesn’t seem able to process; his ideology won’t allow it. And so he continues to bellow, week after week, about how radical the right has become.

It’s true that Dionne’s columns highlight political extremism of a sort. But the extremism is his, not conservatism’s.

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Obama Must Veto Omnibus Spending Bill

The omnibus spending bill for fiscal year 2011, which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid dropped on his colleagues yesterday, is more than 1,900 pages long, costs more than $1 trillion, and consists of some 6,600 earmarks.

The entire GOP leadership has come out strongly against the omnibus bill — on substance (it’s terribly wasteful and profligate) and process (a lame-duck session of Congress should not be passing legislation of this dimension, which is clearly at odds with what most Americans voted for during the 2010 midterm election). Speaker-designate John Boehner has a very fine idea. He has asked President Obama to veto the bill in the event it secures congressional passage.

If Congress does indeed pass this legislation, Mr. Obama will be extremely reluctant to veto it, given how important it is to those in his party.

On the other hand, Obama himself is on record, both when he campaigned for president and as recently as a month ago, strongly opposing earmarks.

“Earmarks account for 0.5 percent of the total federal budget. There’s no doubt that the system needs reform and there are a lot of screwy things that we end up spending money on, and they need to be eliminated,” Obama said during his third presidential debate with John McCain. “But it’s not going to solve the problem.” [emphasis added]

“We are going to ban all earmarks — the process by which individual members insert pet projects without review,” President-elect Obama promised on January 6, 2009.

And during his November 13 radio address earlier this year, Obama called for an end to the “bad Washington habit” of earmarks. In the president’s words:

I agree with those Republicans and Democratic Member of Congress who’ve recently said that in these challenging days, we can’t afford what are called earmarks. … We can’t afford ‘Bridges to Nowhere.” … Earmarks like these represent a relatively small part of overall federal spending, but when it comes to signaling our commitment to fiscal responsibility, addressing them would have an important impact.

It would be impossible, then, for Mr. Obama to justify signing into law legislation that, based on his previous statements, he ought to find indefensible. If, however, the president reneges on this commitment, as he has on so many previous commitments, then cynicism about him (and politics more generally) will increase and the president will further undermine his public character. That’s why the president better hope that the Democratic-controlled Congress fails in this 11th-hour effort to push through yet one more pernicious piece of legislation.

The omnibus spending bill for fiscal year 2011, which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid dropped on his colleagues yesterday, is more than 1,900 pages long, costs more than $1 trillion, and consists of some 6,600 earmarks.

The entire GOP leadership has come out strongly against the omnibus bill — on substance (it’s terribly wasteful and profligate) and process (a lame-duck session of Congress should not be passing legislation of this dimension, which is clearly at odds with what most Americans voted for during the 2010 midterm election). Speaker-designate John Boehner has a very fine idea. He has asked President Obama to veto the bill in the event it secures congressional passage.

If Congress does indeed pass this legislation, Mr. Obama will be extremely reluctant to veto it, given how important it is to those in his party.

On the other hand, Obama himself is on record, both when he campaigned for president and as recently as a month ago, strongly opposing earmarks.

“Earmarks account for 0.5 percent of the total federal budget. There’s no doubt that the system needs reform and there are a lot of screwy things that we end up spending money on, and they need to be eliminated,” Obama said during his third presidential debate with John McCain. “But it’s not going to solve the problem.” [emphasis added]

“We are going to ban all earmarks — the process by which individual members insert pet projects without review,” President-elect Obama promised on January 6, 2009.

And during his November 13 radio address earlier this year, Obama called for an end to the “bad Washington habit” of earmarks. In the president’s words:

I agree with those Republicans and Democratic Member of Congress who’ve recently said that in these challenging days, we can’t afford what are called earmarks. … We can’t afford ‘Bridges to Nowhere.” … Earmarks like these represent a relatively small part of overall federal spending, but when it comes to signaling our commitment to fiscal responsibility, addressing them would have an important impact.

It would be impossible, then, for Mr. Obama to justify signing into law legislation that, based on his previous statements, he ought to find indefensible. If, however, the president reneges on this commitment, as he has on so many previous commitments, then cynicism about him (and politics more generally) will increase and the president will further undermine his public character. That’s why the president better hope that the Democratic-controlled Congress fails in this 11th-hour effort to push through yet one more pernicious piece of legislation.

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GOP Turnout

If you are tired of obsessing about polls and dissecting turnout models, here are some actual votes to pore over:

In Nevada’s prime swing county, Republicans are significantly outpacing Democrats in early-voting turnout, according to official statistics — a potential sign of difficulty for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as he attempts to rally his base for his tough contest with Republican Sharron Angle.

Some 47 percent of early voters in Reno’s bellwether Washoe County so far have been Republicans, while 40 percent have been Democrats, according to the Washoe County Registrar. Nearly 11,000 people had voted in Washoe over the first three days of early voting, which began Saturday.

Voter registration in the county is evenly split, 39 percent to 39 percent. The disproportionate turnout is a concrete indication of the Republican enthusiasm that is expected to portend a nationwide GOP wave.

In Nevada’s large, urban Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, nearly 47,000 votes were cast in the first three days. The voters were 46 percent Democrats, 39 percent Republicans, according to the Clark County Election Department. But while Democrats make up 46 percent of the county’s registered voters, Republicans constitute just 33 percent — another sign Republicans are voting out of proportion to their numbers.

Throughout the primary season, GOP turnout topped past records and current estimates in many states. If this is any indication, the GOP enthusiasm will hold during the general election. The result may be a raft of pollsters who, quite understandably, will need to explain that they underestimated the Republican turnout because we simply have never had a midterm race like that. I’m sure Harry Reid hasn’t.

If you are tired of obsessing about polls and dissecting turnout models, here are some actual votes to pore over:

In Nevada’s prime swing county, Republicans are significantly outpacing Democrats in early-voting turnout, according to official statistics — a potential sign of difficulty for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as he attempts to rally his base for his tough contest with Republican Sharron Angle.

Some 47 percent of early voters in Reno’s bellwether Washoe County so far have been Republicans, while 40 percent have been Democrats, according to the Washoe County Registrar. Nearly 11,000 people had voted in Washoe over the first three days of early voting, which began Saturday.

Voter registration in the county is evenly split, 39 percent to 39 percent. The disproportionate turnout is a concrete indication of the Republican enthusiasm that is expected to portend a nationwide GOP wave.

In Nevada’s large, urban Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, nearly 47,000 votes were cast in the first three days. The voters were 46 percent Democrats, 39 percent Republicans, according to the Clark County Election Department. But while Democrats make up 46 percent of the county’s registered voters, Republicans constitute just 33 percent — another sign Republicans are voting out of proportion to their numbers.

Throughout the primary season, GOP turnout topped past records and current estimates in many states. If this is any indication, the GOP enthusiasm will hold during the general election. The result may be a raft of pollsters who, quite understandably, will need to explain that they underestimated the Republican turnout because we simply have never had a midterm race like that. I’m sure Harry Reid hasn’t.

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‘Man Up, Harry’

That sound-bite by Sharron Angle in response to Harry Reid’s refusal to concede that we have a Social Security solvency problem may have won Angle her seat. It was pithy. It wasn’t crazy. And Reid had no effective retort.

As Nevada politico guru John Ralston put it:

Sharron Angle won The Big Debate. Angle won because she looked relatively credible, appearing not to be the Wicked Witch of the West (Christine O’Donnell is the good witch of the Tea Party) and scoring many more rhetorical points. And she won because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid looked as if he could barely stay on a linear argument, abruptly switching gears and failing to effectively parry or thrust.

The Democrats have assured themselves and instructed voters that the Tea Partiers are loons, racists, and altogether unfit for office. In other words, they have so diminished expectations for their opponents that Angle and others easily amble over the low bar.

Democratic incumbents who previously enjoyed minimal opposition are unprepared to deal with the upstarts. Ralston wonders whether Reid took “himself out, once and for all, with his dismissiveness, his sarcastic and loopy use of ‘my friend’ and Senatese, his shifting of subjects in the middle of thoughts, beginning with his opening statements.”

You see, the Democratic hacks have come to resemble the loony caricature they have painted of their opponents. Yes, the most reasonable person on that stage was Angle.

That sound-bite by Sharron Angle in response to Harry Reid’s refusal to concede that we have a Social Security solvency problem may have won Angle her seat. It was pithy. It wasn’t crazy. And Reid had no effective retort.

As Nevada politico guru John Ralston put it:

Sharron Angle won The Big Debate. Angle won because she looked relatively credible, appearing not to be the Wicked Witch of the West (Christine O’Donnell is the good witch of the Tea Party) and scoring many more rhetorical points. And she won because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid looked as if he could barely stay on a linear argument, abruptly switching gears and failing to effectively parry or thrust.

The Democrats have assured themselves and instructed voters that the Tea Partiers are loons, racists, and altogether unfit for office. In other words, they have so diminished expectations for their opponents that Angle and others easily amble over the low bar.

Democratic incumbents who previously enjoyed minimal opposition are unprepared to deal with the upstarts. Ralston wonders whether Reid took “himself out, once and for all, with his dismissiveness, his sarcastic and loopy use of ‘my friend’ and Senatese, his shifting of subjects in the middle of thoughts, beginning with his opening statements.”

You see, the Democratic hacks have come to resemble the loony caricature they have painted of their opponents. Yes, the most reasonable person on that stage was Angle.

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From a Fight over the Constitution to a Local Zoning Issue

It’s all getting so confusing now. The early narrative from the left was that if you didn’t support Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s proposal to build a mosque and Islamic center near Ground Zero, you were a bigot, racist, and an enemy of religious liberty. But then President Obama declared that he wouldn’t take a stand on where to build the mosque, thereby conceding that it was not a matter of high Constitutional principle. Then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and former DNC chairman Howard Dean said they actually favor moving the mosque. (Dean’s comments can be found here.) And then Nancy Pelosi, during her recent comments, complained that she was receiving so many questions about what was essentially a local zoning issue. It’s a local issue, she insisted.

So what, at the start of the week, was the ground for the Democrats and the left to wage a heroic battle in behalf of religious liberty has now fizzled into a difference over a local zoning issue, with leading Democrats opposing building the mosque near Ground Zero.

What a pathetic end to a terribly misguided and enormously harmful (for the Democrats) effort.

It’s all getting so confusing now. The early narrative from the left was that if you didn’t support Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s proposal to build a mosque and Islamic center near Ground Zero, you were a bigot, racist, and an enemy of religious liberty. But then President Obama declared that he wouldn’t take a stand on where to build the mosque, thereby conceding that it was not a matter of high Constitutional principle. Then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and former DNC chairman Howard Dean said they actually favor moving the mosque. (Dean’s comments can be found here.) And then Nancy Pelosi, during her recent comments, complained that she was receiving so many questions about what was essentially a local zoning issue. It’s a local issue, she insisted.

So what, at the start of the week, was the ground for the Democrats and the left to wage a heroic battle in behalf of religious liberty has now fizzled into a difference over a local zoning issue, with leading Democrats opposing building the mosque near Ground Zero.

What a pathetic end to a terribly misguided and enormously harmful (for the Democrats) effort.

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Disagreement or Different? Up or Down?

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a well-known and fiercely independent individual, has exercised his right – the one written into the DNA of the living document that governs us – to disagree with President Obama about the Ground Zero mosque, issuing a statement that it should be built elsewhere. Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton was asked about it this morning:

Q Can you talk about Senator Reid’s disagreeing with the President on the mosque issue? Has the President spoken to him? Did Reid’s people give you guys a heads-up about that? What was his reaction?

MR. BURTON: We did have a sense that that’s what they were going to do. But if you look at what the President said on Friday night, he respects the right of anybody — Democrat, Republican, independent — to disagree with his opinion on this. That’s one of the other fundamental rights written into the DNA of our Constitution.

Senator Reid is a fiercely independent individual; it’s one of his strengths as a leader of the Democratic Party. So the President feels completely fine that he might disagree.

But wait a minute – didn’t the president clarify his remarks, so that he took no position on the location of the mosque? Burton was asked whether he, in fact, viewed the president and Reid as disagreeing:

MR. BURTON: Well, the statements are different. What the President said was that he thinks that there’s a fundamental right for individuals and groups to be treated equally. But the President, like he said on Saturday, didn’t comment specifically on whether or not he was pushing for the site to actually to be put in that spot. Senator Reid’s comment was he thinks that it shouldn’t be.

Q So it is a different statement. It’s a different statement — do they agree? Do they disagree?

MR. BURTON: I’ll leave it to the smart guys like you, Chuck, to decide whether or not that means disagreement or different statement or what’s up and what’s down. But it’s a different take on this issue.

Maybe Sarah Palin can figure this out.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a well-known and fiercely independent individual, has exercised his right – the one written into the DNA of the living document that governs us – to disagree with President Obama about the Ground Zero mosque, issuing a statement that it should be built elsewhere. Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton was asked about it this morning:

Q Can you talk about Senator Reid’s disagreeing with the President on the mosque issue? Has the President spoken to him? Did Reid’s people give you guys a heads-up about that? What was his reaction?

MR. BURTON: We did have a sense that that’s what they were going to do. But if you look at what the President said on Friday night, he respects the right of anybody — Democrat, Republican, independent — to disagree with his opinion on this. That’s one of the other fundamental rights written into the DNA of our Constitution.

Senator Reid is a fiercely independent individual; it’s one of his strengths as a leader of the Democratic Party. So the President feels completely fine that he might disagree.

But wait a minute – didn’t the president clarify his remarks, so that he took no position on the location of the mosque? Burton was asked whether he, in fact, viewed the president and Reid as disagreeing:

MR. BURTON: Well, the statements are different. What the President said was that he thinks that there’s a fundamental right for individuals and groups to be treated equally. But the President, like he said on Saturday, didn’t comment specifically on whether or not he was pushing for the site to actually to be put in that spot. Senator Reid’s comment was he thinks that it shouldn’t be.

Q So it is a different statement. It’s a different statement — do they agree? Do they disagree?

MR. BURTON: I’ll leave it to the smart guys like you, Chuck, to decide whether or not that means disagreement or different statement or what’s up and what’s down. But it’s a different take on this issue.

Maybe Sarah Palin can figure this out.

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GOP Puts Principle Ahead of Politics and Backs President

According to the New York Times,

the House of Representatives agreed on Tuesday to provide $37 billion to continue financing America’s two wars, but the vote showed deepening divisions and anxiety among Democrats over the course of the nearly nine-year-old conflict in Afghanistan. The 308-to-114 vote, with strong Republican support, came after the leak of an archive of classified battlefield reports from Afghanistan that fueled new debate over the course of the war and whether President Obama’s counterinsurgency strategy could work.

GOP support was strong indeed: 160 Republicans backed the war spending, while only 12 opposed it. By way of comparison, 148 Democrats backed the war spending, while 102 opposed it.

This is a good opportunity, then, to praise Republicans for standing with a Democratic president during a war that is increasingly unpopular.

I am reminded how, during the Bush years, the situation was very much reversed. Virtually the entire Democratic Party, with very few exceptions, turned hard against the Iraq war (which most of them initially supported). It is one of the most irresponsible and reckless displays we have seen in modern political history.

Democrats’ opposition to Bush and the surge was so intense, their commitment to a particular (defeatist) narrative so strong, and their eagerness to withdraw from Iraq so irresistible that they declared the Petraeus-led surge would not and could not work. It was simply incomprehensible to consider any other possibility.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, for example, declared that “this surge is not accomplishing anything” and in April 2007 announced flatly that the Iraq war was “lost.” A young senator from Illinois, on the night President Bush announced the surge, proclaimed, “I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq are going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse.” So said Barack Obama. Not to be outdone, Senator Joseph Biden declared: “If he surges another 20, 30 [thousand], or whatever number he’s going to, into Baghdad, it’ll be a tragic mistake.”

(I can’t help but point out that a few future Journolisters joined in the Surrender Chorus as well, with Time magazine’s Joe Klein ridiculing “Bush’s futile pipe dream” and the New Republic’s Jonathan Chait, having convinced himself that he brought some actual knowledge and expertise to the debate, said he found “something genuinely bizarre” about those Americans who actually supported the new strategy. “It is not just that they are wrong. . . . It’s that they are completely detached from reality. Their arguments have nothing to do with what is actually happening in Iraq.” The detachment from reality, of course, was found among people like Chait, whose self-declared hatred for Bush caused him to once again look foolish.)

In the case of Afghanistan, GOP and conservative opposition to Obama on domestic polices, which is fierce, has not led them to oppose Obama in his efforts to win the war. The Republican Party is, in this instance, the responsible party, standing with a wartime president in a conflict of enormous significance. With a new commanding general in place and a new counterinsurgency strategy in the very early states of implementation, now is not the time to go wobbly. To its credit, the GOP, unlike the Democratic Party with Iraq, is holding shape.

According to the New York Times,

the House of Representatives agreed on Tuesday to provide $37 billion to continue financing America’s two wars, but the vote showed deepening divisions and anxiety among Democrats over the course of the nearly nine-year-old conflict in Afghanistan. The 308-to-114 vote, with strong Republican support, came after the leak of an archive of classified battlefield reports from Afghanistan that fueled new debate over the course of the war and whether President Obama’s counterinsurgency strategy could work.

GOP support was strong indeed: 160 Republicans backed the war spending, while only 12 opposed it. By way of comparison, 148 Democrats backed the war spending, while 102 opposed it.

This is a good opportunity, then, to praise Republicans for standing with a Democratic president during a war that is increasingly unpopular.

I am reminded how, during the Bush years, the situation was very much reversed. Virtually the entire Democratic Party, with very few exceptions, turned hard against the Iraq war (which most of them initially supported). It is one of the most irresponsible and reckless displays we have seen in modern political history.

Democrats’ opposition to Bush and the surge was so intense, their commitment to a particular (defeatist) narrative so strong, and their eagerness to withdraw from Iraq so irresistible that they declared the Petraeus-led surge would not and could not work. It was simply incomprehensible to consider any other possibility.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, for example, declared that “this surge is not accomplishing anything” and in April 2007 announced flatly that the Iraq war was “lost.” A young senator from Illinois, on the night President Bush announced the surge, proclaimed, “I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq are going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse.” So said Barack Obama. Not to be outdone, Senator Joseph Biden declared: “If he surges another 20, 30 [thousand], or whatever number he’s going to, into Baghdad, it’ll be a tragic mistake.”

(I can’t help but point out that a few future Journolisters joined in the Surrender Chorus as well, with Time magazine’s Joe Klein ridiculing “Bush’s futile pipe dream” and the New Republic’s Jonathan Chait, having convinced himself that he brought some actual knowledge and expertise to the debate, said he found “something genuinely bizarre” about those Americans who actually supported the new strategy. “It is not just that they are wrong. . . . It’s that they are completely detached from reality. Their arguments have nothing to do with what is actually happening in Iraq.” The detachment from reality, of course, was found among people like Chait, whose self-declared hatred for Bush caused him to once again look foolish.)

In the case of Afghanistan, GOP and conservative opposition to Obama on domestic polices, which is fierce, has not led them to oppose Obama in his efforts to win the war. The Republican Party is, in this instance, the responsible party, standing with a wartime president in a conflict of enormous significance. With a new commanding general in place and a new counterinsurgency strategy in the very early states of implementation, now is not the time to go wobbly. To its credit, the GOP, unlike the Democratic Party with Iraq, is holding shape.

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Robert Gibbs at It Again

One way in which press secretary Robert Gibbs resembles his boss, the president, is that the weaker the case they have, the more petulant and smug they both become. We saw that behavior play out again yesterday, when Gibbs was asked about the recess appointment of Donald Berwick to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversees approximately one third of all health-care spending in the United States.

Dr. Berwick is controversial because he has spoken as a besotted lover of the British health-care system. “I am romantic about the National Health Service,” he said in 2008, referring to the British single-payer system. “I love it.” Dr. Berwick went on to call it “such a seductress” and “a global treasure.” On rationing care, Dr. Berwick said that, “The decision is not whether or not we will ration care — the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open.” He has argued that one of “the primary functions” of health regulation is “to constrain decentralized, individual decision making” and “to weigh public welfare against the choices of private consumers.” And Dr. Berwick insists that, “any health-care funding plan that is just, equitable, civilized and humane must — must — redistribute wealth from the richer among us to the poorer and less fortunate.” (For a fuller examination of Dr. Berwick’s views, see this and this.)

Now, it may be that Dr. Berwick’s views are reasonable and defensible. It may be that his quotes have been taken out of context. It may even be that Dr. Berwick is the perfect person for this job. That is what hearings are meant to determine. Yet the hearings have been bypassed.

White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer blamed Republicans. “Republicans in Congress have made it clear in recent weeks that they were going to stall the nomination as long as they could, solely to score political points,” Pfeiffer said. “But with the agency facing new responsibilities to protect seniors’ care under the Affordable Care Act, there’s no time to waste with Washington game-playing.”

Like so much of what the Obama administration says, this charge is flat out false. It is not the GOP that is playing games but rather the White House. As ABC’s Jake Tapper reported last week:

Republicans were not delaying or stalling Berwick’s nomination. Indeed, they were eager for his hearing, hoping to assail Berwick’s past statements about health-care rationing and his praise for the British health care system. … speaking not for attribution, Democratic officials say that neither Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., nor Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., the chair of the Senate Finance Committee, were eager for an ugly confirmation fight four months before the midterm elections.

Senator Chuck Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said that, “The nomination hasn’t been held up by Republicans in Congress and to say otherwise is misleading.” He said he requested that a hearing take place weeks ago, before this recess.

It’s obvious what’s going on here. The Obama administration is afraid to engage in another debate about ObamaCare, having been trounced in the past. The president’s team fears that Dr. Berwick’s comments are both too controversial and too revealing. So Obama decided to skip the nomination hearing. The administration, unable to defend its actions, offers up — in the person of Robert Gibbs — a testy and transparently silly explanation of its position. What Gibbs cannot answer is this: If Dr. Berwick is so qualified, why not have the hearing and, if Republicans in fact attempt to block his nomination, recess appoint him in August? Why not allow Dr. Berwick to explain, in a public setting, what his true views are?

Gibbs, unable to provide a reasonable response to these questions, reverts to behavior that seems to be a second nature to him: condescension, mockery, brittleness. And, of course, he must reach for the requisite straw man (in this instance, portraying his critics as involved in a conspiracy theory).

I imagine there have been more off-putting press secretaries than Mr. Gibbs. I just can’t think of who they might be.

One way in which press secretary Robert Gibbs resembles his boss, the president, is that the weaker the case they have, the more petulant and smug they both become. We saw that behavior play out again yesterday, when Gibbs was asked about the recess appointment of Donald Berwick to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversees approximately one third of all health-care spending in the United States.

Dr. Berwick is controversial because he has spoken as a besotted lover of the British health-care system. “I am romantic about the National Health Service,” he said in 2008, referring to the British single-payer system. “I love it.” Dr. Berwick went on to call it “such a seductress” and “a global treasure.” On rationing care, Dr. Berwick said that, “The decision is not whether or not we will ration care — the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open.” He has argued that one of “the primary functions” of health regulation is “to constrain decentralized, individual decision making” and “to weigh public welfare against the choices of private consumers.” And Dr. Berwick insists that, “any health-care funding plan that is just, equitable, civilized and humane must — must — redistribute wealth from the richer among us to the poorer and less fortunate.” (For a fuller examination of Dr. Berwick’s views, see this and this.)

Now, it may be that Dr. Berwick’s views are reasonable and defensible. It may be that his quotes have been taken out of context. It may even be that Dr. Berwick is the perfect person for this job. That is what hearings are meant to determine. Yet the hearings have been bypassed.

White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer blamed Republicans. “Republicans in Congress have made it clear in recent weeks that they were going to stall the nomination as long as they could, solely to score political points,” Pfeiffer said. “But with the agency facing new responsibilities to protect seniors’ care under the Affordable Care Act, there’s no time to waste with Washington game-playing.”

Like so much of what the Obama administration says, this charge is flat out false. It is not the GOP that is playing games but rather the White House. As ABC’s Jake Tapper reported last week:

Republicans were not delaying or stalling Berwick’s nomination. Indeed, they were eager for his hearing, hoping to assail Berwick’s past statements about health-care rationing and his praise for the British health care system. … speaking not for attribution, Democratic officials say that neither Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., nor Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., the chair of the Senate Finance Committee, were eager for an ugly confirmation fight four months before the midterm elections.

Senator Chuck Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said that, “The nomination hasn’t been held up by Republicans in Congress and to say otherwise is misleading.” He said he requested that a hearing take place weeks ago, before this recess.

It’s obvious what’s going on here. The Obama administration is afraid to engage in another debate about ObamaCare, having been trounced in the past. The president’s team fears that Dr. Berwick’s comments are both too controversial and too revealing. So Obama decided to skip the nomination hearing. The administration, unable to defend its actions, offers up — in the person of Robert Gibbs — a testy and transparently silly explanation of its position. What Gibbs cannot answer is this: If Dr. Berwick is so qualified, why not have the hearing and, if Republicans in fact attempt to block his nomination, recess appoint him in August? Why not allow Dr. Berwick to explain, in a public setting, what his true views are?

Gibbs, unable to provide a reasonable response to these questions, reverts to behavior that seems to be a second nature to him: condescension, mockery, brittleness. And, of course, he must reach for the requisite straw man (in this instance, portraying his critics as involved in a conspiracy theory).

I imagine there have been more off-putting press secretaries than Mr. Gibbs. I just can’t think of who they might be.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Now anti-Israel venom is even featured on sports talk. ESPN’s Kevin Blackistone (with an assist from Israel-hater Desmond Tutu) calls for a sports boycott of Israel: “In the wake of widespread international condemnation of Israel’s botched commando raid last week that killed nine people on a humanitarian aid flotilla headed to the Gaza Strip — where Palestinians live under what Nobel-prize winning South African Bishop Desmond Tutu … once said is Israel’s apartheid-like thumb — could it not be time for sport to illuminate Israel’s deadly occupation of Palestinians?” (h/t New Ledger)

Now, as Cliff May reminds us, Jew-hatred is quite fashionable elsewhere: “The fever of anti-Israelism seems to be rising too fast to be reduced by the cold compress of truth. Jew-hatred is increasingly acceptable, even fashionable, not just in the Middle East but in Europe and in some of America’s finer salons — and journals and blogs. And now, apparently, interest in a ‘final solution’ — to borrow Hitler’s apt phrase — is emerging as well. Helen Thomas’s sudden retirement is unlikely to significantly slow that trend. The quaint idea that, having learned the lessons of the Holocaust, civilized people would ‘never again’ tolerate genocide has become a cruel joke — one repeated in Cambodia, Kurdistan, Rwanda, the Balkans, Darfur, and beyond. Radical anti-Semites of the 20th century had a goal: the extermination of Europe’s Jews. Radical anti-Semites of the 21st century also have a goal: the extermination of the Middle East’s Jewish state.”

Now Obama’s ineffectiveness is so apparent that Joe Biden has become the administration’s principal spokesman.

Now the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Federalist Papers come with a warning label. A small publishing company slaps this on a volume of the documents: “This book is a product of its time and does not reflect the same values as it would if it were written today. Parents might wish to discuss with their children how views on race, gender, ethnicity, and interpersonal relations have changed since this book was written before allowing them to read this classic work.” Any such parent needs a warning label.

Now Rand Paul is annoying libertarians. But good to know he thinks “there are times when we have to go in and prevent, at times, people that are organizing to attack us.”

Now we have the quintessential un-Obama : “[Chris]Christie has already put the state on a tough new fiscal regimen and set it on course toward being solvent once again. Refusing to raise taxes, he’s challenged the entrenched, vested interests and has dared to take on the New Jersey Education Association, the state’s powerful teachers union. And now he’s out to enact a constitutional amendment creating a 2.5 percent cap on property tax increases. Through it all, he seems remarkably willing to take the flak that’s inevitably come his way. At town meetings across the state he tells crowds: ‘I think I know why you elected me. I know you didn’t elect me for my matinee idol looks or my charm. So, I’m trying to do what you elected me to do.’”

Now all those “Harry Reid bounces back” headlines will have to be rewritten: “Sharron Angle, following her come-from-behind Republican Primary win Tuesday, has bounced to an 11-point lead over Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada’s closely-watched U.S. Senate race.”

Now, if we only had a president who believed this: “It’s not just that the Israelis are being held to a different — and immeasurably higher — standard than the rest of humanity. Israel is now being judged in the absence of any objective standard whatsoever. As Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week, it seems that Israel is now ‘guilty until proven guilty.’ Sadly, it is no surprise to see angry mobs on the streets of Tehran or London calling for Jewish blood. It seems that we now must accustom ourselves to similar scenes playing out in Istanbul as well. Yet what is far more troubling is that we are now hearing these critiques being echoed right here in the United States.”

Now anti-Israel venom is even featured on sports talk. ESPN’s Kevin Blackistone (with an assist from Israel-hater Desmond Tutu) calls for a sports boycott of Israel: “In the wake of widespread international condemnation of Israel’s botched commando raid last week that killed nine people on a humanitarian aid flotilla headed to the Gaza Strip — where Palestinians live under what Nobel-prize winning South African Bishop Desmond Tutu … once said is Israel’s apartheid-like thumb — could it not be time for sport to illuminate Israel’s deadly occupation of Palestinians?” (h/t New Ledger)

Now, as Cliff May reminds us, Jew-hatred is quite fashionable elsewhere: “The fever of anti-Israelism seems to be rising too fast to be reduced by the cold compress of truth. Jew-hatred is increasingly acceptable, even fashionable, not just in the Middle East but in Europe and in some of America’s finer salons — and journals and blogs. And now, apparently, interest in a ‘final solution’ — to borrow Hitler’s apt phrase — is emerging as well. Helen Thomas’s sudden retirement is unlikely to significantly slow that trend. The quaint idea that, having learned the lessons of the Holocaust, civilized people would ‘never again’ tolerate genocide has become a cruel joke — one repeated in Cambodia, Kurdistan, Rwanda, the Balkans, Darfur, and beyond. Radical anti-Semites of the 20th century had a goal: the extermination of Europe’s Jews. Radical anti-Semites of the 21st century also have a goal: the extermination of the Middle East’s Jewish state.”

Now Obama’s ineffectiveness is so apparent that Joe Biden has become the administration’s principal spokesman.

Now the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Federalist Papers come with a warning label. A small publishing company slaps this on a volume of the documents: “This book is a product of its time and does not reflect the same values as it would if it were written today. Parents might wish to discuss with their children how views on race, gender, ethnicity, and interpersonal relations have changed since this book was written before allowing them to read this classic work.” Any such parent needs a warning label.

Now Rand Paul is annoying libertarians. But good to know he thinks “there are times when we have to go in and prevent, at times, people that are organizing to attack us.”

Now we have the quintessential un-Obama : “[Chris]Christie has already put the state on a tough new fiscal regimen and set it on course toward being solvent once again. Refusing to raise taxes, he’s challenged the entrenched, vested interests and has dared to take on the New Jersey Education Association, the state’s powerful teachers union. And now he’s out to enact a constitutional amendment creating a 2.5 percent cap on property tax increases. Through it all, he seems remarkably willing to take the flak that’s inevitably come his way. At town meetings across the state he tells crowds: ‘I think I know why you elected me. I know you didn’t elect me for my matinee idol looks or my charm. So, I’m trying to do what you elected me to do.’”

Now all those “Harry Reid bounces back” headlines will have to be rewritten: “Sharron Angle, following her come-from-behind Republican Primary win Tuesday, has bounced to an 11-point lead over Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada’s closely-watched U.S. Senate race.”

Now, if we only had a president who believed this: “It’s not just that the Israelis are being held to a different — and immeasurably higher — standard than the rest of humanity. Israel is now being judged in the absence of any objective standard whatsoever. As Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week, it seems that Israel is now ‘guilty until proven guilty.’ Sadly, it is no surprise to see angry mobs on the streets of Tehran or London calling for Jewish blood. It seems that we now must accustom ourselves to similar scenes playing out in Istanbul as well. Yet what is far more troubling is that we are now hearing these critiques being echoed right here in the United States.”

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Obama Undercuts Immigration Reform

As I’ve commented before, Obama has been, at best, a lukewarm supporter of immigration reform. Given the choice between solving a knotty, divisive issue, the resolution of which would incur the wrath of the Democratic Party’s main source of financial support (Big Labor), or simply fanning a political issue that ensnares conservatives, Obama has tended to favor the latter. Dana Milbank catches him at it again:

Air Force One was about seven miles over Appalachia this week when President Obama dropped a bomb on his party. Senate Democrats had that very day circulated an immigration reform proposal, and the Associated Press, receiving a leaked copy, reported on the “draft legislation.” But as Obama returned to Washington from Illinois Wednesday night, he walked back to the press cabin on the presidential aircraft and, in an impromptu Q&A, essentially declared immigration reform dead. He said “there may not be an appetite” for it. Obama’s retreat — after encouraging senators only weeks ago to take up immigration reform — clotheslined Senate Democrats. Since their proposal had already leaked, they had no choice but to go ahead with the rollout of the plan Obama had just doomed. “I don’t know in what context the statement was made last night,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters at Thursday night’s rollout.

Milbank observes that this has left a vacuum of leadership, thereby dooming any Democratic plan. Well, it’s not that clear any of the Democrats were all that serious or enthusiastic about pushing forward. Nevertheless, the president’s cynicism in 2010 is reminiscent of his cynicism in 2007, when he helped submarine the McCain-Kennedy bill. He is, it seems, willing to excoriate conservative opponents of immigration reform and tut-tut about the nasty tone of the immigration debate but unwilling to risk any political capital to try to pass comprehensive reform. Hispanic activists — like pro-Israel supporters — should figure out when they are being played as patsies  and learn to focus on what Obama does, rather than what he says.

As I’ve commented before, Obama has been, at best, a lukewarm supporter of immigration reform. Given the choice between solving a knotty, divisive issue, the resolution of which would incur the wrath of the Democratic Party’s main source of financial support (Big Labor), or simply fanning a political issue that ensnares conservatives, Obama has tended to favor the latter. Dana Milbank catches him at it again:

Air Force One was about seven miles over Appalachia this week when President Obama dropped a bomb on his party. Senate Democrats had that very day circulated an immigration reform proposal, and the Associated Press, receiving a leaked copy, reported on the “draft legislation.” But as Obama returned to Washington from Illinois Wednesday night, he walked back to the press cabin on the presidential aircraft and, in an impromptu Q&A, essentially declared immigration reform dead. He said “there may not be an appetite” for it. Obama’s retreat — after encouraging senators only weeks ago to take up immigration reform — clotheslined Senate Democrats. Since their proposal had already leaked, they had no choice but to go ahead with the rollout of the plan Obama had just doomed. “I don’t know in what context the statement was made last night,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters at Thursday night’s rollout.

Milbank observes that this has left a vacuum of leadership, thereby dooming any Democratic plan. Well, it’s not that clear any of the Democrats were all that serious or enthusiastic about pushing forward. Nevertheless, the president’s cynicism in 2010 is reminiscent of his cynicism in 2007, when he helped submarine the McCain-Kennedy bill. He is, it seems, willing to excoriate conservative opponents of immigration reform and tut-tut about the nasty tone of the immigration debate but unwilling to risk any political capital to try to pass comprehensive reform. Hispanic activists — like pro-Israel supporters — should figure out when they are being played as patsies  and learn to focus on what Obama does, rather than what he says.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

No Henry Waxman bullying session for the corporate execs who are legally required to write down tax losses from ObamaCare. Must not be such a winning issue after all.

No victory in sight for Arlen Specter. “Republican hopeful Pat Toomey for the first time registers 50% support in his race against incumbent Democrat Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania’s contest for the U.S. Senate. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely voters in the state shows Specter earning 40% of the vote.”

No respect for Eric Holder — even from Chuck Schumer. “Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) doesn’t believe Attorney General Eric Holder is being genuine when he says the Obama administration still is considering New York City as a site for the terror trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. ‘We know the administration is not going to hold the trial in New York. They should just say it already,’ Schumer said in a statement.” When it was Alberto Gonzales, Schumer said an attorney general who lawmakers couldn’t trust should step down. But that was totally different — Gonzales was an incompetent Republican; Holder’s a Democrat.

No way that the Democrats follow Harry Reid on this one: “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) reelection interests are putting him at odds with the centrists he has vigorously protected over the past year and a half on the issue of immigration reform. Vulnerable senators like Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) want to stay away from immigration reform during an election year, but political experts in Nevada say mobilizing Hispanic voters could be the key to a reelection victory for Reid, whose favorability rating is below 40 percent.”

No bounce for Obama: “PPP’s first national poll since the passage of the health care bill finds Barack Obama’s approval rating basically unchanged, with 46% of voters giving him good marks to 48% who disapprove. A month ago it was a 47/48 spread. This is the 4th out of 5 national surveys in 2010 that has put Obama in negative territory. The same basic dynamics in Obama’s national polling continue to be at play — Democrats pretty universally still love him (84% approval), Republicans don’t (87% disapproval), and independents are split pretty evenly. This month they go slightly against Obama by a 45/41 margin and that leads to his overall net negative standing.” And 50 percent oppose ObamaCare, while only 45 percent support it.

No good news for congressional Democrats from Sean Trende: “I think those who suggest that the House is barely in play, or that we are a long way from a 1994-style scenario are missing the mark. A 1994-style scenario is probably the most likely outcome at this point. Moreover, it is well within the realm of possibility — not merely a far-fetched scenario — that Democratic losses could climb into the 80 or 90-seat range. The Democrats are sailing into a perfect storm of factors influencing a midterm election, and if the situation declines for them in the ensuing months, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Democratic losses eclipse 100 seats.”

No help from the Chinese on isolating Iran: “A state-owned Chinese refiner plans to ship 30,000 metric tons of gasoline to Iran after European traders halted shipments ahead of possible new UN sanctions, according to Singapore ship brokers.”

No support for Israel-bashing: “In an open letter to President Obama, the president of the World Jewish Congress expressed concern over the deterioration in relations between Israel and the United States. Ronald Lauder called on Obama to ‘end our public feud with Israel and to confront the real challenges that we face together,’ most importantly the Iranian nuclear threat. … ‘Why does the thrust of this Administration’s Middle East rhetoric seem to blame Israel for the lack of movement on peace talks? After all, it is the Palestinians, not Israel, who refuse to negotiate. … The Administration’s desire to improve relations with the Muslim world is well known. But is friction with Israel part of this new strategy? Is it assumed worsening relations with Israel can improve relations with Muslims? History is clear on the matter: appeasement does not work. It can achieve the opposite of what is intended.”

No Henry Waxman bullying session for the corporate execs who are legally required to write down tax losses from ObamaCare. Must not be such a winning issue after all.

No victory in sight for Arlen Specter. “Republican hopeful Pat Toomey for the first time registers 50% support in his race against incumbent Democrat Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania’s contest for the U.S. Senate. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely voters in the state shows Specter earning 40% of the vote.”

No respect for Eric Holder — even from Chuck Schumer. “Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) doesn’t believe Attorney General Eric Holder is being genuine when he says the Obama administration still is considering New York City as a site for the terror trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. ‘We know the administration is not going to hold the trial in New York. They should just say it already,’ Schumer said in a statement.” When it was Alberto Gonzales, Schumer said an attorney general who lawmakers couldn’t trust should step down. But that was totally different — Gonzales was an incompetent Republican; Holder’s a Democrat.

No way that the Democrats follow Harry Reid on this one: “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) reelection interests are putting him at odds with the centrists he has vigorously protected over the past year and a half on the issue of immigration reform. Vulnerable senators like Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) want to stay away from immigration reform during an election year, but political experts in Nevada say mobilizing Hispanic voters could be the key to a reelection victory for Reid, whose favorability rating is below 40 percent.”

No bounce for Obama: “PPP’s first national poll since the passage of the health care bill finds Barack Obama’s approval rating basically unchanged, with 46% of voters giving him good marks to 48% who disapprove. A month ago it was a 47/48 spread. This is the 4th out of 5 national surveys in 2010 that has put Obama in negative territory. The same basic dynamics in Obama’s national polling continue to be at play — Democrats pretty universally still love him (84% approval), Republicans don’t (87% disapproval), and independents are split pretty evenly. This month they go slightly against Obama by a 45/41 margin and that leads to his overall net negative standing.” And 50 percent oppose ObamaCare, while only 45 percent support it.

No good news for congressional Democrats from Sean Trende: “I think those who suggest that the House is barely in play, or that we are a long way from a 1994-style scenario are missing the mark. A 1994-style scenario is probably the most likely outcome at this point. Moreover, it is well within the realm of possibility — not merely a far-fetched scenario — that Democratic losses could climb into the 80 or 90-seat range. The Democrats are sailing into a perfect storm of factors influencing a midterm election, and if the situation declines for them in the ensuing months, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Democratic losses eclipse 100 seats.”

No help from the Chinese on isolating Iran: “A state-owned Chinese refiner plans to ship 30,000 metric tons of gasoline to Iran after European traders halted shipments ahead of possible new UN sanctions, according to Singapore ship brokers.”

No support for Israel-bashing: “In an open letter to President Obama, the president of the World Jewish Congress expressed concern over the deterioration in relations between Israel and the United States. Ronald Lauder called on Obama to ‘end our public feud with Israel and to confront the real challenges that we face together,’ most importantly the Iranian nuclear threat. … ‘Why does the thrust of this Administration’s Middle East rhetoric seem to blame Israel for the lack of movement on peace talks? After all, it is the Palestinians, not Israel, who refuse to negotiate. … The Administration’s desire to improve relations with the Muslim world is well known. But is friction with Israel part of this new strategy? Is it assumed worsening relations with Israel can improve relations with Muslims? History is clear on the matter: appeasement does not work. It can achieve the opposite of what is intended.”

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Flotsam and Jetsam

A rapper and his entourage in the Situation Room? “Were Jay & Bey & Co. issued the relevant security clearances? Do we even care anymore?” Well, in any case, “Is an amazingly successful businessman-slash-rapper who rose from the mean streets of Brooklyn to world-wide fame and fortune less qualified to deal with the vicissitudes, the obstacles, the demands, the crises of foreign policy and national security than Mr. Obama’s little coterie of Chicago-pol friends who’ve been running it so surpassingly excellently thus far?”

Another retirement, another Democratic seat becomes a toss-up. According to the Cook Political Report: “[Rep. Bill] Delahunt’s decision to leave doesn’t make this district a lost cause for Democrats by any means, but credible Republicans including former state Treasurer Joe Malone and state Rep. Jeffrey Perry are likely to run, and no Democrat appears capable of clearing a primary field. In a normal year, Democrats would enjoy a considerable advantage in an open seat race in MA-10. But this year, Democrats’ initial advantage isn’t great enough to warrant rating this race more favorably than a Toss Up.”

This might explain why all those voters are so angry: “President Obama’s policies would add more than $9.7 trillion to the national debt over the next decade, congressional budget analysts said Friday, including more than $2 trillion that Obama proposes to devote to extending a variety of tax cuts enacted during the Bush administration. The 10-year outlook by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is somewhat gloomier than White House projections, which found that Obama’s policies would add $8.5 trillion to the debt by 2020. While the two agencies are in relative agreement about the short-term budget picture, with both predicting a deficit of about $1.5 trillion this year and $1.3 trillion in 2011, the CBO is less optimistic about future years, predicting that deficits will grow rapidly after 2015.”

And why they don’t like ObamaCare, as James Capretta explains: “The president started off last year by saying he wanted to ‘bend the cost-curve’ even as he broadened coverage. But after a year of partisan political and legislative maneuvering, all that’s left is a massive entitlement expansion. The new costs would get piled on top of the unreformed and unaffordable entitlements already on the books. It’s a budgetary disaster in the making.”

How many times has “shpilkes” been used in a mainstream-media headline? (How many ABC.com readers even know what it means?)

Even before Harry Reid’s latest boneheaded remark: “Two of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s Republican challengers have again crossed the 50% threshold and now hold double-digit leads in Nevada’s U.S. Senate race. One big hurdle for the incumbent is that most Nevada voters are strongly opposed to the health care legislation championed by Reid and President Barack Obama. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely voters in the state finds Sue Lowden, ex-chairman of the Nevada Republican Party, with a 51% to 38% lead on Reid. Seven percent (7%) prefer some other candidate, but just three percent (3%) are undecided.”

From the “2006 All Over Again” file: “Eager to avoid a repeat of the Mark Foley scandal, House Democratic leaders moved quickly last month when a staffer for Rep. Eric Massa complained that he’d made advances to a junior male aide. But rumors about Massa had been circulating for months in both Democratic and Republican circles on Capitol Hill, and GOP operatives even considered digging into them on their own. However, sources say there wasn’t evidence of any wrongdoing until Massa’s then-legislative director contacted the office of House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) in early February. … But a Massa aide told POLITICO that Massa — who is married and has children — has been engaged in inappropriate behavior ‘for eight months.’”

And Massa will resign Monday.

John McCain is trying to get the Gang of 14 back to beat reconciliation. No takers. And reconciliation is sort of irrelevant. But other than that, a great idea.

A rapper and his entourage in the Situation Room? “Were Jay & Bey & Co. issued the relevant security clearances? Do we even care anymore?” Well, in any case, “Is an amazingly successful businessman-slash-rapper who rose from the mean streets of Brooklyn to world-wide fame and fortune less qualified to deal with the vicissitudes, the obstacles, the demands, the crises of foreign policy and national security than Mr. Obama’s little coterie of Chicago-pol friends who’ve been running it so surpassingly excellently thus far?”

Another retirement, another Democratic seat becomes a toss-up. According to the Cook Political Report: “[Rep. Bill] Delahunt’s decision to leave doesn’t make this district a lost cause for Democrats by any means, but credible Republicans including former state Treasurer Joe Malone and state Rep. Jeffrey Perry are likely to run, and no Democrat appears capable of clearing a primary field. In a normal year, Democrats would enjoy a considerable advantage in an open seat race in MA-10. But this year, Democrats’ initial advantage isn’t great enough to warrant rating this race more favorably than a Toss Up.”

This might explain why all those voters are so angry: “President Obama’s policies would add more than $9.7 trillion to the national debt over the next decade, congressional budget analysts said Friday, including more than $2 trillion that Obama proposes to devote to extending a variety of tax cuts enacted during the Bush administration. The 10-year outlook by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is somewhat gloomier than White House projections, which found that Obama’s policies would add $8.5 trillion to the debt by 2020. While the two agencies are in relative agreement about the short-term budget picture, with both predicting a deficit of about $1.5 trillion this year and $1.3 trillion in 2011, the CBO is less optimistic about future years, predicting that deficits will grow rapidly after 2015.”

And why they don’t like ObamaCare, as James Capretta explains: “The president started off last year by saying he wanted to ‘bend the cost-curve’ even as he broadened coverage. But after a year of partisan political and legislative maneuvering, all that’s left is a massive entitlement expansion. The new costs would get piled on top of the unreformed and unaffordable entitlements already on the books. It’s a budgetary disaster in the making.”

How many times has “shpilkes” been used in a mainstream-media headline? (How many ABC.com readers even know what it means?)

Even before Harry Reid’s latest boneheaded remark: “Two of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s Republican challengers have again crossed the 50% threshold and now hold double-digit leads in Nevada’s U.S. Senate race. One big hurdle for the incumbent is that most Nevada voters are strongly opposed to the health care legislation championed by Reid and President Barack Obama. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely voters in the state finds Sue Lowden, ex-chairman of the Nevada Republican Party, with a 51% to 38% lead on Reid. Seven percent (7%) prefer some other candidate, but just three percent (3%) are undecided.”

From the “2006 All Over Again” file: “Eager to avoid a repeat of the Mark Foley scandal, House Democratic leaders moved quickly last month when a staffer for Rep. Eric Massa complained that he’d made advances to a junior male aide. But rumors about Massa had been circulating for months in both Democratic and Republican circles on Capitol Hill, and GOP operatives even considered digging into them on their own. However, sources say there wasn’t evidence of any wrongdoing until Massa’s then-legislative director contacted the office of House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) in early February. … But a Massa aide told POLITICO that Massa — who is married and has children — has been engaged in inappropriate behavior ‘for eight months.’”

And Massa will resign Monday.

John McCain is trying to get the Gang of 14 back to beat reconciliation. No takers. And reconciliation is sort of irrelevant. But other than that, a great idea.

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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.

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Re: That Explains It

Sen Harry Reid blew up the bipartisan jobs bill. In its place he offered a slimmed down $15B bill. One hitch: he doesn’t have the votes to pass it. The Hill reports:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) lacks the votes to begin debating his targeted job bills, according to sources monitoring the legislation.

Reid needs 60 votes to open debate on the $15 billion jobs bill up. The vote is scheduled for Monday, when lawmakers return from the Presidents’ Day recess.

“I understand Reid does not have the votes for cloture on Monday on his jobs bill,” one source said.

Oopsy. It seems as though Reid didn’t think even one move ahead when he substituted his jobs proposal. Now his chief blame passer, Jim Manley, says it is all in the Republicans’ hands. Hmm. There seemed to have been one deal there which did enjoy Republican support — so how is it now the GOP’s fault if Reid has no passable piece of legislation? Bemoaning the loss of a bio-diesel tax credit that was included in the bipartisan package, Sen. Chuck Grassley let Reid have it, declaring that “the industry is hemorrhaging jobs and we can do something to stop it . .  . Yet Senator Reid decided that it was more important to play political games than actually saving and creating jobs in the private sector.”

There is a comic quality to all of this. But the ramifications are very serious and real for the Democrats. Perhaps the White House could actually draft and send up its own bill, showing that it can lead rather than simply decry the partisan deadlock. But that’s really not their thing, is it? They are too busy puffing up the fake jobs numbers from the disastrous original Obama stimulus bill. Well, if the stimulus had done what the Obami had promised it would, perhaps a Son of Stimulus would not be required. It seems as though in this administration spinning past failures fills the time, while Democratic leaders are not making progress on the issues that trouble most Americans. You think the voters will notice? So far, only 6 percent of Americans think the first stimulus worked. Maybe the White House’s time would be better spent helping Harry Reid do his job.

Sen Harry Reid blew up the bipartisan jobs bill. In its place he offered a slimmed down $15B bill. One hitch: he doesn’t have the votes to pass it. The Hill reports:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) lacks the votes to begin debating his targeted job bills, according to sources monitoring the legislation.

Reid needs 60 votes to open debate on the $15 billion jobs bill up. The vote is scheduled for Monday, when lawmakers return from the Presidents’ Day recess.

“I understand Reid does not have the votes for cloture on Monday on his jobs bill,” one source said.

Oopsy. It seems as though Reid didn’t think even one move ahead when he substituted his jobs proposal. Now his chief blame passer, Jim Manley, says it is all in the Republicans’ hands. Hmm. There seemed to have been one deal there which did enjoy Republican support — so how is it now the GOP’s fault if Reid has no passable piece of legislation? Bemoaning the loss of a bio-diesel tax credit that was included in the bipartisan package, Sen. Chuck Grassley let Reid have it, declaring that “the industry is hemorrhaging jobs and we can do something to stop it . .  . Yet Senator Reid decided that it was more important to play political games than actually saving and creating jobs in the private sector.”

There is a comic quality to all of this. But the ramifications are very serious and real for the Democrats. Perhaps the White House could actually draft and send up its own bill, showing that it can lead rather than simply decry the partisan deadlock. But that’s really not their thing, is it? They are too busy puffing up the fake jobs numbers from the disastrous original Obama stimulus bill. Well, if the stimulus had done what the Obami had promised it would, perhaps a Son of Stimulus would not be required. It seems as though in this administration spinning past failures fills the time, while Democratic leaders are not making progress on the issues that trouble most Americans. You think the voters will notice? So far, only 6 percent of Americans think the first stimulus worked. Maybe the White House’s time would be better spent helping Harry Reid do his job.

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Obama’s Own Begin to Turn on Him

When a presidency and an agenda are collapsing at the rate that President Obama’s are, it isn’t long before his party begins to distance itself from him. We’ve seen plenty of signs of this lately. Politico.com has a story today titled “Family feud: Nancy Pelosi at odds with President Obama.” According to the story:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s increasingly public disagreements with President Barack Obama are a reflection of something deeper: the seething resentment some Democrats feel over what they see as cavalier treatment from a wounded White House.

Then there are the comments by Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, who said, “He [Obama] says ‘I’m for clean coal,’ and then he says it in his speeches, but he doesn’t say it in here. And he doesn’t say it in the minds of my own people. And he’s beginning to not be believable to me.”

Much of what President Obama has said hasn’t been believable to many of us for quite some time now. But when influential figures in a president’s own party begin to make statements such as these — especially when you’re only 13 months into a presidency — it’s clear that things are beginning to become a bit unglued. Party discipline is tossed aside; the intra-party sniping makes the situation even worse. And the vicious cycle Democrats are caught in merely accelerates.

It has dawned on many Democrats that in hitching their fortunes to Obama and Obamaism, they have put themselves at enormous political risk. They are all complicit in this; Obama himself outsourced much of his agenda to Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The entire Democratic establishment is the architect of what is shaping up as an epic political failure. But Mr. Obama is head of the Democratic party, and so the responsibility lies with him more than with anyone else. He is primus inter pares. And he is now, with every passing week, the target of their unhappiness. More is sure to follow.

This isn’t going to end well for them.

When a presidency and an agenda are collapsing at the rate that President Obama’s are, it isn’t long before his party begins to distance itself from him. We’ve seen plenty of signs of this lately. Politico.com has a story today titled “Family feud: Nancy Pelosi at odds with President Obama.” According to the story:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s increasingly public disagreements with President Barack Obama are a reflection of something deeper: the seething resentment some Democrats feel over what they see as cavalier treatment from a wounded White House.

Then there are the comments by Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, who said, “He [Obama] says ‘I’m for clean coal,’ and then he says it in his speeches, but he doesn’t say it in here. And he doesn’t say it in the minds of my own people. And he’s beginning to not be believable to me.”

Much of what President Obama has said hasn’t been believable to many of us for quite some time now. But when influential figures in a president’s own party begin to make statements such as these — especially when you’re only 13 months into a presidency — it’s clear that things are beginning to become a bit unglued. Party discipline is tossed aside; the intra-party sniping makes the situation even worse. And the vicious cycle Democrats are caught in merely accelerates.

It has dawned on many Democrats that in hitching their fortunes to Obama and Obamaism, they have put themselves at enormous political risk. They are all complicit in this; Obama himself outsourced much of his agenda to Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The entire Democratic establishment is the architect of what is shaping up as an epic political failure. But Mr. Obama is head of the Democratic party, and so the responsibility lies with him more than with anyone else. He is primus inter pares. And he is now, with every passing week, the target of their unhappiness. More is sure to follow.

This isn’t going to end well for them.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Clark Hoyt’s “attempt to placate the barking cadre of anti-Israel watchdogs” by suggesting that the Gray Lady’s Jerusalem bureau chief be sacked because his son is in the Israeli army comes to naught. Executive editor Bill Keller — yes, a broken clock is right twice a day — says Ethan Bronner can stay put.

Jay Nordlinger reminds us that Sarah Palin is one of the few politicians to say she “loves” Israel.

Sounds like a joke: the Obami’s terrorism policies are so untenable, even MSNBC reporters don’t buy the White House spin any more. But it’s true.

Steven Calabresi is fed up with the excuse-mongering: “The Obama Administration’s claims that ‘Bush did it too’ sound pathetic coming from a President who won election by promising to be an agent of change and hope who would alter our politics and the way things are done in Washington. … Is Miranda any less stupid because prior presidents have implemented it rather than pushing the Supreme Court to scrap the decision? The claim that ‘Bush did it too’ sounds uncomfortably like the arguments I get from my grade school children when I correct them for having done something wrong.”

And speaking of change, Bill Kristol writes: “Perhaps embracing the concept of  ‘regime change’ spooks the Obama administration. It’s awfully reminiscent of George W. Bush. But one great failure of the Bush administration was its second-term fecklessness with respect to Iran. Bush kicked the Iran can down the road. Does Obama want an achievement that eluded Bush? Regime change in Iran — that would be an Obama administration achievement that Joe Biden, and the rest of us, could really celebrate.”

Andy McCarthy explains why the Richard Reid case is a poor example for the Obami to cite in justifying its criminal-justice approach to terrorism. “When Reid tried to blow up his airliner, 9/11 had just happened. We had not spent eight years grappling with the question of how international terrorists who carry out attacks in the United States should be dealt with. It is important to remember that there was no military-commission system in place when Reid was captured. President Bush had issued the executive order authorizing the Defense Department to set up the system, but that had not been done yet. It wasn’t ready until March 2002.”

What a difference a year makes: “After miserable House elections in ’06 and ’08 saw the GOP virtually disappear in the northeast, it was hard not to write the party’s obituary in the region. No GOPers were left standing in New England, and just 3 remained in the 29-member NY delegation. It only worsened in ’09, when the GOP failed to hold a rural sprawling CD in upstate NY, dropping its representation in the state to just 2 members. But evidence suggests that the ’10 wave that’s building for the GOP could even manage to reach the untouchable Northeast.” Democrats Tim Bishop in Suffolk County and  Bill Delahunt in Massachusetts look especially vulnerable.

More than 50 percent of independents disapprove of Obama’s performance.

What would Republicans do without opponents like this? “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is rewriting a jobs bill after Democrats complained of too many concessions to Republicans. Reid announced Thursday that he would cut back on the jobs bill Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) introduced only hours earlier, essentially overruling the powerful chairman.”

Maybe outsiders did bump off an Iranian nuclear scientist.

Clark Hoyt’s “attempt to placate the barking cadre of anti-Israel watchdogs” by suggesting that the Gray Lady’s Jerusalem bureau chief be sacked because his son is in the Israeli army comes to naught. Executive editor Bill Keller — yes, a broken clock is right twice a day — says Ethan Bronner can stay put.

Jay Nordlinger reminds us that Sarah Palin is one of the few politicians to say she “loves” Israel.

Sounds like a joke: the Obami’s terrorism policies are so untenable, even MSNBC reporters don’t buy the White House spin any more. But it’s true.

Steven Calabresi is fed up with the excuse-mongering: “The Obama Administration’s claims that ‘Bush did it too’ sound pathetic coming from a President who won election by promising to be an agent of change and hope who would alter our politics and the way things are done in Washington. … Is Miranda any less stupid because prior presidents have implemented it rather than pushing the Supreme Court to scrap the decision? The claim that ‘Bush did it too’ sounds uncomfortably like the arguments I get from my grade school children when I correct them for having done something wrong.”

And speaking of change, Bill Kristol writes: “Perhaps embracing the concept of  ‘regime change’ spooks the Obama administration. It’s awfully reminiscent of George W. Bush. But one great failure of the Bush administration was its second-term fecklessness with respect to Iran. Bush kicked the Iran can down the road. Does Obama want an achievement that eluded Bush? Regime change in Iran — that would be an Obama administration achievement that Joe Biden, and the rest of us, could really celebrate.”

Andy McCarthy explains why the Richard Reid case is a poor example for the Obami to cite in justifying its criminal-justice approach to terrorism. “When Reid tried to blow up his airliner, 9/11 had just happened. We had not spent eight years grappling with the question of how international terrorists who carry out attacks in the United States should be dealt with. It is important to remember that there was no military-commission system in place when Reid was captured. President Bush had issued the executive order authorizing the Defense Department to set up the system, but that had not been done yet. It wasn’t ready until March 2002.”

What a difference a year makes: “After miserable House elections in ’06 and ’08 saw the GOP virtually disappear in the northeast, it was hard not to write the party’s obituary in the region. No GOPers were left standing in New England, and just 3 remained in the 29-member NY delegation. It only worsened in ’09, when the GOP failed to hold a rural sprawling CD in upstate NY, dropping its representation in the state to just 2 members. But evidence suggests that the ’10 wave that’s building for the GOP could even manage to reach the untouchable Northeast.” Democrats Tim Bishop in Suffolk County and  Bill Delahunt in Massachusetts look especially vulnerable.

More than 50 percent of independents disapprove of Obama’s performance.

What would Republicans do without opponents like this? “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is rewriting a jobs bill after Democrats complained of too many concessions to Republicans. Reid announced Thursday that he would cut back on the jobs bill Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) introduced only hours earlier, essentially overruling the powerful chairman.”

Maybe outsiders did bump off an Iranian nuclear scientist.

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They Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet

If you wanted a sound bite that embodied much of what is wrong with contemporary liberalism, you could do worse than listen to the words of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on health care:

We’ll go through the gate. If the gate’s closed, we’ll go over the fence. If the fence is too high, we’ll pole vault in. If that doesn’t work, we’ll parachute in but we’re going to get health-care reform passed for the America people.

Set aside the fact that Ms. Pelosi sounds like Tareq and Michaele Salahi trying to crash a White House State dinner. She seems to view herself as part of the guardian class, as one of our philosopher kings who knows better than the great, unwashed masses what is good for them. It is of a piece with the collectivist mindset, one that believes that it is with the ruling class that wisdom resides. They know best – and they will give you not what you may want but what they believe you need.

This view is exceedingly arrogant and, if it is indulged in often enough, it becomes, in some sense, anti-democratic.

There is a long history in America to dictate the proper role of its legislators. Some argue they ought to mirror public opinion all the time; others argue that we elect people to political posts based on our confidence in their judgment. They therefore have a relatively free hand to pursue the agenda they deem appropriate. But even those who subscribe to the views of the second group understand that in the end, ours is a representative form of government. The will of the people matters. We are, after all, a government “of the people, by the people, for the people.”

The public has seen how Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Reid, and President Obama want to jam health-care legislation down its throat despite its obvious wishes. The public has ways of fighting back against such things. They are known as elections. Three of them have happened recently, in New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts. The Democrats have lost each one – and in the process they have lost independent voters by a margin of at least two-to-one. In each of those elections, local issues obviously played an important role in the outcome of the races. But framing each of these elections was the sense that the federal government has become too large, too intrusive, too expensive, and too incompetent. It has not earned the right to run one-sixth of the American economy.

What President Obama has succeeded in doing is to boil down politics to a fairly basic and elementary level, including the role of the state in the lives of its citizenry. Ms. Pelosi and Messrs. Reid and Obama are advocates of what Margaret Thatcher called a “nanny state” – the state that takes too much from you in order to do too much for you. Those who believe the American people are prepared to embrace such a thing are badly misguided. Democrats are learning that lesson the hard way. And with the mid-term elections approaching, they should keep in mind the words of Bachman Turner Overdrive: They ain’t seen nothing yet.

If you wanted a sound bite that embodied much of what is wrong with contemporary liberalism, you could do worse than listen to the words of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on health care:

We’ll go through the gate. If the gate’s closed, we’ll go over the fence. If the fence is too high, we’ll pole vault in. If that doesn’t work, we’ll parachute in but we’re going to get health-care reform passed for the America people.

Set aside the fact that Ms. Pelosi sounds like Tareq and Michaele Salahi trying to crash a White House State dinner. She seems to view herself as part of the guardian class, as one of our philosopher kings who knows better than the great, unwashed masses what is good for them. It is of a piece with the collectivist mindset, one that believes that it is with the ruling class that wisdom resides. They know best – and they will give you not what you may want but what they believe you need.

This view is exceedingly arrogant and, if it is indulged in often enough, it becomes, in some sense, anti-democratic.

There is a long history in America to dictate the proper role of its legislators. Some argue they ought to mirror public opinion all the time; others argue that we elect people to political posts based on our confidence in their judgment. They therefore have a relatively free hand to pursue the agenda they deem appropriate. But even those who subscribe to the views of the second group understand that in the end, ours is a representative form of government. The will of the people matters. We are, after all, a government “of the people, by the people, for the people.”

The public has seen how Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Reid, and President Obama want to jam health-care legislation down its throat despite its obvious wishes. The public has ways of fighting back against such things. They are known as elections. Three of them have happened recently, in New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts. The Democrats have lost each one – and in the process they have lost independent voters by a margin of at least two-to-one. In each of those elections, local issues obviously played an important role in the outcome of the races. But framing each of these elections was the sense that the federal government has become too large, too intrusive, too expensive, and too incompetent. It has not earned the right to run one-sixth of the American economy.

What President Obama has succeeded in doing is to boil down politics to a fairly basic and elementary level, including the role of the state in the lives of its citizenry. Ms. Pelosi and Messrs. Reid and Obama are advocates of what Margaret Thatcher called a “nanny state” – the state that takes too much from you in order to do too much for you. Those who believe the American people are prepared to embrace such a thing are badly misguided. Democrats are learning that lesson the hard way. And with the mid-term elections approaching, they should keep in mind the words of Bachman Turner Overdrive: They ain’t seen nothing yet.

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Why Does Obama Get to Absolve Reid?

Harry Reid’s egregiously inappropriate comment from the  2008 campaign that Obama is “a  light-skinned” African-American who “lacked a Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one” is causing quite a stir. But let’s be clear: had any Republican said it, he or she would be chased from office by Monday. But Harry Reid is no Trent Lott and the standards are different for Democrats. (John McCormack points out that even Obama had a different standard in 2002.) In this case, Obama is trying to snuff out the controversy, declaring:

Harry Reid called me today and apologized for an unfortunate comment reported today. I accepted Harry’s apology without question because I’ve known him for years, I’ve seen the passionate leadership he’s shown on issues of social justice and I know what’s in his heart. As far as I am concerned, the book is closed.

Why does Obama decide when the “book is closed”? This was not a personal insult limited to Obama only. Reid’s comment was a peek into the views, prejudices, and attitudes of the Senate Majority leader. Reid is engaging in what’s textbook-definition of racism: evaluating someone on the basis of skin color. It isn’t up to Obama to wipe the slate clean. He is, after all, only the president, not the supreme court of racial justice. He might be the nation’s most prominent African American but he is not the spokesperson of an entire race, nor the nation’s designated spokesperson on racial matters.

When Obama tried be the nation’s official race policeman in Gatesgate, he got himself in a heap of trouble – jumping to conclusions without facts and seeming to condescend his fellow citizens. The country cringed, wondering why the president presumed to lecture us on race. In the case of Reid, Obama has every right to accept the apology himself. He isn’t, however, authorized to give Reid a get-out-of-hot-water card. That judgment — whether Reid, for expressing views most Americans find abhorrent, should suffer political consequences — belongs to voters and to his fellow senators. Reid might well get away with it, given the double standard on race for politicians of the two major parties. (Or it might be a handy excuse to show Reid the door.) But it’s not Obama’s call.

Harry Reid’s egregiously inappropriate comment from the  2008 campaign that Obama is “a  light-skinned” African-American who “lacked a Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one” is causing quite a stir. But let’s be clear: had any Republican said it, he or she would be chased from office by Monday. But Harry Reid is no Trent Lott and the standards are different for Democrats. (John McCormack points out that even Obama had a different standard in 2002.) In this case, Obama is trying to snuff out the controversy, declaring:

Harry Reid called me today and apologized for an unfortunate comment reported today. I accepted Harry’s apology without question because I’ve known him for years, I’ve seen the passionate leadership he’s shown on issues of social justice and I know what’s in his heart. As far as I am concerned, the book is closed.

Why does Obama decide when the “book is closed”? This was not a personal insult limited to Obama only. Reid’s comment was a peek into the views, prejudices, and attitudes of the Senate Majority leader. Reid is engaging in what’s textbook-definition of racism: evaluating someone on the basis of skin color. It isn’t up to Obama to wipe the slate clean. He is, after all, only the president, not the supreme court of racial justice. He might be the nation’s most prominent African American but he is not the spokesperson of an entire race, nor the nation’s designated spokesperson on racial matters.

When Obama tried be the nation’s official race policeman in Gatesgate, he got himself in a heap of trouble – jumping to conclusions without facts and seeming to condescend his fellow citizens. The country cringed, wondering why the president presumed to lecture us on race. In the case of Reid, Obama has every right to accept the apology himself. He isn’t, however, authorized to give Reid a get-out-of-hot-water card. That judgment — whether Reid, for expressing views most Americans find abhorrent, should suffer political consequences — belongs to voters and to his fellow senators. Reid might well get away with it, given the double standard on race for politicians of the two major parties. (Or it might be a handy excuse to show Reid the door.) But it’s not Obama’s call.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Time to see if the Senate Cash for Cloture deal can survive scrutiny (legal and otherwise): “Republican attorneys general in 13 states say congressional leaders must remove Nebraska’s political deal from the federal health care reform bill or face legal action, according to a letter provided to The Associated Press Wednesday. ‘We believe this provision is constitutionally flawed,’ South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster and the 12 other attorneys general wrote in the letter to be sent Wednesday night to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.”

The Obami don’t like “Islamic terrorism” or “war on terror” but they are a never-ending font of bureaucratic gibberish: “‘Pulsing it.’ ‘Pulsing the system.’ That’s the language used Tuesday by a senior Obama White House administration official to describe how the administration is scrambling to find out about the intelligence failures that led to a Nigerian suspected terrorist boarding Detroit bound Northwest Flight 253 with explosives in his underwear on Christmas Day.” Yeah, I don’t feel comforted by this either.

Sounds good in theory: “President Barack Obama on Tuesday ordered the federal government to rethink how it protects the nation’s secrets, in a move that was expected to declassify more than 400 million pages of Cold War-era documents and curb the number of government records hidden from the public.” But then why hasn’t the administration released all the Bush-era interrogation documents requested by Dick Cheney, the information on the dismissal of the New Black Panther Party voter case, and the data Congress has requested about the domestic-terror attacks on the Obami’s watch?

More people than ever hate ObamaCare — 58 percent, a new high in the Rasmussen poll, oppose it.

Because we haven’t had enough government bailouts? “The federal government said Wednesday it will take a majority ownership stake in the troubled auto lender GMAC, providing another $3.8 billion in aid to the company, which has been unable to raise from private investors the money it needs to stanch its losses. The new aid package for GMAC, coming as most large banks are repaying the government, underscores both the problems afflicting the company and its importance to the Obama administration’s efforts to revive the auto industry.” Hmm, sounds like we’re never getting our money back.

What’s wrong with a criminal-justice approach to terrorism? “By whatever name, designating Mutallab as an enemy of the United States would have provided interrogators much greater flexibility in questioning him and given him no legal right to resist. The decision to charge Mutallab as a criminal, rather than designate him as an enemy combatant, was a momentous one that in all likelihood guarantees we will gain less intelligence about how the attack was planned, who planned it, and whether others are on the way.”

They have a point: “Members of the Allied Pilots Association, the pilots’ union at American Airlines, said Wednesday that the U.S. Transportation Security Administration didn’t do enough to warn in-air flight crews of the Christmas Day terrorist threat on a Northwest Airlines flight.” But then no one was warned, so it’s not like they were treated any differently than anyone else.

Despite the White House’s best efforts, Fox News doesn’t look as though it is going away any time soon.

Time to see if the Senate Cash for Cloture deal can survive scrutiny (legal and otherwise): “Republican attorneys general in 13 states say congressional leaders must remove Nebraska’s political deal from the federal health care reform bill or face legal action, according to a letter provided to The Associated Press Wednesday. ‘We believe this provision is constitutionally flawed,’ South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster and the 12 other attorneys general wrote in the letter to be sent Wednesday night to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.”

The Obami don’t like “Islamic terrorism” or “war on terror” but they are a never-ending font of bureaucratic gibberish: “‘Pulsing it.’ ‘Pulsing the system.’ That’s the language used Tuesday by a senior Obama White House administration official to describe how the administration is scrambling to find out about the intelligence failures that led to a Nigerian suspected terrorist boarding Detroit bound Northwest Flight 253 with explosives in his underwear on Christmas Day.” Yeah, I don’t feel comforted by this either.

Sounds good in theory: “President Barack Obama on Tuesday ordered the federal government to rethink how it protects the nation’s secrets, in a move that was expected to declassify more than 400 million pages of Cold War-era documents and curb the number of government records hidden from the public.” But then why hasn’t the administration released all the Bush-era interrogation documents requested by Dick Cheney, the information on the dismissal of the New Black Panther Party voter case, and the data Congress has requested about the domestic-terror attacks on the Obami’s watch?

More people than ever hate ObamaCare — 58 percent, a new high in the Rasmussen poll, oppose it.

Because we haven’t had enough government bailouts? “The federal government said Wednesday it will take a majority ownership stake in the troubled auto lender GMAC, providing another $3.8 billion in aid to the company, which has been unable to raise from private investors the money it needs to stanch its losses. The new aid package for GMAC, coming as most large banks are repaying the government, underscores both the problems afflicting the company and its importance to the Obama administration’s efforts to revive the auto industry.” Hmm, sounds like we’re never getting our money back.

What’s wrong with a criminal-justice approach to terrorism? “By whatever name, designating Mutallab as an enemy of the United States would have provided interrogators much greater flexibility in questioning him and given him no legal right to resist. The decision to charge Mutallab as a criminal, rather than designate him as an enemy combatant, was a momentous one that in all likelihood guarantees we will gain less intelligence about how the attack was planned, who planned it, and whether others are on the way.”

They have a point: “Members of the Allied Pilots Association, the pilots’ union at American Airlines, said Wednesday that the U.S. Transportation Security Administration didn’t do enough to warn in-air flight crews of the Christmas Day terrorist threat on a Northwest Airlines flight.” But then no one was warned, so it’s not like they were treated any differently than anyone else.

Despite the White House’s best efforts, Fox News doesn’t look as though it is going away any time soon.

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