This segment on ECI’s opening ad and the backlash against Obama’s Israel policy from Morning Joe should be mandatory viewing:
The domestic impact of Obama’s Israel policy and the potential influence of a group like ECI comes through clearly in that segment. First is the (unintended) comic reaction of Terry McAuliffe — “Out of bounds!” But isn’t it policy, isn’t the ad just quoting Joe Sestak’s own words? Er… um … You see the problem: Democrats are none too pleased that Obama’s Israel policy will have real consequences domestically. It wasn’t supposed to work this way, according to the Obami brain trust; is was Bibi who was supposed to crumble under political pressure.
Also interesting is Politico’s Mike Allen’s and host Joe Scarborough’s take that the ad may tap into liberal Jews’ anger over Obama’s assault on Israel. From time to time, an ad breaks through the clutter and in essence gives “permission” for dissatisfied groups to holler, “Enough!” As we’ve discussed at length, the reaction of American Jewry to Obama has, to put it mildly, been conflicted. A mix of wishful thinking (he doesn’t really mean it!), partisan loyalty, and misguided strategy (if we don’t challenge him in public, he’ll be nicer to Israel!) have dampened public criticism of Obama’s Israel policy. But the underlying unease, indeed fury, has not abated. As this and other ads circulate and as the Middle East gains prominence in the campaign, even liberal Jews may come to the realization that in the privacy of the voting booth, they can finally register their objections. Call it putting some “daylight” between themselves and a disappointing president.
Finally, this video highlights the gap in the pro-Israel community that ECI fills. A pro-Israel activist not associated with either ECI or AIPAC told me, “AIPAC is great at what they do on Capitol Hill. They have their toolbox. ECI has theirs.” It is in that regard an important division of labor in the Jewish community. Established Jewish organizations have never faced a president like this and have struggled to come up with a game plan for pushing back. They are reluctant and ill-equipped to engage in confrontational public advocacy, yet their membership fumes, “Why aren’t you doing something!” Well, along comes ECI. In essence, this alleviates the pressure on establishment Jewish leaders to do what they feel their organizations cannot.
Those who bemoan that foreign policy is “politicized” really mean that they don’t want to defend their own positions. But that’s not how democracy works. Every issue is fodder for debate. We’re now going to have a rip-roaring one on Middle East policy.
As for Reagan Democrats, how Clinton was treated is not their issue. They are more concerned with how they have been treated. Since March, when I was accused of being racist for a statement I made about the influence of blacks on Obama’s historic campaign, people have been stopping me to express a common sentiment: If you’re white you can’t open your mouth without being accused of being racist. They see Obama’s playing the race card throughout the campaign and no one calling him for it as frightening. They’re not upset with Obama because he’s black; they’re upset because they don’t expect to be treated fairly because they’re white. It’s not racism that is driving them, it’s racial resentment. And that is enforced because they don’t believe he understands them and their problems. That when he said in South Carolina after his victory “Our Time Has Come” they believe he is telling them that their time has passed.
I never like it when someone works for someone and then comes out and writes a book trashing them. . . . I don’t care if it is politics or life. If he was that upset about everything, he should have quit. Remember, Gerald Ford’s press secretary quit when he disagreed with pardoning, Ford pardoning Nixon. If you don’t agree, then get out. And I just, I find it abhorrent the way these people come out and write books about their boss. It made ‘em money, it made ‘em prestige, it gave them all this power, and then they turn around and slap ‘em. I just, I gotta tell you, I just uh, I don’t care who it is — Democrat, Republican — it’s wrong.
And Bill Clinton sounds like Brent Bozell on the Leftwing media conspiracy.
Next thing you know we will find out that “Obama, a University of Chicago intellectual, is in the unlikely position of seeming to have a closed, uninquisitive mind when it comes to Iraq.” In all seriousness, when the Democratic party lurches so far to the left (with the assistance and urging of much of the mainstream media), the political landscape may be so scrambled that the Clintons, Terry McAuliffe and Geraldine Ferraro–exemplars of the Democratic establishment with a political memory longer than a week–start sounding sane in comparison.
Watching MSNBC last night, I enjoyed the spectacle of Terry McAuliffe, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, arguing with Chris Matthews. McAuliffe insisted that the media had written Clinton off and was trying to shut down the race, while Matthews insisted the media would like nothing better than a race that would go all the way to the convention. Huh? Hasn’t every pundit and anchor on his network and all the others pronounced Clinton dead– since about March? It seems odd now to insist that they have not been trying desperately to sweep Clinton off the stage. And they say Clinton is in a world of denial.
But the media stampede to end the primary (whether you attribute it to Obama-infatuation or sheer boredom) only makes Barack Obama’s thumping yesterday seem worse. If the race is “over” and he still managed to lose this big, it must mean those voters really don’t like him (and they don’t care what the media says).
That said, will Obama win? Absent some huge intervening event, almost certainly, yes. He just hasn’t won yet. The media made the mistake of calling the game too soon. As a result, they’ve only helped embarrass their favorite-son candidate.
Rahm Emanuel, Illinois Congressman and former Bill Clinton aide, didn’t like Ted Kennedy taking a shot at Hillary Clinton. Kennedy, you may recall, said Clinton wouldn’t make a good VP pick because someone with “nobler aspirations” was needed. Emanuel said of Kennedy:“The gratuitous attack on her is uncalled for and wrong. He is a better senator than that comment reveals.”(H/T The Page) You don’t have to agree with the second sentence to think the first is on the mark.
We are now moving into the phase of the campaign where everyone gets their free swing at Hillary. As Cokie Roberts observed, much of the surrogate and media chatter has been “anything but respectful.” It may be emotionally satisfying for Obama supporters and media doyennes. And goodness knows both Clintons have definitely asked for some of the retaliatory shots.
But unless you are supporting John McCain, there is one big problem with all this Clinton-bashing: this is the last thing Barack Obama needs. Clinton, not surprisingly, is using it to whip up a backlash, hoping to ride it to big wins in West Virginia and Kentucky, which will prolong her run. And the Clintons don’t need much more encouragement to drag their feet and withhold full-throated support for Obama when the race does end. Her supporters, meanwhile, are acquiring yet another reason to resent Obama. Terry McAuliffe sounded the warning onMeet The Press:
She has 16.6 million very passionate supporters. We want to make sure at the end of this process, Tim, we as Democrats are all together. Sometimes we like to drive that car over the cliff of the Democratic Party. This is a very fragile time.
So Obama, the candidate who thinks our most vile enemies deserve a dignity promotion, might want to make sure his supporters grant one to his Democratic rival. After all, Obama’s sometime policy advisor Samantha Power tells us “I don’t think anyone in the foreign-policy community has as much an appreciation of the value of dignity as Obama does.” If he fails to demonstrate that he really understands this in a context closer to home (and makes sure his followers execute that policy with regard to Clinton), he’ll have failed in his first significant diplomatic effort. And, I suspect, come to regret it deeply.
Maybe it’s time for Andrew Sullivan to take one of his mental health breaks. Within the span of one hour today hewrote 4posts about the nefarious Hillary Clinton-Karl Rove alliance.
Hillary and Rove are, it’s true, both calculating, no-holds-barred political animals, and–as our crack intern Jacob has pointed out–they do both want to see Barack Obama lose. So, Sullivan’s assertion that the two are somehow in cahoots is, at least, conceptually viable. The problem is, he points to nothing resembling evidence whatsoever: Terry McAuliffe’s correctly pointing out that Fox News was first in calling Pennsylvania for Hillary; Rove correctly pointing out that if votes from Michigan and Florida are counted, then Hillary has the popular vote lead; and a North Carolina GOP ad slamming Obama.
If Sullivan wants to check up on what Karl Rove is saying about Hillary, he might read this piece from today’s Wall Street Journal, in which Rove writes:
Mrs. Clinton started as a deeply flawed candidate: the palpable and unpleasant sense of entitlement, the absence of a clear and optimistic message, the grating personality impatient to be done with the little people and overly eager for a return to power, real power, the phoniness and the exaggerations. These problems have not diminished over the long months of the contest. They have grown. She started out with the highest negatives of any major candidate in an open race for the presidency and things have only gotten worse.
Then again, maybe this is just another uncanny display of Rove’s bottomless talent for deception and misdirection.
If the deadlock between lunch-box Democrats and Bill Bradley Democrats (the former Hillary Clinton’s base and the latter Barack Obama’s) cannot be broken with a new flood of money or by an influx of independent voters freed up from a decided Republican race, will the super-delegates–796 quintessential Washington insiders–decide who the Democratic nominee will be? Figures as diverse as David Brooks and Nancy Pelosi have suggested they will. This raises two questions: who will this favor and is this a good way to pick a President.
You might imagine at first blush that Clinton (who to date has secured a lead of 211-128 among the super-delegates) would like nothing better than a smoke-filled room to settle the matter. However, Washington insiders can read polls. And it is clear that Obama, at least now, stacks up better against John McCain than does Clinton. Moreover, the number of Obama’s red-state backers (from Tom Daschle to Claire McCaskill to Janet Napolitano) have made clear that they view him as the one capable of creating a governing majority. So, counterintuitive as it may be, if the nomination is really at stake I think Obama may have the upper hand.
As to the second issue, the smoke-filled rooms were what years of political party rule “reform” was supposed to banish. Like most campaign reform, the law of unintended consequences looms large here. Years of fiddling by legions of rule committees and the more recent effort by Terry McAuliffe, longtime Clinton confidant and now campaign chairman, to create the perfect system (to benefit a supposedly strong front-runner like Clinton) may result in the perfect mess. It is hard to imagine that the loser and his/her backers would not go away very, very mad if a gang of Washington pols decided the nomination. The bitterness and recriminations, not to imagine the back-room deals needed to cobble together a victory, would consume the media and the party. The prospect is an inviting one for the GOP (which explains all the e-mails I receive from GOP types gloating at the possibility of just such an outcome): it would make the GOP’s current intra-party squabbles look like a Zen encounter group.
What was notable about Hillary Clinton’s victory speech tonight was what was missing: No sign of her husband, or Madeleine Albright, or Terry McAuliffe, or the rest of the Democratic Sopranos who had been so notably on stage behind her in Iowa. Obama in Iowa talked about “this moment.” Tonight, Clinton talked about “this moment of big challenges.” She is substance over theory. She quickly got into the quicksand where Obama dares not tread: College loans, housing foreclosures. Her “promise of America” is her answer to Obama’s “hope and change.” She argues for American credibility and ending the war “the right way.” She is getting out of the Iowa and New Hampshire pandering and moving back to the center. This was a gracious, patriotic, confident, American victory lap speech.