Commentary Magazine


Topic: This Week

Flotsam and Jetsam

Awkward. Charles Krauthammer vs. Tina Totenberg.

Unsurprising. “The knives are out for Christiane Amanpour at ABC News’ DC bureau.” The only people happy about NPR’s firing of Juan Williams are the ABC execs whose decision to put her in the This Week host chair is now a distant second in the “Top 10 dumbest news-division decisions.” (Parker-Spitzer on CNN is a close third.)

Stark. “POLITICO surveyed early voting through Saturday in 20 states, and in 14 of the 15 that have voter registration by party, the GOP’s early turnout percentage is running ahead of the party’s share of statewide voter registration — whether measured against 2006 or 2008, when President Barack Obama’s campaign led to a surge in Democratic voter registration. As a result, Republicans say they’re turning the tables on the Democratic dominance of early voting that paved the way for Obama’s victory in 2008 — and that independents’ lean toward the GOP this year will do the rest.”

Unbelievable, even for NPR. Bill Kristol on Fox News Sunday: “So much to dislike about NPR, it’s hard to know where to begin. For me, the CEO’s comment, I mean, the arrogance of it. Juan has worked at NPR for — how long? … And she, in a public forum, having had someone call you to fire you, not having had a meeting with you to discuss anything, says he should see a psychiatrist. I mean, that really is unbelievable.” Why isn’t anyone calling for her to be fired?

Pathetic. “The Democratic Senate candidate from West Virginia, Gov. Joe Manchin, says he didn’t understand key details of the health care reform legislation when he publicly endorsed it in March — an endorsement he has since withdrawn.”

Transparent. The new 2012 presidential contenders’ game is to run down figures like Karl Rove and leap to Christine O’Donnell’s defense to prove your Tea Party bona fides. Puleez. Is shilling for an unelectable candidate really going to convince voters of your own savvy judgment?

What?! Ari Berman of the Nation says a smaller, more leftist Democratic congressional caucus will help the party. This is the Newsweek theory of politics — we’ll have fewer supporters and be more successful!

Awkward. Charles Krauthammer vs. Tina Totenberg.

Unsurprising. “The knives are out for Christiane Amanpour at ABC News’ DC bureau.” The only people happy about NPR’s firing of Juan Williams are the ABC execs whose decision to put her in the This Week host chair is now a distant second in the “Top 10 dumbest news-division decisions.” (Parker-Spitzer on CNN is a close third.)

Stark. “POLITICO surveyed early voting through Saturday in 20 states, and in 14 of the 15 that have voter registration by party, the GOP’s early turnout percentage is running ahead of the party’s share of statewide voter registration — whether measured against 2006 or 2008, when President Barack Obama’s campaign led to a surge in Democratic voter registration. As a result, Republicans say they’re turning the tables on the Democratic dominance of early voting that paved the way for Obama’s victory in 2008 — and that independents’ lean toward the GOP this year will do the rest.”

Unbelievable, even for NPR. Bill Kristol on Fox News Sunday: “So much to dislike about NPR, it’s hard to know where to begin. For me, the CEO’s comment, I mean, the arrogance of it. Juan has worked at NPR for — how long? … And she, in a public forum, having had someone call you to fire you, not having had a meeting with you to discuss anything, says he should see a psychiatrist. I mean, that really is unbelievable.” Why isn’t anyone calling for her to be fired?

Pathetic. “The Democratic Senate candidate from West Virginia, Gov. Joe Manchin, says he didn’t understand key details of the health care reform legislation when he publicly endorsed it in March — an endorsement he has since withdrawn.”

Transparent. The new 2012 presidential contenders’ game is to run down figures like Karl Rove and leap to Christine O’Donnell’s defense to prove your Tea Party bona fides. Puleez. Is shilling for an unelectable candidate really going to convince voters of your own savvy judgment?

What?! Ari Berman of the Nation says a smaller, more leftist Democratic congressional caucus will help the party. This is the Newsweek theory of politics — we’ll have fewer supporters and be more successful!

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Another Low for Amanpour

Each Sunday, This Week hits a new low. For sheer inanity, nothing to date has topped Meghan McCain on the show’s roundtable. What exactly does she bring to this? Well, self-parody for starters. Asked about Christine O’Donnell, McCain pronounces:

Well, I speak as a 26-year-old woman. And my problem is that, no matter what, Christine O’Donnell is making a mockery of running for public office. She has no real history, no real success in any kind of business. And what that sends to my generation is, one day, you can just wake up and run for Senate, no matter how much lack of experience you have. And it scares me for a lot of reasons, and I just know (inaudible) it just turns people off, because she’s seen as a nutjob.

I suppose the comments would have more weight if not coming from a celebrity-by-nepotism with “no real history, no real success in any kind of business.” Other than her father and her propensity to bash conservatives, what exactly are her qualifications to discuss much of anything? Ah, but that’s more than enough for Amanpour. Read More

Each Sunday, This Week hits a new low. For sheer inanity, nothing to date has topped Meghan McCain on the show’s roundtable. What exactly does she bring to this? Well, self-parody for starters. Asked about Christine O’Donnell, McCain pronounces:

Well, I speak as a 26-year-old woman. And my problem is that, no matter what, Christine O’Donnell is making a mockery of running for public office. She has no real history, no real success in any kind of business. And what that sends to my generation is, one day, you can just wake up and run for Senate, no matter how much lack of experience you have. And it scares me for a lot of reasons, and I just know (inaudible) it just turns people off, because she’s seen as a nutjob.

I suppose the comments would have more weight if not coming from a celebrity-by-nepotism with “no real history, no real success in any kind of business.” Other than her father and her propensity to bash conservatives, what exactly are her qualifications to discuss much of anything? Ah, but that’s more than enough for Amanpour.

McCain was also a font of misinformation regarding the impact of the Tea Party on younger voters:

MCCAIN: I wrote this out of personal experience. I know how I’m vilified on an absolutely daily basis. No matter what the Republican Party wants to think about this Tea Party movement, it is losing young voters at a rapid rate. And this isn’t going to change unless we start changing our message. …

AMANPOUR: She has a point, right? Young voters are the future. …

WILL: Not a political point. No, 20 months ago the question was, does the Republican Party have a future? In the last 20 months, we’ve had two things happen. A, the Tea Party movement has energized the Republican Party, and the Democrats are trying to hold onto one house of Congress right now. I don’t think that’s the sign of a party that’s in trouble.

DOWD: And I think Meghan’s right, but you have to also make the counterpoint. As Barack Obama won younger voters by 30 points. He as of right now has a difficulty getting any of those voters to a rally who have lost — a great deal are disappointed in what’s happened. …

So Amanpour brings on a political ignoramus, agrees with McCain’s “analysis,” and then must be corrected by two other guests who are too polite to simply say, “She doesn’t know what she is talking about.”

That was topped by Amanpour’s gleeful rooting for the administration’s crusade against political speech. There was this:

AMANPOUR: . . .I mean, where is campaign finance reform? Do you think it’s dead?

WILL: Dead.

AMANPOUR: Dead in the water?

WILL: Stake through it.

AMANPOUR: And you don’t like it all?

WILL: Absolutely wonderful development this year is — is the rolling back …

AMANPOUR: How can that be wonderful for a democracy, I mean, not to know where all of this money comes from and who’s putting it in?

WILL: What — what you’re talking about with the amount of money is speech. And the question is, do you have to notify the government before you can speak on politics?

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: … Justice Stevens (inaudible) that, you know, money doesn’t speak.

WILL: Well, almost all money in politics is spent on disseminating political advocacy. That’s just a fact. Now, Mr. Biden and — and the narrative from the Democrats has been this is secret money that the Koch brothers are putting into it. Well, get your story straight. Do we not — do we know who these guys are? I mean, some of them are about as anonymous as George Soros.

There isn’t a White House position for which Amanpour won’t vouch. There is no conservative principle that she doesn’t regard with disdain. How can unregulated speech be good for a democracy!? She is stumped.

I’m stumped, too. Amanpour is a ratings and journalistic disaster. It is hard to understand why she was picked for a serious Sunday talk-show-host position and even harder to understand what she is still doing there. The White House is taking an opportunity to clean house. Shouldn’t ABC News do the same?

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Flotsam and Jetsam

A sharp observer has figured out how to cut through the Palestinian-Israel impasse.

Someone else has figured out that George Mitchell was fibbing when he extolled all that progress in the non-peace talks. “What was your reaction last month when you heard how well the talks had gone between Israel and the ‘Palestinians’? Did you flinch? Did you snicker? Did you doubt the reports? Whatever your reaction was, I have what should be unsurprising news for you. The talks did not go well. … Five Israeli and foreign diplomats, who were briefed about the Netanyahu-Abbas meetings by one of the parties or by senior American officials, said prospects for progress in the talks remained gloomy, even if the construction crisis were solved.”

The AP has figured out that ObamaCare is a bust. “It’s a centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s health care remake, a lifeline available right now to vulnerable people whose medical problems have made them uninsurable. But the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan started this summer isn’t living up to expectations. Enrollment lags in many parts of the country. People who could benefit may not be able to afford the premiums. Some state officials who run their own “high-risk pools” have pointed out potential problems.”

The Democrats have figured out that the Senate seats in North Dakota, Indiana, and Arkansas are lost.

Mara Liasson has figured out that it is a “bad, bad landscape” for the Democrats.

I don’t suppose the Democrats have figured out that Robert Gibbs’s sneering demeanor and contempt for ordinary Americans are unattractive. They now want to make him the face of the Democratic Party. In a way, it’s appropriate.

David Aaron Miller has figured out that direct negotiations aren’t the key to peace in the Middle East, settlements aren’t the stumbling block to a peace deal, and pressuring Israel isn’t the way to get one either. What’s more, he says: “Arab-Israeli peace will not stabilize Afghanistan or facilitate an extrication of U.S. forces from there. It will not create a viable political contract among Iraq’s Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. It will not stop Iran from acquiring enough fissile material to make a nuclear weapon. It will not force Arab states to respect human rights.” With apologies to the late and great Irving Kristol, I suppose a neocon is a peace processor who’s been mugged by reality.

By now, you’d think that ABC execs would have figured out what an unmitigated disaster Christiane Amanpour is as host of This Week.

Yuval Levin explains that once younger voters have fully figured out Obamanomics, they won’t be just apathetic; they’ll be angry. “[I]t is precisely younger Americans who should be most distressed by Obama’s agenda and governing choices as president: Their future is at stake, and they are on the losing end of his key policies. … The fact is that the implicit ideal of the left—the European-style social-democratic welfare state—is hostile to the young and to future generations. It prioritizes present benefits over future growth, present retirees over productive workers, and the present generation over those to come. No society can remain wealthy and strong with such distorted priorities.”

A sharp observer has figured out how to cut through the Palestinian-Israel impasse.

Someone else has figured out that George Mitchell was fibbing when he extolled all that progress in the non-peace talks. “What was your reaction last month when you heard how well the talks had gone between Israel and the ‘Palestinians’? Did you flinch? Did you snicker? Did you doubt the reports? Whatever your reaction was, I have what should be unsurprising news for you. The talks did not go well. … Five Israeli and foreign diplomats, who were briefed about the Netanyahu-Abbas meetings by one of the parties or by senior American officials, said prospects for progress in the talks remained gloomy, even if the construction crisis were solved.”

The AP has figured out that ObamaCare is a bust. “It’s a centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s health care remake, a lifeline available right now to vulnerable people whose medical problems have made them uninsurable. But the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan started this summer isn’t living up to expectations. Enrollment lags in many parts of the country. People who could benefit may not be able to afford the premiums. Some state officials who run their own “high-risk pools” have pointed out potential problems.”

The Democrats have figured out that the Senate seats in North Dakota, Indiana, and Arkansas are lost.

Mara Liasson has figured out that it is a “bad, bad landscape” for the Democrats.

I don’t suppose the Democrats have figured out that Robert Gibbs’s sneering demeanor and contempt for ordinary Americans are unattractive. They now want to make him the face of the Democratic Party. In a way, it’s appropriate.

David Aaron Miller has figured out that direct negotiations aren’t the key to peace in the Middle East, settlements aren’t the stumbling block to a peace deal, and pressuring Israel isn’t the way to get one either. What’s more, he says: “Arab-Israeli peace will not stabilize Afghanistan or facilitate an extrication of U.S. forces from there. It will not create a viable political contract among Iraq’s Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. It will not stop Iran from acquiring enough fissile material to make a nuclear weapon. It will not force Arab states to respect human rights.” With apologies to the late and great Irving Kristol, I suppose a neocon is a peace processor who’s been mugged by reality.

By now, you’d think that ABC execs would have figured out what an unmitigated disaster Christiane Amanpour is as host of This Week.

Yuval Levin explains that once younger voters have fully figured out Obamanomics, they won’t be just apathetic; they’ll be angry. “[I]t is precisely younger Americans who should be most distressed by Obama’s agenda and governing choices as president: Their future is at stake, and they are on the losing end of his key policies. … The fact is that the implicit ideal of the left—the European-style social-democratic welfare state—is hostile to the young and to future generations. It prioritizes present benefits over future growth, present retirees over productive workers, and the present generation over those to come. No society can remain wealthy and strong with such distorted priorities.”

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RE: ABC’s Humiliation

Apropos your posting, Jennifer, Christiane Amanpour has been ABC’s “This Week host for nine Sundays — and a week ago last Sunday, on September 19, the show dropped to its lowest ratings in the 25-54 age demographic in more than seven years. According to Mediaite, the last time ABC had a lower rating in the demo was the August 24, 2003 show. Year-to-year, the show was down 29 percent in total viewers and 38 percent in the demo, while its popularity declined in both categories week-to-week as well (while that of NBC and CBS grew).

Just like the Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid acknowledged his mistake in making Kevin Kolb the starting quarterback and has now replaced him with Michael Vick, ABC’s brass should recognize the error of its ways and replace Amanpour with Jake Tapper, who not only received higher ratings than Amanpour but is also a far better (and more objective) host. Tapper is, in fact, among the nation’s best political reporters. For reasons Jen details, Amanpour is not.

Apropos your posting, Jennifer, Christiane Amanpour has been ABC’s “This Week host for nine Sundays — and a week ago last Sunday, on September 19, the show dropped to its lowest ratings in the 25-54 age demographic in more than seven years. According to Mediaite, the last time ABC had a lower rating in the demo was the August 24, 2003 show. Year-to-year, the show was down 29 percent in total viewers and 38 percent in the demo, while its popularity declined in both categories week-to-week as well (while that of NBC and CBS grew).

Just like the Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid acknowledged his mistake in making Kevin Kolb the starting quarterback and has now replaced him with Michael Vick, ABC’s brass should recognize the error of its ways and replace Amanpour with Jake Tapper, who not only received higher ratings than Amanpour but is also a far better (and more objective) host. Tapper is, in fact, among the nation’s best political reporters. For reasons Jen details, Amanpour is not.

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ABC’s Humiliation

ABC News decided to put the overtly biased and under-informed Christiane Amanpour in the host chair for “This Week.” Perhaps they thought she had star quality or that MSNBC’s netroot viewers could be lured. But the result is a weekly display of journalistic malpractice.

Today was no different. Questioning David Axelrod, Amanpour assumes that the blame for the blow-up of the peace talks will lie in Israel’s hands:

AMANPOUR: I want to first, though, ask you about something very close to what the president has been doing, and that’s Middle East peace. The moratorium expires tonight.

AXELROD: Yes.

AMANPOUR: The president asked the Israeli prime minister to keep the moratorium on. He’s not going to do it. What is going to stop these talks from collapsing?

AXELROD: Well, look, I don’t want to prejudge what’s going to happen in the next many hours.

No possibility in the eyes of the pro-Palestinian Amanapour that the “collapse” is an orchestrated move for Abbas to flee in a huff.

Then there is this:

AMANPOUR: All right. But really a lot of people — I mean, people from all over the world, frankly, say to me here comes a president with a huge mandate, a huge reservoir of goodwill, huge promises to change, and with all of that, his popularity is down. People don’t appreciate some of the amazing legislative agenda that he’s accomplished. Is this a failure of leadership? Has he allowed the opposition to define him? [Emphasis added.]

Good grief. Is she on the White House payroll?

Not a single tough follow-up. No challenge when Axelrod went on a rant about Republican independent expenditures. She is, for all intents and purposes, doing the administration’s PR work. Contrast that with the questioning of Mitch McConnell:

AMANPOUR: You heard what David Axelrod said about the Republican plan on extending all the Bush-era tax cuts and that it would really, you know, put the country more in hock. Analysts say that’ll cause, you know, add some $4 trillion or so to the national debt. Are you really going to do that? Or do you think there would be a compromise on extending the middle-class tax cuts?

MCCONNELL: Well, let’s understand what we’re talking about here. This has been the tax rate for a decade. We’re talking about raising taxes in the middle of a recession. And most economists think that’s the worst thing you could do. The president himself was saying that was the worst thing you could do a year-and-a-half ago.

AMANPOUR: So do…

MCCONNELL: Raising taxes in the middle of a recession is a particularly bad idea, and Republicans don’t think that’s what we ought to do.

AMANPOUR: So do you not think you really, quote, unquote, “hold the middle-class tax cuts hostage” to all the tax cuts you want to…

(CROSSTALK)

MCCONNELL: Well, nothing’s being held hostage to anything. It was the Democrats themselves who decided not to have this debate.

AMANPOUR: But would you compromise on that, even after the election?

MCCONNELL: I — I was the only one who offered a bill. There was never a bill in the Senate. And you know why? Thirty-one Democrats in the House, five Democrats in the Senate said they agreed with me, that we ought not to raise taxes in the middle of a recession.

What might happen down the road is not the subject today. The question is, do we want to raise taxes in the middle of a very, very tough economy? All the Republicans think that’s a bad idea, and a substantial number of the Democrats think the same thing.

AMANPOUR: Right, but there’s also this huge thing that the people of the United States are worried about, and that is the deficit.

MCCONNELL: Absolutely.

AMANPOUR: And adding — keeping the tax cuts will add trillions to that. And let me ask you this. According to Howard Gleckman at the Tax Policy Center — let’s see what he’s just written — “McConnell would have to abolish all the rest of the government to get a balance by 2020, everything. No more national parks, no more NIH, no more highway construction, no more homeland security, oh, and no more Congress.”

And on it went in that vein.

Maybe she is on the Harry Reid and Chris Coons campaigns:

AMANPOUR: Even — even in your own state. And I want to ask you, actually, what are the qualifications are — do these people have? For instance, what is Christine O’Donnell’s qualification for actually governing? What is Sharron Angle’s actual qualification for governing?

MCCONNELL: Well, they won the primary fair and square against real competition, and they emerged as the nominee. And Sharron Angle is running no worse than dead even against the majority leader of the Senate. I think that’s pretty significant.

No such questioning to Axelrod about his party’s hapless candidates or whether Alexi Giannoulias from Illinois is ethically fit to serve in the Senate.

The roundtable was even worse as she took the Obama administration’s defense (“there’s no depression. There’s — the recession has ended. … But doesn’t it just add to the deficit, all these tax cuts? … And it turned out quite well [Bob Woodward's book], would you say, for the administration?”) Never a skeptical comment or query about the administration’s position or performance.

ABC News execs have a choice: report the commercial sales from “This Week” as an in-kind donation to the Democratic Party or get a real journalist in that chair.

ABC News decided to put the overtly biased and under-informed Christiane Amanpour in the host chair for “This Week.” Perhaps they thought she had star quality or that MSNBC’s netroot viewers could be lured. But the result is a weekly display of journalistic malpractice.

Today was no different. Questioning David Axelrod, Amanpour assumes that the blame for the blow-up of the peace talks will lie in Israel’s hands:

AMANPOUR: I want to first, though, ask you about something very close to what the president has been doing, and that’s Middle East peace. The moratorium expires tonight.

AXELROD: Yes.

AMANPOUR: The president asked the Israeli prime minister to keep the moratorium on. He’s not going to do it. What is going to stop these talks from collapsing?

AXELROD: Well, look, I don’t want to prejudge what’s going to happen in the next many hours.

No possibility in the eyes of the pro-Palestinian Amanapour that the “collapse” is an orchestrated move for Abbas to flee in a huff.

Then there is this:

AMANPOUR: All right. But really a lot of people — I mean, people from all over the world, frankly, say to me here comes a president with a huge mandate, a huge reservoir of goodwill, huge promises to change, and with all of that, his popularity is down. People don’t appreciate some of the amazing legislative agenda that he’s accomplished. Is this a failure of leadership? Has he allowed the opposition to define him? [Emphasis added.]

Good grief. Is she on the White House payroll?

Not a single tough follow-up. No challenge when Axelrod went on a rant about Republican independent expenditures. She is, for all intents and purposes, doing the administration’s PR work. Contrast that with the questioning of Mitch McConnell:

AMANPOUR: You heard what David Axelrod said about the Republican plan on extending all the Bush-era tax cuts and that it would really, you know, put the country more in hock. Analysts say that’ll cause, you know, add some $4 trillion or so to the national debt. Are you really going to do that? Or do you think there would be a compromise on extending the middle-class tax cuts?

MCCONNELL: Well, let’s understand what we’re talking about here. This has been the tax rate for a decade. We’re talking about raising taxes in the middle of a recession. And most economists think that’s the worst thing you could do. The president himself was saying that was the worst thing you could do a year-and-a-half ago.

AMANPOUR: So do…

MCCONNELL: Raising taxes in the middle of a recession is a particularly bad idea, and Republicans don’t think that’s what we ought to do.

AMANPOUR: So do you not think you really, quote, unquote, “hold the middle-class tax cuts hostage” to all the tax cuts you want to…

(CROSSTALK)

MCCONNELL: Well, nothing’s being held hostage to anything. It was the Democrats themselves who decided not to have this debate.

AMANPOUR: But would you compromise on that, even after the election?

MCCONNELL: I — I was the only one who offered a bill. There was never a bill in the Senate. And you know why? Thirty-one Democrats in the House, five Democrats in the Senate said they agreed with me, that we ought not to raise taxes in the middle of a recession.

What might happen down the road is not the subject today. The question is, do we want to raise taxes in the middle of a very, very tough economy? All the Republicans think that’s a bad idea, and a substantial number of the Democrats think the same thing.

AMANPOUR: Right, but there’s also this huge thing that the people of the United States are worried about, and that is the deficit.

MCCONNELL: Absolutely.

AMANPOUR: And adding — keeping the tax cuts will add trillions to that. And let me ask you this. According to Howard Gleckman at the Tax Policy Center — let’s see what he’s just written — “McConnell would have to abolish all the rest of the government to get a balance by 2020, everything. No more national parks, no more NIH, no more highway construction, no more homeland security, oh, and no more Congress.”

And on it went in that vein.

Maybe she is on the Harry Reid and Chris Coons campaigns:

AMANPOUR: Even — even in your own state. And I want to ask you, actually, what are the qualifications are — do these people have? For instance, what is Christine O’Donnell’s qualification for actually governing? What is Sharron Angle’s actual qualification for governing?

MCCONNELL: Well, they won the primary fair and square against real competition, and they emerged as the nominee. And Sharron Angle is running no worse than dead even against the majority leader of the Senate. I think that’s pretty significant.

No such questioning to Axelrod about his party’s hapless candidates or whether Alexi Giannoulias from Illinois is ethically fit to serve in the Senate.

The roundtable was even worse as she took the Obama administration’s defense (“there’s no depression. There’s — the recession has ended. … But doesn’t it just add to the deficit, all these tax cuts? … And it turned out quite well [Bob Woodward's book], would you say, for the administration?”) Never a skeptical comment or query about the administration’s position or performance.

ABC News execs have a choice: report the commercial sales from “This Week” as an in-kind donation to the Democratic Party or get a real journalist in that chair.

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Mosque Builders Drop Mask of ‘Reconciliation’

Apparently getting their talking points from David Axelrod (or is it the other way around?), the Ground Zero mosque builders are comparing opposition to the mosque to anti-Semitism. Honest:

A leader of a planned Muslim community center near Manhattan’s Ground Zero compared opposition to the project to the persecution of Jews, in comments that could add to the controversy over the center’s proposed site. … Ms. [Daisy] Khan, appearing on ABC News’s “This Week” on Sunday, vowed to push ahead with plans to build a 15-story complex two blocks from the site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in lower Manhattan, saying there was “too much at stake.”

The words could further inflame an already angry debate about the proposed location of the community center, which opponents denounce as a “victory mosque.”

Ya think? Now you might expect Khan’s inflammatory assertion to have been seriously challenged by the interviewer. Not with Christiane Amanpour as the host. The discussion went like this:

AMANPOUR: You talked about the state of Islam in the United States. And then we have this “Time” magazine cover that’s being talked about a lot right now. Basically, is America Islamophobic?

Is America Islamophobic? Are you concerned about the long-term relationship between American Muslims and the rest of society here?

KHAN: Yes, I think we are deeply concerned, because this is like a metastasized anti-Semitism. That’s what we feel right now. It’s not even Islamophobia, it’s beyond Islamophobia. It’s hate of Muslims. And we are deeply concerned. You know, I have had, yesterday had a council with all religious — Muslim religious leaders from around the country, and everybody is deeply concerned about what’s going on around the nation.

AMANPOUR: Do you agree with what she just said and how she described it?

LEVITT: Well, there is some part of it that feels very familiar, you know. Peter Stuyvesant refused to allow synagogues to be built in New York in the 1600s. It took an act of Congress here in Washington to allow a synagogue to be built. In Connecticut, there were no synagogues allowed to be built in the 1600s and the 1700s. The British wouldn’t allow synagogues to be built in New York City. So, we understand some of this pain, and yet we’ve also experienced a tremendous amount of support in this country, so I think we actually are in a position to both understand and be helpful, to support religious tolerance in this country.

A liberal with a Jewish organization was incensed: “Any suggestion that this particular mosque not be built in this particular place, and the objections of family members of 9/11, are in any way analogous to anti-Semitism or the struggles of the Jewish community in America is as insensitive and ignorant as it is offensive.” He continued:

And while it is not the case with this Imam, who at least appears to reject radicalism — despite his unwillingness to call Hamas a terrorist group and his suggestion that some terrorists are better than others — there is no corollary to Judaism, from the birth of the religion to that practiced by the first immigrants to this great country of ours or by Jews today. Judaism has never called for restoring the caliphate or violent jihad to kill Americans and infidels. You will hear that in mosques in America and around the world, but never in a synagogue, now or ever. To invoke anti-Semitism and ignore that further contradiction in the broader debate, and the concomitant lack of an Islamic reformation — as we have seen in both Judaism and Christianity — is also dishonest.

Nor did Amanpour challenge the imam’s refusal to detail the source(s) of the mosque’s funding:

AMANPOUR: How much money has been raised and are you prepared to discuss the issue of foreign funding? Let’s say there was foreign funding. How would you be able to know exactly where that money was coming from, what other projects elsewhere that they may have given money to?

KHAN: Well, this is where my counselor on my right is helping us, because our funding is going to be pretty much follow the same way that JCC got its fund-raising. First, we have to develop a board. Then the board is going to have a financial committee, fund-raising committee that will be in charge of the fund-raising. And we have promised that we will work with the Charities Bureau, that we will adhere to the highest and the strictest guidelines set forth by the Treasury Department, because there is so much angst about this. But we will follow the lead from Rabbi Joy Levitt.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you also…

LEVITT: What Daisy means by that is that we went to our neighbors, we said who believes in our vision, who believes in a center of tolerance, who believes in diversity? We went to parlor (ph) meetings in people’s houses, and that’s how the support for the JCC came about.

That’s it. Not a single question about foreign funding or whether they’d open up their books. There was a good reason to go on This Week. (I suspect they wouldn’t have gone with Jake Tapper.)

The obscene comparison between opposition to the mosque and anti-Semitism (how do Abe Foxman, Harry Reid, and Howard Dean feel about this?) should obliterate the left’s claim that this is all about “understanding” and “reconciliation.” It seems the mosque builders are interested, just as their critics claimed, in perpetuating the Muslim victimology meme and stirring dissension. And how interesting that they chose to stir the pot with Jewish analogies.

Apparently getting their talking points from David Axelrod (or is it the other way around?), the Ground Zero mosque builders are comparing opposition to the mosque to anti-Semitism. Honest:

A leader of a planned Muslim community center near Manhattan’s Ground Zero compared opposition to the project to the persecution of Jews, in comments that could add to the controversy over the center’s proposed site. … Ms. [Daisy] Khan, appearing on ABC News’s “This Week” on Sunday, vowed to push ahead with plans to build a 15-story complex two blocks from the site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in lower Manhattan, saying there was “too much at stake.”

The words could further inflame an already angry debate about the proposed location of the community center, which opponents denounce as a “victory mosque.”

Ya think? Now you might expect Khan’s inflammatory assertion to have been seriously challenged by the interviewer. Not with Christiane Amanpour as the host. The discussion went like this:

AMANPOUR: You talked about the state of Islam in the United States. And then we have this “Time” magazine cover that’s being talked about a lot right now. Basically, is America Islamophobic?

Is America Islamophobic? Are you concerned about the long-term relationship between American Muslims and the rest of society here?

KHAN: Yes, I think we are deeply concerned, because this is like a metastasized anti-Semitism. That’s what we feel right now. It’s not even Islamophobia, it’s beyond Islamophobia. It’s hate of Muslims. And we are deeply concerned. You know, I have had, yesterday had a council with all religious — Muslim religious leaders from around the country, and everybody is deeply concerned about what’s going on around the nation.

AMANPOUR: Do you agree with what she just said and how she described it?

LEVITT: Well, there is some part of it that feels very familiar, you know. Peter Stuyvesant refused to allow synagogues to be built in New York in the 1600s. It took an act of Congress here in Washington to allow a synagogue to be built. In Connecticut, there were no synagogues allowed to be built in the 1600s and the 1700s. The British wouldn’t allow synagogues to be built in New York City. So, we understand some of this pain, and yet we’ve also experienced a tremendous amount of support in this country, so I think we actually are in a position to both understand and be helpful, to support religious tolerance in this country.

A liberal with a Jewish organization was incensed: “Any suggestion that this particular mosque not be built in this particular place, and the objections of family members of 9/11, are in any way analogous to anti-Semitism or the struggles of the Jewish community in America is as insensitive and ignorant as it is offensive.” He continued:

And while it is not the case with this Imam, who at least appears to reject radicalism — despite his unwillingness to call Hamas a terrorist group and his suggestion that some terrorists are better than others — there is no corollary to Judaism, from the birth of the religion to that practiced by the first immigrants to this great country of ours or by Jews today. Judaism has never called for restoring the caliphate or violent jihad to kill Americans and infidels. You will hear that in mosques in America and around the world, but never in a synagogue, now or ever. To invoke anti-Semitism and ignore that further contradiction in the broader debate, and the concomitant lack of an Islamic reformation — as we have seen in both Judaism and Christianity — is also dishonest.

Nor did Amanpour challenge the imam’s refusal to detail the source(s) of the mosque’s funding:

AMANPOUR: How much money has been raised and are you prepared to discuss the issue of foreign funding? Let’s say there was foreign funding. How would you be able to know exactly where that money was coming from, what other projects elsewhere that they may have given money to?

KHAN: Well, this is where my counselor on my right is helping us, because our funding is going to be pretty much follow the same way that JCC got its fund-raising. First, we have to develop a board. Then the board is going to have a financial committee, fund-raising committee that will be in charge of the fund-raising. And we have promised that we will work with the Charities Bureau, that we will adhere to the highest and the strictest guidelines set forth by the Treasury Department, because there is so much angst about this. But we will follow the lead from Rabbi Joy Levitt.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you also…

LEVITT: What Daisy means by that is that we went to our neighbors, we said who believes in our vision, who believes in a center of tolerance, who believes in diversity? We went to parlor (ph) meetings in people’s houses, and that’s how the support for the JCC came about.

That’s it. Not a single question about foreign funding or whether they’d open up their books. There was a good reason to go on This Week. (I suspect they wouldn’t have gone with Jake Tapper.)

The obscene comparison between opposition to the mosque and anti-Semitism (how do Abe Foxman, Harry Reid, and Howard Dean feel about this?) should obliterate the left’s claim that this is all about “understanding” and “reconciliation.” It seems the mosque builders are interested, just as their critics claimed, in perpetuating the Muslim victimology meme and stirring dissension. And how interesting that they chose to stir the pot with Jewish analogies.

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Bring Back Jake!

Tom Shales suffered through the debut of Christiane Amanpour as host for This Week:

It’s not that Amanpour seemed personally uncomfortable or constrained in her weekend debut — opening night was Sunday morning — but rather that she proved that she’s miscast for the role, her highly touted global orientation coming across as inappropriate and contrived on a broadcast that for three decades has dealt primarily with domestic politics, policies and culture.

So what was wrong with interim host Jake Tapper — too unbiased? Too prepared? Too knowledgeable about U.S. politics? You got me. While screaming poverty and laying off more employees, ABC News shelled out a reported $2M on a woman whom conservatives revile for her anti-U.S. and anti-Israel bias and record of playing fast and loose with the facts.

But even liberals have to shudder over this:

Amanpour didn’t stick to discussing news of the week with the show’s estimable, exceptional panelists — among them George F. Will and Donna Brazile — but instead brought in a foreign journalist seen earlier in the program, Ahmed Rashid (momentarily stationed in Madrid), for his views via satellite. It was awkward in form and proved negligible in content. In fact, it became ludicrous when, near the end of the segment, the U.S. economy was discussed and Amanpour called upon Rashid, the Taliban expert, again even though he seemed of dubious relevance and authority to the topic at hand.

Sometimes (OK, a lot of the time) network execs blow it. (Think the Jay Leno–Conan O’Brien debacle.) The trick is to cut your losses. Tapper, I’m certain, is a good sport and would be happy to take over the gig when and if ABC comes to its senses.

Tom Shales suffered through the debut of Christiane Amanpour as host for This Week:

It’s not that Amanpour seemed personally uncomfortable or constrained in her weekend debut — opening night was Sunday morning — but rather that she proved that she’s miscast for the role, her highly touted global orientation coming across as inappropriate and contrived on a broadcast that for three decades has dealt primarily with domestic politics, policies and culture.

So what was wrong with interim host Jake Tapper — too unbiased? Too prepared? Too knowledgeable about U.S. politics? You got me. While screaming poverty and laying off more employees, ABC News shelled out a reported $2M on a woman whom conservatives revile for her anti-U.S. and anti-Israel bias and record of playing fast and loose with the facts.

But even liberals have to shudder over this:

Amanpour didn’t stick to discussing news of the week with the show’s estimable, exceptional panelists — among them George F. Will and Donna Brazile — but instead brought in a foreign journalist seen earlier in the program, Ahmed Rashid (momentarily stationed in Madrid), for his views via satellite. It was awkward in form and proved negligible in content. In fact, it became ludicrous when, near the end of the segment, the U.S. economy was discussed and Amanpour called upon Rashid, the Taliban expert, again even though he seemed of dubious relevance and authority to the topic at hand.

Sometimes (OK, a lot of the time) network execs blow it. (Think the Jay Leno–Conan O’Brien debacle.) The trick is to cut your losses. Tapper, I’m certain, is a good sport and would be happy to take over the gig when and if ABC comes to its senses.

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Afghanistan: July 2011 Psychosis

Joe Biden has long been seen as the administration’s leading advocate of a “small footprint” approach to Afghanistan. But on ABC’s This Week program on Sunday, he was at pains to downplay the July 2011 withdrawal deadline. There will be a “transition,” he said, but not necessarily a massive withdrawal of forces — “It could be as few as a couple thousand troops.”

That puts Biden effectively on the same page as Bob Gates, Hillary Clinton, Mike Mullen, David Petraeus, and other senior administration and military figures who have been stressing that we aren’t headed for the exists come next summer. That’s an important and welcome clarification of the ambiguous policy laid out by President Obama at West Point last fall. But I doubt that the message has reached the region where the perception of American fickleness continues to encourage our foes and discourage our friends.

In Kabul recently, I had dinner with several Afghan politicians and bureaucrats. They were, to a man, horrified by the July 2011 deadline, which feeds into recurring Afghan fears of abandonment by the West — something that happened as recently as the 1990s. They were not mollified when I and other visiting scholars tried to explain that the appointment of General Petraeus suggested that Obama was in the war to win. They actually claimed that Petraeus had been sent to offer a “face-saving way” for the U.S. to withdraw — as he supposedly had done in Iraq. I and the other visitors spent hours trying to mollify these worried Afghans, but without success. As one of them acknowledged, “We’ve developed July 2011 psychosis.”

I am not sure anything can shake their concerns about a premature American departure but at the very least it would be helpful for Obama himself to clarify where he stands. There is a widespread perception in Washington that he has done a sotto voce walk-back from the exit deadline but he needs to be more explicit to convey the message across 7,000 miles of geography and an even wider gap of understanding and perception.

Paradoxically, the more that Obama makes it clear that we will stay in Afghanistan long enough to win, the more he hastens our departure by increasing the pressure on the Taliban. And the more he equivocates, the harder he makes it for NATO forces to make the kind of progress needed to begin a responsible, conditions-based drawdown.

Joe Biden has long been seen as the administration’s leading advocate of a “small footprint” approach to Afghanistan. But on ABC’s This Week program on Sunday, he was at pains to downplay the July 2011 withdrawal deadline. There will be a “transition,” he said, but not necessarily a massive withdrawal of forces — “It could be as few as a couple thousand troops.”

That puts Biden effectively on the same page as Bob Gates, Hillary Clinton, Mike Mullen, David Petraeus, and other senior administration and military figures who have been stressing that we aren’t headed for the exists come next summer. That’s an important and welcome clarification of the ambiguous policy laid out by President Obama at West Point last fall. But I doubt that the message has reached the region where the perception of American fickleness continues to encourage our foes and discourage our friends.

In Kabul recently, I had dinner with several Afghan politicians and bureaucrats. They were, to a man, horrified by the July 2011 deadline, which feeds into recurring Afghan fears of abandonment by the West — something that happened as recently as the 1990s. They were not mollified when I and other visiting scholars tried to explain that the appointment of General Petraeus suggested that Obama was in the war to win. They actually claimed that Petraeus had been sent to offer a “face-saving way” for the U.S. to withdraw — as he supposedly had done in Iraq. I and the other visitors spent hours trying to mollify these worried Afghans, but without success. As one of them acknowledged, “We’ve developed July 2011 psychosis.”

I am not sure anything can shake their concerns about a premature American departure but at the very least it would be helpful for Obama himself to clarify where he stands. There is a widespread perception in Washington that he has done a sotto voce walk-back from the exit deadline but he needs to be more explicit to convey the message across 7,000 miles of geography and an even wider gap of understanding and perception.

Paradoxically, the more that Obama makes it clear that we will stay in Afghanistan long enough to win, the more he hastens our departure by increasing the pressure on the Taliban. And the more he equivocates, the harder he makes it for NATO forces to make the kind of progress needed to begin a responsible, conditions-based drawdown.

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Can the Obama Administration Afford Any More Missteps?

As problems continue to mount and the president’s approval ratings continue to sink — the latest Rasmussen poll has Obama’s approval rating down to 44 percent, a new low — there are a lot of different, and damaging, story lines developing around the Obama administration. You can add a lack of basic competence to the list.

To take just one example from yesterday: on NBC’s Meet the Press, White House economic adviser Christina Romer was asked if the recession was over. Her first answer was that according to the “official definition … I think we have, at least in terms of GDP, reached that point” — before she then added qualifiers, inviting a follow-up question. When Romer was then asked, “So in your mind, this recession is not over,” she answered, “Of course not. We have — you know, for, for the people on Main Street and throughout this country, they are still suffering. The unemployment rate is still 10 percent.”

Now compare that answer with what Lawrence Summers, director of the National Economic Council, said on ABC’s This Week: “Today, everybody agrees that the recession is over, and the question is what the pace of the expansion is going to be.” (Apparently “everybody” does not include Summers’s colleague Christina Romer.)

This is what is known as sending mixed messages; to have it done by two of the Obama administration’s leading economic spokespersons on a basic economic issue makes it all the more harmful.

The dazzling intellect and multitasking mastery of those who inhabit Obama’s World seem to be producing something less than was advertised. You can add to this the much more serious misplay by Harry Reid on his Medicare buy-in “compromise,” which has been soundly rejected by Senators Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson, two key votes Majority Leader Reid needs if he hopes to pass health-care legislation. Reid’s effort to portray health care as “inevitable” — and his effort to pressure Lieberman into supporting legislation that the Connecticut senator clearly finds unacceptable — has not only failed; it has badly backfired. And as if determined to make a bad tactical mistake even worse, Reid’s aides are now trashing Lieberman as a person who broke his word. That is something that strikes me as not only untrue — I have worked with Senator Lieberman over the years and always found him to be a man of integrity — but bordering on insane. Why do they want to attack the character of a man whose vote they presumably still need?

Governing involves missteps; that is an inherent by-product of exercising power and needs to be factored in when judging an administration. Still, add these incidents to others and you have a picture emerging of an administration and a party that are not only overmatched by events but that also look downright pitiable at times. This is the kind of thing, especially so early in the life of an administration, that can easily become a proxy for a wider inability to govern. Come 2010, voters are likely to extract a cost for this.

As problems continue to mount and the president’s approval ratings continue to sink — the latest Rasmussen poll has Obama’s approval rating down to 44 percent, a new low — there are a lot of different, and damaging, story lines developing around the Obama administration. You can add a lack of basic competence to the list.

To take just one example from yesterday: on NBC’s Meet the Press, White House economic adviser Christina Romer was asked if the recession was over. Her first answer was that according to the “official definition … I think we have, at least in terms of GDP, reached that point” — before she then added qualifiers, inviting a follow-up question. When Romer was then asked, “So in your mind, this recession is not over,” she answered, “Of course not. We have — you know, for, for the people on Main Street and throughout this country, they are still suffering. The unemployment rate is still 10 percent.”

Now compare that answer with what Lawrence Summers, director of the National Economic Council, said on ABC’s This Week: “Today, everybody agrees that the recession is over, and the question is what the pace of the expansion is going to be.” (Apparently “everybody” does not include Summers’s colleague Christina Romer.)

This is what is known as sending mixed messages; to have it done by two of the Obama administration’s leading economic spokespersons on a basic economic issue makes it all the more harmful.

The dazzling intellect and multitasking mastery of those who inhabit Obama’s World seem to be producing something less than was advertised. You can add to this the much more serious misplay by Harry Reid on his Medicare buy-in “compromise,” which has been soundly rejected by Senators Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson, two key votes Majority Leader Reid needs if he hopes to pass health-care legislation. Reid’s effort to portray health care as “inevitable” — and his effort to pressure Lieberman into supporting legislation that the Connecticut senator clearly finds unacceptable — has not only failed; it has badly backfired. And as if determined to make a bad tactical mistake even worse, Reid’s aides are now trashing Lieberman as a person who broke his word. That is something that strikes me as not only untrue — I have worked with Senator Lieberman over the years and always found him to be a man of integrity — but bordering on insane. Why do they want to attack the character of a man whose vote they presumably still need?

Governing involves missteps; that is an inherent by-product of exercising power and needs to be factored in when judging an administration. Still, add these incidents to others and you have a picture emerging of an administration and a party that are not only overmatched by events but that also look downright pitiable at times. This is the kind of thing, especially so early in the life of an administration, that can easily become a proxy for a wider inability to govern. Come 2010, voters are likely to extract a cost for this.

Read Less




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