Commentary Magazine


Topic: USA TODAY

Morning Commentary

The Iraqi parliament finally approves a diverse new unity government, ending nine months of political stalemate and concern for the fledgling democracy: “Although Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds were represented in the previous government, this is the first time that all the major factions have been included, lending hope that Iraq can put behind it the bitter sectarian struggles and divisive politics of the past five years.”

More than nine Senate Republicans are expected to support New START when it’s brought up for ratification today, which is enough to approve the treaty. So what’s the GOP getting in return for its support? According to the Washington Times, Sen. Jon Kyl’s negotiations with President Obama have secured $85 billion to modernize and maintain our nuclear arsenal, as well as a commitment to build robust missile defenses.

In the New York Post, Jonah Goldberg analyzes the field of 2012 Republican presidential candidates.

In USA Today, Sarah Palin discusses the consequences of a nuclear-armed Iran: “Some have said the Israelis should undertake military action on their own if they are convinced the Iranian program is approaching the point of no return. But Iran’s nuclear weapons program is not just Israel’s problem; it is the world’s problem. I agree with the former British prime minister Tony Blair, who said recently that the West must be willing to use force ‘if necessary’ if that is the only alternative.”

Is Michele Bachmann considering a presidential run? Her $31,000 in contributions to Iowa candidates over the past year has some bloggers asking that question. Iowa’s campaign-finance report shows that Sarah Palin gave only $15,000 during the same time period.

Has it really come to this? Robert Gibbs is now seeking political help from Jon Stewart.

Ron Radosh sees similarities between Hugo Chavez’s recent power grab and the rise of Nazi power: “By passing the Enabling Act — the same term used by Chavez today — Hitler sought to abolish democracy by formally democratic means. … By banning opposition Communist delegates who had all been arrested, and preventing Social-Democrats from taking seats to which they were elected after the Reichstag fire, the Nazis now had the necessary votes to pass the Act. Clearly, Hugo Chavez must have studied Hitler’s tactics before commencing upon a similar road.”

The Iraqi parliament finally approves a diverse new unity government, ending nine months of political stalemate and concern for the fledgling democracy: “Although Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds were represented in the previous government, this is the first time that all the major factions have been included, lending hope that Iraq can put behind it the bitter sectarian struggles and divisive politics of the past five years.”

More than nine Senate Republicans are expected to support New START when it’s brought up for ratification today, which is enough to approve the treaty. So what’s the GOP getting in return for its support? According to the Washington Times, Sen. Jon Kyl’s negotiations with President Obama have secured $85 billion to modernize and maintain our nuclear arsenal, as well as a commitment to build robust missile defenses.

In the New York Post, Jonah Goldberg analyzes the field of 2012 Republican presidential candidates.

In USA Today, Sarah Palin discusses the consequences of a nuclear-armed Iran: “Some have said the Israelis should undertake military action on their own if they are convinced the Iranian program is approaching the point of no return. But Iran’s nuclear weapons program is not just Israel’s problem; it is the world’s problem. I agree with the former British prime minister Tony Blair, who said recently that the West must be willing to use force ‘if necessary’ if that is the only alternative.”

Is Michele Bachmann considering a presidential run? Her $31,000 in contributions to Iowa candidates over the past year has some bloggers asking that question. Iowa’s campaign-finance report shows that Sarah Palin gave only $15,000 during the same time period.

Has it really come to this? Robert Gibbs is now seeking political help from Jon Stewart.

Ron Radosh sees similarities between Hugo Chavez’s recent power grab and the rise of Nazi power: “By passing the Enabling Act — the same term used by Chavez today — Hitler sought to abolish democracy by formally democratic means. … By banning opposition Communist delegates who had all been arrested, and preventing Social-Democrats from taking seats to which they were elected after the Reichstag fire, the Nazis now had the necessary votes to pass the Act. Clearly, Hugo Chavez must have studied Hitler’s tactics before commencing upon a similar road.”

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Just another charm offensive? “President Barack Obama is preparing new overtures to business that may start with a walk into the headquarters of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a retreat with corporate chief executive officers, according to people familiar with his plans.” So long as he plans on keeping ObamaCare and the financial regulation bill and raises taxes, it’s hard to consider it more than atmospherics.

Just another way of spinning that the White House is getting rid of him as soon as possible. “David Axelrod’s long-anticipated departure from the White House is happening a little earlier than expected — right after President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech in late January or early February — so the  senior adviser can ‘recharge his batteries,’ according to a senior administration official.”

Just another bad poll for the White House to ignore. “Just about as many Americans want Tea Party-backed members of Congress to take the lead in setting policy during the next year as choose President Obama, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds. … The survey also underscores Obama’s weakened standing. His overall job approval rating, at 42%, is 1 percentage point higher than his historic low in midsummer. His 35% approval rating on the economy is the lowest of his presidency.”

Just another prominent conservative woman on the world stage? This one –Michèle Alliot-Marie, the foreign minister of France — plays rugby. ” The 64-year-old Gaullist is more than just another passive fan of the game. The normally austere MAM, as she is known in France, revealed in a rare informal television appearance in the mid-1980s that she had nearly been kicked out of school when she was young for converting the female handball squad into a rugby team. ‘I think that I’d still be able to make a pass,’ she noted.”

Just another move by Israel that’ll drive the left around the bend. How dare the Jewish state institute such democratic rules! “The Knesset passed the National Referendum Law during a late-night session Monday, approving legislation that will fundamentally alter Israeli negotiators’ ability to offer concrete peace deals involving the Golan Heights or east Jerusalem. The law, which was approved by a vote of 65-33, will require either a Knesset super-majority or a national referendum in order to hand over any annexed territories as part of a future peace deal.”

Just another day of nagging kids to eat vegetables. But is this really a job for the First Lady?

Just another human rights abomination in the “Muslim World.” Asia Bibi, a Pakistani mother of five, has been jailed for a year and sentenced to death for blasphemy. Although she might get a presidential pardon, that’s not the end of it. “Even if Ms. Bibi is pardoned or the Lahore High Court overturns the sentence, there are concerns about her safety. Many people acquitted on blasphemy charges continue to be hounded and are forced to move, change their identity or hide, the commission says.”

Just another political miscalculation and panic attack in the White House. “As the Senate’s leading Republican on nuclear security issues, Mr. Kyl has warned the White House for months that it couldn’t get its treaty ratified without addressing his concerns on warhead modernization and missile defenses. For months, the Administration gave him mere lip service. Now that it has discovered it doesn’t have the votes, the Administration is finally getting serious about Mr. Kyl’s concerns even as it is trying to bully him over immediate ratification. Republicans are right to take their time and debate this thoroughly.”

Just another charm offensive? “President Barack Obama is preparing new overtures to business that may start with a walk into the headquarters of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a retreat with corporate chief executive officers, according to people familiar with his plans.” So long as he plans on keeping ObamaCare and the financial regulation bill and raises taxes, it’s hard to consider it more than atmospherics.

Just another way of spinning that the White House is getting rid of him as soon as possible. “David Axelrod’s long-anticipated departure from the White House is happening a little earlier than expected — right after President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech in late January or early February — so the  senior adviser can ‘recharge his batteries,’ according to a senior administration official.”

Just another bad poll for the White House to ignore. “Just about as many Americans want Tea Party-backed members of Congress to take the lead in setting policy during the next year as choose President Obama, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds. … The survey also underscores Obama’s weakened standing. His overall job approval rating, at 42%, is 1 percentage point higher than his historic low in midsummer. His 35% approval rating on the economy is the lowest of his presidency.”

Just another prominent conservative woman on the world stage? This one –Michèle Alliot-Marie, the foreign minister of France — plays rugby. ” The 64-year-old Gaullist is more than just another passive fan of the game. The normally austere MAM, as she is known in France, revealed in a rare informal television appearance in the mid-1980s that she had nearly been kicked out of school when she was young for converting the female handball squad into a rugby team. ‘I think that I’d still be able to make a pass,’ she noted.”

Just another move by Israel that’ll drive the left around the bend. How dare the Jewish state institute such democratic rules! “The Knesset passed the National Referendum Law during a late-night session Monday, approving legislation that will fundamentally alter Israeli negotiators’ ability to offer concrete peace deals involving the Golan Heights or east Jerusalem. The law, which was approved by a vote of 65-33, will require either a Knesset super-majority or a national referendum in order to hand over any annexed territories as part of a future peace deal.”

Just another day of nagging kids to eat vegetables. But is this really a job for the First Lady?

Just another human rights abomination in the “Muslim World.” Asia Bibi, a Pakistani mother of five, has been jailed for a year and sentenced to death for blasphemy. Although she might get a presidential pardon, that’s not the end of it. “Even if Ms. Bibi is pardoned or the Lahore High Court overturns the sentence, there are concerns about her safety. Many people acquitted on blasphemy charges continue to be hounded and are forced to move, change their identity or hide, the commission says.”

Just another political miscalculation and panic attack in the White House. “As the Senate’s leading Republican on nuclear security issues, Mr. Kyl has warned the White House for months that it couldn’t get its treaty ratified without addressing his concerns on warhead modernization and missile defenses. For months, the Administration gave him mere lip service. Now that it has discovered it doesn’t have the votes, the Administration is finally getting serious about Mr. Kyl’s concerns even as it is trying to bully him over immediate ratification. Republicans are right to take their time and debate this thoroughly.”

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Worse and Worse

Gallup reports:

A new USA Today/Gallup poll finds Americans saying the Republicans in Congress would do a better job than the Democrats in Congress of handling seven of nine key election issues. The parties are essentially tied on health care, with the environment being the lone Democratic strength.

As Gallup points out, “The Democrats’ advantage on the issue of the environment is likely not something the party can leverage to improve its 2010 electoral fortunes, as Americans rank it at the bottom of the list in terms of its importance to their vote. Rather, economic concerns are paramount, with a majority of Americans rating the economy, jobs, and federal spending (along with government corruption) as extremely important.”

Meanwhile, Charlie Cook is ready to pronounce the last rites over the Democrats’ House majority:

There are few signs of any meaningful recovery, and indeed there is more talk of a double-dip recession, plunging the country back into economic trouble between now and the end of the year. Unemployment seems stuck at 9.5 percent, reinforcing the view that last year would have been better spent focusing on the economy than on health care reform. …

Simply put, Democrats find themselves heading into a midterm election that looks as grisly as any the party has faced in decades. It isn’t hard to find Democratic pollsters who privately concede that the numbers they are looking at now are worse than what they saw in 1994.

Yes, it really is that grim for the Democrats. The recriminations will be fierce.

Gallup reports:

A new USA Today/Gallup poll finds Americans saying the Republicans in Congress would do a better job than the Democrats in Congress of handling seven of nine key election issues. The parties are essentially tied on health care, with the environment being the lone Democratic strength.

As Gallup points out, “The Democrats’ advantage on the issue of the environment is likely not something the party can leverage to improve its 2010 electoral fortunes, as Americans rank it at the bottom of the list in terms of its importance to their vote. Rather, economic concerns are paramount, with a majority of Americans rating the economy, jobs, and federal spending (along with government corruption) as extremely important.”

Meanwhile, Charlie Cook is ready to pronounce the last rites over the Democrats’ House majority:

There are few signs of any meaningful recovery, and indeed there is more talk of a double-dip recession, plunging the country back into economic trouble between now and the end of the year. Unemployment seems stuck at 9.5 percent, reinforcing the view that last year would have been better spent focusing on the economy than on health care reform. …

Simply put, Democrats find themselves heading into a midterm election that looks as grisly as any the party has faced in decades. It isn’t hard to find Democratic pollsters who privately concede that the numbers they are looking at now are worse than what they saw in 1994.

Yes, it really is that grim for the Democrats. The recriminations will be fierce.

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Bleak Polls for Dems

Registered voters favor Republicans by 48 percent and Democrats by 43 percent in Gallup’s generic congressional ballot for the week of July 26 through Aug. 1. Only 41 percent of those surveyed Tuesday through Sunday approved of the way Obama is handling his job, according to the USA TODAY/Gallup Poll. (In Gallup’s separate daily tracking poll, his approval was at 45 percent Monday.) And the Rothenberg Political Report says there are 88 seats in play — 76 of them Democratic. The GOP needs to win 39 seats to regain control of the House.

But remember, boys and girls, none of this has anything to do with Obama or his policies. He’s doing fantastically well as president; the Obama administration and Democratic lawmakers simply have a communications problem. Once they correct that small matter, “progressives” will dominate the political world.

Of course they will.

Registered voters favor Republicans by 48 percent and Democrats by 43 percent in Gallup’s generic congressional ballot for the week of July 26 through Aug. 1. Only 41 percent of those surveyed Tuesday through Sunday approved of the way Obama is handling his job, according to the USA TODAY/Gallup Poll. (In Gallup’s separate daily tracking poll, his approval was at 45 percent Monday.) And the Rothenberg Political Report says there are 88 seats in play — 76 of them Democratic. The GOP needs to win 39 seats to regain control of the House.

But remember, boys and girls, none of this has anything to do with Obama or his policies. He’s doing fantastically well as president; the Obama administration and Democratic lawmakers simply have a communications problem. Once they correct that small matter, “progressives” will dominate the political world.

Of course they will.

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Obama’s War to Lose

In the most recent USA Today/Gallup poll, there is only bad news for Obama:

Support for Obama’s management of the war fell to 36%, down from 48% in a February poll. Now, a record 43% also say it was a mistake to go to war there after the terrorist attacks in 2001. The decline in support contributed to the lowest approval ratings of Obama’s presidency. Amid a lengthy recession, more Americans support his handling of the economy (39%) than the war. Even Obama’s handling of the war in Iraq received record-low approval, despite a drawdown of 90,000 troops and the planned, on-schedule end of U.S. combat operations there this month. Those surveyed Tuesday through Sunday disapproved 53%-41% of the way Obama is handling his job, his lowest ratings since he took office in January 2009.

Obama’s lackluster efforts to explain the stakes in the war and his refusal to drop the timetable for withdrawal of troops have, one can gather, left liberals, conservatives, and those in between unsatisfied. Having lost so much ground with the American people and having frittered away his credibility on a variety of topics, Obama is in a poor position now to rally support. The best he can do on Afghanistan is to allow Gen. David Petraeus to try to win the war. Maybe the most he can do at this stage is get out of the way. Oh, and it wouldn’t hurt to lift that withdrawal deadline.

It is very hard to win a war, especially a long one against a cagey enemy, without a fully engaged commander in chief and a wholehearted commitment to victory. And one thing is for certain: if Obama is unpopular now, imagine what his ratings will be if he presides over defeat in a war he declared critical to our national security. Let’s hope these poll results, if nothing else, motivate Obama to show some leadership in an increasingly unpopular war. That takes a steel spine — and perhaps Obama can put aside his personal peevishness and ask George W. Bush for some pointers in that department. After all, if not for Bush, we would not now be celebrating a successful conclusion in that battlefront in the war against Islamic terrorists.

In the most recent USA Today/Gallup poll, there is only bad news for Obama:

Support for Obama’s management of the war fell to 36%, down from 48% in a February poll. Now, a record 43% also say it was a mistake to go to war there after the terrorist attacks in 2001. The decline in support contributed to the lowest approval ratings of Obama’s presidency. Amid a lengthy recession, more Americans support his handling of the economy (39%) than the war. Even Obama’s handling of the war in Iraq received record-low approval, despite a drawdown of 90,000 troops and the planned, on-schedule end of U.S. combat operations there this month. Those surveyed Tuesday through Sunday disapproved 53%-41% of the way Obama is handling his job, his lowest ratings since he took office in January 2009.

Obama’s lackluster efforts to explain the stakes in the war and his refusal to drop the timetable for withdrawal of troops have, one can gather, left liberals, conservatives, and those in between unsatisfied. Having lost so much ground with the American people and having frittered away his credibility on a variety of topics, Obama is in a poor position now to rally support. The best he can do on Afghanistan is to allow Gen. David Petraeus to try to win the war. Maybe the most he can do at this stage is get out of the way. Oh, and it wouldn’t hurt to lift that withdrawal deadline.

It is very hard to win a war, especially a long one against a cagey enemy, without a fully engaged commander in chief and a wholehearted commitment to victory. And one thing is for certain: if Obama is unpopular now, imagine what his ratings will be if he presides over defeat in a war he declared critical to our national security. Let’s hope these poll results, if nothing else, motivate Obama to show some leadership in an increasingly unpopular war. That takes a steel spine — and perhaps Obama can put aside his personal peevishness and ask George W. Bush for some pointers in that department. After all, if not for Bush, we would not now be celebrating a successful conclusion in that battlefront in the war against Islamic terrorists.

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A Stroll Down Memory Lane

According to USA Today, in an interview Vice President Biden said that

former president George W. Bush deserved some credit for sending additional troops to Iraq in 2007. But even though Biden said the surge worked militarily, he said he didn’t regret his vote in the Senate against it because Bush did not include a plan to address Iraq’s political problems. “I don’t regret a thing, what I said or did about Iraq policy,” he said. It was the Obama administration, Biden said, that put in the plan that led to success. “What was lacking in the past was a coherent political process.”

Where oh where to begin? Perhaps with a short journey down Memory Lane.

In January 2007, after President Bush announced the so-called surge of forces in Iraq, then-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.” He called it “doomed” and “a fantasy.”

“The surge isn’t going to work either tactically or strategically,” Biden assured the Boston Globe in the summer of 2007. Even well into 2008, when the surge had made undeniable progress, Biden was still insisting it was a failure, that Bush had no strategy, and that “there is little evidence the Iraqis will settle their differences peacefully any time soon.”

If you’d like to see Biden in his own inimitable words, take a look at this.

One would be hard pressed to think of another person who was as persistently and consistently wrong about the surge as Biden (though Barack Obama would give him a good run for his money). Biden went so far as to advocate dividing up Iraq into three parts based on ethnicity, one of the more ill-informed and dangerous ideas to emerge among war critics.

The truth is that if Joe Biden had had his way, the war would have been lost, Iraq would probably be engulfed in something close to genocide, al-Qaeda would have emerged with its most important victory ever, and America would have sustained a defeat far worse than it did in Vietnam.

As for Biden’s claim that what was lacking in the past was a “coherent political process,” let’s be generous to the vice president: he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. The then-American ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, was one of its outstanding diplomats. And unlike the situation in Afghanistan under the Obama administration, in Iraq the commanding general at the time (David Petraeus) and the U.S. ambassador (Crocker) worked hand-in-glove. They were an extraordinarily effective team. In order to refresh Biden’s memory of the coherent political process that was in place, he might want to review Ambassador Crocker’s Senate testimony from September 2007, before a committee Biden himself sat on.

Of course, none of what Biden said is especially surprising. Over the years he has shown himself to be loquacious, personable, comically self-important (this video is priceless), and a somewhat buffoonish figure (who can forget this gem or these incidents here and here). Beyond that, if you go back to his record since he was first elected to Congress in the early 1970s, you will find few if any members of Congress whose record on national-security matters can be judged to have been as consistently bad as Biden’s (see here).

Over the years, Mr. Biden has said a countless number of things that are silly and wrong. We can add what he said to USA Today to the list. And you can bet there will be plenty more to come.

According to USA Today, in an interview Vice President Biden said that

former president George W. Bush deserved some credit for sending additional troops to Iraq in 2007. But even though Biden said the surge worked militarily, he said he didn’t regret his vote in the Senate against it because Bush did not include a plan to address Iraq’s political problems. “I don’t regret a thing, what I said or did about Iraq policy,” he said. It was the Obama administration, Biden said, that put in the plan that led to success. “What was lacking in the past was a coherent political process.”

Where oh where to begin? Perhaps with a short journey down Memory Lane.

In January 2007, after President Bush announced the so-called surge of forces in Iraq, then-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.” He called it “doomed” and “a fantasy.”

“The surge isn’t going to work either tactically or strategically,” Biden assured the Boston Globe in the summer of 2007. Even well into 2008, when the surge had made undeniable progress, Biden was still insisting it was a failure, that Bush had no strategy, and that “there is little evidence the Iraqis will settle their differences peacefully any time soon.”

If you’d like to see Biden in his own inimitable words, take a look at this.

One would be hard pressed to think of another person who was as persistently and consistently wrong about the surge as Biden (though Barack Obama would give him a good run for his money). Biden went so far as to advocate dividing up Iraq into three parts based on ethnicity, one of the more ill-informed and dangerous ideas to emerge among war critics.

The truth is that if Joe Biden had had his way, the war would have been lost, Iraq would probably be engulfed in something close to genocide, al-Qaeda would have emerged with its most important victory ever, and America would have sustained a defeat far worse than it did in Vietnam.

As for Biden’s claim that what was lacking in the past was a “coherent political process,” let’s be generous to the vice president: he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. The then-American ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, was one of its outstanding diplomats. And unlike the situation in Afghanistan under the Obama administration, in Iraq the commanding general at the time (David Petraeus) and the U.S. ambassador (Crocker) worked hand-in-glove. They were an extraordinarily effective team. In order to refresh Biden’s memory of the coherent political process that was in place, he might want to review Ambassador Crocker’s Senate testimony from September 2007, before a committee Biden himself sat on.

Of course, none of what Biden said is especially surprising. Over the years he has shown himself to be loquacious, personable, comically self-important (this video is priceless), and a somewhat buffoonish figure (who can forget this gem or these incidents here and here). Beyond that, if you go back to his record since he was first elected to Congress in the early 1970s, you will find few if any members of Congress whose record on national-security matters can be judged to have been as consistently bad as Biden’s (see here).

Over the years, Mr. Biden has said a countless number of things that are silly and wrong. We can add what he said to USA Today to the list. And you can bet there will be plenty more to come.

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Obama’s Problem Isn’t Leadership — It’s Liberal Policy

In the endless wake of the BP oil spill, the new word is leadership. Everyone from Mitt Romney to James Carville to Maureen Dowd says that Barack Obama is in desperate need of some. In the New York Times, Dowd questioned how Obama came to “lose control of his own narrative.” On Good Morning America, Carville told George Stephanopoulos that Obama “looks like he’s not in control.” Romney penned a USA Today column about the absence of presidential command. “When a crisis is upon us,” he wrote, “America wants a leader, not a politician.” Go to any source and you’ll learn that Obama plays too much golf, shows too little anger, and is far too aloof to be a successful leader.

The criticisms have merit but are, in the end, secondary. If Obama’s policies — in the Gulf and beyond — were demonstrably effective, the same leadership style would be overlooked or reflexively praised. Reclaiming your own narrative — whatever that means — won’t get results; nor will looking like you’re in control or projecting bottomless empathy. Successful policy implementation gets results.

The popular exemplar here is Rudolph Giuliani. Yet national memory has skipped over important mundane details because New York City did, in fact, pull through after it was attacked. “We saw leadership on Sept. 11, 2001,” Romney wrote. “Rudy camped out at Ground Zero — he didn’t hole up in his office or retreat to his residence.” But if that’s all Giuliani did, his 9/11 performance would have gone down as hollow grandstanding. As Michael Powell reported in the New York Times, “There was garbage pickup on Sept. 12. City payroll checks went out on Sept. 13. On the sixth day, the stock exchange opened. Security was omnipresent.”

Speeches aside, had trash piled up on street corners and security been wanting, no one would have called Giuliani “America’s mayor.” Leadership isn’t an impressionistic art form in which symbols are aligned and tones calibrated in a decision-free vacuum. Leadership, rather, is public perception alongside the fact of concrete accomplishment.

And is it really accurate to say that Obama lacks the ability to head up a crusade, anyway? Even if we discount his force-of-nature presidential campaign, it wasn’t long ago that pundits were calling him unstoppable for ramming through transformative health-care legislation with barely a handful of true supporters.

Blaming Americans’ sense of uncertainty on the absence of a vaporous trait called presidential leadership isn’t only wrong; it’s detrimental to recovery because it lets bad policy off the hook. Obama believes in the power of government to fix the glitches and hazards of the free market. But every day, as the country watches the furious leak on the BP spill-cam juxtaposed with the manufactured fury of the White House, it’s more convinced of the limitations of big government. And as Americans learn of Washington’s pressure to push offshore drilling farther out into more risky depths, faith in regulation becomes its opposite. All this leaves Obama selling unrealistic policy. No amount of press conferences or beachfront photo-ops will change that. Giuliani simply held fast to what he knew the government could reasonably deliver: police protection and basic municipal services.

Most critical, the policy failings highlighted by the reaction to the spill reinforce Americans’ misgivings about the administration’s larger policy direction. People want jobs and, despite Obama’s claim of “saving” them, the most recent job-growth numbers prove that federal spending is insufficient to the task of raising employment levels. (Nevertheless, the president has just asked Congress for an additional $50 billion in recovery funds.) If Obama was successfully creating jobs, no one would dream of saddling him with the responsibility for a piece of commercial machinery that went bad 5,000 feet under the ocean. On top of unemployment worries, new independent reports on ObamaCare have cast credible doubts on its claims to consumer choice, expanded senior coverage, and general affordability. Not least damaging to Obama’s vision of a more activist federal government is the historic economic collapse of the European entitlement state.

On June 13, the New York Times’s Caucus blog noted, “Polls show that American voters give Mr. Obama the same mixed evaluation as before the spill. They like him personally but have reservations about his policies.” So, for all the convictions of the pundit class, this isn’t about the president’s personal qualities, leadership included. If Obama’s policies were enjoying success, Americans would be happy to call him a new kind of leader, a stealth leader, a reluctant leader, something. But with his agenda in such disrepair, it’s hard even to imagine what exactly Obama is expected to lead. The candidate who had promised to lower the sea levels is now stuck on the ocean floor.

In the endless wake of the BP oil spill, the new word is leadership. Everyone from Mitt Romney to James Carville to Maureen Dowd says that Barack Obama is in desperate need of some. In the New York Times, Dowd questioned how Obama came to “lose control of his own narrative.” On Good Morning America, Carville told George Stephanopoulos that Obama “looks like he’s not in control.” Romney penned a USA Today column about the absence of presidential command. “When a crisis is upon us,” he wrote, “America wants a leader, not a politician.” Go to any source and you’ll learn that Obama plays too much golf, shows too little anger, and is far too aloof to be a successful leader.

The criticisms have merit but are, in the end, secondary. If Obama’s policies — in the Gulf and beyond — were demonstrably effective, the same leadership style would be overlooked or reflexively praised. Reclaiming your own narrative — whatever that means — won’t get results; nor will looking like you’re in control or projecting bottomless empathy. Successful policy implementation gets results.

The popular exemplar here is Rudolph Giuliani. Yet national memory has skipped over important mundane details because New York City did, in fact, pull through after it was attacked. “We saw leadership on Sept. 11, 2001,” Romney wrote. “Rudy camped out at Ground Zero — he didn’t hole up in his office or retreat to his residence.” But if that’s all Giuliani did, his 9/11 performance would have gone down as hollow grandstanding. As Michael Powell reported in the New York Times, “There was garbage pickup on Sept. 12. City payroll checks went out on Sept. 13. On the sixth day, the stock exchange opened. Security was omnipresent.”

Speeches aside, had trash piled up on street corners and security been wanting, no one would have called Giuliani “America’s mayor.” Leadership isn’t an impressionistic art form in which symbols are aligned and tones calibrated in a decision-free vacuum. Leadership, rather, is public perception alongside the fact of concrete accomplishment.

And is it really accurate to say that Obama lacks the ability to head up a crusade, anyway? Even if we discount his force-of-nature presidential campaign, it wasn’t long ago that pundits were calling him unstoppable for ramming through transformative health-care legislation with barely a handful of true supporters.

Blaming Americans’ sense of uncertainty on the absence of a vaporous trait called presidential leadership isn’t only wrong; it’s detrimental to recovery because it lets bad policy off the hook. Obama believes in the power of government to fix the glitches and hazards of the free market. But every day, as the country watches the furious leak on the BP spill-cam juxtaposed with the manufactured fury of the White House, it’s more convinced of the limitations of big government. And as Americans learn of Washington’s pressure to push offshore drilling farther out into more risky depths, faith in regulation becomes its opposite. All this leaves Obama selling unrealistic policy. No amount of press conferences or beachfront photo-ops will change that. Giuliani simply held fast to what he knew the government could reasonably deliver: police protection and basic municipal services.

Most critical, the policy failings highlighted by the reaction to the spill reinforce Americans’ misgivings about the administration’s larger policy direction. People want jobs and, despite Obama’s claim of “saving” them, the most recent job-growth numbers prove that federal spending is insufficient to the task of raising employment levels. (Nevertheless, the president has just asked Congress for an additional $50 billion in recovery funds.) If Obama was successfully creating jobs, no one would dream of saddling him with the responsibility for a piece of commercial machinery that went bad 5,000 feet under the ocean. On top of unemployment worries, new independent reports on ObamaCare have cast credible doubts on its claims to consumer choice, expanded senior coverage, and general affordability. Not least damaging to Obama’s vision of a more activist federal government is the historic economic collapse of the European entitlement state.

On June 13, the New York Times’s Caucus blog noted, “Polls show that American voters give Mr. Obama the same mixed evaluation as before the spill. They like him personally but have reservations about his policies.” So, for all the convictions of the pundit class, this isn’t about the president’s personal qualities, leadership included. If Obama’s policies were enjoying success, Americans would be happy to call him a new kind of leader, a stealth leader, a reluctant leader, something. But with his agenda in such disrepair, it’s hard even to imagine what exactly Obama is expected to lead. The candidate who had promised to lower the sea levels is now stuck on the ocean floor.

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Judged by Results

Obama sailed into office on a wave of voter anxiety about the economy and dissatisfaction with the Bush administration. (I haven’t seen a recent poll asking voters if voters would prefer Bush or Obama, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a dead heat.) The latest survey highlights how one-party Democratic rule has intensified this sentiment:

Americans are increasingly optimistic about the economy, but that brightening outlook hasn’t softened their outrage over the country’s direction and its political leadership, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds. Two-thirds of those surveyed this week describe themselves as “angry” about the way things are going in the USA, the highest percentage in the decade the question has been asked. By nearly 2-1, they would rather vote for a candidate who has never served in Congress over one with experience. … The findings are sobering for incumbents who hope an improving economy will ameliorate the throw-the-bums-out sentiment before November.

Moreover, the enthusiasm gap persists: 50 percent of Republicans are extremely motivated to vote, while only 30 percent of Democrats are.

The professional buck-passers attribute this, of course, to events before Obama was elected or to events that they suggest are beyond Obama’s control. David Axelrod says: “There’s been a lot of frustrations and grievance building up for years. For many Americans, it (the recovery) still hasn’t touched their lives.” That would be a year and a half into Obama’s presidency. Did he not say, “I expect to be judged by results”? He is — and that’s a problem for the entire Democratic Party.

Obama sailed into office on a wave of voter anxiety about the economy and dissatisfaction with the Bush administration. (I haven’t seen a recent poll asking voters if voters would prefer Bush or Obama, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a dead heat.) The latest survey highlights how one-party Democratic rule has intensified this sentiment:

Americans are increasingly optimistic about the economy, but that brightening outlook hasn’t softened their outrage over the country’s direction and its political leadership, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds. Two-thirds of those surveyed this week describe themselves as “angry” about the way things are going in the USA, the highest percentage in the decade the question has been asked. By nearly 2-1, they would rather vote for a candidate who has never served in Congress over one with experience. … The findings are sobering for incumbents who hope an improving economy will ameliorate the throw-the-bums-out sentiment before November.

Moreover, the enthusiasm gap persists: 50 percent of Republicans are extremely motivated to vote, while only 30 percent of Democrats are.

The professional buck-passers attribute this, of course, to events before Obama was elected or to events that they suggest are beyond Obama’s control. David Axelrod says: “There’s been a lot of frustrations and grievance building up for years. For many Americans, it (the recovery) still hasn’t touched their lives.” That would be a year and a half into Obama’s presidency. Did he not say, “I expect to be judged by results”? He is — and that’s a problem for the entire Democratic Party.

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Into the Danger Zone

More bad news for Democrats, courtesy of Gallup:

A record-low percentage of U.S. voters — 28% — say most members of Congress deserve to be re-elected. The previous low was 29% in October 1992.

The trend for previous midterm elections reveals that the 28% re-elect figure puts the sitting majority party in a danger zone. In the two recent midterm elections in which the congressional balance of power changed (1994 and 2006), the percentage of voters saying most members deserved to be re-elected fell below 40%, as it does today. By contrast, in 1998 and 2002, when the existing Republican majority was maintained, 55% or better held this view.

Additionally, 65% of registered voters — the highest in Gallup history, and by far the highest in any recent midterm year — now say most members of Congress do not deserve re-election.

This strong rebuke of congressional incumbents comes from a March 26-28 USA Today/Gallup survey. The same poll finds 49% of voters, a near-record low, saying their own member of Congress deserves to be re-elected. This marks only the second time since Gallup began asking this question in 1992 that the figure has dipped below 50%, and the first on the doorstep of a midterm election.

For Gallup, a notably measured and understated outfit, to declare that the results of this poll put “the sitting majority party in a danger zone” ought to put the sitting majority party into a panic zone. But I imagine many of them are, if not quite there, at least inching up to it. Call it the bitter fruit of Obamaism and ObamaCare.

More bad news for Democrats, courtesy of Gallup:

A record-low percentage of U.S. voters — 28% — say most members of Congress deserve to be re-elected. The previous low was 29% in October 1992.

The trend for previous midterm elections reveals that the 28% re-elect figure puts the sitting majority party in a danger zone. In the two recent midterm elections in which the congressional balance of power changed (1994 and 2006), the percentage of voters saying most members deserved to be re-elected fell below 40%, as it does today. By contrast, in 1998 and 2002, when the existing Republican majority was maintained, 55% or better held this view.

Additionally, 65% of registered voters — the highest in Gallup history, and by far the highest in any recent midterm year — now say most members of Congress do not deserve re-election.

This strong rebuke of congressional incumbents comes from a March 26-28 USA Today/Gallup survey. The same poll finds 49% of voters, a near-record low, saying their own member of Congress deserves to be re-elected. This marks only the second time since Gallup began asking this question in 1992 that the figure has dipped below 50%, and the first on the doorstep of a midterm election.

For Gallup, a notably measured and understated outfit, to declare that the results of this poll put “the sitting majority party in a danger zone” ought to put the sitting majority party into a panic zone. But I imagine many of them are, if not quite there, at least inching up to it. Call it the bitter fruit of Obamaism and ObamaCare.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Pat Buchanan or Joe Klein? “Each new report of settlement expansion … each new seizure of Palestinian property, each new West Bank clash between Palestinians and Israeli troops inflames the Arab street, humiliates our Arab allies, exposes America as a weakling that cannot stand up to Israel, and imperils our troops and their mission in Afghanistan and Iraq.” Hard to tell these days.

Here’s someone who’s not confused about the meaning of Passover: “‘Next year in Jerusalem’ will be the refrain echoed by Jewish families as they finish their Seders. … It is a stark reminder that whatever the threats the Jewish people have faced, whatever the struggles, their connection to Jerusalem is ancient and unshakable. On this Passover holiday, our family sends our best wishes to all who are celebrating. Chag kasher V’Sameach. Happy Passover. And next year in Jerusalem.”

The Obami’s not-at-all smart diplomacy: “Benny Begin, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s inner cabinet, described Washington’s scrutiny on Jerusalem as departing from previous U.S. administrations’ view that the city’s status should be resolved in peace negotiations. ‘It’s bothersome, and certainly worrying,’ Begin told Israel Radio. ‘This change will definitely bring about the opposite to the declared objective. It will bring about a hardening in the policy of the Arabs and of the Palestinian Authority.’”

Sound familiar? “A consummate and genteel academic who holds degrees from two of the nation’s top universities.” The Los Angeles Times praises Tom Campbell. But maybe a Republican version of Obama (especially one so comfortable with Obama’s assault on Israel) isn’t going to win over Republican voters.

Peter Brown of the Quinnipiac poll on the public reaction to ObamaCare: “The Democrats said the American people will grow to love this. We’ll find out. At this point, they’re not exactly jumping up and down.” It sure isn’t helping Democrats in Missouri: “Missouri voters continue to be unhappy with Barack Obama and his health care plan and that’s helped Roy Blunt to take the lead in the US Senate race. Blunt is up 45-41 on Robin Carnahan, but that result probably has more to do with how the state feels about Barack Obama than it does about the candidates themselves.”

But it solved the enthusiasm gap, right? Uh, no. “Fully 55% of voters registered as GOPers describe themselves as ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ enthusiastic about voting for Congress, while just 36% of Dems describe themselves the same way.”

Actually, the majority of the electorate is jumping up and down to repeal it: “One week after the House of Representatives passed the health care plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats, 54% of the nation’s likely voters still favor repealing the new law. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 42% oppose repeal.”

That may include younger voters: “Health insurance premiums for young adults are expected to rise about 17 percent once they’re required to buy insurance four years from now.”

Who knew, right? “Nearly two-thirds of Americans say the health care overhaul signed into law last week costs too much and expands the government’s role in health care too far, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, underscoring an uphill selling job ahead for President Obama and congressional Democrats. Those surveyed are inclined to fear that the massive legislation will increase their costs and hurt the quality of health care their families receive, although they are more positive about its impact on the nation’s health care system overall. … The risk for them is that continued opposition will fuel calls for repeal and dog Democrats in November’s congressional elections.”

CNN’s a ratings flop, explains the New York Times. But you have to read to the 14th and last graph to learn: “At the same time, Fox News, which had its biggest year in 2009, continues to add viewers.”

Pat Buchanan or Joe Klein? “Each new report of settlement expansion … each new seizure of Palestinian property, each new West Bank clash between Palestinians and Israeli troops inflames the Arab street, humiliates our Arab allies, exposes America as a weakling that cannot stand up to Israel, and imperils our troops and their mission in Afghanistan and Iraq.” Hard to tell these days.

Here’s someone who’s not confused about the meaning of Passover: “‘Next year in Jerusalem’ will be the refrain echoed by Jewish families as they finish their Seders. … It is a stark reminder that whatever the threats the Jewish people have faced, whatever the struggles, their connection to Jerusalem is ancient and unshakable. On this Passover holiday, our family sends our best wishes to all who are celebrating. Chag kasher V’Sameach. Happy Passover. And next year in Jerusalem.”

The Obami’s not-at-all smart diplomacy: “Benny Begin, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s inner cabinet, described Washington’s scrutiny on Jerusalem as departing from previous U.S. administrations’ view that the city’s status should be resolved in peace negotiations. ‘It’s bothersome, and certainly worrying,’ Begin told Israel Radio. ‘This change will definitely bring about the opposite to the declared objective. It will bring about a hardening in the policy of the Arabs and of the Palestinian Authority.’”

Sound familiar? “A consummate and genteel academic who holds degrees from two of the nation’s top universities.” The Los Angeles Times praises Tom Campbell. But maybe a Republican version of Obama (especially one so comfortable with Obama’s assault on Israel) isn’t going to win over Republican voters.

Peter Brown of the Quinnipiac poll on the public reaction to ObamaCare: “The Democrats said the American people will grow to love this. We’ll find out. At this point, they’re not exactly jumping up and down.” It sure isn’t helping Democrats in Missouri: “Missouri voters continue to be unhappy with Barack Obama and his health care plan and that’s helped Roy Blunt to take the lead in the US Senate race. Blunt is up 45-41 on Robin Carnahan, but that result probably has more to do with how the state feels about Barack Obama than it does about the candidates themselves.”

But it solved the enthusiasm gap, right? Uh, no. “Fully 55% of voters registered as GOPers describe themselves as ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ enthusiastic about voting for Congress, while just 36% of Dems describe themselves the same way.”

Actually, the majority of the electorate is jumping up and down to repeal it: “One week after the House of Representatives passed the health care plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats, 54% of the nation’s likely voters still favor repealing the new law. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 42% oppose repeal.”

That may include younger voters: “Health insurance premiums for young adults are expected to rise about 17 percent once they’re required to buy insurance four years from now.”

Who knew, right? “Nearly two-thirds of Americans say the health care overhaul signed into law last week costs too much and expands the government’s role in health care too far, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, underscoring an uphill selling job ahead for President Obama and congressional Democrats. Those surveyed are inclined to fear that the massive legislation will increase their costs and hurt the quality of health care their families receive, although they are more positive about its impact on the nation’s health care system overall. … The risk for them is that continued opposition will fuel calls for repeal and dog Democrats in November’s congressional elections.”

CNN’s a ratings flop, explains the New York Times. But you have to read to the 14th and last graph to learn: “At the same time, Fox News, which had its biggest year in 2009, continues to add viewers.”

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All Local Politics Is National

Jen cites a USA Today/Gallup poll that finds an overwhelming 72 percent of those surveyed Wednesday say Brown’s victory “reflects frustrations shared by many Americans, and the president and members of Congress should pay attention to it.” Just 18 percent say it “reflects political conditions in Massachusetts and doesn’t have a larger meaning for national politics.”

That will come to news to E.J. Dionne Jr., who, in a frantic pre-spin piece over at the Washington Post, wrote, “the important local factors of the sort [the Boston Globe‘s Joan] Vennochi underscores shouldn’t be overlooked in the effort to draw grand lessons about what this race means for the future of Obama, liberalism and our republic itself. Election results rarely have a single explanation.” Elsewhere in his PostPartisan piece, Dionne quotes Tip O’Neill’s line “All politics is still local.”

How convenient for E.J. to stumble across this insight just before the Democratic party’s historic loss in Massachusetts. Of course, every non-presidential election has some element of local politics involved; what made the Massachusetts race unusual is the degree to which it was nationalized and had national implications.

It should be said that Dionne’s track record is fairly spotty during the Age of Obama. Last week he predicted that the national attention of the race came just in the nick of time and that Martha Coakley would pull out a victory in his home state. And back in May, Dionne was counseling Republicans that they had to decide between “doctrinal purity” and winning — and that winning meant nominating “Obama huggers” — Republicans who had figuratively embraced the Obama agenda and literally embraced Obama himself.

Right now you can hardly find Democrats who want to hug Obama, figuratively or literally; and perhaps no non-presidential election in our lifetime has had larger meaning for national politics. The political ground has been shifting underneath us for many months now; much of the political class has ignored it. It will be interesting to see if liberals end their self-delusion in the wake of Brown’s epic win. I rather doubt they will.

Jen cites a USA Today/Gallup poll that finds an overwhelming 72 percent of those surveyed Wednesday say Brown’s victory “reflects frustrations shared by many Americans, and the president and members of Congress should pay attention to it.” Just 18 percent say it “reflects political conditions in Massachusetts and doesn’t have a larger meaning for national politics.”

That will come to news to E.J. Dionne Jr., who, in a frantic pre-spin piece over at the Washington Post, wrote, “the important local factors of the sort [the Boston Globe‘s Joan] Vennochi underscores shouldn’t be overlooked in the effort to draw grand lessons about what this race means for the future of Obama, liberalism and our republic itself. Election results rarely have a single explanation.” Elsewhere in his PostPartisan piece, Dionne quotes Tip O’Neill’s line “All politics is still local.”

How convenient for E.J. to stumble across this insight just before the Democratic party’s historic loss in Massachusetts. Of course, every non-presidential election has some element of local politics involved; what made the Massachusetts race unusual is the degree to which it was nationalized and had national implications.

It should be said that Dionne’s track record is fairly spotty during the Age of Obama. Last week he predicted that the national attention of the race came just in the nick of time and that Martha Coakley would pull out a victory in his home state. And back in May, Dionne was counseling Republicans that they had to decide between “doctrinal purity” and winning — and that winning meant nominating “Obama huggers” — Republicans who had figuratively embraced the Obama agenda and literally embraced Obama himself.

Right now you can hardly find Democrats who want to hug Obama, figuratively or literally; and perhaps no non-presidential election in our lifetime has had larger meaning for national politics. The political ground has been shifting underneath us for many months now; much of the political class has ignored it. It will be interesting to see if liberals end their self-delusion in the wake of Brown’s epic win. I rather doubt they will.

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The Public Tells Obama to Stop

“In case there was any doubt, a new poll confirms that the public really, Mr. President, honestly, no kidding, wants you to stop!” That’s what Obama’s staff should be telling him when they put this on his desk:

A 55% majority of Americans say President Obama and congressional Democrats should suspend work on the health care bill that has been on the verge of passage and consider alternatives that would draw more Republican support, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds. …

An overwhelming 72% of those surveyed Wednesday say Brown’s victory “reflects frustrations shared by many Americans, and the president and members of Congress should pay attention to it.” Just 18% say it “reflects political conditions in Massachusetts and doesn’t have a larger meaning for national politics.”

And if that isn’t enough to stir the president, the survey also shows that Democrats shouldn’t have made health care their top priority. (“Forty-six percent say health care is important but there are other problems they should address first, and 19% say health care shouldn’t be a major priority.”)

You’d think the White House would take all that to heart. But increasingly it seems that it matters less what Obama says and what his flacks echo. It’s the rank-and-file membership of the Democratic House and Senate caucuses who seem to be putting on the breaks, talking about slowing things down, looking for a “stripped down” version of health care (which “would amount to a major retreat from Obama’s initial vision of near-universal coverage — a stunning comedown made necessary by Republican Scott Brown’s Senate win”), and sounding like they really have digested the Massachusetts election results.

“In case there was any doubt, a new poll confirms that the public really, Mr. President, honestly, no kidding, wants you to stop!” That’s what Obama’s staff should be telling him when they put this on his desk:

A 55% majority of Americans say President Obama and congressional Democrats should suspend work on the health care bill that has been on the verge of passage and consider alternatives that would draw more Republican support, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds. …

An overwhelming 72% of those surveyed Wednesday say Brown’s victory “reflects frustrations shared by many Americans, and the president and members of Congress should pay attention to it.” Just 18% say it “reflects political conditions in Massachusetts and doesn’t have a larger meaning for national politics.”

And if that isn’t enough to stir the president, the survey also shows that Democrats shouldn’t have made health care their top priority. (“Forty-six percent say health care is important but there are other problems they should address first, and 19% say health care shouldn’t be a major priority.”)

You’d think the White House would take all that to heart. But increasingly it seems that it matters less what Obama says and what his flacks echo. It’s the rank-and-file membership of the Democratic House and Senate caucuses who seem to be putting on the breaks, talking about slowing things down, looking for a “stripped down” version of health care (which “would amount to a major retreat from Obama’s initial vision of near-universal coverage — a stunning comedown made necessary by Republican Scott Brown’s Senate win”), and sounding like they really have digested the Massachusetts election results.

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James Jones: Prepare to Be Shocked by Our Incompetence

The Obama administration’s failure to block the Christmas Day bomber is shocking. They really have messed up. Even though they wouldn’t label it a jihadist attack, Fort Hood was another screw-up. So the Obama team has seen two attacks on the homeland — two more than in all the years following 9/11. We can’t afford a third. Is this the conservative case against Obama? No, this is the administration’s own national security adviser, James Jones, telling us we are going to freak out when we learn what stumblebums they all are. USA Today reports:

White House national security adviser James Jones says Americans will feel “a certain shock” when they read an account being released Thursday of the missed clues that could have prevented the alleged Christmas Day bomber from ever boarding the plane.

President Obama “is legitimately and correctly alarmed that things that were available, bits of information that were available, patterns of behavior that were available, were not acted on,” Jones said in an interview Wednesday with USA Today.

“That’s two strikes,” Obama’s top White House aide on defense and foreign policy issues said, referring to the foiled bombing of the Detroit-bound airliner and the shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, in November. In that case, too, officials failed to act when red flags were raised about an Army psychiatrist, Maj. Nidal Hasan. He has been charged with killing 13 people.
Jones said Obama “certainly doesn’t want that third strike, and neither does anybody else.”

Given all that, it seems inexplicable that no jobs will be lost in the administration nor thoughts given to reversing their most significant policy decisions, which now seem utterly inappropriate (e.g., closing Guantanamo, setting a public trial for KSM, ending the use of enhanced interrogation techniques). The Obama team will have new and mind-numbing ways of hassling airline passengers. They will rejigger the watch lists. But real, fundamental change, or a meaningful personnel change? I wouldn’t bet on it. So get ready to be shocked — shocked at the incompetence and shocked that nothing ever provokes meaningful self-evaluation by Obama and his team.

The Obama administration’s failure to block the Christmas Day bomber is shocking. They really have messed up. Even though they wouldn’t label it a jihadist attack, Fort Hood was another screw-up. So the Obama team has seen two attacks on the homeland — two more than in all the years following 9/11. We can’t afford a third. Is this the conservative case against Obama? No, this is the administration’s own national security adviser, James Jones, telling us we are going to freak out when we learn what stumblebums they all are. USA Today reports:

White House national security adviser James Jones says Americans will feel “a certain shock” when they read an account being released Thursday of the missed clues that could have prevented the alleged Christmas Day bomber from ever boarding the plane.

President Obama “is legitimately and correctly alarmed that things that were available, bits of information that were available, patterns of behavior that were available, were not acted on,” Jones said in an interview Wednesday with USA Today.

“That’s two strikes,” Obama’s top White House aide on defense and foreign policy issues said, referring to the foiled bombing of the Detroit-bound airliner and the shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, in November. In that case, too, officials failed to act when red flags were raised about an Army psychiatrist, Maj. Nidal Hasan. He has been charged with killing 13 people.
Jones said Obama “certainly doesn’t want that third strike, and neither does anybody else.”

Given all that, it seems inexplicable that no jobs will be lost in the administration nor thoughts given to reversing their most significant policy decisions, which now seem utterly inappropriate (e.g., closing Guantanamo, setting a public trial for KSM, ending the use of enhanced interrogation techniques). The Obama team will have new and mind-numbing ways of hassling airline passengers. They will rejigger the watch lists. But real, fundamental change, or a meaningful personnel change? I wouldn’t bet on it. So get ready to be shocked — shocked at the incompetence and shocked that nothing ever provokes meaningful self-evaluation by Obama and his team.

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Not Keeping America Safe

Liz Cheney and Debra Burlingame (board members of Keep America Safe), Eileen Trotta (the sister of Officer Louis Pepe, a former federal prison guard who was stabbed in the eye by an al-Qaeda terrorist 10 months before 9/11), and former federal prosecutor Andy McCarthy held a conference call to discuss the decision to move Guantanamo detainees to the Thomson Correctional Center in Illinois. Cheney was blunt, declaring that this was further evidence that the Obama administration was “dedicated to turning the clock back” to a failed pre-9/11 approach, which treated terrorism as a criminal-justice matter. Once here, she explained, the detainees will have “all the rights of U.S. citizens” and the opportunity to seek release onto U.S. soil. They will also have the freedom to plan and plot other terrorist activities, as well as to “radicalize the prison population.” She noted that the Obama team has “no stomach” for keeping in place restrictions on terrorists once they’re in U.S. facilities, pointing to the case of shoe bomber Richard Reid, who after a hunger strike and legal complaint got the restrictions on mail, media access, etc. lifted. (Burlingame later added that it was discovered that the 1993 World Trade Center bombers managed to send some 90 letters to terrorist networks, which used them as prime recruiting tools.)

I asked Cheney what the administration hoped to gain by this, since terrorists would still have to be indefinitely detained and we were simply going to have to re-create the Guantanamo facility on U.S. soil. She confessed that it was “impossible to get inside their heads,” but she emphasized that each and every action of the president should be assessed as to whether it would make Americans safer. She said there is simply “no way to argue” that this makes us safer. She deemed the argument that this will create jobs “disgraceful,” reminding those on the call that there was an overpopulation problem in U.S. prisons and that other prisoners could be moved and the Illinois facility enhanced if they wanted to boost local jobs. She reiterated that Guantanamo is both a “safe and just facility” and that there is “no legitimate justification” for moving them.

In response to a similar query from USA Today as to whether this was an administration effort to eliminate Guantanamo as a “recruiting tool,” Cheney said that the media should “challenge them to show evidence” that it was Guantanamo that was responsible for terror recruitment. Terrorists “are not attacking America because of the way they are detained” but, she explained, because of their hateful Islamic fundamentalist ideology. McCarthy added, “A pretext is not a cause.” It is Islamic ideology and signs of American weakness that, he noted, are what spur recruitment, according to terrorists (including the 1993 bombers) who have been debriefed.

I asked McCarthy what Congress could do. Congress has “remedies,” he noted, including the power to decline funding. Congress is also the “master of federal jurisdiction” and can use that power, for example in the KSM trial, to declare U.S. courts off-limits to enemy combatants. It is, he argues, incumbent on Congress to use “the power of the purse … but also to say in resolutions that this is not the way we want to go.”

This is a preview of the debate that will take place, both in Congress and in the 2010 elections. The question remains: do we want to move terrorists to U.S. soil and treat them as U.S. citizens, with all the attendant rights and security risks? The American people overwhelmingly have rejected this idea. But the Obami say they know better. We’ll see who wins the argument.

Liz Cheney and Debra Burlingame (board members of Keep America Safe), Eileen Trotta (the sister of Officer Louis Pepe, a former federal prison guard who was stabbed in the eye by an al-Qaeda terrorist 10 months before 9/11), and former federal prosecutor Andy McCarthy held a conference call to discuss the decision to move Guantanamo detainees to the Thomson Correctional Center in Illinois. Cheney was blunt, declaring that this was further evidence that the Obama administration was “dedicated to turning the clock back” to a failed pre-9/11 approach, which treated terrorism as a criminal-justice matter. Once here, she explained, the detainees will have “all the rights of U.S. citizens” and the opportunity to seek release onto U.S. soil. They will also have the freedom to plan and plot other terrorist activities, as well as to “radicalize the prison population.” She noted that the Obama team has “no stomach” for keeping in place restrictions on terrorists once they’re in U.S. facilities, pointing to the case of shoe bomber Richard Reid, who after a hunger strike and legal complaint got the restrictions on mail, media access, etc. lifted. (Burlingame later added that it was discovered that the 1993 World Trade Center bombers managed to send some 90 letters to terrorist networks, which used them as prime recruiting tools.)

I asked Cheney what the administration hoped to gain by this, since terrorists would still have to be indefinitely detained and we were simply going to have to re-create the Guantanamo facility on U.S. soil. She confessed that it was “impossible to get inside their heads,” but she emphasized that each and every action of the president should be assessed as to whether it would make Americans safer. She said there is simply “no way to argue” that this makes us safer. She deemed the argument that this will create jobs “disgraceful,” reminding those on the call that there was an overpopulation problem in U.S. prisons and that other prisoners could be moved and the Illinois facility enhanced if they wanted to boost local jobs. She reiterated that Guantanamo is both a “safe and just facility” and that there is “no legitimate justification” for moving them.

In response to a similar query from USA Today as to whether this was an administration effort to eliminate Guantanamo as a “recruiting tool,” Cheney said that the media should “challenge them to show evidence” that it was Guantanamo that was responsible for terror recruitment. Terrorists “are not attacking America because of the way they are detained” but, she explained, because of their hateful Islamic fundamentalist ideology. McCarthy added, “A pretext is not a cause.” It is Islamic ideology and signs of American weakness that, he noted, are what spur recruitment, according to terrorists (including the 1993 bombers) who have been debriefed.

I asked McCarthy what Congress could do. Congress has “remedies,” he noted, including the power to decline funding. Congress is also the “master of federal jurisdiction” and can use that power, for example in the KSM trial, to declare U.S. courts off-limits to enemy combatants. It is, he argues, incumbent on Congress to use “the power of the purse … but also to say in resolutions that this is not the way we want to go.”

This is a preview of the debate that will take place, both in Congress and in the 2010 elections. The question remains: do we want to move terrorists to U.S. soil and treat them as U.S. citizens, with all the attendant rights and security risks? The American people overwhelmingly have rejected this idea. But the Obami say they know better. We’ll see who wins the argument.

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The Obama Agenda Is Sinking Fast

According to a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll out today, in comparison with the approval ratings for modern elected presidents in December of their first year in office, Obama’s standing is the worst. The latest survey puts the president’s approval at 49 percent, with 46 percent disapproval. That is Obama’s narrowest margin of the year.

As a reference point, when he was inaugurated in January, Mr. Obama scored a job rating of 64 percent approve/25 percent disapprove in the USA TODAY/Gallup Poll. To have seen the gap shrink from 39 percentage points to just 3, all in his first year in office, is staggering; the slide has been both rapid and consistent. And what must worry the White House and Democrats most is that this unprecedented drop is not tied to a single event (like, say, Gerald Ford’s pardoning of Richard Nixon) but rather to Obama’s entire governing agenda, from A to Z. The public is rising up against Obamaism, in almost all its particulars. This administration is therefore weaker than many people think – and if ObamaCare passes, it will be weaker still.

President Obama, like President Clinton before him, will need to make some fairly dramatic midcourse corrections. Whether he does or not is another matter (Obama strikes me as significantly more liberal and ideological than Clinton ever was). In any event, these are difficult days for modern liberalism. The high hopes and expectations of Obama and his supporters are crashing down all around them. And those who pronounced the death of conservatism earlier this year look sillier and sillier with every passing month.

According to a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll out today, in comparison with the approval ratings for modern elected presidents in December of their first year in office, Obama’s standing is the worst. The latest survey puts the president’s approval at 49 percent, with 46 percent disapproval. That is Obama’s narrowest margin of the year.

As a reference point, when he was inaugurated in January, Mr. Obama scored a job rating of 64 percent approve/25 percent disapprove in the USA TODAY/Gallup Poll. To have seen the gap shrink from 39 percentage points to just 3, all in his first year in office, is staggering; the slide has been both rapid and consistent. And what must worry the White House and Democrats most is that this unprecedented drop is not tied to a single event (like, say, Gerald Ford’s pardoning of Richard Nixon) but rather to Obama’s entire governing agenda, from A to Z. The public is rising up against Obamaism, in almost all its particulars. This administration is therefore weaker than many people think – and if ObamaCare passes, it will be weaker still.

President Obama, like President Clinton before him, will need to make some fairly dramatic midcourse corrections. Whether he does or not is another matter (Obama strikes me as significantly more liberal and ideological than Clinton ever was). In any event, these are difficult days for modern liberalism. The high hopes and expectations of Obama and his supporters are crashing down all around them. And those who pronounced the death of conservatism earlier this year look sillier and sillier with every passing month.

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The Docs Are Out

Groups that were lured by the White House to dog-and-pony confabs and promised sweetheart deals in exchange for acquiescence on health care have gotten a rude awakening: ObamaCare in its latest incarnation is a terrible bill antithetical to their members’ interests. Well, it’s not like they weren’t warned.

USA Today reports that the Medicare “buy-in” has set off a firestorm from an array of medical groups that have finally figured out what’s afoot:

“Bringing more people into a system that doesn’t work very well is not a good answer,” said Jeffrey Korsmo, executive director of the Mayo Clinic Health Policy Center. “The current Medicare program is not sustainable.” … Many details have not been announced, but the American Hospital Association and the American Medical Association, pounced on a proposal to expand the seniors program because doctors receive less from Medicare than from private insurance for the same procedure. “If more people move into Medicare we’d … bear the financial brunt of this,” said Rich Umbdenstock, president and CEO of the hospital trade group.

Will this opposition from key groups make a difference? Only if senators care about what’s in the bill and whether we’re solving some problem or creating many new ones. And as for those groups that played footsie with the Democratic lawmakers and the White House, it should be a lesson that when liberal politicians come looking for a government-centric health-care “reform” plan, it is best to run the other way and use their resources to educate the public about the dangers of such a scheme (reduced technological innovation, doctor shortages, rationing, medicine by government “experts” rather than medical professionals). Otherwise, patients, hospitals, and doctors are going to wind up the losers.

Groups that were lured by the White House to dog-and-pony confabs and promised sweetheart deals in exchange for acquiescence on health care have gotten a rude awakening: ObamaCare in its latest incarnation is a terrible bill antithetical to their members’ interests. Well, it’s not like they weren’t warned.

USA Today reports that the Medicare “buy-in” has set off a firestorm from an array of medical groups that have finally figured out what’s afoot:

“Bringing more people into a system that doesn’t work very well is not a good answer,” said Jeffrey Korsmo, executive director of the Mayo Clinic Health Policy Center. “The current Medicare program is not sustainable.” … Many details have not been announced, but the American Hospital Association and the American Medical Association, pounced on a proposal to expand the seniors program because doctors receive less from Medicare than from private insurance for the same procedure. “If more people move into Medicare we’d … bear the financial brunt of this,” said Rich Umbdenstock, president and CEO of the hospital trade group.

Will this opposition from key groups make a difference? Only if senators care about what’s in the bill and whether we’re solving some problem or creating many new ones. And as for those groups that played footsie with the Democratic lawmakers and the White House, it should be a lesson that when liberal politicians come looking for a government-centric health-care “reform” plan, it is best to run the other way and use their resources to educate the public about the dangers of such a scheme (reduced technological innovation, doctor shortages, rationing, medicine by government “experts” rather than medical professionals). Otherwise, patients, hospitals, and doctors are going to wind up the losers.

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Obama Color Blind When It Comes to the Recession

Is the Barack Obama of “There is not a black America and a white America . . . but the United States of America” back? On Wednesday, 10 members of the Black Caucus  boycotted a key House committee vote on financial regulations to pressure their fellow members and the White House to focus more attention on targeting assistance to blacks and other minority businesses in the recession. But the president refused to be mau-maued by the caucus. In an interview with USA Today, President Obama said in response to a question about why he is not doing more to help blacks specifically:

The most important thing I can do for the African-American community is the same thing I can do for the American community, period, and that is get the economy going again and get people hiring again.

He may not have much of a clue about how best to do that, but at least he’s not turning the recession into a racial issue. Putting distance between himself and Maxine Waters or Jesse Jackson (whom I recently debated on “The Color of Recession” before a D.C. audience) is not only good politics; it’s also good policy.

Is the Barack Obama of “There is not a black America and a white America . . . but the United States of America” back? On Wednesday, 10 members of the Black Caucus  boycotted a key House committee vote on financial regulations to pressure their fellow members and the White House to focus more attention on targeting assistance to blacks and other minority businesses in the recession. But the president refused to be mau-maued by the caucus. In an interview with USA Today, President Obama said in response to a question about why he is not doing more to help blacks specifically:

The most important thing I can do for the African-American community is the same thing I can do for the American community, period, and that is get the economy going again and get people hiring again.

He may not have much of a clue about how best to do that, but at least he’s not turning the recession into a racial issue. Putting distance between himself and Maxine Waters or Jesse Jackson (whom I recently debated on “The Color of Recession” before a D.C. audience) is not only good politics; it’s also good policy.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Mitt Romney has a 10-point plan to revive the economy. The best idea: “Stop frightening the private sector by continuing to hold GM stock, by imposing tighter and tighter controls on compensation, and by pursuing a public insurance plan to compete with private insurers. Government encroachment on free enterprise is depressing investment and job creation.”

Why not a peace process that works? “What if instead of squandering it for sixty years on victimology and bomb-making the Palestinians had taken all the talent and ingenuity and energy for which they’re famous and expended it on building a state; on establishing a democratic government; on turning malarial swamps and barren deserts into rich, fertile farmland; on pioneering breakthroughs in science, medicine, mathematics, and technology; on music, literature, art, movies; on creating a live nation booming with progress and awash in Nobel Prizes?”

Republican Mike Castle leads by 6 points in the latest poll in the Delaware Senate race.

Gallup polling on Afghanistan: “President Obama has managed to thread the needle with his newly announced Afghanistan strategy, with his approach winning the approval of a majority of both Democrats (58%) and Republicans (55%) in a USA Today/Gallup poll conducted Wednesday night. … Regarding the timetable component of Obama’s new policy, the plurality of Americans, 46%, say it is too soon to set a timetable for beginning to withdraw troops.” Sometimes good policy does make good politics.

Charles Krauthammer has reason to worry over that “call to arms so ambivalent, so tentative, so defensive”: “Words matter because will matters. Success in war depends on three things: a brave and highly skilled soldiery, such as the 2009 U.S. military, the finest counterinsurgency force in history; brilliant, battle-tested commanders such as Gens. David Petraeus and McChrystal, fresh from the success of the surge in Iraq; and the will to prevail as personified by the commander in chief. … Has there ever been a call to arms more dispiriting, a trumpet more uncertain?”

David Broder ruefully observes: “Obama’s rhetoric was skilled enough that many of his listeners Tuesday thought they heard him promise that the buildup of forces in Afghanistan he has ordered will be suspended as early as 2011. But Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who is incapable of dissembling, quickly made it clear that the withdrawal will begin — not end — that year, and only if battlefield conditions permit.”

The New York Times headline reads: “Obama Tackles Jobless Woes, but Warns of Limited Funds.” Translation: sorry we spent all your money and we still have sky-high unemployment.

Sen. Ben Nelson threatens to filibuster ObamaCare without a Stupak amendment that prohibits abortion funding.

Mitt Romney has a 10-point plan to revive the economy. The best idea: “Stop frightening the private sector by continuing to hold GM stock, by imposing tighter and tighter controls on compensation, and by pursuing a public insurance plan to compete with private insurers. Government encroachment on free enterprise is depressing investment and job creation.”

Why not a peace process that works? “What if instead of squandering it for sixty years on victimology and bomb-making the Palestinians had taken all the talent and ingenuity and energy for which they’re famous and expended it on building a state; on establishing a democratic government; on turning malarial swamps and barren deserts into rich, fertile farmland; on pioneering breakthroughs in science, medicine, mathematics, and technology; on music, literature, art, movies; on creating a live nation booming with progress and awash in Nobel Prizes?”

Republican Mike Castle leads by 6 points in the latest poll in the Delaware Senate race.

Gallup polling on Afghanistan: “President Obama has managed to thread the needle with his newly announced Afghanistan strategy, with his approach winning the approval of a majority of both Democrats (58%) and Republicans (55%) in a USA Today/Gallup poll conducted Wednesday night. … Regarding the timetable component of Obama’s new policy, the plurality of Americans, 46%, say it is too soon to set a timetable for beginning to withdraw troops.” Sometimes good policy does make good politics.

Charles Krauthammer has reason to worry over that “call to arms so ambivalent, so tentative, so defensive”: “Words matter because will matters. Success in war depends on three things: a brave and highly skilled soldiery, such as the 2009 U.S. military, the finest counterinsurgency force in history; brilliant, battle-tested commanders such as Gens. David Petraeus and McChrystal, fresh from the success of the surge in Iraq; and the will to prevail as personified by the commander in chief. … Has there ever been a call to arms more dispiriting, a trumpet more uncertain?”

David Broder ruefully observes: “Obama’s rhetoric was skilled enough that many of his listeners Tuesday thought they heard him promise that the buildup of forces in Afghanistan he has ordered will be suspended as early as 2011. But Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who is incapable of dissembling, quickly made it clear that the withdrawal will begin — not end — that year, and only if battlefield conditions permit.”

The New York Times headline reads: “Obama Tackles Jobless Woes, but Warns of Limited Funds.” Translation: sorry we spent all your money and we still have sky-high unemployment.

Sen. Ben Nelson threatens to filibuster ObamaCare without a Stupak amendment that prohibits abortion funding.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Marty Peretz wonders if Obama’s “heart is with the hooligans.” Well, it’s not with those imperiled by the hooligans.

You don’t think it’s the ObamaCare, do you? “Republican candidates have extended their lead over Democrats to seven points, their biggest lead since early September, in the latest edition of the Generic Congressional Ballot. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 44% would vote for their district’s Republican congressional candidate while 37% would opt for his or her Democratic opponent.”

Well, maybe it is: “As the debate over a health care bill enters a critical stage, a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds Americans inclined to oppose congressional passage of the legislation this year. The survey, taken Friday through Sunday, finds 42% against a bill, 35% in support of it. Despite nearly a year of presidential speeches, congressional hearings and TV ad campaigns by interest groups, more than one in five still doesn’t have a strong opinion. When pressed about how they were leaning, 49% overall said they would urge their member of Congress to vote against a bill; 44% would urge a vote for it.”

From Gallup: “Since the start of his presidency, U.S. President Barack Obama’s approval rating has declined more among non-Hispanic whites than among nonwhites, and now, fewer than 4 in 10 whites approve of the job Obama is doing as president.”

We could always lower taxes or lessen regulatory burdens on employers, I suppose: “Top Federal Reserve officials expect unemployment to remain elevated for years to come, according to new projections released Tuesday, suggesting that the economic recovery will be too gradual to create rapid improvement in the job market.”

Michael Gerson observes Eric Holder’s “embarrassing, but also offensive” Senate appearance and his subsequent interview in which he admitted talking only to his wife and his brother outside government. “When Holder announced his decision, many jumped to his defense, assuming that the Justice Department had made its decision carefully. That assumption can no longer be sustained.” Gerson thinks that once this becomes clear, Holder will be pressured to resign. We’ll see.

Michael O’Hanlon on the McChrystal counterinsurgency plan: “No other detailed plan exists at the province by province and district by district level, so if we are going to keep the current strategy of counterinsurgency and building up Afghan forces, his idea is the most compelling.” But we are, I suspect, going to get something that’s not quite as compelling.

It is my intention to finish the job.” Well, it’s not exactly Churchillian. But maybe he’ll be better next week.

This could get interesting: “A few days after leaked e-mail messages appeared on the Internet, the U.S. Congress may probe whether prominent scientists who are advocates of global warming theories misrepresented the truth about climate change. Sen. James Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican, said on Monday the leaked correspondence suggested researchers ‘cooked the science to make this thing look as if the science was settled, when all the time of course we knew it was not.’”

Marty Peretz wonders if Obama’s “heart is with the hooligans.” Well, it’s not with those imperiled by the hooligans.

You don’t think it’s the ObamaCare, do you? “Republican candidates have extended their lead over Democrats to seven points, their biggest lead since early September, in the latest edition of the Generic Congressional Ballot. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 44% would vote for their district’s Republican congressional candidate while 37% would opt for his or her Democratic opponent.”

Well, maybe it is: “As the debate over a health care bill enters a critical stage, a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds Americans inclined to oppose congressional passage of the legislation this year. The survey, taken Friday through Sunday, finds 42% against a bill, 35% in support of it. Despite nearly a year of presidential speeches, congressional hearings and TV ad campaigns by interest groups, more than one in five still doesn’t have a strong opinion. When pressed about how they were leaning, 49% overall said they would urge their member of Congress to vote against a bill; 44% would urge a vote for it.”

From Gallup: “Since the start of his presidency, U.S. President Barack Obama’s approval rating has declined more among non-Hispanic whites than among nonwhites, and now, fewer than 4 in 10 whites approve of the job Obama is doing as president.”

We could always lower taxes or lessen regulatory burdens on employers, I suppose: “Top Federal Reserve officials expect unemployment to remain elevated for years to come, according to new projections released Tuesday, suggesting that the economic recovery will be too gradual to create rapid improvement in the job market.”

Michael Gerson observes Eric Holder’s “embarrassing, but also offensive” Senate appearance and his subsequent interview in which he admitted talking only to his wife and his brother outside government. “When Holder announced his decision, many jumped to his defense, assuming that the Justice Department had made its decision carefully. That assumption can no longer be sustained.” Gerson thinks that once this becomes clear, Holder will be pressured to resign. We’ll see.

Michael O’Hanlon on the McChrystal counterinsurgency plan: “No other detailed plan exists at the province by province and district by district level, so if we are going to keep the current strategy of counterinsurgency and building up Afghan forces, his idea is the most compelling.” But we are, I suspect, going to get something that’s not quite as compelling.

It is my intention to finish the job.” Well, it’s not exactly Churchillian. But maybe he’ll be better next week.

This could get interesting: “A few days after leaked e-mail messages appeared on the Internet, the U.S. Congress may probe whether prominent scientists who are advocates of global warming theories misrepresented the truth about climate change. Sen. James Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican, said on Monday the leaked correspondence suggested researchers ‘cooked the science to make this thing look as if the science was settled, when all the time of course we knew it was not.’”

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Down the Memory Hole

Imagine, for a moment, that you are the book review editor of a major newspaper, and a book has been written by someone who was a high-level public official deeply involved in what has been the biggest and most controversial story of the past half-decade.

This official has been mentioned in news stories in your paper on hundreds of occasions, your paper’s editorials have regularly railed against him and his colleagues, and your paper’s op-ed columnists have penned an entire oeuvre of scathing indictments of the policies he helped implement. The official, subjected to years of obloquy in your pages, writes an account of his involvement in the story that by any fair estimation is not just detailed and serious, but one of the most important and useful of its kind to date. Do you choose to review the book, or do you simply pretend that it was never written?

The book I’m talking about, of course, is War and Decision, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Doug Feith’s account of his role in the Iraq war. And it is being subjected to an astonishing and shameful blackout from many of America’s biggest newspapers. Noting the decision of the Washington Post and New York Times not to review the book, Rich Lowry wrote, “Apparently it’s OK to heap every failure in Iraq on Feith’s head, but then to turn around and pretend he’s a figure of no consequence when he writes a book.”

Curiosity got the better of me, so I checked to see whether the book has been reviewed by other large newspapers. The MSM does not disappoint: There has been no mention of War and Decision in USA Today, the LA Times, NY Daily News, Houston Chronicle, Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, or Miami Herald. What charming behavior from our nation’s journalism professionals. You would think the book interfered with the preferred narrative or something.

Imagine, for a moment, that you are the book review editor of a major newspaper, and a book has been written by someone who was a high-level public official deeply involved in what has been the biggest and most controversial story of the past half-decade.

This official has been mentioned in news stories in your paper on hundreds of occasions, your paper’s editorials have regularly railed against him and his colleagues, and your paper’s op-ed columnists have penned an entire oeuvre of scathing indictments of the policies he helped implement. The official, subjected to years of obloquy in your pages, writes an account of his involvement in the story that by any fair estimation is not just detailed and serious, but one of the most important and useful of its kind to date. Do you choose to review the book, or do you simply pretend that it was never written?

The book I’m talking about, of course, is War and Decision, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Doug Feith’s account of his role in the Iraq war. And it is being subjected to an astonishing and shameful blackout from many of America’s biggest newspapers. Noting the decision of the Washington Post and New York Times not to review the book, Rich Lowry wrote, “Apparently it’s OK to heap every failure in Iraq on Feith’s head, but then to turn around and pretend he’s a figure of no consequence when he writes a book.”

Curiosity got the better of me, so I checked to see whether the book has been reviewed by other large newspapers. The MSM does not disappoint: There has been no mention of War and Decision in USA Today, the LA Times, NY Daily News, Houston Chronicle, Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, or Miami Herald. What charming behavior from our nation’s journalism professionals. You would think the book interfered with the preferred narrative or something.

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