Commentary Magazine


Topic: White House Chanukah party

It’s Been Quite a Week for American Jewry

Jews, next to African Americans, have been Obama’s most loyal supporters. Overwhelmingly Democratic, and liberal Democratic at that, they have swooned over health care, been delighted by the president’s efforts to pass climate-control legislation, taken delight in his defense of abortion rights, and cheered his unabashed embrace of big government. But there has been the matter of Israel. Oh, that.

It stunned some to be told by Obama to go engage in “self-reflection” about Israel. It rankled to hear the Obami declare that we needed more “daylight” between the U.S. and Israel. And the failed settlement-freeze gambit set teeth gnashing. But most American Jews bided their time. They hoped that with all that access and all the campaign money that had sloshed into the Obama coffers from Jewish wallets, there would be some way to influence the administration. Maybe the Obama team was getting up to speed. They’d learn! Hey, there were some good lines in the Nobel Prize speech, you know. Maybe soon we’d get those sanctions! It was, sadly, an exercise in self-delusion.

Then came the Obami’s verbal assault over apartment units in Israel’s capital. That was finally a step too far. As the Obama administration’s browbeatings of Israel  mounted — Biden to Clinton to Axelrod — the fury in the Jewish community overflowed. And one by one, the major Jewish organizations, reflecting the outrage of their members (mostly Democratic, mind you), stepped forward not only to demand an end to the barrage but also to critique the entire premise of the Obami Middle East policy, namely that settlements were the root of the matter and that forced concessions were the way to unlock peace. And oh, by the way, could we get back to the existential threat to Israel’s existence?

Beginning Sunday, AIPAC will hold its annual national conference, and thousands of pro-Israel activists will descend on Washington D.C. What will they say and how will they greet the administration’s featured speaker, Hillary Clinton? This is a time to assess where the Jewish community has been and whether “access” — the prized off-the-record briefing and the ticket to the White House Chanukah party — has been valued too highly and candor too little. And then decisions will need to be made about the support for this president. A keen observer probes those who invested (financially and otherwise) so much in a president who has made mincemeat of foreign policy generally and the Middle East specifically:

A year has passed during which your chosen one has made worse than a hash of that: It’s in deep disarray. It and he and all his dogsbodies have devalued us everywhere, pinballing reactively from crisis to disaster, and when they should be fighting withdrawing like snails into shells, leaving behind just the slime souvenir. And, worse, much worse, they’ve targeted our one true democratic friend and ally in the Middle East—a country whose existence you cherish—for censure and contempt, to your great shock and unhappiness. What do you do?

That’s the question before American Jewry. As many prominent leaders and activists gather, we’ll begin to find out their answer. But there is no denying it now — this was not the president many of them thought he was. If they wish to support him, despite his Israel policy (because the liberal agenda is so near and dear to them), they can do so. But there’s no kidding themselves any longer that, in the process, they will be supporting the most anti-Israel president since — well, ever.

Jews, next to African Americans, have been Obama’s most loyal supporters. Overwhelmingly Democratic, and liberal Democratic at that, they have swooned over health care, been delighted by the president’s efforts to pass climate-control legislation, taken delight in his defense of abortion rights, and cheered his unabashed embrace of big government. But there has been the matter of Israel. Oh, that.

It stunned some to be told by Obama to go engage in “self-reflection” about Israel. It rankled to hear the Obami declare that we needed more “daylight” between the U.S. and Israel. And the failed settlement-freeze gambit set teeth gnashing. But most American Jews bided their time. They hoped that with all that access and all the campaign money that had sloshed into the Obama coffers from Jewish wallets, there would be some way to influence the administration. Maybe the Obama team was getting up to speed. They’d learn! Hey, there were some good lines in the Nobel Prize speech, you know. Maybe soon we’d get those sanctions! It was, sadly, an exercise in self-delusion.

Then came the Obami’s verbal assault over apartment units in Israel’s capital. That was finally a step too far. As the Obama administration’s browbeatings of Israel  mounted — Biden to Clinton to Axelrod — the fury in the Jewish community overflowed. And one by one, the major Jewish organizations, reflecting the outrage of their members (mostly Democratic, mind you), stepped forward not only to demand an end to the barrage but also to critique the entire premise of the Obami Middle East policy, namely that settlements were the root of the matter and that forced concessions were the way to unlock peace. And oh, by the way, could we get back to the existential threat to Israel’s existence?

Beginning Sunday, AIPAC will hold its annual national conference, and thousands of pro-Israel activists will descend on Washington D.C. What will they say and how will they greet the administration’s featured speaker, Hillary Clinton? This is a time to assess where the Jewish community has been and whether “access” — the prized off-the-record briefing and the ticket to the White House Chanukah party — has been valued too highly and candor too little. And then decisions will need to be made about the support for this president. A keen observer probes those who invested (financially and otherwise) so much in a president who has made mincemeat of foreign policy generally and the Middle East specifically:

A year has passed during which your chosen one has made worse than a hash of that: It’s in deep disarray. It and he and all his dogsbodies have devalued us everywhere, pinballing reactively from crisis to disaster, and when they should be fighting withdrawing like snails into shells, leaving behind just the slime souvenir. And, worse, much worse, they’ve targeted our one true democratic friend and ally in the Middle East—a country whose existence you cherish—for censure and contempt, to your great shock and unhappiness. What do you do?

That’s the question before American Jewry. As many prominent leaders and activists gather, we’ll begin to find out their answer. But there is no denying it now — this was not the president many of them thought he was. If they wish to support him, despite his Israel policy (because the liberal agenda is so near and dear to them), they can do so. But there’s no kidding themselves any longer that, in the process, they will be supporting the most anti-Israel president since — well, ever.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

Harry Reid seems to say, “Never mind”: “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is prepared to give in to demands from centrists in order to pass the health-care legislation before Christmas, senators say.Reid indicated at the Democratic Conference meeting on Monday that he would drop a controversial Medicare buy-in provision, which was offered as a replacement to the government-run health insurance option, to win the votes of Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.).” All that’s missing is what’s in the deal.

Seems like the public doesn’t want any kind of plan. The RealClearPolitics average shows that 38 percent approve of ObamaCare and 53.3 percent disapprove.

Tevi Troy pulls off a Chanukah miracle — getting the White House to cough up 150 more invites to the White House Chanukah party.

The New York Post (h/t Ben Smith) reports that “Marc Mukasey, the son of Bush administration Attorney General Michael Mukasey, is mulling mounting a challenge to Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.” Bet we’d have some fun debates on the KSM trial.

Another inconvenient poll: “With world leaders debating how to address climate change in Copenhagen and the U.S. Senate poised to take up a climate bill in the coming months, a new CBS News/New York Times poll finds that just 37 percent of Americans believe the issue should be a priority for government leaders. That’s a significant drop from April of 2007, when 52 percent of those surveyed said the issue should be a high priority.” Apparently, these people want jobs and economic prosperity: “A clear majority – 61 percent – say stimulating the economy should come first. Only 29 percent say protecting the environment is more important.”

The Marx Brothers hold a climate-control conference.

And the scientific clown show continues: Al Gore’s prediction of an ice-free north polar cap in five years isn’t supported by any facts. “The climatologist whose work Mr Gore was relying upon dropped the former Vice-President in the water with an icy blast. ‘It’s unclear to me how this figure was arrived at,’ Dr. [Wieslav] Maslowski said. ‘I would never try to estimate likelihood at anything as exact as this.’ ” Gore says it’s close enough for made-up science — er — for scaring the public  — er — for what he’s doing.

“Cramdown” mortgage legislation is also going down for the count. Almost like there isn’t a majority for extreme antibusiness regulation.

Bill McGurn thinks actions count more than words: “In wartime, people soon tire of lofty words that do not seem borne out by events. In September 2001, with the twin towers still smoldering and the Pentagon wounded, President Bush delivered a war address to a joint session of Congress (which I had no part in, so am free to praise) that ranks with the best of FDR. Whether that speech ever receives its full due depends in part on how this war ends. The same goes for President Obama. At West Point and Oslo, he spoke to the challenge of defending our freedom against hard men with no moral limit on what they are willing to do to crush it. The irony is that whether these fine speeches are remembered by history depends on a word he didn’t use in either one: victory.”

Harry Reid seems to say, “Never mind”: “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is prepared to give in to demands from centrists in order to pass the health-care legislation before Christmas, senators say.Reid indicated at the Democratic Conference meeting on Monday that he would drop a controversial Medicare buy-in provision, which was offered as a replacement to the government-run health insurance option, to win the votes of Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.).” All that’s missing is what’s in the deal.

Seems like the public doesn’t want any kind of plan. The RealClearPolitics average shows that 38 percent approve of ObamaCare and 53.3 percent disapprove.

Tevi Troy pulls off a Chanukah miracle — getting the White House to cough up 150 more invites to the White House Chanukah party.

The New York Post (h/t Ben Smith) reports that “Marc Mukasey, the son of Bush administration Attorney General Michael Mukasey, is mulling mounting a challenge to Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.” Bet we’d have some fun debates on the KSM trial.

Another inconvenient poll: “With world leaders debating how to address climate change in Copenhagen and the U.S. Senate poised to take up a climate bill in the coming months, a new CBS News/New York Times poll finds that just 37 percent of Americans believe the issue should be a priority for government leaders. That’s a significant drop from April of 2007, when 52 percent of those surveyed said the issue should be a high priority.” Apparently, these people want jobs and economic prosperity: “A clear majority – 61 percent – say stimulating the economy should come first. Only 29 percent say protecting the environment is more important.”

The Marx Brothers hold a climate-control conference.

And the scientific clown show continues: Al Gore’s prediction of an ice-free north polar cap in five years isn’t supported by any facts. “The climatologist whose work Mr Gore was relying upon dropped the former Vice-President in the water with an icy blast. ‘It’s unclear to me how this figure was arrived at,’ Dr. [Wieslav] Maslowski said. ‘I would never try to estimate likelihood at anything as exact as this.’ ” Gore says it’s close enough for made-up science — er — for scaring the public  — er — for what he’s doing.

“Cramdown” mortgage legislation is also going down for the count. Almost like there isn’t a majority for extreme antibusiness regulation.

Bill McGurn thinks actions count more than words: “In wartime, people soon tire of lofty words that do not seem borne out by events. In September 2001, with the twin towers still smoldering and the Pentagon wounded, President Bush delivered a war address to a joint session of Congress (which I had no part in, so am free to praise) that ranks with the best of FDR. Whether that speech ever receives its full due depends in part on how this war ends. The same goes for President Obama. At West Point and Oslo, he spoke to the challenge of defending our freedom against hard men with no moral limit on what they are willing to do to crush it. The irony is that whether these fine speeches are remembered by history depends on a word he didn’t use in either one: victory.”

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

COMMENTARY contributor Noah Pollak makes the convincing case that Iran and Syria have largely prevailed in using asymmetric warfare with surrogates against Israel: “It allows Iran and Syria to take credit in the region for antagonizing Israel without risking retaliation on their soil; it detaches conflict from regime security, reducing the disincentive for war; and it forces battles into densely-populated civilian areas, undermining the IDF’s military superiority and ensuring civilian destruction which today’s media and NGOs — an increasingly meaningless distinction — blame on Israel, not on the terrorist groups who start the wars.” The solution: take the fight to the source of the problem, using all available tools (“there is no reason why asymmetry cannot be countered with asymmetry, or new diplomatic and economic initiatives pursued”).

Fox News has an ACORN scoop: it seems that in California, one step ahead of the state attorney general’s investigation, the group tried to dump 20,000 documents that “point to illicit relationships between ACORN and a bank and a labor union — as well as confidential information that could put thousands at risk for identity theft.”

Tevi Troy notes the downgrading of the White House Chanukah party.

It’s not really 10.2 percent: “As experts debate the potential speed of the US recovery, one figure looms large but is often overlooked: nearly 1 in 5 Americans is either out of work or under-employed. According to the government’s broadest measure of unemployment, some 17.5 percent are either without a job entirely or underemployed. The so-called U-6 number is at the highest rate since becoming an official labor statistic in 1994.”

If you read nothing else on the KSM trial, read this interview with Bill Burck, former deputy counsel to President George W. Bush, who explains why Holder can’t guarantee a result and why the trial is such a bad idea. A sample: “Attorney General Holder has gone on record that he believes waterboarding is torture; and it is now known that KSM was subject to enhanced interrogation techniques, including repeated use of waterboarding. KSM’s lawyer will almost certainly ask the judge to throw out all the charges against him because he was allegedly tortured. How can the Department of Justice contest that KSM was tortured if the attorney general has gone on record that waterboarding is torture? They can’t.”

The Maryland Federation of College Republicans stand up to their Democratic counterparts, whose campaign director declared that “Israel is oppressing the Palestinian people.”

Kirsten who? “Ten months after Kirsten Gillibrand was appointed to the U.S. Senate by Governor David Paterson, the junior senator from New York has failed to become a household name among registered voters in New York State. 25% of the electorate thinks Gillibrand is doing either an excellent or good job in office, and 12% believes she is performing poorly. Perhaps, though, Gillibrand’s bigger concern is that 24% of the electorate is unsure how to rate her.”

One more time: “Sen. Joseph Lieberman, speaking in that trademark sonorous baritone, utters a simple statement that translates into real trouble for Democratic leaders: ‘I’m going to be stubborn on this.’ Stubborn, he means, in opposing any health-care overhaul that includes a ‘public option,’ or government-run health-insurance plan, as the current bill does. His opposition is strong enough that Mr. Lieberman says he won’t vote to let a bill come to a final vote if a public option is included.”

After spending like drunken sailors on a failed stimulus and a raft of domestic spending, Democrats now want to “pay as we go” — for the Afghanistan war.

Others have noticed that the mammography controversy raises an uncomfortable truth for ObamaCare backers: “The flap over breast cancer screening has provided a fascinating insight into the political future of ObamaCare. Specifically, the political left supports such medical rationing even as it disavows that any such thing is happening. … What’s really going on here is that the left knows its designs will require political rationing of care, but it doesn’t want the public to figure this out until ObamaCare passes. … Americans will simply have to accept that the price of government-run health care in the name of redistributive justice is that patients and their doctors must bow to the superior wisdom of HHS task forces.”

COMMENTARY contributor Noah Pollak makes the convincing case that Iran and Syria have largely prevailed in using asymmetric warfare with surrogates against Israel: “It allows Iran and Syria to take credit in the region for antagonizing Israel without risking retaliation on their soil; it detaches conflict from regime security, reducing the disincentive for war; and it forces battles into densely-populated civilian areas, undermining the IDF’s military superiority and ensuring civilian destruction which today’s media and NGOs — an increasingly meaningless distinction — blame on Israel, not on the terrorist groups who start the wars.” The solution: take the fight to the source of the problem, using all available tools (“there is no reason why asymmetry cannot be countered with asymmetry, or new diplomatic and economic initiatives pursued”).

Fox News has an ACORN scoop: it seems that in California, one step ahead of the state attorney general’s investigation, the group tried to dump 20,000 documents that “point to illicit relationships between ACORN and a bank and a labor union — as well as confidential information that could put thousands at risk for identity theft.”

Tevi Troy notes the downgrading of the White House Chanukah party.

It’s not really 10.2 percent: “As experts debate the potential speed of the US recovery, one figure looms large but is often overlooked: nearly 1 in 5 Americans is either out of work or under-employed. According to the government’s broadest measure of unemployment, some 17.5 percent are either without a job entirely or underemployed. The so-called U-6 number is at the highest rate since becoming an official labor statistic in 1994.”

If you read nothing else on the KSM trial, read this interview with Bill Burck, former deputy counsel to President George W. Bush, who explains why Holder can’t guarantee a result and why the trial is such a bad idea. A sample: “Attorney General Holder has gone on record that he believes waterboarding is torture; and it is now known that KSM was subject to enhanced interrogation techniques, including repeated use of waterboarding. KSM’s lawyer will almost certainly ask the judge to throw out all the charges against him because he was allegedly tortured. How can the Department of Justice contest that KSM was tortured if the attorney general has gone on record that waterboarding is torture? They can’t.”

The Maryland Federation of College Republicans stand up to their Democratic counterparts, whose campaign director declared that “Israel is oppressing the Palestinian people.”

Kirsten who? “Ten months after Kirsten Gillibrand was appointed to the U.S. Senate by Governor David Paterson, the junior senator from New York has failed to become a household name among registered voters in New York State. 25% of the electorate thinks Gillibrand is doing either an excellent or good job in office, and 12% believes she is performing poorly. Perhaps, though, Gillibrand’s bigger concern is that 24% of the electorate is unsure how to rate her.”

One more time: “Sen. Joseph Lieberman, speaking in that trademark sonorous baritone, utters a simple statement that translates into real trouble for Democratic leaders: ‘I’m going to be stubborn on this.’ Stubborn, he means, in opposing any health-care overhaul that includes a ‘public option,’ or government-run health-insurance plan, as the current bill does. His opposition is strong enough that Mr. Lieberman says he won’t vote to let a bill come to a final vote if a public option is included.”

After spending like drunken sailors on a failed stimulus and a raft of domestic spending, Democrats now want to “pay as we go” — for the Afghanistan war.

Others have noticed that the mammography controversy raises an uncomfortable truth for ObamaCare backers: “The flap over breast cancer screening has provided a fascinating insight into the political future of ObamaCare. Specifically, the political left supports such medical rationing even as it disavows that any such thing is happening. … What’s really going on here is that the left knows its designs will require political rationing of care, but it doesn’t want the public to figure this out until ObamaCare passes. … Americans will simply have to accept that the price of government-run health care in the name of redistributive justice is that patients and their doctors must bow to the superior wisdom of HHS task forces.”

Read Less




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