Commentary Magazine


Topic: Wolf Blitzer

CNN’s Failing Biased Business Model

The news that CNN’s ratings are at a ten-year low should come as no surprise to viewers of the cable news channel. The consensus is the downward spiral of the network’s viewership is due to the fact that it is caught in the middle between two supposedly hyper-partisan competitors — Fox News on the right and MSNBC on the left — with the result that their brand of nonpartisan news is being marginalized.

But this interpretation of events is not only incorrect, it misses the point about why audiences aren’t thrilled by CNN. When given a choice between channels that don’t pretend to be totally even-handed like Fox and MSNBC and one that is masquerading as above such things, most will inevitably choose the former over the latter. Contrary to the self-serving excuse that CNN’s professionalism doesn’t sell as well as the partisanship exhibited on Fox and MSNBC, the viewers aren’t being fooled. They know that most of the hosts on CNN tilt sharply to the left and are put off by the pretense of objectivity.

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The news that CNN’s ratings are at a ten-year low should come as no surprise to viewers of the cable news channel. The consensus is the downward spiral of the network’s viewership is due to the fact that it is caught in the middle between two supposedly hyper-partisan competitors — Fox News on the right and MSNBC on the left — with the result that their brand of nonpartisan news is being marginalized.

But this interpretation of events is not only incorrect, it misses the point about why audiences aren’t thrilled by CNN. When given a choice between channels that don’t pretend to be totally even-handed like Fox and MSNBC and one that is masquerading as above such things, most will inevitably choose the former over the latter. Contrary to the self-serving excuse that CNN’s professionalism doesn’t sell as well as the partisanship exhibited on Fox and MSNBC, the viewers aren’t being fooled. They know that most of the hosts on CNN tilt sharply to the left and are put off by the pretense of objectivity.

Just as is the case with Fox, much of the straight news coverage on CNN is pretty fair. It should also be specified that their primary night coverage throughout the Republican nomination race led by Wolf Blitzer was actually superior to what was broadcast on Fox.

But does anyone really think that most of CNN’s on-air hosts are any less biased than those on Fox or lean to the left any less than their competitors on MSNBC? Two recent examples, Piers Morgan’s ambush of Jonah Goldberg and Soledad O’Brien’s illiterate riff on race theory during what turned into a debate with Breitbart.com’s Joel Pollak, illustrate the network’s liberal bias.

In both cases, the interviewers didn’t just challenge conservative guests, they debated them and did their best to shut out and denigrate views they disliked. Morgan didn’t even want to talk about Goldberg’s book, let alone allow the author to explain his thesis. O’Brien pretended to act as an authority on something she clearly didn’t understand in order to defend President Obama and one of his radical mentors. We expect that sort of thing from MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews or from a Bill O’Reilly on the right at Fox, but it gives the lie to CNN’s much-hyped stance of nonpartisanship.

If CNN wants to broadcast liberal shows, that’s their right. But what viewers don’t like is the same thing they despise elsewhere in the mainstream media: partisans pretending to be objective. The genius of Fox was that it gave people fed up with liberal bias being passed off as even-handed coverage a place to go to get an alternative. MSNBC profits from being a channel where liberals can go to get left-wing punditry without the gloss of faux objectivity. As Dylan Byers writes at Politico, it isn’t just that its harder for viewers to feel an affinity for someone in the middle of the road; it’s that personalities who act as if they are something different from what they obviously are inspire animus, not viewer loyalty.

 

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Rand Paul Calls for End to Foreign Aid

Sen. Rand Paul appears to be following in his father, Ron Paul’s, footsteps. The newly elected libertarian senator told Wolf Blitzer that he wants the U.S. to end all foreign aid, including aid to Israel, during an interview on Wednesday.

“When you send foreign aid, you actually [send] quite a bit to Israel’s enemies. Islamic nations around Israel get quite a bit of foreign aid, too,” said Paul. “You have to ask yourself, are we funding an arms race on both sides?”

Israel has become increasingly prosperous, and as far back as 1996, at the start of his first term as prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu has called for a gradual end to all U.S. economic aid, though the need for military assistance has, if anything, become more imperative since then.

And it’s not unreasonable to say that the criteria for countries receiving foreign aid should be reviewed. But it’s utterly wrong to say that cutting off foreign aid completely would somehow benefit the United States and its allies.

The U.S. doesn’t give financial assistance to foreign countries out of a moral imperative; it does so because these contributions support U.S. national-security interests.

Unstable nations that are mired in poverty are more likely to become breeding grounds for terrorist organizations, so foreign aid can help in that regard. More important, foreign aid is an excellent — and relatively cheap way — of purchasing international influence. The U.S. government can provide or withhold financial aid at any time based on a country’s behavior.

Paul clearly hasn’t been able to grasp this concept. While foreign countries may be getting money, what the U.S. gets in return is much more valuable.

Sen. Rand Paul appears to be following in his father, Ron Paul’s, footsteps. The newly elected libertarian senator told Wolf Blitzer that he wants the U.S. to end all foreign aid, including aid to Israel, during an interview on Wednesday.

“When you send foreign aid, you actually [send] quite a bit to Israel’s enemies. Islamic nations around Israel get quite a bit of foreign aid, too,” said Paul. “You have to ask yourself, are we funding an arms race on both sides?”

Israel has become increasingly prosperous, and as far back as 1996, at the start of his first term as prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu has called for a gradual end to all U.S. economic aid, though the need for military assistance has, if anything, become more imperative since then.

And it’s not unreasonable to say that the criteria for countries receiving foreign aid should be reviewed. But it’s utterly wrong to say that cutting off foreign aid completely would somehow benefit the United States and its allies.

The U.S. doesn’t give financial assistance to foreign countries out of a moral imperative; it does so because these contributions support U.S. national-security interests.

Unstable nations that are mired in poverty are more likely to become breeding grounds for terrorist organizations, so foreign aid can help in that regard. More important, foreign aid is an excellent — and relatively cheap way — of purchasing international influence. The U.S. government can provide or withhold financial aid at any time based on a country’s behavior.

Paul clearly hasn’t been able to grasp this concept. While foreign countries may be getting money, what the U.S. gets in return is much more valuable.

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Peace Through Self-Defenestration

In a New York Times op-ed entitled “For Once, Hope in the Middle East,” Martin Indyk argues that while “the commentariat is already dismissing [Obama’s] chances of reaching a peace agreement,” the “negotiating environment is better suited to peacemaking today than it has been at any point in the last decade.” Take security for example – no problem:

Security arrangements were all but settled in 2000 at Camp David before the talks collapsed. The increased threat of rocket attacks since then, among other developments, require the two sides to agree on stricter border controls and a robust third-party force in the Jordan Valley. But one year is ample time to resolve this.

The “increased threat of rocket attacks… among other developments” is Indyk’s diplomatic way of describing the two rocket wars waged on Israel from Lebanon and Gaza after it withdrew every soldier and settler from those areas. The all-but-settled arrangements in 2000 would not have worked, as Indyk implicitly acknowledges with his admission that arrangements would have to be “stricter” today.

But the key word in Indyk’s sunny description is his proposal for a “robust” third-party force. The word “robust” is a familiar term in Middle East diplomacy. It is the adjective commonly used to give meaning to an otherwise unimpressive noun. One might be skeptical of a third-party force, but a robust third-party force – that would be effective virtually by definition.

The most recent experience with a “robust” third-party force, however, might give one pause. In July 2006, 10 days into the Second Lebanon War, Condoleezza Rice told reporters she wanted a “robust” international military force to replace Hezbollah’s forces because a “cease-fire would be a false promise if it just returns us to the status quo.” On Aug. 11, 2006, as the UN Security Council prepared to vote on Resolution 1701, she told Wolf Blitzer the force would have an “absolutely robust mandate.” In an Aug. 16 interview with Susan Page, who congratulated her on passage of the UN resolution, Rice noted the force’s “quite robust mandate, which is a really very robust mandate.”

We now know that the “robust” force turned into 15,000 de facto human shields for Hezbollah, which today has at least twice the number of rockets trained on Israel as before the insertion of the “robust” force.

Indyk ends his piece by quoting Shimon Peres that “history is like a horse that gallops past your window and the true test of statesmanship is to jump from that window onto the horse.” Indyk suggests it is time for Abbas and Netanyahu to take that “politically perilous leap.” Trying to leap out your window onto a galloping horse seems an apt metaphor for Indyk’s solution of a “robust” third-party force — particularly if you remember the last time Israel was persuaded to jump out the window.

In a New York Times op-ed entitled “For Once, Hope in the Middle East,” Martin Indyk argues that while “the commentariat is already dismissing [Obama’s] chances of reaching a peace agreement,” the “negotiating environment is better suited to peacemaking today than it has been at any point in the last decade.” Take security for example – no problem:

Security arrangements were all but settled in 2000 at Camp David before the talks collapsed. The increased threat of rocket attacks since then, among other developments, require the two sides to agree on stricter border controls and a robust third-party force in the Jordan Valley. But one year is ample time to resolve this.

The “increased threat of rocket attacks… among other developments” is Indyk’s diplomatic way of describing the two rocket wars waged on Israel from Lebanon and Gaza after it withdrew every soldier and settler from those areas. The all-but-settled arrangements in 2000 would not have worked, as Indyk implicitly acknowledges with his admission that arrangements would have to be “stricter” today.

But the key word in Indyk’s sunny description is his proposal for a “robust” third-party force. The word “robust” is a familiar term in Middle East diplomacy. It is the adjective commonly used to give meaning to an otherwise unimpressive noun. One might be skeptical of a third-party force, but a robust third-party force – that would be effective virtually by definition.

The most recent experience with a “robust” third-party force, however, might give one pause. In July 2006, 10 days into the Second Lebanon War, Condoleezza Rice told reporters she wanted a “robust” international military force to replace Hezbollah’s forces because a “cease-fire would be a false promise if it just returns us to the status quo.” On Aug. 11, 2006, as the UN Security Council prepared to vote on Resolution 1701, she told Wolf Blitzer the force would have an “absolutely robust mandate.” In an Aug. 16 interview with Susan Page, who congratulated her on passage of the UN resolution, Rice noted the force’s “quite robust mandate, which is a really very robust mandate.”

We now know that the “robust” force turned into 15,000 de facto human shields for Hezbollah, which today has at least twice the number of rockets trained on Israel as before the insertion of the “robust” force.

Indyk ends his piece by quoting Shimon Peres that “history is like a horse that gallops past your window and the true test of statesmanship is to jump from that window onto the horse.” Indyk suggests it is time for Abbas and Netanyahu to take that “politically perilous leap.” Trying to leap out your window onto a galloping horse seems an apt metaphor for Indyk’s solution of a “robust” third-party force — particularly if you remember the last time Israel was persuaded to jump out the window.

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How Dare You Fire the Hezbollah Cheerleader!

As one might imagine, the pro-terrorist lobby (wait — you’ll see it’s appropriate in this context) is raising a fuss over CNN’s decision to can an editor for praising a Hezbollah leader. This is particularly revealing:

“This is unbelievable what is happening in the United States of America,” said Osama Siblani, the publisher of the Arab American News. “You can say anything you want – except when it comes to Israel.”

He accused CNN of a double standard, citing what he said was CNN host Wolf Blitzer’s history of working for the Jerusalem Post and for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). “But for Octavia Nasr to make a statement that’s in agreement with millions of people around the world, has become a firing offense at CNN. It’s incredible the level we have sunk to.”

You know, he says “double standard” like it’s a bad thing. Actually, it’s good to have one standard for those who are infatuated with terrorists — so infatuated that while employed in a “news” capacity, they sing their praises — and another standard for those who used to work in Israel or for a Jewish organization who, in their current capacity, rather objectively report the news. I think if Wolf Blitzer started sending tweets about his deep and abiding respect for Bibi, he’d be in hot water too. But more to the point, it’s revealing that Arab groups and the Israel-hating John Zogby consider it an outrage that CNN would fire someone who did not merely praise Palestinians or their cause but praised an avowed terrorist. Speaks volumes about the accusers, doesn’t it?

As one might imagine, the pro-terrorist lobby (wait — you’ll see it’s appropriate in this context) is raising a fuss over CNN’s decision to can an editor for praising a Hezbollah leader. This is particularly revealing:

“This is unbelievable what is happening in the United States of America,” said Osama Siblani, the publisher of the Arab American News. “You can say anything you want – except when it comes to Israel.”

He accused CNN of a double standard, citing what he said was CNN host Wolf Blitzer’s history of working for the Jerusalem Post and for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). “But for Octavia Nasr to make a statement that’s in agreement with millions of people around the world, has become a firing offense at CNN. It’s incredible the level we have sunk to.”

You know, he says “double standard” like it’s a bad thing. Actually, it’s good to have one standard for those who are infatuated with terrorists — so infatuated that while employed in a “news” capacity, they sing their praises — and another standard for those who used to work in Israel or for a Jewish organization who, in their current capacity, rather objectively report the news. I think if Wolf Blitzer started sending tweets about his deep and abiding respect for Bibi, he’d be in hot water too. But more to the point, it’s revealing that Arab groups and the Israel-hating John Zogby consider it an outrage that CNN would fire someone who did not merely praise Palestinians or their cause but praised an avowed terrorist. Speaks volumes about the accusers, doesn’t it?

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Is Silence Enough?

Rand Paul is learning what it means to have the bright, hot light of national media on him. After an obnoxious outing on ABC during which Paul whined and railed at the mainstream media for outing his views on federal anti-discrimination legislation, he changed his tune and told Wolf Blitzer on CNN point blank that he would have voted for the 1964 Civil Rights Act. With little explanation of the quick evolution in his views, he said he’s a definite yes on whether he’d have voted for the Act in 1964. On the Americans with Disabilities Act, he flailed around for a bit and then came down on the side of maybe.

Should we be surprised, then, that Paul abruptly cancelled on short notice his appearance on Meet the Press? I suppose he could try to hide from every unsympathetic reporter in the country, but such a decision will simply underscore the fact that he can’t be trusted to go out in public.

And one other disturbing note about the Blitzer interview: he didn’t firmly disassociate himself from his father’s foreign-policy views:

BLITZER: I want you to have a chance to differentiate, if you want to differentiate, with your dad. I’ve interviewed Congressman Ron Paul on many occasions and we’ve gone through all of these issues. He’s a principled libertarian, as you well know. First of all, are you as principled a libertarian in — from your perspective, as your dad?

PAUL:  Some will say not. I call myself a constitutional conservative, which I’m — means that I believe that the constitution does restrict and restrain the federal government and we should be doing a lot less than we’re doing. And if we did so, I think we would balance the budget and we would have more local and state control…

BLITZER: All right.

PAUL: So we’ll agree on a lot of issues and we’ll disagree on some and there may be some nuance. But I would say I —  you know, he will probably still be the — the number one libertarian in the country. I’m probably not going to supplant him there.

BLITZER: You’re not going to be able to compete, because there are four votes — and I’ve discussed this with him himself — in with the vote was 425-1 or 421-1, 424-1, for example, a war — asking Arab states to acknowledge genocide in Darfur, asking Vietnam to release a political prisoner, condemning the Zimbabwe government, awarding a gold medal to Rosa Parks.

Your dad was the only member on the Democratic and Republican side to vote against that because he’s a principled libertarian and he doesn’t want the U.S. government involved in any of these issues.

Are you the same as him?

PAUL:  Probably not. And the thing is, is that he is incredibly principled. And I admire him for the stands he’s taken. Interestingly, some of those things, it sounds like how could anybody be against that? The reason he votes against it a lot of times is not that he disagrees with the position. Often, he’ll disa — he’ll agree with the position of the resolution, but just think that the government really shouldn’t be making a statement on some of these things.

I think it’s yet to be seen how I’ll vote on resolutions — non-binding resolutions. But I’m probably not going to be the great path breaker that he is. But I think he stands on principle and I think he’s well respected because he doesn’t compromise his principles.

Does this include resolutions on Israel? Is he on board with the war in Afghanistan or not? Does he think we should be promoting human rights abroad? He recently did put out a position paper on Israel — presumably drafted for him — which was a step in the right direction. So one doesn’t sense that he’s exactly in lockstep with his father on foreign policy, but neither is he interested in conducting a robust war on Islamic jihadists or promoting American values around the world. If elected, will he have more in common with Obama on foreign policy than with any other Republican senator? I would think so.

If Paul is going to survive — and it’s an open question whether he should — he can’t hide from the media or the voters. He’s going to have to articulate a non-wacky view of foreign and domestic policy that is in line with average Kentucky voters. And if he can’t do that, or if he doesn’t really feel comfortable with non-wacky views, then Kentucky Republicans made a big mistake in nominating him. Other Republicans, conservative activists, and bloggers should consider their nominees this year and in 2012 very carefully; otherwise they will lose a golden opportunity afforded by Obama to unify conservatives and attract independent voters. They might want to consider the Republicans who won high-profile races: Chris Christie, Bob McDonnell, and Scott Brown. Yes, they ran against big government and Obamaism, but they were all well-versed in policy and ideologically well within mainstream conservatism.

And if Republicans want an example of political suicide, they can take a look at the Democrats both in and outside of Connecticut. They collectively have failed the political sobriety test. Connecticut Democrats on Friday formally nominated Richard Blumenthal. With the Democrats painting Ron Paul as the GOP’s poster boy and Republicans doing the same with Blumenthal for the Democratic Party, voters may decide that sometimes it’s better to have a candidate with a bit of experience, who’s been vetted before the primary, and who doesn’t spend his time denying that he is a liar or an extremist.

Rand Paul is learning what it means to have the bright, hot light of national media on him. After an obnoxious outing on ABC during which Paul whined and railed at the mainstream media for outing his views on federal anti-discrimination legislation, he changed his tune and told Wolf Blitzer on CNN point blank that he would have voted for the 1964 Civil Rights Act. With little explanation of the quick evolution in his views, he said he’s a definite yes on whether he’d have voted for the Act in 1964. On the Americans with Disabilities Act, he flailed around for a bit and then came down on the side of maybe.

Should we be surprised, then, that Paul abruptly cancelled on short notice his appearance on Meet the Press? I suppose he could try to hide from every unsympathetic reporter in the country, but such a decision will simply underscore the fact that he can’t be trusted to go out in public.

And one other disturbing note about the Blitzer interview: he didn’t firmly disassociate himself from his father’s foreign-policy views:

BLITZER: I want you to have a chance to differentiate, if you want to differentiate, with your dad. I’ve interviewed Congressman Ron Paul on many occasions and we’ve gone through all of these issues. He’s a principled libertarian, as you well know. First of all, are you as principled a libertarian in — from your perspective, as your dad?

PAUL:  Some will say not. I call myself a constitutional conservative, which I’m — means that I believe that the constitution does restrict and restrain the federal government and we should be doing a lot less than we’re doing. And if we did so, I think we would balance the budget and we would have more local and state control…

BLITZER: All right.

PAUL: So we’ll agree on a lot of issues and we’ll disagree on some and there may be some nuance. But I would say I —  you know, he will probably still be the — the number one libertarian in the country. I’m probably not going to supplant him there.

BLITZER: You’re not going to be able to compete, because there are four votes — and I’ve discussed this with him himself — in with the vote was 425-1 or 421-1, 424-1, for example, a war — asking Arab states to acknowledge genocide in Darfur, asking Vietnam to release a political prisoner, condemning the Zimbabwe government, awarding a gold medal to Rosa Parks.

Your dad was the only member on the Democratic and Republican side to vote against that because he’s a principled libertarian and he doesn’t want the U.S. government involved in any of these issues.

Are you the same as him?

PAUL:  Probably not. And the thing is, is that he is incredibly principled. And I admire him for the stands he’s taken. Interestingly, some of those things, it sounds like how could anybody be against that? The reason he votes against it a lot of times is not that he disagrees with the position. Often, he’ll disa — he’ll agree with the position of the resolution, but just think that the government really shouldn’t be making a statement on some of these things.

I think it’s yet to be seen how I’ll vote on resolutions — non-binding resolutions. But I’m probably not going to be the great path breaker that he is. But I think he stands on principle and I think he’s well respected because he doesn’t compromise his principles.

Does this include resolutions on Israel? Is he on board with the war in Afghanistan or not? Does he think we should be promoting human rights abroad? He recently did put out a position paper on Israel — presumably drafted for him — which was a step in the right direction. So one doesn’t sense that he’s exactly in lockstep with his father on foreign policy, but neither is he interested in conducting a robust war on Islamic jihadists or promoting American values around the world. If elected, will he have more in common with Obama on foreign policy than with any other Republican senator? I would think so.

If Paul is going to survive — and it’s an open question whether he should — he can’t hide from the media or the voters. He’s going to have to articulate a non-wacky view of foreign and domestic policy that is in line with average Kentucky voters. And if he can’t do that, or if he doesn’t really feel comfortable with non-wacky views, then Kentucky Republicans made a big mistake in nominating him. Other Republicans, conservative activists, and bloggers should consider their nominees this year and in 2012 very carefully; otherwise they will lose a golden opportunity afforded by Obama to unify conservatives and attract independent voters. They might want to consider the Republicans who won high-profile races: Chris Christie, Bob McDonnell, and Scott Brown. Yes, they ran against big government and Obamaism, but they were all well-versed in policy and ideologically well within mainstream conservatism.

And if Republicans want an example of political suicide, they can take a look at the Democrats both in and outside of Connecticut. They collectively have failed the political sobriety test. Connecticut Democrats on Friday formally nominated Richard Blumenthal. With the Democrats painting Ron Paul as the GOP’s poster boy and Republicans doing the same with Blumenthal for the Democratic Party, voters may decide that sometimes it’s better to have a candidate with a bit of experience, who’s been vetted before the primary, and who doesn’t spend his time denying that he is a liar or an extremist.

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I, Wexler

All day yesterday, the Democratic National Committee deliberated on how to resolve the dispute over seating delegates in Florida and Michigan.  The process was choreographed to look like a better-attended Senate hearing, with a panel of DNC big shots hearing testimony from superdelegates affiliated with both the Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama campaigns.  (Appropriately, CNN’s kindly but profoundly uninspired Wolf Blitzer covered the proceedings with exuberance befitting late-night C-SPAN programming.)

The Obama and Clinton campaigns were divided as to how the delegate dispute should be resolved. Clinton’s supporters demanded that the results of both states’ primaries be counted, and that delegates be awarded in full. Obama’s supporters disagreed, arguing that Obama had followed the party’s rules against counting Florida and Michigan’s early primaries when he declined to campaign in either state.  Still, “party unity” remained the all-important catchphrase of the day, and Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) thus offered an “extraordinary concession” on behalf of the Obama campaign: that Florida’s delegation be seated at half-strength, which was the solution that the DNC ultimately adopted for both disputed states.

Of course, this was the most reasonable solution-as well as identical to the approach that Republicans adopted five months ago when confronted with Florida and Michigan‘s rule-breaking early primaries.  But somewhere within Wexler’s screaming “testimony,” the topic of discussion veered from how to resolve the delegate dispute to a show of maniacal self-aggrandizement:

We’ve talked today about voters’ rights.  No one in the state of Florida has championed voters’ rights more than I.  The irony … this voter-verifiable bill that has been talked about today, there was one person respectfully in the state of Florida who for five years fought for the right of Floridians to have their vote counted and verified and you’re looking at him.  And when I lost, when I got beat, when I got beat by that same Republican legislature and that governor Jeb Bush in Florida, I took my case to court, every way up the state court, every way up the federal court, and we didn’t prevail.  And finally, when we had a new governor, I prevailed on that new Republican governor to give Floridians to the right to have their vote counted by a voter-verified paper trail.  There is nobody more committed to that than me.  That, respectfully, may be one of the reasons why Senator Obama chose me to be here today. . .

This is only the latest in Rep. Wexler’s long history of making every issue in which he becomes involved all about him.

All day yesterday, the Democratic National Committee deliberated on how to resolve the dispute over seating delegates in Florida and Michigan.  The process was choreographed to look like a better-attended Senate hearing, with a panel of DNC big shots hearing testimony from superdelegates affiliated with both the Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama campaigns.  (Appropriately, CNN’s kindly but profoundly uninspired Wolf Blitzer covered the proceedings with exuberance befitting late-night C-SPAN programming.)

The Obama and Clinton campaigns were divided as to how the delegate dispute should be resolved. Clinton’s supporters demanded that the results of both states’ primaries be counted, and that delegates be awarded in full. Obama’s supporters disagreed, arguing that Obama had followed the party’s rules against counting Florida and Michigan’s early primaries when he declined to campaign in either state.  Still, “party unity” remained the all-important catchphrase of the day, and Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) thus offered an “extraordinary concession” on behalf of the Obama campaign: that Florida’s delegation be seated at half-strength, which was the solution that the DNC ultimately adopted for both disputed states.

Of course, this was the most reasonable solution-as well as identical to the approach that Republicans adopted five months ago when confronted with Florida and Michigan‘s rule-breaking early primaries.  But somewhere within Wexler’s screaming “testimony,” the topic of discussion veered from how to resolve the delegate dispute to a show of maniacal self-aggrandizement:

We’ve talked today about voters’ rights.  No one in the state of Florida has championed voters’ rights more than I.  The irony … this voter-verifiable bill that has been talked about today, there was one person respectfully in the state of Florida who for five years fought for the right of Floridians to have their vote counted and verified and you’re looking at him.  And when I lost, when I got beat, when I got beat by that same Republican legislature and that governor Jeb Bush in Florida, I took my case to court, every way up the state court, every way up the federal court, and we didn’t prevail.  And finally, when we had a new governor, I prevailed on that new Republican governor to give Floridians to the right to have their vote counted by a voter-verified paper trail.  There is nobody more committed to that than me.  That, respectfully, may be one of the reasons why Senator Obama chose me to be here today. . .

This is only the latest in Rep. Wexler’s long history of making every issue in which he becomes involved all about him.

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Klein’s Mad Again

Joe Klein is upset yet again–this time at Senator Joseph Lieberman. The source of his consternation is an interview Lieberman gave to Wolf Blitzer on CNN. When asked about a Hamas spokesman’s endorsement of Obama, Lieberman said that

John McCain obviously knows and has said that Senator Obama clearly doesn’t support any of the values or goals of Hamas. But the fact that the spokesperson for Hamas would say they would welcome the election of Senator Obama really does raise the question “Why?” and it suggests the difference between these two candidates.

According to Klein, Lieberman is

smearing Barack Obama re Hamas. He is entitled to his views about the Middle East, but for the past five years he has taken those Likudnik views a step beyond propriety–saying that those who disagree with him (i.e.–the Democratic Party, which nominated him for the Vice Presidency in 2000) are counseling “defeat” and “surrender.” And now this.  I wish Blitzer had been a bit more dogged and asked: “What could you possibly mean by that, Senator Lieberman–and please be specific. Why do you think Hamas “favors” Obama over McCain? What are you implying here, Senator?

Now one might believe Lieberman is wrong in what he said, but it is hardly a smear. In fact, Lieberman goes out of his way to stress that Obama does not share the values or goals of Hamas. His argument is a completely legitimate one: Obama would pursue policies that would (unintentionally) advance the aims of Hamas. It’s the flipside of an argument I presume Klein endorses: Bush’s policies–from Iraq to Guantanamo Bay to water-boarding–have helped the jihadists cause rather than hurt it.

It’s not a smear to make the argument that the policies of a President will have real-world consequences–in some instances making life easier for our enemies, and in some instances making life harder for our enemies. Is it unreasonable to conclude that the leaders of the Soviet Union were rooting for Carter in 1980 and Mondale in 1984?

Likewise, it’s perfectly legitimate to argue that the policy Barack Obama embraces would lead to an American surrender and defeat in Iraq–just as it’s perfectly legitimate to argue that McCain’s policies would harm American interests. Political campaigns are supposed to be about such matters.

This is all part of what is becoming an increasingly tiresome reflex within the media and which Klein embodies as well as anyone. When Lanny Davis said that Obama’s relationship to Jeremiah Wright was a legitimate, troubling issue, Klein accused Davis of “spreading the poison.” Now Lieberman’s argument that it’s worth asking why Hamas would rather see Obama than McCain as President is a “smear.” And next week if Lindsey Graham criticizes Obama’s willingness to meet with President Ahmadinejad without preconditions, I suppose we can expect Klein to charge Graham with “character assassination.”

For a fellow who likes to rip the hide off of his critics, Klein has developed some fairly thin skin. Years ago Bob Dole asked, “Where’s the outrage?” The answer, is appears, can be found in the writing of Joe Klein. Outrage seems to be a perennial state for him these days.

Joe Klein is upset yet again–this time at Senator Joseph Lieberman. The source of his consternation is an interview Lieberman gave to Wolf Blitzer on CNN. When asked about a Hamas spokesman’s endorsement of Obama, Lieberman said that

John McCain obviously knows and has said that Senator Obama clearly doesn’t support any of the values or goals of Hamas. But the fact that the spokesperson for Hamas would say they would welcome the election of Senator Obama really does raise the question “Why?” and it suggests the difference between these two candidates.

According to Klein, Lieberman is

smearing Barack Obama re Hamas. He is entitled to his views about the Middle East, but for the past five years he has taken those Likudnik views a step beyond propriety–saying that those who disagree with him (i.e.–the Democratic Party, which nominated him for the Vice Presidency in 2000) are counseling “defeat” and “surrender.” And now this.  I wish Blitzer had been a bit more dogged and asked: “What could you possibly mean by that, Senator Lieberman–and please be specific. Why do you think Hamas “favors” Obama over McCain? What are you implying here, Senator?

Now one might believe Lieberman is wrong in what he said, but it is hardly a smear. In fact, Lieberman goes out of his way to stress that Obama does not share the values or goals of Hamas. His argument is a completely legitimate one: Obama would pursue policies that would (unintentionally) advance the aims of Hamas. It’s the flipside of an argument I presume Klein endorses: Bush’s policies–from Iraq to Guantanamo Bay to water-boarding–have helped the jihadists cause rather than hurt it.

It’s not a smear to make the argument that the policies of a President will have real-world consequences–in some instances making life easier for our enemies, and in some instances making life harder for our enemies. Is it unreasonable to conclude that the leaders of the Soviet Union were rooting for Carter in 1980 and Mondale in 1984?

Likewise, it’s perfectly legitimate to argue that the policy Barack Obama embraces would lead to an American surrender and defeat in Iraq–just as it’s perfectly legitimate to argue that McCain’s policies would harm American interests. Political campaigns are supposed to be about such matters.

This is all part of what is becoming an increasingly tiresome reflex within the media and which Klein embodies as well as anyone. When Lanny Davis said that Obama’s relationship to Jeremiah Wright was a legitimate, troubling issue, Klein accused Davis of “spreading the poison.” Now Lieberman’s argument that it’s worth asking why Hamas would rather see Obama than McCain as President is a “smear.” And next week if Lindsey Graham criticizes Obama’s willingness to meet with President Ahmadinejad without preconditions, I suppose we can expect Klein to charge Graham with “character assassination.”

For a fellow who likes to rip the hide off of his critics, Klein has developed some fairly thin skin. Years ago Bob Dole asked, “Where’s the outrage?” The answer, is appears, can be found in the writing of Joe Klein. Outrage seems to be a perennial state for him these days.

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Helping the Iranian People

On Wednesday, Iran’s Guardian Council, the country’s constitutional watchdog, said that it had reinstated more than 280 candidates for the March 14 parliamentary elections. Earlier, more than 2,200 contenders, most of them reformists, had been disqualified, including a grandson of Ayatollah Ruhallah Khomeini, the founder of Iran’s theocracy. The hardline Council may accept additional names in the next few weeks, when it will publish a final list of individuals eligible to run. There will be only a week of official campaigning.

The result is already foreordained: the disqualifications ensure that supporters of the unpopular president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, will dominate the legislative body. At best, insurgents can win a tenth of the seats. Consequently, there will not be too much suspense on election night next month in the Islamic Republic. And don’t expect Wolf Blitzer to be announcing precinct-by-precinct results.

Electoral contests in tightly controlled regimes are never about outcome, of course. Turnout is the key factor. Autocrats always seek high participation levels to legitimize their rule, while dissidents change tactics, sometimes competing in rigged contests and at other moments shunning them. History tells us there is no one correct strategy for people who want to upend an odious government, and I do not know what ordinary Iranians should do between now and the 14th of next month.

“We have no such thing as majority rule in Islam,” said one elected member of Iran’s parliament a few years ago. Or as Khomeini himself once declared, “What we should have in mind is the satisfaction of God, not the satisfaction of the people.” Fortunately for us, that ayatollah’s doctrine ensures that theocratic governments will fail after initial fervor passes. The Iranian Revolution will be three decades old next year, and the corrupt and tired government that it left in its wake is sustaining itself primarily through oil and gas revenues, appeals to patriotism, and the support of big-power sponsors China and Russia. The Iranian people not only have to struggle against their own theocrats but also against the authoritarians in Moscow and Beijing.

There may be little we can do internally to affect the balance of power between the people and their rulers, but we certainly have the means to help Iranians by convincing the Russians and Chinese to withdraw their support for the government in Tehran. Regime change in the Islamic Republic is inevitable, but it can only happen soon if we do our part at this moment.

On Wednesday, Iran’s Guardian Council, the country’s constitutional watchdog, said that it had reinstated more than 280 candidates for the March 14 parliamentary elections. Earlier, more than 2,200 contenders, most of them reformists, had been disqualified, including a grandson of Ayatollah Ruhallah Khomeini, the founder of Iran’s theocracy. The hardline Council may accept additional names in the next few weeks, when it will publish a final list of individuals eligible to run. There will be only a week of official campaigning.

The result is already foreordained: the disqualifications ensure that supporters of the unpopular president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, will dominate the legislative body. At best, insurgents can win a tenth of the seats. Consequently, there will not be too much suspense on election night next month in the Islamic Republic. And don’t expect Wolf Blitzer to be announcing precinct-by-precinct results.

Electoral contests in tightly controlled regimes are never about outcome, of course. Turnout is the key factor. Autocrats always seek high participation levels to legitimize their rule, while dissidents change tactics, sometimes competing in rigged contests and at other moments shunning them. History tells us there is no one correct strategy for people who want to upend an odious government, and I do not know what ordinary Iranians should do between now and the 14th of next month.

“We have no such thing as majority rule in Islam,” said one elected member of Iran’s parliament a few years ago. Or as Khomeini himself once declared, “What we should have in mind is the satisfaction of God, not the satisfaction of the people.” Fortunately for us, that ayatollah’s doctrine ensures that theocratic governments will fail after initial fervor passes. The Iranian Revolution will be three decades old next year, and the corrupt and tired government that it left in its wake is sustaining itself primarily through oil and gas revenues, appeals to patriotism, and the support of big-power sponsors China and Russia. The Iranian people not only have to struggle against their own theocrats but also against the authoritarians in Moscow and Beijing.

There may be little we can do internally to affect the balance of power between the people and their rulers, but we certainly have the means to help Iranians by convincing the Russians and Chinese to withdraw their support for the government in Tehran. Regime change in the Islamic Republic is inevitable, but it can only happen soon if we do our part at this moment.

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Seymour Hersh’s Shot in The Dark

The Jerusalem Post noted yesterday that on Wolf Blitzer’s CNN show Seymour Hersh discussed an upcoming New Yorker piece in which he will disclose that “Israel did not have a clear idea of the nature of the facility it targeted in Syria in September 2007″ and that “the primary objective of the bombing was to send a forceful message to Iran.” The piece is appropriately titled “A Shot in the Dark.”

When I saw this, the first thing I thought of was John Bolton’s speech at the Herzliya Conference in Israel a couple of weeks ago. Bolton devoted a substantial portion of his talk to discussing the 2007 strike, and questioning why the Israeli and American governments have been so reticent on the nature of the target. Obviously, Bolton cannot explicitly reveal what happened. But his method of discussing the incident was to tiptoe around it so meticulously that the outline of what he thinks was targeted emerged with unmistakable clarity.

I haven’t been able to locate a finished transcript of his remarks, but the IDC (which sponsors the conference) has posted rough transcripts of the conference presentations, the excerpt of which below I’ve edited for spelling and typos:

The general public still doesn’t know the relationship between North Korea and Syria and whether it was a joint effort, a trade of supplies or something else. Our governments however do know the details and I wonder if that censorship and classification of information is necessary . . .

Syria with its domination by Iran wouldn’t be able to build a nuclear facility without, at least, the acquiescence of Iran. Even with Iranian permission Syria still has two problems. First they don’t have the capability; secondly they don’t have the money. As a solution to this North Korea could provide the capability while Iran, from its oil sales, could provide the money.

In this case it’s more than cooperation and more like a joint effort. I feel that it’s clear that there is more here that needs to be disclosed. I feel that there isn’t any need for either the Israeli or United States governments to reveal how they came about the intelligence or about how they knew of the facility. Nor do I believe that there is a need to disclose the classified information about the operation.

What should not be withheld is what the facility actually was and why it was withheld….Now there won’t be a Syrian retaliation and there does seem to be North Korean involvement, so why not say so?

The reason why the Israeli government isn’t disclosing any information means that there is more occurring here and this information is being withheld because of the possibly that North Korea was violating their agreement of the Six Party Talks and proliferating nuclear arms against [that] agreement.

As characterized by Bolton, the Israeli strike wasn’t much of a “shot in the dark” at all. It will be interesting to see what Hersh (who has a fondness for shocking revelations from anonymous government sources) has to say about it.

The Jerusalem Post noted yesterday that on Wolf Blitzer’s CNN show Seymour Hersh discussed an upcoming New Yorker piece in which he will disclose that “Israel did not have a clear idea of the nature of the facility it targeted in Syria in September 2007″ and that “the primary objective of the bombing was to send a forceful message to Iran.” The piece is appropriately titled “A Shot in the Dark.”

When I saw this, the first thing I thought of was John Bolton’s speech at the Herzliya Conference in Israel a couple of weeks ago. Bolton devoted a substantial portion of his talk to discussing the 2007 strike, and questioning why the Israeli and American governments have been so reticent on the nature of the target. Obviously, Bolton cannot explicitly reveal what happened. But his method of discussing the incident was to tiptoe around it so meticulously that the outline of what he thinks was targeted emerged with unmistakable clarity.

I haven’t been able to locate a finished transcript of his remarks, but the IDC (which sponsors the conference) has posted rough transcripts of the conference presentations, the excerpt of which below I’ve edited for spelling and typos:

The general public still doesn’t know the relationship between North Korea and Syria and whether it was a joint effort, a trade of supplies or something else. Our governments however do know the details and I wonder if that censorship and classification of information is necessary . . .

Syria with its domination by Iran wouldn’t be able to build a nuclear facility without, at least, the acquiescence of Iran. Even with Iranian permission Syria still has two problems. First they don’t have the capability; secondly they don’t have the money. As a solution to this North Korea could provide the capability while Iran, from its oil sales, could provide the money.

In this case it’s more than cooperation and more like a joint effort. I feel that it’s clear that there is more here that needs to be disclosed. I feel that there isn’t any need for either the Israeli or United States governments to reveal how they came about the intelligence or about how they knew of the facility. Nor do I believe that there is a need to disclose the classified information about the operation.

What should not be withheld is what the facility actually was and why it was withheld….Now there won’t be a Syrian retaliation and there does seem to be North Korean involvement, so why not say so?

The reason why the Israeli government isn’t disclosing any information means that there is more occurring here and this information is being withheld because of the possibly that North Korea was violating their agreement of the Six Party Talks and proliferating nuclear arms against [that] agreement.

As characterized by Bolton, the Israeli strike wasn’t much of a “shot in the dark” at all. It will be interesting to see what Hersh (who has a fondness for shocking revelations from anonymous government sources) has to say about it.

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The Democrats Are Having All The Fun

What a depressing night for Republicans! Whatever the Democratic debate lacked in substance, it made up for in sheer exuberance. With the writers strike sucking the fun out of Hollywood society, the Obama-Clinton debate felt like an opening night gala. And what a show! The rallies outside, the opening photo-op, the cheers, the friendly banter, the applause, the movie stars, the booing of Wolf Blitzer’s editorializing, the glamour of the Kodak Theater. It was an orgy of Democratic chest-pounding and self-congratulation worthy of Oscar night, John. Who couldn’t enjoy this after last night’s somber and often angry snipe-fest at the mausoleum that is the Reagan library?

What ought to haunt the GOP the most is that this Democratic contest might not be settled until April 22, the Pennsylvania primary. That means another 10 weeks of this remarkable Democratic road show while McCain continues to debate Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul on Fox News.

A McCain-Clinton or McCain-Obama debate might make all this look very different, especially if any serious discussion of taxes or foreign policy emerges. But at the moment, it looks like the Democrats are hosting a much better frat-house rush party.

What a depressing night for Republicans! Whatever the Democratic debate lacked in substance, it made up for in sheer exuberance. With the writers strike sucking the fun out of Hollywood society, the Obama-Clinton debate felt like an opening night gala. And what a show! The rallies outside, the opening photo-op, the cheers, the friendly banter, the applause, the movie stars, the booing of Wolf Blitzer’s editorializing, the glamour of the Kodak Theater. It was an orgy of Democratic chest-pounding and self-congratulation worthy of Oscar night, John. Who couldn’t enjoy this after last night’s somber and often angry snipe-fest at the mausoleum that is the Reagan library?

What ought to haunt the GOP the most is that this Democratic contest might not be settled until April 22, the Pennsylvania primary. That means another 10 weeks of this remarkable Democratic road show while McCain continues to debate Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul on Fox News.

A McCain-Clinton or McCain-Obama debate might make all this look very different, especially if any serious discussion of taxes or foreign policy emerges. But at the moment, it looks like the Democrats are hosting a much better frat-house rush party.

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Bush’s Big Adventure

In the immediate aftermath of last week’s Annapolis Conference, President Bush told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that there was no reason for him to go to the region to promote Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. “Going to the region in itself is not going to unstick negotiations,” Bush said, seeming annoyed by the suggestion that he should get out more. “This idea about somehow you’re supposed to travel and therefore good things are going to happen is just not realistic.”

But earlier this week, the President apparently had a change of heart, with White House National Security spokesman Gordon Johndroe confirming that Bush will visit Israel in early January. This marks a significant shift in strategy: Bush had given the strong impression that he intended to monitor bilateral negotiations from afar, only getting involved if necessary to resolve impasses. Perhaps realizing that impasses—and thus his direct involvement—were inevitable, Bush wisely chose to visit the region now. Yet the most important outcome of his visit will not be resolving intricate details regarding refugees or Jerusalem. Rather, Bush’s visit can serve a critical public diplomacy purpose, so long as it is used to reach out to Israelis and Palestinians, encouraging both to support their leaders’ bid for peace.

In Israel, Bush will find a public that is deeply skeptical of Annapolis, having little faith in Olmert and, arguably, less faith in a Palestinian body politic still heavily controlled by Hamas. Yet, for Bush, the Israeli public is winnable: Bush has continually iterated his understanding for Israelis’ security concerns, and he is often regarded as the most pro-Israel president of all time. Bush’s visit to Israel will demonstrate his seriousness regarding Annapolis, possibly convincing Israelis that peace can—and therefore must—be sealed during his presidency.

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In the immediate aftermath of last week’s Annapolis Conference, President Bush told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that there was no reason for him to go to the region to promote Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. “Going to the region in itself is not going to unstick negotiations,” Bush said, seeming annoyed by the suggestion that he should get out more. “This idea about somehow you’re supposed to travel and therefore good things are going to happen is just not realistic.”

But earlier this week, the President apparently had a change of heart, with White House National Security spokesman Gordon Johndroe confirming that Bush will visit Israel in early January. This marks a significant shift in strategy: Bush had given the strong impression that he intended to monitor bilateral negotiations from afar, only getting involved if necessary to resolve impasses. Perhaps realizing that impasses—and thus his direct involvement—were inevitable, Bush wisely chose to visit the region now. Yet the most important outcome of his visit will not be resolving intricate details regarding refugees or Jerusalem. Rather, Bush’s visit can serve a critical public diplomacy purpose, so long as it is used to reach out to Israelis and Palestinians, encouraging both to support their leaders’ bid for peace.

In Israel, Bush will find a public that is deeply skeptical of Annapolis, having little faith in Olmert and, arguably, less faith in a Palestinian body politic still heavily controlled by Hamas. Yet, for Bush, the Israeli public is winnable: Bush has continually iterated his understanding for Israelis’ security concerns, and he is often regarded as the most pro-Israel president of all time. Bush’s visit to Israel will demonstrate his seriousness regarding Annapolis, possibly convincing Israelis that peace can—and therefore must—be sealed during his presidency.

Among Palestinians, Bush faces a much tougher public diplomacy outlook. The Palestinian public views the Bush administration as the enabler of everything that encumbers their livelihoods: the security barrier, checkpoints, roadblocks, and curfews. Palestinians further view Bush’s democracy agenda as hypocritical, given the U.S.-led isolation of Hamas that followed its 2006 electoral victory. Finally, the Palestinian public views the peace process cynically, and will ask how the recent announcement that Israel will build more housing units in Har Homa—headline news throughout the Arab world yesterday—jives with land-for-peace.

Bush’s visit to the region is unlikely to change any of these realities immediately—indeed, that is not the point of public diplomacy. However, if Bush visits Ramallah, engages with members of Palestinian civil society, demonstrates sympathy for Palestinian pain, and insists that its remedy lies in serious engagement with Israel, he will be taking the first step towards showing Palestinians that the peace process will seek their advancement. He could further use these conversations to express his dismay for Hamas’s ascendancy, and argue that it was Hamas’s suicide bombings—and no American-Israeli conspiracy—that prompted the West Bank barrier’s construction.

For this reason, Bush’s trip to the region must emphasize media interviews and meetings with Israeli and Palestinian citizens. Indeed, if the administration merely intends a series of closed-door meetings with Olmert and Abbas in warmer climates, an important opportunity to advance the credibility of U.S. policy will be lost.

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Hillary’s “No”

The Washington Post and the New York Times may have missed it, but the New York Sun got it. The key moment for the Democrats as a party during last night’s debate came when Barack Obama stumbled on the same question about driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants that had tripped up Hillary Clinton two weeks earlier.

For two weeks Obama and Edwards had attacked Clinton for her flip-flopping “politics of parsing” because she seemed both to support and oppose the licenses. (Obama spokesman Bill Burton said Clinton had taken “two weeks and six different positions to answer one question.”) But last night Clinton, having pushed New York Governor Eliot Spitzer into entirely abandoning his plan to issue driver’s licenses, responded with a crisp “no” when CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, the moderator, asked for a straight up-or-down answer on whether the candidates supported licenses for undocumented workers. Last night it was Obama who wanted it both ways. Asked the question, Obama launched into a discussion of how “When I was a state senator in Illinois, I voted to require that illegal aliens get trained, get a license, get insurance to protect public safety. That was my intention.” But when Blitzer pressed him for a yes-or-no answer, the usually exquisitely articulate Obama froze. Visibly off-balance, he replied that “I am not proposing that that’s what we do.” He then went on to say, “I have already said I support the notion that we have to deal with public safety.” A frustrated Blizter responded, “This is the sort of question available to a yes or no answer.”

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The Washington Post and the New York Times may have missed it, but the New York Sun got it. The key moment for the Democrats as a party during last night’s debate came when Barack Obama stumbled on the same question about driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants that had tripped up Hillary Clinton two weeks earlier.

For two weeks Obama and Edwards had attacked Clinton for her flip-flopping “politics of parsing” because she seemed both to support and oppose the licenses. (Obama spokesman Bill Burton said Clinton had taken “two weeks and six different positions to answer one question.”) But last night Clinton, having pushed New York Governor Eliot Spitzer into entirely abandoning his plan to issue driver’s licenses, responded with a crisp “no” when CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, the moderator, asked for a straight up-or-down answer on whether the candidates supported licenses for undocumented workers. Last night it was Obama who wanted it both ways. Asked the question, Obama launched into a discussion of how “When I was a state senator in Illinois, I voted to require that illegal aliens get trained, get a license, get insurance to protect public safety. That was my intention.” But when Blitzer pressed him for a yes-or-no answer, the usually exquisitely articulate Obama froze. Visibly off-balance, he replied that “I am not proposing that that’s what we do.” He then went on to say, “I have already said I support the notion that we have to deal with public safety.” A frustrated Blizter responded, “This is the sort of question available to a yes or no answer.”

Clinton’s definitive “no” took her partly off the general election hook. But with nearly 80 percent of voters opposing driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants, her party, as represented by Obama and Bill Richardson, is still in the hot seat on this issue. Led by liberal Democrats, seventeen states have opposed a national standard for driver’s licenses. (In eight of these states, licenses are already being issued to undocumented workers.) This has led Peter Brown of the Quinnipiac Poll to analogize that, like affirmative action for racial minorities—an issue that badly damaged the Democrats in the 1970’s and 1980’s—today’s immigration issue has split the party’s working class supporters from its liberal activists. And as with affirmative action, liberal activists are quick to deride their opponents as racists.

Brown is right about the broad similarities. But there are also significant differences. Affirmative action and racial quotas pitted middle- and lower-middle-class white male Democrats against African-Americans and liberal activists. But on immigration, the remaining white working-class Democrats are aligned with most African-American voters, who are often those most directly in competition with low cost illegal immigrant labor. And this tension can only be exacerbated by the reality of black downward mobility. According to a new study from the Economic Mobility Project, “children of black parents earning in the middle 20 percent of all families in the late 1960′s had a 69 percent chance of earning less than their parents, the study found. For white children, that chance was just 32 percent.”

Hillary may have dodged a bullet for now, but the internal Democratic party debate on undocumented workers has only begun.

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