Commentary Magazine


Flotsam and Jetsam

President-elect Obama has learned closing Gitmo isn’t easy, likes Dick Cheney’s advice and is planning on continuing Clinton and Bush 43’s policy toward Israel. This is change? No, but it’s very smart and will garner him praise from everyone but the netroots.

And I fail to understand why conservatives mock the President-elect for suggesting we need some shared sacrifice. Aren’t Republicans in favor of limiting spending, ending the bailouts and denying aid to faltering auto companies, for example? That’s spreading the pain. I think the tone and approach of the Right needs some fine-tuning. Leaping on the President-elect when he says something entirely reasonable is self-defeating and off-putting. It is a good thing when he says things like: “I want to be realistic here, not everything that we talked about during the campaign are we going to be able to do on the pace we had hoped.” (Ed Morrissey didn’t fall into the trap of knee-jerk criticism.)

Jeffrey Goldberg tries his level best to educate his fellow blogger about who George Bisharat is.

Marty Peretz reveals the deepest, darkest secrets of the Jewish Lobby. Not really, but it is nice to know how many non-Jews are members.

“With every image of the dead in Gaza inflaming people across the Arab world, Egyptian and Jordanian officials are worried that they see a fundamental tenet of the Middle East peace process slipping away: the so-called two-state solution, an independent Palestinian state coexisting with Israel.” They are kidding, right? Everything was just humming along on the path to peace before this. Yeah. ( Maybe John Bolton was right — it’s time for a three state solution.)

What will Maureen Dowd have to write about and where will all that random venom go when Bush and Cheney leave office?

Mike Duncan leads in publicly pledged votes for the RNC slot. Hey, I suppose if Rick Wagoner can keep his CEO job at GM, Duncan can keep his RNC chairmanship. Come to think of it, which one had a worse year?

The A.P. mimics People magazine with “a rare look inside the private world of a woman America fell in love with decades ago as she rode her pony over the White House lawn.” Ooooh, she rides the subway! Ahh, she books her own airline flights! So do a majority of  New Yorkers, but I bet they don’t consider those as reasons to appoint them senator.

Is Sen. Chris Dodd in trouble — that is re-election trouble (we know about the legal problems)?

This headline seems confused: “Will Mitch McConnell Rain on Obama’s Parade?” I think it’s Harry Reid who has been giving Obama the most difficulty, beginning with sending Roland Burris out into that rain.

How long will the new President be able to blame George Bush for the recession? Not so long, according to Charles Krauthammer: “By mid-year it becomes his. I mean, everything is blamed on the predecessor at the beginning, as you should. And this always happens. By summer it will be his recession and, of course, even by his own estimates, it will be getting worse. Unemployment will be climbing. It probably will be at 9 or 10 percent probably all the way into the midterm elections in 2010. ”

Meanwhile, Bill Kristol takes comfort from Time magazine’s gloomy prediction about Israel’s Gaza incursion: ” I was cheered up by that Time Magazine cover. This is the same magazine that in 2002 said Israel’s incursion into the West Bank couldn’t possibly succeed in crushing the intifada and reducing terrorism and that said that the U.S. surge in Iraq — I remember this vividly — in January 2007, the surge can’t succeed. Look, I think Israel is pursuing a diplomatic and military strategy on two tracks. That may work. No guarantees. All this talk about world opinion — they’re negotiating with Egypt. Senior Israeli defense officials were in Egypt and they’re going back to Egypt Monday to try to get Egypt to be serious about cutting down on the smuggling.”

More on what to expect at the Eric Holder hearing: “Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary panel, said he is awaiting Mr. Holder’s responses at the hearing before deciding on his vote on confirmation. In a Senate speech last week on Mr. Holder’s nomination, he said, ‘Sometimes it is more important for the attorney general to have the stature and courage to say ‘no’ than to say ‘yes.’ ‘ Even one of Mr. Holder’s prominent backers, James Comey, a former deputy attorney general appointed by Mr. Bush, criticized Mr. Holder’s ‘huge misjudgment’ on the pardons in a letter to the Senate panel expressing support for confirmation.” Hmm, perhaps Holder could use fewer letters. Still, with some prominent Republicans coming forward to support him, Holder may get through — provided the Democrats can explain why politicization of the Justice Department to extract undeserving pardons for fugitives and terrorists is no big deal. This is one place where less continuity and more change would be a good move.

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