Commentary Magazine


Flotsam and Jetsam

Dahlia Lithwick dutifully takes up the smear campaign against Frank Ricci. She doesn’t like all his litigation and pleas for government intervention. Well, then PRLDEF (and Sotomayor’s leadership thereof) should be a prime target of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s inquiry, right? They along with like-minded left-wing civil rights groups are professional litigants after all, constantly complaining and unwilling to allow the chips fall where they may when it comes to employment tests and evaluations. But Lithwick wonders if conservatives want Ricci as an “anti-affirmative hero.” Perhaps the real question is whether the Left wants to vilify a working-class man who studied for hours every day to make up for his physical handicap, insisted on pursuing his right to be evaluated based on his merits all the way to the Supreme Court, and now spends his days rescuing people from fires.

They are at it again: “Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) signaled on Sunday that Senate Democrats were not on board with a plan outlined by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) that would levy a tax on the rich to fund President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.” I suppose they didn’t get the president’s memo that anyone not on board with the liberal health-care scheme is “scaring people” or simply defending the status quo.

The administration doesn’t seem enamored of the Rangel plan either: “Asked about the Rangel plan on CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ Sunday, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said: “‘I think it’s one of the ideas that will be discussed in the longterm.'”  

Running out of time? “Top members of Congress say it’s unlikely they will meet President Barack Obama’s August deadline for a sweeping health care overhaul. Lawmakers on Sunday said they will not rush on a health care overhaul that isn’t even in final form yet.” Far be it from me to encourage passage of government-run health care, but these guys could work in August, you know. Well, maybe they’d rather not pass a government take-over of health care and a boatload of new taxes.  

Bill Kristol recounts how the administration sold the stimulus plan: “They said, ‘If this thing doesn’t go through, unemployment could go up to 9 percent, but if it goes through we’ll keep it below 8 percent.’ It’s now 9.5 percent. I think it’s hurt his general credibility. You know, would you trust this team to correctly understand the consequences of the cap and trade energy proposal and the health care proposal if they got the stimulus so wrong?”

And Mara Liasson agrees: “Top economic advisers to the president — with a stimulus bill, we can keep unemployment around 8 percent. Now you’ve got the administration girding people for the fact that it’s going to go over 10. It might go even up to 11. I think that’s a real problem, because then you have to ask, ‘Well, gee, if you diagnosed the problem wrong, did you also get the medicine wrong, the solution wrong,’ which Obama was asked about in Europe, and he said repeatedly, ‘Absolutely not. I wouldn’t have done anything any differently.'”  

John McCain joins the chorus of critics: “Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, told the NBC program ‘Meet the Press’ that Obama either got it wrong when he predicted the benefits of his $787 billion economic stimulus package in February, or he’s wrong now in saying the stimulus is working as intended. ‘He’s either not leveling now or he wasn’t leveling at the time they passed the stimulus package,’ McCain said.”

Chester Crocker applauds the president’s speech in Ghana. But the question remains: why doesn’t the president focus on democracy, corruption, and the need for good governance when he talks to and about Iran, China, Russia, etc.?  

Joe Biden will be campaigning with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds in Virginia. Hmm. In addition to “misreading” the economy, has the White House misread Biden’s appeal and drawing power? We are in the dog days of summer so maybe the voters will forget by November.

It turns out that Obama’s persona and being “not George W. Bush” don’t amount to all that much in foreign policy: “The hard reality of international affairs is that, just as the United States has interests, so do other countries. And when those interests conflict, all the charm and charisma in the world can’t resolve the differences.” And maybe trying to be as inoffensive as possible (except to Israel) isn’t helping either.

Here it is: six months into the Obama administration and the staffers are telling us how hard they work and how tired they are. Well, yes. But perhaps they now might have some appreciation, if not empathy (that’s the word!), for the Bush team, which labored through 9-11, two wars, and much, much more. Rule #1 for the White House staff: don’t whine. (And by the way, for all that work they haven’t accomplished much, so maybe they have an organizational or time-management problem.)

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