Commentary Magazine


Flotsam and Jetsam

Fred Barnes explains why the Democrats are so nervous about Virginia: “If [Republican gubernatorial candidate] Mr. McDonnell pulls off a victory, he will demonstrate that 2008 may have been an aberration—an artifact of the historic nature of Mr. Obama’s candidacy and his well-run campaign. A McDonnell win would also likely be a signal that voters got a close look at Mr. Obama’s ideas and took out their frustration with the president on the nearest Democrat—Mr. Deeds. There’s a sense of normalcy returning to Virginia, and it portends well for Republicans.”

Stephen Walt gives thumbs up to J Street. Not since Osama bin Laden’s inclusion of Jimmy Carter in his book club has an endorsement been more revealing.

Obama wants to talk health care, but voters in 42 states may wonder why he isn’t talking about jobs: “Forty-two states and the District of Columbia lost jobs last month, confirming that the nation’s labor market continues to deteriorate even as more ‘green shoots’ are sighted in other areas of the economy. Fourteen states and the District suffered double-digit jobless rates in August as the unemployment rate increased in 27 states and the nation’s capital, the Labor Department reported Friday. As a result, states whose budgets have been battered by soaring unemployment, rising social spending and collapsing tax revenues took another big hit in August even as the nation appeared to be climbing out of recession.”

This report suggests that Obama’s reversal on missile defense was motivated in large part by penny-pinching on defense. After all, with all those trillions to be spent on domestic programs, they have to save money somewhere, right?

From Rich Lowry, as good as description of Obama’s missile-defense retreat as you will find: “If diplomatic pusillanimity was the aim, Pres. Barack Obama’s decision to abandon our current missile-defense plans in Eastern Europe must be regarded as a masterstroke.”

Jamie Fly sums up: “President Obama seems to think that by making a grand gesture and downplaying the Iranian threat he will garner good will from the Russians and the Iranians going into these talks, never mind the hurt feelings of long-time allies. More likely, Iran, Russia, and a watching world will see this for what it is: a colossal sign of U.S. weakness.”

Hillary Clinton’s woes as secretary of state wind up on the front page of the Washington Post, which describes the tension between her “aspiration and status.” Perhaps being a marginal player in a Carter-like foreign-policy team wasn’t the best career move after all.

Republicans have a pulse, the New York Times breathlessly declares! Political analysts and polls have been revealing this for months, but the Times apparently was too busy not reporting on the Tea Parties and ignoring the Van Jones story to notice.

New AFL-CIO boss Richard Trumka tells us to ignore Sen. Arlen Specter—Big Labor is still going for card check. Matthew Kaminski sums up Trumka’s mission: “It’s time for unions to lead the overhaul of the American economy. With members comes that power. … In his view, securing collective bargaining in a union for a larger share of the workforce, presumably leading to higher pay, can revive consumer spending that can drive economic growth.” Hey, it worked for GM and Chrysler, right? Well, no.

Stephen Hayes, in a must-read recapitulation of Obama’s repeated efforts to ingratiate himself with the Iranian regime—and the regime’s repeated rebuffs: “Iran continues to enrich uranium, it continues to support terrorists, and it continues to suppress political opposition. None of that is surprising. What is hard to understand is the fact that Iran continues to dictate the agenda of international talks. Ahmadinejad is right, the Islamic Republic is running the show.”

The dean of conventional wisdom, David Broder, acknowledges that the health-care plan of Sen. Max Baucus pleases no one: “This was to be Baucus’s moment. But when it came last week, he had to admit that he had enlisted not one Republican supporter and then had to endure criticism from his fellow Democrats that his measure fell short of what the campaign had promised.”

Obama manages to set a face-saving meeting for Tuesday with Bibi Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas. It’s not much, but Obama avoids utter humiliation: ” ‘These meetings will continue the efforts of President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Special Envoy George Mitchell to lay the groundwork for the relaunch of negotiations, and to create a positive context for those negotiations so that they can succeed,’ the statement said. But the meeting between will not serve as a preparation for negotiations and not constitute renewal of negotiations where they were left off, but rather be a preliminary meeting to set the ground for further meetings, the Prime Minister’s Office said Sunday.”

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