Monthly Archives: October 2009

Time to decide on Afghanistan

Charles Krauthammer in his weekly column says it’s time for President Obama to decide how to proceed in Afghanistan – and to stop blaming George W. Bush for the problems there and elsewhere:

“It’s as if Obama’s presidency hasn’t really started. He’s still taking inventory of the Bush years. Just this Monday, he referred to “long years of drift” in Afghanistan in order to, I suppose, explain away his own, well, yearlong drift on Afghanistan. …

“In other words, Obama is facing the same decision on Afghanistan that Bush faced in late 2006 in deciding to surge in Iraq. …

“He is to be commended for reconsidering. But it is time he acted like a president and decided…”

Agreed.

The president did, however, stage a photo op Wednesday saluting fallen soldiers being returned home from Afghanistan. Presumably, administration officials were sensitive to unease and frustration from military families who are waiting for the commander in chief to command, along with the general public. Even I’ve got to admit, it was a really, really presidential-looking salute. Resolute, upright and bold. Unfortunately, those are “just words.”

 

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Palin: “Not a serious contender”

[UPDATE: 10/28/09 appx. 9:45 p.m. CST: The Kansas City Star Prime Buzz notes the results of a new CNN poll indicating that “more than seven in 10 Americans think Sarah Palin is not qualified to be president.” On the positive side of things for her, “nearly two-thirds of those questioned say Palin’s not a typical politician, and feel she’s a good role model for women.”  ]

Might as well continue with the theme of the 2012 GOP field – specifically, potential candidates we need to look beyond. In my last post, I explained why Gingrich should not and probably will not run. Then, reading an interview in Der Spiegel, I came across this statement by the brilliant and highly respected conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer:

SPIEGEL: Who will be the next leader of the Republican Party?

Krauthammer: Some presidential candidates from last year will return in 2012. Sarah Palin is not a serious contender, but somebody like Mitt Romney will be. He is a serious guy, he understands the economy. There will also be some young people many haven’t yet heard about, such as Rep. Paul Ryan or Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Or outsiders like the mastermind behind the surge in Iraq, General David Petraeus, who might retire from the military and run for President on the Republican ticket.

“Sarah Palin is not a serious contender…”

Just let that sink in, folks.

Not a serious contender.

I’ve written about Palin before….as with Newt, I also like Palin and think she has a lot going for her. But if you think Palin is qualified to seriously lead both a national party and national conservative movement, it’s time to get real. She has simply never demonstrated that she has what it takes to do so.

Furthermore, I don’t know that she’s ever seriously demonstrated any willingness or ability to stake out grounded and nuanced conervative positions on issues that either didn’t rev up the base at a campaign rally or have some streak of populist appeal. In contrast, the ideal leader – the ideal candidate – will be able to assertively and articulately put forward a credible platform on a host of issues, and know those issues as well as any one person could.

I think Palin can remain a relevant national voice on certain issues, and in certain circles. But if she really wants to take a shot at the title, so to speak, she’ll need to do some serious training before getting back in the ring.

Regarding the other names Krauthammer mentioned: Paul Ryan is a rising star, but may not yet be seasoned enough….I’d like to see him continue to do good things in the House or maybe move into the Senate at some point. Pawlenty might be a good possibility…need to learn more about him. Ditto with David Petraeus…that could be an intriguing scenario. Mitt Romney is the early front-runner in my book, and also my top choice.

Post Script: It’s great that Palin is coming out with some Facebook posts on hot topic….and while the “death panel” comment was not necessarily a precise criticism of current health care nationalization plans, it certainly pointed to an essential reality of such systems while managing to positively impact the debate (or negatively, depending on your view). Yet, has anyone asked Palin if she’s actually writing these things herself? Or at least, closely directing their composition?

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Gingrich should not run, nor will he

Newt Gingrich

But he still has a valuable role to play…

There’s been some scuttlebutt recently about Newt Gingrich getting into the 2012 race. I love Newt. He is widely regarded as an excellent ideas guy, and rightly so. He speaks on policy issues in ways that I wish a lot more Republican politicians would (or could). But let’s be honest. His time is past.

Hailing from suburban Altanta, Georgia, Gingrich is the former speaker of the House of Representatives. He lead the “Republican Revolution” with his Contract With America in 1994. It was a tidal wave in American politics, a dramatic rebuke and restraint on Clinton‘s initial liberalism that had strayed from his moderate marketing in the ’92 presidential campaign.

Gingrich left Congress in some level of disrepute, having suffered some defeats in key battles with Clinton, lost seats in Congress and ending his second marriage in divorce. He stayed out of the limelight for a while, as was necessary and proper.

In recent years, the former history professor has emerged as an energetic and prolific source of potential solutions – conservative and often innovative – to a wide range of public policy challenges. The country, not to mention the Republican Party, is the better for it.

This is a role for which Gingrich is perfectly suited. Someone who sparks thought and debate within the party and the larger body politic. A man well versed in history and politics to inform and persuade others.  But an ideal candidate he does not seem to be.

For starters, there’s the personal baggage. That doesn’t or shouldn’t necessarily rule him out in and of itself, but the baggage is particularly unsightly in this case. He’s on his third wife, after at least one of the first two relationships ended amidst his infidelity. Calling then-First Lady Hillary Clinton “a bitch” doesn’t help either, particularly when it is your mom who reveals the insult to Connie Chung on national television.

Call me petty or uninspired but I don’t think the American people will take well to a guy whose name is “Newt.” Particularly when followed by “Gingrich.” Yes, the people elected a “Barack Obama,” but despite its exotic flavor it has a nice ring to it and does not call to mind a particular amphibian creature.

But the main reason he should not run is that the Gingrich persona is too strongly associated with the past, when elections are always about the future. Rightly or wrongly, the dynamic, colorful, controversial Gingrich will always be remembered for his role in the events of the Nineties. Add to this the fact that while he may be healthy, the former Speaker is not as young as he used to be, in an age when Americans seem to be leaning towards more youthful presidents (Obama, Bush, and Clinton were all at least moderately young by historical standards).

Gingrich has made some noises himself recently about running. His line is essentially that if there’s a conservative philosophical gap in the GOP primary field, that will be reason for him to run, and if there’s not, then he won’t. That’s all well and good. But realistically speaking that gap – I don’t think – will be there. After all, we saw at least several solid conservatives run in 2008: Mitt Romney, followed at varying distances and for varying reasons by Fred Thompson, Tom Tancredo and Duncan Hunter.

I think Gingrich knows he won’t run, either. He understands the odds stacked against even a capable contender, the grueling nature of a lengthy campaign, and what he would have to leave behind in terms of the good life he has now built as an analyst and advocate. However, by lightly fanning the flames of a potential bid, he keeps his stock high and attention focused.

I’ve been in politics too long to be bothered by any cynicsm in that kind of strategy. I say more power to him. Because the man and his ideas more than merit the party’s and the nation’s attention.

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Question O-thority

Excellent short piece by Jay Nordlinger at NRO’s The Corner, following more unpresidential presidential behavior at a DEM fundraiser this week. One of my favorite parts:

“Republicans are people who do what they’re told? That reminded me: One of the reasons I left the Left, or became disenchanted with the Left, is that too many of them were like sheep, all herded up — scarcely thinking for themselves at all. They were wedded to dogma and political correctness. They did not dare to deviate — not in my environment.

“I remember the kids when I was in college: They would just nod at everything their professors and teaching assistants said — and all those professors and TAs, of course, were on the left. The kids might have had a “Question Authority” bumper sticker somewhere. But they never did. They were awfully unquestioning. By their disposition, if it was in the New York Times, it was true. If it was in National Review, it was not true — plus, dangerous, crazy, racist, etc.” (emphasis added).

I see this every day. Not every college age liberal is this way – I know and respect some who aren’t – but it seems so many students simply accept what is told to them in lecture or in the textbook without ever considering that the source has their own subjective viewpoint. In the social sciences, that’s a recipe for disaster.

Yes, listen to lecture carefully and study the textbook closely. Learn what is there. But think critically – deeply and broadly and shrewdly. Consider what biases may be present, and seek out additional sources. Then draw your conclusions.

There’s some more gems in the piece, but I particularly enjoyed that one. Thanks, Jay.

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Why White America Chose Obama

That’s the topic and title of a piece published at The American Thinker by a self-described “recovering liberal and a psychotherapist in Berkeley,” California.

Some interesting stories from kids’ racial experiences in public schools, as well.

[UPDATE: 12:27 a.m. CST: After reading my second commentary by “Robin of Berkeley” for the evening, I’ve decided to add her to the Principally Political blogroll. Silence of the Lambs is about speaking out against progressivism.]

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Filed under Barack Obama, Race

Obama vs. Fox News

There’s been some hot topics in the couple days that I’ve been away, including Obama‘s war on Fox News. There’s been a lot of good stuff written about this, and it’s generally falling into two categories:

1) It’s not right, and or not presidential. All of the right and a lot of the middle is saying this.

2) Whether it’s right or not, it’s not politically adviseable. Generally I’m seeing this from more left-leaning sources, but I think this could be emphasized by anyone.

There have also been a couple pieces from some genuinely far left sources, falling into a third category defending the action.

Here’s my quick take:

A couple days after winning the Nobel Peace Prize, presumably for signaling his willingness to talk to the world’s anti-democratic, anti-American thugs,  Obama wages war on an American press outlet.

I’ve not heard a lot of direct criticism of FNC reporters by the White House, or even of specific FNC anchors. In fact, when asked by veteran media observer Howard Kurtz whether a reporter like Major Garret was an objective journalist, White House communications director/Mao Zedong admirer Anita Dunn replied in the affirmative. Presumably then, much of what the White House objects to is the commentary, or editorial content of the station.

(Of course, for years liberals have also complained more generally about the channel’s news product. However, a major study by Jeffrey Milyo* and Tim Groseclose several years ago actually documented that “Special Report,” the channel’s main evening news program, was among the closest to the ideological center of all the major news sources they examined, along with “NewsHour with Jim Lehrer*”  and a couple others. And Hillary Clinton would have told you during the primary that it was Fox News where she got the fairest shake from the media. It has long been my view that while FNC does lean right, it certainly leans no more in that direction than any of its competitors lean to the left. But I digress).

So, what are we to make of the White House’s decision to target and attack Fox News based in large part on its opinion-programming? Like so much from this White House, it is petty and pedantic, political and partisan. Dressed up, of course, in principled pragmatism.

Of all the broadcast, satellite or cable television stations in the country, there is none like Fox News, whose dynamic and popular on-air talent regularly question and aggressively criticize the president. So by targeting the network, the White House – whose occupant ran on the idea of bringing people together, laughably disingenuous though it was – signals that it will not tolerate a single such voice of dissent. Instead, the president’s operatives will fan out in an attempt to discredit and marginalize the “enemy”.

Folks, this is our president. This is his White House. This is his administration. This is the America he seeks to remake. It is inappropriate behavior, to say the least.

Now, as a pure political matter, I do believe this results in a net loss for Obama, in the short, medium and long term.

Firstly, you lose the biggest audience in cable news. Yeah, a lot of them weren’t with you to begin with, but a few of them were and a good chunk of them could go either way. Contrary to what some liberal commentators might have you believe, Fox does indeed draw more than just die-hard conservatives. It’s #1 for a reason.

Second, anytime you go negative, there’s always a splash. Meaning you get wet, too. You normally think of this in application to going negative with campaign commercials, but this is essentially the same thing. It tarnishes him. Because people instinctively know that it’s unpresidential; that it is a misuse of the majesty of the office.

Thirdly, it raises FNC’s profile. As could be expected from anyone, but particularly the ever-savvy Murdoch, Fox is playing this up big time. And they should. Not only because it’s their right and their story, but because it is in fact a big deal.

Fourthly – and this is related to point one – you harden FNC’s conservative base even more against you. You fire them up. They didn’t care for you to begin with. Now you’ve more than cemented the notion that you have something against them; you’ve straight up called them the enemy. So now you’re the enemy.This is exactly the sort of thing that gins up turnout in midterms.

So, long story short, while the president’s actions are alarming, they will also come back to bite him in the end.

* University of Missouri grads:)

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Filed under Barack Obama, Media Bias

Mainstream Media covers for Maoist in the White House

Mark Steyn writes about the difference in media treatment of fake, racist quotes by Rush Limbaugh in praise of slavery, and real, intensely disturbing quotes by White House communications director Anita Dunn in praise of genocidal communist Mao Zedong.

Legacy media outlets, notably including CNN, played up offensive quotes by Limbaugh. The only problem is that they were completely fabricated:

“Slavery built the South. I’m not saying we should bring it back; I’m just saying it had its merits. For one thing, the streets were safer after dark.”

And this one about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assasin:

“You know who deserves a posthumous Medal of Honor? James Earl Ray. We miss you, James. Godspeed.”

The controversy over Limbaugh’s bid to become minority owner of an NFL team was propelled by the quotes.

On the other hand, here’s what Anita Dunn said about Mao Zedong:

Genocide on the order of 40-70 million is widely attributed to Mao Zedong’s revolution and rule. Yet Dunn stands in awe of this communist icon.*

Limbaugh is a private citizen who wanted a stake in a sports team. He never uttered the false quotes, yet the media played them up.

Dunn is working in the nation’s seat of government. She praises a mass-murderer, and barely a peep from so-called respectable press outlets.

How insane is this?

Look, I get tired of hearing about media bias. Anybody who doesn’t think the media is getting it right can become a member of the media and try to correct things. No, that’s not practical for everybody, but you get my point. If the only people willing to roll up their sleeves and report the news are liberal, then a news product that reflects their spin is the prize they earn.

We (conservatives, that is), can’t just stand back and criticize. The mainstream media gets a lot of things right, and its flagship institutions remain by and large the preeminent news-gathering operations in this country.

Just take a look at the New York Times coverage of the health care debate. Are there holes in it? Sure. Slant? Again, yes. But an informed observer, knowing how to read between the lines, and picking up a few tidbits from other sources, is going to be able to get enough first hand reporting from the Times to form his or her own well-informed, independent judgment on current events, policy issues and the like.

However, when stuff like this happens – continually and in glaring fashion – it really shows the true colors of institutions like CNN and the New York Times. It shows they will sometimes allow their own political ideologies to subvert their journalistic mission when the chips are down.

In any event, this post is a bit more sprawling than I originally intended, but so be it…. We’ll see if any pressure builds on the Mao thing. As evidenced by the outing and ousting and Van Jones and Yosi Sergant, establishment media no longer necessarily have to take note for political momentum to build and force action. But it still helps.

*As an aside, I don’t mean to be petty but does anyone else notice how she keeps smacking her lips and sticking her tongue? Disgusting. I’m sure a speech pathologist will tell me there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation, but still, the whole reptilian thing kind of creeps me out. That and the whole Mao-adulation.

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