We can always count on Gerard Baker (U.S. Editor of the Times UK) to bring some clarity (and humor) to the muddle of American Politics and he does so today in his article in Real Clear Politics. Here’s an excerpt–read it all at RCP…
Obama: A very attractive speaker whose celebrity has been compared to that of Britney Spears and who sends thrills up Chris Matthews’ leg
Palin: A very attractive woman, much better-looking than Britney Spears who speaks rather well too. She sends thrills up the leg of Rush Limbaugh (and me).
Obama: Makes executive decisions every day that affect the lives of his campaign staff and a vast crowd of traveling journalists
Palin: Makes executive decisions every day that affect the lives of 500,000 people in her state, and that impact crucial issues of national economic interest such as the supply and cost of energy to the United States.
Obama is a strange one…and his campaign is all about him.
He has no record to speak of. No paper trail. No witnesses (except for those now, as Charles points out, resting uncomfortably under the bus).
As it was in the beginning, it still is now. It’s all about Obama yet we don’t know who he is.
Here’s Krauthammer’s opening volley in Real Clear Politics today…
Barack Obama is an immensely talented man whose talents have been largely devoted to crafting, and chronicling, his own life. Not things. Not ideas. Not institutions. But himself.
Nothing wrong or even terribly odd about that, except that he is laying claim to the job of crafting the coming history of the United States. A leap of such audacity is odd. The air of unease at the Democratic convention this week was not just a result of the Clinton psychodrama. The deeper anxiety was that the party was nominating a man of many gifts but precious few accomplishments — bearing even fewer witnesses.
Read the rest…
Krauthammer provides what he believes are our options in Real Clear Politics this morning…
1. Suspend the NATO-Russia Council established in 2002 to help bring Russia closer to the West. Make clear that dissolution will follow suspension. The council gives Russia a seat at the NATO table. Message: Invading neighboring democracies forfeits the seat.
2. Bar Russian entry to the World Trade Organization.
3. Dissolve the G-8. Putin’s dictatorial presence long made it a farce but no one wanted to upset the bear by expelling it. No need to. The seven democracies simply withdraw. Then immediately announce the reconstitution of the original G-7.
4. Announce a U.S.-European boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics at Sochi. To do otherwise would be obscene. Sochi is 15 miles from Abkhazia, the other Georgian province just invaded by Russia. The Games will become a riveting contest between the Russian, Belarusian and Jamaican bobsled teams.
All of these steps (except dissolution of the G-8, which should be irreversible) would be subject to reconsideration depending upon Russian action — most importantly and minimally, its withdrawal of troops from Georgia proper to South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
The most crucial and unconditional measure, however, is this: Reaffirm support for the Saakashvili government and declare that its removal by the Russians would lead to recognition of a government-in-exile. This would instantly be understood as providing us the legal basis for supplying and supporting a Georgian resistance to any Russian-installed regime.
Just as Obama’s glow from his “endorsement” by Nuri al-Maliki had begun to fade, along comes Putin to remind voters what a dangerous place the world really is–and that putting a very junior Senator at the helm would be insanity.
Before Obama’s 200 national security advisors could reach consensus, the voters were also reminded of McCain’s long-standing admonition that he didn’t see Putin’s soul when looking into his eyes–he saw the letters “K-G-B.”
And as for Obama (in the words of Rich Lowry in Real Clear Politics)…
the Bush and Obama statements in the immediate wake of the crisis could have been issued by a joint campaign. Bush’s spokeswoman urged “all parties,” both Georgians and Russians, “to de-escalate the tension and avoid conflict.” Obama declared that “now is the time for Georgia and Russia to show restraint.” In their implied moral equivalence, these reactions were a little like urging the Kuwaitis to de-escalate with Saddam’s Iraq in August 1990
Putin might as well have uploaded an ad for McCain on Youtube. Here’s Lowry’s take on McCain’s history with Russia and Putin…
McCain’s proposal from a few months ago to boot Russia from the G-8 has gone from seeming needlessly provocative to practically prescient. Together with the surge in Iraq, the Georgian crisis is the second strategic matter on which everyone else has followed the senator’s lead.
McCain warned of Russian designs on its “near-abroad” when Boris Yeltsin was still in power, and advocated the enlargement of NATO into Eastern Europe — as a way to cement those countries into the West and check Russian adventurism — years before the Clinton administration adopted it as policy.
McCain’s judgment benefits from years of marinating in national-security issues and traveling and getting to know the key players; from a hatred of tinpot dictators and bloody thugs that guides his moral compass; and from a flinty realism (verging at times on fatalism) that is resistant to illusions about personalities, or the inevitable direction of History, or the nature of the world.
Here’s a link to an earlier post which illustrates McCain’s prescience on Russia (Youtube video embed’s from 1999 & 2000).
Out of Obama’s great week of photo ops is coming some unwelcome noise that there may be less than meets the eye with this towering figure. Maggie Gallagher summarizes nicely in Real Clear Politics (excerpt and link below)…
Obama Faking It
Real Clear Politics
By Maggie Gallagher
Obama has a problem: What do you do when you’re a lightly accomplished one-term senator, a former state legislator from Illinois, a Harvard law graduate who has no substantive record of accomplishments, and you are running against a war hero whom polls show that Americans overwhelmingly view as far more fit to be commander in chief?
Pose, of course.
What else can a guy like Obama do?
So the man who would be president of the United States of America flies around the world in the middle of a political campaign, enlisting the U.S. military and the Berlin Wall as free campaign commercial backdrops, to lend him the emotional weight and substance — the aura as a commander — that he hasn’t yet earned on his own.
NBC’s Andrea Mitchell was the one journalist with the courage to name what she was actually seeing happen: Obama faking even being interviewed by the press.
“Let me say something about the message management. He didn’t have reporters with him, he didn’t have a press pool, he didn’t do a press conference,” either in Afghanistan or Iraq, noted Mitchell on the air. Instead Obama manufactured “what some would call ‘fake interviews,’ because they are not interviews from a journalist,” Mitchell went on.
Mitchell understands very well that this contrived image management is powerfully all to Obama’s political advantage. He’s shameless when it comes to managing his own image. “Politically it’s as smart as can be,” she conceded before noting the big obvious truth nobody else in the media was bothering to expose: “We’ve not seen a presidential candidate do this, in my recollection, ever before.”
The whole Obama campaign is something we’ve never seen before — at least not executed to this level of perfection with a media willing to go along because, well, so many of them want it to succeed.
Get ready for funnygate!
The op-eds are cluttered with articles about comedians’ loss of words when it comes to Obama. But Obama’s not a humorous guy…and that means you can’t be either. At least not at his expense.
Mo Do in the NY Times wonders…
At first blush, it would seem to be a positive for Obama that he is hard to mock. But on second thought, is it another sign that he’s trying so hard to be perfect that it’s stultifying? Or that eight years of W. and Cheney have robbed Democratic voters of their sense of humor?
Certainly, as the potential first black president, and as a contender with tender experience, Obama must feel under strain to be serious.
But he does not want the “take” on him to become that he’s so tightly wrapped, overcalculated and circumspect that he can’t even allow anyone to make jokes about him, and that his supporters are so evangelical and eager for a champion to rescue America that their response to any razzing is a sanctimonious: Don’t mess with our messiah!
And Kathleen Parker in Real Clear Politics has the audacity to address those who are furious at the mockers (will we soon see some passionate Obama-worshiper elevate the Obama criticism level from “racism” to “blasphemy”?).
For his part, Obama may be missing a Sister Souljah opportunity to demonstrate both his smarts and his common sense. His campaign has called The New Yorker cover “tasteless and offensive.” John McCain chimed in with “totally inappropriate.”
Harrumph, harrumph, harrumph.
Far more important than anyone’s feelings — and Obama surely knows this — is freedom of expression. Yet those who are objecting to the cover apparently think that only certain ideas should be expressed. And that some portion of conservative America is too stupid to get it.
Whether you agree with him or not, you must admit that Charles Krauthammer is an American Treasure (well, another Canadian/American…like Steyn). Here are a few excerpts from his piece today, but read the whole thing at Real Clear Politics (link below)…
Before sending Lewis and Clark west, Thomas Jefferson dispatched Meriwether Lewis to Philadelphia to see Dr. Benjamin Rush. The eminent doctor prepared a series of scientific questions for the expedition to answer. Among them, writes Stephen Ambrose: “What Affinity between their (the Indians’) religious Ceremonies & those of the Jews?” Jefferson and Lewis, like many of their day and ours, were fascinated by the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, and thought they might be out there on the Great Plains.
They weren’t. They aren’t anywhere. Their disappearance into the mists of history since their exile from Israel in 722 B.C. is no mystery. It is the norm, the rule for every ancient people defeated, destroyed, scattered and exiled.
With one exception, a miraculous story of redemption and return, after not a century or two, but 2,000 years. Remarkably, that miracle occurred in our time. This week marks its 60th anniversary: the return and restoration of the remaining two tribes of Israel — Judah and Benjamin, later known as the Jews — to their ancient homeland.
Besides restoring Jewish sovereignty, the establishment of the State of Israel embodied many subsidiary miracles, from the creation of the first Jewish army since Roman times to the only recorded instance of the resurrection of a dead language — Hebrew, now the daily tongue of a vibrant nation of 7 million. As historian Barbara Tuchman once wrote, Israel is “the only nation in the world that is governing itself in the same territory, under the same name, and with the same religion and same language as it did 3,000 years ago.”
Here’s the link to Real Clear Politics…“The Miracle, at 60” By Charles Krauthammer