William Katz: Urgent Agenda
EVENING UPDATE, JANUARY 30, 2008
• While we're obsessing over which no-chance candidate is dropping out of the presidential race, the world moves on, in curious ways. First, through Scott Johnson at Power Line, we learn of an odd incident at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Seems our UN ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, was on a panel with some Iranian diplomats. He wasn't authorized by the State Department to be there. He also sat by while his predecessor, John Bolton, was insulted by the moderator. In previous times, this would have signalled a walkout by Mr. Khalilzad. The New York Sun covers the story here.
Question: Will the ambassador be disciplined, or will we send the signal, like so many we've sent recently, that we're a bit softer than we were? I'm not holding my breath. Scott quotes former ambassador Bolton:
Great idea. Let's ask. But who'll do the asking? The White House press corps? Maybe we'd better call for help. You know, Rudy is free.
Gee, that's good to know. Just when I was worrying that all those Iranians would run out of power for their Macbooks. That's what the nuclear program is for, isn't it? Class? Class?
The gracious president went on:
The Reuters story does note that nuclear fuel, if properly enriched, can be used for nuclear weapons. For some reason, we're just not that interested any more. You know, when the Kennedys say it's time to move on, it's time to move on. Let's not quibble over nukes. That's so, so adult.
• Still in the real world, we see there's one more betrayal of American generosity. Egypt has apparently turned its back on American pressure to keep its distance from Iran. Relations between Iran and Egypt, bitter since 1979, are warming. The key quote:
Well, as anyone who's been to a wedding knows, someone always steals the centerpiece. We should remember this next time Egypt asks us to take out our checkbook.
If we want to know why this is happening, we should simply go back to Osama bin Laden's notion that, in the Middle East, people prefer the strong horse to the weak horse. In Bush's first term, America seemed determined. In his second, he's given sway to the so-called realists, who prefer accommodation to strength. The State Department, under Condi Rice, has turned back into what President Kennedy correctly called "a bowl of jelly." The recent National Intelligence Estimate, written to undermine the Bush Doctrine, effectively knifed our Iran policy. Countries in the Middle East have taken note, and are acting accordingly. If the Democrats are elected in November, it will only get worse.
The endorsement, as reported in the rival New York Times, is stunning. Murdoch had been getting closer to Hillary Clinton. The scoop:
Is the endorsement indicative of anything other than some mind-changing in News Corporation? No one outside the office really knows. But there is an undercurrent beneath the political buzz, holding that the Clintons may have overplayed their hand, and that their time has passed. Power, in such circumstances, knows where to drift.
I don't know. Does that work? It doesn't work for me. It's great rhetoric for the converted, or for a religious revival, but I have a feeling it will wear awfully thin by November. At least, that's what I'm hoping. Obama offers big talk. When you look at any policy behind the talk, it's the policy of the old left of the sixties. It is not a policy for the future.
Americans have heard this before. They heard it from George McGovern in 1972, and rejected McGovern, overwhelming, in favor of the unloved Richard Nixon. I have to believe they'll reject Obama's fire in favor of the respected John McCain. If they don't, that's when the trouble begins.
We still await press scrutiny of Obama. If the press doesn't do it, the public may do it all by itself. The elites will go crazy.
Posted at 6:40 p.m. EST, January 30, 2008.