William Katz / Urgent Agenda
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MONDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2009
COMMENT: This is just vulgar. Comparing President Bush's administration, which protected America at home and expanded democracy abroad, to apartheid South Africa, shows just how warped the left wing of the Democratic Party has become. You would think we were never attacked on 9-11. But in the minds of these people, we never were. We were simply punished for our own misdeeds.
The closest is Pew Research and Gallup at 64%. CBS is at 62, Rasmussen at 61.
Given the love fest I see at CNN (note our 3:42 p.m. post, below), maybe some of the love is being felt by the pollsters.
COMMENT: Maybe someone should ask our new attorney general for his legal opinion on the case. Don't hold your breath.
I was monitoring the TV news outlets a while ago, as I do every day, and saw a remarkable contrast. This is what I saw:
On CNN the anchorwoman and a reporter were doing a gaga report on the president's impending visit to Fort Meyer, Florida, breathlessly telling us how people have been sleeping in line for days just to get tickets to his town-hall meeting. Replace Obama with the name of some rap guy and the report could have been run word for word.
I clicked over to CSPAN, and Senator John McCain, the man who should have won, was giving the most thoughtful speech on the stimulus package. He was asking why an amendment that would have reduced spending in the package if the economy improved was voted down. He concluded that this package will now mandate permanent spending, a catastrophe for our children and grandchildren, who will pay the bill.
Many more people saw the breathless CNN reporters than saw Senator McCain. That's the regrettable thing here.
COMMENT: This is a ticking bomb. Watch it carefully. This is what happens when companies have to depend on the government.
I recall speaking with my mother on the day of the Challenger disaster in 1986. It was January 28th, and President Reagan was scheduled to make his State of the Union address that evening. Would the president deliver the speech, or cancel? My mother said, "He knows what to do." My mother was a lifelong FDR Democrat. I don't think she ever voted for a Republican. But I will always remember the confidence in her voice as she said of Reagan, "He knows what to do."
That is trust.
It is the greatest mantle a president can wear. The American people must trust their president. They are willing to forgive all manner of policy differences, as they did with Reagan, as long as they trust him to do the right thing in a crisis, and believe that he has the competence, character, and emotional stability to do it.
That is why I am growing so concerned about President Obama. Do you get the sense that something is wrong? Do you sense that it extends beyond policy and goes to the character and essence of the man? Are you getting the feeling, in these first tests of his presidency, that he is weak and indecisive? That he wanted to be president simply to be president? That he cannot - and this is terribly important - stand up under pressure? Do you sometimes fear that, underneath the cool, there's a tumultuous, angry man?
The president's first days have not been good. He seems to lack that style of leadership that came so naturally to Ronald Reagan and to others who filled the office of president, who defined it. Whatever agenda Obama may have had on inauguration day seems to have been cast aside by his own party's congressional leadership, with virtually no protest from the White House. Whatever foreign policy plans he dreamed of seem to have been dismissed already by other nations. He has failed to seize the moment. Multitudes who expected to be set on fire have felt nothing but a mildly warm glow. Is this the president, or is it simply Barack Obama, the fine speaker who talked his way past the interview and got the job?
He has not yet faced his first foreign crisis. Based on what we've seen so far, I dread the moment.
February 9, 2009. Permalink
One of the main arguments used by John F. Kennedy in his 1960 campaign was that there was a "missile gap" separating the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., and that we were at the wrong end of it. It later turned out not to be true, but it certainly was effective during the campaign in placing Kennedy squarely in the hawk camp.
Not so with Barack Obama, and here again the issue is missiles. During his campaign Obama raised questions about America's missile-defense program, and he certainly wasn't suggesting that it be strengthened. Now he must face the issue as president, and the Wall Street Journal is not encouraged by the signs thus far:
The term "walk away" is not meant as a compliment. The Journal notes Iran's progress in missile and nuclear technology.
What if we suspended the program?
That is absolutely correct. Enemies might not have to do much to the West if we do it to ourselves.
It's not even close to a bargain.
There used to be a cynical saying that held that the worst thing you can be in this world is a friend of the United States...that we too often undercut our friends. We hope that saying doesn't make a comeback.
We'll watch and report.
February 9, 2009. Permalink
COMMENT: That's another quote that Mr. Obama should have taped to his Oval Office desk.
COMMENT: Each generation of elders wonders how its young will do in moments of national emergency. This is an encouraging report. The battle is far from won on our generally leftist college campuses, but maybe we're securing a few beachheads.
COMMENT: Well, that's a bit of good news. Maybe some Palestinians are coming to their senses. Please remember that Israel votes tomorrow, and will soon have a new government. The intriguing question, though, is not Israeli or Palestinian policy, but American policy. The president's initial steps, having his first presidential interview with an Arab broadcaster, and groveling to the Muslim world during that session, give cause for concern.
COMMENT: A classic patch job. Had the legislative work been done correctly in the first place, this magical sales tour wouldn't be necessary. The president lost control of the stimulus package and depended on the Democratic congressional leadership, whose public image is marginally better than Al Qaeda's. Key point: Will the "cool" president be able to keep his cool when questioned repeatedly?
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2009
COMMENT: It seems to me that what this shows is that Americans are following the stimulus debate closely. They are far better informed than many in "elite" circles believe. Also, I suspect that Mr. Obama's petulant performance before Democrats on Thursday evening hurt him. And, of course, the continued ethical problems of some of his appointees are hardly advertisements for "change we can believe in."
COMMENT: Remember, it's all for the kids, all for the kids. Oh, and for the moms.
COMMENT: Khatami is a "reformist" compared to Ahmadinejad like Goering was a conformist compared to Hitler. These adjectives lose their meaning in a theocracy like Iran's. Also, Khatami may not be allowed to run by the Guardian Council, which controls the elections. If he is permitted to run, and he wins, he could be more dangerous than the heavy-handed Ahmadinejad, for Khatami can put on his "moderate" mask and still forge ahead with the country's nuclear program.
Critics of former President Bush often assure us that they regard Afghanistan as the "good war," the one we should be fighting. President Obama said that, in effect, during his campaign, pledging to devote more resources to the Afghanistan instead of the "bad" war in Iraq.
Not so fast.
There are some signs that the administration, and certainly the left wing of the Democratic Party, might be having some revised thoughts.
First, an American traveler to the region, an Urgent Agenda reader, comments on the Russian pressure that caused the recent closing of an American air base in Kyrgyzstan, a base critical to supplying our forces in Afghanistan:
Also, The Times of London is reporting that President Obama is balking at increasing American strength in Afghanistan:
Concern? Or a way to wriggle out of the thing? That is the question.
But the chief of Central Command is General David Petraeus. It's inconceivable that he hasn't thought this through, and developed a strategy. That's his strength.
Well, there's the old rhetoric again. We heard that in the first days of the Iraq war as well.
This story is developing, but we're seeing signs that the Democratic left, always opposed to Iraq, may want out of Afghanistan, too. The ball is in the president's court.
February 8, 2009. Permalink
COMMENT: How nice of them. And the Iranians aren't rushing to the microphones either. So much for the new atmosphere. Are you listening, Mr. President?
She has difficulty with the man. Her piece ends this way:
COMMENT: Melanie has not been invited to write for the Daily Kos. The stuff in between those two quotes is just as juicy. If you want a little visceral entertainment, click on the link.
COMMENT: This is an excellent piece, and touches on a mystery. Marty Feldstein, the great conservative economist, made the same point last week: Defense spending is one of the greatest stimulants this economy can have. The spending is done quickly. The assembly lines already exist. The military knows what it wants, and most sane people agree that a great deal of worn-out equipment must be replaced. So why is there no defense spending in the stimulus package? That's the mystery, but probably not too deep a mystery. Just look at the makeup of the House Democratic caucus. It tilts heavily to the left, with some members openly hostile to American defense. In all probability, and this is informed speculation, there's no defense spending in the package because it offends the sensibilities of the fashionable left, which controls much of the Democratic Party.
COMMENT: One of the first rules of intelligence work is that the plots you hear about never come off. This story is important, but I hope we're not closing our eyes to threats from elsewhere, including Latin America, where ties between Hugo Chavez's Venezuela and the Iranian regime are growing. Giving the porousness of our southern border, the possibility of terrorist infiltration should never be discounted.
There has been a consistent trend since the start of this administration to center more power in the White House. James L. Jones is the national security adviser.
COMMENT: Thanks, Washington Post, for the editorial within a news story. But shouldn't the president, and not the national security adviser, decide what information he wishes to receive? And by what logic is the vice president's office a "back channel"? This is a very strange story with potentially large implications. It looks to me like a bureaucratic coup by Jones, with the potential for restricting, rather than expanding, the president's choices. The president appears to have a passive role here, an image that has disturbed us in the last two weeks.
COMMENT: This report pretty much sums up most the reports I've read. However, policies don't necessarily remain frozen. We have to watch Obama's foreign policy develop day by day to see if he's consistent, or if he caves under pressure. Apparently the Iranians object to our carrot-and-stick approach, feeling it's coarse. But they have created that issue for themselves through their behavior, and show no signs of changing that behavior.
"What you see is news. What you know is background. What you feel is opinion."
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