William Katz:  Urgent Agenda







Posted at 4:15 p.m. ET


New polls out today show something dramatic, and apparently part of a trend, which is what we look for.  In the national matchups against John McCain, it's becoming increasingly clear that Hillary Clinton is the stronger candidate, and her strength is increasing.

Gallup tracking has McCain up six over Obama, and Rasmussen has him up five.

But Gallup has McCain up only one over Clinton, and Ras actually has Clinton in the lead by one.

If this continues, and of course it may or may not, it could get very serious for Obama.  True, he's had a bad week, and can recover.  But there might be other bad weeks, and he doesn't handle political crises all that well.  Voters can see that as a predictor of the way he'd handle crises in the White House. 

And get this tidbit from Rasmussen:

Democrats are divided when it comes to the relationship between Barack Obama and his former Pastor, Jeremiah Wright. Just 18% of Clinton voters believe Obama was surprised by the content of Wright’s remarks. Sixty-six percent (66%) of Obama supporters believe their candidate was surprised. Seventy percent (70%) of Clinton supporters believe it’s likely that Obama shares some of Wright’s controversial views about the United States. Only 17% of Obama supporters think it’s likely that he shares those views. Ten percent (10%) of Clinton supporters believe that Obama was truly outraged by Wright’s comments. Seventy-seven percent (77%) of Obama supporters believe their candidate was outraged.

Say what?  Some 66% of Obama supporters believe Obama was surprised by Wright's comments?  Really?  And these are supposed to be the intellectual voters.  What does this say about our colleges...and their products?

There are no new Indiana or North Carolin a polls that say anything significant.  There probably will be some new ones out just before the primaries on Tuesday.

For the Dem nomination:  Gallup has a tie, and Rasmussen has Clinton up three over Obama.  Again, for the assumed Democratic nominee, Barack Obama, this isn't exactly a rousing endorsement. 

But the fix seems to be in among the Democrats.  Obama's supporters, a critical part of the party's base, will not be denied, and that may determine all.

May 3, 2008.      Permalink          


SATURDAY:  MAY 3,  2008

Posted at 8:09 a.m. ET


What's true is that conservatives are developing a grudging respect for Hillary Clinton.  No, all is not forgiven, and Noemie Emery, in The Weekly Standard, goes through the list of horrors.  But she also goes through the changes that have made Hillary suddenly the object of some praise, though limited, on the right:

A tactical hope to see her campaign flourish--to keep the brawl going and knock dents in Obama--has changed to, at least in some cases, a grudging respect for the lady herself. Actually, they may not have changed quite so much as she has (who knows, perhaps merely changed in her image and tactics), but the Hillary of May 2008 is radically different from the Hillary of two months ago, much less the one of last year, or of eight years back. And this one (at least till the nomination is settled) has some traits the right wing can love.

First of all, she is tough. Boy, is she tough. Next to John McCain's torture and FDR's polio (or John Kennedy's terrible health and PT-109 put together), she has arguably been through more harrowing times than any major contender in history. Hillary may not have been tortured for six years by the North Vietnamese, but her marriage to Bill could have seemed the equivalent, and surely her life since the start of this year has been torturous in the extreme.


After March 4, she suddenly seemed to look and sound different: She began to seem real. The shrillness was gone, and so was The Cackle, and so were the forced southern accents that once caused so many so much merriment. Hillary!--whoever that was--never really cohered as a character; her previous poses--the Perfect Wife, the Aggrieved Wife, the Empress-in-Waiting--were all unconvincing, but in her new role--the scrapper, forced to the wall, and hanging in there with ferocious and grim resolution--she is suddenly all of a piece.

And wonderfully...

If this weren't enough to make right-wing hearts flutter, Hillary has another brand-new advantage: She is hated on all the right fronts. The snots and the snark-mongers now all despise her, along with the trendies, the glitzies; the food, drama, and lifestyle critics, the beautiful people (and those who would join them), the Style sections of all the big papers; the slick magazines; the above-it-all pundits, who have looked down for years on the Republicans and on the poor fools who elect them, and now sneer even harder at her. The New York Times is having hysterics about her.


She might run to the right of McCain, if she makes it to the general election, and get the votes of rebellious conservatives. Or she, Lieberman, and McCain could form a pro-war coalition, with all of them running to pick up the phone when it rings in the small hours. The New York Times and the rest of the left would go crazy. Respect can't get stranger than that.

I think a lot of that makes sense.  But it probably won't matter because the people who run the Democratic Party are behind Obama, first to avoid a revolt among African-Americans, and, second, because he's their sixties dream, their ticket back to their youth.  It's almost too good to be true for them - another presidential candidate who opposes a war, and can surely arrange for America to lose it.  Yes he can.

May 3, 2008.      Permalink          


Charles Krauthammer gets to the heart of the Wright issue.  The Obama crowd, joined by an army of "sophisticates," informs us that the Wright matter is a distraction from more profound matters.  But Krauthammer realizes why it's important, and lays it on the line:

Obama's newest attempt to save himself after Wright's latest poisonous performance is now declared the new final word on the subject. Therefore, any future ads linking Obama and Wright are preemptively declared out of bounds, illegitimate, indeed "race-baiting" (a New York Times editorial, April 30).

On what grounds? This 20-year association with Wright calls into question everything about Obama: his truthfulness in his serially adjusted stories of what he knew and when he knew it; his judgment in choosing as his mentor, pastor and great friend a man he just now realizes is a purveyor of racial hatred; and the central premise of his campaign, that he is the bringer of a "new politics," rising above the old Washington ways of expediency. It's hard to think of an act more blatantly expedient than renouncing Wright when his show, once done from the press club instead of the pulpit, could no longer be "contextualized" as something whites could not understand and only Obama could explain in all its complexity.

They key point, though, is that accusations of "race-baiting," by The New York Times or anyone else, might be enough to silence Obama's critics during the fall campaign.  I've always believed that Obama's "vision" of national unity, which he constantly preaches, is based on the notion of silencing, or pummeling into submission, anyone who disagrees with him, leaving the impression of "unity."  That's pretty much what colleges and universities do these days to enforce "collegiality" or "inter-group harmony."

May 3, 2008.      Permalink          


Reader Joseph J. Gallick refers me to a superb piece in The Wall Street Journal by Arthur Herman, whose history of the Royal Navy is a great read.  Herman confronts us with a painful truth - that we acted dishonorably when we got out of the Vietnam conflict in 1975, and that the same Democratic crowd wants us to act dishonorably again in Iraq, with the same potential for catastrophic damage to morality and to the American interest.  Herman:

Most people have never heard of Operation Frequent Wind, which ended on April 30, 1975, 33 years ago. But every American has seen pictures of it: the Marine helicopters evacuating the last U.S. personnel from the embassy in Saigon, hours before communist tanks rolled into the city. Thousands of desperate Vietnamese gathered at the embassy gate and begged to be taken with them. Others committed suicide.

Those scenes are a chilling reminder of what happens when a great power decides to cut and run. Two of the three presidential candidates are proposing to do just that in Iraq. We need to remember what happened the last time we gave up on an unpopular foreign policy, not only in humanitarian terms but in terms of American power and prestige.


In early 1975 the communists launched a massive attack. President Gerald Ford asked for $1 billion in supplemental funds to help the South Vietnamese, and Congress refused. They had already pulled the plug on the U.S.-supported government of Lon Nol in Cambodia. Ford had no choice but to order the evacuation of remaining U.S. personnel.

Here is what happened:

At least 65,000 Vietnamese were murdered or shot after "liberation" – the equivalent in terms of Vietnam's population at the time, of killing three-quarters of a million people in today's U.S. The new communist regime ordered somewhere between one- third to one-half of South Vietnam's population to pass through its "re-education" camps, where perhaps as many as 250,000 died of disease, starvation, or were worked to death (the last inmates were not released until 1986).

That number does not include the thousands of "boat people" who tried to flee the totalitarian nightmare of communist Vietnam, and perished at sea.

Cambodia's fate was even worse. At least one and a half million innocent Cambodians were butchered or starved to death in the Khmer Rouge's killing fields and re-education camps, put to death by a fanatical regime that believed that anyone who wore eyeglasses must have "bourgeois intellectual tendencies" and be shot.

The scale of moral collapse and suffering went beyond Indochina. The pullout had a ripple effect on U.S. power and prestige, just as the proponents of the so-called "domino theory" had warned. American foreign policy, crippled by remorse and self-doubt, stood helplessly as others rushed into the power vacuum.


As Winston Churchill said of the appeasement of Hitler at Munich, in 1975 Americans were "weighed in the balance and found wanting." We have a responsibility to the Iraqis – and to the memory of those we left behind – not to let that happen again.

This is an important piece, and a reminder that, while history doesn't repeat itself, the psychology of history does repeat itself.  That psychology is stirring once more.  When Barack Obama declares Iraq to be a war that should never have been fought, while American soldiers are still in the field, it doesn't take much to figure out how far he'd go to end it, regardless of the ultimate cost.  And he has a party that is eager to rip a page from the Vietnam playbook.

May 3, 2008.      Permalink