While virtually all politicos and pundits eyes were focused on the elections, President Obama’s Solicitor General last week was quietly dropping a bombshell in the U.S. Supreme Court. In a case being heard by the high court involving a U.S. citizen’s passport, Donald Verrilli in oral arguments compared the status of Jerusalem to that of Crimea. Verrilli is said to be on the president’s short list of replacements for Attorney General Eric Holder.
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Feathers are flying — in Washington and in Jerusalem — over the off-the-record comments by a senior Obama administration official to the respected Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic. The unnamed dovish Obama policy maker said “the thing about Bibi [Netanyahu] is he’s a chickenshit!” Direct quote, characterization included.
“We have your back,” President Obama told Israelis when he visited the embattled country recently. Way back, apparently. Mr. Obama’s administration famously claimed to “lead from behind” in overthrowing Libya’s strongman, Gaddafi. Young Sergeant Benjamin Anthony spoke to the Christians United for Israel (CUFI) Washington Summit this week. Sgt. Anthony described a different vision of leadership. He introduced us to the Hebrew word for “after me,” ahalai. Officers in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), he said, should lead from the front. That used to be America’s idea of leadership, too.
It may have been the most effective political ad in history. President Reagan‘s 1984 “Prepared for Peace” ad was a 30-second spot featuring a bear. It put the essential question to the American voters and let them decide who was right. They decided that Reagan was right: It was best to be as strong as the bear, if there is a bear. President Reagan carried forty-nine states that year.
If you follow the annual reports of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), you will read a sad catalog of persecution and discrimination against Christians, Jews, and members of other religions around the world.
Many of our friends continue to register shock at the election returns of last month. “How can it be?” they ask. "It’s not so hard to figure out," we reply. The first Romney bumper sticker that appeared last year bore a startling resemblance to another famous corporate logo. What were they thinking? The first bumper sticker for the president’s re-election said simply: “ObamaCares.” Brilliant. We are not saying that President Obama does actually care about “people like me.” But voters polled on that question chose Mr. Obama over Mitt Romney by a whopping 81-18 margin. That’s fatal in politics.
Pete Wehner is a real gentleman. His reproofs are generally not caustic and are almost always intended to have his opponents listen to what Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature.” Thus, when he recently criticized Kirsten Powers, he provided a most useful sketch of the history of Arab-Israeli conflicts in recent times, at least since 1967. Wehner’s column should be required reading for anyone taking part in Mideast policy discussions.
It seems every time the Republicans lose a presidential election, white board-toting architects and backroom strategists descend on the Sunday talk shows. Republicans must dump the social issues. Defending the right to life of unborn children and upholding the civil right of marriage is just costing too much support with the voters. We have to moderate our positions, they say.
When President Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected to his fourth term, Kansas editor William Allen White, a staunch Republican, wrote: "We who hate your gaudy guts salute you." President Obama: We have never hated your gaudy guts. And we acknowledge that a majority of our fellow citizens of this Great Republic have saluted you and conferred upon you for the second time the office of President of the United States. We thank God that more than 120 million Americans voted in a peaceful and orderly election. That alone is a wonder of the world. (You will pardon us, sir, if we also thank Heaven for the Twenty-second Amendment, another legacy from FDR.)
During last week's vice presidential debate, the candidates clashed over whose team would be better able to impose "crippling" sanctions on Iran. The problem of sanctions is an old one. President Jefferson tried to impose a trade embargo on Britain in 1807 to stop the Royal Navy from seizing our sailors on the high seas. This embargo was an attempt to use peaceful coercion to bring about a change in policy by the British. It failed. It was Jefferson's greatest failure as president. We have a Bicentennial Walking Tour of the War of 1812 at the U.S. Naval Academy. I'd be happy to take you on that tour. The War of 1812 was the direct result of the failure of Jefferson's sanctions to make Britain change her behavior.
We are used to hearing that America defends Israel. President Obama assures the Israelis that he has their back. That may be convincing talk in the `hood, but it rings hollow for this invertebrate administration to talk about anyone's back. Actually, we may have all that backward. It may well be that Israel is defending us. Israel may yet prove America's shield.
Can't do it. Impossible. It's too late now. Those are some of the responses to the question of the week: Will President Barack Obama dump Vice President Joe Biden?
Comedian Chris Rock has stoked the flames of controversy with this Fourth of July tweet. The Hollywood comic wrote: "Happy white peoples independence day the slaves weren't free but I'm sure they enjoyed fireworks." Rock's tweet sparked plenty of day-after fireworks. What he wrote went beyond the pale, responded many online, hurt and enraged at Rock's bitter humor.
Every American high school student knows, or should know, that President Ronald Reagan went to the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin on this date in 1987. The president said: “If you seek liberalization, open this gate … Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” (Yes, kids, there was a West Berlin then.)
The Obama administration refuses, time and again, to say that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Victoria Nuland, speaking from the State Department, recently repeated over and over that the status of Jerusalem is subject to final-status negotiations. Israel thus becomes the only country recognized by the U.S. that is not allowed to name its own capital. But the U.S. recognizes Germany’s capital. It’s Berlin. This is most curious.
Sen. Dick Lugar’s defeat in a Republican primary last week has not been attributed, as nearly as we can tell, to his 1979 trip to Moscow with Joe Biden. Then, the two members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee left the bosses of the Kremlin with the distinct impression that they cared about arms control and not so much about human rights. Claire Berlinsky’s article in the Spring 2010 issue of City Journal ought to be disqualifying. Nor, it seems, did the senator’s spearheading of the ill-advised START treaty with the Russians in a lame-duck session in December 2010 lead to his loss by a stunning 61% to 39% vote to a tea party-backed challenger.
President Obama began his term badly. He went to London and bowed low before King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. The infamous red “reset” button he told Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to present to the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, was little more than an attempt to give Moscow a pass for its aggression against the neighboring Republic of Georgia. The button was even spelled incorrectly. How do you spell “appeasement” in Russian?
It was good to see President Obama link his Osawatomie speech to Kansas history. Some commentators said Mr. Obama was “channeling the Roosevelts,” especially Theodore. It delighted some that Mr. Obama donned the mantle of the Republican Roosevelt.
Writer and thinker George Gilder has challenged Americans throughout his career. His book Wealth and Poverty ought to be required reading at the White House, but isn’t. There’s no indication from the disastrous policies pursued by this administration that anyone there has ever read this important work. (We might suggest it, though, for all those Occupiers of Wall Street. It would do wonders for their grim employment prospects.) Similarly, Men and Marriage was a Gilder work that laid out the secular case for social improvement and which — not incidentally — showed how the polygamy that is endemic to the Arab Middle East was a root cause of the ceaseless turmoil in Muslim societies there.