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Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday Afternoon Roundup - The Long Election March

Tea Party? What Tea Party?

So Romney gave his "I'm going to be the nominee and there's nothing you can do about it" speech. His assertion that he's going to win without having to bother playing up to the Tea Party. And what else would you call a defense of the mandate, something that even many liberals dislike.

The split in the Republican party still favors the eastern establishment and the candidates who are more acceptable to it. And Romney is confident that this means he'll win despite touting positions unacceptable to the grass roots movement that set fire to the political landscape. And sadly he might be right.

That Romney is now more confident than he was in 2008 is hard to explain. But in some ways it isn't. This time around there's less competition. And more desperation. The party is under the gun, the country is under the gun and so is Romney. He knows that his moment is now and he's going in confident. And what he's really counting on is the collapse of the populism of 2010.

If the race was more open, he would have less to be confident about. Romney's closest competition is Huckabee. And if Huckabee will play one side of the field, Romney will play the other. With primaries arranged the way they are, Romney may well end up with enough momentum. And that's if Huckabee even runs.

Polls show most Republicans remain dissatisfied with the field. The dominant narrative is negativity. Attacks on one candidate or another. And all that cancels itself out. The default candidate wins. And that looks to be Romney.

Plenty of Republicans have issues with Romney, but then there are issues with all the other frontrunners too. And Romney's speech is a dare that issues won't count, that populist elections in 2010 won't translate into populist primaries in 2012. Only time will tell if he's right.

Now there's a push for Daniels. Because apparently what this race really needs is a guy with the charisma and decisiveness of an old banana. Daniels might be okay on the issues, but he's not viable in a national election. Especially not against an opponent with a billion dollar political attack machine on his side. If you enjoyed McCain's suppressed civility, Daniels will bring that to the table in spades.

Sure the issues are important, but in a national election you win on the issues not with a long explanation, but by selling a decisive slogan or two. You have to be able to back those up (at least you do if you're a Republican) but you need to be able to sell a plan and yourself in 15 seconds or less. If you can't do that, then no sale.

The push for Daniels is misguided. Daniels just doesn't register. And he's too bland to be competitive in a national election.

The push for Christie is nearly as misguided. Christie is tempted, but right now he's a big fish in a small pond. And he knows that if he runs and blows it, then he's done. And Christie doesn't have that much to offer besides viral videos of him shouting at people. Which is great and all, but Trump has that too.

Christie has hardly managed to decisively reform New Jersey. He has managed to win public battles with teacher's union, but his agenda wasn't anywhere as ambitious as Scott Walker's was. Which is why it didn't touch off the same level of viciousness. And besides that, he's hardly on a different level than Romney. Cap and Trade, Right to Bear Arms, Terrorism, immigration etc he's weak on.  And those aren't lightweight issues.

How different in practice is Christie from Romney. It's not a question that many Republicans thrilled by the sight of Christie confronting opponents in videos like to ask. But then Trump looked pretty good for about a week or two for the same reason.

Not that it really matters. Christie is hedging his bets a little, but he's not likely to run. And why should he. 2016 is a better bet than 2012.

So that leaves us with Gingrich's comeback. There are many people who hate Gingrich, not that many who love him, but his favorability ratings aren't bad. The negatives are there. Some harp on the ethanol. Others on his personal life. But Gingrich's best asset is that he comes off like a man who gets things done, but is smart enough to know what he's doing. That's a rare combination in this field.

But what would Gingrich do if elected and can he win a national election? Both are tricky questions. His announcement video tried to put the old scowly cartoon that Democrats drew of him back in the Clinton era to bed. This Gingrich smiles warmly. He's genially decisive. But how much of a difference will that really make. Sure he has more personality than Daniels, and his infidelity still looks better than Daniels' willingness to accede to infidelity. That may not be a moral triumph, but people do like leaders who do bad things, more than those who allow bad things to be done to them.

Gingrich's political problems are those of the frontrunners. They have been caught endorsing liberal ideas a few times too many to really be trusted. They're more insiders, than outsiders.

That's why there's so much desperation for an alternative. For a candidate who combines the skills of the frontrunners with the integrity of some of the long shots. A candidate who can function on the big stage without betraying the promises over a handshake. And so far that candidate hasn't shown up.

Gay Drugged Up Jihad?

Meanwhile Obama's pet media continues his prolonged victory lap. But the actual terror continues. The FBI showed no interest in Mohamed Mamdouh, a charming fellow who was into kicking dogs, stealing vodka and bombing synagogues.

Mamdouh stole at least one bottle of Vodka and his co-conspirator Ahmed Ferani, is a drug dealer, and may be gay, as suggested by Debbie Schlussel. Which doesn't make them great Muslims. But then neither does Bin Laden's porn stash. Or the 9/11 hijackers visiting a strip club.

That kind of behavior actually makes Muslims more at risk for engaging in terrorism, since Jihad elevates the believer to martyrdom. Islam's strictness puts most Muslims into the category of sinners. Greater religiosity often leads to hypocrisy, which leads to projection of their faults onto others, and redemption through a Jihad against the targets of their projection.

It goes something like this. "If I am doing something wrong, it is only because the infidels have corrupted me, as they have corrupted the entire Muslim world. It is not enough to reform myself, instead I must destroy the source of the corruption." Of course killing infidels won't make you a better person, but it's doubtful that Bin Laden ever stumbled across that revelation while watching himself on TV.

Alternatively, running the Jihad gives you more privileges. That was how Mohammed ran the show marrying his son's wife in opposition to all normal human mores. And whenever Mo wanted something, he received a revelation from Allah granting his permission.

The recent story of a Nigerian Muslim faith healer with 107 wives, mandated by a revelation from Allah, reminds us that this sort of thing still goes on in the Muslim world. Today Muslim authorities disapprove of it, unless they're doing it themselves.

Cue Zemzami, a major Muslim religious authority in Morocco, who has permitted necrophilia... because Mohammed practiced it too. According to the learned Sheikh Zemzami, death does not end marriage. Which means there really is no escape for a Muslim woman. Not even after her husband murders her.

Arab Spring Really Springing It Now

Somewhere Thomas Friedman is lying in a pile of the world's currencies and giggling like a schoolgirl. Because the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists are joining forces and an MB thug will be running for president.

Now if you believe the liberal bloggers, the Voices of Egyptian Youth and harbingers of a new secular Egypt, the Salafists were really proxies of Mubarak. And the Muslim Brotherhood was a good organization committed to secularism, except some parts which aren't, but that's okay. According to the media and Obama's people, the Muslim Brotherhood has moderates and extremists. And we need to reach out to the moderates.

Shockingly the Muslim Brotherhood is not moderate at all. The Salafists were not allied to Mubarak. Islamists flock together. The Salafists and Brotherhood differ on tactics. Not on the outcome.

Let's introduce the new narrative now. That the Brotherhood are the only ones who can control the Salafists. That way the Brotherhood become the new moderates. Bad Islamist Cop meet Good Islamist Cop.

But good news. With our spectacularly booming economy, Obama will be sending a cool billion to Egypt. Because you know burkas don't buy themselves.

Hillary Clinton gives an extended interview in which she talks about the rights of women in the Muslim world, and moves back and forth on the Islamist parties. There are moments where she seems to get it followed by entire stretches of gibberish.

Let's take this one exchange when Clinton is asked about the fall of Assad in Syria.
QUESTION: Would you be sad if his regime disappeared?

SECRETARY CLINTON: It depends upon what replaces it.

That's a reasonable answer, but then how do you justify the war in Libya. Or the overthrow of Mubarak.

Instead Clinton applies realism to Syria, and ArabSpringFantasies(TM) to Egypt and Libya.

Here's a compressed relevant exchange

QUESTION: When I was in Jordan, I was talking to a very high-ranking Jordanian – the country is named after his family – but who was bemoaning a recent visit by Joe Lieberman and John McCain. Not bemoaning – he likes them – but saying they came in and they say, “Push for democracy, constitutional monarchy, openness, et cetera, et cetera, but don’t let the Muslim Brotherhood rise up.” And this is a very interesting message and I think the royal court is sort of saying, “Well, which one do you want us to do?

SECRETARY CLINTON: It’s a big nuance question, Jeff. And when I came in here, I said, look, I think there are these three trends that we have to pay attention to that are separate and apart from dealing with nations, dealing with regions, dealing with ideologies. Power is diffuse. It is no longer the province of just governments. It – there’s too much going on in the world today. People know too much. So we have to start dealing with people on a more direct basis, which is why I did a lot of the stuff I did --

QUESTION: Right. And by the way --

SECRETARY CLINTON: -- the (inaudible) and all that stuff.

QUESTION: By the way, the realist camp did hold for 50 years, Scowcroft-Kissinger, that dictators, benevolent or otherwise, one address, deal with the leader, let them sort out the problems beneath them –


QUESTION: -- that, I mean, I know you’re arguing against the idea that there are discreet streams of foreign policy thought, but --

SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m not arguing –

QUESTION: -- but you are talking – yeah.

SECRETRY CLINTON: Look, I’m not arguing against it. I’m just saying that it’s not either/or.



QUESTION: All right.

SECRETARY CLINTON: So that today, that to me would be impossible, so the realist position today is you have to deal with people, that America – and it’s of the things that I think –

QUESTION: You’re adopting realism, right?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah, absolutely.

QUESTION: Yeah. Okay.

SECRETARY CLINTON: But because realism –

QUESTION: Pick a mantle of it and –

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah. Well, realism evolves.

QUESTION: Right. Okay.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I mean, we aren’t living in Bismarckian Germany right now. And can you imagine any Secretary of State like Henry Kissinger being able to go anywhere secretly today? I don’t think so.

QUESTION: You mean being sick in Pakistan for a week –


QUESTION: -- while he’s actually in China. Yeah.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah. I mean, wouldn’t it – so it’s not –

QUESTION: You would kind of like it, though.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, of course I would.

QUESTION: Yeah. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: But it’s not possible. So I can live in the real world –

QUESTION: I know. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: -- and realpolitik has a lot now to do with real life, and so we have to have a meeting of the concepts here, if you will.

Secondly, with connection technology, there is absolutely a dispersal of power through information that was unimagined a decade ago, let alone 50 years ago. So even if you thought you could just deal with one guy in one country and you could check it off your list of concerns, that’s impossible now. The way technology has exploded means that we are all living in a totally different environment. It has changed everything. And to pretend otherwise, that there’s some kind of great doctrine out there that can be taken from the heavens and imposed upon the global national body, is just not realistic anymore.

What does this mean? It means absolutely nothing.

Clinton tips the hat to the internet as a game changer, but nothing else. So we don't just deal with the dictator, we deal with 'everyone'. But who is everyone. This is the logic of the Arab Spring, which says that the internet makes democracy inevitable, and democracy makes change inevitable, and we should lie back and think of democracy.

Absolutely senseless. And a failure to answer an important question. And yet this is the new realpolitik.

Finally the rush is on to pressure Israel into more concessions to the Fatah-Hamas alliance. Never mind that half that alliance is openly terroristic, refuses to recognize Israel and expressed sympathy with Bin Laden.

Israel's attempt to stop revenue transfers to the Palestinian Authority was immediately shut down. Now Obama will impose more demands for a final solution. Good name that.


  1. Anonymous14/5/11

    Well, this is really disenheartening.

    I really had my hopes up on Romney, but I've been mindful of your words in a previous column that he is a liberal.

    I agree with Glenn Beck that we need a president who recognizes the enemy within, to me meaning both the leftist culture and stealth jihad.

    I had pretty much accepted Romney isn't going to work out when I read his defense of Romneycare, but your article here pretty much cinches it up for me.

    We need someone strong and noble like Reagan. Who is carrying Reagan's torch in our day and time?

    I think West, Bachmann, and Bolton are good, but probably unelectable. Newt would be a compromise candidate, but also possibly unelectable.

    This is getting serious. We have wide swaths of the country hating Obama and we can't field anyone capable of winning against him.

  2. I agree that it is disheartening. I was hoping that 2012 would bring a lot of new faces and new ideas. Instead we're getting the same old same old.

    Much as I dislike the Tea Party the Republicans are going to have to utilize their strengths to one degree or another without alienating the independents.

    In other words, walk a tight rope.

    Shavua tov



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