Time for some historic perspective, and no, not even the usual "Hitler" analogy. Krauthammer reminds us of the stakes in Iran today, and why you people (and you know who you are) who are of the "no blood for oil" ilk used to be compared to Neville Chamberlain...T
When something happens for the first time in 1,871 years, it is worth noting. In A.D. 70, and again in 135, the Roman Empire brutally put down Jewish revolts in Judea, destroying Jerusalem, killing hundreds of thousands of Jews and sending hundreds of thousands more into slavery and exile. For nearly two millennia, the Jews wandered the world. And now, in 2006, for the first time since then, there are once again more Jews living in Israel -- the successor state to Judea -- than in any other place on Earth.
Israel's Jewish population has just passed 5.6 million. America's Jewish population was about 5.5 million in 1990, dropped to about 5.2 million 10 years later and is in a precipitous decline that, because of low fertility rates and high levels of assimilation, will cut that number in half by mid-century.
When 6 million European Jews were killed in the Holocaust, only two main centers of Jewish life remained: America and Israel. That binary star system remains today, but a tipping point has just been reached. With every year, as the Jewish population continues to rise in Israel and decline in America (and in the rest of the Diaspora), Israel increasingly becomes, as it was at the time of Jesus, the center of the Jewish world.
An epic restoration, and one of the most improbable. To take just one of the remarkable achievements of the return: Hebrew is the only "dead" language in recorded history to have been brought back to daily use as the living language of a nation. But there is a price and a danger to this transformation. It radically alters the prospects for Jewish survival.
For 2,000 years, Jews found protection in dispersion -- protection not for individual communities, which were routinely persecuted and massacred, but protection for the Jewish people as a whole. Decimated here, they could survive there. They could be persecuted in Spain and find refuge in Constantinople. They could be massacred in the Rhineland during the Crusades or in the Ukraine during the Khmelnytsky Insurrection of 1648-49 and yet survive in the rest of Europe.
Hitler put an end to that illusion. He demonstrated that modern anti-Semitism married to modern technology -- railroads, disciplined bureaucracies, gas chambers that kill with industrial efficiency -- could take a scattered people and "concentrate" them for annihilation.
The establishment of Israel was a Jewish declaration to a world that had allowed the Holocaust to happen -- after Hitler had made his intentions perfectly clear -- that the Jews would henceforth resort to self-protection and self-reliance. And so they have, building a Jewish army, the first in 2,000 years, that prevailed in three great wars of survival (1948-49, 1967 and 1973).
But in a cruel historical irony, doing so required concentration -- putting all the eggs back in one basket, a tiny territory hard by the Mediterranean, eight miles wide at its waist. A tempting target for those who would finish Hitler's work.
His successors now reside in Tehran. The world has paid ample attention to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's declaration that Israel must be destroyed. Less attention has been paid to Iranian leaders' pronouncements on exactly how Israel would be "eliminated by one storm," as Ahmadinejad has promised.
Former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the presumed moderate of this gang, has explained that "the use of a nuclear bomb in Israel will leave nothing on the ground, whereas it will only damage the world of Islam." The logic is impeccable, the intention clear: A nuclear attack would effectively destroy tiny Israel, while any retaliation launched by a dying Israel would have no major effect on an Islamic civilization of a billion people stretching from Mauritania to Indonesia.
As it races to acquire nuclear weapons, Iran makes clear that if there is any trouble, the Jews will be the first to suffer. "We have announced that wherever [in Iran] America does make any mischief, the first place we target will be Israel," said Gen. Mohammad Ebrahim Dehghani, a top Revolutionary Guards commander. Hitler was only slightly more direct when he announced seven months before invading Poland that, if there was another war, "the result will be . . . the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe."
Last week Bernard Lewis, America's dean of Islamic studies, who just turned 90 and remembers the 20th century well, confessed that for the first time he feels it is 1938 again. He did not need to add that in 1938, in the face of the gathering storm -- a fanatical, aggressive, openly declared enemy of the West, and most determinedly of the Jews -- the world did nothing.
When Iran's mullahs acquire their coveted nukes in the next few years, the number of Jews in Israel will just be reaching 6 million. Never again?
Click here for full article
Friday, May 26, 2006
Time for some historic perspective, and no, not even the usual "Hitler" analogy. Krauthammer reminds us of the stakes in Iran today, and why you people (and you know who you are) who are of the "no blood for oil" ilk used to be compared to Neville Chamberlain...T
Posted by Ted Pethick at 2:28 PM
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Posted by Ted Pethick at 9:42 PM
Monday, May 22, 2006
One more time, for the record: It's not our war, it's theirs! They started it, and no less a high brow intellectual lefty than Christopher Hitchens sticks it "where the sun don't shine" in this open letter to his fallen left wing comrades. Print this one, and carry it in your wallet, like, well, like they carried Mao's little Red Book!..T
One can stare at a simple sign or banner or placard for a long time before its true meaning discloses itself. The late John Sparrow, warden of All Souls College, Oxford, was once struck motionless by a notice at the foot of the escalator at Oxford Circus Tube station. “Dogs,” it read, “must be carried.” What to do then, wondered this celebrated pedant, if you hadn’t got a dog with you?
And then there came a day, well evoked by Ian McEwan in his novel Saturday, when hundreds of people I knew were prepared to traipse through the streets of London behind a huge banner that read “No war on Iraq. Freedom for Palestine”. This was in fact the official slogan of the organisers. Let us gaze at these two simple injunctions for a second.
Nobody had actually ever proposed a war “on” Iraq. It had been argued, whether persuasively or not, that Iraq and the world would be improved by the advent of the post-Saddam Hussein era. There was already a war in Iraq, with Kurdish guerrillas battling the Ba’athist regime and Anglo-American airborne patrols enforcing a “no-fly zone” in order to prevent the renewal of the 1991 attempted genocide in the Kurdish north and the Shi’ite south.
I certainly heard arguments in favour of a war for Iraq. A few months before the intervention, Dr Barham Salih — one of the leaders of the autonomous Kurdish region — flew to Rome to speak at a conference of the Socialist International (of which his party is a member). The place of the left, he said, was on the side of those battling against fascism. I went to Blackpool at about the same time to make a similar point at the annual Tribune rally at the Labour party conference.
The war “for” and “over” and “in” Iraq, in other words, had been going on for some time and I, for one, had taken a side in it.
What is then left of the word “on”? Should it not really have read “No quarrel with Saddam Hussein”? That would have been more accurate but perhaps less catchy. You keep hearing leaders of the anti-war crowd protesting that they don’t “really” act as apologists for Saddam. But this, if true, could easily have been demonstrated. “Hands off Iraq — but freedom for Kurdistan”, say. (This was, in fact, the position taken by many Arab leftists.)
“Freedom for Palestine”, though. What exactly is that doing there? Why not freedom for Lebanon, or Syria, which are just as far away? Or Darfur? No, it had to be Palestine, because the subject had to be changed. This was indeed the favourite tactic of Saddam himself. He never mentioned the Palestinians on the day he invaded and annexed Kuwait (and incidentally ruined, as Edward Said pointed out, the lives of the thriving Palestinian diaspora in that small country).
But as soon as he had exhausted the patience of the United Nations, Saddam began to yell that he would never surrender the territory he had stolen unless the Israelis ended their occupation, too. (An amusing subconscious equation between the two offences, incidentally, even if Saddam does share, with his hated Iranian foes, the desire to see Israel obliterated entirely.) In the waning years of the Ba’ath regime, Baghdad radio and television kept up a ceaseless rant of jihad, calling on all true Muslims to rally to the side of Saddam as part of the battle for Jerusalem.
So that was what was actually happening on that celebrated “Saturday”. A vast crowd of people reiterating the identical mantras of Ba’athism — one of the most depraved and reactionary ideologies of the past century. How on earth, or how the hell, did we arrive at this sordid terminus? How is it that the anti-war movement’s favourite MP, George Galloway, has a warm if not slightly sickly relationship with dictators in Baghdad and Damascus?
How comes it that Ramsey Clark, the equivalent public face in America, is one of Saddam’s legal team and has argued that he was justified in committing the hideous crimes of which he stands accused? Why is the left’s beloved cultural icon, Michael Moore, saying that the “insurgents” in Iraq are the equivalent of the American revolutionaries of 1776?
I believe there are three explanations for this horrid mutation of the left into a reactionary and nihilistic force. The first is nostalgia for the vanished “People’s Democracies” of the state socialist era. This has been stated plainly by Galloway and by Clark, whose political sect in the United States also defends Castro and Kim Jong-il.
The bulk of the anti-war movement also opposed the removal of the Muslim-slayer Slobodan Milosevic, which incidentally proves that their professed sympathy with oppressed Muslims is mainly a pose.
However, that professed sympathy does help us to understand the second motive. To many callow leftists, the turbulent masses of the Islamic world are at once a reminder of the glory days of “Third World” revolution, and a hasty substitute for the vanished proletariat of yore. Galloway has said as much in so many words and my old publishers at New Left Review have produced a book of Osama Bin Laden’s speeches in which he is compared with Che Guevara.
The third reason, not quite so well laid out by the rather 10th-rate theoreticians of today’s left, is that once you decide that American-led “globalisation” is the main enemy, then any revolt against it is better than none at all. In some way yet to be determined, Al-Qaeda might be able to help to stave off global warming. (I have not yet checked to see how this is squared with Bin Laden’s diatribe of last weekend, summoning all holy warrior aid to the genocidal rulers of Sudan as they complete the murder of African Muslims, and as they sell all their oil to China to create a whole new system of carbon emissions in Asia. At first sight, it looks like blood for oil to me.)
This hectic collapse in the face of brutish irrationality and the most cynical realpolitik has taken far too long to produce antibodies on the left. However, a few old hands and some sharp and promising new ones have got together and produced a statement that is named after the especially unappealing (to me) area of London in which it was discussed and written.
The “Euston Manifesto” keeps it simple. It prefers democratic pluralism, at any price, to theocracy. It raises an eyebrow at the enslavement of the female half of the population and the burial alive of homosexuals. It has its reservations about the United States, but knows that if anything is ever done about (say) Darfur, it will be Washington that receives the UN mandate to do the heavy lifting.
It prefers those who vote in Iraq and Afghanistan to those who put bombs in mosques and schools and hospitals. It does not conceive of arguments that make excuses for suicide murderers. It affirms the right of democratic nations and open societies to defend themselves, both from theocratic states abroad and from theocratic gangsters at home.
I have been flattered by an invitation to sign it, and I probably will, but if I agree it will be the most conservative document that I have ever initialled. Even the obvious has now become revolutionary. So call me a neo-conservative if you must: anything is preferable to the rotten unprincipled alliance between the former fans of the one-party state and the hysterical zealots of the one-god one. Click here for full article
Sunday, May 21, 2006
I feel better inside after reading Hanson. A historian of renown, with a powerful emotional appeal to patriotism, that makes you feel better than "punching out" Cindy Sheehan (well, ok, not THAT good!). And, yeah, when is SOMEONE going to do something about Chavez?!...T
How does the United States deal with a corrupt world in which we are blamed even for the good we do, while others are praised when they do wrong or remain indifferent to suffering?
We are accused of unilateral and preemptory bullying of the madman Mr. Ahmadinejad, whose reactors that will be used to “wipe out” the “one-bomb” state of Israel were supplied by Swiss, German, and Russian profit-minded businessmen. No one thinks to chastise those who sold Iran the capability of destroying Israel.
Here in the United States we worry whether we are tough enough with the Gulf sheikdoms in promoting human rights and democratic reform. Meanwhile China simply offers them cash for oil, no questions asked. Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez pose as anti-Western zealots to Western naifs. The one has never held an election; the other tries his best to end the democracy that brought him to power. Meanwhile our fretting elites, back from Europe or South America, write ever more books on why George Bush and the Americans are not liked.
Hamas screams that we are mean for our logical suggestion that free American taxpayers will not subsidize such killers and terrorists. Those in the Middle East whine about Islamophobia, but keep silent that there is not allowed a Sunni mosque in Iran or a Christian church in Saudi Arabia. An entire book could be written about the imams and theocrats — in Iran, Egypt, the West Bank, Pakistan, and the Gulf States — who in safety issue fatwas and death pronouncements against Americans in Iraq and any who deal with the “infidel,” and yet send their spoiled children to private schools in Britain and the United States, paid for by their own blackmail money from corrupt governments.
You get the overall roundup: the Europeans have simply absorbed as their own the key elements of ossified French foreign policy — utopian rhetoric and anti-Americanism can pretty much give you a global pass to sell anything you wish to anyone at anytime.
China is more savvy. It discards every disastrous economic policy Mao ever enacted, but keeps two cornerstones of Maoist dogma: imply force to bully, and keep the veneer of revolutionary egalitarianism to mask cutthroat capitalism and diplomacy, from copyright theft and intellectual piracy to smiling at rogue clients like North Korea and disputing the territorial claims of almost every neighbor in sight.
Oil cuts a lot of idealism in the Middle East. The cynicism is summed up simply as “Those who sell lecture, and those who buy listen.” American efforts in Iraq — the largest aid program since the Marshall Plan, where American blood and treasure go to birth democracy — are libeled as “no blood for oil.” Yet a profiteering Saudi Arabia or Kuwait does more to impoverish poor oil-importing African and Asian nations than any regime on earth. But this sick, corrupt world keeps mum.
And why not ask Saudi Arabia about its now lionized and well-off al-Ghamdi clan? Aside from the various Ghamdi terrorists and bin-Laden hangers-on, remember young Ahmad, the 20-year-old medical student who packed his suicide vest with ball bearings and headed for Mosul, where he blew up 18 Americans? Or how about dear Ahmad and Hamza, the Ghamdis who helped crash Flight 175 into the South Tower on September 11? And please do not forget either the Saudi icon Said Ghamdi, who, had he not met Todd Beamer and Co. on Flight 93, would have incinerated the White House or the Capitol.
So we know the symptoms of this one-sided anti-Americanism and its strange combination of hatred, envy, and yearning — but, so far, not its remedy. In the meantime, the global caricature of the United States, in the aftermath of Iraq, is proving near fatal to the Bush administration, whose idealism and sharp break with past cynical realpolitik have earned it outright disdain. Indeed, the more al Qaeda is scattered, and the more Iraq looks like it will eventually emerge as a constitutional government, the angrier the world seems to become at the United States. American success, it seems, is even worse than failure.
Some of the criticism is inevitable. America is in an unpopular reconstruction of Iraq that has cost lives and treasure. Observers looked only at the explosions, never what the sacrifice was for — especially when it is rare for an Afghan or Iraqi ever to visit the United States to express thanks for giving their peoples a reprieve from the Taliban and Saddam Hussein.
We should also accept that the United States, as the world’s policeman, always suffers the easy hatred of the cops, who are as ankle-bitten when things are calm as they are desperately sought when danger looms. America is the genitor and largest donor to the United Nations. Its military is the ultimate guarantor of free commerce by land and sea, and its wide-open market proves the catalyst of international trade. More immigrants seek its shores than all other designations combined — especially from countries of Latin America, whose criticism of the United States is the loudest.
Nevertheless, while we cannot stop anti-Americanism, here (a consequence, in part, of a deep-seeded, irrational sense of inferiority) and abroad, we can adopt a wiser stance that puts the onus of responsibility more on our critics.
We have a window of 1 to 3 years in Iran before it deploys nuclear weapons. Let Ahmadinejad talk and write — the loonier and longer, the better, as we smile and ignore him and his monstrous ilk.
Let also the Europeans and Arabs come to us to ask our help, as sphinx-like we express “concern” for their security needs. Meanwhile we should continue to try to appeal to Iranian dissidents, stabilize Iraq and Afghanistan, and resolve that at the eleventh hour this nut with his head in a well will not obtain the methods to destroy what we once knew as the West.
Ditto with Hamas. Don’t demonize it — just don’t give it any money. Praise democracy, but not what was elected.
We should curtail money to Mr. Mubarak as well. No need for any more sermons on democracy — been there, done that. Now we should accept with quiet resignation that if an aggregate $50 billion in give-aways have earned us the most anti-American voices in the Middle East, then a big fat zero for Egypt might be an improvement. After all, there must be something wrong with a country that gave us both Mohammad Atta and Dr. Zawahiri.
The international Left loves to champion humanitarian causes that do not involve the immediate security needs of the United States, damning us for inaction even as they are the first to slander us for being military interventionists. We know the script of Haiti, Mogadishu, and the Balkans, where Americans are invited in, and then harped at both for using and not using force. Where successful, the credit goes elsewhere; failure is always ours alone. Still, we should organize multinational efforts to save those in Darfur — but only after privately insisting that every American soldier must be matched by a European, Chinese, and Russian peacekeeper.
There are other ways to curb our exposure to irrational hatred that seems so to demoralize the American public. First, we should cease our Olympian indifference to hypocrisy, instead pointing out politely inconsistencies in European, Middle Eastern, and Chinese morality. Why not express more concern about the inexplicable death of Balkan kingpin prisoners at The Hague or European sales of nuclear technology to madmen or institutionalized Chinese theft of intellectual property?
We need to reexamine the nature of our overseas American bases, elevating the political to the strategic, which, it turns out, are inseparable after all. To take one small example: When Greeks pour out on their streets to rage at a visiting American secretary of State, we should ask ourselves, do we really need a base in Crete that is so costly in rent and yet ensures Greeks security without responsibility or maturity? Surely once we leave, those brave opportunistic souls in the streets of Athens can talk peace with the newly Islamist Turkish government, solve Cyprus on their own, or fend off terrorists from across the Mediterranean.
The point is not to be gratuitously punitive or devolve into isolationism, but to continue to apply to Europe the model that was so successful in the Philippines and now South Korea — ongoing redeployment of Americans to where we can still strike in emergencies, but without empowering hypocritical hosts in time of peace.
We must also sound in international fora as friendly and cooperative as possible with the Russians, Chinese, and the lunatic Latin American populists — even as we firm up our contingency plans and strengthen military ties of convenience with concerned states like Australia, Japan, India, and Brazil.
The United States must control our borders, for reasons that transcend even terrorism and national security. One way to cool the populist hatred emanating from Latin America is to ensure that it becomes a privilege, not a birthright, to enter the United States. In traveling the Middle East, I notice the greatest private complaint is not Israel or even Iraq, but the inability to enter the United States as freely as in the past. And that, oddly, is not necessarily a bad thing, as those who damn us are slowly learning that their cheap hatred has had real consequences.
Then there is, of course, oil. It is the great distorter, one that punishes the hard-working poor states who need fuel to power their reforming economies while rewarding failed regimes for their mischief, by the simple accident that someone else discovered it, developed it, and then must purchase it from under their dictatorial feet. We must drill, conserve, invent, and substitute our way out of this crisis to ensure the integrity of our foreign policy, to stop the subsidy of crazies like Chavez and Ahmadinejad, and to lower the world price of petroleum that taxes those who can least afford it. There is a reason, after all, why the al-Ghamdis are popular icons in Saudi Arabia rather than on the receiving end of a cruise missile.
So we need more firm explanation, less loud assertion, more quiet with our enemies, more lectures to neutrals and friends — and always the very subtle message that cheap anti-Americanism will eventually have consequences.
Click here for full article
Posted by Ted Pethick at 1:04 PM
Saturday, May 20, 2006
The most informed man in America (on political affairs), aside from Michael Barone, makes his assessment of the current political landscape, and his predictions for November 2006...T
The Washington Post has now caught up with Painting the Map Red, with the paper reporting on its front page that the House of Representatives could in fact see a Democratic majority when the smoke clears in November.
But while there remain very troubling signs for the GOP in both House and Senate --my World column this week addresses the split among conservative pundits, for example,-- the debate over immigration and border security this week was a significant plus for the GOP. That debate demonstrated that there is a serious commitment to border security within the GOP and that the opposition to border security is at home in the Democratic Party.
Similarly, the party with a caucus that genuinely worries about assimilation is the GOP. The Democrats found it necessary to water down an already almost wholly rhetorical "English-first" amendment.
"Painting the Map Red" warned the GOP that it had to handle the immigration/border security issue very carefully so as to remain a party thatwelcomes Latino voters, and it has done that this week, while at the same time delivering on border security and common sense restraints on new immigration flows. (Only the vote on social security benefits went the wrong way, but the conference can fix that.)
This was also the week that saw the sixth straight year of tax cuts pass, and two of the promised new federal circuit court nominees emerge from the White House, and promises renewed of the next seven or eight to follow. The Marriage Amendment moved out of the Judiciary Committee on its way to a vote on cloture in early June that will put all senators on record as for or against the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, the Iraq government emerged, and, most important of all, the growing recognition that the Iranian Crisis can not --despite the heartfelt wishes of some-- be talked away.
The angry chorus of disaffected conservatives may also have hit their loudest notes this week, and the publication of this handy chart, with its reminders of a Chairman Conyers, Chairman Rangel, Chairman Frank, Chairman Murtha, and Chairman McDermott as well as Speaker Pelosi, may have actually been the most important piece of web-produced polemic in this cycle.
There was a disapppointment in Florida, as many had believed Alan Bense would enter the race against Bill Nelson, and now that red state's blue senate seat looks very safe.
But the votes of Maria Cantwell in Washington State and Robert Menedez in New Jersey againt fencing 20% of the border and against declaring English as the official language made both of those races very competitive, and incumbent GOP senators in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri and Montana can take the reality of their party's much tougher positions on security to their voters in the fall.
The competitive House races identified by the Post as well as others in which Dems are imperiled will be fought out on very small fields, but the big nine senate races are these:
New Jersey: Incumbent Democrat Menedez v. the GOP's Tom Kean.
Maryland: The GOP's Lt. Governor Michael Steele v. the battered winner of the Mfume-Cardin slug fest.
Pennsylvania: GOP Incumbent Rick Santorum against Bob Casey Jr.
Ohio: GOP Incumbent Mike DeWine v. Congressman Sherrod Brown
Missouri: GOP Incumbent Jim Talent v. Claire McCaskill
Montana: GOP Incumbent Conrad Burns v. either John Morrison and Jon Tester.
Minnesota: GOP Congressman Mark Kennedy v. Amy Klobuchar
Nebraska: Pete Ricketts v. Democratic incumbent Ben Nelson
Washington State: Mike McGavick v. Democratic incumbent Maria Cantwell
With the right campaigns, adequate funding, and continued focus on the deep differences between the parties on the war, judges, taxes, spending and the border, the Senate could return in '07 strengthened, not depleted. Click here for full article
Posted by Ted Pethick at 8:32 PM
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Posted by Ted Pethick at 10:24 PM
Explains, at once, both Bush's current low Poll numbers, and why GWBush has been a transformational president. Thanks again to "CornetJim" for this one!...T
As Washington insiders pore over the latest low job-approval ratings for George W. Bush, and as aficionados of British politics ponder the latest low ratings of Tony Blair, let's take a longer look at the political ebb and flow in America and Britain over the last quarter century or so. There is a certain parallelism.
In the late 1970s, both countries experienced something like collapse -- a collapse of the Keynesian economics dominant in the post-World War II years, a collapse of the accommodationist foreign policy prevailing since the setback in Vietnam.
From that collapse arose two improbable leaders on the political right: Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. By conventional standards, they were unacceptable: Thatcher was a woman, Reagan a septuagenarian __ and both were too far to the right. Their policies were attacked as hardhearted and reckless. But they worked. Economic growth resumed, Britain triumphed in the Falklands, and America prevailed in the Cold War. Thatcher lasted 11 years in office, Reagan eight __ both were followed by lukewarm but clearly right successors, John Major for seven years and George H.W. Bush for four.
The policy and political success of the parties of the right in time produced a center-left response from the opposition. Bill Clinton in America and Tony Blair in Britain largely accepted the Reagan and Thatcher policies and promised modifications at the margins. A successful formula: Clinton won in 1992 and 1996, and served eight years; Blair won in 1997, 2001 and 2005, and has now been in office more than nine years.
When you look back at all these leaders' job ratings in office, you find an interesting thing. The transformational Thatcher and Reagan had negative to neutral job ratings during most of their longer years in power. Thatcher's peaked upward after the Falklands victory; Reagan peaked from his re-election until the Iran-Contra scandal broke two years later. Their divisiveness, the stark alternative they presented with the policies and conventional wisdom of the past -- all these held down their job ratings.
In contrast, Blair and Clinton for most of their years in office had quite high job ratings. Blair's ratings for his first eight years were probably the highest in British history. Clinton, after he got over his lurch to the left in 1993-94, also enjoyed high job ratings, especially when he was threatened with impeachment. The center-left alternative, by accepting most of the Thatcher and Reagan programs, was relatively uncontroversial, determinedly consensus-minded, widely acceptable to the left, center-left and much of the center-right segments of the electorate.
Thus, the crunchy, confrontational right was in its years in power not so widely popular as the soggy, consensus-minded center-left. Yet surely history will regard Thatcher and Reagan as more consequential leaders than Blair and Clinton. Thatcher and Reagan defined the issues and argued that, as Thatcher once famously said, "There is no alternative."
Blair and Clinton mostly accepted the definitions of the right and then deftly articulated an acceptable center-left alternative. As a left Labor M.P. critical of Blair recently wrote in the Times of London: "Mrs. Thatcher, even at her most controversial, thought, acted and governed with the grain of her ordinary party members. But Tony Blair has tested to destruction the idea that you can run the Labor Party in total opposition to its dearest-held beliefs and values."
It is in this context that we should consider George W. Bush's current poor job ratings. For all the high ratings for center-left leaders, it remains true in America and Britain that the policies of the right are more acceptable than the policies of the left -- and are capable of beating the center-left, too. George W. Bush fashioned a right appeal that succeeded in defeating Bill Clinton's handpicked successor. Britain's Conservatives, preoccupied by the bitter split over Thatcher's ouster in 1990, failed to provide a viable alternative to Blair for a dozen years.
But today, under David Cameron (who was 24 when Thatcher got the boot), they are doing so. It is in the nature of things that the right, while sharply defining the issues and winning most serious arguments, should also stir more bitter opposition than the soothing, consensus-minded center-left. All the more so because Old Media in this country, more than in Britain, is dominated by a left that incessantly peppers the right with ridicule and criticism, while it lavishes the center-left with celebration and praise.
Even so, we continue to live in the world of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, as we once lived in the world of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Click here for full article
Sunday, May 14, 2006
"The president's speech on Monday night is a huge moment for him, a rare chance to recapture the momentum on the issue of border security and with it, renew the country's confidence in his commitment to national security, a confidence first shaken by the ports deal, and eroded by the long negotiations to form the Iraqi government.
Already the anti-amnesty forces are dismissing the speech as window dressing for the Senate debate to follow, arguing that rumored National Gaurd deployments are temporary and designed only to facilitate the amnesty that isn't called an amnesty.
The president needs to announce that the Guard will indeed be deployed in support of the Customs and Border personnel, but that the key to lasting border security is the dramatic expansion of border fencing in keeping with the House bill.
He should urge that the Senate adopt the House language in this regard (along with any other language necessary to assure that the construction of the 700 miles of fencing not be subject to any other law that might inhibit the quick start and completion of the projects.)
He must avoid the word 'virtual,' as in 'virtual fencing.' The White House isn't surrounded by a 'virtual fence,' and voters have no faith in 'virtual fences' except as supplemts to the real thing.
If the president comes out early and hard in favor of expanding the fences along the border which have already worked so successfully in urban areas, he will have met the American public where it is with what it demands.
The rest of the president's speech will not affect its impact one way or the other. The only other details that will resonate widely will be the assurance that no one becomes a citizen without command of English and then only after many years of productive residency in the U.S.
It is all about the fence because it is all about security, the next 11 or 12 million, not the 11 or 12 million already here.
The big close should be twofold. First, the announcement of the nomination of two score judges to replenish the federal bench, a demand that the Senate act quickly on these nominations, and a commitment to require --as he has of these nominees-- only what every oath sworn by every official requires: A commitment to uphold the laws of the United States.
In short, the president can put the agenda he has built back at the center of the political and policy debate:
Win the war.
UPDATE: Powerline points me to a piece by the New York Post's Deborah Orin on the outline of the president's speech Monday night.
Posted by Ted Pethick at 1:59 PM