Friday, April 06, 2007

The McCain Campaign, Kicked Off the Island

My heart bleeds for John McCain, who is a great man. I almost came out for his candidacy six months ago, because I felt (and still feel) that our country needs someone who can get all us Americans roughly on the same page. Left and right are at each other's throats: at the office, at dinner parties, at the bowling alley, and in some cases, the bedroom.

But something held me back. McCain's silly but well-intentioned campaign finance reform was in the grand scheme of things small potatoes. His objection to the first round of Bush tax cuts was disconcerting, but at least he wasn't a tax-raiser. No, it had to do with John McCain, the man.

I caught McCain's run-in with CNN's Iraq correspondent/pundit Michael Ware at the doctor's office (I'm fine, thanks for asking, but I thought I'd slip that in to explain why I've been MIA here lately). McCain said that Baghdad was getting quite safe. Ware, albeit keeping himself purposefully but understandably constantly drunk in the Apocolypse Now that is today's Iraq, was quite right to scoff.

In an attempt to defend his assertion, Sen. McCain donned a Kevlar vest and rounded up a US military posse to accompany him in a tour of an Iraq open-air market. That was shown to be ridiculous---an American, not to mention a US senator, can't walk around freely in Baghdad. Nor could most members of the Iraq government.

McCain will back off in an interview to be telecast on Sunday:

"Of course I am going to misspeak and I've done it on numerous occasions and I probably will do it in the future," said McCain, according to 60 Minutes.

John McCain, when his emotional temperature permits, has worked to heal his (minor) ideological rifts with the GOP since the 2004 presidential campaign, when he stumped for President Dubya in New Hampshire, and has made appearances on behalf of any Republican congressional candidate who's asked. In the war against the Islamo-Badguys, he's been a rock.

Success or failure in Iraq is the transcendent issue for our foreign policy and our national security. People say they want to defeat the terrorists, but if we withdraw from Iraq prematurely, it will be the terrorists' greatest triumph.


There it is, put better than anyone anywhere at this moment. I wish I could say my regard for John McCain is unbounded, but it has bounds.

McCain forgives himself for misspeaking, but in this day and age, with a 24/7 news cycle/reality show that includes al-Jazeera and the Daily Kos, a president just can't "misspeak" anymore. Even that silver-tongued devil Bill Clinton didn't have to run such a gauntlet.

Amazingly, except for a single mention of the incendiary word "crusade" shortly after 9-11, the putatively most inarticulate commander in chief in American history has seldom if ever "misspoke." By contrast, Bush rival John Kerry shot his own candidacy through the mouth with his "I voted for it before I voted against it" moronism shortly after his nomination.

I don't think America's genuine enemies really give a damn about political rhetoric; in that way they're smarter than us. Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad can deny the Holocaust or speak of the annihilation of Israel or the US and nobody blinks an eye, especially America's theoretical friends, the western left that rules Europe and holds great sway in our own nation's Democratic Party.

But let a member of the world's real reality-based community, the diminishing non-leftist Anglosphere, slip off the rails just once, and he's dead meat. For all his virtue and decency, a quick google of "McCain" and "Iraq" shows the jackal pack punching his ticket to the political abattoir.

A man can be great, a man can be good, but to be our president in this day and age, he or she must first be clever. Senator McCain, I hope that it's some consolation that two out of three ain't bad, atall atall.

Mercer Nary Intimidated

Ilana Mercer, whether you agree with her or not, stands out as one of the most independent-minded columnists writing today.

Here is her remarkable defense of Pelosi's Syrian adventure, and I pass it along for your perusal without prejudice.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Is the Honeymoon Over?

I caught this headline at Drudge and felt my heart sink just a bit: “Giuliani: Public funding for abortion OK.” This is a CNN blog and their headline is even more bracing: “Giuliani to social conservatives: Take it or leave it.” Frankly I’m more inclined to leave it. Here’s the way CNN's Lauren Kornreich put it:

Rudy Giuliani's message to social conservatives: If you don't like my views, don't vote for me.

The Republican presidential frontrunner Thursday reaffirmed his support for federal funding for some abortions, a position which puts him at odds with many conservatives. During a press conference at the State Capitol in Columbia, South Carolina, he said he didn't expect to win over 100 percent of the voters.

"If that's real important to you, if that's the most important thing, I'm comfortable with the fact that you won't vote for me," the former mayor said.
Well, if you put it that way, Rudy, I’m inclined not to vote for you, and I would bet so a majority of Republican primary voters as well. You have to wonder what Rudy and his advisors are thinking putting out such an in your face assertion, especially in South Carolina. He’s asking a lot for pro-life conservatives to set aside their commitment to the cause to vote for him, but it’s quite another thing for him to rub their face in it.

Who expects to win 100 percent of any voters? So why say it? I could see him saying something like this, though I wouldn’t like it, if he’d already won the nomination. But alienating strong pro-lifers, who are a majority of the voters he’s trying to persuade to vote for him in the primaries is not a smart strategy.

He declared his fealty to the Hyde amendment, which restricts federal funding for abortion to cases of rape, incest and to save the life of the mother. Which is great, but he affirms that abortion is an individual right and that a woman “can make that choice.” He also states that he hates abortion, but not enough to do anything about it. Somehow it’s a woman’s “right,” I guess because a hand full of Supreme Court justices declared it so, so it is!

If this is part of Rudy’s strategy for winning the Republican nomination he can just quit now. As much as I love the guy for what he did in NYC and on 9/11, I would have a very difficult time voting for somebody who appears so tone deaf to the concerns of pro-life conservatives. Prior to this he seemed to be doing a pretty good job of walking the tight rope, but I think he may now have fallen off.

Bashir and Nancy Sitting In a Tree...

Someone, anyone, please explain to me why Assad the Child hasn't announced some trivial concession, obviously to be reneged later, so that the Frank Riches of the world can write that Baker and Hamilton are right, BushCheney warmongering is wrong, better to negotiate with the fascists, etc. Don't those smart guys in Damascus know how to play this game?

British Dishonor

I do not, to put it gently, often find myself in agreement with John Derbyshire over there in NR-land. But he's completely right on the question of whether the just-released British sailors dishonored themselves. Even if they had been tortured or coerced into giving confessions or making statements, there was no excuse for giving the cameras smiles and exuding a joviality that made it look like they'd just been on holiday or something. Given that the Brits have been our only reliable military ally over the past couple of decades, this doesn't suggest much optimism about how much use they'll be in the future.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Passing Over (and Through) History

It has become a sort of cultural cliche that the Passover Seder (Hebrew for a series of things done in a particular order) is an opportunity for dysfunctional families to clash and vent. Perhaps that is true in some quarters.

My own childhood yields no such memories. I remember only a thrilling atmosphere, with my Dad managing the flow deftly. And until I was 11 years old, we had the added bonus of my paternal grandfather being there to sing our family songs.

In this respect I am aware that we were blessed with a unique legacy. My family was musically inclined since forever (including the tradition of descending from King David), and we sing tunes probably heard nowhere else, ancestral compositions.

My Dad is still going strong in New York at age 75, while I do my thing here in Miami. You have to figure that if we are still doing this 3300 years later, it is a good bet the prophecy is true that there will be Jews as long as there are people.

thenewswalk.fred

Don't miss our new Fred Thompson news ticker on the sidebar to the right. According to various accounts, he's a true conservative, is lazy, and not a Christian. Something for everyone.

Until heir apparent Rudy stumbles into a rhetorical ditch, John McCain learns to make friends without adding enemies, or Mitt Romney climbs above 3% in the polls, Fred's where the action is.

At some point, we'll have to add something on the Democrats if Hillary goes broke or Barack Obama says something of actual substance, but neither event is anticipated at this time.