From a January 8 FrontPageMag.com interview of Fox News strategic analyst Ralph Peters:
FP: How much confidence, exactly, do you have in this administration providing safety to Americans against our enemies?
Peters: Unfortunately, I have no faith-none-in the administration's seriousness, when it comes to protecting Americans. A president who insists, in the face of overwhelming evidence, that every next terrorist is just an "isolated extremist" with no connection to Islam isn't interested in solving the problem.
FP: Your view of Janet Napolitano? Why is she still heading Homeland Security?
Peters: I'd rather not view Janet Napolitano at all. This woman is so far out of her depth that it can't be measured with Newtonian metrics. She was a politically correct appointment, period. On the positive side, word is that she'll be gone in the next few months-Obama's too vain to fire her right now, while the administration's under fire over the Christmas terror attempt, but he realizes what a political liability she's become.
There's another, unfortunate, side to this. When representing our country, especially on security matters, appearance and physical presence matter. It would be great if that were not so, but facts are facts. Even if Napolitano were a security genius, she doesn't project a forceful, capable image to our deadly enemies (or to our allies). Again, every one of Obama's cabinet-level appointments has been about domestic politics, not about their effectiveness on the world stage.
Well, at least he can't blame Bush for Napolitano.
In terms of job approval ratings, that is [emphasis added]:
President Barack Obama enters 2010 with one of the lowest approval ratings of any president heading into his second year, according to a new Gallup poll out Wednesday.
Fifty percent approve of how Obama has handled his job as president, the second lowest total since Gallup started polling. Obama beats only Ronald Reagan, who started 1982 with a 49 percent approval rating.
For weeks now I've been chuckling as I listen to conservative pundits go on and on about what a failure Obama is and how the country is turning on him, and that his presidency is a shambles, etc., etc. When in fact, Obama's first 12 months in office almost exactly mirror (ratings-wise) the first 12 White House months experienced by Ronald Reagan. Yes, the same Ronald Reagan who conservatives point to today as a towering Oval Office success; a man who was beloved by the masses.
And so rather than acknowledging that uncomfortable similarity between Reagan and Obama, fact-free commentators like Karl Rove claim Obama is the most unpopular, first-year president. Ever.
False. The truth is Obama and Reagan remain locked arm-in-arm.
UPDATED: I continue to be slightly puzzled by the media's on-going obsession with Obama's polling numbers and how he's only at 50 percent. (Big news!) The non-stop hand-wringing seems a bit odd considering that Obama's Oval Office predecessor served nearly his entire second term with an approval rating below 50 percent, and left the presidency with an almost incomprehensibly low 22 percent approval rating.
But today's Obama's at 50 percent, so that's big (bad!) news.
UPDATED: A bit more context about the Beltway media's Chicken Little-style reporting about Obama's 50 percent approval rating, which is uniformly deemed as being borderline disastrous. Guess what President Bush's approval rating was when he first entered office in 2001? Yep, almost exactly the same as Obama's rating today. But do you recall endless media hand-wringing about Bush's super-soft poll numbers back then?
Neither do I.
Washington Post columnist David Broder thinks Barack Obama is trying to do too much -- and that it's his own fault:
Obama, on the other hand, came into Christmas Day with an overloaded set of self-imposed tasks. He was winding down one inherited war in Iraq and expanding another one in Afghanistan. He was renegotiating our relations with other powers in the world and attempting to enlist their help in confronting outlaw regimes in Iran and North Korea. And simultaneously, at home, he was being pressed to rescue a badly wounded economy while lobbying a reluctant but allied Congress to pass controversial, ambitious changes in health care, climate control and financial regulation.
Raise your hand if you think dealing with two "inherited" wars and rescuing a "badly wounded economy" constitute "self-imposed tasks." How about dealing with financial regulation and a badly broken health care system? Anyone think those are optional? Yeah, I didn't think so.
Broder contrasts Obama's purportedly full plate with the ease with which President Bush shifted into fighting terrorism:
Bush reacted with anger and a determination to punish the people who wreaked the havoc.
For Obama to establish a new priority would obviously be much more difficult than it appeared to be for Bush. And this new priority would be a much less comfortable fit for Obama than leading a war on terrorism was for Bush.
Seems like there should have been room in there somewhere to mention that as "comfortable" as Bush was punishing "the people who wreaked the havoc," he was also pretty darn comfortable punishing the people who didn't. Or that Bush's obsession with the people who didn't wreak the havoc probably contributed to the fact that Osama bin Laden remains free to this day.
But Broder didn't bother mentioning either of those things. I guess that's why he's called the "best of the best."
From the Fox Nation, accessed on January 8:
On Monday, during a falsehood-laden defense of his Misinformer of the Year Award, Glenn Beck made a big show of the amount of research both he and his staff does while assembling his program. I'm not sure if we were supposed to be impressed by the stacks of paper, but regardless of the quantity of research his staff does, the quality certainly seems to be lacking (side note: his staff could save a good bit of time and paper if they didn't print every article.)
For example, last night, leading into a typically reasonable discussion of how the progressive movement is more akin to early Italian Fascism than the Founding Fathers, Glenn Beck rehashed a smear of Sen. Al Franken that was thoroughly debunked back in December.
As Senior Editor Brian Frederick pointed out while demolishing the phony talking point, this story doesn't hold water for several reasons. First, Sen. John McCain's supposed anger at the exchange is undermined by his blatant hypocrisy. In 2002, McCain objected to then-Sen. Mark Dayton's request for more time during the Iraq War debate. Second, Franken was acting on a request from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to adhere strictly to time constraints. Third, the same exact thing happened earlier the same day when Sen. Mark Begich objected to Sen. John Cornyn's request for more time.
In fairness to "some of the biggest minds in America," it was tough for me to dig up these facts. If you google "Franken Lieberman exchange," two of our items and Brian Frederick's blog post are buried...as the first search result.
I'm honestly curious how something like this ends up on the air. Did his research staff just not bother to research the exchange before airing it? Did they find the numerous articles debunking the bogus story and decide to run the smear anyway? Were they too busy printing articles to read them?
These are not rhetorical questions. If Beck wants to answer any of them, he knows how to reach us.
Beck misrepresented the same exchange on his radio show on Wednesday to label progressivism "evil." Perhaps it was unfair of me to place all of the blame on his television research team. Apparently Beck and his radio crew can't be bothered with facts, either. (H/T Z.P.)
In light of the news that the Washington Post either thought so highly of Dana Milbank's work as a columnist to give him a Sunday column on the op-ed page or couldn't afford to pay another salary, Politico's Michael Calderone asked Milbank how his Sunday op-ed would be different. In his regular "Washington Sketch" column, Milbank told Calderone he mostly writes on "what folks are doing wrong." In his new Sunday column, however, he hopes to "make a cogent argument that's not tied to a particular event and doesn't have the word 'yesterday' in it."
Don't count on many "cogent arguments" in Milbank's Sunday op-eds.
After all, in his attempt today to write about "what folks are doing wrong," Milbank himself is wrong.
Writing about the attempted airline bombing on Christmas, Milbank slams Janet Napolitano:
"The system worked," was Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's original take on the would-be underwear bomber.
But, as we now know, the only system that worked to prevent a plane from blowing up over Detroit on Christmas Day was the system of luck.
Milbank -- throwing around names again -- goes on to call her "System Worked Napolitano" and criticized White House press reporters for not asking her about her initial comments during yesterday's press conference.
Perhaps that's because there was no need to. Those reporters either already knew that Napolitano's "system worked" comment was taken out of context or they had already asked Napolitano about the comments and she explained to them that the comments were taken out of context.
In fact, in her December 27 comments, Napolitano was describing the systemic response to the attack, not the circumstances leading up to the attack:
One thing I'd like to point out is that the system worked. Everybody played an important role here. The passengers and crew of the flight took appropriate action. Within literally an hour to 90 minutes of the incident occurring, all 128 flights in the air had been notified to take some special measures in light of what had occurred on the Northwest Airlines flight. We instituted new measures on the ground and at screening areas, both here in the United States and in Europe, where this flight originated.
So the whole process of making sure that we respond properly, correctly and effectively went very smoothly.
The conservative noise machine immediately dissected and distorted Napolitano's words and she was forced to explain them on the December 28 edition of Today:
I think the comment is being taken out of context, what I'm saying is once the incident occurred, moving forward, we were immediately able to notify the 128 flights in the air on protective measures to take, immediately able to notify law enforcement on the ground, airports both domestically, internationally, all carriers, all of that happening within 60 to 90 minutes."
Still, Fox News continued to beat the drum that Napolitano should or might be fired.
And finally, Milbank joined Fox's chorus, bringing the slant to the Post's news pages.
To review, not only is Milbank advancing a troublesome conservative talking point, he's doing so nearly two weeks after the rest of the conservative noise machine first invented it - at which point it was immediately debunked. And he's criticizing other reporters for not falling victim to it!
He should fit in just fine on the Post's Sunday op-ed page.
That sure seems to be the case with regards to three nearly identical (i.e. at times word-for-word) dispatches posted last night regarding the upcoming release of Game Change, a book about the 2008 campaign.
The content sharing began when Drudge put up an original item, time stamped "Thu Jan 07 17:26:11 ET." Note this passage [emphasis added]:
When President-elect Obama called her again to convince her to be his secretary of state, Clinton told him there was a problem, says Heilemann, a Time magazine reporter. "At that point she says 'There's one last thing that's a problem, which is my husband. You've seen what this is like; it will be a circus if I take this job,'" Heilemann reports. Says Halperin, who writes for New York magazine, "It's this extraordinary moment…Clinton saying something she says to almost no one, admitting her husband is a problem. At the same time Obama comes back and shows vulnerability to her. He says to her, 'Given the economic crisis, given all I have to deal with, I need your help.'"
Now look at the dispatch posted by Politico's Mike Allen. It was time stamped two minutes later ("/7/10 5:28 PM EST") and it often used the exact same language as Drudge.
From Politico's report:
— Heilemann, who writes for New York magazine, told Cooper that when the president-elect called her a second time to persuade her to be his secretary of state, after being turned down the first time, Clinton told him there was a problem.
"At that point she says, 'There's one last thing that's a problem, which is my husband," Heilemann said. "'You've seen what this is like; it will be a circus if I take this job.'"
Halperin, a Time magazine correspondent, said: "It's this extraordinary moment. ... Clinton saying something she says to almost no one, admitting her husband is a problem. At the same time Obama comes back and shows vulnerability to her. He says to her, 'Given the economic crisis, given all I have to deal with, I need your help.'"
And then later last night from CBS.com, which was hyping an upcoming 60 Minutes segment on Game Change:
When President-elect Obama called her again to convince her to be his secretary of state, Clinton told him there was a problem, says Heilemann, a New York Magazine reporter. "At that point she says 'There's one last thing that's a problem, which is my husband. You've seen what this is like; it will be a circus if I take this job,'" Heilemann reports.
Says Halperin, who writes for Time magazine, "It's this extraordinary moment…Clinton saying something she says to almost no one, admitting her husband is a problem. At the same time Obama comes back and shows vulnerability to her. He says to her, 'Given the economic crisis, given all I have to deal with, I need your help.'"
Meanwhile, from Drudge:
Those are some of the revelations in 'GAME CHANGE,' a new book about the presidential campaigns by political reporters Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, who say they interviewed 200 Democrats and Republicans with inside knowledge.
Schmidt was interviewed by Anderson Cooper for a segment about "Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime," a book about the 2008 presidential campaign by political reporters Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, to be published Monday...The "Game Change" authors said they interviewed 200 Democrats and Republicans with inside knowledge.
Those are some of the revelations in "Game Change," a new book about the presidential campaigns by political reporters Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, who say they interviewed 200 Democrats and Republicans with inside knowledge.
Throughout the morning, Fox & Friends expressed dismay over how --and why -- President Obama's terrorism press conference yesterday was delayed by three and a half hours.
Looking visibly annoyed, Gretchen Carlson said she had expected to hear something "shocking" from the president but "did not hear anything new" and wondered, "Why was there that three and a half hour delay? The president was supposed to come out at 1 p.m. and give us this shocking revelation. And then he did, in fact, not come out until 4:30 p.m. Eastern time." Later in the show, Peter Johnson Jr. told Brian Kilmeade that it seemed like there was "confusion" at the White House because "first of all, it took them hours to get the president out there. They kept on pushing back the time of the press conference." They agreed that the delay was "strange and eerie," and Johnson added, "It's dysfunctional, it shows disorganization, it's not what the White House should be doing."
And then there was this:
Hmmm, it's funny that they seem to care so much about what Obama revealed or whether the press conference started on time. Because if you were watching Fox News last night, you wouldn't have been able to watch it in its entirety. They cut away from it a third of the way in to show Glenn Beck.
As you can read below, Sarah Palin has signed on to speak at the first ever Tea Party convention next month in Nashville. Also speaking to the Tea Party activists will be Joseph Farah from the discredited wingnut outpost WND, and who considers it to be a "personal privilege" to be " to be on the same bill with Gov. Sarah Palin." Indeed, WND is promoting the event as the "Palin-Farah ticket."
Farah, as Media Matters has tirelessly documented, is, among other things, an avowed gay and Muslim-hating conspiracy theorist who still clings to the whackadoo notion that Obama wasn't born in America. That's who Palin has agreed to share the spotlight with in Nashville next month. To date however, there's been no press reaction that I've seen or heard raising any questions about Palin's decision to hob knob so publicly with the likes of Farah. (CNN remains silent in this dispatch. As does Politico.)
With that in mind, I'm curious what the chattering class reaction would be if the tables were turned. What would the press response be, for instance, if Al Gore, just one year after leaving office, agreed to speak before a group of fringe activists and if he agreed to share the spotlight with a proudly anti-semitic, 9/11 conspiracy theorist? Do you think that might become a thing in the press? Do you think journalists would press Gore about the association and demand that he clearly articulate his thoughts about the anti-semitic, 9/11 nut who was being welcomed as a feature speaker alongside Gore at the frothing, partisan convention?
I don't think there's any doubt Gore would come under extraordinary media pressure if he ever agreed to be seen among fringe radicals. But will Palin? We'll see if the press holds her to the same standard, or creates a second one just for her.
UPDATED: David Weigel at the Washington Independent explains why the "Palin-Farah" ticket ought to be news [emphasis added]:
Two months ago Farah appeared on the same stage as Bachmann and other conservative House Republicans to promote WND's "pink slip" campaign against Congress, and political reporters pretty much ignored it. And WND has sponsored CPAC in the past. But CPAC has explicitly ruled out a "birther" forum at this year's event, and some Republican activists have called for conservatives to cut ties with the birth certificate and conspiracy-obsessed WND. And here you'll have Sarah Palin, giving her first political speech in months, on the same stage as Joseph Farah.
From Pat Buchanan's January 8 syndicated column:
"America is Losing the Free World," was the arresting headline over the Financial Times column by Gideon Rachman. His thesis:
The largest democracies of South America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia - Brazil, South Africa, Turkey, India - are all moving out of America's orbit. "(T)he assumption that the democracies would stick together is proving unfounded."
President Lula of Brazil has cut a "lucrative oil deal with China, spoken warmly of Hugo Chavez," hailed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on his election "victory" and honored the Iranian president with a state visit.
In the Security Council, South Africa sided with Russia and China in killing human-rights resolutions and protecting Zimbabwe and Iran. Turkey has moved to engage Hezbollah, Hamas and Tehran, and spurn Israel. Polls show anti-Americanism surging in Turkey. From trade to sanctions on Iran and Burma, India sides with China against America.
The ruling parties in all four were democratically elected. Yet, in all four, democratic solidarity is being trumped by an older solidarity -- of Third World people of color against a "white, rich Western world."
Given free, inclusive elections in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt, there is a likelihood our allies would be dumped and leaders chosen who were committed to kicking us out of the Middle East and throwing the Israelis into the Mediterranean.
What, then, is the rationale for the National Endowment for Democracy to continue tax dollars to promote such elections?
When colonialism ended in East Africa, Indians were massacred. The Chinese suffered a horrible pogrom in Indonesia in 1965, when the dictator Sukarno fell - and another when Suharto fell. Picked clean, two-thirds of the 250,000 whites in Rhodesia when Robert Mugabe took power are gone. Half the Boers and Brits have fled Jacob Zuma's South Africa. In Bolivia, Evo Morales is dispossessing Europeans to reward the "indigenous people" who voted him into power. Chavez is doing the same in Venezuela.
Query: If democracy, from Latin America to Africa to the Middle East, brings to power parties and politicians who, for reasons religious, racial or historic, detest the "white, rich Western world," why are we pushing democracy in these regions?
Our forefathers were not afflicted with this infantile disorder. John Winthrop, whose "city on a hill" inspired Ronald Reagan, declared that, among civil nations, "a democracy is ... accounted the meanest and worst of all forms of government."
"Remember, democracy never lasts long," said Adams. "It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide."
Added Jefferson, "A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where 51 percent of the people may take away the rights of the other 49." Madison agreed: "Democracy is the most vile form of government."
The questions raised here are crucial.
If racial and religious bonds and ancient animosities against the West trump any democratic solidarity with the West, of what benefit to America is democracy in the Third World? And if one-person, one-vote democracy in multiethnic countries leads to dispossession and persecution of the market-dominant minority, why would we promote democracy there?
Why would we promote a system in an increasingly anti-American world that empowers enemies and imperils friends?
Is democratism our salvation -- or an ideology of Western suicide?