December 30, 2008
The Floral Majority
The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins was gleeful after Richard Cizik, chief lobbyist of the 30-million member National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), was forced to resign on December 11. Perkins and other “family values” leaders had been trying to get rid of Cizik for two years, ever since he launched a campaign to add environmentalism to the evangelical “values” agenda. Though Cizik lost his job over comments endorsing civil unions, not because of his attention to what evangelicals call “creation care,” Perkins still claimed his ouster as a repudiation of the green agenda.
A couple of days ago, Politico posted a piece about how the closing of the presidential bubble was already beginning to chafe Barack Obama. All I could think was: Better make peace with it quickly, my man, because things are about to get so much worse. All presidents suffer culture shock when the office's lack of person freedom hits home.
Arabs Cooling On Obama?
Interesting new Reuters story out of Cairo: U.S. President-elect Barack Obama, with his silence on Israel's attacks in Gaza, has confirmed Arab expectations that foreign policy changes will come small and slow when he moves into the White House next month. On the fourth day of Israeli air strikes which have killed more than 380 people in Gaza, the U.S. President-elect has yet to take a position, though he spoke out after militants' attacks in Mumbai and has made detailed statements on the U.S. economy.... "Obama's position is very precarious.
December 29, 2008
Works, Not Words
President-elect Barack Obama remains under fire from some liberals for inviting Pastor Rick Warren--an evangelical who is pro-life and anti-gay marriage--to deliver the invocation at his inauguration. Say what you will about the Rick Warren controversy, one reason Barack Obama will be sworn in on January 20 is that he courted and won the votes of more religious Americans than any other Democratic candidate in a decade.
Why Gaza Matters
Jerusalem, IsraelIt was Israel at its best. In response to random attacks aimed at its civilians, Israel launched precise attacks aimed at terrorists. In place of political schism, Israel suspended election campaigning, and initiated coooperation between government and opposition. Instead of illusions about an imminent peace agreement with Bashar Assad or about half a negotiated peace agreement with half of the Palestinian leadership, we exhibited sobriety and a willingness to defend ourselves.
The Boston Globe's Dictator Salon
Leave it to the Boston Globe, the paragon of bien pensant New England liberalism, to publish an op-ed by Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. And on the 20th anniversary week of the Lockerbie Bombing no less! That horrific attack, which killed all 259 passengers and crew members on the Pan-Am 103 flight bound for New York City, was perpetrated by Libyan agents in retaliation for the 1986 American airstrikes launched on Tripoli, itself a response to the unprovoked bombing earlier that year of a West Berlin nightclub patronized by American servicemen.
It's probably best not to think too deeply about the meaning of where politicians vacation (just like it's best not to think too deeply about what it means when they don't wear socks), but Ben Smith makes some smart points about Obama's Hawaii sojourn: Aside from the devotion to exercise, Obama's seems like a pretty ordinary vacation. Random trips to water parks, old friends, and relatives; no apparent celebrities. Bill Clinton, notoriously, polled his vacation spots.
December 28, 2008
The Short War
The comparisons are as banal as they are unavoidable. Israel’s Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, began his term with a boom--a war in Lebanon in 2006--and is now leaving with a bang--the 2008 war in Gaza. Today, however, Olmert is more experienced, more somber, less cocky. He now plays the role of the responsible adult. The goals he set for the war are limited: “The operation is meant to improve the security reality of southern residents in a thorough manner,” he said yesterday. Not even “security”--just the very modest “improve” in the security.
A Crisis And An Opportunity
CNN International’s coverage of yesterday’s fighting in Gaza concluded at midnight with a rush of images: mangled civilians writhing in the rubble, primitive hospitals overflowing with the wounded, fireballs mushrooming between apartment complexes, the funeral of a Palestinian child.
December 27, 2008
The New New Deal Goes Global
Comparisons between President-elect Barack Obama and President Franklin D. Roosevelt abound. Time put Obama on its cover wielding Roosevelt’s trademark hat, pince-nez, and cigarette holder. “A lot of people around Barack are reading books about FDR’s first hundred days,” said one Obama adviser. Most of the attention has focused on Roosevelt’s domestic policy, and the possibility of a New New Deal. But Roosevelt’s foreign policy--and his focus on global architecture--offers equally important lessons for Obama.