The Intransigent Conservative
Friday, February 15, 2013
View the story "Friday’s Florilegium (2/15/13)" on Storify
Friday’s Florilegium (2/15/13)
· Fri, Feb 15 2013 17:55:40
William Kristol (editor of The Weekly Standard) and Peter Wehner (
, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center) write that Leon Panetta and Martin Dempsey told Barack Obama that Americans in Benghazi were under attack.
In response: nothing
; no meetings in the Situation Room, no calls to his Defense secretary or the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, not even “a single presidential finger was lifted to help Americans under attack,”
highlighting a disconcerting and shameful showing of complete negligence and apathy
“If Americans are under attack, presidential attention must be paid. Due diligence must be demonstrated. A president must take care that his administration does everything it can do. On Sept. 11, 2012, as Americans were under attack in Benghazi, Libya,
President Obama failed in his basic responsibility as president and commander in chief
. In a crisis, the president went AWOL.”
“Secretary Panetta said the president left operational details, including determination of what resources were available to help the Americans under siege, ‘
up to us
.’ We also learned that President Obama did not communicate in any way with Mr. Panetta or Gen. Dempsey the rest of that evening or that night. Indeed, Mr. Panetta and Gen. Dempsey testified they had no further contact at all with anyone in the White House that evening—or, for that matter, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.”
“And we learned one other thing: Messrs. Panetta and Dempsey both knew on the night of the assault that it was a terrorist attack. This didn't prevent President Obama, Secretary Clinton and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice from peddling a false version of events in the days and even weeks that followed, as the administration called the incident spontaneous, said there was no evidence of a coordinated terrorist attack and blamed the violence on an anti-Muslim video.
So the White House, having failed to ensure that anything was done during the attack, went on to mislead the nation afterward
“Why the deception? Presumably for two reasons. The first is that the true account of events undercut the president's claim during the campaign that al Qaeda was severely weakened in the aftermath of the killing of Osama bin Laden. The second is that a true account of what happened in Benghazi that night would have revealed that
the president and his top national-security advisers did not treat a lethal attack by Islamic terrorists on Americans as a crisis
Kristol and Wehner: The Absentee Commander in Chief http://on.wsj.com/154pI9dOpinion & Commentary
Gary Bauer (president of American Values) writes that liberal politicians, activists, and news outlets need to be mindful of the unsolicited advice they give to conservatives, and recognize that there are real consequences,
including provoked violence
(like Floyd Lee Corkins’ attack at the headquarters of the Family Research Council), to their divisiveness and inflammatory rhetoric.
“One of the least-reported but most important political developments over the last couple years has been the left’s increasing willingness to marginalize conservatives by portraying their views as so far outside the mainstream that they can only be informed by hatred and bigotry…
The left’s nasty divisiveness increases the prospects that unstable people will act out violently against those it tries to marginalize
“Like the SPLC (Southern Poverty Law Center), the Obama administration has been more than willing to demonize conservatives in the worst possible terms. In 2009, a Department of Homeland Security report labeled as terrorists ‘groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.’ Such groups, the report stated, ‘
are the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States
“The president himself is especially willing to depict his opponents as worthy of our contempt. He referred to congressional Republicans as ‘
’ for demanding tax cuts in 2010. He has accused Republicans of placing the interests of millionaires and billionaires against children with autism and Down syndrome.
“Obama routinely alleges that Republicans don’t care about people with disabilities and the elderly, and that if Republicans get their way,
those groups would be left to ‘fend for themselves.’
Obama stokes class envy and hatred of the wealthy and depicts the Republican fiscal plan as ‘
you’re on your own economics
Liberals need to take the advice they give to conservatives: there are consequences to divisive rhetoric http://bit.ly/VSZV2f #tcot #tlotGary L Bauer
, the director of policy of the American Principles Project, explains why the Democratic ascendancy happened. “In an era marked by frequency of religious observance as the single most important factor in determining Republican/conservative allegiance,
the rise of the ‘seculars’ has added several percentage points
to the share of self-described liberals in the composition of voter turnout, though by no means bringing them close to parity with conservatives.”
“In the six presidential elections between 1992 and 2012, the Democratic party has regained the solid popular vote majority it enjoyed during the New Deal/Great Society era (1932-64) but relinquished in the six elections between 1968 and 1988.”
“In the midst of these recent losses, Republican analysts (including me) became adept at finding one off, ‘special’ circumstances to account for supposedly anomalous Democratic wins…
But Obama’s reelection makes the GOP’s minority status in presidential politics impossible to analyze away
“In the last two decades of Democratic dominance, 18 states and the District of Columbia have voted Democratic six out of six times. These currently have 242 electoral votes, which is quite close to the 270 needed to win the presidency. There are 13 states that have voted Republican in every election since 1992, but they total just 102 electoral votes. This means that to win, a Republican nominee must either break a generation long Democratic winning streak in one or more states,
or carry 168 of 194 electoral votes among the ‘purple’ states that have gone both ways since 1992
. Not for nothing have political insiders taken to calling the GOP path to an Electoral College majority
the equivalent of drawing to an inside straight
“Things began to change in the last decade and a half with the rise on the Democratic left of what came to be called the ‘Netroots’… when Howard Dean saw his presidential fundraising go through the roof in 2003, it was clear something much deeper was happening in the Democratic party. By 2008, all three Democratic candidates for the presidential nomination—Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards—were running to the left of earlier primary candidates and (in the case of Clinton and Edwards) well to the left of where their own Senate voting records had been just a few years earlier.”
The Democrats’ sharp move to the left since 1998
is the most recent leap forward in polarization, which has been the underlying trend of American politics since the 1960s. What few could foresee is how well the Democrats’ decision to embrace the left would work politically.”
“Barack Obama, of course, openly models himself not on Reagan’s Republican successors or on his own pragmatic Democratic predecessor Bill Clinton, but on Reagan, whom he has recognized as transformational. In the context of his first term, his reelection campaign, and (especially) the weeks since,
Obama is proving effective in pushing an ideologically comprehensive, consistent, and unapologetic left agenda
. By its nature, this involves polarization.”
“Since the 1960s, two social trends have laid the groundwork for the revitalization of the American left. The earlier and more significant one is
the left’s reorientation toward social and sexual liberation
, rather than government ownership of business, as its center of gravity… The second is the steady increase as a share of the electorate—about 1 percent per year for the last 10 years or so, as measured by surveys of the Pew Charitable Trust, among others—of
voters who list ‘none’ as their religious affiliation
“So why is the left winning, and in particular why did it prevail in 2012? In the words of Christopher Caldwell’s postelection article in these pages (‘
Values Voters Prevail Again
,’ November 19, 2012): ‘[S]tructurally the outcome was the same one that we have seen decade after decade.
Where two candidates argue over values, the public may prefer one to the other. But where only one candidate has values, he wins, whatever those values happen to be.
Losing StreakIn the six presidential elections between 1992 and 2012, the Democratic party has regained the solid popular vote majority it enjoyed dur...
Yuval Levin’s reaction to this week’s State of the Union address “ends with a sense that the Democrats’ political fortunes in the coming years
may not be so rosy as many on the Left would like to think
“By the end of the speech, I was feeling sorry for the White House policy staff. It’s perfectly clear looking over the text that they have just been through a months-long budget policy process
that must have ended in total failure
“The president didn’t even mention his forthcoming budget—again,
that’s usually a big part of what this speech is for
. And he didn’t make any significant proposal for reforming any government program, for launching any new one, ending any old one, or doing much of anything in particular that he hasn’t been pushing unsuccessfully for years.”
“From my point of view, this is basically a good thing. Of course, it would have been nice if the president had offered some proposals to address our looming fiscal crisis—and what he had to say about entitlement reform and tax reform amounted to essentially nothing new—or to actually spur economic growth…
He ran for reelection without a governing agenda, and it now seems he will preside without one too
Why is it that Obama “offered a tonally progressive speech” that “just didn’t add up to anything substantive”?
Levin thinks there are three reasons:
“First is the exhaustion of liberalism in our time. It might be odd to speak of exhaustion when liberals feel so ascendant now,
but that’s when exhaustion happens
, and the fact is that the progressive ideal laid out so clearly in Obama’s second inaugural is an exhausted ideology… From here on,
the Left has mostly to play a defensive game of retrenchment and reaction
, and this is an exhausting game, especially for liberals.”
“Second is the smallness of this particular president at this particular time… I think we are entering a period, at least for the next two years, of
in which something closer to regular order resumes in Congress and the interaction of the Republican House and the Democratic Senate will be what determines the policy agenda. The President will sign anything that passes both houses, and meaningful legislation will only be likely to pass if he is mostly kept at arm’s length from it…
It looks like he’s in the process of becoming a very weak president
“But the third reason may be the most significant in the next few years. It becomes evident in contrasting Obama’s speech with Rubio’s response. Simply put, the foremost problem to which the country now wants a solution from Washington is the problem of slow economic growth,
and the Democrats are in a very bad position to advance solutions to that problem
The Democrats have a dilemma when it comes to inducing greater efficiency in health care, reducing federal entitlement spending, improving the quality of our labor force via education and immigration, reducing the needless economic drag by inefficient tax policy, and making fossil fuels cheaper: “
They are prevented by the politics of their electoral coalition from seriously advancing most of these ideas
“The real progressives are staunchly opposed to entitlement reform and unhappy with tax reform that doesn’t raise rates (as an efficiency-oriented reform would not), the environmentalists are allergic to fossil-fuel exploration, the teachers’ unions won’t hear of real K–12 reform while the professoriate (which is remarkably important to the party) will resist a genuine transformation of the university business model. That leaves only immigration reform,
which is certainly the least economically significant
of the elements of Rubio’s growth agenda, and is also the only element of that agenda that
wouldn’t directly reduce the cost of living of the middle class
“This suggests a huge opening for Republicans—
an opportunity to advance a prosperity agenda with direct benefits for middle-class families
and which the Democrats could not really match… And if Republicans move to capitalize on the opportunity (
which is still a big ‘if’
), Democrats could find themselves in serious political trouble relatively quickly.”
The State of the Democrats: My reaction to last night’s State of the Union address begins from compassion for ... http://bit.ly/WmyVoDNational Review
Following the State of the Union address, Fred Barnes blogs that it was “unusually pedestrian, packed to the gills with clichés, promises, gimmicks, and endless talk of partnerships, goals, challenges, and commissions for which Washington is famous.”
“House speaker John Boehner had a weary look on his face as he sat through the speech, as if he’d heard it all from Obama before.
And indeed he has
“Obama, though, was on-message, just as he was in his inaugural address three weeks ago. He wants to spend more. He wants the government to do more (except overseas).
And he isn’t much worried about the possibility of a debt crisis.
He leaves it to Republicans to worry about things like the debt-to-GDP ratio.”
“For all the spending he proposed, Obama maintained that none of it would cause the deficit to rise. Maybe so.
But it sure won’t cause the deficit to shrink either
. The Congressional Budget Office projects a decade of big deficits from 2013, increasing the national debt by $7 trillion. Obama didn’t mention this.”
There He Goes Again http://goo.gl/gyh3YFred Barnes
Pew Research Center provides a roundup of their findings across ten of the biggest public policy issues. Some of the highlight statistics:
: Americans took a dim view of the fiscal cliff deal, saying it would hurt: the economy (46%), people like themselves (52%), efforts to curb the deficit (44%).
Debt and Deficit
: 72% of Americans now say reducing the deficit is a top priority, up from 53% in Jan. 2009, including 84% of Republicans, 67% of Democrats and 71% of independents.
The Middle Class
: 85% of those in the middle class say it is more difficult today than a decade ago to maintain their standard of living.
: There are large partisan divides on creating a federal database to track gun sales (35-point gap, Democrats favor), implementing a ban on assault-style weapons (25-point gap, Democrats favor) or having more teachers and school officials with guns in schools (33-point gap, Republicans favor).
U.S. Foreign Policy
: 83% of Americans say that “we should pay less attention to problems overseas and concentrate on problems here at home,” up 10 points since 2002.
: Americans now favor getting tougher with China (49%) over strengthening relations (42%) when it comes to economic policy.
U.S.-Middle East Relations
: 50% of the public sympathizes more with Israel, 10% sympathize more with the Palestinians, 13% say neither side and 4% say both.
: 39% of Americans say “dealing with illegal immigration” should be a top priority, ranking the issue 17th out of 21 issues.
: 28% of Americans say global warming is a top priority, ranking the issue last on this year’s list of 21 policy priorities.
: 48% of Americans favor gay marriage and 43% oppose it.
See our primer on public opinion & other data on issues raised in #SOTU address #IGASOTU http:// http://pewrsr.ch/14YmZ11Pew Research Center
Based on a speech he recently gave to
The Ronald W. Reagan Society
at Eureka College, Fred Barnes writes that
The Great Communicator
had a gift of political persuasion that today’s politicians (like Mitt Romney) do not, with the ability to define “
economic terms and concepts in easily understandable language
“Reagan didn’t assume voters understand economic jargon. Do they know why the debt-to-GDP ratio matters? Do they have a clue about the damage a ‘debt crisis’ would cause? Can they visualize what today’s national debt of $16 trillion looks like? Not likely.
Reagan would have tutored them so they could
“His role as the Great Explainer was only one aspect of Reagan that separates him from 21st-century Republican candidates and national leaders and from Democrats like President Obama as well.
As much as they yearn to be like Reagan, they cannot
. He had skills and strengths they lack.”
“In his speeches,
Reagan emphasized the lives of individual Americans
, believing audiences would be interested, even mesmerized. He talked far more about others than himself… Reagan also had a ‘narrative’ before that term had become fashionable—a story or a few sentences that told what motivated him.”
“As a presidential candidate, Romney touted himself as a ‘full-spectrum conservative.’ He wasn’t, but Reagan really was, and knew exactly why.
Romney’s campaign was fixated on one issue, the economy
. Reagan believed economic and social conservatism could be combined in one ‘politically effective whole’… Reagan spawned a conservative era based on what his former aide Jeffrey Bell calls ‘integrated conservatism.’ Romney jettisoned the social conservative side, and lost. ‘
Subtraction rather than addition from your core philosophy is not how you prevail in an age of polarization
,’ Bell says.”
The Complete PackageIn February 1981, President Reagan was searching for ways to win support for spending cuts. He'd been president less than a month. The na...
Sheila Weber, the executive director of National Marriage Week USA, writes that America needs “a campaign to improve the public’s thinking and actions about the benefits to our country of
encouraging healthy marriage
She lists five reasons why we need to start a movement to re-value and strengthen marriage, where we seek out relationship education and marriage enrichment classes, because “there is one aspect about marriage that both the left and the right can find to agree on.
Marriage is a valuable anti-poverty program
1. The decline of marriage hurts the working and lower class
“We can’t ignore the overwhelming research that shows marriage brings greater financial stability to families, and single motherhood is the leading cause of poverty for both women and children.”
2. Loss of marital skills for the next generation
“We are now raising a generation which does not know what healthy marriage looks and feels like, and thereby cannot model it.”
3. Celebrity modeling sends the wrong message
“[D]evaluing the importance of marriage has created a new cultural norm that childbearing prior to or without marriage is eminently socially acceptable, even heroic.”
4. We can do better
“While there should be no tolerance for abuse, it turns out that a husband who was just ‘good enough’ was better, for any child, than going through childhood without a permanent and committed male role model (as opposed to a boyfriend or partner).”
5. Our leaders know the truth, but don’t say it
“If you graduate from high school, work full time, and postpone marriage and childbearing until after the age of 21, your chances of being in poverty are only 2 percent. If you don’t do all of those three things, your chances of poverty rise to 77 percent.”
Here's a secret -- marriage is America's most effective anti-poverty programIn spite of other disagreements, there is one aspect about marriage that both the left and the right can find to agree on. Marriage is a ...
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