Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Chicago-Pol-In-Chief

The trial in Chicago of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is illuminating. Too bad the dinosaur press and the slobbering fans of Obama from cable television land are conveniently ignoring the implications towards the Chicago-Pol-In-Chief.

From The Wall Street Journal: This is a Barack Obama the White House would prefer the public not see. The conversation suggests a president who (like any good Chicago politician) knows the feds have half the city wiretapped, and so resorts to the wink-and-nod tactics of sending an emissary. It suggests a president whose first call on a big political issue was to a union boss. It suggests a president willing to elide the truth in an official report. It may be technically accurate that the president didn't directly speak to Mr. Blagojevich—and didn't directly demand Mrs. Jarrett—but that wasn't really the point, was it?

Clearly, the Obama domestic agenda is all about rewarding his union pals and stroking them for continued campaign support. And the big bucks. It is no coincidence that recently retired union president Andy Stern visited the White House more times than any other visitor. Now he just waits for the call from Obama to sit on commissions. How cozy.

From Peggy Noonan in The Wall Street Journal: The president, of course, got his victory on health care. But a funny thing is, normally the press and the public judge a president's effectiveness in large part by legislative victories—whether he has "the ability to get his program through Congress." Winning brings winning, which increases popularity. Mr. Obama won on more than health care; he won on the stimulus package and the Detroit bailout. And yet his poll numbers continue to float downward. He is not more loved with victory. To an unusual and maybe unprecedented degree his victories seem like victories for him, and for his party, and for his agenda, but they haven't settled in as broad triumphs that illustrate power and competence.

The Chicago thuggery does not bode well in foreign relations either. Leslie Gelb, Council on Foreign Relations, believes the administration is clueless on the politics of the Middle East. He suggests advisers must be fired but actually, it is the top guy himself.

Gelb writes that Obama entered office with a “near-zero base of foreign-policy knowledge and no experience in the Middle East,” demanded a pre-negotiation halt to West Bank construction, to which “no Israeli leader, even a dovish one” would ever agree, adopted the “brilliant tactic” of publicly humiliating Israel’s prime minister (not even shaking his hand at the end of the prior meeting), and “only made matters worse” this week by appearing as if he were cowed by domestic politics into treating Netanyahu well. Gelb concludes that Obama needs new advisers.

As the piece points out, Netanyahu has made big inroads towards the peace process with no help from his Palestinean counterparts.

Over the past year, Netanyahu (1) formed a coalition government with parties to both his right and left, (2) proposed immediate negotiations with no preconditions, (3) formally endorsed a two-state solution (as long as one of them is Jewish and the other is demilitarized), (4) removed scores of West Bank roadblocks and checkpoints, (5) implemented an unprecedented settlement moratorium, and (6) plans even more gestures to the perpetually confidence-impaired Palestinians to encourage them to join negotiations to give them a state.

Obama did the 'my best friends are Jews' schtick to an Israeli reporter after Netanyahu's last visit. He actually said Jews in Israel are suspicious of him because his middle name is Hussein. Really. He said Rahm Emanuel is Israeli and that David Axelrod's parents are Halocaust survivors. Mazel tov, Barack!

It's not the middle name that is a problem with Obama. It is his ham-handed methods and his continuing actions that are meant to embarrass the foreign leaders unwilling to succumb to his vision of the world. To paraphrase James Carville, it's the policy, stupid.

And the blatant thuggery. Chicago style.

This piece notes the preferred campaign style of Barack Obama - naked partisanship and nasty political taunts. He's doubled down by bringing in sarcasm into the mix.

Obama road-tested his pitch to grassroots Democrats and wavering independent voters during a two-day western campaign swing last week, flinging partisan rhetoric at foes of his 17-month presidency.

His swipes at Republicans and calls for change were a reminder of stump skills that few US politicians can match, recalling his 2008 campaign.

But Obama also adopted a sarcastic tone, rarely seen back then, likely distilled from months of frustrating political combat in Washington.

Obama's poll numbers on job approval continue to drop. He is now in the mid 40's range and the country is sliding into a Carteresque malaise. No wonder, really, with this guy in charge.

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