Thursday, August 23, 2007

Mark Towner's Spyglass Spots ‘'Are People Losing Patience With Thompson?

Former Sen. Fred Thompson spoke to the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention yesterday where he accused congress of trying to plant a "white flag".
From GMA
Aug. 22, 2007

In the latest Gallup presidential poll, former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson ranks second among Republican voters.
One political strategist said Thompson could swim the Mediterranean with all the "testing of the waters" he's done, but he still has yet to take the plunge and officially announce his candidacy.

Thompson got razed for wearing expensive Gucci loafers to the Iowa State Fair, but he did eat some meat on a stick and he even held a pig.
Would he do all that if he weren't running?
On the radio show "Mickelson in the Morning," Thompson said, "I have declared that I'm going to declare."
Thompson has certainly been honing his message.
"Some people in this country apparently think if we can pull out of Iraq, our problems will be over. You and I know better than that," Thompson said in a recent speech to a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Kansas City.
And the other candidates are treating him like a rival.
When Thompson wrote on his blog Tuesday that he'd spent a lot of time in New York City filming the TV show "Law and Order" and that he doesn't like the city's gun laws, a spokeswoman for former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani shot back.
"Those who live in New York in the real world — not on TV — know that Rudy Giuliani's record of making the city safe for families speaks for itself," said Giuliani's communications director, Katie Levinson, in a statement.

Mark Towner's Spyglass Spots 'Clinton Takes the Bait on Cuba'

Clinton Takes the Bait on Cuba
Tom BevanWed Aug 22, 11:02 AM ET
Yesterday we wondered how Hillary Clinton would respond to Barack Obama's op-ed in the Miami Herald calling for easing restrictions on the US embargo of Cuba. Today Beth Reinhard and Lesley Clark provide the answer:

Rival Sen. Hillary Clinton said she would continue the Bush administration's hard-line stance, for the most part. Clinton's campaign said she agrees that exiles should be able to freely send money to their relatives but said she does not favor ''any wholesale, broad changes'' to the travel restrictions until Fidel Castro falls. Clinton did vote with Obama in 2005 -- unsuccessfully -- to ease restrictions on family travel in ``humanitarian cases.''

''She supports the embargo and our current policy toward Cuba, and until it is clear what type of political winds may come with a new government -- if there is a new government -- we cannot talk about changes to U.S. policy,'' Clinton spokesman Mo Elleithee said.
Obama was more or less daring Clinton endorse the current US policy toward Cuba, knowing that it might cost him votes in Florida but would also serve to reinforce the broader theme of his campaign as a "change of direction."

Clinton took the bait, giving Obama exactly the line he wanted: "she would continue the Bush administration's hard-line stance."
Yet at the same time, Clinton got what she wanted, which was to take the opportunity to get an even firmer grip on Florida and to reinforce her image as an experienced, hard-nosed realist unwilling to engage in speculation or hypotheticals.

(Incidentally, a backdrop to the entire discussion is whether Florida will be stripped of its convention delegates for moving its primary up into January in violation of DNC rules.)
The line between the Obama and Clinton candidacies has always been "experience" versus "change" - a cliche that Tony Blankley challenges very effectively this morning, by the way - but while the distinction had been a bit fuzzy for the first six months of the campaign, it has really come into focus during the last few weeks.

Obama and his advisors thoroughly believe this is a "change" election, and they will continue to push that message out in all directions at every possible opportunity. The Clinton campaign also recognizes the change dynamic present in this year's electorate, but is betting that voters in the primary and the general election value the idea of experience a great deal as well, in addition to wanting to satisfy a basic urge for change.
If the national and state polls mean anything, as of right now Hillary Clinton appears to be winning the battle - but there's obviously still a long way to go.;_ylt=Avzzk2NdIDhdhPtJMqbMyIHSos4F

Mark Towner's Spyglass Spots 'The lamentable Edwards campaign'

Rich Lowry: The lamentable Edwards campaign
By Rich Lowry
Article Last Updated: 08/22/2007 07:17:37 PM MDT

Francois de La Rochefoucauld had a point when he said, in his frequently quoted formulation, that hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue. In the case of John Edwards, however, hypocrisy is simply a way of life. The infamous $400 haircut - actually, some of his hairstyling sessions ran as much as $1,200 all told - wasn't a freak embarrassment for a candidate so self-righteously devoted to the poor. It was part of a pattern so pervasive that it has become the defining aspect of Edwards' candidacy. When he lambasted hedge funds for incorporating offshore to avoid or delay paying U.S. taxes, what could be more natural than that he made nearly $500,000 for part-time work at the Fortress Investment Group, with hedge funds incorporated in the Cayman Islands for tax purposes? When he hit other candidates for taking donations from Rupert Murdoch's media holdings, wasn't it inevitable that it would turn out he had taken $800,000 from Murdoch's HarperCollins for a coffee-table book? Or when he attacked subprime lenders for foreclosing on victims of Hurricane Katrina, he would have $16 million - half of his net worth - invested in Fortress while it was foreclosing on a couple dozen homes in New Orleans? Most of us uphold ideals that we can't meet, but liberal populism shouldn't be such an impossible standard. The late Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone, a liberal
populist to his core, never had such embarrassments. The former North Carolina senator is experiencing a kind of toxic shock from his synthetic political persona. In 2004, John Edwards was Mr. Congeniality, for no other reason than that seemed the market niche for him in the race. Today, he is the angry populist, for no other reason than that seems the market niche for him in the race. He thrived in the Iowa caucuses four years ago as the fresh new thing; this year he looks like a version of Dick Gephardt, the union-pandering populist with the negative campaign. Edwards' anger has about all the heft and seriousness of a 5-year-old's tantrum. All candidates fear making a gaffe in one of the debates. Edwards has to worry that Hillary Clinton will blow on him and he'll float away - like Mary Poppins with her magic umbrella, carried off by the unbearable lightness of his own political being. If a paranoid theory were needed to explain Edwards' candidacy, there are two, equally plausible options. Is he a plant from the Democratic National Committee designed to make Clinton and Barack Obama look impressive by contrast with his sheer insubstantiality? Or is he a plant of the Republican National Committee designed to pull the top-tier candidates as far to the left as possible? On the big issues of the day, Edwards specializes in can't-keep-his-story-straight contrivance. Democratic consultant Bob Shrum described in his book No Excuses how his political advisers talked Edwards into voting for the authorization of the Iraq war in the fall of 2002. Edwards vehemently denies it, but also says that he didn't express "the huge conflict" he had in his own mind about the vote, which makes it sound like politics played as big a role in his decision as his conscience. On gay marriage, he said that he opposes it because of his religious background, but then explained that it had been wrong for him to say that. He now offers no real reason for his opposition. Surely, the hindrance is simply that it is the most politically contentious item on the gay-rights agenda. Edwards says on the campaign trail that he can beat the special interests the way he beat them in the courtroom as a trial lawyer. Back then, how John Edwards lived and his past record didn't matter, so long as he told the jury what it wanted to hear. Edwards still seems to think he's in the courtroom, which is why he is so deaf to the jarring incongruities of his lamentable campaign. ---

RICH LOWRY can be reached via e-mail:

Mark Towner's Spyglass Spots ‘The New War'

‘The New War'
New York Sun EditorialAugust 22, 2007

As Democrats scramble in the wake of the realization that President Bush's surge is working in Iraq, Senator Clinton is suddenly talking about preparing to fight a new war. She's always been a master at hedging her bets, but her speech Monday to the Veterans of Foreign Wars where she admitted that the surge she opposed is "working," beats all. In the same breath she added, "We're just years too late in changing our tactics We can't ever let that happen again We can't be fighting the last war. We have to keep preparing to fight the new war."

New Yorkers can take that to mean that, for all her flailing, she will press for passage of the retreat she has sought to legislate, the Iraq Troop Protection and Reduction of 2007. She co-authored the measure, which, her campaign Web site says, "will end the war before the next president takes the oath of office." Like every other Democrat running for president, Mrs. Clinton opposed the troop surge she now concedes is working. Some of her other legislative meddling would cap the number of troops in Iraq to pre-surge levels.

So what exactly is going on here? It turns out that General Petraeus has been masterful in presenting the data of the military campaign to both Democrats and Republicans. He has made it clear that the president understands that his mission requires bipartisan tolerance, if not support from both parties. Another thing that is happening is that for the first time Iraqi sheikhs of both the Sunni and now Shi'ia stripe are joining arms with our GIs against Al Qaeda, the Iranian terror network, and the followers of Moqtada al Sadr known as Jaish al Mahdi.
All of these entities have sought to destroy any hope for a stable Iraqi democracy from day one, but in the case of Iran and Mr. Sadr it took nearly three years to unleash the military against the Mullah terror masters in Iraq. The new strategy in Iraq also commits our soldiers to protecting civilians and openly patrolling with Iraqi security forces the neighborhoods we left to the terrorists in 2005 and 2006. This means that the daily revenge killings and the ethnic cleansing are stalling. Baghdad may not be safe Â-- yet Â-- but in many swaths normal life is returning and with it the prospect of political reconciliation.

Neither Senator Clinton nor Senators Levin and Durbin and other Democratic party leaders are fools. They understand that the new strategy in Iraq presents the best chance we've had in a long time to leave Iraq better than we found it, which the Left needs to be forever reminded was a failed state in every sense of the word. Yet we have not won just yet. General Petraeus next month will say many things, but we hear one of his key points will be to say how fragile the progress in Iraq really is. Should Congress pull the plug on him now, we would be betraying the best allies we've ever had against Al Qaeda and Iran, pro-American Muslims.

So what exactly then is this Â'new war' that Mrs. Clinton says we ought to be preparing to fight? And how does she think we will win it if we just allow our current allies in Iraq to be slaughtered by the enemies we will have to fight elsewhere if they drive us from Iraq? And how are the Democrats going to lead in a new war after beating the drums so avidly for retreat in the current fight? The truth is Mrs. Clinton doesn't believe all the clap trap she's been spooling to her party's base. We hear that in private conversations with military brass, she pointedly says she will not run the war, if elected, as she promises to during the campaign Â-- which is one of the most astounding things we've heard of late.

Once the primaries are done and the general election approaches and as we rack up more success in Iraq, Mrs. Clinton's handlers will bend over backwards to emphasize these hawkish qualifications she placed in the speeches when she was trying to woo those Americans who believe the president and his top advisers are war criminals. At some point, Mrs. Clinton will have to take on the left wing of her party. And that is going to be some donnybrook. It's conceivable that it will turn out to be the new war about which the senator is suddenly talking.

She will certainly need to win it if she is going to abandon her commitment to retreat and seek to lead our troops to victory in Iraq and beyond.