Archive for May, 2011

A thoroughly uninspiring and uninteresting performance from Mitt Romney on the Today Show. His inability to show any charisma or originality persists.

As Chris Matthews said tonight: In this boring threesome of GOP frontrunners, Romney is the guy “everybody’s had a look at and is bored to death of.”

One wonders what Sarah Palin and Donald Trump, who are dining together tonight in Manhattan, might be thinking about the “front runner.”

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As I wrote in POLITICO today, nothing is more important in politics than contrast. Both policy contrast and contrasts in persona. Every candidate knows they have to confront the complacency of “they’re all the same” that leads to apathy…and low voter turnout. Obama — and Pawlenty, Romney, and Huntsman — all inhabit the same persona: professional, reasonable, genial, polite. “Cool” in the Marshall McLuhan sense: detached, a shadowy messenger on the TV machine. The boomlet of interest in Herman Cain is all about the fact that in persona he is presenting a contrast with both the rest of the field.

Neither of the three GOP frontrunners would present much of a contrast to Obama. Palin would. Bachmann would. Trump would have. Cain is trying to.
Chris Christie definitely would. If I were among those lobbying him to change his mind, this would be one of my top arguments to the governor.

Read my full article here, first published by POLITICO on May 26, 2011.

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Artfully explained tonight by Lawrence O’Donnell, who illustrates explicitly how the rhetorical posturing by American and Israeli leaders is a longstanding piece of theater that plays out over and over again. A brilliant piece of analysis. Do yourself a favor and give it a view. It is comprehensive, showing what “out of context” truly means — cutting off Obama’s line on the ’67 borders halfway, the second half being that those borders are a starting point — but also explaining the unwritten rules that govern all U.S.-Israeli negotiations.

O’Donnell aptly quotes Richard Nixon, who explained the dynamic by stating that Israel always has to feign outrage at initial peace proposals because the Palestinians will never consider a plan they think Israel might like. This game of political rhetoric has played out for decades, and O’Donnell has done a service by boiling it down to its basics here.

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The rhetoric of Middle East policy has never been easy. Obama gave it yet another shot today. And as I was always told by my editor at CQ, who covered the Yom Kippur War from the trenches, this problem may never ever be solved. Below is the link to my comment on President Obama’s speech.

Read my full article, published in POLITICO on May 19, 2011.

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Not all rhetoric is verbal — especially in politics, where power relationships are so often expressed through symbolism. This latest example from Ireland, where the royal handshake between the Queen and the Prime Minister was the matter of much attention in the English press.

The PM did not curtsey, and also avoided what is apparently known as the “nappy-pat,” the gesture many of us include in our handshakes in which we take our other hand and clasp it or pat it on the already joined hands.

Stateside we are still reminded (by the right wing crowd) of our own head of state’s greeting of the king of Saudi Arabia — he bowed too low for some, a gesture that has been employed by these detractors as a show of weakness, a kow-tow.

The Irish PM and the Queen’s advance teams proved more attentive to these kinds of details.

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Cross posting from thetrumpwatch:

Well, it’s official: Trump is out. As I wrote in POLITICO today, there are two questions now even more pressing for the GOP: Will a moreinteresting and colorful candidate get in the race, and will Trump continue his political bomb-throwing from the sidelines.

I agree with my U.Va. pal Larry Sabato that Chris Christie would make an interesting replacement for Trump on the GOP stage (Trump Lite? Trump PG?). And although he’s said he won’t run, people in this business are known to change their minds. From my own experience in Jersey politics, I agree with those who think he would be a formidable candidate.

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I couldn’t believe this was real when I just saw it on Hardball…no, it’s not JibJab. This is real, from the Huckster.

Here’s what Wonkette has to say.

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President Obama made his appearance in Manhattan today at a fire house near Ground Zero, witness to so many acts of heroism on that morning.

The full remarks are available here in a report from CBS.

It is fitting that the President chose to begin the day this way — to those who say there is something inappropriate about this, I say no: The country was attacked on a scale unknown in our history, and under President Obama’s leadership we just defeated the villain who perpetrated that attack. TIME magazine is right to have their cover this week refer to other murderous villains of the past.

In this context it has been a minor controversy that former President George W. Bush declined President Obama’s invitation to join him at the ceremony later today at the actual site of the World Trade Center. This is a very unfortunate situation, and does add a layer of politicization to the occasion, as the discussion about who deserves credit for bin Laden’s death. Bush should have attended, to my mind, as a sign of unity.  But as I wrote in POLITICO today, it’s more surprising to me that the White House offered the invitation without knowing what the answer would be. This boomlet of controversy could and should have been prevented. When dealing with symbolic moments of this magnitude the President should have followed the advice he would surely have given and of his law school students: When you have your witness on the stand you should never ask a question you do not already know the answer to.

Let’s hope this passes quickly and the politicization diffuses.

Read my complete article, first published in POLITICO on April 5, 2011.

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Cross posting from The Trump Watch:

A rare example of Donald Trump saying positive things about the President, on the occasion of the death of Osama bin Laden:

I want to personally congratulate President Obama and the men and women of the Armed Forces for a job well done,” Trump said in a statement.”I am so proud to see Americans standing shoulder to shoulder, waving the American flag in celebration of this great victory. We should spend the next several days not debating party politics, but in remembrance of those who lost their lives on 9/11 and those currently fighting for our freedom. God Bless America!”

A far cry from the (initially) bitter grapes that followed on the heels of Obama mocking The Donald at the White House correspondent’s dinner just hours before. I say initially, because in the wake of the bin Laden news Trump has walked back his negative reaction to the presidential roasting. And while there was much commentary about Trump’s poker faced response to the grilling he took at the hands of Obama and comedian Seth Myers, the president was putting on his own, revealing no hint of the reality unfolding in Pakistan as he spoke at the lighthearted gathering.

Bottom line: I wouldn’t want to be in a poker match with these two.

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President Obama announced tonight that U.S. Special Forces have killed Osama bin Laden, succeeding where George W. Bush failed. His remarks tonight were succinct and carefully worded to emphasize his own assertiveness, no doubt in light of criticisms from GOP contenders trying to portray the president as weak-willed. If Donald Trump wants to strut about and drop f-bombs as signs of his powerfulness, Obama just offered his counterweight: We got the bad guy. The number one wanted man in the world. I got it done; I authorized a top priority directive as soon as I took office, followed it through, exercised patience, gave the go-ahead when the evidence came through, and now it is finished.

Case closed.

Read my POLITICO comment here.

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