Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Wilful Blindness of Barack Obama

Barack Obama wants to hike social security taxes, double the capital gains tax and restore the death tax to its highest levels.

Barack Obama opposes any expansion of exploration for oil even though the price you are paying at the pump is soaring and the only way to halt the rise is increased production.

Barack Obama wants to meet, without preconditions, with Ahmadinejad, Chavez and Kim Jung Il.

Barack Obama wants the U.S. to quit the field in Iraq ,imperiling the victory there that is emerging with unmistakable clarity.

But perhaps worst of all his many terrible positions, Barack Obama wants to return to the anti-terrorism model of the 1990s --the criminal justice model.

That's what he told ABC News' Jake Tapper yesterday:
And it is my firm belief that we can track terrorists, we can crack down on threats against the United States, but we can do so within the constraints of our Constitution. And there has been no evidence on their part that we can't.

And, you know, let's take the example of Guantanamo. What we know is that, in previous terrorist attacks -- for example, the first attack against the World Trade Center, we were able to arrest those responsible, put them on trial. They are currently in U.S. prisons, incapacitated.

And the fact that the administration has not tried to do that has created a situation where not only have we never actually put many of these folks on trial, but we have destroyed our credibility when it comes to rule of law all around the world, and given a huge boost to terrorist recruitment in countries that say, "Look, this is how the United States treats Muslims."

Over the weekend, my C-SPAN "After Words"interview with Andrew McCarthy, lead prosecutor of killers behind the first attack on the World Trade Center aired. McCarthy's new book, Willful Blindess, details the terrible gaps in the approach to terror that the U.S. pursued in the '90s, gaps which led directly to 9/11.

Obama wants to return to those days, which means a certain countdown to another 9/11. Obama's vacuous assertion that fecklessness in the face of terrorism allows us to say to the world "Look, this is how the United States treats Muslims," is astonishing. It reveals that at Obama's core there is a belief the operation of Gitmo somehow makes the U.S. anti-Muslim, and it buys into the most perverse of charges, that the U.S. has lost "credibility when it comes to the rule of law around the world."

The credibility of our attachment to the rule of law does not depend on the editorial board of Al Jazeera. Nor does it depend on the nod of a first term senator from Illinois with a huge e-mail list. It depends on our actual, magnificent, centuries-old respect for the law and acknowledgement of its authority, a respect for law that is embodied in the military tribunals being used at Gitmo (which were not overthrown by last week's decision which instead supplemented them with additional habeas proceedings.)

Over the weekend Obama incoherently suggested that the example of the Nuremberg Trials somehow indicted our system of using military tribunals to try terrorists. This is another display of historical ignorance by Obama, one that rivals his glowing assessment of the Kennedy-Khrushchev Vienna summit. The Nuremberg Trials were conducted before an International Military Tribunal. Our military tribunals at Gitmo are in fact certainly fairer than those used at Nuremberg because there are no successors to Major-General Iona Nikitchenko on our panels.

There were no habeas rights provided the Nuremberg defendants, as implied by Obama this weekend, just as there is no anti-Muslim prejudice in our system of military tribunals, an accusation endorsed by Obama yesterday.

It has become painfully obvious that Obama's platform embraces all of the anti-American twaddle of the past five years while ignoring all of the great good accomplished in that time, including the overthrow of Saddam and his mad-as-hatter sons, the disarmament of Libya of its WMD, some progress in Lebanon (now imperiled by an emboldened Iran and Syria) and of course no foreign-directed terrorist attack within the U.S. since 9/11. (We should not forget the many examples of Sudden Jihad Syndrome and their victims. In fact, for an example of the efficacy of the Obama model for fighting terrorism, look at the recent result in the trial of the Seattle mass killer: A mistrial.)

On issue after issue we have enormous clarity on the differences between John McCain and Barack Obama, but nowhere are these stark differences more important than on how the two men would conduct the war against jihadism. John McCain will instruct the military to continue to wage it wherever necessary to prevent its return to our shores. Barack Obama will attempt to prosecute terrorists after they kill who knows how many Americans even as he badmouths the American justice system.

Kudos to Tapper on focusing his interview on important issues. I will play the audio of my interview with Andrew McCarthy on today's show.


Obama's pathetic terrorist rights response

Jeff Zelena of the NY Times Caucus Blog quotes Obama as saying:
"The simple point that I was making, which I will continue to make throughout this campaign, is that we can abide by due process and abide by basic concepts of rule of law and still crack down on terrorists," Mr. Obama said. "None of the folks that were speaking for McCain today have given us one bit of information that would suggest that as a consequence of the court's ruling, terrorists will be able to attack America more effectively."

He is dead wrong and so are a lot of New Yorkers because of the failure of the lawfare approach.

For starters it puts on the strategic defensive. It does not deter terrorist as the subsequent attacks after the 1993 bombing prove. It is an after the fact approach where forensic teams go in after the murders to try to figure out who did it and how.

By going the lawfare approach we also have to turn over vital sources and methods of collecting intelligence. For example, in the African Embassy bombing cases we had to disclose that we had been monitoring bin Laden's satellite phone conversations. Evidence of the calls showed his connection with the bombers. He, of course, quit using his phone after that so we did not get to intercept his communications with the 9-11 attackers. There were a series of attacks on Americans and our interest from 1993 until 2001. Since we have gone on offense those attacks on non combatants have been stopped.

What Obama wants to do will get Americans killed. He is adopting the failed strategy of the Clinton administration, and he is trying to distract us with his bogus attacks on the Iraq war. If the Iraq war was a distraction for anyone it was for al Qaeda which made it a central front in its war against us and has suffered a significant strategic defeat.

Obama does not know enough about military history or strategy to comprehend what has happened to al Qaeda as a result of its failure in Iraq. He may be one of the least knowledgeable Presidential candidates in history when it comes to warfare and military history.

McCain can only hope that he will continue to demonstrate his simpleminded lawfare point. Oh, and hopefully he will keep John Kerry as a spokesman on that point. It worked so well for him in 2004. This is a battle space that favors Republicans.


A timeline of an undistinguished career

A commenter with a fondness for science-fiction writes:
why does it drive u into a frenzy that ppl believe in O and admire him?

The short answer is that it doesn't, though it strikes me as somewhat irrational and disproportionate to his supposed public accomplishments. From June 1985 to May 1988, Obama was a community organizer with the Developing Communities Project in Chicago, working primarily to organize a housing project called Altgeld Gardens. According to the Boston Globe:
For all its impact on Obama, Altgeld Gardens today seems far from the kind of success story politicians like to tout. Dozens of buildings are boarded up, with fences surrounding much of the property. The roads are a potholed mess. Blinking lights illuminate a series of towers where police have mounted cameras.

That's change you can believe in. Moreover, Hazel Johnson, who has lived at Altgeld Gardens since 1962 - and was an organizer long before Obama appeared on the scene - claims Obama has exaggerated his role in getting asbestos removed from the projects. Otherwise, Obama did not get much done - and even had difficulty explaining what a "community organizer" did. He then departed for Harvard Law School, where he was elected the first black president of the Harvard Law Review. The title gained him notoriety, as reported by the New York Times:
He was approached by an agent, Jane Dystel, who got him a contract for a book. Obama missed his deadline, and Dystel promptly got him another contract and a $40,000 advance for the same book.

Obama finished the book while living in Bali. Obama returned to Chicago, where he directed Illinois Project Vote! from April-October 1992. This was a project for ACORN - an ostensibly non-partisan (but actually partisan) voter registration group often charged with voter registration fraud. Nor was his involvement altruistic; the group would later provide the shock troops for his political campaigns.

In his first race for the state Senate in 1996, Obama employed Chicago rules to invalidate the voting petition signatures of three of his challengers, thus running unopposed on the Democratic ticket in a heavily Democrat district:
"That was Chicago politics," said John Kass, a veteran Chicago Tribune columnist. "Knock out your opposition, challenge their petitions, destroy your enemy, right? It is how Barack Obama destroyed his enemies back in 1996 that conflicts with his message today. He may have gotten his start registering thousands of voters. But in that first race, he made sure voters had just one choice."

Nothing illegal about it, but nothing particularly inspiring about it, either. Though Obama served in the Illinois Senate for seven years, he built his entire legislative record in Illinois in a single year, when Illinois Senate Majority Leader Emil Jones appointed Obama sponsor of virtually every high-profile piece of legislation, angering many rank-and-file state legislators who had more seniority than Obama and had spent years championing the bills. During this period, he lost the 2000 Democratic primary run for the US House of Representatives to incumbent Bobby Rush by a margin of two to one.

Obama then ran for an open US Senate seat in 2004, winning after Democrat Blair Hull and Republican Jack Ryan turned out to have scandal lurking in newly-unsealed divorce records. In the Senate, Obama points mostly to his role in the 2007 overhaul of Congressional lobbying and ethics rules - a role he has repeatedly overstated. Indeed, Obama was called out publicly by his colleagues for trying to take undeserved credit on the recent immigration reform and housing bills.

Obama also points to the Lugar-Obama nuclear non-proliferation bill - a bill so non-controversial that it was passed into law by unanimous consent. Indeed, when not trying to take credit for the work of others, Obama's Senate record is almost entirely minor legislation, usually passed by unanimous consent or voice vote.

Obama's presidential campaign, recognizing how threadbare his record really is, and how utterly conventional his paltform is within left-leaning politics, insists that what matters is judgment, especially with regard to invading Iraq. Jonah Goldberg recently summed up the issue of Obama's judgment:
The problem is that it doesn't reflect reality. Obama, who was a junior Illinois state senator from a very liberal district in Chicago and a star parishioner of the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.'s Trinity United Church of Christ when the country was debating invading Iraq, would have voters believe that he carefully weighed the pros and cons and concluded it would be a bad idea.


But, even if you want to give Obama the benefit of the doubt, it's hard to give him the benefit of the facts. As a candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2004, Obama said he would "unequivocally" oppose President Bush on the war. But once in office, he voted for every war-funding bill - until he decided to run for president.

After the invasion, Obama did not favor an immediate pullout from Iraq. On July 27, 2004, the day after he delivered his brilliant keynote address to the Democratic National Convention, he told the Chicago Tribune that when it came to the war, "there's not much of a difference between my position and George Bush's position at this stage." In other words, while he opposed the war, he was now committed to seeing it through. That was hardly the position of and other progressive outfits at the time.

During the long battle for the Democratic nomination, however, Obama's position evolved (or devolved) into a consistent call for withdrawal in order to differentiate himself from Hillary Rodham Clinton.

I would add that his position in 2004 just coincidentally dovetailed with support for the Kerry-Edwards ticket; both had voted to authorize the invasion. But when it came time to run for higher office, he constantly attacked Hillary Clinton for having made the same votes as Kerry and Edwards. That is very conventional politics, not "change we can believe in." His flexibility here says as much about his judgment as his 20-year membership at what he knew was a radical church from the outset.

This leaves Obama's organizational skill, which I have praised before - though not without noting that his campaign was seeded with venture capital from George Soros and the usual Wall Street wheelers and dealers. He was able to defeat Hillary Clinton - another candidate with much more name recognition than record - by putting together a coalition of Hart and Jackson voters against the remainders of a Mondale coalition, with a strategy lifted from the 1972 McGovern campaign. It was no small feat, though the incompetence of the Clinton campaign was also a factor here.

Finally, there is his oratorical skill. Much of Obama's lofty message of unity and hope really came from campaign consultant David Axelrod, who "long ago hatched the idea that Democrats' campaigns should revolve more around personality than policy." Indeed, much of the rhetoric was already test-driven in 2006 by one of Axelrod's other clients, Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts. Not that such themes are in any way unique to American presidential politics, as demonstrated by Bill "The Man from Hope" Clinton and George W. "Uniter, not a Divider" Bush.

As I have repeatedly noted here at pw, the candidacies of Obama and John McCain are driven by voters pursuing a mirage of changeyness where bipartisanship reigns and the "moneyed special interests" vanish. And we should Hope that it is a mirage:
The appeal is vague precisely because it is illusory. The Framers of the US Constitution recognized - as James Madison explained in Federalist No. 10 - that factions are one of the costs of liberty. There is nothing high-minded about selling the notion that faction can be magically eliminated - a notion that is equal parts snake oil and tyranny.

Again, there is not much to admire in either snake oil, tyranny or flowery speeches trying to sell either. Moreover, remove Obama from a TelePrompTer and he is every bit the gaffer as any other average politician, though few have had the audacity to base their foreign policy on a debate gaffe.

In sum, Barack Obama's record, judgment and message are at best entirely undistinguished in the field of presidential politics. At worst, we have Axelrod's campaign of personality attracting a cult of followers so creepy that even many Obama backers are put off by it, to a man who admits he is a "blank screen," with a message that is either illusory or tyrannical. It is in those people that I find little to admire.


Father Greeley's "racist" accusations

The Greeley essay that V.D. Hanson refers to below is here. I am slightly surprised that the ravings of an 80-year old Leftist priest are seen as worth much comment. But I suppose that being Leftist makes a Catholic priest important. He has certainly been given all sorts of honors for it. What Greeley says, moreover is just Leftist boilerplate: It is not racist for blacks to vote for Obama but it is racist for whites to vote against him!

I think I can substantiate Ramesh's casual observation on the type of creepy e-mails one receives. So far I haven't received a single one that pertains to Obama's race in negative fashion, but literally hundreds over the last couple of years voicing the worst sort of anti-Semitic references, in about equal measure from the hard anti-war left and the paleo-conservative right.

Re: Father Andrew Greely's remarks: I have gone to a few bars and locker rooms recently, and haven't heard a word of denigration about Obama's race.

Fr. Greeley's notion that racial prejudice guides the election, at least from my perspective, seems misdirected - though columns like Greely's are unfortunately part of a cascading effort at a sort of racialist preemption to curb others' criticism of Obama's agenda, statements, and record in fear of, well, being denigrated as a sort of racist by custodians of public speech such as Greely. In that context, cf. Greely's own rhetorical question:

"By what stretch of sick logic could the candidate be responsible for what his clergy said and did?"

In fact, by a number of healthy standards a presidential candidate might be held responsible for attending a church for 20 years, baptizing his children in it, marrying in it, subsidizing it with donations of several thousand dollars, and praising the voice of a racist clergyman in terms ranging form "not particularly controversial" and "an old uncle" to "brilliant," while referring to him at various times (contrary to later disclaimers) as "friend", "mentor" and one of his many "spiritual advisors," to such a degree as to adopt the title of his best-selling book from a Wright sermon.

Again, what is sick is not the notion of holding a candidate responsible for all that (Obama, after all, did just that himself [why otherwise did he condemn Wright after the Rev.'s creepy National Press Club speech, and his NAACP exegeses on race, genetics, and brain chemistry, to ensure that we all knew he was no longer "responsible" for Rev. Wright?]) - but Greely's own suggestion that such legitimate worry is "sick logic."

But if Father Greely were really concerned about ubiquitious racism, rather than politics, why hunt for it in locker rooms, bars, and other stealthy places, while neglecting it when it is openly aired and audaciously voiced by Father Pfleger from the pulpit of Trinity Church?

I will offer another of the same tired predictions, namely that should Iraq continue to improve as its constitutional government defeats terrorists and reconciles factions, should the world settle down and begin to fathom that Islamic terrorism is waning while the U.S. continues to be free from another attack, should the fuel crisis enlighten Americans that they must produce more fossil fuel and nuclear energies so they can transition to alternate fuels, and thus should Obama's position on terrorism, war, and energy resonate less by October, we are going to begin to see a lot more columns similar to Greely's.


Rock-Star Puffery for Obama: Plus Obama vs. Cosby on Black Fathers

Remarks on black parenting that were "inflammatory" when said by Bill Cosby in 2004 are now blunt and striking when coming from Obama

Monday's front page [of the NYT] featured Jeff Zeleny and Jim Rutenberg's pro-Obama puffery, "Obama the Delegator Picks When to Take Reins." Like rock journalists following Bono, the Times reporters seem utterly fascinated by the minutia of Obama's day, while taking a few potshots at a Bush administration it's already condemned as doomed to perdition in the history books.
Like most presidential candidates, Mr. Obama is developing his executive skills on the fly, and under intense scrutiny. The evolution of his style in recent months suggests he is still finding the right formula as he confronts a challenge that he has not faced in his career: managing a large organization.

The skill will become more important should he win the presidency, and his style is getting added attention as the country absorbs the lessons of President Bush's tenure in the Oval Office. Mr. Bush's critics, including former aides, have portrayed him as too cloistered, too dependent on a small coterie of trusted aides, unable to distinguish between loyalty and competence, and insufficiently willing to adjust course in the face of events that do not unfold the way he expects.....

Mr. Obama's circle of advisers takes seriously his "no drama" mandate. It is a point of pride in his campaign that there have been virtually no serious leaks to the news media -- small leaks are immediately investigated -- about internal division or infighting. He is a careful reader of daily newspapers and magazines (titles from Foreign Affairs to Maxim are stocked on his campaign plane). He takes his briefing books -- three-ring binders filled with political memorandums and policy discussions -- to his hotel room or home every night, but aides say how well he reads the materials may depend on what is on ESPN.

The story climaxed with a rare Obama visit to his campaign HQ:
Three days after claiming the nomination, Mr. Obama, who makes infrequent visits to the campaign's Chicago headquarters, offered his gratitude by way of a motivational pep talk.

"I want everybody to catch your breath. Do what you do to get your ya-ya's out -- that's an old '60s expression -- and then understand that coming back we're going to have to work twice as hard as we've been working," Mr. Obama said. "We're going to have to be smarter, we're going to have to be tougher, our game is going to have to be tighter."

Before finishing, he included a self-assessment, adding, "I am going to have to be a better candidate."

Also on Monday was Julie Bosman's "Obama Calls for More Responsibility From Black Fathers," in which Obama is given credit for making critical statements about black fathers in front of a black audience.

Addressing a packed congregation at one of the city's largest black churches, Senator Barack Obama on Sunday invoked his own absent father to deliver a sharp message to black men, saying "we need fathers to recognize that responsibility doesn't just end at conception." In an address that was striking for its bluntness and where he chose to give it, Mr. Obama directly addressed one of the most delicate topics confronting black leaders: how much responsibility absent fathers bear for some of the intractable problems afflicting black Americans. Mr. Obama noted that "more than half of all black children live in single-parent households," a number that he said had doubled since his own childhood.

"Too many fathers are M.I.A., too many fathers are AWOL, missing from too many lives and too many homes," Mr. Obama said to a chorus of approving murmurs from the audience. "They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it."

Bosman wrote:
His themes have also been sounded by the comedian Bill Cosby, who has stirred debate among black Americans by bluntly speaking about an epidemic of fatherlessness in African-American families while suggesting that some blacks use racism as a crutch to explain the lack of economic progress.

"Stirred debate" is a benign term for how the Times has dealt with similar comments from Cosby, with reporter Felicia Lee calling them "inflammatory remarks" in May 2004. Yet when Obama says similar things, he's making a brave and positive stand.

As far as its McCain coverage, the Times made do with a photo of him at the top of a page with the caption "Meeting In Security." McCain met with Iraq's foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari in Arlington, Va.


Conservative defeatism unwarranted

2008, we're told, is a "transformational" election, a revolutionary moment in which everything that went before will be overturned, and the nation's entire political sphere utterly changed. Barack Obama is the human embodiment of this moment -- the New Moses who will lead the American people into their promised land. (The part about wandering the Sinai for forty years appears to have been overlooked -- note to Republican operatives.) We're called on to prepare ourselves for a combination of the New Deal, the 60s, and the October Revolution all rolled into one.

No small number of conservatives are echoing this view. Even the cynical and wise Victor Davis Hanson is ready to throw up his hands and allow Obama the purple toga, and he is no way alone. It's perfectly understandable that Democrats will view events as occurring due to vast and unopposable historical forces -- they are, after all, ideologues, and such ideas play a prominent part in their ideology. But if conservatives ever begin to look at developments in this way, it will mean the end. The American left will have persuaded their opposition to adapt their worldview, and in so doing, will have won half the battle.

Despair magnifies all difficulties. The stone in the pathway becomes an unclimbable peak. The yapping mutt becomes the Hound of the Baskervilles. And an inexperienced, first-term senator, who barely squeaked his way to victory against one the most despised figures in American public life, becomes a combination of Moses, Gandhi, and Superman.

But if we step back from the left-wing lens, what do we see? A political apocalypse? A leftist tsunami? Some unimaginable historical synthesis bearing down on us? No -- what we in fact see is a very slick and adept Chicago pol, in prophet's rags a little too large for him, with a political party clinging to his goatskin tails. It's this, and this alone, that has so frightened the GOP and sent conservatives into catatonia.

What this collapse is about is not at all clear. Barack Obama is alive and fighting, no more than that. His battle with Madame Hillary has leached virtually all momentum from his campaign. He has spent months calling in airstrikes on his own position and setting up booby traps and minefields in areas that he now has to cross. His primary campaign could be taken as a textbook example on how not to set yourself up for the national contest. And the numbers show it: even with his nomination "bounce", Obama is according to CNN, only 3 points ahead of McCain -- a statistical tie. Among the hurdles that Obama created for himself are:

His messiahhood: The media has done Obama no favor by accepting his self-promotion to secular redeemer. Somebody should read the literature and discover what happens to messiahs after their followers grow tired of them. They might wish to start out with an esoteric collection called "the Gospels". Perhaps an intern could prepare a condensation.

These we-have-seen-the-light campaigns don't wear well. It's difficult to maintain enthusiasm over the long run, and even when that's accomplished, things soon take on a glassy-eyed aura, something on the order of a Moonie mass wedding. Obama long ago passed this point during the primary campaign. Now he has gained a second wind from attaining the nomination. But that will last only weeks before he is required abandon the walk-on-the-water act and attempt something unfamiliar to him: running on his merits.

A related problem that has gone unmentioned involves the Obama iconography. The "halo" photos are a case in point. This motif means one thing alone: that the candidate is being compared to Christ. That will be taken one way by the mass of the country: as blasphemy. It's a comment on the yawning gap between bedrock Americans and the elites that no one has seen this as Obama's strike two. He insulted religious Americans once with his "God n' guns" comment. Now he's redoubled the insult with this.

His disciples: Leading a redemptive movement has its drawbacks. Obamanoids are the same type as those drawn to any pseudo-religious craze -- the confused, the lost, and the demented. People who missed the spaceship behind the comet. Obama will not be able to shake this. The true creepiness of Obamamania will remain a serious issue. And it is not something that the candidate can control. We will very likely see Obamiacs menacing, harassing, and even attacking the opposition before this is over. The opponents of the messiah are, by definition, the essence of evil, yes?

His weird pals: We have met Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, and Tony "Cell 4, Block D" Rezko. Obama has not had an acceptable explanation for any of them. His uniform response has been "that's not the Jeremiah/Bill/Tony that I knew", which brands him as more than a bit of a schmuck for a man in his mid-forties. It would not be advisable to resort to it again, particularly after the public gets to know James P. Meeks and the folks at ACORN (a radical fringe cult that the candidate happens to have represented as an attorney.)

His gaffes: Obama's numerous gaffes, and his inability/unwillingness to back off from them, have been widely noted. What hasn't been mentioned is the nature of the errors themselves. When made during an interview or discussion, as opposed to offhand misstatements of the United States of Heinz variety, they have an air of pure flippancy, a near-contemptuous off-the-cuff feel: "You want an answer -- haven't thought about it, but... here you go." And when such statements are challenged, they're defended tenaciously -- no matter how bizarre or unreasonable -- as if they were in fact the products of considerable research and thought. The impression created is one of flakiness, of a man in no way qualified for the position he's seeking.

His touchiness: his gaffes are further underlined by his response to criticism: indignant protests that he, Barack Obama, U.S. senator and messiah without portfolio, should be subject to such treatment. Leave my wife alone. President Bush is picking on me. A few more incidents like this will see him labeled as a whiner -- and they will happen, since this seems to be his sole method of dealing with whatever barbs get past his Praetorian guard of media and disciples.

So here we have a candidate running a campaign that seems to be patterned on the dynamics of cult movements, who is the centerpiece of the weirdest crew of cronies and advisors since the heyday of Boss Tweed, who displays a serious unwillingness to back off or even acknowledge errors, who responds to criticism with a sense of privileged pique. A candidate who somehow managed to squeak into the nomination while losing Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and very likely Florida, all states that a winning national candidate must have. A candidate who cannot command the complete loyalty of his party's congressional delegation.

A candidate whose staff allowed vicious antisemitic material to remain on his official website for months. A man whose major slogans calling for "change" happen to be a slight variation (and how can this possibly have been overlooked?) of that used by the Clintons in 1992. And now this strange and lightweight figure is going up against a man who survived the Hanoi Hilton. Good luck with that.

It's universally admitted that the real challenge lies with Congress. The GOP may lose up to ten Senate seats, an astounding figure if true. And yet, when we examine the situation, we again find no rational reason why such a disaster should be inevitable.

In 2006 the Democrats ran as a reform party, taking advantage of Republican ineptness and confusion over a series of ethical lapses. But all promises to clean the place up proved immediately void. The public is well aware of this -- confidence in Congress has bottomed out at 14%, far lower than that of the GOP in 2006. Virtually the entire Democratic leadership, including Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and John Murtha, are under investigation. (This was not true of the "deeply corrupt" GOP. Whatever can be said of Bill Frith and Dennis Hastert, they cannot be accused of dishonesty.)

The living symbol of the current Democratic Congress is William Jefferson, the man who mistook his freezer for a bank. Just a week ago, almost his entire family was indicted, including his sister, brother, and a niece. The police are rumored to be looking for his dog. And to top it off, he's done us all the favor of coming out in support of Obama.

Looking beyond Washington, we have Jennifer Granholm, an expatriate Canadian who found Michigan's economy on the verge of stalling out and proceeded to run it into the deepest ditch she could find. We have John Ford of Tennessee, currently serving a five-year sentence for his first corruption conviction while being tried for his second.

And let's not forget Al Franken, who managed to blow an easy lead over Norman Coleman thanks to a combination of tax evasion and an overworked mouth. (Franken could be beaten simply by YouTubing the old Saturday Night Live footage showing him running around wearing a diaper. That skit is the first thing I recalled when Franken started running his mouth off about politics early in the first Bush term. And yet he's been able to ride easy for the better part of a decade without it ever appearing. Why not? Seems to me that the GOP's opposition research needs a little shaking up.)

Democratic corruption and incompetence aren't limited to Washington. They're systemic. There's a wealth of material here begging to be used. The Democrats, two years ago, hesitated not a moment before branding every member of the GOP a mirror-image of Cunningham and Foley. Yet what do we hear about the Democrat's infinitely more deep corruption from the GOP? Absolutely nothing. To my knowledge, no Republican figure has yet made reference to last week's Great Jefferson Roundup. In an election year, this is either sheer cowardice or collegiality gone mad. Let's get those tarbrushes working -- this stuff is not going to make its way to the public on it own. (Even as the final draft of this essay was being polished, it was revealed that two major Democratic Congressional figures, Christopher Dodd and Kent Conrad, were paid off by the subprime mortgage industry. The RNC has yet to respond.)

As for issues, there's no lack of them either. The Democrats have evidently set out to outdo the GOP Congress's do-nothing reputation, and have a good chance of achieving just that. If not worse: the Democrats' actual efforts have, without notable exception, resulted in pure disaster. First we have the ethanol mandates, in which Congressional action kicked off a commodity run that has resulted in sky-high food prices and actual hunger worldwide. Then we have the contemptuous treatment of Colombia, which has alienated our last remaining ally on the Latin American litoral.

But above all, there's the response to the oil crisis, the speculation-fueled price explosion that has wracked American consumers and jeopardized the recovery from last year's slump. Congressional action was swift and to the point: with oil breaking the $100 a barrel barrier, Democrats once again refused to allow offshore oil exploration or exploitation of Rocky Mountain oil shale, signaling the speculators that were free to inflate oil prices as high as they wished. (These oil shales comprise the largest reserve of oil on the planet, with estimates ranging up to one trillion barrels. No rational reason for outlawing their exploitation has ever been offered.) Robert Novak also points out that, even as gas prices hit $4.00 a gallon, the Democrats were seriously debating raising taxes on gas. No clearer evidence of Democratic acquiescence to the Green lobbies is needed. Both Fred Barnes and Larry Kudlow agree that oil is a can't-miss proposition for Republicans. Eventually, the notion will penetrate the miasma of funk and self-pity surrounding the GOP -- perhaps in time for the 2020 election.

The argument that the Green juggernaut cannot be stopped should have been laid to rest this week with the collapse of efforts to pass the Warner-Leiberman act (AKA the "National Climate Security" act) -- a demented proposal to place the entire American economy under the control of Green bureaucrats in order to curtail global warming. (It snowed the same week -- the first week of June -- in Colorado, the northern Rocky mountain states, and the Pacific Northwest. Who says that God has no sense of humor?) The bill died more from sheer unworthiness to live than anything else, but the coup de grace was given by a group of young Republicans who somehow escaped infection by the prevailing defeatism virus.

All this makes up a pretty decent hand of cards for a party on the outs. But not if you're simply going to toss them aside and weep bitterly about the injustice of being forced to play at all. Republicans in large part have lost their spine, their sense of battle. They are currently more involved in thinking up reasons not to make any effort rather than scheming how to make things more difficult for the Democrats. They have forgotten that the single undeniable way to lose is not to fight.

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