First the Colombian leftist journalist and now Silvio Rodriguez. I know these things are on autopilot at the State Department, but this is beyond embarrassing. We all know the cases of Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Tariq Ramadan, but now there's a new sheriff in town, and someone should say something at State or Homeland Security. Fix this thing. It's shameful, unbelievably pointless, and profoundly, profoundly idiotic.
Feeling overwhelmed by the stinking buckets of hypocrisy coming out of Republican mouths these days? Help me with a quick recap.
"Kennedy Talked, Khrushchev Triumphed" is the title of today's NYT op-ed by a Ph.D. candidate at Columbia and a journalist. They bring up Kennedy's failed negotiation with Khrushchev in 1961, implying that Obama should learn the lessons of that historical nugget and that sometimes, it is better to fear to negotiate. Here's the link to the article:
You've had conversations like these, haven't you?
You have tuned off the tube, canceled subscriptions, written emails to sponsors, practiced voodoo with Stephanopoulos bobble-heads, yelled at Pat Buchanan...
Debate performance has a marginal importance in the primary season. Few Americans paid much attention and even us political junkies grew tired of them. But debate performance in the Fall, during the general election, is crucial. They define elections, are watched by many Americans, and receive much review and scrutiny. My candidate is always better than my own expectations of him, and I regard Obama as a strong debater
regardless of what some pundits say, but I think that we cannot be too cautious on this one. You can "win" debates and lose voters. Although these comparisons are always flawed, Bill Clinton's political fortunes looked more favorably after his debate performances against Bob Dole and Bush Sr. Al Gore and John Kerry "won" their debates against Bush, but lost the likability contest.
Alan Dershowitz, arguably one of the most famous faculty members of Harvard Law School, must enjoy being unpopular. In 2002, he began advocating in favor of legalizing torture. In 2006, he defied international outcry in a series of articles that argued that Lebanese civilians killed by Israeli bombs were fair game, and compared Lebanon's collective culpability to Austria under the Nazis. In the face of mounting criticism against the Israel lobby and its outsize influence in Washington, he accused former President Carter and professors Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer of bigotry and anti-semitism. These days, he is one of the few people defending New York's Governor, Eliot Spitzer, recently linked to a prostitution ring and likely to experience one of the most vertiginous political downfalls in memory.
I know that everyone is downplaying yesterday's results, and I know that the math is on Obama's side, regardless of the spin the media puts on this. But this is a serious wake-up call for us Obama supporters, and the scenarios aren't as rosy as we'd like.
In case you are worried that the Republicans will eat up an untested Obama on charges that he is an unpatriotic black Muslim leftist teenager, let us remember:
Hillary Clinton was the inevitable front-runner, almost an incumbent, twenty to thirty points ahead in the national polls fourth months ago, and failed against a rookie with no name recognition, partly because of her negative campaign. Before the Iowa caucus, Obama slipped ahead in the polls for the first time following Shaheen's insinuations about Obama's use (and sale) of drugs. All three campaign chief strategists (Trippi, Penn, Axelrod) went on air on MSNBC to discuss this. In the heated exchange, each of them reflected their candidates. Trippi showed backbone, readiness for a fight, and quickness to point out injustices when he defended Obama and attacked Mark Penn; Axelrod stayed calm and above the fray; and Mark Penn looked simply awful, like a petty, slimy lawyer full of doublespeak and ill intentions. To me, it was the beginning of the end.
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