Monthly Archives: May 2008

He Makes Dan Quayle Look Like Socrates

Funny lines from Mark Steyn:

“Someone wins, someone doesn’t win, that’s life,” Nancy Kopp, Maryland’s treasurer, told The Washington Post. “But women don’t want to be totally dissed.” She was talking about her political candidate, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Democratic women are feeling metaphorically battered by the Obama campaign. “Healing The Wounds Of Democrats’ Sexism,” as the Boston Globe headline put it, will not be easy. Geraldine Ferraro is among many prominent Democrat ladies putting up their own money for a study from the Shorenstein Center at Harvard to determine whether Sen. Clinton’s presidential hopes fell victim to party and media sexism.

How else to explain why their gal got clobbered by a pretty boy with a resume you could print on the back of his driver’s license, a Rolodex apparently limited to neosegregationist race-baiters, campus Marxist terrorists and indicted fraudsters, and a rhetorical surefootedness that makes Dan Quayle look like Socrates.

“On this Memorial Day,” said Barack Obama last Monday, “as our nation honors its unbroken line of fallen heroes – and I see many of them in the audience here today.”

Hey, why not? In Obama’s Cook County, Ill., many fallen heroes from the Spanish-American War still show up in the voting booths come November. It’s not unreasonable for some of them to turn up at an Obama campaign rally, too.

And in probably the best piece, so far, on the Scott McClellan affair, David Frum says that Bush got what he deserved.

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Without a Single Shot Fired

As we all know, the left has made a large issue of the number of American casualties in the 5 year Iraq War – 4 thousand plus. The argument is that these deaths are the result of an unnecessary war and are themselves a waste of precious lives. For this, Democrats and other leftists around the world despise the current president and have declared him the worst president in American history.

While today’s intellectuals consider Bush the worst president, they almost all consider Abraham Lincoln (despite his less-than-correct views on race) the best president for his decision to fight a war which resulted in the emancipation of the slaves. But Lincoln, in pursuing the war against the Confederacy, was responsible for 600 thousand plus deaths (six million in today’s population, according to a recent book by Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust) in 4 years.

Was this war necessary? Would slavery have continued on into the 20th century? If slavery had been allowed to die a natural death, would black people have been subjected to the terror of Jim Crow for a century after the war ended?

An interesting letter in the Wall Street Journal speculates:

I am one of the “wised-up debunkers” who Andrew Ferguson attacks in his informative, yet one-sided tribute to the man inside the Lincoln Memorial. As a longtime observer of — and occasional participant in — major historical events (Normandy, June 6, 1944), I have come to question the massive human costs involved in many of our historical landmarks.

Was the result worth the cost? The compromise ending the election of 1876 decided otherwise. Only a decade after Appomattox, the South gained the withdrawal of federal troops and the right to impose a system of peonage on the region’s black population. Only after another assassination, John F. Kennedy’s, was it possible for a politician matching Lincoln’s adroitness to achieve the results that Lincoln intended.

Could Abraham Lincoln have had a different legacy? Consider the case of one of the greatest humanitarians of the 19th century, Dom Pedro II of Brazil. When he came to the throne in 1840, half of the seven million Brazilians were slaves. But long before he died in 1891 — a poverty-stricken exile in Paris — all of Brazil’s slaves had been freed, without a single shot being fired.

William M. Burke
San Francisco

Gaia's Priests

Charles Krauthammer examines those who would be our new commissars:

I’m not a global warming believer. I’m not a global warming denier. I’m a global warming agnostic who believes instinctively that it can’t be very good to pump lots of CO2 into the atmosphere, but is equally convinced that those who presume to know exactly where that leads are talking through their hats.

Predictions of catastrophe depend on models. Models depend on assumptions about complex planetary systems — from ocean currents to cloud formation — that no one fully understands. Which is why the models are inherently flawed and forever changing. The doomsday scenarios posit a cascade of events, each with a certain probability. The multiple improbability of their simultaneous occurrence renders all such predictions entirely speculative.

Yet on the basis of this speculation, environmental activists, attended by compliant scientists and opportunistic politicians, are advocating radical economic and social regulation. “The largest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity,” warns Czech President Vaclav Klaus, “is no longer socialism. It is, instead, the ambitious, arrogant, unscrupulous ideology of environmentalism.”

If you doubt the arrogance, you haven’t seen that Newsweek cover story that declared the global warming debate over. Consider: If Newton’s laws of motion could, after 200 years of unfailing experimental and experiential confirmation, be overthrown, it requires religious fervor to believe that global warming — infinitely more untested, complex and speculative — is a closed issue.

But declaring it closed has its rewards. It not only dismisses skeptics as the running dogs of reaction, i.e., of Exxon, Cheney and now Klaus. By fiat, it also hugely re-empowers the intellectual left.

For a century, an ambitious, arrogant, unscrupulous knowledge class — social planners, scientists, intellectuals, experts and their left-wing political allies — arrogated to themselves the right to rule either in the name of the oppressed working class (communism) or, in its more benign form, by virtue of their superior expertise in achieving the highest social progress by means of state planning (socialism).

Two decades ago, however, socialism and communism died rudely, then were buried forever by the empirical demonstration of the superiority of market capitalism everywhere from Thatcher’s England to Deng’s China, where just the partial abolition of socialism lifted more people out of poverty more rapidly than ever in human history.

Just as the ash heap of history beckoned, the intellectual left was handed the ultimate salvation: environmentalism. Now the experts will regulate your life not in the name of the proletariat or Fabian socialism but — even better — in the name of Earth itself.

Environmentalists are Gaia’s priests, instructing us in her proper service and casting out those who refuse to genuflect. (See Newsweek above.) And having proclaimed the ultimate commandment — carbon chastity — they are preparing the supporting canonical legislation that will tell you how much you can travel, what kind of light you will read by, and at what temperature you may set your bedroom thermostat.

Just Monday, a British parliamentary committee proposed that every citizen be required to carry a carbon card that must be presented, under penalty of law, when buying gasoline, taking an airplane or using electricity. The card contains your yearly carbon ration to be drawn down with every purchase, every trip, every swipe.

There’s no greater social power than the power to ration. And, other than rationing food, there is no greater instrument of social control than rationing energy, the currency of just about everything one does and uses in an advanced society.

His Greatest Achievement

In the Wall Street Journal, Thane Rosenbaum writes:

With President Bush-bashing still a national pastime, it’s notable how much international terrorism has been forgotten, and how little credit the president has received for keeping Americans safe.

This is a difficult issue for me. I didn’t vote for President Bush – twice. And as a human-rights law professor, the events at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, along with various elements of the Patriot Act and the National Security Agency’s wiretapping of Americans, are all greatly troubling to me.

But:

…Yes, there are those who maintain that our promiscuous misadventures in Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel have rendered America even less safe. That the president has further radicalized our enemies and alienated our nation. That the animosity for America now, improbably, runs even deeper. Whatever resentments and aspirations gave rise to 9/11 have grown and will not be easily dissipated. For this reason, no one should draw comfort in the relative safety of our shores.

Maybe so. But when a professed enemy succeeds as wildly as al Qaeda did on 9/11, and seven years pass without an incident, there are two reasonable conclusions: Either, despite all the trash-talking videos, they have been taking a long, leisurely breather; or, something serious has been done to thwart and disable their operations. Whatever combination of psychology and insanity motivates a terrorist to blow himself up is not within my range of experience, but I’m betting the aggressive measures the president took, and the unequivocal message he sent, might have had something to do with it.

Americans, admittedly, have short time horizons and, perhaps, even shorter attention spans. Our collective memory has historically been poor. But had there been another terrorist attack or, even worse, a dozen more in cities all over America – a fear that would not have been exaggerated on 9/12 – would we have allowed ourselves the luxury of quarreling over legally suspect counterterrorism measures, even though such internal debates are credits to our liberal democracy and constitutional freedoms?

Terrorism is now largely off the table in the minds of most Americans.

But in gearing up to elect a new president, we are left to wonder how, in spite of numerous failed policies and poor judgement, President Bush’s greatest achievement was denied to him by people who ungratefully availed themselves of the protection that his administration provided.

No Ad Hitlerum Arguments, Please

Ann on the H-word:

After decades of comparing Nixon to Hitler, Reagan to Hitler and Bush to Hitler, liberals have finally decided it is wrong to make comparisons to Hitler. But the only leader to whom they have applied their newfound rule of thumb is: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

While Ahmadinejad has not done anything as starkly evil as cut the capital gains tax, he does deny the Holocaust, call for the destruction of Israel, deny the existence of gays in Iran and refuses to abandon his nuclear program despite protests from the United Nations. That’s the only world leader we’re not allowed to compare to Hitler.

President Bush’s speech at the Knesset two weeks ago was somewhat more nuanced than liberals’ Hitler arguments. He did not simply jump up and down chanting: “Ahmadinejad is Hitler!” Instead, Bush condemned a policy of appeasement toward madmen, citing Neville Chamberlain’s ill-fated talks with Adolf Hitler.

Suspiciously, Bush’s speech was interpreted as a direct hit on B. Hussein Obama’s foreign policy — and that’s according to Obama’s supporters.

So to defend Obama, who — according to his supporters — favors appeasing madmen, liberals expanded the rule against ad Hitlerum arguments to cover any mention of the events leading to World War II. A ban on “You’re like Hitler” arguments has become liberals’ latest excuse to ignore history.

Unless, of course, it is liberals using historical examples to support Obama’s admitted policy of appeasing dangerous lunatics. It’s a strange one-sided argument when they can cite Nixon going to China and Reagan meeting with Gorbachev, but we can’t cite Chamberlain meeting with Hitler.

There are reasons to meet with a tyrant, but none apply to Ahmadinejad. We’re not looking for an imperfect ally against some other dictatorship, as Nixon was with China. And we aren’t in a Mexican stand-off with a nuclear power, as Reagan was with the USSR. At least not yet.

Mutually Assured Destruction was bad enough with the Evil Empire, but something you definitely want to avoid with lunatics who are willing to commit suicide in order to destroy the enemies of Islam. As with the H-word, our sole objective with Ahmadinejad is to prevent him from becoming a military power.

What possible reason is there to meet with Ahmadinejad? To win a $20 bar bet as to whether or not the man actually owns a necktie?

We know his position and he knows ours. He wants nuclear arms, American troops out of the Middle East and the destruction of Israel. We don’t want that. (This is assuming Mike Gravel doesn’t pull off a major upset this November.) We don’t need him as an ally against some other more dangerous dictator because … well, there aren’t any.

Does Obama imagine he will make demands of Ahmadinejad? Using what stick as leverage, pray tell? A U.S. boycott of the next Holocaust-denial conference in Tehran? The U.N. has already demanded that Iran give up its nuclear program. Ahmadinejad has ignored the U.N. and that’s the end of it.

We always have the ability to “talk” to Ahmadinejad if we have something to say. Bush has a telephone. If Iranian crop dusters were headed toward one of our nuclear power plants, I am quite certain that Bush would be able to reach Ahmadinejad to tell him that Iran will be flattened unless the planes retreat. If his cell phone died, Bush could just post a quick warning on the Huffington Post.

Liberals view talk as an end in itself. They never think through how these talks will proceed, which is why Chamberlain ended up giving away Czechoslovakia. He didn’t leave for Munich planning to do that. It is simply the inevitable result of talking with madmen without a clear and obtainable goal. Without a stick, there’s only a carrot.

The only explanation for liberals’ hysterical zealotry in favor of Obama’s proposed open-ended talks with Ahmadinejad is that they seriously imagine crazy foreign dictators will be as charmed by Obama as cable TV hosts whose legs tingle when they listen to Obama (a condition that used to be known as “sciatica”).

Because, really, who better to face down a Holocaust denier with a messianic complex than the guy who is afraid of a debate moderated by Brit Hume?

There is no possible result of such a meeting apart from appeasement and humiliation of the U.S. If we are prepared to talk, then we’re looking for a deal. What kind of deal do you make with a madman until he is ready to surrender?

…Perhaps in the spirit of compromise, Obama could agree to let Iran push only half of Israel into the sea. That would certainly constitute “change”! Obama could give one of those upbeat speeches of his, saying: As a result of my recent talks with President Ahmadinejad, some see the state of Israel as being half empty. I prefer to see it as half full. And then Obama can return and tell Americans he could no more repudiate Ahmadinejad than he could repudiate his own white grandmother. It will make Chris Matthews’ leg tingle.

And Bob Tyrrell on Barry and his gaffes:

…There have been many signs of [Obama’s] gaffability. For instance, he has been caught at least twice claiming — as he did in Selma, Ala., a year ago — that his “very existence” was the result of a Kennedy-funded program that airlifted his father from Kenya to America. His father arrived in a 1959 airlift. The Kennedy family grant actually was made for a second airlift in 1960. Also in Selma, he claimed to be born “because of what happened in Selma, Ala., because some folks are willing to march across a bridge.” The march took place in 1965. Obama was born in 1961. A year ago, he smugly observed: “In case you missed it, this week there was a tragedy in Kansas. Ten thousand people died.” He was off by 9,988 casualties. More recently, he has claimed he’s campaigned in 57 states. During a know-it-all assessment of the Bush administration’s Iraq policy, he blundered into saying that the Iraqis and Afghans speak the same language.

Now, people who know Obama have been telling me for months that he is a very likable fellow and very clever. The problem he has, they say, is that things come easily to him. So easily that oftentimes, he simply wings it, expecting his facile mind to get him through. That makes sense. The tendency to wing it is encouraged all the more by Obama’s insufferable arrogance.

Don't Count Every Vote!

Rich Lowry examines why the Democrats have abandoned their 2000 mantra to “count every vote”:

During the 2000 election controversy, Democrats brayed “count every vote” in Florida and discounted George Bush’s eventual victory in the Electoral College because he lost the national popular vote to Al Gore. Hillary Clinton has to yearn for the return of that Democratic Party of yore.

HBO just aired a docudrama — Recount, starring Kevin Spacey as a heroic Gore spokesman — that romanticizes the Democratic fight to count votes in Florida, even as Democrats have excluded Florida’s votes in their entirety from their nomination process this year and are eager to nominate the candidate, Barack Obama, who might end up with fewer popular votes than his challenger.

Back in 2000, Democrats were contemptuous of rules and technicalities about how ballots had to be marked and the process for recounts. All that mattered was the popular will. And the biggest ultimate obstacle to it was the Electoral College, which kept Al Gore from the White House in this “stolen election.”

Well, the Democrats’ attachment to the unadulterated popular will has gone the way of the hanging chad. Suddenly, Democrats are sticklers for rules. Florida and Michigan became non-states for moving their primary contests up in the calendar in defiance of Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean. A mere matter of timing has been enough to “disenfranchise” — to use the 2000 argot — 2.3 million Democratic voters.

It’s easy to imagine what Democrats circa 2000 would say about this. Denying the votes in Florida and Michigan would betray the “generation of patriots who risked and sacrificed on the battlefield” in the American Revolution, and be tantamount to “the poll taxes and literacy tests, violence and intimidation, dogs and tear gas” of the Jim Crow era. Counting the votes — ensuring “that every voice is heard and every vote is counted” — would be a cause worthy of the abolitionists and suffragists.

Of course, Hillary Clinton has said all of these things. But instead of being hailed as a crusader for justice, she has been greeted with impatient eye-rolls from most of the Democratic establishment and the press who can’t believe Clinton’s temerity in insisting on counting Florida and Michigan. What has gotten into the once-admirable junior senator from New York?

The change from 2000 to 2008 is simple to explain. Back then, the liberal establishment wanted Gore to beat Bush. Now, most of it wants Obama to finish off Hillary. The standards have changed accordingly.

… the Democratic delegate-allocation rules can make the Electoral College that Democrats maligned back in 2000 look robustly representative by comparison.

Obama won more net delegates from Idaho (12) in winning the state by 13,000 votes out of 20,000 cast than Clinton netted from New Jersey (11) in winning the state by more than 100,000 votes out of 1 million votes cast. Obama dominated in small caucus states — where a tiny percentage of tiny electorates participated — and through strange wrinkles in the rules won more delegates in states like New Hampshire and Nevada where Clinton notionally won.

But if Clinton hopes to be the Al Gore of the 2008 nomination process, the loser lionized by the great and good as standing for thwarted democracy, she can forget it. 2000 was a long time ago.

Byron York provides more detail:

…How did this come about? It stems from Democrats’ decision more than 20 years ago to switch from winner-take-all contests to the proportional allocation of delegates. It was supposed to make the system fairer, but this year it has produced results like these:

In the Texas primary on March 4, Clinton won by a margin of 100,000 votes out of 2.8 million cast. For that victory, Clinton was awarded 65 delegates, while Obama got 61. Then, on election night, according to the Texas Democratic Party, nearly 1 million Democrats — many of whom had already voted in that day’s primary — gathered in party caucuses. We don’t know how many came down on either side, but we know that more came out for Obama than for Clinton. For that, Obama was awarded 38 delegates to Clinton’s 29.

…Put them together, and Obama left Texas with 99 delegates to Clinton’s 94 — even though Clinton handily won the contest in which votes were actually counted.

Or look at Idaho and New Jersey.

In Idaho, about 21,000 Democrats gathered for caucuses. Obama won in a blowout by a margin of 13,000 votes. For that, he won 15 delegates to three for Clinton — a net gain of 12 delegates.

In New Jersey, Clinton won by a margin of 110,000 votes out of more than 1 million cast. For that, she won 59 delegates to Obama’s 48 — a net gain of 11 delegates.

Now under what system does it make sense for Obama to collect more net delegates for beating Clinton by 13,000 votes in one state than Clinton does for beating Obama by 110,000 in another?

That inequity, by the way, won’t be repeated in the general election, when the winner of Idaho will collect four electoral votes while the winner in New Jersey will get 15 — and the losers get nothing.

Are We Safer?

Power Line provides some interesting numbers refuting Barry’s claim that nothing the Bush administration has done has “made us safer.”

Sue Congress!

You don’t like paying $4 a gallon to fill up the tank? Blame the Democrats!

Mark Steyn writes:

…[The other day] the grand panjandrums of the House Subcommittee on Televised Posturing, …went off and passed 324-82 the so-called NOPEC bill. The NOPEC bill is, in effect, a suit against OPEC, which, if I recall correctly, stands for the Oil Price-Exploiting Club. “No War For Oil!,” as the bumper stickers say. But a massive suit for oil – now that’s the American way.

“It shall be illegal and a violation of this Act,” declared the House of Representatives, “to limit the production or distribution of oil, natural gas, or any other petroleum product … or to otherwise take any action in restraint of trade for oil, natural gas or any petroleum product when such action, combination, or collective action has a direct, substantial, and reasonably foreseeable effect on the market, supply, price or distribution of oil, natural gas or other petroleum product in the United States.”

Er, OK. But, before we start suing distant sheikhs in exotic lands for violating the NOPEC act, why don’t we start by suing Congress? After all, who “limits the production or distribution of oil” right here in the United States by declaring that there’ll be no drilling in the Gulf of Florida or the Arctic National Mosquito Refuge? As [Florida Democrat] Rep. [Debbie] Wasserman Schultz …. told Neil Cavuto on Fox News, “We can’t drill our way out of this problem.”

Well, maybe not. But maybe we could drill our way back to $3.25 a gallon. More to the point, if the House of Representatives has now declared it “illegal” for the government of Saudi Arabia to restrict oil production, why is it still legal for the government of the United States to restrict oil production? In fact, the government of the United States restricts pretty much every form of energy production other than the bizarre fetish du jour of federally mandated ethanol production.

Nuclear energy?

Whoa, no, remember Three Mile Island? (OK, nobody does, but kids and anyone under late middle age, you can look it up in your grandparents’ school books.)

Coal?

Whoa, no, man, there go our carbon credits.

OK, how about if we all go back to the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe, and start criss-crossing the country on wood-fired trains?

Are you nuts? Think of the clear-cutting. We can’t have logging in environmentally sensitive areas such as forests.

…So, instead, Congress hauls Big Oil execs in for the dinner-theatre version of a Soviet show trial and then passes irrelevant poseur legislation like the NOPEC bill. The NOPEC bill is really the NO PECS bill – a waste of photocopier paper passed by what C.S. Lewis called “men without chests.”

…So we complain about $4-a-gallon gas, and our leaders respond with showboating legislation like NOPEC and feel-good environmental regulatory overkill like putting the polar bear on the endangered-species list, while ensuring that we’ll continue to bankroll every radical mosque and madrassah on the planet. In Britain, new “green taxes” do nothing to “save” the planet, but they are estimated to cost the average family about $6,000 a year. That’s change you can believe in.

What's the Big Deal?

What’s the problem with legalizing gay marriage?

An excerpt from a column by Frank Turek:

Why not legalize same-sex marriage? Who could it possibly hurt? Children and the rest of society. That’s the conclusion of David Blankenhorn, who is anything but an anti-gay “bigot.” He is a life-long, pro-gay, liberal democrat who disagrees with the Bible’s prohibitions against homosexual behavior. Despite this, Blankenhorn makes a powerful case against Same-Sex marriage in his book, The Future of Marriage.

He writes, “Across history and cultures . . . marriage’s single most fundamental idea is that every child needs a mother and a father. Changing marriage to accommodate same-sex couples would nullify this principle in culture and in law.”

How so?

The law is a great teacher, and same sex marriage will teach future generations that marriage is not about children but about coupling. When marriage becomes nothing more than coupling, fewer people will get married to have children.

So what?

People will still have children, of course, but many more of them out-of wedlock. That’s a disaster for everyone. Children will be hurt because illegitimate parents (there are no illegitimate children) often never form a family, and those that “shack up” break up at a rate two to three times that of married parents. Society will be hurt because illegitimacy starts a chain of negative effects that fall like dominoes—illegitimacy leads to poverty, crime, and higher welfare costs which lead to bigger government, higher taxes, and a slower economy.

Are these just the hysterical cries of an alarmist? No. We can see the connection between same-sex marriage and illegitimacy in Scandinavian countries. Norway, for example, has had de-facto same-sex marriage since the early nineties. In Nordland, the most liberal county of Norway, where they fly “gay” rainbow flags over their churches, out-of-wedlock births have soared—more than 80 percent of women giving birth for the first time, and nearly 70 percent of all children, are born out of wedlock! Across all of Norway, illegitimacy rose from 39 percent to 50 percent in the first decade of same-sex marriage.

Anthropologist Stanley Kurtz writes, “When we look at Nordland and Nord-Troendelag — the Vermont and Massachusetts of Norway — we are peering as far as we can into the future of marriage in a world where gay marriage is almost totally accepted. What we see is a place where marriage itself has almost totally disappeared.” He asserts that “Scandinavian gay marriage has driven home the message that marriage itself is outdated, and that virtually any family form, including out-of-wedlock parenthood, is acceptable.”

But it’s not just Norway. Blankenhorn reports this same trend in other countries. International surveys show that same-sex marriage and the erosion of traditional marriage tend to go together. Traditional marriage is weakest and illegitimacy strongest wherever same-sex marriage is legal.

You might say, “Correlation doesn’t always indicate causation!” Yes, but often it does. Is there any doubt that liberalizing marriage laws impacts society for the worse? You need look no further than the last 40 years of no-fault divorce laws in the United States (family disintegration destroys lives and now costs tax payers $112 billion per year!).

No-fault divorce laws began in one state, California, and then spread to rest of the country. Those liberalized divorce laws helped change our attitudes and behaviors about the permanence of marriage. There’s no question that liberalized marriage laws will help change our attitudes and behaviors about the purpose of marriage. The law is a great teacher, and if same-sex marriage advocates have their way, children will be expelled from the lesson on marriage.

Agree With Barry and End Divisiveness

Bob Tyrell on the Democrats’ attempt to declare certain words and subjects out of bounds:

Poor Neville Chamberlain. The long-deceased British prime minister — remembered through the decades for his policy of appeasement and for the war with Hitler that it hastened — now suffers yet another disgrace. The mere mention of “appeasement” apparently sets off paranoid tantrums amongst members of the political class. Once deemed a very enlightened tool of statecraft, “appeasement” has become a slur, a hate term. Speaking before the Israeli Knesset, President George W. Bush associated appeasement with those who “believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along.” Kapow! The Democrats went on the offensive, though they had not been mentioned.

…Even the serene and august Sen. Barack Obama stepped down from his cloud of serenity to asseverate: “It is sad that President Bush would use a speech to the Knesset on the 60th anniversary of Israel’s independence to launch a false political attack.” Betraying a hint of what may very well be megalomania, the likely Democratic presidential candidate continued, “George Bush knows that I have never supported engagement with terrorists.” Yet the president had not mentioned the senator or any other living American politician, not even Jimmy Carter, who most certainly did engage with terrorists as recently as April, when he conferred with representatives from Hamas to mull over, of all things, “human rights.”

For that matter, it was not more than a year ago that Squeaker Pelosi visited with the Syrian leadership in Damascus, concluding, “We came in friendship, hope, and determined that the road to Damascus is a road to peace.” If the Syrians do not qualify as terrorists, they certainly give sanctuary and arms to terrorists, some of whom are using those arms in Iraq. I guess we can understand why she is sensitive when the president mentions appeasement.

As for Sen. Obama, he still is trying to wriggle out of an answer he gave to a question someone asked him during a debate last summer. As president, would he meet with the anti-American, anti-Semitic and seemingly delusional president of Iran, “without preconditions”? “I would,” he answered in the sanctimonious tone that always suggests incense is burning nearby. So maybe we can understand why he and the Democratic leadership are so eager to transform yesteryear’s failed policy of appeasement into a hate term. Incidentally, “irresponsible and frankly naive” was Sen. Clinton’s immediate assessment of Sen. Obama’s pert answer. She has shown herself to be an able critic of the Democratic front-runner. Possibly she eventually will join the McCain campaign.

One thing that all these Democrats have in common is a colossal moral superiority. As we have seen before, they repeatedly presume to set the terms of political debate. They rule over the appropriateness of words and strategies, telling us what the Republicans can and cannot say. Now they have ruled the word “appeasement” to be “reckless,” “outrageous” and bereft of “dignity.” The term has been applied to opponents of a forceful foreign policy for two generations, during which forceful foreign policy kept America secure. Alas, in this election, the Democrats have ruled the word “appeasement” out of bounds.

To Obama, the term is redolent of that “divisiveness” that he abhors. He has crossed the length and breadth of the land lecturing against divisiveness. So how can we end this offensive divisiveness? Well, obviously by agreeing with him and his wife. His wife is also on the campaign trail, and when Republicans react unfavorably to her complaints about America, he tells them to “lay off (his) wife.” What kind of a person tells us what we can and cannot say and with whom we must be in agreement? To my mind, it is a bully, and now we are going to have months of watching Sen. Obama attempt to bully Sen. John McCain. Over in Vietnam somewhere, there are retired jailers who could tell him that one cannot bully McCain, even when you have him flat on his back with broken bones.

I hope he is right about McCain.

And Robert Novak on the same subject:

…Obama implores McCain in the interest of “one nation” and “one people” not to attack him. The shorthand, widely repeated by the news media, is that the Republican candidate must not “Swift boat” Obama. That amounts to unilateral political disarmament by McCain.

McCain is not about to disarm. His campaign has no intention of fighting this battle on Democratic turf. During the more than five months ahead, Republicans will explore the mindset of this young man who is a stranger to most Americans. That includes his association with the Chicago leftist William Ayers, who has remained unrepentant about his violent role as a 1960s radical. This will not be popular with McCain’s erstwhile admirers in the mainstream news media, but America has not heard the last of Bill Ayers in this campaign.

Indicating what lies ahead is the McCain campaign’s plan to bring in Tim Griffin, a protege of Karl Rove, who is a leading practitioner of opposition research — digging up derogatory information about opponents. Although final arrangements have not been pinned down, Griffin would work at the Republican National Committee, as he did in Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign.

It is an article of Democratic faith that John Kerry would have been elected president had not Republicans undermined public confidence in his leadership and integrity by assailing his performance as a Swift boat commander in Vietnam. McCain, idolized by much of the news media in 2000 as the potential Bush slayer, is now stigmatized as adopting not only his former intraparty adversary’s policies but also his tactics.

Simultaneously, with Clinton no longer around to worry about, Obama deplores “the failed policies that John McCain wants to double down on.” He is relentless in pressing home that point. Last Saturday, in Roseburg, Ore.: “If you agree we’ve had a great foreign policy over the last four or eight years, then you should vote for John McCain. (He) wants to give you the failed Bush health-care policy for another four years.” On Monday, in Billings, Mont.: “John McCain has decided to run for George Bush’s third term.”

While on this attack, Obama rails against any responsive fire from McCain. He has lashed out against criticism of his declared willingness to sit down with Ahmadinejad and Cuba’s Raul Castro. McCain’s strategists are infuriated by prestigious political reporters and commentators whom they see supporting Obama’s position. Time columnist Joe Klein turned up in Savannah, Ga., Monday for McCain’s press conference, declaring that McCain had misrepresented Obama as proposing unconditional talks with the Iranian president. After asserting that “I’ve done some research” and “also checked with the Obama campaign,” Klein said Obama “never mentioned Ahmadinejad directly by name. He did say he would negotiate with the leaders.”

In fact, Obama has repeatedly been questioned specifically about Ahmadinejad. At a press conference in New York last September, Obama was asked whether he still would meet with Ahmadinejad. He replied: “Yeah … I find many of President Ahmadinejad’s statements odious. … But we should never fear to negotiate.” In November on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” he defended “a conversation with somebody like Ahmadinejad.”

The debate over such “a conversation” was heightened by Bush’s speech last week to the Israeli Knesset, suggesting “appeasement” by Obama. The White House has privately informed the McCain campaign it had no intention of leaping into presidential politics, but Obama’s defensive response enabled him again to link McCain with Bush. Although the Republican candidate would like the unpopular president to get offstage politically, McCain is not about to run a campaign about health care mandates and home foreclosures.

Ann Coulter makes a good point about Democrats and appeasement:

…The way liberals squealed [about Bush’s Knesset speech], you’d think someone had mentioned Obama’s ears. Summoning all their womanly anger, today’s Neville Chamberlains denounced Bush, saying this was an unjustified attack on Obambi and, furthermore, that it’s absurd to compare B. Hussein Obama’s willingness to “talk” to Ahmadinejad to Neville Chamberlain’s capitulation to Hitler.

Unlike liberals, I will honestly report their point before I attack it.

The New York Times editorialized: “Sen. Obama has called for talking with Iran and Syria,” but has not “suggested surrendering to these countries’ demands, which is, after all, what appeasement is.”

“Hardball’s” Chris Matthews gloated all week about nailing a conservative talk radio host with this brilliant riposte: “You don’t understand there’s a difference between talking to the enemy and appeasing. What Neville Chamberlain did wrong … is not talking to Hitler, but giving him half of Czechoslovakia.”

Liberals think all real tyrants ended with Hitler and act as if they would have known all along not to appease him. Next time is always different for people who refuse to learn from history. As Air America’s Mark Green said: “Look, Hitler was Hitler.” (Which, I admit, threw me for a loop: I thought Air America’s position is that Bush is Hitler.)

This is nonsense. Ahmadinejad looks a lot like Hitler did when Chamberlain agreed to meet with him at Munich, except that Hitler didn’t buy his suits from ratty thrift shops. Much of England reacted just as today’s Democrats would because, like today’s Democrats, they feared nothing more than another war. (Lloyd George lied, kids died!)

Lots of Britons cheered when Chamberlain returned from Munich and announced “peace in our time.” Without the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, what on earth makes Chris Matthews think he would not be among them?

As Bush said at the Knesset, “There are good and decent people who cannot fathom the darkness in these men and try to explain away their words.” That was Chamberlain. And that is today’s Democratic Party.

What Matthews and the Times are saying is this: We can have a Munich, but we promise to be tougher than Chamberlain was. Therein lies the flaw in their logic. Yes, in the abstract, it is technically possible to “talk” without giving up Czechoslovakia (or in today’s case, Iraq or Israel).

But in reality, when talking to a lunatic without having first bombed him into submission, the only possible result is appeasement. Any talk with Hitler, or a McHitler like Ahmadinejad, that does not include handing over Czechoslovakia or Israel, like a game show parting gift, is going to be a relatively brief chat.

Churchill knew that before Chamberlain went to Munich. But a lot of Britons then, like a lot of Americans today, refused to see that blindingly obvious point.

And a New York Times op-ed piece on the disastrous Kennedy-Khrushchev negotiation in Vienna:

…Senior American statesmen like George Kennan advised Kennedy not to rush into a high-level meeting, arguing that Khrushchev had engaged in anti-American propaganda and that the issues at hand could as well be addressed by lower-level diplomats. Kennedy’s own secretary of state, Dean Rusk, had argued much the same in a Foreign Affairs article the previous year: “Is it wise to gamble so heavily? Are not these two men who should be kept apart until others have found a sure meeting ground of accommodation between them?”

But Kennedy went ahead, and for two days he was pummeled by the Soviet leader. Despite his eloquence, Kennedy was no match as a sparring partner, and offered only token resistance as Khrushchev lectured him on the hypocrisy of American foreign policy, cautioned America against supporting “old, moribund, reactionary regimes” and asserted that the United States, which had valiantly risen against the British, now stood “against other peoples following its suit.” Khrushchev used the opportunity of a face-to-face meeting to warn Kennedy that his country could not be intimidated and that it was “very unwise” for the United States to surround the Soviet Union with military bases.

Kennedy’s aides convinced the press at the time that behind closed doors the president was performing well, but American diplomats in attendance, including the ambassador to the Soviet Union, later said they were shocked that Kennedy had taken so much abuse. Paul Nitze, the assistant secretary of defense, said the meeting was “just a disaster.” Khrushchev’s aide, after the first day, said the American president seemed “very inexperienced, even immature.” Khrushchev agreed, noting that the youthful Kennedy was “too intelligent and too weak.” The Soviet leader left Vienna elated — and with a very low opinion of the leader of the free world.

Kennedy’s assessment of his own performance was no less severe. Only a few minutes after parting with Khrushchev, Kennedy, a World War II veteran, told James Reston of The New York Times that the summit meeting had been the “roughest thing in my life.” Kennedy went on: “He just beat the hell out of me. I’ve got a terrible problem if he thinks I’m inexperienced and have no guts. Until we remove those ideas we won’t get anywhere with him.”

A little more than two months later, Khrushchev gave the go-ahead to begin erecting what would become the Berlin Wall. Kennedy had resigned himself to it, telling his aides in private that “a wall is a hell of a lot better than a war.” The following spring, Khrushchev made plans to “throw a hedgehog at Uncle Sam’s pants”: nuclear missiles in Cuba. And while there were many factors that led to the missile crisis, it is no exaggeration to say that the impression Khrushchev formed at Vienna — of Kennedy as ineffective — was among them.

If Barack Obama wants to follow in Kennedy’s footsteps, he should heed the lesson that Kennedy learned in his first year in office: sometimes there is good reason to fear to negotiate.