Inside the Beltway: A peek in the Democratic treasure chest

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Eighteen and counting: that’s how many fundraising appearances President Obama has committed to attend as the 2014 midterm election season grinds into gear. But he has some help this week, and it’s only the beginning. Vice President Joe Biden will race to a Democratic National Committee fundraiser Wednesday at The Bachelor Farmer in Minneapolis, a Nordic-themed eatery which boasts pheasant meatballs and roasted rutabaga on its menu. The restaurant is owned by Eric and Andrew Dayton, sons of Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton. The tickets go as high as $32,500.

It’s also a busy week for first lady Michelle Obama, who journeys to New York City on Thursday for many reasons. She’ll appear at the New Museum to view “Taking Back the Streets,” an exhibit described by the White House as “a celebration of street art in honor of Drink Up, the Partnership for Healthier America’s initiative that encourages all Americans to drink more water.” Then it’s on to NBC to tape an appearance for the newly reinvented, East-Coast version of the “Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon,” to air later in the evening. Then it’s over to a Democratic fundraiser, this at an unnamed private residence.

Another day, another dollar? It could be many of them. Mrs. Obama’s recent funding foray in Los Angeles raised an estimated $650,000, and she was cordial, but blunt before the glittering folk of the Golden State.

“Write a big fat check. Write the biggest check you can possibly write,” she told her audience.

And for those who keep track, some 2013 fundraising totals: Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ($75 million), Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ($53 million), Democratic National Committee ($65 million).

THE CURRENT CPAC COUNT

There will literally be a cast of thousands when the Conservative Political Action Conference descends upon a spectacular resort on the banks of the Potomac River in 16 days, just eight miles south of the White House. Perhaps Obama administration heavyweights should pause and listen. They might just hear a jubilant roar from all those conservatives, relieved and pleased to be among those who are upbeat about America and pining for smaller government, stronger defense and traditional values.

The American Conservative Union, meanwhile, has assembled a roster of 200 speakers — thought leaders, analysts, personalities — to rally the troops. And from chairman Al Cardenas comes the master list of confirmed stars at the three-day event: Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Mike Lee of Utah, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas; Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, plus Govs. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Chris Christie of New Jersey; Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson and Rick Santorum.

And yes, more to come.

‘WE ARE NOT EQUALS’

On shelves Tuesday: “Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes” by Michael Rubin, who questions the wisdom and efficacy of negotiations with terrorists.

“There’s nothing wrong with diplomacy, but if it’s not done right, American national security can be hurt. Rather than resolve conflict, poor diplomacy can hasten it,” Mr. Rubin tells Inside the Beltway. “The problem with rogue regimes is that by definition — not mine, but Bill Clinton’s National Security Council — they don’t adhere to the norms of diplomacy. They don’t approach negotiations with sincerity and so we can’t treat them like other partners.”

The author is an American Enterprise Institute scholar and former editor of the Middle East Quarterly.

“We might seek conflict resolution, but too often rogues simply want to run down the clock or seek to transform bluster into reward. We need to analyze our opponents’ strategy in order to undercut and defeat it,” Mr. Rubin continues.

“To make diplomacy succeed, we’ve got to set the right circumstances. Rather than alleviate pressure, all elements of American power should be brought to bear. We need to stop treating our opponents as equals at the table. We are not equals with Iran, North Korea, or the Taliban.”

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