- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 1, 2009

GET REAL

“For a president who came into office literally selling the Audacity of Hope - not just for Americans but for all mankind - his Iran policy can so far be summed up as the timidity of ‘realism.’ That’s realism as a theory of international relations that prescribes a foreign policy based on ostensibly rational calculations of the national interest and assumes that other nations act in similarly rational fashion,” Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens writes.

“On this reasoning, it remains the American interest to reach a negotiated settlement with Tehran over its nuclear program, whether or not [President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad was fairly elected. Likewise, it is in Tehran’s best interests to settle, assuming the benefits for doing so are sufficiently large,” Mr. Stephens said.

“If this view ever had its moment, it was in the months immediately after Mr. Obama’s inauguration. The administration came to town thinking that America’s problems with Iran were largely self-inflicted - a combination of ‘Axis of Evil’ and ‘regime change’ rhetoric, an invasion that gave Iran a reasonable motive for wanting to arm itself with nuclear weapons, and an unwillingness to try to settle differences in face-to-face talks.

“In other words, Mr. Obama seems to have thought that a considerable part of America’s Iran problem was simply an America problem, to be addressed by various forms of conciliation: Mr. Obama’s New Year’s greetings to ‘the Islamic Republic of Iran’; the disavowal of regime change as a U.S. objective; the offer of direct talks without preconditions; withdrawal from Iraq; the insistence, following the election, that the U.S. would neither presume to judge the outcome, nor otherwise ‘meddle’ in an internal Iranian affair.

“What did all this achieve? Iran’s nuclear programs are accelerating. It is testing ballistic missiles of increasing range and sophistication. Its support for terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah is unabated. Ahmadinejad stole an election in broad daylight. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei blessed the result. British Embassy staff are under siege. A campaign of mass arrests and intimidation is under way and a young woman named Neda Soltan was shot in the heart simply for choosing none of the above.

“Oh, and Iran still accuses the U.S. of ‘meddling.’

“Now Mr. Obama is promising more of the same, plus the equivalent of a group hug for the demonstrators. Is this supposed to be ‘realism’?”

TRASHING PALIN

“Lefty journalistTodd Purdum has a hit piece in the new Vanity Fair on Sarah Palin,” William Kristol writes at www.weekly standard.com.

“You don’t have to be a big Palin fan to recognize the article is full of dubious claims and is dependent on self-serving stories provided on background by some of the people who ran the McCain campaign into the ground,” Mr. Kristol said.

“Here’s a highlight of Purdum’s reporting: ‘More than once in my travels in Alaska, people brought up, without prompting, the question of Palin’s extravagant self-regard. Several told me, independently of one another, that they had consulted the definition of “narcissistic personality disorder” in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - “a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration and lack of empathy” - and thought it fit her perfectly.’

“Is there any real chance that ‘several’ Alaskans independently told Purdum that they had consulted the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders? I don’t believe it for a moment. I’ve (for better or worse) moved in pretty well-educated circles in my life, and I’ve gone decades without ‘several’ people telling me they had consulted the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

“Meanwhile, on the day Purdum’s piece hit the Web [Tuesday], a journalist who had expressed suspicions in the past that elements of the McCain campaign had undercut Palin suddenly got a friendly e-mail from top McCain-Palin campaign strategist Steve Schmidt. This journalist hadn’t heard from Schmidt in months.

“Perhaps Steve was nervous someone would finger him for the Purdum piece. One reason people might do so is this passage in Purdum’s article: ‘All the while, Palin was coping not only with the crazed life of any national candidate on the road, but also with the young children traveling with her. Some top aides worried about her mental state: was it possible that she was experiencing postpartum depression? (Palin’s youngest son was less than six months old.)’ In fact, one aide who raised this possibility in the course of trashing Palin’s mental state to others in the McCain-Palin campaign was Steve Schmidt.”

ANTI-REALIST

“In staking out a seemingly hard-nosed, unsentimental position on Iran, Obama and his advisers would have us believe that unlike their predecessors, they are foreign policy ‘realists,’ ” Caroline Glick writes in the Jerusalem Post.

“… Yet Obama’s policy is anything but realistic. By refusing to support the dissidents, he is not demonstrating that he is a realist. He is showing that he is immune to reality. He is so committed to appeasing the likes ofMahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ali Khamenei that he is incapable of responding to actual events, or even of taking them into account for anything other than fleeting media appearances meant to neutralize his critics.”

The writer added: “If when Obama came into office there was a question about whether he was a foreign policy pragmatist or an ideologue, his behavior in his first six months in office has dispelled all doubt. Obama is moved by a radical, anti-American ideology that motivates him to dismiss the importance of democracy and side with anti-American dictators against U.S. allies” in places such as Honduras.

FALLING NUMBERS

President Obama has hit a new low in a national tracking poll.

Tuesday’s Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll (at www.rasmussenreports.com) shows that 31 percent of the nation’s voters now strongly approve of the way that Mr. Obama is performing his role as president, while 33 percent strongly disapprove. That gives Mr. Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of minus 2. That matches the lowest level yet recorded.

Over the past two weeks, the Presidential Approval Index has stayed in a narrow range between plus 2 and minus 2. Fifty-seven percent of Democrats strongly approve while 60 percent of Republicans strongly disapprove.

Overall, 54 percent of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the president’s performance so far. Forty-six percent disapprove. Eighteen percent say Congress is doing a good or an excellent job.

• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]

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