- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 18, 2009

UNUSUAL COURSE

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech on Sunday, “in which he reversed his long-standing position on Palestine and said he would be willing to work toward the eventual creation of a Palestinian state, has met with almost no opposition in Israel,” Meyrav Wurmser writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“This is a very unusual course of events in a country where elections take place on average every two years because coalitions are so unstable and often fall with little provocation,” said Mr. Wurmser, director of the Center for Middle East Policy at the Hudson Institute.

“Netanyahu’s government, led by his own center-right Likud Party, includes two settler parties and Avigdor Lieberman’s Russian-immigrant party, Yisrael Beiteinu, all of which might have been expected to pull out of the coalition after hearing the prime minister endorse a ‘two-state’ solution. But the right wing remains firmly behind the prime minister, and now some members of Kadima, the largest center-left party, have indicated they might be willing to join Netanyahu’s coalition because he has met their demand that he recognize a Palestinian state.

“Netanyahu’s speech met with so little opposition because his coalition partners, like most Israelis, realize that the conditions he posed for the creation of a Palestinian state are unlikely to be met any time soon. …

“In entering the maze of Middle Eastern conflicts, President Obama is likely to learn the rule of unintended consequences. The president seems to have thought that he could pacify the Muslim world, negotiate with Iran, and force Israel to accept a compromise it had long rejected. But as is often the case in this region, matters have not proceeded according to plan. The president now faces upheaval in Iran, a Muslim world that is no more receptive to his message than it was previously, and an Israel in which Netanyahu now has a stronger standing both coalition-wise and in regard to an attack on Iran.

“The peace process will now get bogged down in pedantry and semantics, while Israels strong coalition has opened opportunities that could fundamentally change the rules of the game.”

LIFELINE TO IRAN

President Obama missed a big opportunity, Stephen F. Hayes writes at www.weeklystandard.com.

“President Barack Obama said Monday he was ‘deeply troubled’ by the violence in Iran that he’s been seeing on television. ‘I think that the democratic process, free speech, the ability of people to peacefully dissent - all of those are universal values and need to be respected.’

“He was right to say these things. He should have stopped there,” Mr. Hayes said.

“But Obama rambled on. And out of the four muddled paragraphs that followed, his approach to the Iran Moment became clear.

“Under President Obama, our approach to Iran - the world’s foremost state sponsor of terror, a rogue regime racing toward nuclear capability - is not only not regime change, it’s de facto regime preservation. So he delicately sought to say something that would mute the growing criticism of his silence - ‘It would be wrong for me to be silent about what we’ve seen on the television over the last few days,’ he said - without saying anything that could further destabilize the Iranian regime.

“It was a missed opportunity. He got bad advice. ‘Our hated enemy for 30 years finally comes to a crisis moment,’ says Michael Anton, director of communications at the National Security Council during George W. Bush’s first term. ‘And many of the same people who have been telling us for at least 20 years that the population is largely on our side decide to use this moment not to give the regime a push, or to throw the population a life vest, but to help keep the hated enemy in power.’ ”

STANDARD SOLD Rupert Murdoch’s Weekly Standard has been sold to the Denver-based Clarity Media Group, which also owns the Washington Examiner.

“I want to express my personal gratitude, and that of my colleagues, to Rupert Murdoch,” said Weekly Standard Editor William Kristol. “His generous support and (if I may use the term) liberal disposition have made whatever we’ve accomplished possible.”

Washington Examiner Editor Stephen G. Smith said the acquisition would be a boon to his paper. “I’m thrilled to be associated with the Weekly Standard,” Mr. Smith said. “I know and admire Bill Kristol and Fred Barnes, and eagerly read their magazine every Sunday evening. I’m certain the new arrangement will benefit both Washington-based publications.”

ENSIGN’S FALL

“The announcement [Tuesday] by Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) that he had an extramarital affair and [Wednesday’s] news that Senate leadership has removed him as head of the Republican Policy Committee (the No. 4 slot on the totem pole) means the Republican Party has lost a leading voice in its efforts to deride Democratic policies and promote its own,” Kyle Trygstad writes in a blog at www.realclearpolitics.com.

“Ensign led a credible, yet unsuccessful, effort as head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee during the 2008 election cycle, and in this Congress has been at the forefront of several policy debates. Perhaps his biggest victory of the year was the gun amendment Ensign added on to the D.C. Voting Rights bill, which ultimately led to its demise in the House of Representatives,” Mr. Trygstad said.

“Now in his second term representing a state increasingly important to presidential elections, Ensign was twice elected with 55 percent of the vote - in 2000 and 2006 - and regularly carries far better approval ratings than his Nevada counterpart, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). A survey released last month found Ensign with a 53 percent approval rating compared to Reid’s 38 percent.

“Whether Ensign was preparing for a presidential bid or not, his fall from grace seems just as far.”

KEEP IT UP

Republican officials loved the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s fundraising pitch that we reported on Wednesday, and they hope the DSCC will keep it up.

The Democrats’ effusive e-mail appeal for money couldn’t say enough good things about the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s campaign to take back the Senate. “Don’t believe what you’ve heard about a GOP in disarray. They’re mad, they’re organized and they’re determined” to win back the majority. “They not only have cash, but also history on their side,” the fundraising letter said among other praiseworthy things.

That elicited this enthused response from the NRSC’s chief spokesman, Brian Walsh: “Sounds like the Democrats just helped write a new appeal for our own donors: Dear supporter, see enclosed letter from the Democrats. Thanks for scaring them. Keep it coming.”

NO ADS, PLEASE

“There’s a growing controversy over ABC’s plan to broadcast a health care special out of the White House next week. Critics are calling the special an ‘Obamamercial.’ Now conservatives are demanding a chance to at least run ads before or during the special, but claim they are being turned away,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column at www.usnews.com.

Rick Scott, chairman of Conservatives for Patients’ Rights, said, “It is unfortunate - and unusual - that ABC is refusing to accept paid advertising that would present an alternative viewpoint for the White House health care event.”

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


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