- The Washington Times - Friday, October 2, 2009

COURTING ROGUES

“In his Inaugural Address, President Obama spoke directly to the world’s rogue nations. ‘[W]e will extend a hand,’ he said, ‘if you are willing to unclench your fist.’

“Question: How many rogue nations can you hold in one hand? Let’s try to count,” Wall Street Journal columnist Daniel Henninger writes.

“Iran remains rogue No. 1. The world is riveted by the expanding Iranian nuclear threat, and one might expect a mess of this magnitude would occupy most of the diplomatic energies of any presidency. But this one has time for more,” Mr. Henninger said.

“The Monday after last Friday’s bombshell that Iran has a hidden nuclear site, the State Department announced the start of a ‘direct dialogue’ with Burma’s hopeless junta. The administration has dispatched a special envoy to Sudan and its genocidal leader, Omar Hassan al-Bashir. Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad got his own Obama envoy, plus a visit from John Kerry.

“At the Summit of the Americas, Mr. Obama himself did meet and greets for ‘dialogue’ with Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega and Bolivia’s Evo Morales, and reached out to Cuba’s Raul Castro. Mr. Obama then dropped in on Russia’s leaders for a ‘reset.’

“There is something slightly weird about all this activity. If the Obama team wanted to make a really significant break from past Bush policy, it would say it was not going to just talk with the world’s worst strongmen but would give equal, public status to their democratic opposition groups. Instead, the baddest actors in the world get face time with Barack Obama, but their struggling opposition gets invisibility.”

LACK OF TRUST

“Is Obama surrounded by self-hating Jews? That was one of the most ridiculous - and yet perversely telling - stories to emerge from the last several weeks of Israeli media coverage,” Richard Wolffe writes at www.the dailybeast.com.

“Not because the president is surrounded by Jewish aides who want to sabotage their own identity. Far from it. David Axelrod openly reveres the old Jewish deli in Chicago known as Manny’s. He has a sign in his West Wing office saying Barack Obama in Hebrew script. And Rahm Emanuel could no more hate his Jewish and Israeli ties than he could the vocabulary of the Anglo-Saxons,” Mr. Wolffe said.

“On those terms, Axelrod and Emanuel are self-hating self-haters.

“Still, one of the leading Israeli newspapers, Ha’aretz, reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyanhu was so paranoid that he described both Axelrod and Emanuel as ‘self-hating Jews.’ The White House says that the Israeli government denied the story and dismisses the idea, with plenty of reason.

“But what lies underneath the erroneous report is something deeper in Israeli-U.S. ties; something that complicates the vastly complex Israeli-Palestinian talks under U.S. supervision.

“It’s a matter of trust. And the Israelis don’t have it when it comes to President Obama. In the most recent Jerusalem Post poll, the number of Israelis who see Obama as pro-Israeli is just 4 percent. That’s not a typo; it was down two points since June. Fully 51 per cent say Obama is more pro-Palestinian than pro-Israeli.”

JAILBREAK

“Closing Gitmo is proving harder than President Obama thought - but that’s no reason to simply set terrorists free,” the New York Post said Thursday in an editorial.

“Yet the Obama folks seem set to do just that, based on their decision this week to release 75 of the 223 remaining detainees - on top of the three freed last weekend,” the newspaper said.

“Sure, Obama’s vows to shut the Guantanamo Bay camp are giving him agita. His left-wing base is restless; it turns out his friends abroad aren’t so keen on hosting ‘Welcome Home!’ parties for freed terrorists, after all - and his defense secretary says the president’s January deadline for relocating them can’t be met.

“What’s a stressed-out prez to do?

“Stage a jailbreak, it seems.

“But endangering Americans is hardly the solution. Remember, of the more than 500 detainees already released from Gitmo, many have gone back to terrorism - including Said Ali al-Shihri, al Qaeda’s second-in-command on the Arabian peninsula and the suspected mastermind of a brutal attack in Yemen this year.

“In fact, the Pentagon figures one in seven of those already freed (i.e., those thought the least risky) returned to the fight. At that rate, at least 11 of the people Obama is freeing now can be expected to pick up arms again against U.S. troops.

“That’s national security?

“The official line is that judges have already cleared these detainees for release. But the lower-court rulings were often based on incomplete evidence - and the previous administration fought back, sometimes winning victories on appeal.

“With at least a dozen of the 75 detainees, Team Obama could have pursued the same legal strategy - but instead did nothing, content to spring them loose.

“President Obama just doesn’t seem to understand that his top job isn’t placating left-wing voters or winning a global popularity contest, but keeping the American people safe.

“When it comes to Gitmo, he needs to make sure he does just that.”

GRAHAM VS BECK

Chris Good, writing in a blog at www.theatlantic.com, reports that Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham has nothing good to say about Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh, two of the nation’s more prominent conservative broadcasters.

“The outspoken Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), one of John McCain’s closest allies during the 2008 campaign, offered his thoughts on Glenn Beck during an interview with The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg at the First Draft of History, being hosted by The Atlantic at the Newseum [Thursday] in Washington, DC:

” ‘Only in America can you make that much money crying,’ Graham said, as he suggested conservative talk radio, in particular, has detracted [from] constructive political debate in America. ‘What do I think of Rush Limbaugh? Well, I think he makes hundreds of millions of dollars being able to talk on the radio for three hours a day. It is what it is, but here’s what I worry about: How many people in my business are going to be controlled by what’s said on the radio or in a TV commercial? Base politics is what we’re talking about.’

“He continued: ‘Glenn Beck is not aligned with any party as far as I can tell. He’s aligned with cynicism, and there’s always been a market for cynicism.’ ”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes .com.

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