- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 6, 2014

It is a both political and cultural moment: Mitt Romney was in Washington to attend the first-ever Israeli-American Council National Conference this weekend, an event that yielded an interesting narrative and a few revelations.

And it did. Mr. Romney’s first order of business was to reveal that he was both “stunned” and “surprised” that President Obama sent a letter to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei - suggesting he both sign a nuclear agreement and join a U.S.-led military effort against the Islamic State.

The former presidential candidate did not hold back before the enthusiastic audience. He went after Mr. Obama’s foreign policy, and for weakening the military and “apologizing for America” during overseas visits.  Mr. Romney even criticized Democratic candidates for distancing themselves from the president during the run-up to the midterm elections.

“The White House may view the inaugural Israeli-American convention as an anti-Obama victory party,” says Chemi Shalev, a columnist for Haaretz. “It would be inhuman to expect Mitt Romney to refrain from some gloating and schadenfreude at a groundbreaking meeting of expat Israelis.”

Indeed, Mr. Romney discussed the election, Israel’s close relationship with the U.S. and founding values on stage with Dan Senor, a former policy adviser for the George W. Bush administration. The pair were among 100 speakers at the three-day gathering, which framed the Israeli-American community as a particularly strategic asset on the global landscape. Also on hand: Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bob Menendez, Rep. Ted Deutch, former Sen. Joe Lieberman, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer, former Israeli Ambassador Dan Gillerman — as well as uber-business leaders and philanthropists Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban, who led a session titled “The Israeli-American Dream” on Sunday.

In a post-election world, meanwhile, the Jewish vote appears to be evolving. A new Pew Research Center survey found that while 66 percent of Jewish voters backed Democratic candidates during the midterms, “Democrats appear to have lost some ground with Jews.” The analysis notes: “In 2006, Jewish voters favored Democratic candidates over Republicans by a 75-point margin — 87 percent to 12 percent. In 2014, by contrast, the margin of victory for Democratic House candidates among Jewish voters nationwide was 33 points — 66 percent to 33 percent.”

Other dynamic shifts are afoot. Only 16 percent of Israelis themselves now believe the Obama administration is “more pro-Israel than pro-Palestinian,” this according to a new poll released by The Jerusalem Post. And some are still troubled by a recent report from The Atlantic that an unnamed member of the administration referred to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a “chicken****”


The prospect of imminent presidential action on immigration is on the minds of a half-dozen Republican senators who have taken their concerns to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. In a letter of protest, Sens. Ted Cruz, Mike Crapo, Mike Lee, Pat Roberts, Jeff Sessions and David Vitter are challenging President Obama‘s intention to take unilateral executive action at year’s end to “lawlessly grant amnesty to immigrants who have entered the country illegally.”

“The Supreme Court has recognized that ‘over no conceivable subject is the power of Congress more complete’ than its power over immigration. Therefore, President Obama will be exercising powers properly belonging to Congress if he makes good on his threat. This will create a constitutional crisis that demands action by Congress to restore the separation of powers.”

The group reminded Mr. Reid that he has the responsibility to protect the Constitution, adding, “We offer our full assistance in ensuring expeditious Senate debate and passage for a measure that preserves the power of Congress by blocking any action the president may take to violate the Constitution and unilaterally grant amnesty; however, should you decline to defend the Senate and the Constitution from executive overreach, the undersigned senators will use all procedural means necessary to return the Senate’s focus during the lame-duck session to resolving the constitutional crisis created by President Obama’s lawless amnesty.”


“Legalizing marijuana remains a much easier task in certain places than others. Chiefly, in contrast to high levels of support among liberals and solid support among moderates, less than a third of conservative Americans think marijuana should be legal,” says Gallup analyst Lydia Saad.

According to Gallup: 51 percent of Americans favor “legalizing the use of marijuana;” 31 percent of conservatives, 58 percent of moderates and 73 percent of liberals agree. And from Gallup’s historical data: 84 percent of Americans disapproved of legalization — in 1969.


The murmurs about Sen. Elizabeth Warren are growing into a conversation. Along with Hillary Rodham Clinton, Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Jim Webb, the Massachusetts Democrat is now on the official presidential watch list. Will she run in 2016? Maybe. She fits the “national mood” — cranky and populist — says Scott Conroy, national political reporter for RealClearPolitics.

“Elizabeth Warren is the strongest un-Hillary candidate that the Democratic bench has to offer. Plus, Warren exudes an affection for retail politicking. In this regard, she’s more like Bill Clinton than the former first lady, who sometimes appears less than enamored of life on the trail,” Mr. Conroy observes, adding, “For someone who has been in the nation’s public eye for a quarter-century, it may prove difficult for Clinton to assert that her presidency would mark a dramatic change from the status quo. Warren won’t have that problem.”


Thanks in part to Bob Schieffer‘s old-school newsman style, CBS’ “Face the Nation” has led the ratings among Sunday talk shows for some time. Mr. Schieffer, 77, has some big doings this weekend. To celebrate the show’s 60th anniversary, he’ll interview both President Obama and former President George W. Bush.

The network has already assembled a telling little reel of historic presidential clips from past decades with sound bites from, among others, John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan — who was asked this question by then-moderator Bill Stout in the early 1960s: “Did you really call a fellow member of the board a lying son of a b****?” Mr. Reagan replied with a faint grin, “Very quietly, I expressed a long-held opinion quite forcefully to the individual.”


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43 percent of Americans say Obamacare is a complete failure or more of a failure than a success; 78 percent of Republicans, 51 percent of independents and 15 percent of Democrats agree.

42 percent overall say Obamacare should be repealed; 79 percent of Republicans, 49 percent of independents and 10 percent of Democrats agree.

26 percent overall say the program should be “expanded;” 8 percent of Republicans, 18 percent of independents and 43 percent of Democrats agree.

20 percent overall say Obamacare should be “kept the same;” 8 percent of Republicans, 18 percent of independents and 43 percent of Democrats agree.

13 percent overall are not sure what to make of the law; 4 percent of Republicans, 16 percent of independents and 17 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: An Economist/YouGov poll of 998 U.S. adults conducted Nov. 1-3.

Sighs of relief, understandable snickering to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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