Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday Afternoon Roundup - Rising Above the Attacks

Via Conservative New Jersey
There's a great deal of talk on conservative blogs about that infamous CNN poll finding that quite a few people tied Palin's bullseye map to the Loughner massacre. There have been a number of polls that have gone both ways, which indicates mostly that the people being polled don't really know the answer, and are guessing. That the belief has a great deal of traction among Democrats is not exactly surprising. But the bullseye map doesn't matter, or Palin's current unfavorability rating. Those are passing things. What does matter is Palin's ability to outmaneuver them.

The campaigns against her have been completely unfair, yet effective enough to damage her over and over again with a sizable percentage of voters. Palin isn't the first Republican to be hammered over and over again by a rabid media. Reagan and Bush had it almost as bad at times, but they managed to shrug almost all it off until the end of their 2 year terms.

Before he even ran for office, Bush was labeled an idiot, a cokehead and a death penalty thrill killer. He still managed to win the election. If Palin is going to run, she's going to have to demonstrate at least a Bush level of invulnerability. So far she hasn't really done that. Bush wasn't teflon, but he was much more teflon than she was. He had the trick of dismissing or going right past attacks aimed at him. Reagan was a master at it, Nixon wasn't. He took attacks seriously. He tried to respond to them. He let them gnaw at him. And we all saw the results of that.

Part of Bush's secret was confidence. Remember him backing Matt Lauer into a corner during an interview, I mean physically backing him into an actual corner, or treating reporters like they were his friends, even though they were out to get him. That's the same confidence he projected in his speeches to the country and his public appearances. It's why he stayed popular despite the attacks on him.

It's what Reagan had in spades. Reagan was always comfortable, or at least he looked it. He could be angry, but he was always self-possessed. That was something Nixon lacked in a big way. He looked uncomfortable too much of the time. And it appears that he was uncomfortable.

The key to rising above the attacks is not to look guilty or foolish or awkward. Remember George Allen? He had everything going for him, until he was targeted by an absurd smear campaign so ridiculous that it relied on a slur supposedly picked up on another continent, which used an anti-semitic link to hit him on a subject he was uncomfortable with, his mother's Jewishness. It should have withered, but Allen gave it traction with his discomfort, rather than dismissing it, he projected an unwillingness and even a tough of guiltiness. It was misplaced guilt, but the voters picked up on it. And it worked.

Remember Christine O'Donnell's "I am not a witch" ad. Like Nixon's Checkers it was clever, but overthought. It showed effort.

Now remember how everything rolled off Clinton, until he got in front of a camera and self-righteously shook his finger at the country. It's not as simple as I'm making it sound, but much of scandal management does come down to attitude. Scandals are meant to bog down public figures, define their public image by that act or label. Beating that isn't as much about strategy, as it is about natural self-confidence and charm. Focusing on a scandal usually only enhances it.

Clinton was guilty as hell, but he mostly ignored the impeachment proceedings and implicitly dared congress to impeach him. And he won. By then his image was in tatters, but he still managed to turn the tables by making the Republicans seem like the ones who really cared about him and Monica, while he demonstrated that he didn't care.

Winning this kind of fight isn't easy, but a Republican running for President has to be able to do it. Without addressing their fitness for public office, Huckabee and Giuliani have both shown that they can do it. Romney less so. Most of the rest haven't been tested in a national fight like this yet. Except for Palin. And while Palin has some of the Reagan/Bush chops, there isn't enough of that effortless self-confidence which let them soar above their critics. There were hints of what she could do in her speech at the Republican National Convention, but not so much elsewhere.

I'm not a Palin critic. To the contrary. She was an effective governor and she's proven to be effective within the Republican party. But to win, she would have to bring independent voters and even some Democrats to the table. The alternative is to count on a huge turnout by her base and very low turnout by the opposition. And that's not a reliable strategy. Palin is popular with her base within the party. Her strategy has been solid in that regard. But she hasn't been able to reach beyond them yet. And that's a major problem.

To win the primary, she'll have to win Republican votes. But to win a national election, she's going to have to win over people who don't think much of her, and who watch CNN and actually think a bullseye map had something to do with the shootings It's not fair, but it's how the game is stacked. And unless she has a game plan for doing that, for going beyond her base, then there's no point in a presidential run.

Her reality show was an interesting move, but she can't always operate through scripted events. She's going to have to prove that she can successfully rise above the attacks. That more than anything else will determine whether she's a viable candidate.

Here are some other takes on the subject

At PowerLine, John Hinderaker, thinks Palin is non-viable.

The time has come to put any thoughts of Sarah Palin running for President to rest. I say that not because I dislike her; on the contrary, I'm a fan. I think she did an excellent job as a vice-presidential candidate in 2008 and has been an effective spokeswoman for conservative causes in the years since. But there is no way she is ever going to be elected President, and the sooner Republicans get over that idea, the better.


No one with a 59 percent unfavorability rating among independents has the chance of a snowball in Hell of being elected President. 2012 will be a vitally important election year; it is no time for a kamikaze Presidential campaign or for a cult of personality.

Scott also at Powerline has his own response and that of a reader.

It's no surprise that her numbers, whatever they are, have fallen over what they were two weeks ago into a zone that makes her look implausible. She has just taken an unbelievable pounding at the hands of the mainstream media.

Yet she is a resilient figure and her numbers may well recover, especially if she can find her way to take a break from the limelight for a decent interval. It's easy to discern her weaknesses at the moment. As a potential candidate, however, Palin also has strengths that separate her from the Republican pack and that could make her a formidable competitor against them as well as against Obama. The intensity of her support among the Tea Party component of the conservative movement is unmatched by the loyalty of any significant constituency to any of the other Republican candidates.

I would split the difference. Palin does have a strategy that's evolving. We haven't properly seen it yet. But at the same time, she's going to have to overcome a lot of skepticism, and improve her own performance. She doesn't have to be a great speaker, but she needs to be a more confident one and able to reach much further beyond her loyalists.

The attacks on her have pushed her into a defensive compound, to win she's going to have to break out of it. I wish her the best, I did suggest her as a VP candidate before McCain made the pick, but like John, I'm not too sure that she can do it and be a viable candidate.

And that's the problem.

The moral case for why she shouldn't give in to the attacks is crystal clear. No one can argue with that. But the question isn't does she deserve this, but can she pull it off. It's a practical question.

William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection takes issue with two points, Palin's favorability ratings and the timing. I agree that favorability ratings are not too meaningful on their own, but it's not just the bullseye smear. Palin was performing poorly with independent voters even before all this.

While there are political and ideological divides on Palin, she faces hurdles across the board. Even in her own party, Republicans divide, 47 percent to 46 percent, on whether she’s qualified or unqualified to serve as president. Conservatives split, 45-48 percent, as do Tea Party supporters, 48-48 percent.

In only two groups do majorities see Palin as qualified – conservative Republicans, by 55-40 percent; and “strong” supporters of the Tea Party movement, by a broad 73-22 percent. (They’re a small group, one in 10 registered voters.)

While 82 percent of Democrats and 84 percent of liberals see her as unqualified, as do 70 percent of swing-voting independents and 77 percent of self-described political moderates.

Now it's possible to dissect this poll and every poll. And no doubt the numbers are fudged, but from an anecdotal standpoint, back during the election, my biggest challenge when it came to convincing voters to vote for McCain was... Palin.

Last week, a man came over to me whose views are well to the right, who hates Obama and thinks he's ruining the country, yet the idea that Palin was responsible for the Arizona massacre had gained traction with him. He wasn't clear on the details, in his mind "she had done something bad", I was able to turn him around, but that doesn't matter much. The belief had gained traction because he didn't like Palin very much. And that's a note I've seen played over and over again.

Palin has an image problem. 95 percent of it is the fault of a radically biased media, the operatives of both parties, Saturday Night Live, etc... but regardless of all that, she has to be able to overcome it. And she hasn't.

William Jacobson attacks the timing. It's not great timing, and the argument has been made that it plays into the enemy's hands by accepting their narrative. But the narrative is still there, whether we accept it or not. And we still have to deal with it.

As often as we denounce, take apart, ridicule and shred it, another one is going to come along. Being perpetually outraged at the smears won't change that. The media can churn out more smears than we can take apart. If you doubt that, look at the state of pro-Israel activism, which is 90 percent geared to chasing down smears and disproving them in a Sisyphean race in which no ground is actually gained, only lost.

When you have to spend most of your time on the defensive or even the defensive/offensive, your image gets ruined as a result. The more you try to disprove the charges, the worse it gets. Even when most people don't believe the specific charges, the sense that "there's something bad there" sticks around, because the image has come to be defined by the charges and defenses.

Remember the Manchurian Candidate. "What are the newspapers of America writing about, and what are they saying? Are they saying, "Are there any Communists in the Defense Department?" Of course not! They're asking, "How many Communists are there in the Defense Department"!"

The more you defend, the more people become certain that something is wrong. A single false allegation can make a candidate into a martyr. A 100 false allegations makes him into a sleazeball through the sheer weight and mass of the charges. Throw enough mud and something will stick. In an environment with this level of media bias, a Republican presidential candidate has to be teflon, disarming, confident and focused.

Think about Christie's performance, bulling through accusations or bullying the accusers. It's not something Palin can do personality wise, but it is effective. Not in the long run maybe. Given time, there will be enough negative feelings about Christie that the attacks on him will gain traction, but it's a demonstration of how to bull through a smear campaign.

We know Palin's principles. We know what she stands for. But the bottom line is we also need her to be electable or it's all for nothing.

James Taranto at the Journal has his own take on Palinonia, as well as that of a friend. And his friend's analysis may be more to the point than his own. Unfortunately.

Final word, CNN is running a piece on "Why America is Growing Tired of Palin". But if that's true, then where's the audience for the piece?

My piece on Christie's nomination of Sohail Mohammed to a Superior Court Judgeship, despite his ties to the Islamic Center of Passaic County, a terrorist linked mosque, via his membership in the American Muslim Union, has been widely picked up at Atlas Shrugs, Jihad Watch, Moonbattery,Gates of Vienna, Power Line, Western Rifle Shooters and Jonathan Tobin at Commentary, among many others. Thanks to everyone who linked and mentioned the story, bringing awareness of the issue, which has apparently now been featured on some talk radio shows and CNN. It isn't likely to stop Sohail from becoming a judge, but as things stand now, politicians are rewarded for pandering to Islamists. Some sense that the pandering is observed and damages their image may restrain them a little. And helps build public awareness of the level of infiltration by Islamists into the political system.

Steve Emerson, whose work I heavily based my own article on, has now come out with his own article (via PowerLine). The additional information here suggests that the AMU list on Yahoo Groups was used to distribute anti-semitic material. While AMU has erased their Yahoo Group, some sample remains of the content still exists in stray messages reposted elsewhere.

One such sample claims that "Zionist Commando Orchestrated The 9-11 Terrorist Attacks".

While this is only a single message, Sohail Mohammed should be encouraged to have AMU, whose board he sits on, turn over all archived copies of their group to see whether this is a representative sample of what went on there or not. And he should be asked whether he participated in this forum at a time when anti-semitic material was posted there.

Emerson makes it clear once again that Sohail has a long track record of defending terrorists, not just in court where he may be acting as a professional, but as a private citizen as a well, indicating not just professional obligation, but personal sympathy.
As general counsel, Mohammed bucked several high-profile terror support prosecutions. After authorities shut down the Holy Land Foundation near Dallas for alleged Hamas support in 2001, Mohammed told the Record of Bergen County, N.J., that the government was unjustly singling out Muslim organizations."People see this as another example of how heavy-handed the administration has been thus far," he said.


Mohammed publicly defended Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative Sami Al-Arian following a 2003 indictment which alleged he was a North American leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Appearing on MSNBC, Mohammed criticized the fact that it took years of investigation before the indictment was issued. "It all points out to the distrust that the Muslim community have, which is this is nothing but a witch-hunt," he said. "This is nothing but a politically motivated indictment, and all you are waiting for is the right opportunity to indict the person, the climate is right."

Al-Arian, a longtime professor at the University of South Florida, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to provide goods and services to the PIJ. In sentencing him, a federal judge said the evidence made it clear he was "a leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. You were on the board of directors and an officer, the secretary. Directors control the actions of an organization, even the PIJ; and you were an active leader."

ThinkProgress picked up on the Christie criticism with the usual boilerplate about the Muslim hating right. Sohail's role on the AMU board of directors is never addressed. My own article is reduced to the opening sentence and the closing sentence. To treat the TP piece the same way, here it is. "Last week, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) announced seven judgeship appointments" and "appealing to bloggers who claim radical Islam is the nation’s greatest threat." At the New Republic, Jonathan Chait was lazy enough to pick up and copy over the TP piece.

Also in the news, "President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia met on Tuesday with the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, in the West Bank oasis town of Jericho and reaffirmed his country’s support for a Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem."

I think that's only fair. And I hereby affirm my support for a Chechen state with its capital in Moscow.

A scene from Gaza

French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie was attacked by a mob in Gaza on Friday morning. Her attackers were enraged over statements she had allegedly made the day before supporting human rights for kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Alliot-Marie was mobbed as she entered Gaza, with a crowd surrounding her car, pounding on its windows, and throwing shoes at the vehicle. One person jumped on the car. Two children were pushed in front of the first car in Alliot-Marie's convoy, forcing the convoy to a stop while the attack continued.

Just in case you missed the vital point, here it is again

Two children were pushed in front of the first car in Alliot-Marie's convoy, forcing the convoy to a stop

Think about a people who use children as human roadblocks for a protest... because they're counting on the Westerners they're protesting against having more compassion for their children... than they do for the children themselves.

Think about the human values or lack thereof in this entire culture that makes behavior such as this feasible. And then think of all the supposed Muslim civilian deaths that turned out to be faked. This is what we're dealing with here.

Now remember that Golda Meir quote again, "Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us." It doesn't just apply to Israel, it applies to the whole world.

Right now the Muslim world is devoid of human values. Even love for their own children is a flash in the pain compared to the heat of their hatred for non-Muslims. Children in the Muslim world are objects, not subjects. And that is the worst tragedy of all.

Meanwhile at the Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin commented on the push by some of the Anti-Israel crowd to get Obama to support an Anti-Israel resolution at the UN. Steve Clemmons whose HuffPo piece she linked to got all outraged and came to Andrew Sullivan for solace.

Steve Clemons is having none of the usual anti-anti-Semite code being flung at him because he actually shares the Obama administration's approach to Israel, but wants a change in tactics:

Except that Jennifer Rubin referred to the letter signers as Israel bashers, NOT Anti-Semites.

"The usual crowd of Israel bashers has sent the president a letter"

So either Andrew Sullivan can't read (possible) or he's now decided that Israel-basher is code for anti-semite or as he says 'anti-anti-semite' (making sense of that seems more like Loughner's department) and that's where we stand.

It's possible to accuse someone of being a dual loyalists, as Andrew Sullivan has, but it's not possible to state that someone is bashing Israel. How Alice in Wonderland can you get.

I think the answer is that any criticism of Israel is evidence, in the paranoid neocon mind, of anti-Semitism.

But since Jennifer Rubin never mentioned anti-Semitism, only Sullivan... it's clear that the paranoid mind is Sullivan's own.

Having completely misrepresented a simple sentence from Jennifer Rubin, Sullivan wants an apology from Rubin and the Washington Post. No seriously.

It's not a major brain teaser why Rubin would refer to a group of letter signers which includes Peter Beinart, John Esposito, James Zogby, Amjad Atallah and a member of "Rabbis for Human Rights", a radical left wing organization which has terrorized Jewish farmers -- as Israel bashers.

Steve Clemons, the author of the HuffPo piece, has gotten plenty of the usual left wing sites to pick up his claim that he was libeled by Jennifer Rubin. Except Rubin referred to the signers in general, not Clemons specifically, so like Sullivans, Clemons can't read either.

It's indisputable that there are notorious Israel bashers who have signed on to the letter. Now Steve Clemons is trying to cynically exploit his own functional illiteracy to go after Jennifer Rubin's position at the Post.

I would like to know from Jennifer Rubin and from her editor -- and from the Chairman of the Board of the Washington Post -- what I have ever said, what I have ever written, what I have ever organized that deserves the characterization I received from Jennifer Rubin today at the Washington Post. What does she consider makes me an Israel-basher?

I can't speak for Jennifer Rubin, but Steve Clemons has promoted relations with Hamas, suggested that Obama needs to "push Netanyahu around the sumo ring", accused Israel of "building a wall against unapproved intellectuals" by refusing entry to Noam Chomsky (who is affiliated with Holocaust deniers and terrorists), pushed the Liberty smear and accused Israels of ethnic cleansing. And that's just what I came up with in 5 minutes. He does it all with a smile, hiding the barbs behind often ambiguous languages, but it's still there.

But even if it wasn't, Jennifer Rubin was referring to the overall signers, not to him personally. And Steve Clemons' cynical full court press attack on Rubin combines self-promotion with the same kind of slime campaign he accuses her of.

But I don't call those who support Netanyahu Israel-bashers even though I believe that as patriotic as they may be as Israelis or as pro-Israel as they may be as Americans, they are harming Israel's interests. That could be a constructive debate -- something where both sides could learn something, perhaps.

Ah yes, good tolerant Steve Clemons. Willing and eager to listen to any and ever side. Respectful of all men, regardless of their beliefs.

Except when it comes to accusing Jewish politicians of dual loyalty for being critical of Obama

"Schumer's screed gets to the edge of sounding as if he is more a Senator working in the Knesset than working in the United States Senate."

Is that Israel bashing? No I'd say that's more like anti-semitism.

That's not the only time that Steve Clemons trotted out an anti-semitic dual loyalty canard targeting Jewish members of congress. There was this.

"Any US Congressperson or Senator who actually explicitly withdrew or withheld support for health care reform because of loyalty first to Israel and its needs would invite serious questions about his or her patriotism and oath to the US Constitution and American people."

Now Steve Clemons was commenting on something that never happened, but he nevertheless felt the need to launch an attack with an explicitly anti-semitic undertone.

So Steve Clemons has done much worse than call the pro-Israel side bashers, he's questioned their loyalty and called them traitors instead.

It's exactly the kind of "insidious character attack" and "reckless sliming" that he wrongly attributes to Rubin.

Continuing the roundup, from Atlas Shrugs, the investigation into the IHH flotilla

The conclusions are

1. The Gaza Flotilla Was Supported by the Turkish Government

2. IHH Was Not Acting Alone – The Role of the Global Muslim Brotherhood Network

3. The Flotilla Was Not A Humanitarian Effort

4. The Intent of the Flotilla Was Breaking the Blockade and Delegitimizing Israel

5. There Are Serious Implications from the Gaza Flotilla for Turkey’s Future Relations with the West

6. How Could the Role of the Global Muslim Brotherhood Be So Overlooked?

Follow the link to see the whole thing in depth.

Boker Tov Boulder reminds us once again that there are no depths the left will not sink to. Literally. No Depths.

Doug Ross has his take on Obama's state dinner with a tyrant

In short, a despotic regime -- that enslaves huge portions of its population, crushes the practice of religions, emits monstrous amounts of pollution, and is dramatically expanding its military reach and power with the United States as its obvious, ultimate aim -- is "good for the world".

In the mean time, the Obama White House is doing its best to weaken our country, following the game-plan of the Clinton administration. While leaf-blowing trillions of dollars on every social program imaginable, it has slashed NASA's budget, drastically cut the defense budget, and restricted access to our own energy supplies for reasons bordering on the suicidal.

So does Lemon Lime Moon

Obama sat at a filthy banquet table last night. All the glitterati of a diseased and corrupt generation surrounding him drinking from fine cups , eating from expensive plates and silverware that others fought and died for the privilege of having wine at $399.00 a bottle served to the leader of a nation that grinds their people to mush under tanks. A nation that has no idea of the meaning of human dignity or rights.

From Ace, here come the wonders of state bankruptcy. Long run fallout, more debt, more federalism, less states rights.

Elder of Ziyon overlays the mobbing phenomenon onto Israel

# Emotion-laden, defamatory rhetoric about the target in oral and written communications.
# Formal expressions of collective negative sentiment toward the target, e.g., a vote of censure, signatures on a petition, meeting to discuss what to do about the target.
# High value on secrecy, confidentiality, and collegial solidarity among the mobbers.
# Loss of diversity of argument, so that it becomes dangerous to "speak up for" or defend the target.
# The adding up of the target's real or imagined venial sins to make a mortal sin that cries for action.
# The target is seen as personally abhorrent, with no redeeming qualities; stigmatizing, exclusionary labels are applied.


Meanwhile over at Gateway Pundit, the Obama Administration still can't let go of its diseased Zelaya fixation

Finally from Gates of Vienna, an example of a government that acts with courage, at a time when few do anymore. Of course it's Canada.


Anonymous said...

"But she hasn't been able to reach beyond them yet. And that's a major problem.". And I don't think she'll be able to. (1)She just doesn't present as being knowledgable, no matter how correct her moral instincts or national priorities might be. That big mass of middle ground folks who haven't quite woken up yet (or are slowly waking up) to Islamism, homeland security threats, and US weakness may come around to someone like John Bolton (if he can get serious in the PR zone and shed the moustache). (2)Her growing celebrity status has only served to further cement her into a corner and make her that much more easy to typecast, cycling back to point (1) above.

Yael said...

Your thoughts about Palin's chances are very convincing, but isn't it odd that we have a president now who is even less able than she to transcend criticism? I wonder if he isn't the most thin-skinned president we've ever had. Do you think the media can shove him down our throats AGAIN? Gd forbid.

HermitLion said...


Much like in nepotism, people who get into office based on a manufactured image and superficial traits (gender, skin color), tend to lack the thick-skinned confidence that someone with actual talents may have.


While Palin may be a good candidate to deal with internal American affairs, I am afraid that her image and mannerisms are a disadvantage when dealing with foreign patriarchal cultures, like Russia and Islam.
They need to be scared, and I just don't see her being able to have this effect - not without frightening her own supporters in the process.

Also, the story about the French foreign minister in Gaza is great material. The same trick that they used in Jerusalem for the 'evil settler running down innocent attempted murderers' video.

David said...

Daniel, sorry if this comment is posting a bit late, but I'm new to this site.

I really think it is a little unfair (or perhaps incorrect) to criticize Palin because she hasn't handled the no-holds-barred attacks that have been levelled against her as well as the Presidents Reagan and Bush. Prior to entering the national scene, she had only been Governor of a state (whose entire population (per is less than that of one city [Jacksonville, FL]) for a couple of years. Before that, she was a housewife that had been elected mayor of a small town (pop ~10k). Comparing this experience to that of the Governors of California & Texas is disengenous.

That is why I think that it is unfair to characterize her response to vicious (not to mention expensive) attacks being levelled against her as being a character defect.

That being said, I still feel that she (and America) would be a LOT better off if she had had a chance to perform the duties of Vice-President for four years under President McCain before being thrown into national politics on her own.

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