The Battle Over Health Care Will Continue
The Obama Administration’s narrow victory over health care in March 2010 may now be in danger. See today’s article in the New York Times. It is has always been my position that the passage of this legislation, forced through against such popular resistance was a monumental mistake for the Administration, a pyrrhic victory that cast the President as both blind and unfeeling about public opinion. With the Republican dominated House now vowing to take on the Administration on the issue of repeal, the stage is set for a titanic and historic struggle in Congress in 2011. While many Democrats, charged by their apparent victories on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the START Treaty, are preparing for a fight in the hopes of carrying it as a trophy into the 2012 election season, I firmly believe it will backfire and that Obamacare will in fact hang as an albatross around the party’s neck for years to come.
The Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talk Pantomime Opens its 2011 Season
If 2010 was a frustrating year for Middle East peace activists, wait until you experience 2011. It will continue to be the Netanyahu Government’s strategy to push the Palestinians for unconditional negotiations while the Palestinian leadership will continue to demand a settlement freeze as a pre-condition for any future negotiations. But the Palestinians clearly don’t want a simple settlement freeze; they had one from December 2009 through September 2010 and failed to come to the table. They want Israel to agree to remove all settlements before negotiations even begin. The Palestinian leadership has clearly decided that it has enough international clout to apply pressure to the Israelis by doing nothing and letting other governments to do the talking – and perhaps even negotiating, for them. The Obama Administration has looked helpless in the face of such intransigence, choosing to apply pressure to Netanyahu rather than Abbas. It has been a disastrous policy leading to deepening distrust between the U.S. and Israel and the ever widening possibilities for the outbreak of violence. Netanyahu’s statement today is only further evidence of this continuing pantomime. I will have more to say on this in the coming weeks.
Muslim Abuse of Christians in Egypt
It is extraordinary how little is known about the persecution of the Christian Copts in Egypt. Over the weekend, following the bombing of a church on New Year’s Eve in Alexandria in which 25 church goers were killed, our attention should be riveted on this issue. It is representative of a wide scale assault on Christian communities throughout the Muslim world and while the Egyptian government might be wringing its hands over the death of the Copts, how many know that it is the secular Egyptian government itself which maintains an anti-Christian policy, with widespread discrimination legislated against the sect in many areas of daily life. Even more appalling than this though, is the abject failure of Christian leaders – most particularly the leaders of major Protestant denominations, to express their outrage and contempt for the continued harassment of Christian minorities in both Egypt and elsewhere in the Muslim world.
My Letter in the Los Angeles Times
Please see my letter, published in the Los Angeles Times on January 1. It was written in response to an oped by Neal Gabler on December 26 which claimed that the Democratic party was not quite progressive or bold enough for his tastes and that the current President is just another Democratic cop out. Naturally, the letter was edited. Here is the full text:
Worry no more about the fate of poor Planet Pluto. It is the terrestrial sphere where Democratic pundits such as Neal Gablereath ( Compromised to Death 12/26 ) have taken up residence. Gabler’s understanding of American politics and the American electorate are so bizarrely out of focus that it is natural to believe he is indeed living on another planet. It is plainly absurd to suggest that Barack Obama has changed course simply because that is the nature of modern Democrats in power. That is the nature of American politics, period. All of the Democratic presidents he mentions, FDR, Truman and LBJ, moved to compromise when their agendas ran into resistance. The presidential ship regularly founders on the shoals of such political realities and it matters little whether it is helmed by a Democrat or a Republican.
Gabler also seems not to have heard of the Tea Party movement, (not mentioned once in his piece), a grass roots resistance to the ideological purity exemplified by Obama in his first first two years in power and which led the charge in ruthlessly repudiating his agenda in November. Obama has demonstrated that he is enough of a pragmatist to gauge the direction of the political winds. It is a skill, sadly, which completely evades pundits such as Gabler.