Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Last Call

Pressure from President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has convinced Israel to try Egypt's brokered cease fire with Hamas today.  Mike Kelley at Business Insider believes Hamas got the better end of the deal, at least publicly. (Emphasis his):

An Egypt-brokered ceasefire between Israel and Hamas was announced today with both sides claiming victory, but it appears Hamas may have gotten the better deal.

Here's the key part of the agreement: "Opening the crossings and facilitating the movement of people and transfer of goods and refraining from restricting residents' free movements and targeting residents in border areas."

If the agreement opens all border crossings with the Gaza Strip, including the key Rafah crossing with Egypt, that is a big victory for Hamas government and the people of Gaza.

Which immediately makes me think that Israel got something behind the scenes from President Obama in exchange for agreeing to Egypt's deal.  I have no idea what it is, but it's probably something substantial.  Cynical side of me believes it has something to do with Iran.  Most likely, it's a serious upgrade to Iron Dome, or perhaps some new Pentagon toys for the IDF to make the people of Gaza particularly miserable with.

Not honestly sure, but then again I'm not sure this cease fire will last through the weekend, either.

Big Blue Marble (Mouth)

Slate's Daniel Engber tries to compare Marco Rubio's pitiful "How old is the Earth?" dodge this week to an earlier Senator Barack Obama statement from 2008, and declares both parties are just as awful on science.  No, really.  Slate pitch ahoy!

I've no doubt that these critiques of Rubio are sound. But I'm hesitant to let the crown prince of the Tea Party be singled out for blame. His shameless dodge and pander on the matter of the Earth's creation don't mark him as a radical, nor even as a soldier in the war on science. They mark him only as a mainstream politician.

Beware, for thou that judgest doest the same things: Members of both parties have had to squiggle through elections by appealing to a hazy sense of geo-history. In fact, the Antichrist himself—Barack Obama—has had a tendency to get a little soft with science. 

Here's the Obama quote when he was asked what he would say to one of his daughters if they asked him if the Earth was really created in six days:

What I've said to them is that I believe that God created the universe and that the six days in the Bible may not be six days as we understand it … it may not be 24-hour days, and that's what I believe. I know there's always a debate between those who read the Bible literally and those who don't, and I think it's a legitimate debate within the Christian community of which I'm a part. My belief is that the story that the Bible tells about God creating this magnificent Earth on which we live—that is essentially true, that is fundamentally true. Now, whether it happened exactly as we might understand it reading the text of the Bible: That, I don't presume to know.

Please note that Barack Obama was asked a question about theology and specifically how he would respond to his young daughters.  Marco Rubio was asked a question about science and specifically what he himself believed about the age of the Earth.  Comparing the two are apples and allegories featuring talking foliage made of fire.

Here's what Obama said next:

Let me just make one last point on this. I do believe in evolution. I don't think that is incompatible with Christian faith, just as I don't think science generally is incompatible with Christian faith. I think that this is something that we get bogged down in. There are those who suggest that if you have a scientific bent of mind then somehow you should reject religion, and I fundamentally disagree with that. In fact, the more I learn about the world, the more I know about science, the more I am amazed about the mystery of this planet and this universe—and it strengthens my faith as opposed to weakens it.

Which is what a colossal number of Americans think.  Funny how that works.  The other major difference between the two men is Obama's second statement, an unapologetic and full-throated defense of evolution, which Marco Rubio won't give you either.

So no, not the same.  Go figure, Slate.

Snow White And Jon Huntsman

An interesting admission this week from Obama campaign head Jim Messina that while Mitt Romney was still formidable enough an opponent to really give Team O a run for their money up until the last week or so of the race, it was Jon Huntsman who Messina thought would have made a far more effective foe.

We were honest about our concerns about Huntsman,” Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said at a Politico breakfast event Tuesday. “I think Huntsman would have been a very tough candidate.”

As for the president, he liked Mr. Huntsman enough to appoint him ambassador to China in 2009. Mr. Messina, who was working in the White House at the time, said he helped Mr. Huntsman win Senate confirmation.

“As someone who helped manage his confirmation for Chinese ambassador, he’s a good guy,” Mr. Messina said. “We looked at his profile in a general election and thought he would have been” a formidable candidate.  Politico’s video of the remarks is here.

Mr. Huntsman’s candidacy never caught on. In 2011, he sent out a tweet affirming that he believed in evolution and trusted “scientists on global warming.”

“Call me crazy,” Mr. Huntsman said at the time.

But I don't think Huntsman would have fared any better.  Remember, Mitt Romney's problem (or one of them) was that evangelical whites stayed home.  Huntsman would have had the same problem, plus unlike Romney, he went out of his way to antagonize the base in order to get the middle.  And in a moment of rare clarity, even Katrina Trinko at the National Review admits Huntsman was even less of a moderate than Mitt pretended to be:

It fits into the whole tea-party narrative to depict Huntsman as a moderate who was banished by the wild GOP. But that ignores that Huntsman was in some ways to the right of Mitt Romney (Utah’s health-care system relied on exchanges, not an individual mandate, and Huntsman came out for the Ryan plan, as I recall, long before Romney did).

Particularly on economic issues, Huntsman is a Paul Ryan Austerian.  He would have had as hard a time capturing the center as Romney did, plus he would have come up even shorter on support from the base considering his stint as President Obama's Ambassador to China.

If anything, he has even less of a chance in 2016.


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