Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Jan. 19, 2009 / 23 Teves 5769

Guess who came to dinner? Obama is right to break bread with critics

By Jack Kelly

>
Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | "He is so well informed, and he loves to deal with both sides of an issue," said Larry Kudlow, conservative economist and CNBC talk show host. "I was honored to meet him. He is a very impressive man."


He is President-elect Barack Obama, with whom Mr. Kudlow and other conservative opinion leaders, including columnist Charles Krauthammer, Wall Street Journal editorial page editor Paul Gigot, Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol and National Review Editor Rich Lowry, dined Tuesday night at the home of columnist George Will.


The dinner caused consternation among partisans left and right. Some liberals wondered if it didn't presage a further trimming of the promises Mr. Obama made during the campaign. Some conservatives groused the pundits were trading in their principles for greater standing in the D.C. social circuit.


But as a matter of both policy and politics, the dinner was exactly the right thing for both Mr. Obama and his frequent critics to do.


Mr. Obama spoke often in the campaign of his intent to listen to all sides in the American conversation. This is apparently one campaign promise he intends to keep.


The likelihood the dinner conversation changed anyone's mind about big issues is exceedingly small. But what almost certainly will happen is that the pundits will be quicker to praise Mr. Obama when they think he is right, more gentle in their criticism when they think he is wrong.


That's certainly worth the investment of an evening's time.


And it's worth the investment of an evening to try to change the tone in Washington. I blame the poisonous atmosphere in the capital more on his critics than on President Bush, but Mr. Obama's efforts to change that atmosphere are welcome. America has real enemies. But Democrats and Republicans are not among them. Extreme partisans on both sides could profit from the example of civility and outreach set by the president-elect and the conservative pundits.


Yes, it's all symbolism. But symbolism is important. I think the greatest failure of the Bush administration was his failure to communicate effectively what he was doing, and why. He spent little time talking to his friends, much less to his critics. It would be an exaggeration to say Barack Obama already has spent more effort in outreach to conservative opinion leaders than Dubya did in his eight years in office, but it wouldn't be much of an exaggeration.


And Mr. Obama displays an exquisite subtlety in his symbolism. The day after the dinner at the Will home, he met with liberal pundits, which is wholly appropriate. But the meeting with the liberals didn't last as long, and no refreshments were served. Both evangelical Pastor Rick Warren and gay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson will pray at the Inaugural, but Pastor Warren has the more prominent role.


Beneath the symbolism there is the slim possibility of substantive cooperation from time to time. The Obama administration appears likely to occupy ground between the Democratic leadership in Congress and Republicans. So on some issues — like, for instance, on the size and nature of tax cuts in the stimulus package — it might be the president and the GOP against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.


The dinner at the Will home may have been part of Mr. Obama's effort to obtain GOP support for his stimulus plan, from which he has much more to gain than Republicans do. If it works, Mr. Obama will get all the credit. If it doesn't, GOP participation will make it harder for Republicans to criticize him at election time.


The most juvenile assumption partisans make is that the people who disagree with them are stupid. Republicans will be in big trouble if they fail to recognize that Mr. Obama is a formidable political talent. Republicans should accept the hand he extends to them, because it is far, far more important that the economy recover than that Democrats be blamed for its failure to do so. But Republicans should count carefully their fingers afterward.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Jack Kelly, a former Marine and Green Beret, was a deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force in the Reagan administration. Comment by clicking here.

Jack Kelly Archives


© 2008, Jack Kelly

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles