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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 Sept. 30, 2009 / 12 Tishrei 5770

A Pragmatic Look at Obama's Pragmatism

By Jonah Goldberg




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | "When John McCain said we could just 'muddle through' in Afghanistan, I argued for more resources and more troops to finish the fight against the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11, and made clear that we must take out Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants if we have them in our sights," Barack Obama thundered as he accepted the Democratic nomination for president in Denver last year. "John McCain likes to say that he'll follow bin Laden to the gates of Hell. But he won't even go to the cave where he lives."

It was a shabby bit of rhetoric, even for a campaign. Insinuating that McCain, of all people, didn't have the intestinal fortitude to take the fight to bin Laden was not only absurd on its face, it smacked of overcompensation coming from the former community organizer whose greatest foreign policy passion prior to his presidential bid had been nuclear disarmament.

But the line did what it needed to do: communicate that Obama had the sort of true grit required to fight the good, i.e. popular, war in Afghanistan. That war may or may not be good anymore, but it is most certainly not popular. And so what was for Obama a "war of necessity" has become a de facto war of choice. At least that's the sense one gets as the president is suddenly searching for a politically palatable strategy other than the one he announced months ago.

Now, I think it would amount to both breathtaking cynicism and, far worse, bad policy for Obama to abandon Afghanistan to the Taliban and al-Qaida. That goes for the "Biden plan," which would amount to little better than a public relations effort whereby we would score regular symbolic victories while steadily losing the war.

But if it's sincere, I welcome Obama's willingness to rethink his position on an issue in which he invested so much political capital and machismo.

Obama came into office swearing he was a pragmatist who would support any approach that worked. He liked to invoke Franklin Roosevelt as his lodestar, for Roosevelt championed "bold, persistent experimentation." Discussing the economy, Obama told "60 Minutes": "What you see in FDR that I hope my team can emulate is not always getting it right but projecting a sense of confidence and a willingness to try things and experiment in order to get people working again."

That spirit has been woefully lacking in Obama's presidency so far. During the campaign, Obama's top domestic priorities were reform of health care, education and energy. When an economic crisis that is -- according to Obama, at least -- second only to the Depression exploded in front of him, Obama the alleged pragmatist concluded that, mirabile dictu, his year-old agenda was the perfect solution.

Obama insisted that as president of both "red" and "blue" America, he was open to ideas from both sides of the aisle. But his stimulus bill was as partisan and one-sided as Democrats claimed George W. Bush's tax cuts were. At least Bush's tax cuts actually cut taxes. It remains to be seen whether Obama's stimulus stimulated anything at all.

After ending the war in Iraq and taking the fight to bin Laden's cave, direct engagement with the Iranian regime was candidate Obama's greatest foreign policy priority. Partly this stemmed from the fact that he accidentally suggested in a debate that he would meet with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad without preconditions. Rather than admit he was wrong, Obama stuck to his idee fixe throughout the campaign.

Since being elected, it seems that his off-the-cuff slipup wasn't that off the cuff. Despite an ever-increasing number of lies, subterfuges and outrages on the part of the Iranians, the Obama administration has seemed convinced that they can be talked into compliance with the so-called international community.

But the optimist can look at Obama's newfound open-mindedness on Afghanistan and his potential orchestration of international sanctions against Iran as proof that reality is prying him from his ideological cocoon.

Alas, there's another way of reading recent events. Critics always claimed that Obama was a very left-wing fellow who was never the centrist he claimed to be. The pessimist might suspect that Obama's newfound pragmatism only manifests itself when it permits him to abandon the centrist positions that may have helped him get elected but are of no use to him politically anymore. What seemed like principled centrism in 2008 might simply be exposed as left-wing expediency in 2009.

Here's hoping the optimists are right.

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