Motzei Shabbat (After Shabbat)
Many of you likely saw the vice presidential debate last Thursday night. It was not the run-away Republican win that the first presidential debate had been, but Ryan carried the day with a respectable performance: With one exception, every poll I saw declared him the winner. A CNN poll of people who had watched, done right after the debate, showed 48% declaring Republican contender Representative Paul Ryan the winner, and 44% Vice President Joe Biden.
You can see details here:
There are two observations about that debate that it seems important to make here.
First is a gross misrepresentation (a lie, more candidly) proffered by Biden. When asked about the fact that the Obama administration had claimed that reaction to an anti-Muslim film (and not terrorism) had generated the violence in Benghazi, Libya, that resulted in the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others, he claimed that Obama was simply relying on the intelligence information he was given. When the intelligence changed, said Biden, and it finally became clear that terrorism was responsible, the president said so.
What I do not understand is how Biden managed to say this with a straight face.
The attack took place on September 11. I had, and shared, information early on that the American intelligence community knew within 24 hours that it was terrorism:
And yet, a full two weeks later, when the president addressed the UN, he blatantly and shamelessly advanced that feeble excuse about the cause being the film.
Not only was Biden not straight about this, he also tendered denials about the failure of the US Administration to respond to a request for additional security in Benghazi.
See more on this here:
Rupert Murdoch, News Corp Chair, in a tweet today, said, "Biden throws CIA under the bus."
This is very troublesome stuff.
But there was something else that was troublesome about the debate. Consistently, Biden laughed inappropriately, mugged, and sneered when Ryan was talking. The arrogance and rudeness were startling. With this condescending behavior, he presumably sought to convey the message that his position was superior. But it backfired on him badly. His behavior -- which included numerous interruptions of Riley -- couldn't be missed by anyone watching; there was nothing subtle about it. And it would seem that many did not like it at all.
You can see comments about it here:
If you have not seen the debate, you can access it here. What I'm talking about regarding demeanor must be seen; it cannot be reflected in a transcript.
On Friday, Caroline Glick wrote a fine piece that I would like to draw from here. Her focus is the irrational insistence of a considerable percentage of the American Jewish community on supporting Obama. I say "irrational" because, to a very considerable degree, Obama does not represent the values Jews espouse.
While quoting her here (with emphasis added), I would like to suggest that some of her arguments also apply to some who are not Jews, but who think of themselves as "liberal."
Glick asks, Does Obama really advance American Jewish [or, I will add, liberal] values?
"What are those values anyway? Well, there's civil liberties. American Jews like these. But Obama doesn't.
"Take freedom of speech. Obama is the most hostile president to freedom of speech in recent memory. He has advocated implementing the so-called "fairness doctrine" for radio to stifle the free speech of his political opponents on talk radio.
" He has sought to undermine the freedom of the Internet through federal regulations and intimidation of Internet companies such as Google.
"He has made repeated and outspoken attempts to intimidate individuals, groups and businesses including Google to bar freedom of speech as it relates to criticism of Islam. He has purged the lexicon of the federal government of all terms necessary to describe jihad, Islamic radicalism and terrorism...
"Then there are women's rights. American Jews like those.
"True, Obama has distinguished himself as the greatest ally of abortion-on-demand ever. He even supported infanticide of babies who survived abortions when he served in the Illinois legislature. But we women are a bit more than reproductive machines. We also work and raise families..."
"Aside from that, there are females who live outside of the US.
"American Jews have long been outspoken champions of women's rights around the world. But here Obama's record is arguably worse than any president in US history.
"Obama has abandoned the women most at risk of gender-based discrimination, rape and murder -- the women and girls of the Muslim world. Whereas the Bush administration liberated the women and girls of Afghanistan from the maniacally misogynist Taliban regime, the Obama administration is negotiating with the Taliban and setting the conditions for its return to power. If the signature image of the Bush administration's war in Afghanistan was that of women voting, the signature image of Obama's war in Afghanistan is the photo of 14-year old Malala Yousafzai. This week Yousafzai was shot in the head by the Taliban in Pakistan for her defense of the right of girls to go to school."
Concludes Glick: "...The most disturbing aspect of the American Jewish community's devotion to Obama and the Democrats is that it indicates that the vast majority of American Jews have abandoned their faculties for independent thought and judgment in favor of conformism and slavish partisanship. They have rendered themselves unreachable."
Here at home, early polls are indicating that in the election -- which, the prime minister has announced, will be held on Tuesday, January 22, 2013 -- the right wing parties, including Likud, Yisrael Beitenu, Shas, a merged Habayit Hayehudi-National Union and United Torah Judaism would collectively garner more than sufficient mandates to form a coalition. The figure is in the neighborhood of 68.
But it's early in the game and a major factor is what the center-left parties will be doing. A front page headline in the JPost on Friday indicated that if there were a block of a number of different political figures joined together in one party, it could pull down more mandates than Likud (thus becoming the party that would be asked to form a coalition). But I consider this nothing but very hypothetical speculation. I consider it highly unlikely that Tzipi Livni, Yair Lapid, Shaul Mofaz and Gabi Ashkenazi will come together in one party.
And there is another aspect of this projection that is more than unlikely; it is, in my view, reprehensible and distressful. That is, the inclusion of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in this line-up.
Olmert, who has been found guilty in court of fraud and breach of trust, has not yet said he would agree to run. I am aghast there are members of Kadima imploring him to make a political come-back. There are still bribery charges against him outstanding, and the court has yet to decide on the issue of moral turpitude (which would automatically disqualify him). Heaven help us if we cannot do better than this. While I, certainly, have no part in Kadima, I confess to a sense of shame when writing this.
One last political note here for those following these events.
Two very passionate religious Zionist young men, Jeremy Gimpel (left below) and Ari Abramowitz, have been promoting Israel for some time. (See http://thelandofIsrael.com ) Some months ago, they announced their intention to run for the Knesset on the Habayit Hayehudi list, and campaigned diligently for people to become members of that party in order to vote for them in the party's primary.
Now Abramowitz has announced that he is pulling out, to further the chances of Gimpel to get into the Knesset. Meanwhile, Gimpel is throwing his not inconsiderable support behind Zevulun Orlev as party head; Orlev has held this position in the past. The party election will be held on November 6, the same day as the US election. It's a three-way race, with current party head Rabbi Dr. Daniel Hershkowitz and new-comer, Naftali Bennett, former aide to Netanyahu and successful businessman, also in the running.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.