Thursday, December 27, 2012

Dead Man Tell No Tales

The big Senate news is Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie's (D) selection to replace Sen. Daniel Inouye (D), who recently passed away. Inouye -- a legendary figure in Hawaiian politics -- released a deathbed letter saying his "one and only choice" for a successor was Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D). But Abercrombie rocked the boat by instead picking Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz to take the seat. Schatz will serve two years until a 2014 special election; the winner of that will have to run for reelection in 2016.

So the question on everyone's mind is why Abercrombie decided to spurn Inouye's dying wish? The line I've heard is that Abercrombie wanted to demonstrate "independence" from Inouye's giant shadow. If so, it strikes me as a bit weak -- it seems less like a bold stroke and more like, well, kicking a dead guy.

I'm not saying that Abercrombie was obligated to pick Hanabusa. I'm saying that one would hope that there are substantive differences between her and Schatz that motivated the pick, because if it was more of an inside-baseball sort of deal then I can't imagine that it will really turn out well for Abercrombie.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Ever-Shifting Influence of AIPAC

Last week, Open Zion (through Peter Beinart) was predicting that AIPAC would not "publicly oppose" the nomination of Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense, because it would be a fight it "can't win." This week, Open Zion (through Bernard Avishai) accuses a who's who of Jewish organizations (including, but not limited to, AIPAC) of being "Neo-McCarthyites" due to their alleged role in sinking Hagel's as-yet-unannounced nomination.

Maybe all this shows is that the political instincts of Open Zion just aren't that good. Or maybe it shows that Open Zion treats AIPAC more as a phantom to project their own distaste for how American and Jewish politics operates than as an actual organization that does actual things. There is a lot of fulmination about AIPAC's "intimidation", but very little about what AIPAC has actually done in this controversy, and there's whining that Jewish organizations are haphazardly "branding" anyone who opposes them as an anti-Semite without noting that this charge has been explicitly disavowed with respect to Hagel (oh, but they don't have to say it, because the things they are attacking Hagel for are "things only an anti-Semite would do." How conveniently unfalsifiable, that saying you're not calling someone anti-Semitic isn't even relevant evidence to whether one is trying to "cow" them into submission by calling them anti-Semitic).

Finally, I'd note that we have a bit of Chas Freeman syndrome all over again here -- the Jews are only after that one thing. Senator Hagel hails from the realist wing of the foreign policy community. And there are plenty of Americans who are not foreign policy realists, for a variety of reasons that often have nothing to do with Israel and which can be held independent of any political beliefs on Israel. Chinese dissidents, for example, had plenty of reason to be skeptical of Freeman without taking any positions whatsoever on Israel. And so it is with Hagel -- if one is not a fan of his particular intellectual orientation to foreign policy, one can be skeptical of his nomination without it being Israel-or-bust.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Probably Just a Massive Welfare Operation

LGM has some stories from the failed Romney campaign:
Rich Beeson, the Romney political director who co­authored the now-discredited Ohio memo, said that only after the election did he realize what Obama was doing with so much manpower on the ground. Obama had more than 3,000 paid workers nationwide, compared with 500 for Romney, and hundreds of thousands of volunteers.

“Now I know what they were doing with all the staffs and ­offices,” Beeson said. “They were literally creating a one-to-one contact with voters,” something that Romney did not have the staff to match.
Like the LGM guys, I too am curious what Beeson thought the Obama campaign was doing with all those workers. Did they think it was just a handout to layabouts -- "walking around money", as I believe the conservative conspiracy goes?

Anyway, the good news is that the corporate-style campaign Romney run is both (a) a terrible model and (b) culturally ingrained within the modern Republican Party. So I look forward to many more electoral spankings coming their way.