The Myth Of The Anti-Muslim Hate Crime Wave

To hear CAIR tell the story, Americans have conducted a wave of hate crimes against Muslims that put them at greater and greater risk as time goes on. They highlight every perceived injustice as a means of shaming Americans into believing that Muslims in our midst have been the greatest victims of terrorism, thanks to our innate bigotry. However, as Investors Business Daily discovered when they looked at the FBI’s numbers, anti-Muslim hate crime has dropped dramatically since 9/11 — and another group remains far more likely to be victimized:

Not only are anti-Islamic hate crimes way down, but they’re a fraction of overall religious hate crimes. The overwhelming majority of such crimes target Jews, something CAIR and other Muslim groups don’t seem all that concerned about.
In 2006, a whopping 66% of religiously motivated attacks were on Jews, while just 11% targeted Muslims, even though the Jewish and Muslim populations are similar in size. Catholics and Protestants, who together account for 9% of victims, are subject to almost as much abuse as Muslims in this country.
Last year’s anti-Islamic hate crimes totaled 156. While just one hate crime is one too many, that’s a 68% drop from 2001.
The FBI report gives lie to CAIR’s alarmist narrative of “Islamophobic” lynch mobs marching on mosques across America. In reality, Americans have been remarkably, and admirably, tolerant and respectful of Muslims and their institutions since 9/11.

The actual statistics can be found at the FBI’s website. Out of almost 1500 anti-religious hate crimes committed in the US in 2006, 967 victimized Jews, while 156 victimized Muslims. Put together, Catholics and Protestants were the targets of 135 attacks.
That means on a per-capita basis, Muslims would be much more at risk for a hate crime in the US than a Christian. However, since Jews and Muslims have similarly-sized populations in the US, Jews are six times more likely to be victims of hate crimes than Muslims. Unlike with anti-Jewish hate crime, “intimidation” accounts for more than a third of all reported anti-Muslim victims. For Jewish victims, actual destruction of property accounts for two-thirds, while intimidation accounts for less than a fifth.
Qualitatively as well as quantitatively, the Jews have much more risk for hate crimes than the Muslims in America. Does that make our nation anti-Semitic? Hardly; we have provided perhaps the best opportunity for Jews to live in peace and prosperity than any other nation in the world. The same can be said for Muslims as well, but CAIR wants Americans to believe that we are a nation of Islamophobes who have to be scolded and legally harassed into giving Muslims a fair shake.
CAIR sells anger and fear. Americans have shown their hospitality to all peoples around the world, including Muslims, but CAIR isn’t interested in truth. It’s interested in power, and anger and fear make great shortcuts to it.

When Did Scott Ott Become Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Manager?

All right, I know a great satire site when I read it. Scott Ott must have contracted with the Hillary Clinton campaign for this argument, right? Only a true satirist or a complete idiot would go after a campaign opponent for his academic record — in kindergarten! Claiming that Barack Obama didn’t tell the truth when he said that his presidential run wasn’t the result of some long-held plan, Hillary dug up the evidence after checking the Crayola signatures (via Best of the Web):

In third grade, Senator Obama wrote an essay titled ‘I Want To Be a President.’ His third grade teacher: Fermina Katarina Sinaga “asked her class to write an essay titled ‘My dream: What I want to be in the future.’ Senator Obama wrote ‘I want to be a President,’ she said.” [The Los Angeles Times, 3/15/07]
In kindergarten, Senator Obama wrote an essay titled ‘I Want to Become President.’ “Iis Darmawan, 63, Senator Obama’s kindergarten teacher, remembers him as an exceptionally tall and curly haired child who quickly picked up the local language and had sharp math skills. He wrote an essay titled, ‘I Want To Become President,’ the teacher said.” [AP, 1/25/07 ]

I can see where Hillary might be offended by someone with overactive ambition. Imagine what it would be like to have someone stick with a philandering husband/politician, accuse political opponents of vast partisan conspiracies, carpetbag into another state to win a walkover Senate election, all just to maintain one’s political viability for a Presidential run! My goodness, we wouldn’t want that kind of overwhelming, avaricious desire for power succeeding in grabbing the White House, would we?
By the way, in case you were wondering, here’s my kindergarten essay on my political ambitions:
When I grow up, I want to spend eighteen years as a mid-level manager for alarm company call centers. After that, I want to write about politics on DarpaNet. I hear all the hot chicks dig balding, middle-aged political pundits.
It’s scary how those sandbox aspirations tend to come true, isn’t it? Of course, the week after that I wanted to be a cowboy. Yee and haw.
The Anchoress has more — and don’t miss her writings about Christmas and faith. It’s somewhat more uplifting than hearing about Hillary and one-night stands. Yee and haw again.
UPDATE: I was going to let this go, but The Anchoress sent me a link to an update, and I had to include John Edwards’ response:

Elsewhere in Iowa, Edwards mocked the Clinton campaign for sniping at Obama about his presidential ambitions.
“It’s like, boy, you can tell you’re getting close to the caucuses,” said Edwards in Waterloo.
“I want to confess to all of you right now,” Edwards said. “In third grade I wanted to be two things: I wanted to be a cowboy and I wanted to be Superman.”

Tomorrow, the Clinton campaign will begin looking for receipts that prove Edwards bought a cape. Seriously, though, I passed my Superman stage early. I was four when I used my stocking feet to glide on the kitchen floor like Superman “flew” — and stuck, fell, and broke off my front tooth at the gumline. After that, I stuck to dreams of middle management and political punditry.

Why We’re Not Bombing Iran

Some have expressed frustration at the slow pace of diplomacy with Iran over its nuclear program. A recent setback in Europe created more calls for targeted military strikes against Iran’s known nuclear facilities, and military-intervention advocates wondered why the Bush administration didn’t strike at once. Wait long enough, and the Iranians would produce a mushroom cloud for a smoking gun.
The intelligence community has a different analysis of the situation:

A new assessment by American intelligence agencies concludes that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and that the program remains frozen, contradicting judgment two years ago that Tehran was working relentlessly toward building a nuclear bomb.
The conclusions of the new assessment are likely to reshape the final year of the Bush administration, which has made halting Iran’s nuclear program a cornerstone of its foreign policy.
The assessment, a National Intelligence Estimate that represents the consensus view of all 16 American spy agencies, states that Tehran is likely keeping its options open with respect to building a weapon, but that intelligence agencies “do not know whether it currently intends to develop nuclear weapons.”
Iran is continuing to produce enriched uranium, a program that the Tehran government has said is designed for civilian purposes. The new estimate says that enrichment program could still provide Iran with enough raw material to produce a nuclear weapon sometime by the middle of next decade, a timetable essentially unchanged from previous estimates.

That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of peaceful intentions on the part of the Iranian mullahcracy. Furthermore, as AJ Strata points out and the New York Times does not, the actual declassified NIE doesn’t even give its own analysis a ringing endorsement. Here’s what the NIE actually says:

• We assess with high confidence that until fall 2003, Iranian military entities were working under government direction to develop nuclear weapons.
• We judge with high confidence that the halt lasted at least several years. (Because of intelligence gaps discussed elsewhere in this Estimate, however, DOE and the NIC assess with only moderate confidence that the halt to those activities represents a halt to Iran’s entire nuclear weapons program.)
• We assess with moderate confidence Tehran had not restarted its nuclear weapons program as of mid-2007, but we do not know whether it currently intends to develop nuclear weapons.
• We continue to assess with moderate-to-high confidence that Iran does not currently have a nuclear weapon.
• Tehran’s decision to halt its nuclear weapons program suggests it is less determined to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005. Our assessment that the program probably was halted primarily in response to international pressure suggests Iran may be more vulnerable to influence on the issue than we judged previously.

Hmm. What might have happened in 2003 to convince Teheran to stop its nuclear-weapons pursuit? Could it have been the events on its western border, where the American military removed a dictator that they couldn’t beat in eight years of brutal warfare? Libya’s Moammar Ghaddafi certainly had the same idea in 2003, and for that very reason.
The intelligence community only has high confidence on the point that the weapons program stopped for several years. Its confidence that they have remained quiet on weapons is moderate. That’s an admission that intel in Iran is hard to get, and reliable intel even less available. If they’re re-evaluating their analyses from two years ago, it’s a sign that their data is old and not terribly indicative of what’s happening now.
What do we know about Iran? They have openly bragged about getting a 3,000-centrifuge cascade in operation, on the way to 54,000. We know that the former can produce weapons-grade enriched uranium in nine months, the latter two weeks. We know that Iran got plans for nuclear weapons from the AQ Khan network. That tells us that even if Iran doesn’t want to build a bomb tomorrow, they can get to work on one rather quickly.
Right now, however, we think they’re waiting to see whether they want to make that move. We think that’s the case, based on limited intelligence. While Iran continues to run terrorist proxie groups, we have to focus on the shape of the threat we know, rather than what we think of their intentions. Therefore, the Bush administration has kept up pressure on Iran to end its nuclear program or at least the uranium enrichment, while rejecting for now the option of military intervention.
It explains why the White House has maintained its current policy, which seems sound and careful without being unnecessarily provocative. Read properly, it makes perfect sense.

NRO: Still Learning The Lessons

Earlier this afternoon, Kathryn Jean Lopez joined me on Heading Right Radio to discuss the continuing controversy over reporting at The Tank by Thomas Smith. Smith wrote two posts at The Tank in September which got events spectacularly incorrect, as recapped ably by retired Washington Post journalist Thomas Edsall at the Huffington Post. Both Michelle Malkin and Rick Moran wrote highly-linked articles on NRO’s reaction to the exposure of the blown stories, both castigating Smith; Michelle praised Kathryn’s reaction to the challenge, while Rick insisted that Smith be fired. Andrew Sullivan added a series of posts challenging Kathryn’s response, noting claims that she and NRO had been notified of the problem weeks earlier and had ignored it.
For full disclosure, Kathryn has on occasion asked me to contribute to NRO for on-line symposiums on specific topics. I don’t believe I’ve ever done anything for pay at National Review, although I may have. These occasional contributions could be counted on one hand, but it’s important to note them nonetheless. Kathryn explained that she wished she could have joined me today under better circumstances, and I certainly hope that we can have her back.
To start, we reviewed what happened on these two posts that allowed NRO to publish faulty information. Kathryn believes that NRO failed to provide sufficient editorial control at The Tank. Smith did not just get to post his submissions without editorial review, but Kathryn felt that the process lacked enough control. Smith isn’t a regular war reporter but more of a blogger, and she said that the magazine owed him better supervision and a more critical editorial process. NRO should have asked more questions about his sourcing for these stories, and asked him to clarify what he himself observed and what he got from other sources.
The failure of the editorial process was clearly evident. As Edsall, Moran, and others have pointed out, a shift of 5,000 armed Hezbollah militia members to a Christian neighborhood should have resulted in a lot of things blowing up. An editor who saw that kind of dispatch should have turned on CNN or the BBC to see how much smoke appeared over the Beirut skyline. When other reporters failed to note these developments, Smith’s editor should have asked further about these stories.
Smith, in his long explanation, insists that he had sourcing for the stories but left a misleading impression that he witnessed them himself. His defensive tone raised some questions as well, considering that he got the stories wrong. Kathryn told us that she asked Smith to post an explanation of what went wrong, while she handled the retraction and apology. Smith clearly needed a little guidance on that post as well.
Kathryn said that she didn’t think Smith intended to mislead or to create fabulism, but simply got burned by a source with an overactive imagination. NRO, contrary to the assumptions in the blogosphere, has not completed its investigation of The Tank’s reporting from Lebanon. Kathryn wanted to quickly retract the two posts and offer her apologies, while they continue to investigate Smith’s reporting. If they find more problems, Kathryn says they will re-evaluate their relationship with Smith.
That brings us to the issue of responsiveness. Kathryn says that she first found out about this just recently, within the last week or so when Edsall contacted her. Mitchell Prothero and Chris Albritton claim they both e-mailed NRO in October with their challenges to the story. However, Albritton used the e-mail for The Tank, not NRO’s editors; Prothero may or may not have done the same, but Lopez got neither of them, nor did any of the other editors. One might have assumed that The Tank’s published e-mail address would go to Smith, but in fact it went nowhere. Kathryn reports that NRO cannot find any evidence that the published e-mail ever got assigned to anyone. Only when Edsall contacted her directly — her e-mail appears on her posts at The Corner — did she start checking the story, and rapidly tried to respond.
So what are the lessons Kathryn and NRO want to take from this?
* Check all e-mail addresses posted on the site. As one listener commented in the webchat, it’s rude to have an e-mail posted for a writer or editor that doesn’t work. It also keeps editors from finding out about big problems with posted material in a timely manner. NRO is presently checking all of them now to ensure they have correct e-mail addresses, and that someone reads mail received from them.
* Provide real editorial supervision, especially over inexperienced writers. Had the editor checked the work, it would not have remained on the site for long, since the stories turned out to be false. Ask questions, challenge assumptions, and make sure that the writer clearly shows the sourcing on a story. ADDENDUM, 4:43 PM: Just to make sure this is clear, Kathryn felt that stronger editorial work would have revealed that Smith didn’t actually witness these events — and that would have prompted an editor to ask for more corroboration. A better process would have resulted in keeping these stories off of their website.
I got the sense that Kathryn wants to do the right thing by everyone involved — Smith, the editor, and the readers. In a sense, she feels that NRO has failed Smith by not providing the supervision and support he needed to write more clearly and also to show his sourcing. I don’t get a sense that she’s hiding anything or making excuses, except that she may be a little too solicitous of a writer that should have done a better job at making sure that the dramatic events he described actually took place.
Kathryn understands that the bottom line for any media organization, be it NRO, Captain’s Quarters, or The New Republic, is to get the story right. If she feels that adjusting NRO’s editorial process is sufficient to ensure that, we will watch the results. Kathryn promises to report on any other problems found in Smith’s other posts — and we’ll keep a close eye on that as well. Be sure to listen to the entire interview at Heading Right Radio.

David Keene, The NRO Controversy On Heading Right Radio Tomorrow

Note: This post will remain on top until show time. Newer posts can be found below.
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Tomorrow on Heading Right Radio (2 pm CT), we have two great guests joining us. First, David Keene from the American Conservative Union joins us to discuss his personal endorsement of Mitt Romney, plus the tough season it has been for conservatives and how we can regain momentum.
In the second half of our show, Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review Online will discuss the controversy raging over the posts at NRO’s The Tank and NRO’s response to it. We’ll get into the details and discuss what NRO can and will do from this point forward, and how its response stacks up against that of Franklin Foer and The New Republic.
UPDATE: I’ll be asking about Andrew Sullivan’s post regarding Mitchell Prothero, too. I’d like to get more detail on the entire controversy, so please feel free to post links and notes in the comments of this thread. I’m going to be as thorough as possible — and I know that Kathryn will want to air all of this to get it answered.
UPDATE II & BUMP: I’ll be asking about Thomas Edsall’s commentary from the Huffington Post as well.
UPDATE III: Andrew Sullivan points out another reporter from Lebanon who e-mailed NRO in October — but Chris Albritton explains that he sent the e-mail to The Tank’s address and not the editors themselves. I’d say it’s fair to assume that Lopez and the editors didn’t see it, and that Albritton might have directed to Lopez herself, whose e-mail is very easy to find at NRo, at least if he wanted Lopez to know about it.
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Franken: I Have Iraq Surrounded

The Norm Coleman campaign takes Al Franken seriously, at least seriously enough to do their homework on the former comedian, author, and talk-radio host. If Franken wins the nomination from Michael Cerisi to challenge Coleman in the general election, he will not find Coleman unprepared. The campaign has already readied its first ad, and this one — on Franken’s attempts to triangulate on Iraq — will leave a big mark:

Here are the key parts of the transcript, all of which come from video or audio recordings of Franken over the past eighteen months:

“We have to start a withdrawal, I believe, and have a timeline.” (10/5/07)
“I’m not sure we should set a timetable myself. I may actually, oddly enough, agree with Bush here.” (6/16/06)
“I neither spoke out advocating the war or against the war.” (8/21/07)
“Well, first of all, I never spoke out in favor of this war.” (9/30/07)
“No one spoke out louder about this war than I did, and more consistently.” (9/30/07)
“We’ll cut funds is the bluntest instrument, where you are undercutting our troops in the field, no one is going to do that.” (11/29/06)
“I think you make the President cutoff funding for the troops.” (614/07)
“I’m not for cutting off funding for the troops, and neither is the President” (10/10/07)

These ads just write themselves. Norm Coleman hasn’t exactly been a rock on Iraq — he opposed the surge in the beginning — but he has supported the overall mission consistently. Franken hasn’t been at all consistent, despite his high profile in politics. He has mostly said whatever his audience wants to hear, and that obviously changes from venue to venue.
I suspect that the Democrats of Minnesota will see the dangers inherent in running Franken against Coleman. The comedian will wind up as the joke. Expect to see Cerisi get a lot more attention over the next few months.
Also, don’t miss this post at True North. (via Mitch)

Putting The M Back In OMB

That’s the promise Rudy Giuliani makes in his Wall Street Journal column on fiscal conservatism today. Calling pork the “broken windows of the federal budget” and promising to restore accountability and common sense to federal spending, Rudy makes his case that his brand of fiscal conservatism provides the answer for Republican electoral woes, and America’s financial health:

With economic uncertainty weighing on the minds of many Americans, Congress is preparing to recess after another year of profligate spending, protectionist talk and promises of higher taxes. No wonder some people feel like we’re moving in the wrong direction. But I’m optimistic as I look to the future. It’s not our country that’s moving in the wrong direction — it’s Congress, and Washington’s culture of wasteful spending.
Over the last decade, nondefense spending has increased by 65% — the federal government currently spends $24,000 per household — while the number of earmarked pork projects rocketed from close to 1,000 to a height of nearly 14,000. This year, with only one appropriations bill enacted, earmarks already number 2,161.
A return to fiscal conservative principles can put America back on the right track, while giving Washington a much-needed dose of discipline.
Fiscal conservatism is based on two fundamental principles — cutting taxes and controlling spending. In recent years, the Republican Party has successfully cut taxes, but we have fallen short when it comes to controlling spending. The next president will need to strengthen both sides of the fiscal conservative equation, while reforming the culture of wasteful government spending with transparency and accountability. I believe I can do it because I’ve done it, and in a place that might even be more difficult than Washington.

Republicans might complain about Rudy’s views on social policy, but in 2006, the GOP lost big on its spending record. This column talks plain sense about the necessity to stop spending and roll back the expansion of federal government. It also notes that Republicans need to reclaim this territory with concrete deeds if we want to be taken seriously as a party of smaller government and fiscal responsibility.
The Democrats have provided a golden opportunity for the Republicans. Instead of seeing the mandate for clean government and accountability, they have instead chosen to hike taxes while making it more difficult to stop pork-barrel spending. If the Republicans want to differentiate themselves in a general election, they need a candidate who makes the case for this kind of discipline, both in rhetoric and in deed — and they need Congressional candidates who won’t go native after a term or two inside the Beltway.
Giuliani makes an especially good case for fighting pork. Just as Rudy couldn’t reduce crime in the Big Apple without enforcing the more minor laws, one cannot impose fiscal discipline on a body intent on serving itself huge servings of earmarks in order to buy influence and job security. Pork spending accounted for almost $30 billion last year, and it looks to increase this year. In that kind of environment, the petty corruption makes inefficiencies look harmless, even though they may cost more than the earmarks. Discipline has to be applied across the board, or it doesn’t work at all.
Giuliani’s column serves as a clarion call to Republicans in 2008. They need to atone for their profligate spending and return to their small-government principles. Whether Giuliani is the candidate to champion these efforts or not, he has this part of the campaign exactly correct.

Is Huckabee The Anti-Rudy And The Anti-Mitt?

With Mike Huckabee rising unexpectedly in Iowa against a huge Mitt Romney organization, can he duplicate that success elsewhere against Rudy Giuliani? Will his squeaky-clean Baptist minister image get a boost from a recent ethics eruption that has Team Rudy struggling to answer? USA Today paints a picture of a candidate finding his footing just as the front-runners seem to have lost theirs:

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, the Republican long shot who in a new Des Moines Register poll has surged to the lead for the Iowa caucuses, could hardly be more different from the candidate who has led the GOP field nationally all year.
Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani entered politics as a big-city prosecutor; Huckabee as a rural preacher. Giuliani is out of synch with the GOP’s social conservative core; Huckabee is its most consistent champion. Giuliani’s calling card is his leadership against terrorism after the 9/11 attacks; Huckabee has less experience on defense and foreign policy issues than any of his chief rivals.
The two candidacies offer dramatically different paths for a Republican Party now struggling to define and sell itself to voters. Should the GOP be led by an often-caustic, opera-loving New Yorker who vows to battle radical Islam? Or a joke-cracking Southerner who raises income inequality as an issue and favors classic rock and contemporary Christian music on his two iPods?
The chasm between him and Giuliani on the issues they emphasize and the regional cultures they represent “shows that the Republican Party is a bigger tent than the Democrat Party,” Huckabee says. Perhaps, but it also underscores how unsettled the Republican contest is just a month before the Iowa caucuses — and reflects how no GOP contender has satisfied a majority of the party.

Social conservatives have champed at the bit for months, decrying the lack of reliable conservatives among the front-runners. Many hoped Fred Thompson would provide the bridge between hard-nosed foreign policy, federalism, and social policy that would conservatives of all stripes, but thus far Thompson has failed to do so. In the latest national Rasmussen tracking, Thompson has fallen far off the pace from his peak in October, when he commanded 25% of likely Republican primary voters to 14% now.
Many people look to Giuliani for his electability — and indeed, he shows that he can beat Hillary Clinton in a national election. However, Huckabee now comes within a single point of Hillary nationally as well, a dramatic improvement over September, when he was eight points behind her. He also challenges Giuliani in Florida, coming in second in a recent poll there, and third in South Carolina, behind Romney and Giuliani but ahead of Thompson and John McCain.
Can Huckabee translate his momentum into a national surge? Perhaps, but he needs help from the front-runners to do so. If Giuliani cannot answer the allegations of abuse of privilege regarding the use of police chauffeurs for his now-wife and then-girlfriend Judith any better than he has so far, then the Republicans will lose the ability to highlight the ethical lapses of the Clintons in the general election. Primary voters may also wonder what will come out next from Rudy’s term as mayor. Will this be the last of the surprises, or is someone saving something juicier for later?
Huckabee can count on one important boost: the national media already loves this story. An underdog comes out of (nearly) nowhere to challenge the front-runners on the eve of the Iowa caucuses. Expect to get a healthy dose of this every day until Christmas, or until something else breaks in the race.

Hillary Will Assail Obama’s Character, Laughter Abounds

In what would qualify as satire, the Washington Post reports that Hillary Clinton’s new strategy in Iowa will focus on Obama’s character rather than his policy positions. Hillary has fallen behind Obama in recent polling in Iowa, and has decided to campaign against him more aggressively. However, given the track record of the Clintons, character hardly appears to be a winning forum for the national frontrunner:

With a new poll showing her losing ground in the Iowa caucus race, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) mounted a new, more aggressive attack against Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on Sunday, raising direct questions about his character, challenging his integrity and forecasting a sharp debate over those subjects in the days ahead.
Clinton has hammered Obama recently over his health-care proposal, arguing that he is misleading voters because it omits millions of people and would not lower costs. But Sunday, in a dramatic shift, she made it clear that her goal is to challenge Obama not just on policy but also on one of his strongest selling points: his reputation for honesty.
“There’s a big difference between our courage and our convictions, what we believe and what we’re willing to fight for,” Clinton told reporters here. She said voters in Iowa will have a choice “between someone who talks the talk, and somebody who’s walked the walk.”
Asked directly whether she intended to raise questions about Obama’s character, she replied: “It’s beginning to look a lot like that.”

Obama may have a skeleton or two in the closet with his Chicago connections to Tony Rezko, but the Clintons have a figurative graveyard in theirs. Obama can start with the Travel Office firings and the trumped-up criminal case that attempted to cover it up, to the 900 raw FBI files the White House illegally held, pass up Monica Lewinsky and go straight to the records that Hillary and Bill refuse to release from his administration. If Hillary wants to make character an issue, then she legitimizes all of that debate, and plenty more besides.
Obama may or may not decide to take advantage of the bounty Hillary just provided him, at least not personally, but the Republicans just heard the bugle call for this particular horse race. Not that they needed any prompting, but Hillary has now endorsed their vast right-wing conspira — er, their opposition research efforts. If she wins the nomination, this particular quote will be offered over and over again to show her endorsement for character as a legitimate election issue.
One has to wonder who made this decision. Obama’s main problem is his inexperience and his inability to inspire much confidence in his executive abilities on the stump. He has been weak and vacillating, shifting positions less dramatically than Hillary at the debate but nonetheless shifting just the same. Hillary and her team should focus on that rather than going negative with character attacks. That just reinforces her already substantial negatives in the polling, and makes her look even more Nixonian.
In the end, Hillary can afford to lose Iowa a lot more than she can afford to make character an issue in the campaign, especially with her “I was against Iraq after I was for it” husband making his own character deficiencies painfully obvious on the trail. If she thinks she can win a character debate in the general election, she is getting very, very bad advice. (via Power Line)

Back In The Saddle Again

Don Imus made his return to the airwaves this morning, diminished but mostly unbowed, on WABC in New York City. The radio cowboy returns to the saddle months after his termination for using racially-insensitive criticisms of the Rutgers’ women’s basketball team, after which CBS Radio and MS-NBC both dumped him. While he says he learned his lesson, Imus also promises that the show itself will not change:

Don Imus returned to the airwaves Monday eight months after he was fired for a racially charged remark about the Rutgers women’s basketball team, introducing a new cast that included two black comedians.
As he did several times in the days after his comments, Imus condemned his remarks and said he had learned his lesson. …
While Imus pledged to use his new show to talk about race relations, he added: “Other than that, not much has changed. Dick Cheney is still a war criminal, Hillary Clinton is still Satan and I’m back on the radio.”

His return had been announced several weeks ago, and thus far has produced little protest. No one wants to defend his truly offensive remarks, but at the same time, a sense has coalesced that Imus got treated somewhat unfairly in their aftermath. When radio hosts cross the line in taste, they usually get suspended, not fired. As it turns out, that’s what his contract said as well, and CBS had to eat an unspecified portion of it in a post-termination settlement.
I’ve never been a big fan of Imus, but his return to the airwaves should be seen as a return to common sense. Not every offense needs to result in a firing, especially when taken in the context of long record. The corporate impulse to avoid embarrassment makes everyone a hostage to a vocal fringe — on both sides — and that doesn’t bode well for the moderating influence of a free-speech market. One offhand, unplanned remark should certainly be criticized and disciplined, but ending a decades-long career over it seems extreme.
Let the audiences decide whether Imus should have this second chance. If people want to listen, advertisers will buy air time, and Imus will prosper. If they don’t, he’ll be off the air faster than last year’s rap single hit.