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In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

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 Dec. 4, 2008 / 7 Kislev 5769

Left behind

By Jonah Goldberg

Printer Friendly Version
Email this article | You almost have to feel sorry for the left.

President-elect Barack Obama was supposed to be their guy. That woman, Hillary Clinton, was the centrist, reach-across-the-aisle type. They picked Obama because he was going to be the "transformative" leader who didn't need to compromise with the right or even with reality. Heck, Obama the Wise would magically change reality itself, right around the same moment he'd force those pesky oceans to recede.

But unlike, say, J.R.R. Tolkien's fictional character Gandalf, who assembled a fellowship of like-minded compatriots, Obama apparently likes to work alone. Let's review.

In the primaries, he insisted that his opposition to the war in Iraq was his signature qualification, and that Hillary Clinton's and (to the extent he mattered) Joe Biden's support for the war proved they lacked the requisite judgment for the job. Since then, he has tapped Biden to be one heart beat away from the Oval Office and picked Clinton to be his secretary of State.

Obama promised to turn the page on, first and foremost, the Bush years, but also the political approach that marked the Clinton years. Nonetheless, he has not only embraced Hillary, he also has hired Bill Clinton's Treasury secretary, Larry Summers, to head his National Economic Council, tapped former Clintonite fixer Rahm Emanuel to be his chief of staff,and former Clinton chief of staff John Podesta to run his transition.

Even Bush holdovers, nominal and actual, outnumber and outrank serious progressives in the Obama Cabinet. Leading the pack is Robert Gates, President Bush's secretary of Defense — the man who oversaw the very troop surge in Iraq that Obama opposed. Timothy Geithner, head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, will run the Obama Treasury Department. But Geithner has been a de facto right-hand man of current Bush Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

Indeed, of all Obama's confirmed or reported picks, only Eric Holder, Obama's nominee for attorney general, will cause any furor from the right. Even so, the former Clinton deputy AG is no darling of the left.

To his dismayed followers, Obama says fear not, I am the change. "Understand where the vision for change comes from, first and foremost," he told supporters. "It comes from me. That's my job, to provide a vision in terms of where we are going, and to make sure, then, that my team is implementing."

Time magazine's Peter Beinart seconds Obama. "Cheer up," he tells his comrades on the left. "It's precisely because Obama intends to pursue a genuinely progressive foreign policy that he's surrounding himself with people who can guard his right flank at home. When George W. Bush wanted to sell the Iraq war, he trotted out Colin Powell — because Powell was nobody's idea of a hawk. Now Obama may be preparing to do the reverse."

It's a nice thought — and Beinart might be right about Obama's intentions — but if I were an editor at The Nation, or a mutterer at The Huffington Post, who didn't actually believe Obama to be the Messiah, I would find this cold comfort.

First, it's worth noting that Bush didn't pick Powell as his secretary of State to help sell the Iraq war. Bush picked Powell as part of his vision of a "humble" foreign policy (and because Powell was immensely popular among moderates). Moreover, while Powell was a good soldier, when it came time to sell the war, Powell also often undermined the White House — usually through self-serving leaks — as he pursued his own policy agenda. The notion that Hillary Clinton will be more of a loyalist to Obama than Powell was to Bush requires considerable wishful thinking.

More important, as 9/11 — not to mention the financial crisis and the massacre in Mumbai, India — shows: Life is full of surprises. Bush's Cabinet, like Obama's, was picked to deal with known problems. Bush tapped Donald Rumsfeld to reform the Pentagon, which he was well-suited to do. But Rumsfeld ended up overseeing a counterinsurgency, which he had no stomach for. Gates was right for that job. Now Obama wants to retain Gates to orchestrate the withdrawal from Iraq. That might make sense, but Iraq isalready fading from the political radar.

Meanwhile, Obama has a very conservative secretary of Defense on his team who will be responsible for more than just Iraq. As new events emerge, Obama will have to rely on his advisers to filter and frame the information he gets and the options he has to deal with them. That's when your team matters.

Just look at the left's own version of the Bush years. According to their tale, the shock of 9/11 forced Bush to rely on a "cabal" of mustache-twirling neoconservative advisers who lay in waiting in the hope of fulfilling their allegedly radical ideological agenda. With the aid of Dick Cheney — history's greatest monster — the villains controlled the information flow to the president, constraining his options.

Well, who will Obama rely on when hit with the next surprise? The people he has around him, that's who. And, so far, those people ain't left-wingers.

Don't get me wrong. Given the alternatives, I'm delighted with most of Obama's picks. But there's a reason why the old Reaganite phrase "personnel is policy" has become a Washington cliché: Because it's true.

Obama will surely learn that if he tries to implement a left-wing agenda with a centrist team at his disposal.

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