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Posted at 7:45 AM ET, 01/17/2011

Morning Bits

By Jennifer Rubin

Excellent advice from Bill Clinton to Sarah Palin on her video: "I very much sympathize with her anger. I think she genuinely was metaphorically wounded by these charges. Having said that, if you want to be a presidential candidate, you probably should let other people answer media critics, and you should deal with things that at a sort of presidential level. And it wasn't necessary, I think, for her to defend herself explicitly in an eight-minute video. She had plenty of people out there defending her against these unjust charges."

Excellent analysis from Khairi Abaza: "Some in the West have long argued that because of the lack of a viable liberal alternative, supporting authoritarian regimes in Arab countries is the only political choice against the Islamists. Now, in Tunisia, as people flood into the streets demanding democracy, we see that this is not the case. It was not the case in Iran in 1979 either, but the West was so invested in the Shah that it failed to strongly back the liberal opposition. We don't have to repeat that error today."

Excellent debunking from Bob Kagan on proposed cuts in defense funding. "The looming battle over the defense budget could produce a useful national discussion about American foreign and defense policy. But we would need to begin by dispensing with the most commonly repeated fallacy: that cutting defense is essential to restoring the nation's fiscal health. People can be forgiven for believing this myth, given how often they hear it." Read the whole thing.

Excellent discussion from CNN's State of the Union on mental health. After a week, we seem to have finally gotten to the right issue.

Excellent point (and quite a zinger) from Chris Christie on why he's not running for president. "I don't think you run just because political opportunity is there. That's how we wind up with politicians who aren't ready for their jobs." Ouch.

Excellent news from Michael Totten on Tunisia. "It briefly appeared that the government in Tunisia might survive with a different man at the top, but today it looks like they're actually getting regime-change."

Excellent warning from Charles Blow. "Concocting connections to advance an argument actually weakens it. The argument for tonal moderation has been done a tremendous disservice by those who sought to score political points in the absence of proof." We can only hope his colleagues heed it.

By Jennifer Rubin  | January 17, 2011; 7:45 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Bits  
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Next: Friday question answered


Jennifer-did you actually listen to her video? I really wonder. She didn't spend 7 min. defending herself. Most of the video was about America and and how wonderful it is. And to quote Bill Clinton-a liar-as someone to get advice-your blog is starting to move farther and farther down my list.

Posted by: cajunkate | January 17, 2011 8:25 AM | Report abuse

Democracy in the Middle East is usually confined to one man, one vote, one time. It is unlikely that the next Tunisian leader, elected, appointed, or who simply takes power will be an more attuned to human rights, democratic principles, or even simple morality than any previous Tunisian, or for that matter, any other Arab dictator, autocrat, monarch, or President for life.

Posted by: Beniyyar | January 17, 2011 8:26 AM | Report abuse

Now they say the British Government is reforming the NHS. But I thought Dr. Berwick said they had a really good system. Why would they want to change it?

Posted by: cavalier4 | January 17, 2011 9:10 AM | Report abuse

It seems that George W. Bush used the Clintonian method of defense while he was President. Look how that worked out.

Personally I prefer Sarah Palin's method. You know, courage of one's convictions and all that jazz. Or did you hear the one about the best defense is a strong offense?

And I concur with "cajunkate". Why would anyone in their right mind take advice from Slick Willy Clinton?

Posted by: metanis | January 17, 2011 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Let's face it. Palin will never be ready to be president. To the extent she took a hit that lowers her profile slightly, that is good for Republicans. She plays a very useful role and is a valuable asset for the conservative movement. She just isn't going to be president -- ever.

Why take advice from Clinton? Well, for starters, we should look at the fact that whatever once thinks of him as a person, he is a very, very successful politician. Personal animosity shouldn't blind us to that.

Posted by: gord2 | January 17, 2011 11:17 AM | Report abuse

"It was not the case in Iran in 1979 either, but the West was so invested in the Shah that it failed to strongly back the liberal opposition. We don't have to repeat that error today."

Words can be ironic don't you think? The "liberal opposition" was led by the Ayatollah Khomeini, although there were other groups involved.

We like to pretend that everything will proceed as it did in our revolution and the leading revolutionary in each nation, will Cincinnatus-like return to the plow. In that we do not recognize how unique in history George Washington was, nor how tied to Western Civilization democracy is. Most revolutions do not end in democracies, but in dictatorships, relgious (Iran) or civil (China), or ultimately in oligarchies (Russia).

BTW, yes Jennifer this is 54465446. I doubt you will let this post stay up, since you censored me and then blocked me entirely. However I thought as an ardent supporter of the Constitution you might have some vague appreciation for the First Amendment, so here I am.

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | January 17, 2011 11:43 AM | Report abuse

I think that Sarah Palin is challenging the conventional wisdom regarding the roles of politicians and the media. The cast of Fox News Sunday was pretty much in line with Clinton's remarks: Just let the media do with you what they will (lie, distort, omit, slant - you know, what they do best), and rise above it by not responding, letting others jump to your defense. Palin realizes that REALITY as perceived by the voters is virtually ALL filtered through the media. The media behaves like Jon Stewart does when he gets a serious intellectual challenge - "Hey, I'm just a comedian on Comedy Central, for cry'n out loud!" He is as political as they come, yet is the first to go running behind his comedian schtick when things heat up. Ditto with the media, and more and more people are identifying with Palin for not just taking it, but fighting back.

Posted by: coffeetime | January 17, 2011 1:21 PM | Report abuse

"…[B]ut the West was so invested in the Shah that it failed to strongly back the liberal opposition. We don't have to repeat that error today."

Oh, boy. I can't wait for the “super smart” guiding hand of Obama & Clinton to assure a new and improved democracy to emerge in Tunisia.

Posted by: nvjma | January 17, 2011 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of censoring I notice that my defense spending/Obamacare-saving comment was stricken. Its a matter of nonexistent consequence but I do hope that it was taken in the spirit in which it was offered. Having commented several times and with great prolixity on what I perceive as the gross deficiencies in our military resources. I'm not sure I've commented on healthcare but I think the tone of my comment as well as that of the subsequent one concerning the NHS could hardly be misleading as to my position.

Even taken at face value however and in light of the much discussed (recently), much to be desired (but lamentably not forthcoming from many of our friends on the left) civility it was rather anodyne compared to some of the stuff that goes up herea when you post anything about Israel, wherein such civility is not uniformly abundant.

Posted by: cavalier4 | January 17, 2011 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Whatever Bill Clinton has ever been accused of, he has never faced a charge of being complicit in, or inciting mass murder. Sarah Palin was absolutely right to hit back, and the words 'blood libel' were an accurate description of the false witness that was borne against her. Palin is sui generis, there are no pecedents or analogies for her, especially Clinton.

Posted by: genecarr100 | January 17, 2011 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Rubin--I think you made a pretty big typo! In the first item, you say, "Excellent advice from Bill Clinton to Sarah Palin on her video..." Looking at the Fox News transcript, it sure looks to me like you meant to say "from Bill *Kristol*", who said that in the show's roundtable discussion.

Posted by: shoutingboy | January 17, 2011 6:12 PM | Report abuse

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