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Posted at 7:45 AM ET, 01/31/2011

Morning Bits

By Jennifer Rubin

It's supposed to be flattering, but Maureen Dowd's interview makes David Axelrod sound like an overwhelmed political consultant. A sample of Axelrod: "Yeah, we were too prosaic. We all got sort of dragged down, you know; we were a triage unit. I think all of us have been guilty of neglecting that really important part of the presidency, where you're operating in the world of ideals and values and vision. There were a lot of hands on the words, a lot of concern about every nuance. And it is true that this is a place where an errant clause can send markets tumbling and armies marching, and you're always aware of that." Huh?

It's supposed to be smart advice on Egypt, but Aaron David Miller's suggstions are anything but. Miller proclaims that President Obama "smartly steered clear of the ideological freedom agenda of your predecessor," and he tells Obama not to "abandon" his friend Hosni Mubarak.

It's supposed to be the central issue in the Middle East, but the Palestinian-Israel conflict is a minor sideshow. "One of the axioms repeated ad nauseum over the years by pundits around the world is that Arab despair breeds the radicalism that breeds the terrorism, and that the source of that despair is the Palestinian issue. . . . Hogwash. True, there is hopelessness in the Arab world - but the source is not the Arab masses concern about the Palestinians; the source is the Arab masses concern about their own lives, their own unemployment and their own lack of freedoms. Fix that and you get stability; ignore that, and you get revolution."

It's supposed to be an administration that's fiscally prudent, but "President Barack Obama will send a multitrillion budget to Congress on Feb. 14, administration spokesman Kenneth Baer said, setting up a conflict over spending that may dominate a divided Congress for the rest of the year. . . . In his Jan. 25 State of the Union address, the president proposed a five-year freeze on all annual appropriations for a savings of about $400 billion over a decade. It wouldn't apply to defense, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and interest in the national debt. As a result, the freeze would apply to 18 percent of the budget, or $663 billion, in the current 2011 fiscal year, the CBO said in an economic outlook published Jan. 26." And the freeze applies to a budget already bloated by Obama's spend-a-thon.

It's supposed to be "smart diplomacy" that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is practicing, but it sure sounds like she's determined to be on the wrong side of history. She told Candy Crowley on State of the Union: "We're not advocating any specific outcome. . . .We do not want to send any message about backing forward or backing back." Thunk.

It's supposed to be, if you believe liberal media chatter, an uneasy partnership between the Tea Party and the GOP establishment, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has a different take: "I find great unity among Republicans, not only the members who are already here but the new members who came are interested in tackling spending, debt and getting the private sector going again. I think the most interesting unreported divisions in this town are among Democrats. If you look at the Senate, for example, we have 23 Democrats, significant majority of those are running in the next election, looking at the results of the last election. And I think they have a growing awareness of how what they did the last two years was rebuffed by the American people."

It's supposed to be stability we are after in Egypt? But as Bill Kristol points out, "Mubarak is a source of instability. He's no longer, if he ever was, a source of stability."

By Jennifer Rubin  | January 31, 2011; 7:45 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Bits  
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Hillary Clinton and Obama have both sounded very much out of their depth on Egypt, reactive and weak. Of course, the Democratic party line is "blame Bush," but prior to the this crisis, Obama hasn't done ANYTHING different than Bush did with respect to Egypt, and what he did with respect to Israel and the Palestinians was a complete failure, only strengthening Netanyahu with his (Bibi's) base by insulting him. But of course, the Democrats and their enablers in the liberal media just resort to chanting, "blame Bush, blame Bush, blame Bush."

Jennifer, I think you should have come down harder on Dana Milbank regarding his ridiculous boycott of Sarah Palin. She was part of a ticket for which over 59 million voted and she is one of the most influential conservative voices in the United States. Milbank's refusal to cover any news regarding her is based SOLELY on her political views and his personal animus toward her. That is bad journalism, ranging on the unethical. Has any major national newspaper allowed this kind of boycott? I sincerely doubt it.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | January 31, 2011 8:13 AM | Report abuse

David Axelrod sounds as if he was just as much over his head in his job as his fearless leader Barack Obama still is!

Posted by: Beniyyar | January 31, 2011 8:50 AM | Report abuse

WashingtonDame wrote:

"Of course, the Democratic party line is "blame Bush," but prior to the this crisis, Obama hasn't done ANYTHING different than Bush did with respect to Egypt,"

I think the exact opposite is true in Egypt. Many in the conservative movement (with notable exceptions) have blamed Obama for CREATING this crisis (our very own Jennifer for instance).

I have seen no Dems blaming Bush for creating this crisis, and certainly he did not. What I have seen, and have practiced myself, is to point out to Obama bashers exactly what you said above. Namely that Obama's policy in Egypt was similar to that of all his predecessors. So that people who criticize, especially former Bush staffers like Elliott Abrams, are criticizing their own actions every bit as much as Obama's.

If you can point to quotes from Democratic leaders blaming Bush for the crisis in Egypt, I would be most interested to see them.

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | January 31, 2011 9:01 AM | Report abuse

"True, there is hopelessness in the Arab world - but the source is not the Arab masses concern about the Palestinians; the source is the Arab masses concern about their own lives, their own unemployment and their own lack of freedoms. Fix that and you get stability; ignore that, and you get revolution."

There is a lot of truth in this.

Where we differ is your confidence that you know the outcome of any proposed "fixes". Many of us believe that that the attempted cure might kill the patient, or at least spread the disease rather than contain it.

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | January 31, 2011 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Aaron David Miller presents a fine demonstration of Liberals’ (the modern kind) natural and reflexive affinity for tyrants. Pass the barf bag.

Posted by: nvjma | January 31, 2011 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: WashingtonDame | January 31, 2011 9:40 AM | Report abuse

You're advocating fiscal conservatism and railing against major parts of the budget not being cut. That makes sense.

But then you criticize Rand Paul for advocating cutting those parts of the budget?

Be more clear about what you're asking for. You're all over the place, Jennifer.

Posted by: libertyftw | January 31, 2011 9:41 AM | Report abuse


Uh...Chris Matthews *is* a joke, but George Bush indeed had no idea what he was doing in Egypt. Or anywhere else really.

Posted by: libertyftw | January 31, 2011 9:44 AM | Report abuse

But then you criticize Rand Paul for advocating cutting those parts of the budget?
Be more clear about what you're asking for. You're all over the place, Jennifer.
Posted by: libertyftw

Ayn Rand Paul and Pere Ron are antisemitic in JR's opinion.

Posted by: rcaruth | January 31, 2011 10:05 AM | Report abuse

washington Dame:

Thanks for the cite. I hadn't seen that but of course he is totally wrong.

I would have to say that Chris Mattthews is an unqualified partisan hack. My opinion is firm that no American President past or present is primarily repsonsible for what has happened in Egypt, or has much control over it's outcome.

Shingo will arrive some hours from now to disagree with me!

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | January 31, 2011 10:23 AM | Report abuse

When the Muslim Brotherhood takes over in Egypt and spread their cancer over the entire Muslim world, we'll remember Barack Obama as Neville Chamberlin.

And it's no metaphor: the Muslim Brotherhood are Muslim fascists with deep ties to the real Nazis. Remember, they were Hitler's allies.

It's a tragic mistake to miss this window of history to push for democracy and freedom. Otherwise, the first election in Egypt will be the last and this moment will be wasted.

Wake up, liberals! Are you so blinded by your adoration of Barry?

Posted by: diesel_skins_ | January 31, 2011 10:56 AM | Report abuse


I'm confused by your post, but maybe it's me.

You seem to be pushing democracy, but yet afraid of the MB taking over.

How do you hold free elections but deny the MB the opportunity to win seats?

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | January 31, 2011 11:39 AM | Report abuse

"I would have to say that Chris Mattthews is an unqualified partisan hack."

On this much we agree. (Also, he shouts too much.)

Posted by: WashingtonDame | January 31, 2011 11:40 AM | Report abuse

The tyranny of this vocal minority is far worse than anything Mubarak has done, and the western media is highlighting the wrong part of the story.

My prediction (hope) today is that the other 80+ million Egyptians will decide it is time for the economy to get back to work and they will go out and stop this minority of protestors. Has no one noticed that the Tunisians went back to work?

"...With distribution networks barely functioning and the Internet down since Thursday night, much of business in Egypt has nearly ground to a halt. While protests remain at the center of attention, as jets fly over Liberation Square and escaped prisoners instill fear in the public, the political crisis could turn into a humanitarian one if the current economic paralysis continues.

“A big part of the production system is government-run, and this is frozen, including many of the bakeries making the subsidized bread,” said Hoda Youssef, an economist
the cost of the disruptions had reached the billions of dollars. ..."

from page A8:

a different NYT story focuses on the impact to the global economy. "...As the home of the Suez Canal and the nearby Sumed pipeline, however, it is one of a handful of spots classified as World Oil Transit Chokepoints by the Energy Department, and events there can have an outsize impact on global energy prices. ..."

Posted by: K2K2 | January 31, 2011 11:44 AM | Report abuse

For the record, I don't blame any president and Congress, Democratic or Republican, who supported Mubarak for the past 30 years. For most of that time, he just was the best option available (which, admittedly, isn't saying much), and his willingness to maintain the cold peace with Israel, post Sadat, was better than the alternative.

But now, Obama has to do more to get ahead of this situation, and he and Sec. Clinton just seem to be fumbling.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | January 31, 2011 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Nice to see another link to your WFF Ms. Dowd. Was getting worried the WaPo paymasters were discouraging any NYT cross-traffic; probably just the blissful ignorance of the unwashed -- won't forget behind the ears.

Posted by: aardunza | January 31, 2011 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Is there really any other policy we can adopt other than backing the Egyptian polulace's demand for freedom and democracy?

First, we are already a week behind in throwing Mubarek under a bus, he's leaving whether we like it or not.

But more importantly, they deserve political freedom no less than us, even if it is inconvenient for our foreign policy in the area.

If they adopt a secular, neutral or perhaps friendly disposition to the US, great. If they don't, no more aid and we have it out the first time they attack us or support terrorism against us, same as with any other country on earth. I think they will be sensible, or perhaps appreciative if we help them dislodge Mubarek.

Posted by: TheMSMControlsUs | January 31, 2011 3:39 PM | Report abuse

The absence of women among the demonstrators in Egypt scares me. IF the demonstrators are so upset about food prices, wouldn't it be most likely a woman who is a mother would be the one demonstrating? It seems to be these are the angry muslim male, as opposed to the male who is upset with his government who happens to be muslim. I don't believe these demonstrations are by the people of Egypt, but instead by a group supported by the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran. The lack of women being allowed to demonstrate proves that to me.

Maybe, the women are waiting for the men to mess it up, fight it out, destroy everything, and then they will come in and clean it up, and restore order.

Posted by: Cornell1984 | January 31, 2011 3:47 PM | Report abuse


You're not making allowances for the culture. Go back and look at the videos of our arrival into Baghdad. You won't see women out in the streets either.

Don't blame Iran, so quickly. Egypt is 90% Sunni and Mubarak is known for believing that the only good Shiite is a dead Shiite. If they're in there, they are very few.

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | January 31, 2011 4:14 PM | Report abuse


Curious action today, the dollar down, gold down, the vix down and oil, emerging markets and the euro up ag commodities essentially unchanged. The market is doing some big discounting. Moahmed El-Erian this morning was very placid also.

Either these are just peaceful times LOL, or maybe the framework of a deal is already in place?

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | January 31, 2011 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Oh great. We're getting the budget on Valentine Day. Sound like a love letter. You know what a love letter is? Kind of reminds me of this (language NSFW):

Posted by: bb541 | January 31, 2011 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Women protesting in Egypt:

In case the link doesn't work, it refers you to a Facebook page entitled "Women of Egypt."

Posted by: WashingtonDame | January 31, 2011 5:57 PM | Report abuse


I saw on last night's news that there was a very samll group out there, that's why they caught the eye of the camermen because they stood out. What I thought was interesting is that they were all in chador or burqa.

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | January 31, 2011 8:31 PM | Report abuse

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