Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Mixed Bag

Trick AND treat! I see two stories in the news today that I feel compelled to comment on. One is pretty funny, and shows a candidate in deep trouble, the other is pretty hopeful, and shows we may have turned a corner.
First up, Christine O'Donnell. Apparently, Ms. O'Donnell has forgotten the first rule of Republican politics: never complain, never explain. She has released her first television ad in Delaware, and it's a doozy. How many candidates introduce themselves to the general population by saying "I'm not a witch"?
She's done for. Anytime a politician has to define him or herself in terms of what he or she is not, that politician is pretty much toast. That candidate has allowed the opposition to define the race, and it never ever makes sense to play in the other team's ballpark with the other team's bat and ball. You've lost before the first pitch is thrown.
"I am not a witch" will go down in history alongside "I am not a crook" and "I did not have sex with that woman, Miss Lewinski" as an all-time political gaffe. If you feel compelled to spend millions of dollars in ad buys and production costs to create an introductory commercial, you've probably wasted money as it is, so your message had better be a lot more effective than reassuring the voters you won't turn them into newts if they vote for the other guy.
A better strategy for her would have been to pick one or two issues where her opponent, Chris Coons, has failed miserably in service to the people of Delaware, and then build your resume off that.
Oh. Wait. She really doesn't have a resume. Still, you need to lay out a vision for the voters that doesn't include flying monkeys.
Turning to better news...is it possible the Israeli government is starting to get it? Benjamin Netanyahu has opened an internal dialogue amongst his cabinet about freezing West Bank settlements in an attempt to move the Middle East peace process forward.
This is the same Netanyahu who vehemently opposed the Oslo Accords as giving too much away too quickly to the Palestinians, thus solidfying his image as a hard(er)-liner on the peace process than even Yitzhak Rabin and certainly harder lined than Ehud Barak. You may recall that it was as an outgrowth of the accords that Rabin was assassinated by a right-wing extremist. One hestitates to draw a line from Netanyahu to the killer, but they argued from the same position.  
It is conceivable that only Netanyahu could persuade the Israelis to accept a peace accord with the Palestinians, similar to how only Richard Nixon, with his policy history and hawkish stance on communism, could have opened relations with the Soviet Union and China.
It seemed unlikely when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, but it seems possible that Barack Obama will actually have earned his Prize in the very near future.