More comparisons between Huckabee and Carter

As you may recall, I compared Huckabee to Jimmy Carter, foreseeing with the former some of the same problems we saw with the latter (and that despite the fact that Huckabee seems like a much more ebullient and nicer person than Carter). I’m not the only one making those comparisons. After listening to Huckabee opining about foreign policy and comparing himself to Reagan, Power Line had this to say:

When it comes to foreign policy, Huckabee more closely resembles another former governor, Jimmy Carter. It was Carter, not Reagan, who viewed foreign policy as an extension of his own character and personal principles. Carter stood for a foreign policy “as decent as the American people.” Reagan stood for defeating our enemies. When Huckabee frets about how Gitmo is making us appear to foreigners, when he asserts that “we broke Iraq,” and when he says he’s qualified to be commander-in-chief because of his character rather than because of his understanding of our enemies, it’s pretty clear that his foreign policy roots extend nowhere near the fertile soil of Reaganism.

Huckabee may be a good and witty human being (and an excellent candidate because of that wit), but he’s not the President this country needs at this time in its history.

UPDATE: See also Laer’s post looking at the naiveté of Huckabee’s foreign policy positions.

Surprising movie review at the NYTimes

I like to tweak NY Times movie reviews (heck, any MSM movie reviews), because of the relentless Progressive punditry that characterizes them, regardless of the movie’s actual content.  With a movie about Jimmy Carter on the table, I was therefore prepared for a full frontal case of anti-Bush commentary in the review.   It wasn’t there.  Instead, Manolah Dargis wrote a surprising review of Jonathan Demme’s hagiographic new movie about Jimmy Carter, including language actually critical of the one-sided (read:  pro-Palestinian) approach to the Middle East that both the Left and Carter invariably display:

This sense of simplicity is underscored by Mr. Carter’s folksy manner and by Mr. Demme’s representation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a tidy loop with images of Israelis bulldozing Palestinian homes followed by images of dead Israelis after a suicide bombing. I couldn’t help but wonder what the leftist intellectual Ellen Willis would have made of Mr. Carter’s interest in Israel. In a 2003 essay, “Is There Still a Jewish Question? Why I’m an Anti-Anti-Zionist,” Ms. Willis wrote that “the left has focused on Israeli acts of domination and human rights violations with an intense and consistent outrage that it fails to direct toward comparable or worse abuses elsewhere, certainly toward the unvarnished tyrannies in the Middle East (where, for instance, is the divestment campaign against Saudi Arabia?).”

The former president’s evangelical Christianity makes his focus on the Holy Land all the more intriguing. Yet, while Mr. Carter invokes Jesus almost as much as he does Israel in the documentary, Mr. Demme never directly puts these two parts of his subject’s life into play with each other. Neither does the filmmaker engage with any of the more inflammatory claims from Mr. Carter’s book, including this: “There are constant and vehement political and media debates in Israel concerning its policies in the West Bank, but because of powerful political, economic and religious forces in the United States, Israeli government decisions are rarely questioned or condemned, voices from Jerusalem dominate in our media, and most American citizens are unaware of circumstances in the occupied territories.”

“Man From Plains” isn’t about engagement; it’s about disengagement from Mr. Carter’s critics and his more provocative beliefs.

Credit where credit is due:  this is not a knee jerk review.  I’m impressed.

A (somewhat) sympathetic look at Christiane Amanpour

For six hours this Sunday I watched my TIVOed copies of Christiane Amanpour’s God’s Warriors specials. Amanpour’s biases clearly showed through, especially when she tried to portray Muslim radicals as some kind of a small fringe group, or when she spoke to fundamentalist Christian leaders in a tone dripping with disdain. But, it appeared, she also did her best to present reasonable looking and sounding spokespersons for the Warriors and allowed them to present themselves in their own words.

Thus, I was a bit startled to see the links Bookworm provided in her post in the subject, to writers who blasted Amanpour as if her report were a broad-sided attack on Israel. Had these people watched the same reports I had? It appears Amanpour’s attackers were as biased (in the other direction, of course) as she was.

Bookworm suggested that I blog on the subject, pointing out correctly that I do not have a dog in the fight, being neither a Jew, nor a Muslim, nor a practicing (never mind fundamentalist) Christian. That’s a tall order, but let me at least share some reactions on the “God’s Jewish Warriors” piece and reaction to it.

Bookworm’s first link is to a highly entertaining and well-written attack by Robert J. Avrech. Avrech gets off to a rocky start, though, by claiming that he stopped counting after Amanpour said “God’s Jewish Warriors” 57 times. In truth, the phrase is used a grand total of 20 times in the entire piece. Poetic license and all that, but if he’s going to criticize someone else for not getting her facts right, he might focus a little more on getting his own facts right.

Next, he takes Amanpour to task for saying that “The second intifada was an attempt by the Palestinians to shake off the Israeli occupation.” Though he puts this comment in quotes, he is paraphrasing. Here is what she actually said:

“Intifada, in Arabic, it means ‘shaking off.’ And beginning in September 2000, Palestinians turned increasingly to suicide bombs in the Second Intifada to shake off Israeli occupation and strike at the Jewish state.” This is hardly the “poisonous Arab propaganda” Avrech claims. Note especially the phrase “strike at the Jewish state” which at least implies what Avrech is saying – that nothing short of the destruction of the Jewish state will satisfy the Palestinians.

Avrech goes on to decry the bias of the “experts” presented and Amanpour’s bias, but he completely overlooks the extent to which Amanpour presents the Warriors sympathetically and in their own words.

But before we get to that, a word about the “experts.” It’s true she uses Jimmy Carter a lot, but she presents him as the controversial figure he is, not as an objective source. She introduces him in the following words: “I spoke with former President Jimmy Carter who has written a controversial book that’s critical of Israel and its settlement policy.” She discusses the charges he is anti-Semitic openly with Carter, even placing on the air a talk show caller who calls him “a bigot, a racist and an anti-Semite.” No reporter could resist the opportunity to interview an ex-President and public figure such as Carter, but Amanpour presents him as the controversial figure that he is.

Similarly, she introduces John Mearsheimer as “a prominent political scientist at the University of Chicago, co-authored one of the most controversial essays of late, arguing pro-Israel advocates have too much influence on American policy.” And so he is. Surely, Amanpour can present people on all sides of the issue, including people we disagree with, so long as she identifies them fairly and accurately.

Critically, Avrech all but ignores the positive “Warriors” Amanpour presents:

She begins with the haunting story of Tzippi Shissel, whose father was murdered by a terrorist and who, nevertheless, continues to live near to where he died. As Shissel explains, “We have the Holy Land. It’s where God says this is where the Jews has to live.” Amanpour has been criticized for commenting, “But it is also Palestinian land. The West Bank — it’s west of the Jordan River — was designated by the United Nations to be the largest part of an Arab state.” But this statement is true. It may be a bit misleading – the Arabs rejected the plan and the United Nations is hardly the authority for anything, but at most this exposes Amanpour’s bias in favor of international organizations and international law.

Aside: This bias really comes through when Amanpour declares that the settlements are illegal. She cites to international law and specifically to the International Court of Justice. She is 100% right and 100% wrong. The ICJ did conclude the settlements are illegal and the ICJ is the final arbiter of international law. But there is no such thing as international law, and there cannot be until there is one international government. The United States, as a country, supports the ICJ, but when was the last time any American got to vote on accepting its law? But I digress.

Amanpour ends with Idit Levinger, a West Bank settler who speaks eloquently of her beliefs: “I walk around here with my children and tell them this is the hill that Abraham climbed. This is where Jacob had his dream. It’s not something that was once upon a time. It’s alive and now. . . . I feel I’m part of these hills. I can’t see myself living without them. . . . My bond with this place is far more than a house.” Amonpour could have ended with a negative portrayal of the settlers. Instead, she closes with their fight (even against their own government) to remain, and presents their views through a most sympathetic spokesperson.

In between Shissel and Levinger, Amanpour presents many positives that her critics choose to ignore. She returns again and again to Hanan Porat, an attractive, well-spoken man who presents the settlers’ position in measured terms. She includes this exchange:

HANAN PORAT: If you think we are messianic with our beliefs, now, what they think, those who believe in peace with the Palestinians, is pure mysticism.

AMANPOUR: To God’s Jewish warriors, turning land over to the Palestinians would just bring more blood and more tears.

This is not nearly the hatchet job Amanpour’s critics are making it out to be. She shows Shimon Peres making the legal point that the territories are disputed, not occupied. She shows Morris Amitay accusing Carter and Mersheimer of “Promoting an agenda in which Israel is the bad guy. Basically the United States and Israel have the same goals in the Middle East. Peace, prosperity, keeping terrorists out. I just think that the success of the pro-Israel community is the fact that they have good arguments on their side.” She shows David Ha’ivri noting that “The Arabs have 22 of their own countries” – a point that Avrech makes as if Amanpour somehow hid it.

True, she stretches to find Jewish terrorists, but carefully explains the Palestinian terrorist act that turn Baruch Goldstein into a terrorist and, in turn, led to the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.

True, she doesn’t make a big deal of the West’s condemnation of their own terrorists or contrast that to the Arab world’s celebration of their terrorists as martyrs, but she explains that the plot to blow up the girls’ school is foiled by Israeli police, and the would-be-Israeli-terrorists tried and convicted. Their acts clearly are not celebrated. (By contrast, in the next segment, she shows Muslim mothers proudly describing their terrorist sons as martyrs. The point is made, if not as overtly as some would like.)

In short, Amanpour does the best she can within her restricted world view, and she does so by finding articulate and sympathetic “warriors” and presenting their stories sympathetically. She could have done far worse.

Perhaps the best and worst part of Amanpour’s report (depending on your point of view) is that she showed parallels in her presentation but nowhere overtly claims the “warriors” of the various faiths are at all parallel. Oddly, I’m reminded of the Fox News slogan, “We Report. You Decide.” Amanpour reported. She presented some experts who have little credibility in my eyes, but she identified them as the controversial figures that they are. She let her own biases show through at times, but I’m convinced that she tried to be fair as best she was able. She could have found crazed “warriors” who would have discredited all “warriors” but, to her credit, she did the opposite. Having presented the least biased report she was capable of, she leaves it to the viewer to decide whether there is any moral equivalence. There is not. And, in the end, with all its faults, Amanpour’s report demonstrates that; it does not refute it.

Undoing one of the triumphs of the modern age

One of the wonders of the modern era is the concord between Christians and Jews, something unprecedented before our time.  (Pastor John Hagee gave a rousing speech at AIPAC, for example, lauding the shared beliefs and values of these two groups.)  Marguerite, however, alerted me to an American Thinker post which points to the fact that liberals, having brought their anti-Semitic views to American universities, are now seeking to undo this precious harmony between Jews and Christians:

Now the efforts to weaken support for Israel are being directed to Evangelical Christians. Jimmy Carter – the beneficiary of millions of dollars in Arab petrodollars – has become a ringleader in the effort. The Arab embassies are again playing a role, as the Egyptian Embassy hosts a meeting between ambassadors from a wide range of Arab nations and leaders of America’s evangelical community.  (The meeting was attended by the son of the late Reverend Jerry Falwell-Jonathan Falwell. His father was one of the strongest supporters of the America-Israel relationship in America. His take on the meeting-which he described as “historic” can be found here.)
The Evangelical leaders wanted to talk about religious freedom in Muslim nations (which is almost non-existent). The Arab diplomats had an entirely different goal. One goal, in fact.
“Ambassadors wanted to know whether Christians could become more balanced in their support for Israel”.
The battle has begun.

Birds of a feather

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I think most of the problems currently plaguing us are all Jimmy Carter’s fault.  I also think the man is a morally reprehensible kook.  (You can find all my Carter posts here.)  It therefore comes as no surprise to me to read that Rosie O’Donnell really likes the guy.  Really, really: “He is to me a Christlike figure in this earth.”

Those two deserve each other but do we, the American people, deserve them?

Putting the blame squarely on Carter

It’s too good an article to quote from in snippets.  Simply go to the Jerusalem Post and read as Michael D. Evans explains precisely how and why Jimmy Carter, back in 1979, got us into this mess in the first place.  Then, with Carter’s culpability for the rise of the Jihad now threatening the West firmly in mind, read his remarks about Hamas’ virtues during a speech before the Forum on Human Rights.  (Or, at least, try to read them, if you can overcome the queasiness or outright nausea that may quickly overtake you.)

I remember when Reagan was first diagnosed with Alzheimers, a lot of nasty jokes came out about the fact that he must have had it already when he was in the White House.  In the same vein, it’s clear that, just as Carter is revealing himself in his old age to be a vicious, amoral, psychopath, all of those seeds were already there during his White House years.

Can’t let this article about Jimmy Carter go by

It’s no surprise to readers here that I really, really don’t like Jimmy Carter.  I think he was a dreadful President and is, if possible, an even worse ex-President.  But that’s just my opinion, unsupported by fact.  For facts, you can go to this superb Josh Muravchik article in Commentary Magazine:  Our Worst Ex-President.  Read it and prepare to be disgusted (by Carter, not by Muravchik’s writing, of course).