The Great Debate
When a senior U.S. official calls Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “chickens–t,” you know the Israeli-American relationship has reached a new low point. The putdown was reported in The Atlantic just days after the Israeli defense minister’s request to meet with U.S. national security officials was rebuffed. Adding insult to injury, the rebuff was leaked to the press. While the White House distanced itself somewhat from the mudslinging, it did not retract any of the more substantive claims about U.S. discontent with Netanyahu’s policies.
George Washington was ruthless.
As commander in chief of the Continental Army, Washington was prepared to crush those who attacked American liberty. He set up military commissions to swiftly hang enemies. He sparked an international incident when he ordered the execution of a random teenage prisoner. He even justified torture. But he reserved his ferocity for foreign enemy combatants.
The first months of President Barack Obama’s second term promise to be full of big political fights on issues ranging from comprehensive immigration reform to the problem of gun violence to addressing America’s fiscal woes. Last week’s decision on recess appointments by three Republican-appointed judges on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, however, proves there’s another battle worth waging: over the confirmation of judges to that court.
There’s a reason why President Barack Obama has chosen to put gun control at the top of his second-term agenda. No issue draws as bright a line between the Old America and the New America as the gun issue. It will keep his coalition mobilized – the New America coalition that delivered for him in the election: working women, single mothers, African-Americans, Latinos, Asian-Americans, Jewish and Muslim voters, young people, gays and educated professionals.
President Barack Obama should hope that old adage, “You only get one chance to make a first impression,” isn’t true. In his second Inaugural Address Monday, he has a chance to sharpen his arguments and move the nation in a way that eluded him the first time around.
“Tax relief is an achievement for families struggling to enter the middle class,” the president trumpeted, shortly after Congress, by sweeping bipartisan margins and after a bruising battle, had lowered taxes for almost all Americans. “For hard-working lower income families, we have cut the bottom rate of federal income tax from 15 percent to 10 percent. We doubled the per-child tax credit to $1,000 and made it refundable. Tax relief is compassionate, and it is now on the way.”