Yitzhak Rabin and the Midterms

November 4, 2010

Yitzhak Rabin and the Midterms

Former–U.S. President Bill Clinton has an op-ed in Thursday's New York Times, but it's not about the midterm elections. He's writing to commemorate the fifteenth anniversary of the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. And it's personal for Clinton; he says he "loved" Rabin "and his wife, Leah, very much," and "not a week has gone by that I have not missed him." He also shares a few anecdotes. Then the former president calls on everyone "each in our own way" to "take up the cause for which Yitzhak Rabin gave his life: . . . a shared future in which our common humanity is more important than our interesting differences." And, in Palestine, "everyone knows what a final agreement would look like."

Now for a quick roundup of election commentary. Peter Orszag, the Obama administration's former budget director, has a plea to the new Congress in the space directly above Clinton. Orszag calls on Republicans "in the name of fiscal probity" to keep the health care reform act in place. Orszag says the program reduces costs on a number of different fronts, even though it "may not fit on a bumper sticker." 

Times columnist Gail Collins tells Democrats to hold their heads high and get ready for the next battle. Her counterpart at the Washington Post, George Will attributes the Republican victory to a collective "recoil against liberalism" and calls President Obama "a world-class whiner." Kathleen Parker blames Obama's "talking," saying that he really "needed to be a better listener." David Broder sees an opportunity for the president to stick to his agenda "but change your way of operating" by reaching out to the GOP. (Also in the Post, in case you're interested, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke offers a defense of the Fed's response to the recession.)

The Wall Street Journal has Daniel Henninger calling on Republicans to "unlock" the U.S. economy by getting government "out of the way"; and Fred Barnes saying the GOP victory goes beyond their wildest dreams. Karl Rove, unworried about hyperbole, thinks, "The damage to the White House and the Democratic Party is severe and will be long-lasting." For "balance" the Journal also includes ex-Clinton pollster Douglas Schoen arguing for Obama to take a page from his former boss's playbook and triangulate by permanently extending some of the Bush tax cuts, postponing other tax hikes, giving incentives to businesses and finding ways to work with Republicans on health care, innovation and education.

Turning to the blogosphere, what better place to start than right here at TNI? New America Foundation scholar Michael Lind teases out the foreign policy implications of the Republican takeover; former–9/11 Commission spokesman Alvin Felzenberg says voters sent a message to President Obama; and Paul Pillar thinks dealing with Afghan President Hamid Karzai might be easier than getting something done with former-and-presumptive House Majority Speaker John Boehner.

Elsewhere, Marc Lynch looks on the bright side for U.S. Muslims. David Rothkopf urges the president to take things "personally" and use the election "as a gut-check moment." Peter Wehner finds "the depth" of President Obama's "self-delusion was stunning," and Victor Davis Hanson perceives the president as "oddly depressed," "bewildered," "shocked," "hurt" but unrepenant. Kevin Drum and Ezra Klein blame the Dems' loss on the generation gap. Glenn Greenwald says don't fault the liberals, it's the centrist Democrats that lost.

Dan Drezner and Stephen Walt yawn; apparently midterm elections don't make much difference for how America performs abroad—especially with a "sour economy." Matt Yglesias tells Obama to get out of the way and let Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid duke it out, focusing on foreign policy and rising above the issues to become a deal maker. And Tyler Cowen predicts Obama will do just that.