Archive for August, 2009
I have been asked to rate who the ten worst Presidents are, following up on the ten worst Senators this country has had to endure, so here goes!
I will simply list and explain who I think are the ten worst, but without actually putting them in numbered order as the differences among them are not major ones, making it easier to list them in chronological order. It is clear that at least one of every four Presidents has been a mediocrity, and in some cases, really harmed the country with their poor leadership.
So I will list the Presidents chronologically, and I will not rate the two Presidents who served less than one year–William Henry Harrison (one month) and James Garfield (six months)–as that would be unfair, since they had almost no impact on the office of the Presidency.
So actually, not counting them, we have had 40 other Presidents to this moment, not counting Barack Obama, of course.
First chronologically would be Zachary Taylor (1849-50), who had the third shortest Presidency and failed to demonstrate in his brief time in office any leadership regarding the upcoming debates and vote on the Compromise of 1850, although it is believed he would have vetoed the compromise, which likely would have led to the Civil War a decade earlier, at a time when the North was not as strong economically and in railroad development, to have fought a successful war. As it was, when the war came, it took four long years for the North to triumph, so had Taylor survived, it is likely that the Union would NOT have been preserved.
His successor, Millard Fillmore (1850-53), by signing the Compromise of 1850, did delay the Civil War, but was seen as caving in to slave interests in the South, and generally, therefore, comes across as a weak President.
His successor, Franklin Pierce (1853-1857), signed the Kansas Nebraska Act, which set into play destructive forces that caused a civil war in Kansas and changed the entire party system in America, and he is blamed for having catered to southern interests, therefore helping to bring about the Civil War by his signs of weakness.
His successor, James Buchanan (1857-1861), is often considered the worst President of all, and there is a lot of validity to that, as he continued to pursue an appeasement of the South, and his administration left a crisis of massive proportions over US military forts in southern states, helping to lead to the outbreak of war shortly after Abraham Lincoln became President in 1861.
So four presidents in a row, the four before Lincoln and the Civil War, certainly can be seen as weak and ineffective, and only make Lincoln stand out more as, without much doubt, being the best American President.
Immediately after Lincoln, we will see two other Presidents who would fit on the list of ten worst, plus one other later on in the Gilded Age, making it seven of the ten worst Presidents before the 20th century.
Andrew Johnson (1865-69), who succeeded the assassinated Lincoln, proceeded to divide Congress by his actions and words and faced impeachment, although he was fortunately found not guilty.
Ulysses S. Grant (1869-77) was, of course, the famous Civil War general who won the war and was able to gain the surrender of Robert E. Lee, the best general on the Confederate side, and arguably the best general on either side of the Civil War. Despite his war record, Grant proceeded to preside over widespread corruption and scandal, face an economic depression, and drink heavily, so that often he was not aware of what his appointees were doing in his name.
Benjamin Harrison (1889-1893), the grandson of the one month President William Henry Harrison, presided over the peak of the Gilded Age with its emphasis on the growth of corporate monopoly and conservative dominance politically, and the Panic of 1893 soon ensued.
In the 20th century, two Presidents in the 1920s would become numbers 8 and 9 on the list of worst President historically.
Warren G. Harding (1921-23) presided over the worst scandals since Grant, and while he had some good cabinet officers, little is remembered of his administration beyond the Teapot Dome scandals and the love affairs he had in the White House.
Calvin Coolidge (1923-29) was Harding’s successor, and while certainly improved over Harding, is still seen as a President who tried to restore the Gilded Age conservative tradition of promoting corporate monopoly, and failed to consider the needs of farmers and workers. It is often said that his economic policies helped to lead to the Great Depression that began in 1929.
Ok, we have covered nine of the worst Presidents, and finally it is time for Number Ten, again not ranked but simply on the list.
Probably no surprise to anyone, I would put George W. Bush (2001-2009) as the last on this undistinguished list. While we cannot, certainly, be sure of his future reputation and ranking, the fact that Bush presided over the failure of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Hurricane Katrina, and the economic collapse that led to the Great Recession we are now suffering through, plus his use of torture techniques against those held in the war on terrorism, and other abuses of civil liberties, qualifies him to be on this list. Whether as some say he is the absolute worst of all Presidents is subject to vigorous debate, without any conclusive answer at this time.
Notice who is NOT on this list of the ten worst Presidents. John Tyler (1841-45), the first President to succeed from the Vice Presidency during a term, avoids the list by his courageous assertion of Presidential power upon taking office, despite limited success.
Herbert Hoover (1929-33), despite presiding over the Great Depression, avoids the bottom ten because of late actions he took in 1932 to try to ameliorate the economic collapse that he believed was turning around when it had not done so.
Richard Nixon (1969-74), despite Watergate, had redeeming virtues in his foreign and domestic policy that save him from this list.
Jimmy Carter (1977-81), despite the Iran crisis and economic troubles, also escapes because of other actions in foreign and domestic policy that make him avoid the bottom ten list.
So this is how I would assess who the ten worst Presidents are. If I was asked to pick the bottom five of the ten, I would list in chronological order the following–Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, and Warren G. Harding.
So at this point, George W. Bush would avoid the bottom five in my estimation, but of course, over time, with research and reflection by many historians and other scholars and journalists, he might very well be placed in the bottom five. Only time will tell!
Again, I invite discussion and debate about my rankings!
I have had the question asked of me, after giving my ranking of the best Senators in American History, as to who would make the list of the WORST Senators ever in our history.
This is much more difficult and complex a challenge, but let me begin by stating that there are, unfortunately, many mediocre senators on the list of nearly 1800 who have served since 1789. However, a small number particularly deserve condemnation, and I base who to condemn not on the fact that some are corrupt in their personal life or in financial endeavors, but rather on if they promoted prejudice, discrimination, narrow mindedness, or suppression of basic freedoms. In other words, their negative attitude toward civil rights and or civil liberties qualifies them for this despicable list.
I cannot easily rank them from one to ten, as the differences are so minor, but what I will do is discuss nine of them, and then finish with who I think is CLEARLY Number One. Then I will add seven more potential candidates.
I wish it was not so, but the majority of the list comes from the Old Confederacy, because of the issue of civil rights, as well as civil liberties. This is a sad reality that cannot be blamed on Northern prejudice. The Civil War may have resolved the issue of slavery, but it did not settle the issue of race, and there were a long list of senators who really fueled hate and prejudice, and justified extreme violence and mistreatment against African Americans, but also Jews, Catholics and immigrants from southern and eastern Europe, Latin America, and Asia.
So here goes in no special order except being in the top ten.
Benjamin Tillman, Democrat of South Carolina, who served from 1895-1918, had the nickname “Pitchfork”, and promoted racism and segregation in a voluble manner, and condemned Theodore Roosevelt for his White House invitation to the African American educator, Booker T. Washington, in 1902.
James K. Vardaman served as a Democratic Senator from Mississippi from 1913-1919, and gained a reputation for using the N word effortlessly, and advocating violence and the Klan to keep African Americans in their place.
Theodore Bilbo was Democratic Senator from Mississippi from 1935-1947, and was infamous for his orations against African Americans, and was simply an embarrassment to the Senate he served in.
Harry F. Byrd, Sr. of Virginia served as a Democratic Senator from 1933 to 1965, and led the fight against the school integration decision of the Supreme Court in 1954, advocating “massive resistance”, promoting the closing of public schools in the Commonwealth. His being in the Senate for a very long time made him more damaging just by its duration.
Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina served as a Senator for the second longest term ever, nearly 48 years, first as a Democrat from 1954 to 1964, and then switched parties to the Republican side and served from 1964 to 2002. Thurmond had, while Governor of his state, been a third party candidate for President as a “Dixiecrat” in 1948, and promoted the reversal of President Truman’s executive orders integrating the armed forces and Washington, DC. He went on to be an activist against the entire civil rights movement, including calling Martin Luther King a “communist’, and only reluctantly, backed away slightly from his vehement stands in his later terms, partially to win reelection with a growing African American participation in voting in the Palmetto state.
Jesse Helms served as Republican Senator from North Carolina from 1973-2003, and gained a reputation of being the most implacable foe of civil rights, using the race card on a regular basis to win close races in his state. He was seen as the image of the Old South revived even in modern times. A lot of people, including some colleagues, were simply scared of him!
The seventh and last southern senator on this undistinguished list would be Phil Gramm of Texas, who first served in the House of Representatives as a Democrat, switched to the Republican party, and served as a Republican Senator from 1985-2002. While by the time that he served, the race issue was not emphasized anymore in an open way, Gramm proved to be very insensitive to the poor and deprived, emphasized a balanced budget over all else, and gained an image of being linked to powerful corporations. To top it off, after he left office, and when the Great Recession we are suffering through emerged, Gramm was judged as one of the ten on the list of villains on a CNN investigation, that helped by their actions and connections to have caused the collapse in the mortgage industry, and the general financial meltdown. He was also an embarrassment to Senator John McCain during the Presidential campaign of 2008, when he was one of his economic advisers, and complained that America was a “nation of whiners”.
So sadly, seven of the top ten worst senators come from the South, with two from Mississippi, two from South Carolina, one from Virginia, one from North Carolina, and one from Texas.
The other three on this unfortunate list come from the “heartland”, two from the Midwest and one from the Far West.
Senator Roman Hruska served from Nebraska as a Republican from 1954-1976, and could be called the true measure of a mediocre Senator, who is most infamous for his assertion during the Senate debate over the nomination of G. Harold Carswell of Florida by President Nixon in 1971 to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, that indeed Carswell was a mediocre judge, but after all, a lot of Americans are mediocre, and they are entitled to one person on the Supreme Court who represents them! I think that is enough said about Hruska!
Then there is Senator Patrick McCarran, Democrat of Nevada from 1933-1954, who became infamous for being an active participant in promoting violation of civil liberties, most notably as part of the Second Red Scare in the years after World War II and into the mid 1950s. He was vicious in his pursuit of the destruction of many people’s reputations and livelihoods without justification.
Ok, now we are ready for the tenth and last, but actually the person who would easily be placed at the top of this list of the worst senators in US History. Many learned people may already have guessed who I am going to name.
Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin, who served from 1947-1957, became infamous for the “witch hunt”, the Second Red Scare, and the creation of a new “ism”, McCarthyism, which means unjustified attacks on and destruction of people for a purely political and ideological agenda. McCarthy had no limits in his tirade on people from all walks of life that the labeled very freely as “Communists”, and yet no one he ever attacked was ever convicted of any such charges. He undermined Americans’ faith in their own government and their Presidents at the time, Truman and Eisenhower, and too many of his colleagues in the US Senate were either supporting him for political ends or unwilling to stick their neck out and denounce him. Of course, there were those who were courageous in and out of the Senate and condemned him, but it took five long years before he was finally brought down by a censure vote after his accusations that the military services were rife with Communists. His demagogic actions, unfortunately, gained many supporters, many of whom, or their descendants, still defend this despicable man, the worst Senator ever, even today, and aim to divide us.
I welcome discussion and debate on this list, but I also wish to add seven more candidates to this list, who might be considered to make a longer list.
The other seven would be, in no special order or ranking as follows:
S. I. Hayakawa, Republican of California, 1977-1983, who became most noticed for opposing the Panama Canal treaty by stating that “we stole the canal fair and square, and should not give it back!”
Rick Santorum, Republican from Pennsylvania, who served from 1994-2006, and was probably most noticed for opposing gay equality, and worried publicly that the next step would be dogs and humans marrying!
Jim Bunning, Republican of Kentucky, serving from 1998–2010, unable to get along with anyone in his own party, let alone the other party, and often saying inane things, and serving as an embarrassment to his fellow home state senator and Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell. Ironically, Bunning had had a distingished career as a baseball pitcher for the Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Phillies from 1955-1971, had pitched a perfect game in 1964, and is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. That distinguished career, unfortunately, did not translate into the Senate, and he has recently been noted for working to prevent access to Presidential records in the National Archives by preventing the bill from being considered, what is called “legislative privilege” to put a hold on a bill by one individual senator. When he retires next year, he will NOT be missed!
John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, serving from 2002 to the present, having been a Supreme Court judge in Texas before being elected to the Senate. However, it has been hard to watch Senator Cornyn and not be embarrassed by his statements and actions.
Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, serving since 2005, and a medical doctor. But like Cornyn, it has been hard not to wince when observing his statements and actions in office.
We cannot end this entry without adding Coburn’s fellow Republican Senator, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, who has served since 1994. He is best known for being the leading fighter against former Vice President Al Gore’s global warming initiatives, but beyond that, it is just hard to watch and listen to him on any subject!
One other newcomer who seems to be going down this road to be on this list is Republican Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina, who has served since 2005, and has recently been railing about “socialism”, and saying health care is not a right, but a privilege.
So I now open up to commentary by any readers on this subject!
The passing of Senator Ted Kennedy, the great spokesman for modern American liberalism, brings to mind the exceptional career of the late Senator Robert LaFollette, Sr, “Mr. Progressive”, of the early 20th century Progressive Era.
Coming to the Senate about two thirds of a century apart, Kennedy and LaFollette both came to personify the fight for social justice, regulation of corporations, and political reform. One was a Democrat from Massachusetts, while the other was a Republican from Wisconsin, but despite their large separation by time, they both personified the best in the American tradition of caring about others and standing for change to promote an equitable society.
Earlier this year, Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, himself a model of modern progressivism and liberalism, sponsored a bill which was also supported in its introduction by Senators Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, and–get this–Senator Ted Kennedy himself—to honor LaFollette with the minting of a silver commemorative coin regarding his life and legacy–in the year 2011. Along with the US Mint coin, a separate proposal called for the Congressional Gold Medal to be awarded to LaFollette posthumously by the President of the United States.
This is a brilliant idea and needs to move forward, but I propose both bills be modified, so that the US Mint coin and the Congressional Gold Medal be awarded not just to Senator LaFollette, but also to Senator Ted Kennedy, who LaFollette, were he alive today, would be very appreciative of the continuation of his vision by the liberal Democrat from Massachusetts.
This proposal to honor both LaFollette and Kennedy is a non partisan bill, with its purpose to appreciate the progressive and liberal tradition and promote its continuation, with very possibly Senator Russ Feingold as its new champion and leader. We need such leadership in Congress, but supported in full by President Barack Obama.
The death of Senator Ted Kennedy is time to gather the forces of change and make this sad event a moment to recharge for the many battles and struggles ahead. Onward to greater accomplishments!
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who is in a near dead heat in polling for the GOP 2012 Presidential nomination with Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney, has apparently decided that he must out Palin Palin!
On his Fox News show, he asserts that if the health care bill passed, and were Ted Kennedy still alive, he would be sent home to die and would not be given proper health care.
Will Huckabee’s adoption of Sarah Palin’s “Death Panels” concept, which has caused so much grief and hysteria despite the fact it has no basis, advance him in the Presidential race?
Let’s just say IF it does, the Republican Party will be committing suicide whether or not the health care plan is passed into law.
This move by Huckabee only makes Mitt Romney look more rational and reasonable, faced with two opponents who have to be seen as demagogues for exploiting the issue of health care for their own selfish reasons, rather than providing a real answer to this massive problem the country faces.
With the death of the venerated Senator Ted Kennedy, there is much debate as to whether the liberalism that he so aggressively promoted dies with him.
My answer is NO, and also that we, as a nation, cannot afford to allow the concept of social justice, promoting a level playing field, regulating corporations in the public interest, and working to democratize our political system, to disappear.
We have come too far in the past century to go back to the concept of laissez faire economics, and to Social Darwinism and corporate monopoly–that is, back to the mentality of the Gilded Age of the late 19th century and to the equally conservative era of the 1920s and the 1980s.
We cannot allow the Reagan philosophy that goverment is the problem to predominate, as government is the only way to promote necessary political reform, economic competition, and social change.
Leaving everyone to their own selfish interests would mean a repudiation of everything Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson worked so hard for with the Square Deal, the New Freedom, the New Deal, the New Frontier, and the Great Society. It would also be a rejection of prominent legislators of both parties–such as Robert LaFollette, Sr, George Norris, Robert Wagner, Hubert Humphrey, George McGovern, Paul Wellstone, and Ted Kennedy–who dedicated their congressional careers to the advancement of their fellow citizens.
Progressive and liberal thought and action have brought about the great reforms that have improved our country in the past century, and we cannot allow Ted Kennedy’s death to be portrayed as the end of progressivism and liberalism.
Kennedy’s passing, instead, must be a clarion call to rededicate ourselves to what he spent his whole life promoting–the vision of the Roosevelts, Wilson, the Kennedys and Lyndon Johnson–a better, more equitable and just society.
Barack Obama must take this moment to reassess his nice guy image, and start to use the aggressive tactics of FDR and LBJ to accomplish the great challenges of the future, beginning with universal health care! He can become in reality as well as image the new leader of progressive and liberal change, and the country demands it!
For the first time in 25 years, a Massachusetts US Senate seat will be up for competition as to who should represent the state.
But Massachusetts state law calls for an election no sooner than about five months after a vacancy.
This needs to be changed by the legislature promptly, as this is a crucial time on the health care legislation and other important initiatives of the Obama Administration.
The idea of a temporary filling of the Senate seat, by someone who would pledge not to run, sounds to me like a very legitimate and proper move.
Massachusetts should not be denied equal representation for such a long time, as unfortunately, Minnesota faced for six months because of the contested Senate race between Al Franken and Norm Coleman.
So hopefully, we will see a new Senator sworn in, who has been appointed to fill the seat for a brief few months, by Governor Deval Patrick.
With the death of Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, it makes one reflect on whether he belongs in the top ten of all US Senators since 1789.
The Senate has voted twice on the greatest members of its body, naming five in 1957 and adding two more at the turn of the 21st century.
It could be debated whether the complete list of seven is accurate, and there is no final answer in any case, as personal opinion plays a role in judging greatness.
The Senate in 1957 selected the “Triumvirate” of the first half of the 19th century–Henry Clay of Kentucky, Daniel Webster of Massachusetts, and John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, along with one progressive and one conservative in the first half of the 20th century–Robert La Follette, Sr. of Wisconsin and Robert Taft of Ohio.
About a decade ago, one liberal Democrat and one conservative Republican, again from the first half of the 20th century, were added to the list–Robert Wagner of New York and Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan.
Do I agree on all seven on this list? Let’s say I am reluctant to include Calhoun, who in my mind was so destructive in his promotion of states rights and slavery, often called the man who brought us the Civil War, even though he had died eleven years earlier. I am also not a big fan of Robert Taft, Mr. Conservative Republican, who was for much of his time in office an isolationist in foreign policy, and a promoter of a strong anti union law still on the record books despite being vetoed by President Truman in 1947–the Taft-Hartley Act.
I have no problem with Clay, Webster, La Follette, Wagner, and even Vandenberg, a conservative, but also a man who abandoned isolationism and backed President Truman in his Cold War policies and has the California Air Force base named after him.
So if I eliminate Calhoun and Taft, it means we have five senators already listed, so who else would I add to this distinguished group?
I would add Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, an abolitionist and radical Republican during Reconstruction after the Civil War, and a major figure even before the Civil War.
Also, I would easily add Senator George Norris of Nebraska, who served in the Senate for 30 years and became famous, along with Robert LaFollette, Sr., as a progressive promoting basic, fundamental change in domestic affairs. He was a very inspiring figure, who I wrote about in my book on Progressive Republicans and the New Deal.
The remaining three would come from the second half of the 20th century, which does not yet have a person on the list acknowledged by the Senate itself.
They would be first, Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota, the great liberal who also served as Vice President under Lyndon Johnson and lost the Presidency to Richard Nixon in 1968. He was a very inspiring and original legislator who became my political hero as a young man, and first got me interested in politics.
I would also add Senator Lyndon Johnson of Texas, later our 36th President, after serving as Vice President under John F. Kennedy. As Senate Majority Leader in the 1950s, he set a standard that has never been matched, in accomplishing an agenda, and his experience benefited him and us in the promotion of the Great Society in the 1960s.
And I would add, as the tenth and last name, Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, who also served longer than any of the others on the list and had a massive positive impact on our nation.
Now I also want to add an 11th person, as someone who might someday be added to the list or even replace one of them. That would be Senator Joe Biden of Delaware, one of the longest serving with his 36 years, and serving as Chair of the Judiciary and Foreign Relations Committee during his long career in the upper chamber, until he became Vice President under President Obama this year.
This is obviously a subject of debate, but I will stand by this list against all comers!
The death of Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts late last evening is an immense loss to the nation.
Kennedy certainly had his critics and naysayers, and not all of the criticism is undeserved.
This man was exasperating much of the time in his personal life, particularly when he was middle aged and stupid and reckless, as for instance when he was driving drunk in Martha’s Vineyard, and drove his car into a canal at Chappaquiddick, nearly causing his own drowning death, and actually causing the death of Mary Jo Kopechne, who was with him at a party he should not have been at, since he was a married man. Many have said he murdered her, but that is not true, but still his wild, reckless behavior is rightfully condemned.
Ted often seemed undirected, as when he decided to challenge President Carter in 1980, and yet could not explain WHY he wanted to be President. That, plus the fact that the Chappaquiddick affair besmirched his reputation for all time, prevented him from ever reaching the Presidency.
But after continuing to womanize, drink too heavily, and divorce the mother of his three children, he finally grew up and married his second wife in 1992, and that seemed to stabilize his existence, and one could say that FINALLY at age 60, he grew up and began to act responsibly.
At the same time that Ted misbehaved in a horrible way for so many years, he also dedicated himself to a life’s work fighting for the poor, the disadvantaged, the sick, the elderly, the working people, and racial and ethnic minorities. He headed the Judiciary Committee and later the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, fought for a higher minimum wage and education reform, and promoted the concept of universal health care, his last great battle of many in the Senate.
He managed to make friends of Republican colleagues, who often fought him on many issues, but respected him greatly despite their ideological differences. Among those he worked well with were Arizona Senator John McCain and Utah Senator Orrin Hatch.
Kennedy gained the name LION OF THE SENATE, and he is going to be much missed by all of his Senate colleagues who knew him to be a man of great energy and tremendous commitment to the causes he believed in.
Kennedy also did many small deeds in his home state of Massachusetts and in the city of Washington, DC, without wanting attention or publicity to be brought to his activities, such as reading to elementary school classes in the capital city and visiting hospitals.
He was constantly in the limelight, but did not seek constant attention, and always demonstrated a good sense of humor and tons of compassion, seeing his luck of being born wealthy as the opportunity to serve others and give back to the nation.
Franklin D. Roosevelt once stated that a person who dedicates his life to those less fortunate is more to be remembered and revered, than one who spends his lifetime enriching himself and displaying greed and lack of concern for those below him. This is the true meaning of our existence, and our western religions teach that we should follow the road of compassion, concern, and good deeds and not be greedy, selfish, or self centered.
Ted Kennedy was a great servant to his country and the world, and he is really irreplaceable.
In conclusion, there is no doubt that Ted Kennedy will be ranked as one of the most prominent, influential senators of all time, certainly in the top ten of our history since 1789, and as the giant of the last 30 years in particular, for sure. He might have been in opposition most of the time with Republican Presidents, but he still left a heavy footprint on his times and provided us with an amazing legacy.
It can be hoped that his death will promote a substantial reform of health care in his honor, and because it is right to bring about such a change.
He will be buried alongside his brothers, President John F. Kennedy and Senator Robert Kennedy in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, so Americans will be able to visit and come to realize the tremendous impact this family had on American history.
Ted, we will never forget you, and may you rest in peace!
I woke up this morning to the inevitable, but still shocking, news that the greatest Senator of our time, Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, had passed away overnight from a brain tumor.
My emotions about this are very strong, and it is obvious that this is a great loss for the nation, as well as the Kennedy family.
More will be said about this tragic event later today when I have time to reflect on what this man’s public career has meant to all of us, and what effect it might have on the future.
President Obama has been pressuring Israel to stop the development of West Bank settlements as part of a peace deal with the Palestinians, and is trying to get Arab willingness to accept Israel as its neighbor.
The fact is that the Arabs have been implacable rivals since the inception of the Jewish state in 1948, and there is no guarantee that any settlement requiring the giving up of Israeli settlements and the creation of a Palestinian state will bring peace and guarantee the territorial security and integrity of Israel.
Obama is trying to open up to the Arab and Islamic world, but there is no way that we are going to be able to do that in a form that protects our one democratic ally in the Middle East–Israel.
Therefore, Obama is creating problems for Israel’s survival, and playing with fire in his belief that we can trust any Arab nation in its future intentions toward our friend and ally.
I look at it this way: How would we feel if other nations in Europe were trying to pressure us to give up our territory won in war? How would we react if we were told we had to sacrifice our national security in order to appease the desire of our neighbor, Mexico, to seize land we won many years ago?
When we are ready to give back to Mexico land we won in the Mexican War of the 1840s (California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas), then we have the right to tell Israel what to do. Since we are not about to do that, President Obama needs to cease and desist in his pressure on our loyal friend and democratic ally, Israel!