Posted on February 09, 2012 in Countdown
Countdown Vol. 10, No. 34
From Bad to Worse in Syria
It’s not really a Countdown topic, but it can’t be ignored either. It started as a government crackdown against peaceful protesters, but with army defections on the rise, the situation in Syria has devolved into armed conflict with harrowing consequences. The death toll is mounting quickly as the army uses heavy weaponry to shell towns with significant anti-government activity, in spite of condemnation of such indiscriminate attacks by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Russia and China vetoed a U.N. resolution pushing for a transition of power in Syria, which drew harsh criticism from the United States. But with our history of vetoing measures that sought to put an end to Israel’s violence against the Palestinians and Lebanese, it’s not clear how seriously U.S. indignation is taken by the world community. In the meantime, the tragedy the Syrian people are enduring continues. And while our influence over the situation over there is very limited, we’re much closer to getting Temporary Protected Status for Syrians currently residing in the U.S.
The Santorum Comeback
If you counted Rick Santorum out, you may want to reconsider, as he has just won Minnesota, Missouri, and Colorado. This is, once again, being taken as evidence that Romney does not have the backing of the conservative core of the Republican Party. In our last Countdown, we said that Gingrich was “scrambling in the kitchen sink for something else to throw” at Romney. The Huffington Post must’ve been keeping up with us, because shortly after, they led with a giant picture of Gingrich and the headline “Break Out the Knives.” Well, Newt, you may want to put the knives away now, you’re not the conservative “not-Romney” candidate anymore; Santorum is.
Obama Joins the Game
At first he was against Super PACs and the Supreme Court decision that allowed unlimited money to flood politics, but after he saw the kind of cash Republicans were accumulating to defeat him, President Obama did a u-turn & lent his support for a Super PAC after deciding it was the only way he could compete. An Obama campaign official said "we made the decision to not allow the Republicans to be the [sole] beneficiary of unlimited spending." The President also took a jab at Mitt Romney’s welcoming of the carnival barker’s endorsement. You know who that is, right? “Yes, Donald Trump -- birth certificate conspiracy leader -- has decided that Mitt Romney's his guy, and Romney has embraced him without reservation” is what Obama’s deputy campaign manager had to say. With this kind of sass coming out of the campaign, they’re practically doing Countdown’s job for us!
White House Wrong on Palestine... Again
Remember Dennis Ross? He’s the guy who co-founded the Israel Lobby’s Think Tank, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP). He was involved with U.S. mediation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for a period spanning 3 administrations (no wonder our mediation was so fruitful). He was predictably known for consistently placing Israeli concerns over Palestinian ones. Ross was so biased that he and Obama’s former Special Middle East Envoy George Mitchell would often refuse to speak with one another. So when we heard the announcement that Ross was stepping down from his position, we thought “hmmm, maybe the administration is considering becoming more even-handed.” Well, scratch that thought, for Dennis Ross not only continues to advise the administration, but actually now has a secure “red” phone line to the White House. Oh, yay, when an Israeli-Palestinian emergency flares up, Dennis Ross will be there for the rescue (not).
Today, the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) kicked off its three-day conference in Washington, DC. So what brings people at CPAC together? CPAC veteran and Reagan biographer Craig Shirley says “The one thing that unites everybody is a hatred of Barack Obama." That’s the problem with politics today, everything is so thickly sugar-coated, you don’t know how people really feel anymore. And who was CPAC’s first major speaker today? It was Republican Sen. Jim DeMint, who explained to the audience that they should never compromise with the Democrats. Well, the red-meat-eating crowd, as Politico put it, at CPAC is precisely the hardcore constituency that Romney has been having trouble connecting with. What will he say this year to win their support? Lucky for Michele Bachmann, she doesn’t have to try too hard at this point, so she’s free to make fun of herself at CPAC. Health-warning: don’t play drinking games with Islamophobic references at the conference (we’re just guessing it’ll be dangerous).