An intense controversy has broken out over Donald Trump’s suggestion that immigration of Muslims into the US be temporarily suspended due to the recent terrorist attacks. What is not yet clear ia whether his provocative proposal will undermine or further strengthen Trump’s dominant position in the race for the GOP presidential nomination.
New York’s Charles Schumer, who is in line to become the next leader of Senate Democrats, has come under vicious attack for his announced decision last week to vote against the Iran nuclear deal. Before announcing his decision, he took every precaution to avoid alienating the White House or endangering his prospects of becoming Minority Leader when Harry Reid retires from the Senate next year.
A campaign to punish Schumer for his decision was launched by White House spokesman Josh Earnest, who questioned whether he should be the next leader of Senate Democrats. The criticism from liberals went viral and began to take on an ugly, anti-Semitic overtones, with dark suggestions that Schumer is guilty of treason for opposing Obama on the Iran deal.
For the past two weeks, a partisan political controversy has raged in Israel and Washington over the invitation issued by House Speaker John Boehner to Prime Minister Binyomin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress, which was allegedly offered and accepted by Netanyahu without notifying the White House. That prompted President Obama’s White House spokesman to complain that both Boehner and Netanyahu had violated standard diplomatic protocol by failing to clear the invitation with the White House before announcing the visit.
Israeli officials are nervous over the White House reaction to the two days of nuclear talks with Iran in Geneva last week, which senior US officials described in glowing terms as the most meaningful and serious negotiations ever conducted with the Iranian leadership. The talks were Iran’s first negotiations with the P5+1 group of Western nations since its new President, Hassan Rouhani, took office in August. However, Iran made no specific commitment to stop enriching uranium or ship its stockpiles of 20% enriched uranium to another country for safekeeping. The next round of the talks is scheduled to take place in Geneva on November 7 and 8.
In key testimony last week before the House Oversight committee that was largely overlooked by the mainstream media, senior employees at the IRS Tax Exempt Department in Cincinnati laid the blame for its deliberate policy of delaying and obstructing applications from tea party groups to IRS chief counsel William Wilkins, one of only two Obama White House political appointees in what is supposed to be a non-partisan agency.
Wilkins, it turns out, sent orders down the chain of command from IRS headquarters in Washington requiring underlings to delay and demand additional scrutiny of any application for tax exemption submitted by a politically active conservative group, particularly during the periods leading up to the 2010 and 2012 elections.
Whenever presidents get into domestic political trouble, a common strategy is to leave those problems behind and attempt to look “presidential” by flying to distant places to hobnob with other world leaders, winning the adulation abroad that they can no longer win at home. Such meetings usually afford the opportunity for presidents to generate positive headlines and flattering photo-ops.
Following this familiar script, after a month in which Obama and his administration stumbled from one embarrassing revelation to the next, from the Benghazi cover-up to the Justice Department’s war on the free press, to the IRS persecution of conservative groups during the 2012 campaign and the unveiling by former CIA employee Edward Snowden of a huge spying operation carried out by the NSA on every American’s phone calls and computer messages, Obama clearly welcomed the chance to fly to Northern Ireland to attend the Group of Eight international economic summit, and then on to Berlin, site of his triumphal address before a cheering crowd of more than 200,000 while he was still a presidential candidate in the summer of 2008.