The Washington Post’s campaign factchecker awards three Pinocchios to conservative rottweiler Floyd Brown – and to his pseudo-academic alter ego, Daniel Pipes – for promoting the canard was a Muslim as a child and is hiding the fact: “Both Brown and Pipes base their arguments and conclusions on factoids that have appeared in the mainstream media. But they make no attempt to weigh the evidence fairly,” the Post said. In other words, they’re misusing some details to make up stories, as conspiracy theorists will. Pipes, we can be sure, will not be dissuaded from finding invidious Islamic plots everywhere.
Will Obama be the first woman president? Susan Faludi explains that Obama rejects that the “gender ethic” guiding American politics for two centuries, which says that the president must play the role of macho rescuer on the frontier, protecting the women and children of the wagon train. Under the current excuse for a president, the frontier fallacy that a Real Man in the White House will break heads has put America neck-deep in the Big Muddy of the Tigres. The one flaw I find in Faludi’s argument is her presumption that this is peculiarly American. Tzipi Livni’s need to build herself a terrorist-hunting image is based on the same ethic and the peculiar burden it places on a woman candidate to out-macho the men.
An adviser to the Obama campaign has responded to my criticism of O’s statement to Aipac, “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.” The adviser, remaining anonymous, says that that the candidate really means physically undivided: Obama “has said before that Jerusalem is a final status issue to be negotiated by the parties, but that two principles that should guide any outcome is that it will remain Israel’s capital and it should never be redivided by barbed wire and checkpoints as it was from 1948-67.” I’m satisfied with that as a position. I still think it was disingenuous and damaging to use the formulation he used before Aipac. The audience – in the hall, and around the world – heard “undivided Jerusalem” in the way that official Israel constantly uses the phrase, meaning politically undivided. That was red meat for the Aipac crowd. Saying “physically undivided” would have been a red flag. Afterward, Obama had to clarify, or backtrack, or write a midrash on his own words, in order to maintain his dedication to effective diplomacy. Better not to have raised the issue. But then, Obama was talking to a crowd inclined to believe both Pinocchio Pipes and the frontier fallacy. He faced the classic dilemma of a high school kid at the wrong party – being yourself and being popular just don’t fit together.