By Elizabeth Price Foley
Joe Biden has been making his 2016 deliberations all about his late son since August.
Aug. 1, to be exact — the day renowned Hillary Clinton-critic Maureen Dowd published a column that marked a turning point in the presidential speculation.
According to multiple sources, it was Biden himself who talked to her, painting a tragic portrait of a dying son, Beau’s face partially paralyzed, sitting his father down and trying to make him promise to run for president because “the White House should not revert to the Clintons and that the country would be better off with Biden values.”
It was no coincidence that the preliminary pieces around a prospective campaign started moving right after that column. People read Dowd and started reaching out, those around the vice president would say by way of defensive explanation. He was just answering the phone and listening.
But in truth, Biden had effectively placed an ad in The New York Times, asking them to call.
Before that moment and since, Biden has told the Beau story to others. Sometimes details change — the setting, the exact words. The version he gave Dowd delivered the strongest punch to the gut, making the clearest swipe at Clinton by enshrining the idea of a campaign against her in the words of a son so beloved nationally that his advice is now beyond politics. This campaign wouldn’t be about her or her email controversy, the story suggests, but connected to righteousness on some higher plane.
Biden’s “Uncle Joe” schtick is designed to camouflage the career politician inside who has no qualms about lying to further his own ambitions. You know, the man who plagiarized his law review comment and falsely claims that he played college football, graduated in the top half of his law school class (he was 76 out of 85), had a blue collar upbringing, that his first wife and daughter were killed by a drunk driver (there is no evidence the driver was drunk), and that he was a skeptic of the Iran nuclear deal.
Biden has displayed, over a long period of time, a near-pathological propensity to lie in order to aggrandize himself. That he would “embellish” the story of his dying son’s last words–and plant the story himself with the New York Times–is just another example of this pattern.
By New York Post Editorial Board
Photo: Zumapress.com/Getty Images
Just three years ago, President Obama famously ridiculed GOP opponent Mitt Romney’s statement that Russia remained America’s main geopolitical foe by taunting: “The 1980s are calling to ask for their foreign policy back.”
Four years before that, Obama stood at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate to declare that once he became president, all people would join him around a global campfire, hold hands and put an end to the world’s evils and miseries.
Well, seven years into Obama’s presidency, the promised worldwide Kumbaya is instead global chaos — caused in large measure by his willful retreat from America’s position of leadership.
Washington’s traditional allies increasingly feel abandoned, its enemies emboldened. The United States isn’t even leading from behind — it’s cowering in weakness.
And no one is taking better advantage of this than Vladimir Putin, now storming headlong into the yawning chasm of American retreat and reasserting Russia’s global influence and power — just as Mitt Romney said.
Putin remains unchallenged in his invasion of Ukraine, leaving him free to intervene — again unchallenged — in the Middle East.
In Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, Obama’s outreach to the Muslim world hasn’t ended the threat of terrorism. On the contrary, it has seen the rise of “JV team” ISIS and new power for the Taliban. Israelis and Palestinians remain as far apart as ever — because only Israel has been targeted to make concessions.
This president accuses his political foes of wanting to wage war as their first option and warns of the limits of unilateral military power.
But in his eagerness to leave office as the president who ended America’s wars, he refuses to consider any use (or even a credible threat) of US force — even when hundreds of thousands are being massacred in Syria, many by the chemical weapons he claimed to eliminate.
His premature abandonment, against all military advice, of Iraq and Afghanistan (where the pullout is still under way) has left both countries worse off. Iraq, in particular, is bleeding far more than it did even in the worst years of “George Bush’s war.”
Equally eager to open America’s arms to longtime adversaries, this president has begun new relationships with Iran (all but giving Tehran a direct path to a nuclear arsenal) and Cuba without any concessions in return — even on such basic issues as human rights.
It’s no accident Obama has twice spoken in Berlin — at the very spot where Ronald Reagan famously demanded Mikhail Gorbachev “tear down this wall.” Two years later, the Berlin Wall came down. Two years after that, the Soviet bloc collapsed, ending the Cold War.
Obama chose Berlin as the place to call on all nations to join him in “tearing down the walls” to “remake the world.” But his soaring rhetoric was followed by indecision, hesitation and outright appeasement.
America’s allies are calling, Mr. President. They want Ronald Reagan’s assertive foreign policy of the 1980s back.
They want an America that leads — not retreats.
What did he know and when did he know it? The immortal question about Richard Nixon and Watergate should be posed to Barack Obama about Syria. What and when did he know about Vladimir Putin’s axis-of-evil coalition?
The significance is not limited to Syria. The question goes to the heart of the Iran nuclear deal, especially the timing of the congressional votes.
Imagine Obama trying to sell the Iran deal now. With Russia, Iran and Iraq working together to muscle the United States aside and defend Bashar al-Assad, the president couldn’t possibly argue that the nuke deal would help stabilize the Middle East. Nor could he argue that Russia could be trusted to help enforce restrictions on Iran.
The strong likelihood that Obama would have lost the Iran vote if Congress knew then what the world knows now suggests the possibility the president concealed the Russian plan until the Iran deal was done. That view fits with his single-minded determination to get a deal at any price, including making key concessions and downplaying Iranian threats to Israel and the United States.
After all that, what’s another lie?
That view is also supported by the chronology, which reveals strong evidence the president hid the truth.
For much of September, reports of Russia moving soldiers and military equipment into Syria invariably said the Pentagon was “puzzled” or the White House was “unclear” about Putin’s intent. Obama declared on Sept. 11 that whatever the dictator’s plan, it was “doomed to fail.”
The claims of fuzziness about Syria allowed Obama to keep the focus on his push to sell the Iran pact to Congress. He touted Russia’s support, vowed to impose “snapback” sanctions if Iran cheated and said he would work to stop the mullahs’ regional aggressions.
His arguments and arm-twisting kept 42 Senate Democrats in line, enough to save the deal. Yet soon after opponents lost their final vote, on Sept. 17, Russia revealed that it would lead a coalition of Iran and Iraq to intervene militarily to save the Assad regime.
The shock-and-awe attacks launched last week are rattling the world as Russian airstrikes pound Syrian rebels, including some we support, with Iraq and Iran providing boots on the ground. But it’s not possible that nobody in Washington saw this coming.
After all, the Russian plan took shape well before late September. The Iran deal was officially finalized on July 14, and Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani met with Putin in Russia on July 24. Fox News, which first reported the meeting, even had the flight numbers of Soleimani’s Iran Air flights between Moscow and Tehran.
Soleimani, banned from international travel because of links to terrorism, earlier had been spotted in Iraq, helping to defend Assad against Islamic State. Yet five days after Soleimani was in Moscow, Secretary of State John Kerry told the Senate the travel restrictions against Soleimani would never be lifted. Apparently, they would never be enforced, either.
Although Russia and Iran had separately supported Assad, Kerry never mentioned that they could be working together militarily. Yet the Institute for the Study of War, a respected think tank, reported that “available satellite imagery and open sources” showed that “the new buildup of Russian military forces in Syria began in July 2015 and accelerated considerably in late August and September.” That means the buildup began near the Soleimani visit to Putin.
The institute offered key details, including that in late August, a Russian ship unloaded armored personnel carriers. It cited another report from Syrian rebels that Russian-speaking soldiers were engaged in combat against Assad’s opponents.
Yet in early September, less than two weeks before the final Iran vote, Kerry still wondered whether the buildup reports were “accurate.” That ridiculous feint would soon morph to an acknowledgment of a buildup, but with convenient claims that nobody understood Putin’s intent.
Now, of course, everybody understands Putin’s intent and is alarmed because the war is widening and Russia has replaced the United States as the region’s top power broker, a blow to our national security and allies.
But there still is little understanding of the connection between this tectonic shift and the Iranian nuclear deal. In fact, the deal was the final piece that put the Syria plan into action.
By eliminating most sanctions and freeing Iranian assets, the nuke deal provides money and protection for the world’s largest sponsor of terrorism to attack our allies. And Iran’s liberation gave Putin the Muslim ground troops he needs.
So the question needs to be asked of Barack Hussein Nixon: What did you know, and when did you know it?
By Boston Herald Staff
House Republicans told some hard truths yesterday about the nature of Planned Parenthood’s work.
No, not more horrifying disclosures about the harvesting of body parts from aborted fetuses — though that does indeed remain at the center of the controversy about federal funding.
But as lawmakers consider whether the organization should get federal funding at all, Planned Parenthood officials and supporters always insist that any cuts to federal funds would deny women breast exams and other essential health services.
And so with Cecile Richard, president of Planned Parenthood, seated before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) rattled off a stunning set of numbers, based on the group’s own tax and other filings. Over the past five years Planned Parenthood has funneled $22 million to its political affiliate, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. It spent $5 million in travel in 2013 alone and paid Richards an annual salary of $590,000.
Richards fired back that none of the money transferred to its PAC was federal money, but let’s face it, money is fungible. Every federal dollar given out — about $450 million of the organization’s $1.3 billion budget — allows it to channel other dollars elsewhere, including to its political arm.
“That has absolutely nothing to do with young women who need a breast exam,” Chaffetz said.
And that $22 million would fund a lot of mammograms.
Now faced with a level of public and political outrage in the wake of the videos about organ harvesting, Planned Parenthood has doubled down on, shall we say, its non-clinical work — buying ads, starting petition campaigns and filing lawsuits in states where it has been denied funding. All of that coming out of the same very fungible pocket of funds.
That’s not to say GOP lawmakers should shut down the government over the issue. That would be suicidal. But showing that Planned Parenthood is something far different than your community health center is a valuable contribution to the debate.
By Stephen Dinan
Ben Carson is hoping to awaken black voters to his campaign with a message of economic empowerment, saying the black community has been done a disservice by heeding political power overtures from Democrats.
Speaking to a small group of black leaders and activists last week, the retired neurosurgeon, who is surging in polling in the Republican presidential race, said he believes black Americans bring more power through the size of their bank account than by putting their “fist in the air.”
Mr. Carson said he generally shies away from focusing on race: “I say that’s because I’m a neurosurgeon, because everyone’s brain looks the same and it works the same way.”
But he said black voters should step beyond their allegiance to the Democratic Party.
“The Democrat Party, of course, is the party of the KKK. Of Jim Crow laws. And perhaps just as bad right now, of servitude. ‘Now you do this, and we’ll take care of you, pat you on the head, take care of all your needs.’ Which keeps people believing that’s what they actually need,” Mr. Carson told the small group.
Mr. Carson said he is an admirer of the late A.G. Gaston, a businessman in Birmingham, Alabama, who made millions of dollars that he used to help fund the civil rights movement. Gaston said his influence stemmed from his economic power.
“I think he has a very good point. It’s something that black America needs to understand,” Mr. Carson said. “Jewish America understands it. Korean America understands it. Black America, if they could understand it, they could blow everybody else out of the water.”
Michael Tyler, the Democratic National Committee’s director of African American media, countered that Mr. Carson’s stances on issues will sink him.
“Ben Carson reminding black people that Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation is not only insulting, but it’s a clear attempt to hide from the disastrous record of today’s Republican Party,” Mr. Tyler said. “Here’s what black people understand: Black people understand that our families are healthier when more people have access to care, when we expand Medicaid, and when patients cannot be turned away by insurance companies for having a preexisting condition. Black people understand that we don’t grow the middle class by dishing out tax breaks for the wealthiest and powerful corporations.
“Republican candidates like Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, Donald Trump and Marco Rubio all fail to understand these facts,” Mr. Tyler said. “While their adherence to an extreme ideology might play well to the tea party, they’re demonstrating that they’re out of touch not only with black voters, but with a majority of Americans on the issues that matter most.”
Mr. Carson, 64, is the only major black candidate in the presidential race this year. The Democratic field is comprised of a handful of white men and one woman, and the crowded Republican field has two men with Cuban parents, an Indian-American and a woman.
The activists who met with Mr. Carson last week said his campaign had a more serious ring than that of Herman Cain, who sought the 2012 Republican nomination before dropping out a month before the Iowa caucuses amid accusations of sexual harassment and marital infidelity.
Mr. Carson, though, starts off with credentials that are difficult to match, including a 2009 television movie, “Gifted Hands,” based on his life.
One of the activists at last week’s gathering, a self-described member of the millennial generation, said he and his classmates studied the doctor’s groundbreaking medical breakthroughs.
“We know exactly what it is you’ve done. We had to — we got graded on it,” the activist told Mr. Carson.
Mr. Carson has not had a major breakthrough among black voters, though he does run better than other Republicans.
A Quinnipiac University poll released last week found that in a head-to-head matchup with Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton, Mr. Carson garnered 18 percent support among black voters. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush got 11 percent support in the same matchup with Mrs. Clinton, and Ms. Fiorina got 7 percent.
Many analysts have lumped Mr. Carson, Ms. Fiorina and businessman Donald Trump together as a symbol of anti-establishment sentiment within the Republican Party. Combined, the three candidates account for about half of the Republican primary vote in some polling.
“There’s no question that people are tired of politics as usual. But I don’t think that in and of itself would be enough. I think they’re also looking for people who have accomplished things,” Mr. Carson told The Washington Times when asked about the comparison.
As Mr. Carson rises, he faces more scrutiny by the press. He spent much of the past week defending a comment he made on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” where he said a Muslim who believes in the primacy of Shariah law shouldn’t be president.
Opposing candidates in the Democratic and Republican parties criticized Mr. Carson, saying the Constitution doesn’t allow for a religious test to determine who may hold office.
Mr. Carson, however, said he wasn’t talking about defying the Constitution, but rather saying he doesn’t think Muslim beliefs fit well for a chief executive.
He said he would turn the question back to his critics.
“If they were to ask themselves, do they really in their heart of hearts believe that the tenets of Islam, including Shariah, are compatible with the United States Constitution — ask the people who are critics that question. And hold their feet to the fire. I bet they will not be able to answer.”
Speaking to the activists at last week’s event, arranged by Armstrong Williams, a Carson confidante, the retired doctor said he’d heard from “some of my Muslim colleagues who are very supportive.”
“They say, ‘We know you; we know the press is trying to get you,’” Mr. Carson said.
One of the activists, Akili West, a Muslim who is also an official with Mr. Carson’s USA First political action committee, said he faced questions from Muslim friends in the wake of the comments and was able to assure them that Mr. Carson is a man of faith whose objection is to Shariah law.
“You’re a good man with a good heart,” Mr. West told Mr. Carson.
“It’s going to be great when people like you start speaking up — actually saying that,” Mr. Carson said.