Bloggers continue to discuss the fate and legacy of Ariel Sharon, and what the loss of his leadership means for the future of Israel. They also gang up on President Bush—from both sides of the aisle—for several recess appointments.
After Sharon:Emergency surgery appears to have stabilized the condition of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, but all indications are that he won't return to office. Deputy Ehud Olmert will likely continue to lead the country until the March elections, the first involving Sharon's moderate new Kadima party.
Many praise the man. "We used to hear a good deal about 'third way' politics," writes attorney Paul Mirengoff at conservative syndicate Power Line. "Ariel Sharon actually came up with a third way -- a policy that consists neither of resistance to all Israeli territorial concessions and to a Palestinian state nor of concessions made in negotiations with the Palestinians. Sharon's way is to withdraw without Palestinian involvement from territory deemed too difficult or costly to defend, thereby creating a de facto Palestinian state with borders of Israel's choosing, and to build a fence betweent the two states." Mystery novelist and blog entrepreneur Roger L. Simon also believes that Sharon's moderate policies point the way forward. "I'm rooting for Olmert and Kadima and the legacy of Sharon," he writes. "I can't see how it's possible not to."
"For all of his past, and the dubious nature also of some of his present policies, he was the man who opened up a realistic possibility of a peace in the years ahead," praises Carl Bildt, former prime minister of Sweden, at Bildt Comments. "Now everything suddenly looks very uncertain. Can anyone assemble the strength and determination that will be required to take Israel to a realistic deal for peace?" he asks. "It should be noted that things are getting increasingly complicated on the Palestinian side as well…. Turmoil seems to be the order of the day in Gaza."
At Informed Comment, Irvine Professor Mark LeVine writes that, on the contrary, neither the end of the Sharon era nor the upcoming Israeli and Palestinian elections will have much effect on the future of the nation or the region. "This is because for all intents and purposes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is over, and Israel has won, decisively," he writes. "Indeed, since the beginning of the 1990s the whole point of the Oslo peace process, followed by the…low intensity war that began in September 2000, have been to convince and then compel Palestinians to accept that not even their most minimal demands will be met, whether through negotiations or violence."
A number of others worry, particularly, over implications for Iran. "That scheduled Israeli elections happen to roughly coincide with the expected fulfillment of Iran's nuclear ambitions (March) should get the entire planet's attention," exhorts Randian Christian Kobayashi Maru. To fail to address the Iranian arms buildup would be a costly case of denial, warns the New Yorker behind ShrinkWrapped. At Dr. Sanity, psychiatrist Pat Santy strikes a similar note of caution. "With Sharon out of the current picture, the Iranians must be chortling with glee and hoping that their way is clear to proceed--without even having to worry about Israel's response," she writes.
Teacher and Israel supporter Meryl Yourish complains that many observers are getting hysterical about the future of the country. "Let's be realistic: Israel isn't going to disappear," she assures. "The IDF and the IAF and the intelligence services remain. The Knesset remains. The Cabinet remains. The people of Israel remain. And most important, the will of the people of Israel remains." At Israpundit, however, David Gerstman writes that the shape of Israeli politics may have already, significantly changed and predicts that the new Kadima party will quickly lose support without Sharon.
At the Huffington Post, putative blog magnate Arianna Huffington recalls a conversation with Ehud Olmert in June. Now the acting prime minister, Olmert embraced disengagement, she writes, "out of a deep conviction that this was the only way for Israel to achieve security and a lasting peace. … Unlike so many of our political class, Olmert is able to maintain two competing thoughts at the same time: that withdrawing from land captured in the 1967 war would be both really, really, really painful, and really, really, really necessary."
Playing at recess:President Bush made a series of recess appointments Wednesday, bypassing the need for Senate approval. Bloggers found particularly irksome the appointment of Julie Myers, daughter of Joint Chiefs of Staffs Chairman Richard Myers, to an undersecretary position at the Department of Homeland Security.
"Can I just say that I'd hate to be Julie Myers right now?" offers liberal Kevin Drum, the Washington Monthly's Political Animal. "I mean, I'm sure she's happy that she got that recess appointment…but she's going to be absolutely crucified by a bipartisan lynch mob of bloggers and pundits the first time she so much as spells a word wrong on an interagency memo," he writes. "… Is it really the case that Bush can't even convince his own party to confirm these losers?" Drum suspects not.
"Put to a vote, Myers would have been voted down," says conservative radio host and columnist Debbie Schlussel, for whom Myers has been a long-standing target. "That should have sent a clear message to the President. But, apparently, he is even more out of touch on Homeland Security than we had earlier diagnosed. This appointment is a huge joke on America. What's the punch line?"
"It's a bad move--especially now, when the White House is touting its commitment to fighting the War on Terror and securing the homeland," writes conservative immigration hawk Michelle Malkin. "To quote VP Dick Cheney: 'Either we are serious about fighting this war or we are not.' " Law professor and InstaPundit Glenn Reynolds joins the party.