Reporting on Politics and Policy.

Sept. 15 2014 1:38 PM

Campaign Ad Praises Senator for Supporting a Project That He Voted Against Actually Funding

On its face, there's nothing remarkable about this ad for Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts. You've got your B-roll of the senators making human contact with people who look busy. You've got your soundtrack that sounds like a Coldplay demo track. Sure, as Dave Helling points out, the ad's opening line about how "Kansans are struggling" seems to contradict Gov. Sam Brownback's sunshine-and-lollipops, prosperity-around-the-corner re-election bid. But it doesn't contradict with Brownback's own theory of his unpopularity, which is that "a lot of people are so irritated at what the president is doing, they just, they want somebody to throw a brick." (Obama's mother was from Kansas, so maybe the voters think all these people look alike.)

No, the baffling thing about this ad is that it tells the heroic story of the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility and how it came to Kansas. You may notice that the headlines about Roberts' work, in the ad, come from 2007 and 2008—before he won his current term.

Why are the headlines so old? Because Roberts, facing a primary challenge from Obama's distant Republican relative Milton Wolf, voted against a January 2014 spending bill that would have kept NBAF going for $404 million. To be fair, he said it gave him "no pleasure to vote against a bill that includes an important project into which I have put my heart and soul and many hours of work." But he voted against it, and enjoyed the temporarily pleasure of a weak primary win against a guy who shared photos of "funny" medical injuries on his Facebook page.

To be fair to Roberts, everyone plays games with roll call votes. It's fairly common to see incumbents attacked for voting "for" some horrible-sounding policy because they voted against a bill that would have changed it; see this ad, which accuses a Democrat of backing "first class flights" for congressmen because he opposed the Paul Ryan budget. Roberts' ad is just unusually surreal, because to prove that he's delivering for Kansas in the dark age of Obama, it has to cite something Roberts did before Obama was president and voted to defund this year.

UPDATE: The trackers at American Bridge captured a video of Roberts talking somewhat less than compellingly about the farm bill that "we passed." 

Roberts did not vote for the farm bill.

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Sept. 15 2014 12:58 PM

Hillary Clinton Joins the Elite Club of Politicians Giving Unsatisfying Answers to DREAMers

C-SPAN's policy of keeping cameras rolling live, even after the main political speeches are over, results in hours of video of loose chatter with the occasional ringing line. DREAMers, the immigration reform activists you might remember from such videos as "Rand Paul flees a half-eaten burger to avoid questions," were on hand in Indianola after the Harkin Steak Fry. C-SPAN recorded the confrontation. America Rising clipped their exchange.

"We wanted to know whether you stand by the president's delay on immigration," asked one activist.

"You know, I think we have to elect more Democrats," said Clinton.

"Should we keep deporting families?" asked another activist.

Clinton had moved on.

Much like the Libre Initiative's polling, what we have here is a Republican-oriented group soaking up schadenfreude because a Republican House and red-hatted 2014 voters have throttled a reform bill and cowed Obama out of executive action.

UPDATE: Libre's Daniel Garza responds. (I talked to Libre's Brian Faughnan for my last item about the group.)

The "broken promise" in question was Obama's pre-summer pledge to come up with a plan -- an executive action, people expected -- that would lead to fewer deportations. Obama punted last week, telling NBC's Chuck Todd that "the politics did shift midsummer," though as long ago as January the idea of the president "granting amnesty" by executive order was terribly unpopular.

I don't think I'm "slamming" Republicans, Libre, et al, by pointing out the truth. The Senate passed an immigration reform bill. The Republican House of Representatives dithered then opted not to bring up any immigration reform bill. Many voters don't know who runs either House, and the loudest activists have focused their anger on Obama's failure to use "the pen," rather than the many safe-seat Republicans who don't want to vote on a bill. See, for example, this Carmen Velasquez op-ed (3000+ shares on Facebook) that urges Latinos to "sit this election out" and make Democrats "pay a price." 

The "price" would be the defeat of several senators who voted for the immigration reform bill that activists wanted, and their replacement by Republicans who oppose what the activists wanted. Nothing negative about pointing that out.

Sept. 15 2014 11:14 AM

Poll: More Voters Trust Republicans to Fight Terror Than Ever Before

It was released on 9/11, but only now do I see how Gallup asked people about the parties' handling of terrorism. You could hardly imagine a better result for the Republicans.

A little context? OK. In November 2008, voters who participated in the exit poll who said that they were worried about "another terrorist attack in the U.S."—70 percent of voters—narrowly broke for McCain over Obama, 50-48. By 2012, fear of terrorism had sunk so far into the rearview mirror that this question was not even asked. But by a 56-33 margin, voters who were concerned with "foreign policy" broke for Obama.

Here's the current paradox. The Obama administration—most reliably Chuck Hagel and John Kerry—is describing ISIS in apocalyptic terms. According to Kerry, ISIS is "an ambitious, avowed genocidal, territorial-grabbing, Caliphate-desiring quasi-state." Their goal is not really to downplay what ISIS can actually achieve, or to reflect the intelligence analysis that ISIS poses little threat to (ugh, this term) "the homeland." It's to avoid a Syria-style rebellion in Congress and assemble a coalition of Arab partners in the Levant.

But Democrats do not benefit, domestically, from the hype. Just today, New Hampshire U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown challenged Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen to secure the border and sign on to legislation that would revoke the citizenship of American ISIS fighters. "If anyone (including ISIS) can cross our borders at any time, with anything in their possession, then Washington has no control over our nation's security from terrorist attack," said Brown. That statement sounds like incoherent heebie-jeebie-ism if you listen to intelligence assessments. Current estimates peg the total number of Americans who might have gone to Iraq and Syria for ISIS at fewer than 100. The threat of such an American, if he returned, is not that he'd cross an unprotected border with a knife between his teeth and jihadism on his mind. It's that he'd use his American passport at a normal TSA checkpoint.

These are the sort of questions you can paper over when your party has a 2-1 lead on "preventing terrorism." Democrats' own polling has Brown down 8; public polling has him in a tie, after weeks of attacks on the threat of unsecured borders, and the zero attacks they have enabled since one day 13 years ago.

Sept. 15 2014 9:53 AM

So 200 Reporters Walk Into a Field in Iowa ...

My colleague John Dickerson was in Iowa yesterday for the Second Coming of Hillary Clinton. From my armchair (actually, at that hour, probably from a car heading back from a friend's wedding), it seemed like the arrival of Bill and Hillary Clinton at Sen. Tom Harkin's last "steak fry"—a populist picnic for thousands of people, at which the steak is actually grilled—would confirm that Hillary wanted to run in 2016 and that the media was already in full-on Beatlemania mode about it.

Peter Hamby's dispatch from Indianola suggests that this was true. "Roughly 200 credentialed media" showed up for the steak fry, according to Hamby. (For contrast, there were only a few dozen reporters at this past summer's Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, and often only 10 reporters in the press availabilities with Bobby Jindal and Ted Cruz.) The press stayed in one sector of the picnic, until "after a 90 minute wait" they were allowed to capture "a staged shot of Bill and Hillary Clinton, fresh out of their motorcade, ritualistically flipping steaks with Harkin."

And then, a miracle: Clinton talking to reporters, for a little while:

"Good to see you!" she told the assembled press, surely a half-truth. "My goodness! You guys having a good time? Good. We're having a good time today."
Strutting back and forth, Clinton declared that it was "fabulous to be back" in the state. "I love Iowa," she said, smiling as if she were in on a joke. She entertained and swatted away a bombardment of questions, mostly of the unremarkable "will you run?" variety.
"Does this whet your appetite for another campaign?" asked one reporter.

The reader may be surprised to learn that Clinton did not reveal her 2016 plans to a reporter on a ropeline. Nor to the other reporter who asked. Actually, it appeared as though Clinton was following the plan of every other 2016 candidate—pacing herself before the midterms, making a decision after them. It's almost unheard of to announce a presidential run before the previous cycle's midterms are over, and the only guy who's broken that recently was Mike Gravel, who did not become the nominee.

So, how to interpret Joe Scarborough's rant about Hillary and imperial frontrunners? Scarborough wonders (in September 2014) if Clinton is blowing it already, because in 2008 "it wasn't against her back was against the wall that she had to stop acting like a robot on the campaign trail and start acting like herself that she started winning." (Again, it's September 2014.) 

"I don't want to see you eating steak!" Scarborough moans, to an in absentia frontrunner "I want to see you talking about how we're going to stop ISIS, not behind some cute little prepackaged plan that some of your handlers fixed up or somebody helped you write in a book."

Clinton's book tour and interviews haven't mentioned ISIS? It was just a month ago that the news cycle churned over whether Clinton had attacked the Obama administration for letting ISIS happen. Clinton bemoaned the failure to vet and arm Syrian rebels when it mattered. That's not a what-to-do-now answer, and yes, we are being denied some fun stories by Clinton's decision not to comment on the administration with the frequency of, say, John McCain. But no one running in the invisible primary has an alternate ISIS-handling plan. Rand Paul, who's been getting the most coverage for his comments, has focused—like Clinton—largely on the American mistakes that enabled ISIS's renaissance.

The steak fry did present an opportunity for less hawkish progressives to light into the Clintons. The thing was started by Tom Harkin, after all—just last week, as Jennifer Bendery reported, Harkin was one of very few Democrats who worried that American policymakers were overrating the threat of ISIS. But the only attempt I saw to find the space between Harkin and Clinton came from Jonathan Karl, who asked Harkin sort of generally if Hillary was too hawkish. Harkin had "questions," he said, but he had questions for everyone.

"I must be frank with you," said Harkin. "I thought Barack Obama was a great progressive, and a great populist, and quite frankly some things have happened that I have not agreed with."

That was the end of the clip, so we don't know what else Harkin enunciated. But it was telling that he evaded a Hillary question by pointing out his disappointment with Obama. That remains the central progressive lesson of 2008: Electing a president is not everything. Notice what Harkin said, via Ana Marie Cox, when introducing Bill Clinton.

Harkin himself did Hillary no favors when his introduction of Bill included an anecdote about an earlier steak fry, when the heavens parted the moment Clinton took the stage: “The clouds disappeared, the sun came out.” There’s being in someone’s shadow and then there’s being compared with a demigod.

It's hard to hear that and not experience an acid flashback to 2008, when before the Rhode Island primary (which she won in a rout), Hillary mocked the idea that electing Obama would fix America. "The skies will open, the light will come down, celestial choirs will be singing and everyone will know we should do the right thing and the world will be perfect," she snarked.

The Hillary 2016 campaign is a minor problem for Democrats. They are generally ready to nominate her. Some of them want a progressive challenge that moves her to the left, or at least keeps her honest.* Far, far fewer believe that the party needs a savior, because it already tossed her aside for one of those.

Hillary 2016 is a far bigger problem for the media, which simultaneously is ready right now to cover her like a nominee—200 reporters!—and yet so palpably bored with how she talks, and runs.

*"Keeps a Clinton honest!" I can hear you laughing.

Sept. 12 2014 6:07 PM

Steve Southerland’s Remarks Should Spur Florida Women to Vote

Rep. Steve Southerland, a Republican from Florida, doesn’t think women should worry their pretty heads about politics. Earlier this year, he held a fundraiser for “concerned men” only. “Tell the Misses not to wait up because the after dinner whiskey and cigars will be smooth & the issues to discuss are many,” the invitations read. For what it’s worth—which (one hopes) is probably a congressional seat—Florida has more than 6 million registered female voters (53 percent of the electorate), and over 2 million of them are Republicans. Southerland’s Democratic opponent for Florida’s second district seat is a woman, Gwen Graham.

On Friday, the Tampa Bay Times caught up with Southerland. Asked to respond to criticisms of his attitudes about women, he replied, “I live with five women. That's all I'm saying. I live with five women. Listen: Has Gwen Graham ever been to a lingerie shower? Ask her. And how many men were there?”

Comparing a political event to discuss issues (and ask for donations) that excludes half the citizenry to a lingerie shower boggles the mind. But more importantly, it highlights the pressing need for Florida’s women to vote in this election. The state has historically been among the 17 lowest for women voter participation, according to data from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. In the 2010 gubernatorial election, 44 percent of women voters turned out, meaning Florida ranked 35th among the 50 states in women voter participation that year, according to Cornelia Treptow, a Democratic pollster at Lake Research Partners.

A recent internal poll from Graham’s campaign shows the two candidates in a dead heat. Southerland may live with five women, but he has voted to take away funds from Planned Parenthood, which provides women’s health services. He also voted against federal Medicaid expansion for Florida under the ACA, which does little help the 23 percent of women in his state who are uninsured (Florida has the third highest percentage of uninsured women among the 50 states). While Southerland’s comments about underwear parties were circulating the internet, the Graham campaign was in Panama City, where the candidate hosted a women-to-women phone bank event to discuss her support for legislation for fair pay and preventing violence against women. Men were welcomed, too, Graham’s communications director Eric Conrad said. There’s even some proof of it on Twitter.

Sept. 12 2014 4:56 PM

Democratic Voters Can Save Harry Reid’s Job, if They Just Realize That He Runs the Senate

Yesterday Greg Sargent talked to Democratic pollster Celinda Lake and made a discovery that startles us political obsessives. Lake's firm polled 1,000 "drop-off" voters—people who vote in presidential elections but stay home during midterms—in Colorado, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, and North Carolina. (Democrats are increasingly favored in Michigan's Senate race, behind in Kentucky, and tied in the rest.) 

"One of the things that came up," said Lake, "is that these drop-off voters had no idea that control of the Senate was even up for grabs and were even very confused about who controlled it."

This is true for more voters than you'd think. Last year an independent Rasmussen poll found that less than two-thirds of voters know who controls the Senate. It's understandable; it's not like divided control has led to the passage of legislation, or something else worth caring about. Attention on Congress has been highest when Congress has staged a crisis and careened into it.

And this is the point of MoveOn's poll, taken for its "Voters Rising" campaign. The theory is that there are enough voters who basically support the Democrats, but don't know what's at stake, to motivate and elect the party's on-the-edge candidates. The most potent messages for these potential voters, both supported by 71 percent of them: "Republicans will shut down the government again" and "Republicans will cut funding for Head Start and K-12 Education." When told that they could make the difference between keeping the Senate Democratic or letting it fall to Mitch McConnell, 50 percent became "very interested."

When I talked to MoveOn leaders, I wondered if anything could dissuade these voters. How many progressives would stay home, say, because their president was leading new military operations in Iraq?

"There is a deep-seated worry about mission creep," said Ilya Sheyman, MoveOn's executive director. "But progressives aren't isolationists. They're deeply concerned about human rights, and about genocide. And there's some sense that George W. Bush broke this, so as a result of what we've done, we now need to prevent genocide."

And that wasn't how these voters thought, according to MoveOn. They always voted for Democrats. All they needed to be told was how bad Republicans were, and what they stood to gain if Democrats stayed home. MoveOn had seen similar message spike turnout before, as Sasha Issenberg and others had reported, and as MoveOn had learned from targeting its 8 million members in 2012. This is the dream of the final midterm: If Democrats just don't refuse to drop off like they did in 2010, if they show up proportionately, they win.

Sept. 12 2014 1:26 PM

We Won’t Have Rob Ford to Kick Around Anymore. (We May Have His Brother.)

The Toronto Star has the news: The city's mayor, who no one needs to be reminded is named Rob Ford, is withdrawing from the race for a second term. The proximate cause is not drugs, not this time. He entered hospital upon discovery that he had a tumor in his abdomen. (Ford had steadily been losing weight since he left rehab this year.) An hour before today's 2 p.m. deadline for ballot status, he removed his name.

Some reports on the Ford saga have suggested that he was waging a comeback in the polls. It's a complicated story. Ford retained high levels of support through much of 2013, even after his crack scandal, even after the gaffes that compounded it. He only tumbled behind Olivia Chow, a former MP and the widow of the popular New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton, during his 2014 relapse and rehab stint. But Chow lost altitude, especially after John Tory—like Ford, a member of the Conservative Party, and unlike Chow a mayoral candidate who got to meet voters eight years ago—surged into a lead. Tory quickly became the anti-Ford, Chow became irrelevant, and it looked for a while like the mayor might drive up the middle, with resilient support from Etobicoke and the rest of "Ford Nation."

Then he went to the hospital. Chow's first mano-a-mano debate with Tory was set for today. She hadn't been tested against just Tory since June, before her swoon, when in a hypothetical two-man race she led by 2 points. And she will not get that race. Doug Ford, the mayor's more athletic and less self-destructive brother (his gaffe CV is limited to quietly insulting members of the media as "pricks," when he thought the camera mics couldn't catch that), took Ford's old Etobicoke seat. He'd been thinking of running in the Ontario provincial elections this summer (which ended disastrously for the Tories), and was leaving the safe council seat. But as soon as Rob Ford quit the mayoral race, Doug Ford announced that he would swap in. Instead of a mayor who smoked crack as an adult, Toronto may get to elect one who merely dealt drugs as a kid.

Even if the Other Ford triumphs, Rob Ford will no longer rule North America's fourth-largest city. Unless Rob Ford runs for Doug Ford's seat, which used to be the Rob Ford seat (I'm sorry about this), will never see the Full Ford in bloom again.

This was one of two times he invited a reggae band into city hall.

Sept. 12 2014 11:17 AM

Should You Worry About Another Government Shutdown?

Probably not. (Remember Betteridge's law of headlines!) If the House GOP's agenda had survived the week, there would have been a Thursday vote on a measure to fund the government through Dec. 11—a continuing resolution. Senate Democrats had agreed to this. The last shutdown had been great for their party, producing a one-time polling surge that could not be retained as the Obamacare rollout began. As late as Tuesday, Republicans were ready to go.

And then, later that day, the Obama White House asked that funds to train Syrian forces be superglued into the CR. Even though most Republicans who stated a position were in favor of this, the bill was held. Why? Because there was no real hurry—the CR is not needed until Oct. 1—and because Republican leaders need to put out two small fires. One: The current bill includes funding for the Ex-Im Bank, which was seen as a dead letter after Eric Cantor was primaried, but which aggressive lobbying from business groups (Boeing, but plenty of other groups in the Chamber of Commerce) rescued. Two: a campaign by Ted Cruz and Mike Lee to get the House Republicans to extend the CR's funding from December to early 2015. Their reasoning is simple, and not crazy: "Presumably, a lame-duck session would be used to try to pass partisan, unpopular bills in November or December that might be indefensible before the federal election on November 4th."

The irony, and the reason why a real standoff is unlikely, is that Cruz's interests converage with the Chamber of Commerce's/Boehner's. Even if Democrats defy expectations in two months, they are guaranteed to lose at least three Senate seats and a few more House seats. (I'm assuming, say, that West Virginia's Republican candidate for Senate, Shelley Moore Capito, will not suddenly decide to quote from Todd Akin's memoir while personally closing down a coal mine. The frontrunners should remain the frontrunners.) Republicans increasingly believe that they'll win the Senate outright. In any scenario, they're in a stronger negotiating position in 2015. Just as the Ex-Im compromise allows a 2015 fight over the bank, a longer CR would allow the next Congress to kick off with a spending fight against a weakened, lame-duck president.

If Republicans worried about losing clout in the next Congress, they might scrap over what to win this month. But they're not worried. Just as the party avoided turmoil before the 2012 election, when a Romney win looked possible, they're trying to do no harm until all those new red-state senators arrive.

Sept. 12 2014 8:26 AM

Finally, a Sandy Hook Truther You Can Vote for (if You Live in Colorado)

It was almost almost exactly one year ago that the voters of Colorado's 3rd Senate District voted to recall Democrat Angela Giron. It was a lopsided result, much bigger than the one that took out the state Senate president, a 14-point landslide against one of the Democrats who'd represented a fairly conservative district yet dared to vote for gun safety bills in the wake of the Aurora and Newtown shootings.* Giron represented almost all of Pueblo County, which voted for Obama-Biden in 2008 and 2012 but can send conservatives to local offices.*

But Tom Ready might be an insurgent too far. He's running against an incumbent Democrat, Sal Pace, and wasn't expected to win even before their Sept. 10 debate. Pace challenged Ready to explain a Facebook post (now inaccessible) in which he shared theories that the 2012 Sandy Hook shootings were hoaxes perpetuated by the government in order to force a gun-grabbing bill through Congress. (Connecticut and Colorado did pass gun restrictions in the wake of the killings. Far more states loosened their restrictions.) Ready took the bait. "If you recall," he said, "there was a picture of a man walking in, whose daughter had died. He was smiling and joking. When he walked into the room, he turned, and all of a sudden he had tears in his eyes. Why? I question that. You saw these pictures. And, you know, there's a lot of stuff that floats around Facebook. Whether it's true or not, it's called an open discussion." 

The Pueblo Chieftan's Peter Strescino has more, but doesn't explain the conspiracy theory that Ready was referring to. It concerns Robbie Parker, whose daughter Emilie was murdered in Newtown, and who—before one press conference—exhaled and smiled before steeling himself. As Sandy Hook kookery goes, this is pretty derivative. Eighteen years ago, after former Commerce Secretary Ron Brown was killed in a plane crash, a video of Clinton seemingly laughing then "fake-crying" when he spotted a camera was so popular it made it onto Rush Limbaugh's TV show. The thinking is that anyone who is not visibly sad at a sad event may have in fact been behind the tragedy.

Mind-bendingly dumb, right? Dumber than you know. It was one thing when Clinton revealed an insufficient pathos. Many of the Sandy Hook truthers believe that "crisis actors" were the people seen on TV, claiming to be mourning their dead children. Yes, crisis actors, professionals who are tasked with promoting vast conspiracies, yet are so incompetent that they'll slip up in ways that can be DVR'd by Infowars readers.

I can't soft-peddle the strangeness of this stuff. Sandy Hook trutherism came across my Facebook feed (which is a reliable trapeze net of weirdness) again after ISIS's murder of James Foley. There are not one but many videos claiming that Alex Israel, who knew Adam Lanza and appeared on TV to discuss him, is a crisis actress later tapped to play the sister of Foley. Yes, the two women have different voices, noses, bodies, and lives, but the truthers have fonts and editing! (One truther video goes on to claim that the crisis actor who "plays" Foley's brother was tapped to portray Elliot Rodger, the Santa Barbara killer).*

Metabunk has done a number on this, and to be fair, our Colorado candidate doesn't seem to have bought into the exciting sequel to the Sandy Hook conspiracy. Like all those random state representatives who say dumb things and make news, he is unlikely to rise much further in politics. But a year ago, his part of Colorado went to the polls to oust a Democrat who bought into the post-Sandy Hook "let's do something about guns" parade. You can see why he got cocky.

*Correction, Sept. 12, 2014: This post originally misidentified the Obama-Biden victory of 2012 as the Obama-Biden victory of 2016. While I may end up writing in that ticket two years from now, it will not likely be on the ballot. This post also misspelled Newtown and Elliot Rodger's first name.

Sept. 11 2014 4:59 PM

“The World Is Exploding”

Dick Cheney spoke at AEI yesterday, getting a mite less coverage than he's used to—probably the function of a presidential speech, later that day, that Cheney did not disagree with tactically. If you read the transcript, you'll find a quote from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that sounds almost insanely self-defeating.

When you have a president whose primary concern is  never to, quote, “elevate” America, it’s no surprise that we also have a defense secretary in a serious state of alarm. “The world,” as Secretary Hagel said a few weeks ago, “is exploding all over.”

Cheney sourced the Obama quote to his 2009 U.N. address, but left the Hagel quote hanging in the air. It sort of sounded like a Hagel-ism; we're talking, after all, about the defense secretary who said ISIS was "as sophisticated and well-funded as any group that we have seen" and then "beyond anything we've seen," in the same press conference. But if it seemed like "the world is exploding" was a shocking admission, it might have been because it wasn't Hagel's sentiment. It was his paraphrase, a month ago, of a question he seemed to keep getting.

Q: Good afternoon, sir. My question is that, given that the administration's primary focus is on the Pacific theater, how has all of the issues popping up in the world today, Russia, Iraq, Africa, the rest of the theaters pretty much affected that current mission? And how do you foresee that affecting the mission in the future?
SEC. HAGEL: Thank you. That's a—go ahead, sit down—that's a question I got often when I was in India and Australia. And the trip I just came from was my sixth trip to the Asia Pacific area in the last year-and-a-half. I've got four planned this calendar year. And so I get that question all the time. It's a legitimate question for the very reasons you asked. The world is exploding all over. And so is the United States going to continue to have the resources, the capabilities, the leadership, the bandwidth to continue with the rebalance toward the Asia Pacific? And the answer is yes. And I think, as what I did in taking questions yesterday on this, it is pretty clear on where we are today and what we have committed to do, we are continuing to do.

The "world is exploding" part of that answer became a hit item at the Weekly Standard; this might have made its harum scarum cameo in a Cheney speech inevitable. Cheney, et al. did to the quote what the larger punditocracy did to Obama's "we have no strategy" quote about ISIS, a comment made after weeks of airstrikes that was interpreted as proof that Obama was acting without aims. And all of this is disconnected to the data or stories of threats to America, which are so easily overrated; Gary Brecher, as usual, is worth reading on that.