Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: The price of war is beginning to come due

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: The price of war is beginning to come due

Financial Times:

Netanyahu denies receiving prior warning of possible Hamas attack

Israeli prime minister says he was only alerted as the assault from Gaza began

One Israeli security official told the Financial Times that the Israeli military forces arrayed in the Gaza border region were thin because many soldiers were on home leave for the Sabbath and the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah.

Anger has also been directed at Netanyahu’s far-right coalition, whose ministers initially disappeared from public view in the war’s opening days. Their appearances later in the week were often met with angry denunciations by the public. “You all have ruined this country, get out of here!” one doctor yelled at environment minister Idit Silman outside a hospital in central Israel. According to an opinion poll taken on Sunday by Agam Research, an Israeli company, 45 per cent of Israeli Jews now fear for their personal safety and 70 per cent fear for the country’s security. Opinion polls released by the Maariv daily showed Netanyahu’s Likud party losing more than a third of its previous support.

Biden: It’s also a priority for me to urgently address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza… We can’t lose sight of the fact that the overwhelming majority of Palestinians had nothing to do with Hamas and the appalling attacks

— Acyn (@Acyn) October 13, 2023


US intelligence warned of the potential for violence days before Hamas attack

The US intelligence community produced at least two assessments based in part on intelligence provided by Israel warning the Biden administration of an increased risk for Palestinian-Israeli conflict in the weeks ahead of Saturday’s seismic attack on southern Israel, according to sources familiar with the intelligence.

One update from September 28 warned, based on multiple streams of intelligence, that the terror group Hamas was poised to escalate rocket-attacks across the border. An October 5 wire from the CIA warned generally of the increasing possibility of violence by Hamas. Then, on October 6, the day before the attack, US officials circulated reporting from Israel indicating unusual activity by Hamas — indications that are now clear: an attack was imminent.

None of the American assessments offered any tactical details or indications of the overwhelming scope, scale and sheer brutality of the operation that Hamas carried out on October 7, sources say. It is unclear if any of these US assessments were shared with Israel, which provides much of the intelligence that the US bases its reports on.

If the U.S. knew via Israel that something was up, then Israel should have known… 

Here’s a Canadian perspective on the war:

💥Highly recommend watching @CBC‘s interview with the extremely knowledgeable @gershonbaskin, humanist and one of the world’s top experts on Hamas.

— Noga Tarnopolsky נגה טרנופולסקי نوغا ترنوبولسكي💙 (@NTarnopolsky) October 14, 2023


Israeli Poll Shows Netanyahu’s Popularity Drops as Gantz Surges

The survey, published by Maariv newspaper on Friday and carried out by Lazar Research in partnership with Panel4All, showed opposition parties would win a crushing majority against Netanyahu’s coalition if elections were held now.

Of the roughly 600 people surveyed, 48% said [Benny] Gantz was their preferred prime minister, while 29% chose Netanyahu.

if you’re in line to run for speaker, STAY IN LINE

— Liz Charboneau (@lizchar) October 13, 2023

John F. Harris/Politico Magazine:

Trump Watches While His Party Implodes

If the former president is a would-be authoritarian, the House drama shows that he is not the kind who cares much about exercising authority beyond himself.

There’s a nice consolation prize awaiting [Steve Scalise]: He doesn’t have to play make-believe, as Kevin McCarthy did during his short-lived tenure, that he is actually leader of the House. His speakership would likely have been a mirage — no authority, no security, no thanks.

There is no real job to be filled.

That is because, for now, Trump is the only leader with a durable following within the modern Republican Party. That’s true even as the GOP is filled with people who quietly wish he would go away and a smaller number of would-be leaders who loudly advocate for that — so far to negligible effect. So far, no Republican has managed to emerge as a genuine leader in the Trump era — not by seeking alliance with him, nor by standing up to him, nor by trying keep a safe distance from him.

If Trump is a would-be authoritarian, the House drama shows that he is not the kind who cares much about exercising authority beyond himself. To the contrary, he seemed to regard the turmoil and ritual humiliations — first McCarthy, then Jordan, now Scalise — as a sideshow. In important respects, he is right.

The anti-Jordan block is strong. Austin Scott said he didn’t even want to be speaker. His candidacy is a good marker of how many House Rs aren’t comfortable with a speaker Jordan right now.

— Max Cohen (@maxpcohen) October 13, 2023

So they then went to an “okay would you vote for Jim Jordan on the floor, running against no one”? Results below:

Ouch. Seems like this vote would be more useful to Jordan as an escape hatch for a Scalise-style withdrawal than as a prelude to a successful fight to reach 217 on the floor.

— David A. Hopkins (@DaveAHopkins) October 13, 2023

It seems entirely possible, if not probable, that not one person in the House Republican Conference can win the speakership with GOP votes only.

— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) October 13, 2023

Charlie Sykes/The Bulwark:

Chaos. Utter Chaos.

Giving flamethrowers to clowns.

“Observing the House GOP electing a speaker is like watching a monkey trying to hump a football,” wrote former GOP strategist Jeff Timmer.

Frankly, I’m not sure what that means. But I have no trouble envisioning it. And it seems like an absurdly apt image for our absurd moment.

But this is what Republicans wanted, isn’t it? They wanted revolution; they cultivated chaos; they embraced dysfunction. They wanted to burn it all down. This is what they asked for. And now they are getting it good and hard.

This is a party that lost its mind, and then lost its way.

Republicans may continue to win elections, and even regain power. But what we are seeing is a political party that has lost the ability to govern even at the most basic level.

Mace’s former communications director 👇

— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) October 12, 2023

Here’s a rather interesting point/counterpoint on the origins of the “David Duke without the baggage” line and the attendance at a white supremacist convention that Steve Scalise is forever tagged with. First, Lamar White, Jr. on X/Twitter via Threadreader:

Almost 9 years ago, I broke the story about Steve Scalise attending & speaking at a white supremacist conference in 2002. Given the renewed attention, I think it’s important to correct a few things the media continues to misreport. 

The “international” event, held at the Landmark Best Western Hotel in Metairie, was hosted by EURO, the European-American Unity & Rights Organization, a group affiliated with David Duke, arguably the most notorious racist in America at the time.

Next, D. Stephen Voss at Missouri Independent:

Saddling Steve Scalise with David Duke’s baggage

The attack trending on X/Twitter went something like this:

“Scalise describes himself as ‘David Duke without the baggage.’ He’s associated with Duke & attended a white-supremacist conference.”

And here’s my fact check on that narrative: It’s partly false, broadly misleading, and insofar as it’s supposed to make Scalise sound distinct from his Republican competition, entirely unfair.

Before justifying those conclusions, though, I offer a warning. Normally when I analyze politics, I do so objectively as a nonpartisan scientist with a moderate outlook. This time, my perspective is firsthand. […]

Making the accusations “mostly true” gets weirdly convoluted:

“Scalise accepted a shady acquaintance’s invitation to speak briefly about domestic policy before a civic association in a hotel that he should have known would host a white-supremacist conference later that day.”

Lacks zing. But it’s the story reputable news outlets have reported

Given the current state of the GOP, exactly what sin did Scalise commit? It was having the wisdom to sense, and the foolishness to articulate in an unguarded interview, where his party was headed.

That second piece doesn’t clear Scalise, but it does add some nuance. In any case, read both pieces in their entirety. Given how often I’ve heard “David Duke without the baggage” this week, I thought it would be helpful to explore it.

Cliff Schecter on Vivek Ramaswamy, with special guest Sean Hannity:

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