Stateside,  Vote 2016

Wisconsin and beyond

With the usual caveat that they are not especially original, here are some observations on the results of Tuesday’s Wisconsin primaries:

— On the Republican side, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Donald Trump finally hit a brick wall with his decisive loss to Ted Cruz. (What the very dislikeable Cruz has going for him now is that he is not Donald Trump.) Those of us who thought Trump’s campaign had a limited shelf life may finally be vindicated. It seems that if you give him enough time, he will eventually say or do something stupid enough to offend or frighten almost everyone.

Unfortunately for Republicans, this possible moment of truth probably comes too late to prevent a contested GOP convention, in which no candidate will arrive with a majority of delegates. A multi-ballot convention (the first since the Democratic convention of 1952) looks like a real possibility. Also unfortunate for the Republicans is that the convention is unlikely to nominate anyone other than Cruz or Trump (despite the yearning among some for Paul Ryan), lest it face an all-out revolt.

What I’m trying to say is that the Republicans are pretty much screwed this year, no matter what happens.

— On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders continues to cause problems for Hillary Clinton, although Clinton remains far ahead in terms of delegates needed to win the nomination. Even while losing to Sanders in Wisconsin, she picked up 36 of 83 delegates. As the smarter pundits constantly remind us: keep your eyes on the delegate count.

Clinton and Sanders will have another debate on April 14, five days before then New York primary. Expect Clinton, a pretty good policy wonk, to bring up some of the embarrassing moments in Sanders’s interview by The New York Daily News— especially the lack of detail behind some of his most prominent issues.

A large part of The Daily News interview dealt with Israel. Sanders expressed his support for Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state “in peace and security without having to face terrorist attacks.” He agreed that Hamas and Hezbollah are terrorist organizations. And like many of us, he has problems with Israel’s settlement policies. But when it came to Israel’s periodic wars against Hamas, he seemed (at best) poorly informed.

Daily News: Okay. Now, you have obviously condemned Hamas for indiscriminate rocket attacks and the construction of the military tunnels. But you’ve also criticized Israel for what you described as a disproportionate response.

Sanders: Yep.

Daily News:
And I’m going to look at 2014, which was the latest conflict. What should Israel have done instead?

Sanders: You’re asking me now to make not only decisions for the Israeli government but for the Israeli military, and I don’t quite think I’m qualified to make decisions. But I think it is fair to say that the level of attacks against civilian areas…and I do know that the Palestinians, some of them, were using civilian areas to launch missiles. Makes it very difficult. But I think most international observers would say that the attacks against Gaza were indiscriminate and that a lot of innocent people were killed who should not have been killed. Look, we are living, for better or worse, in a world of high technology, whether it’s drones out there that could, you know, take your nose off, and Israel has that technology. And I think there is a general belief that, with that technology, they could have been more discriminate in terms of taking out weapons that were threatening them.

Daily News: Do you support the Palestinian leadership’s attempt to use the International Criminal Court to litigate some of these issues to establish that, in their view, Israel had committed essentially war crimes?

Sanders: No.

Daily News:
Why not?

Sanders: Why not?

Daily News: Why not, why it…

Sanders: Look, why don’t I support a million things in the world? I’m just telling you that I happen to believe…anybody help me out here, because I don’t remember the figures, but my recollection is over 10,000 innocent people were killed in Gaza. Does that sound right?

Daily News: I think it’s probably high, but we can look at that.

Sanders: I don’t have it in my number…but I think it’s over 10,000. My understanding is that a whole lot of apartment houses were leveled. Hospitals, I think, were bombed. So yeah, I do believe and I don’t think I’m alone in believing that Israel’s force was more indiscriminate than it should have been.

Leaving aside Sanders’s excessive faith in drone technology, he vastly inflated the number of innocent Gazans killed by Israeli air strikes in 2014– even according to Hamas’s figures.

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