CNN's GUT CHECK | for July 5, 2012 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
BREAKING: ROMNEY DOE$ IT AGAIN: ROMNEY BREAKS FUNDRAISING RECORD: Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign raked in a massive $100 million in June, a Romney campaign source told CNN. The amount, which includes money raised by the campaign along with the Republican National Committee, far surpasses his May fund-raising haul of $77 million.
CNN’s Peter Hamby puts it in historical perspective: McCain + RNC in June 2008: $48 million.
What president turned down an honorary Doctor of Civil Law from Oxford University?
Why isn’t there a more robust moral debate over the drone war?
We have been debating this question in the CNN newsroom since writing about the Pew Global Attitudes Project last month. That study found while 62% of Americans supported drone attacks, the American policy was seen with not only disapproval, but also disgust by most of the nations studied. (In fact, Pew President Andrew Kohut told us at the time that he was truly surprised by the widespread negativity surrounding a key American tactic in the war on terror.)
Then, we were riveted by Peter Bergen and Jennifer Rowland’s opinion piece on CNN.com this week, which details how much the drone attacks have expanded under the current administration: “In 2004 President George W. Bush authorized for the first time the covert lethal use of drones inside Pakistani territory. During his tenure, there were 45 drone strikes in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas, according to data compiled by the New America Foundation. But when President Obama took office in January 2009, the program ramped up quickly, accelerating from an average of one strike every 40 days to one every four days by mid-2011.”
Why hasn’t America had a heated debated over the increase? “Because the U.S. is living and looking at the world through the frame of the War on Terror,” explained Akbar Ahmed, the Ibn Kahldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University. “If you are looking at the drone through that frame, then you will see the most effective weapon of destruction. You press a button, someone across the world blows up. No link between killer and killed. But the debate about the moral consequences has not entered into the system: I have not heard someone ask: Is this the American thing to do? Is this the Christian thing to do? I am not hearing the moral side of this debate.”
That uptick has had a sharp effect on tribal areas, where drone strikes are concentrated. These areas are already impoverished, which raises the question of increased radicalization.
Ahmed is writing a book about the very subject, to be published by Brookings Institution Press, entitled, “The Thistle and the Drone: How America’s War on Terror Became a Global War on Tribal Islam.” Ahmed’s research is indeed compelling. He examines the toll the drone attacks are having in more than 60 regions, coming up with a compelling thesis about how the drone attacks have exacerbated a break between the tribal regions and their central state.
“The average person in the tribal areas will say that ‘every day is like 9/11 for us,’ ” Ahmed explains. “This is what they mean: One day the drone will hit them from out of nowhere. The next day, their own army will hit them. The third day, the terrorists will hit them. The fourth day, their own tribal conflict among tribes will hit them. That’s why they say for us, every day is like 9/11.”
Which leads us to ask the same question Ahmed asks: “How do you win hearts and minds when people feel they are being terrorized by America?”
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Romney 'squandering an historic opportunity,' scathing editorial says
An editorial in the Wall Street Journal fiercely criticized Mitt Romney Thursday, days after media titan Rupert Murdoch, who owns the paper, suggested the candidate replace his staff. – Ashley Killough
Leading Drudge: Obamacare 'Is Here To Stay'
President Obama said that repealing his signature health care law is not an option. "I'll work with anybody who wants to work with me to continue to improve our health care system and our health care laws, but the law I passed is here to stay," Obama said at a campaign event in Ohio. – Reid Epstein
Leading HuffPo: Obama Campaign Disagrees With Supreme Court's Health Care Ruling
Although the Supreme Court handed President Barack Obama a victory by upholding the Affordable Care Act, the Obama campaign made clear on Thursday morning that it still disagrees with Chief Justice John Roberts' ruling that characterized the individual mandate as a tax. – Amanda Terkel
Leading Politico: President Obama: Historian-in-chief
Every president is fascinated with presidential history. But President Barack Obama’s interest is deeper and wider than most, and more public. He’s invoked Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt and even Richard Nixon. He’s mocked Ulysses S. Grant and Rutherford B. Hayes. – Edward-Isaac Dovere
Leading New York Times: Romney Now Says Health Mandate by Obama Is a Tax
Mitt Romney declared on Wednesday that President Obama’s health care mandate was in fact a tax, shifting his campaign’s characterization of the law and aligning himself with the conservative voices in his party. – Jeremy Peters
The political bites of the day
- Montana GOP Senate candidate: No free lunch on health care -
DENNY REHBERG, A MONTANA REPUBLICAN RUNNING FOR THE U.S. SENATE, IN AN OP-ED: “Montanans know there's no such thing as a free lunch. Currently, many hard-working Montana families don't have the luxury of choosing not to have insurance because they simply can't afford it in the first place. But President Obama's law doesn't address even the most basic drivers of health care cost. It simply adds more people to a failing system without actually reforming health care.”
- The President bets on the Buckeye -
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA AT A CAMPAIGN EVENT IN MAUMEE, OHIO: “I’ll be honest with you. I think there are some folks who are betting that you will lose interest, that are betting that somehow you are going to lose heart. But here you are in the heat. I am betting you are not going to lose interest. I am betting you are not going to lose heart. I still believe in you. I am betting on you and the country is betting on you, Ohio.”
- Bracketology: Jindal, Pawlenty also in Maumee -
LOUISIANA GOV. BOBBY JINDAL AT A CAMPAIGN EVENT IN SUPPORT OF MITT ROMNEY: “This president can’t run on his record so he's going to do everything he can to distract our attention, to attack Mitt Romney. He’s going to talk about what he did in high school, what he did in Massachusetts, what he did in the private sector. He’s going to try to distract us. We the American people are smarter than that. We know we are not better off than we were four years ago. We know we can’t afford another four years of this president.”
- ‘Too many people are stupid,’ says … Herman Cain -
FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE HERMAN CAIN IN AN INTERVIEW WITH CNN: “I believe too many people are stupid because too many people don't challenge the information our leaders give or say to us, and I’m trying to wake people up, and that is basically to say don't take some of the leaders at face value for some of the things that they say because this is how a society can go down a very dangerous road. And so it might sound harsh, but it is waking some people up.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Former President Millard Fillmore decided to travel to Europe in 1885 after his daughter Mary died. During that trip he was offered an honorary Doctor of Civil Law from the acclaimed Oxford University.
Surprised by the honor, Fillmore declined Oxford, stating that he had “neither literary nor scientific attainment,” to deserve the award, according to historical records.
Fillmore, who was never formally educated and was admitted to the bar after an apprenticeship with a prominent lawyer in New York, would have been unable to read the Latin on his diploma – a fact Fillmore did not miss. “I have not the advantage of a classical education, and no man should, in my judgment, accept a degree he cannot read,” Fillmore said.
He also worried that his name would be soiled if he accepted the honor. “They would probably ask who’s Fillmore? What’s he done? Where did he come from? And then my name would, I fear, give them an excellent opportunity to make jokes at my expense,” he concluded.
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Congratulations to Matthew Gilbertson (@MattRGilbertson) for correctly answering Gut Check trivia today. Although he says it was a “shot in the dark,” Gut Check is skeptical. Come on people! Someone unseat Mr. Gilbertson.
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