Benny Gantz is a Follower, Lacks Moral Courage

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Benny Gantz is a Follower, Lacks Moral Courage

Let me add a few thoughts on the issues we were discussing yesterday about Israel and Israel’s government. For several years, former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz has loomed over Israeli politics as a potential successor to Benjamin Netanyahu. This is an established dynamic in Israeli politics wherein the IDF is far and away the most respected institution. Former chiefs of staff almost always get discussed as potential prime ministers, though only two of them have actually done it, and many of them become government ministers. Gantz has run as the leader of a party he created which has existed under a few labels. He’s won more seats, then fewer seats. Through the war he’s been the public’s top choice in polls for the next prime minister.

What I say now is based on no inside information or even reporting and it may seem audacious to say about someone who’s had such a career of accomplishment. But it seems clear to me that the man is a follower and has some fundamental lack of moral courage.


A Response to TPM Reader JB

TPM Reader JS responds to TPM Reader JB’s note from last night. As I said with JB, I don’t agree with all of the points. But the overall argument hits at what I do believe JB leaves out, which is that the U.S. is still the great power in the region. And the situation in Gaza is umbilically tied to three or four other major regional tension points. To my mind the real issue is that we cannot bring this episode to a close because of Netanyahu’s intransigence which is one part ideology and one part the need to keep his coalition intact which, in turn, keeps him out of jail. That’s a tough reason for a great power to be consumed by an issue.

JB is a classic dot disconnecter. His assertion that Israel is taking too much bandwidth from Ukraine, for example, completely misses the point. I’m going to pretend the assertion that Bibi was trying to suck us into a war with Iran was hyperbole, because it’s ridiculous, bordering on the conspiratorial (Bibi approved the killing of the Iranian general knowing they would shoot 300 drones at Israel and this bank shot would bring the US in against Iran? Lol, lmao even.)

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Not Our Problem

I debated for a bit how to explain why I was publishing this note from TPM Reader JB. I happily publish notes I agree with and others I don’t. In this case though, I disagree with quite a few individual assertions but found myself overall saying yes. That’s pretty much it. That’s a not-terribly-clear reaction. But I found it worth sharing with you.

There is a story told about Franklin Roosevelt, who spent most of the Wilson administration as an active Assistant Secretary of the Navy.  Decades later as President, he was hours into a meeting on military spending with his Army Chief of Staff, George Marshall, before Pearl Harbor, when the services’ needs were great and money was scarce.  Wearily, Gen. Marshall acknowledged the history, but asked Roosevelt, “Mr. President, could you at least stop referring to the Navy as ‘we’ and the Army as ‘they’?”

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A Quick Survey of Numbers, Vibes and the Inner Lives of Campaigns

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A Quick Survey of Numbers, Vibes and the Inner Lives of Campaigns

In yesterday’s podcast Kate and I discussed that NYT-Siena poll (way overplayed and exaggerated but still not great for Biden) and the debate story which was literally continuing to break and change while we recorded the pod. The two stories intersect in some interesting ways.

The Times said: “The early-debate gambit from Mr. Biden amounted to a public acknowledgment that he is trailing in his re-election bid, and a bet that an accelerated debate timeline will force voters to tune back into politics and confront the possibility of Mr. Trump returning to power.”

A public acknowledgement!

In recent days I’ve been in a running conversation with several Times staffers about Times coverage, some private, some on social media, trying to both keep it real and keep it calm. When I saw this line it struck me as part of that subtext of so much Times coverage, at least going back months and in many ways much longer, of “Joe, stop playing games and admit you’re behind. Admit you’re behind, Joe!”


Listen To This: For Whom The Bell Polls

A new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast is live! This week, Kate and Josh analyze the presidential polling landscape plus some breaking news about the debates.

You can listen to the new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast here.


A New, Big Crack in Netanyahu’s Governing Coalition

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I wanted to update you on an important development in Israel and the Israel-Hamas war. There have been a few of these blow-ups in the far-right Netanyahu coalition. But they’ve all gotten hashed out and patched up eventually because, as we’ve discussed, the government’s very unpopularity is, paradoxically, its greatest adhesive in holding on to power. Since October, coalition members have known they’d lose power in a new election. So no one has really been willing to trigger new elections — the recent polls have shown some limited recovery of Netanyahu’s fortunes.

In any case, here’s the latest thing.


Is Biden in ‘Denial’ about the Polls?

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Is Biden in ‘Denial’ about the Polls?

Axios has a new piece out today with the headline: Biden’s Polling Denial. It’s not spin, the article says. The President and his top advisors actually don’t believe his bad poll numbers. “That bedrock belief has informed Biden’s largely steady-as-she-goes campaign,” says Axios. The article notes yesterday’s NYT-Siena poll of swing states and another recent Bloomberg set of swing state polls as examples of bad polling numbers the White House refuses to believe, before then shifting gears to note that other polls actually show him doing significantly better.

The factual questions here aren’t terribly complicated and they’re not really the reason I note this article or write this post. Most polls currently show Biden just behind Trump in a tight race. Others show him either tied or just ahead. And there is a theory of the election that those polls, with a greater emphasis on high propensity voters and the concentrating effect of the final months of the campaign, will put Biden on top in November. I’ve tried to air these different arguments here in the Editors’ Blog. You can believe one or the other.

I note the article because of what it says about the group psychology of each party and the related and intertwined factor of how the political press treats those parties.


NYT-Siena Obsessing Addendum

Let me expand a bit on today’s Backchannel about that Times-Siena poll and polling issues more generally. I mentioned keeping an eye out for the delta between Likely Voter screens and Registered Voter ones. As we’ve noted a few times, this has become a consistent pattern in this presidential race: Joe Biden does substantially better in likely voter polls. And this isn’t an arbitrary difference. It’s not like saying Trump does better in the NYT-Siena poll than he does in the ABC-Ipsos one, so I prefer the latter. A Likely Voter screen is the pollster’s attempt to poll the actual voting electorate as opposed to the population of registered voters. So that distinction is very key. And if they diverge you really want to be doing better with Likely Voters, as Biden is.


The Dismal (Polling) Science

 Member Newsletter

If you’re continuing to rise and fall with the latest polls, you know that the NYT/Siena poll came out today with pretty unwelcome news for the Biden campaign. Biden is close to tied or just behind in the key midwestern states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, but he is far back in the sunbelt states of Arizona, Nevada and Georgia. Possible preview: if Biden won the first three and lost the second three he would win the Electoral College with 270 electoral votes to Trump’s 268. These are bad numbers. There’s no arguing that. The NYT/Siena poll hasn’t been friendly to Biden, but it’s also a quality poll. I would recommend focusing on the averages which suggest a slightly, though not dramatically, different picture. Also, pay close attention to Likely Voter screens as opposed to Registered Voter screens.

I won’t lie to you. I don’t like the look of this poll. But the overall picture continues to be one in which the polls have continued to tighten, albeit not as quickly as I’d like, since around the beginning of March.

But I want to flag a different point: Congress.


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The Fifth Circuit Is In For A Beatdown

  • Kate Riga cautions against taking the Supreme Court’s decision to save the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as a sign of moderation from the high court.

An Imperfect Phone Call

  • Josh Kovensky unpacks a portion of Michael Cohen’s testimony during the Trump trial this week that focused specifically on a phone call Cohen placed — one that was seemingly, at least in part, about an annoying teenager — before making a payment to Stormy Daniels.

DOJ Tries To Get Out Ahead Of 2024 Violence While Trump Stokes It

  • Khaya Himmelman reports on the DOJ’s efforts to clamp down on election related violence — as Trump and his allies stoke fears about 2024.

Everyone Is Blaming The Wife

  • Emine Yücel wonders why everyone is using their wives as scapegoats.


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