Obama, Ahmadinejad, the Economic Stimulus, and the Culture Wars

Ahmadinejad wants Obama to say he's sorry, the culture wars continue, and the stimulus ruffles feathers

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Our daily look at stories and topics that are lighting up the Internets:

News from the Middle East

As is often the case, the blogosphere was chock-full of thoughts on the Middle East. First up: Ahmadinejad wants Obama to say he's sorry. The Iranian president's words come after Obama said yesterday in an interview with al-Arabiya that he's open to improving U.S.-Iranian relations. Obama "should apologize to the Iranian nation and try to make up for their dark background and the crimes they have committed against the Iranian nation," said Ahmadinejad. "Nervous, aren't we?" asks Andrew Sullivan. Meanwhile, Andrew Rubin discusses Ahmadinejad's continued denial of the Holocaust, including a transcript from a speech as recent as ... today. Also in the mix is Obama's naiveté on the problems involved in improving relations with Iran. Other bloggers discussed the latest news Obama's been making on Iraq and Afghanistan, while others still think it's imperative that Obama transcend Clinton and Bush's reflexive and uncritical endorsement of all of Israel's actions. Meanwhile, James Berillo and Frank Haas prove that just because it's funny doesn't mean that it isn't true.

Obama & the Culture Wars

Let the culture wars begin: Michael Novak has this to say about Obama's words his first week in office: "From these announcements we learn that President Obama recognizes no difference between the Jewish-Christian covenant between a woman and a man (a covenant that they will have and nurture children, if they are so blessed), and a civil contract between two persons of any sex, in order to set up a household of affection and sexual favors.... This is a relapse into paganism." You've got to be kidding me. This, at least, is the general reply from a host of liberal bloggers (a roundup available here). "I'll be especially curious to see if this becomes a new trend for far-right rhetoric," writes Steve Benen. "I can't wait to see what we'll be called next." Another liberal blogger asks if Obama can and/or will end the culture war, concluding that if Obama signs anything like the Freedom of Choice Act—as he promised during the campaign—"he will have ensured its survival for another generation." Dee Dee Myers contributes her end to the discussion, arguing that Obama is the most famous person ever.

Scrutinizing the Stimulus

Recent news about the Democrats' stimulus package had conservatives—and moderates—up in arms today. Byron York lists a number of anger-inducing proposals in the bill, echoing Newt Gingrich's cry during Hillary Clinton's healthcare reform proposal to "Read the bill." Michelle Malkin compiles a list of her own. The Democrats have put the "con" back in "Congress," writes one conservative blogger. Many others cite this quote from the Wall Street Journal: The stimulus "manages to spend money on just about every pent-up Democratic proposal of the last 40 years." Still, among the many dissenters, Jazz Shaw gives a thoughtful account of his objections. "Earlier this week I found myself feeling a bit peeved with Congressional Republicans when they began urging their members to vote against the upcoming stimulus bill," he writes. "But stuffing the so-called stimulus package with this nonsense is beyond belief." Andrew Sullivan takes reactions from the right as an opportunity to talk about conservative sexual panic: "Weird, if you ask me. This is the budget we're talking about here. Even there, they reach, like the exhausted tacticians they are, for the culture war. And it isn't reaching back."

... Meanwhile ...

It's good to be an ex-president, but even better when your wife's nominated for secretary of state ($2 million better, to be precise)... The pope attempts to repair Vatican relations with Jews after reinstating a Holocaust-denying bishop...Treasury Secretary Geithner receives $434,668 in severance pay from the NY Fed... And Biden apologizes for his joke about Chief Justice Roberts's memory.