Category: Tevi Troy
Troy: President Obamacan still take a stand on PSY comments
| December 17, 2012 | 3:02 pm | Tevi Troy | No comments

Published for Politico, December 16, 2012

On December 21, TNT will broadcast the performance of Korean rap sensation PSY (“Gangnam Style”) before President Obama and his family at the White House. While PSY is a superstar because of his multi-million download YouTube video, he is also a controversial figure, who sang a virulently anti-American rap song in 2004. At the time, PSY sang the words “Kill those f—-ing Yankees who have been torturing Iraqi captives” and “Kill their daughters, mothers, daughters-in-law and fathers.”

PSY-gate is far from the first artistic controversy to take place during the Obama administration. In fact, as CBS’s Lindsey Boerma characterized the situation, “Another rapper, another musician controversy for Obama.” These earlier controversies include the inclusion of the rapper Common, who had rapped, “tell the law, my Uzi weighs a ton,” at a Michelle Obama-hosted White House poetry event. As offensive as Common’s anti-police comments were, PSY’s hateful anti-Americanism is far worse. The sentiments he expressed are so offensive that they can unite nearly all Americans in disagreement, a rare event in these hyper-partisan times. The Atlantic’s David Graham, contrasting PSY to Common, admits that “The critics seem to have a more serious bone to pick this time around.”

This period before the PSY performance airs presents Obama with an opportunity to exercise some moral leadership on behalf of the nation he leads. It is unsurprising that he has not yet taken this stand, given his embrace of all things pop culture in his first term and especially in his reelection campaign.

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Troy: Little Enthusiasm for Obamacare Exchanges
| December 10, 2012 | 5:27 pm | Tevi Troy | No comments

Published for National Review’s ‘The Corner’, December 10, 2012

The Obama administration hosted a media call today to tout the fact that a whole six states have received “conditional approval” for their state-based health exchanges. Unsurprisingly, the six states mentioned on the call — Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, Oregon, and Washington — are all blue states with Democratic governors.

The Obama officials sounded excited about this, but the Washington Post’s Sarah Kliff asked the reasonable follow-up question of how many total applications the administration had received. The answer: 15, an unimpressive number.

When National Journal’s Margot Sanger-Katz asked how many more they might be expecting, she was told that they “can’t speculate” on what states might do. According to one of the journalists on the call that I checked with, there are only a handful of additional states that might even consider participating at this point, meaning that the upper bound is 17 states out 51 (counting the District of Columbia). The Obama administration may want to tout this announcement as a win, but the truth is that there seems to be little appetite in the state capitals for participating in the exchanges.

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VIDEO: Troy: We Need a Market-Driven Health Care System
| November 13, 2012 | 10:13 am | Tevi Troy | No comments

Published for FOX Business, November 12, 2012

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VIDEO: Troy on RomneyCare
| June 18, 2012 | 3:48 pm | Tevi Troy | No comments

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Troy: Thanks for the Help, Tinseltown?
| May 23, 2012 | 5:31 pm | Tevi Troy | No comments

Published for www.washingtonian.com, May 22, 2012

President Obama’s 17-minute reelection-campaign film, helmed by documentarian Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth, Waiting for “Superman”) and voiced by Tom Hanks (just about everything) is a full-blown celebration of the Obama presidency, with a huge dollop of blame for good measure.

While it’s an impressive piece of filmmaking, it’s unclear if it will help Obama’s prospects: The track record of such celebrity-backed projects in presidential politics is mixed.

In 1852, Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote a campaign biography for his Bowdoin classmate Franklin Pierce. Hawthorne was most famous for writing The Scarlet Letter, and his style was better suited to a depressing look at Puritanism than to an upbeat work of campaign salesmanship. In the preface, Hawthorne noted that “this biography is so far sanctioned by General Pierce, as it comprises a generally correct narrative of the principal events of his life, the author does not understand him as thereby necessarily indorsing [sic] all the sentiments put forth by himself in the progress of the work.” Yawn.

Another celebrity candidate-helper was Lew Wallace, author of the epic 1880 bestseller Ben-Hur, who served as a Union general in the Civil War and wrote a biography of his friend Benjamin Harrison in 1888.

The Harrison campaign bio led to rumors that Wallace was being considered for a Cabinet post–whispers that not only turned out to be untrue but that also reopened old wounds about Wallace’s poor leadership at the battle of Shiloh. According to Victor Davis Hanson’s Ripples of Battle, a Milwaukee newspaper wrote: “Wallace may be a good literary man, but it wants a soldier for Secretary of War who can get his men into a fight five miles away without marching all day.”

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Troy: Three Days that Shook ObamaCare
| May 22, 2012 | 12:16 pm | Tevi Troy | No comments

Published for www.commentarymagazine.com, May 2012

For ObamaCare and its namesake, the period from March 26 through 28, 2012, will go down as three very bad days politically—and possibly as three epic days for our nation constitutionally.

The multiday argument in front of our nation’s highest court—which usually grants only one hour per case—exhibited various shortcomings and contradictions in the Affordable Care Act of 2010. In a previous analysis for Commentary (“ObamaCare and the Supreme Court,” February), I identified the four most likely scenarios for how the court will rule. First, it could overturn the individual mandate requiring all Americans to purchase private health insurance while maintaining the rest of the law. Second, it could overturn the law in its entirety due to the unconstitutionality of the individual mandate. Third, it could delay the decision until the individual mandate becomes applicable in 2014. Fourth, it could uphold the law in its entirety.

The latter two scenarios are the most preferable to liberals because they allow full implementation of the Obama health law to proceed apace. And it was precisely these two scenarios that became far less likely after the three days of argument before the Supreme Court.

It was an instructive three days, a civics lesson for a nation desperately in need of one; at the end of the argument, it was anyone’s guess how the court would come down. And yet the distinct possibility of a ruling unfavorable to ObamaCare caused the president himself to utter some astonishing words regarding the Supreme Court’s role only days after the argument was concluded. He suggested it would be “unprecedented” and “extraordinary” for “an unelected group of people” to find “a duly constituted and passed law” unconstitutional—as though that has not been the core role of the Supreme Court since the 1803 case of Marbury v. Madison, the most important judicial decision in American history, and one that our former constitutional law professor is surely aware of.

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Troy: Obama and TV News
| May 15, 2012 | 4:44 pm | Tevi Troy | No comments

Published for www.american.com, May 15, 2012

President Obama’s recent announcement of his policy change on gay marriage made news, and not just because of the policy, but for the way in which he announced it: In an interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts. As the Washington Post’s Paul Farhi wrote, Obama’s release was “controversial” in that he did not do it in the traditional ways of a press conference or an Oval Office address, but in a daytime television interview on the second-ranking network, and with a reporter who does not typically focus on politics. Politico’s Dylan Byers also noted the oddity of the choice, speculating that the White House may have selected Roberts, who is an African-American and a Christian, to soften the blow of his policy shift in those particular communities.

Regardless of the reason, it seems clear that the Obama administration put some serious thought into how to manage their policy shift. This fits into a pattern of Obama and his team aggressively micro-managing their relationship with TV news. As CNN’s Jonathan Wald told Byers, “The White House is very careful who it picks for which message.” As this story shows, for all the talk about Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook, television remains the key medium by which Americans get not only their news, but also their impressions of our political leaders.

The relationship between presidents and TV goes back a long way. For decades, White House and campaign communicators have recognized that a president’s initial appearances on television shape the American people’s views of an entire presidency, and it is difficult for initial impressions, once established, to be overcome. This makes TV a key gatekeeper for determining not only who becomes president, but also how that president will be viewed both during the administration and beyond. As a result, mastering TV has become a crucial skill for presidents and wannabes alike. It also creates challenges for presidents. In order to be successful, they must be acutely aware of how they are portrayed on TV. They must also recognize that how they are portrayed goes beyond news programming. Despite this high-wire act, they cannot be overly reactive to how they are portrayed on a daily basis. These challenging tasks have been faced by every one of our presidents in the TV age–with varying degrees of success.

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Troy: The Most Jewish Election
| April 24, 2012 | 4:32 pm | Tevi Troy | No comments

Published for www.tabletmagazine.com, April 24, 2012

Now that Rick Santorum has dropped out of the Republican primary, the long-anticipated election showdown between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama is beginning to heat up. And one thing is becoming clear even at this early stage: The 2012 presidential race, between a Mormon Republican and a Christian Democrat, is shaping up to be one of the most Jewish elections in American history.

Yes, you read that right.

We’ve had very Jewish elections before, perhaps none more than 2000, when Joe Lieberman was on the Democratic ballot as vice president. That race also featured the spectacle of South Floridian bubbes and zaydes who thought that they might have voted for Pat Buchanan over Al Gore because of the infamous “butterfly ballot.”

At least so far in 2012, there are no Jewish candidates on either major ticket. But this year, the involvement of Jews in all elements of the political process, combined with increased Jewish confidence and security as a community, is manifesting itself on the political stage—most notably, on both sides of the political aisle. These factors, as well as the potential for Mitt Romney to take advantage of President Obama’s rough patches with Israel to peel away some of his Jewish support, have made the Jewish role in the 2012 election more prominent than in any previous race.

***

Though Jews seem to be everywhere in politics these days—as candidates, strategists, officials, fundraisers, commentators, and more—the high level of Jewish involvement in national politics would have been unfathomable in the 19th century. In 1813, for example, President Madison appointed Mordecai Manuel Noah as U.S. consul to Tunis, only to have the Islamic government there object to having a Jew in the role (so much for the idea that Islamic anti-Semitism is a post-Israel phenomenon). The State Department, headed by future president James Monroe, acceded to the request, and Madison blamed the recall on “the ascertained prejudice of the Turks against his Religion.” It would be 40 years before there was another equally prominent Jewish appointee in the form of Democratic fundraiser August Belmont, whom Franklin Pierce named U.S. minister to The Hague in 1853.

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Troy: White House Defends Verilli
| March 28, 2012 | 4:21 pm | Tevi Troy | No comments

Published for www.nationalreview.com/corner, March 28, 2012

You know you’re in trouble when the White House has to issue a statement in your defense as a show of confidence. According to Politico’s Jonathan Allen, that is exactly what the White House has done for Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, who is getting bad reviews for his performance at the Supreme Court yesterday. Verilli started out weakly, with a bit of a coughing fit, and then did not do much better as the questions began. It seemed that a number of the liberal justices were feeding him lifelines, and trying to make his best arguments for him. I suppose that if a White House statement is a terrible sign for a Democratic Solicitor General, the only worse thing might be a defense on NRO, but here goes.

There is no doubt that Verilli did poorly in the Court yesterday, but his real problem was the problematic law he was being asked to defend. The government’s position that the mandate is a tax when convenient to them and not a tax when inconvenient does not stand up to scrutiny, and certainly not the heavy scrutiny of an argument before the Justices of the Supreme Court. On the mandate itself, it seemed as if the government could not articulate a limiting principle, other than this idea that health care is somehow unique.

I mentioned Verilli’s poor performance to Baltimore’s Tom Marr on an interview this morning and he said that “Edwin Bennett Williams himself could have come down from heaven to argue this case” and he would not have done much better. That Verilli did a poor job with the argument does not mean that there was a strong argument for his side to make.

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VIDEO: Troy on Fox Business: Possible Outcomes of Health-Care Hearings
| March 26, 2012 | 5:18 pm | Tevi Troy | No comments

Published for www.foxbusiness.com, March 25, 2012

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