Three random thoughts on the rather dangerous turn of events following Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarkable win in Israel’s election.
1. Obama told the Huffington Post that he takes Netanyahu “at his word”, referring to the prime minister’s response to a reporter’s question prior to the election about the prospects of a two-state solution. Yet within days, Netanyahu clarified those comments and apparently our president won’t believe those words.
It seems very selective and arbitrary, to say the least, especially coming from someone who expects us to believe his numerous clarifications and parsing of statements he’s made in the past. Netanyahu only once made the remarks the White House is holding against him and it wasn’t even part of a prepared speech. President Obama said, “If you like your plan, you can keep it” at least 23 times to help pass Obamacare. He since clarified that statement, of course, and expects us to take him at his word. But he doesn’t give the prime minister of Israel the same courtesy and is creating an international incident out of it. It would be laughable, if it weren’t so serious.
2. Josh Earnest, the White House spokesman, has said on the same topic that, “Words matter.” But the administration doesn’t seem to care about the numerous words Netanyahu has been using after the election, it’s only interested in a handful that were made before. This criteria also only matters when it comes to the prime minister of Israel. As Shmuley Boteach pointed out, this past Saturday:
…Ayatollah Ali Khameini uttered the words “Death to America” even as John Kerry was expressing optimism the very same day that the United States would come to a nuclear accord with Iran.
Iran’s leader has also:
…called Jews dogs and tweeted as recently as this past November that “there is no cure for Israel other than annihilation.”
Either words matter or they don’t. This administration seems to want to have it both ways.
3. Benjamin Netanyahu’s victory in Israel’s election gives President Obama yet another humbling defeat in a foreign affair into which he has ventured. Many commentators even believe, with cause, that his tactics blew up in his face and handed Netanyahu his stunning win, such as Frida Ghitis on CNN and Brett Stephens of the Wall Street Journal.
This follows two spectacular failures on the world stage in his first term, both in Denmark. First, against the advice of many, he flew to Copenhagen in a failed bid to lobby the world to adopt a far reaching climate change agreement. As CNET reported at the time
Sweden has labeled the accord Obama helped broker a disaster for the environment, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the summit was “at best flawed and at worst chaotic,” and climate change advocates have been even more scathing in their criticism.
The second international disaster was his personal bid to the Olympic committee in Copenhagen on behalf of Chicago. The president’s adopted home town was one of only four finalists vying to host the 2016 Summer Olympics. Especially embarrassing was the fact that following the Obama’s lobbying it was the first city to be eliminated.
As others have noted, for a president who some believe to be terribly smart, he’s a remarkably slow learner. And his behavior with Netanyahu strikes me as utterly juvenile and petulant. For a leader who was supposed to restore America’s image in the world, he’s sure got a strange way of going about it.