Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Obama’s silly search for ‘bipartisan’ Middle East

Like Obama’s courtship of ‘moderate’ Republicans in the early months of his term (while they openly declared war on him), his attempt to play reasonable centrist with Israelis and Palestinians has now collapsed as any sixth grader could have foreseen.

The Israelis, correctly seeing that Obama is a bag of wind, ignored him and restarted their 40-plus-year campaign of colonization of seized territory. (We could add ‘illegal’ colonization as if anyone cared—concern for legality only applies to Mexican immigrants.) They confidently predicted that he was cajoling them from a position of weakness and would back down. And so he did.

Expert commentators lay out the fairly simple details of Obama’s useless advisers and the historical background, no need to repeat the obvious. But I am curious about what goes on in our president’s mind—did he really think that all this situation needed was some serious talk over after-dinner cordials?

Obama is said to be intellectually curious and fascinated by the pull and tug of ideas. That makes for a good college professor, but it’s not a substitute for political leadership where you have to be capable of telling people to sit down and shut up. It continues to amaze me that someone with that much power could look and act so helpless. Imagine what George Bush would have done with hefty majorities in both houses of Congress, an historic electoral mandate and a huge mess left by the outgoing party.

I am slowly coming to the conclusion that Obama is presiding over exactly the kind of march into polarized nuttiness that we were hoping he would prevent and that his weakness is empowering the lunatic fringe in ways that a right-wing regime could not do better. First the Republicans grab his nose and twist it; now Netan-Yahoo does the same. If we’re going to have a right-wing program anyway, why not have the right-wingers in charge of it?

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