Friday, July 09, 2010

Soccer Dad

Soccer Dad

On Israel, Obama Falls Back On "The Hussein Defense"

Posted: 09 Jul 2010 08:50 AM PDT

Obama has given an interview with Yonit Levi of Israel's Channel 2 News. Naturally, at one point the focus turned on how Israelis perceive Obama:

Q Now, I must ask you this, Mr. President, there are people in Israel who are anxious about you --


Q -- and who -- you know, I'm quoting their sentiments -- feel like you don't have a special connection to Israel. How do you respond to that?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, it's interesting -- this is the thing that actually surfaced even before I was elected President, in some of the talk that was circulating within the Jewish American community. Ironically, I've got a Chief of Staff named Rahm Israel Emmanuel. My top political advisor is somebody who is a descendent of Holocaust survivors. My closeness to the Jewish American community was probably what propelled me to the U.S. Senate.

And my not just knowledge but sympathy and identification with the Jewish experience is rooted in part because of the historic connection between the African American freedom movement here in the United States and the civil rights efforts of Jewish Americans and some of the same impulses that led to the creation of Israel.

And so I think what this arises from -- some of it may just be the fact that my middle name is Hussein, and that creates suspicion.

Some of it may have to do with the fact that I have actively reached out to the Muslim community, and I think that sometimes, particularly in the Middle East, there's the feeling of the friend of my enemy must be my enemy. And the truth of the matter is, is that my outreach to the Muslim community is designed precisely to reduce the antagonism and the dangers posed by a hostile Muslim world to Israel and to the West.

Does Obama really think that 28% of Israelis don't read the newspapers? Did Israelis suddenly wake up and find out what Obama's middle name is--or suddenly care?

They sure didn't care back in July 2008 when a poll was taken about how Israelis felt about him:

When asked "who would you rather see elected as the next president of the United States," Obama bested John McCain by a 37-28 margin. While far from a decisive advantage -- 35 percent of Israelis chose "no preference" or some other answer -- the poll reflects a notably different state of affairs from previous surveys, which generally showed McCain with a large advantage over Obama.

Obama's competitiveness spanned the political spectrum across Israel's top three parties. The Illinois Democrat trounced McCain among Israel's most liberal voters, who belong to the Labor Party (44-6), tied among more right-wing Likud voters (28-28), and held a slight edge among sympathizers of the Kadima Party, which is led by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (40-32).

That contrasts sharply with a poll taken back in March that found that 9% of Israelis thought that the Obama administration was pro-Israel as opposed to 48% that considered it pro-Palestinian--and those numbers are actually an improvement on the numbers from last August when 4% thought he was pro-Israel. Still, from 37% down to 9% is a 28% drop.

Obama still approaches the issue as a politician, as opposed to a leader. His first impulse is to present his pro-Israel credentials by virtue of association as opposed to achievement. He notes that his Chief of Staff is "Rahm Israel Emanuel"--he actually has to toss in Emanuel's middle name in case you don't get it that the guy is Jewish (and Israeli!). Of course, Emanuel's job has nothing to do with advising on Israeli policy and he was appointed based on his hard-nosed reputation. Obama also throws in that his top political advisor is a descendant of Holocaust survivors. Descendant? The Holocaust occurred before I was born too, but I don't think of it as having happened that long ago--and the fact that Obama connects the Holocaust with support for Israel is part of his faulty historical sense of Israel that I have written about before.

Even when Obama turns to his achievements in promoting Israel's security, he first takes pride in how much he talks about Israel's security. Then when he turns to his achievements, he doesn't actually describe them--but he does brag that his achievements exceed those of any previous administration.

Q So that fear, the tangible fear that some Israelis have that their best ally in the world might abandon them is --

THE PRESIDENT: Well, it's pretty hard to square with the fact that not only have I in every speech that I've ever given talked about the unbreakable bond to Israel, not only did I describe that special relationship and condemn those who would try to drive a rift between us in Cairo in front of a Muslim audience, but if you look at our actions -- and Prime Minister Netanyahu will confirm this, and even critics I think will have to confirm that the United States under my administration has provided more security assistance to Israel than any administration in history. And we've got greater security cooperation between our two countries than at any time in our history. And the single most important threat to Israel -- Iran, and its potential possession of a nuclear weapon -- has been my number one foreign policy priority over the course of the last 18 months.

So it's hard to, I think, look at that track record and look at my public statements and in any way think that my passions for Israel's survival, its security, and its people are in any way diminished.

I certainly cannot judge Obama's passion, but I can judge the effect his actions are having in the Middle East--apparently, Obama is not taking into account the fact that Iran is growing stronger and more brazen.

Or the fact that it is proceeding with its nuclear plans.

Or that other Arab countries are taking note of this and are working on their own nuclear plans as a result.

Or that the sons of murdered Lebanese leaders Jumblatt and Hariri are looking to mend fences with Syria--the country held responsible.

Or that Hezbollah is rearming itself for another war with Israel, with opposition from UNIFIL.

Or that Obama talks about sending millions to Gaza, without making it conditional on Gilad Shalit's release.

But besides all that, one would think that the president under whom there is more assistance to Israel than ever before would be able to also brag about an example or two.

These days, though, you can say anything you like in the media without much concern about being called on it. Especially if you are Obama.

by Daled Amos

Obama Channels Charleton Heston (Sort Of): Israel Should "Take Risks For Peace"

Posted: 09 Jul 2010 07:45 AM PDT

Comparing Israel With The Civil Rights Movement: Obama vs. Condoleezza Rice

Posted: 09 Jul 2010 03:55 AM PDT

US President Barak Obama was interviewed by Israel's Channel 2. At one point, Obama traces his ability to identify with "the Jewish experience":

And my not just knowledge but sympathy and identification with the Jewish experience is rooted in part because of the historic connection between the African American freedom movement here in the United States and the civil rights efforts of Jewish Americans and some of the same impulses that led to the creation of Israel.

That's it--that's the whole comparison?

As everyone knows, Obama is an excellent and professional speaker--he doesn't spell out the comparison; he just lets his audience interpret the metaphor for themselves. Or maybe it's just Obama's emotional detachment

And Shmuel Rosner is not impressed:

Doesn't fly with Israelis: the story about Jewish Americans working alongside African-Americans. This is very powerful with liberal American Jews, but is a story that most Israelis don't know much about and don't much care about.

On the other hand, remember when Condoleezza Rice made it much more personal when she made the same comparison, but in the other direction:

Like many of you, I grew up around the home-grown terrorism of the 1960s. The bombing of the church in Birmingham in 1963 is one that will forever be in my memory because one of the little girls who died was a friend of mine. Forty years removed from that tragedy, I can honestly say that Denise McNair and others didn't die in vain. They and all who suffered and struggled for civil and human rights helped to reintroduce America to its founding ideals. And because of their sacrifice, America is a better nation and a better example to a world where difference is still often taken as a license to kill.

But knowing what we know about the difficulties of our own history, knowing what we know about how hard it is to build democracy, we need to be humble in singing freedom's praises.

But we should not let our voice waver in speaking out on the side of people who are seeking freedom. And we must never, ever indulge in the condescending voices who allege that some people in Africa or in the Middle East are just not interested in freedom, they're culturally just not ready for freedom or they just aren't ready for freedom's responsibilities.

We've heard that argument before, and we, more than any, as a people, should be ready to reject it. The view was wrong in 1963 in Birmingham, and it is wrong in 2003 in Baghdad and in the rest of the Middle East. [emphasis added]

At the same time, Rice was even more explicit with her comparison:

For Dr. Rice, the struggle of the Palestinians is analogous to that of the African-Americans for civil rights and she identifies with the Palestinians. She recalled what it meant to travel in segregated buses as a little girl in Alabama. She also compared the head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, to Reverend Martin Luther King, because, in her mind, both were committed to peace. According to reporter Aluf Benn, Rice views Abbas as committed to the struggle for Palestinian independence and, like Martin Luther King, opposed to terror and violence (Haaretz, October 16, 2007). Independently, David Bedein reported Rice's statements in The Bulletin (Philadelphia, October 17, 2007).

You can argue about the logic of her comparing Reverend King and Abbas--and many did--but Rice's comparison came across as heartfelt.

Listening to Obama, it just comes across as part of a new political tact he is taking with Israel, as he emphasizes direct talks between Israel and the PA instead of talking about a settlement freeze.

At least until after the mid-term elections.

by Daled Amos

Like the singin' bird and the croakin' toad, I got a name - and israelis don't like it

Posted: 09 Jul 2010 03:51 AM PDT

via memeorandum

Haaretz reports, Obama: Israelis suspicious of me because my middle name is Hussein

During the interview Wednesday, when confronted with the anxiety that some Israelis feel toward him, Obama said that "some of it may just be the fact that my middle name is Hussein, and that creates suspicion."

"Ironically, I've got a Chief of Staff named Rahm Israel Emmanuel. My top political advisor is somebody who is a descendent of Holocaust survivors. My closeness to the Jewish American community was probably what propelled me to the U.S. Senate," Obama said.

Yikes. Really, this has nothing to do with the color of his skin or the sound of his middle name; it really has to do with the content of his character.

When someone like Jackson Diehl, who can't be classified as pro-Israel, wrote last year in "End the spat with Israel":

The result of such posturing is that the administration now faces a choice between a protracted confrontation with Israel -- an odd adventure given the pressing challenges from Iran and in Iraq, not to mention the disarray of the Palestinian camp -- or a compromise, which might make Obama look weak and provide Arab states further cause to refuse cooperation. The White House, I'm told, still hopes Netanyahu will accept a construction moratorium, with a time limit and perhaps a waiver for some buildings under construction. But at this point some damage is probably unavoidable: If Barak and Middle East envoy George J. Mitchell agree on any formula short of that spelled out by Clinton and her spokesman, Arab media will trumpet it as an Obama cave-in.

the President's singling out of Israel was obvious.

While last year's poll showing Israeli support of President Obama in the single digits may not have been accurate, nonetheless Israeli suspicion of the President is a real phenomenon. No matter how much the President may think that it's about who he is, the mistrust is a result of what he did.

Perhaps now things will be better between Israel and the United States - though I'd expect that change to last only until the mid-term elections later this year - but it will because President Obama will have changed his approach to the Middle East.

Crossposted on Yourish.

There's an "i" in united states

Posted: 09 Jul 2010 01:10 AM PDT

Charles Krauthammer writes about The selective modesty of Barack Obama:

Notice, too, how Obama habitually refers to Cabinet members and other high government officials as "my" -- "my secretary of homeland security," "my national security team," "my ambassador." The more normal -- and respectful -- usage is to say "the," as in "the secretary of state." These are, after all, public officials sworn to serve the nation and the Constitution -- not just the man who appointed them.

It's a stylistic detail, but quite revealing of Obama's exalted view of himself. Not surprising, perhaps, in a man whose major achievement before acceding to the presidency was writing two biographies -- both about himself.

Obama is not the first president with a large streak of narcissism. But the others had equally expansive feelings about their country. Obama's modesty about America would be more understandable if he treated himself with the same reserve. What is odd is to have a president so convinced of his own magnificence -- yet not of his own country's.

Would you like an order for fries to go with that crow?

Posted: 09 Jul 2010 12:26 AM PDT

George Will asks Another round of Prohibition anyone? (via memeorandum)
The column is a review of Daniel Okrent's "Last Call," a history of prohibition and its repeal. Will outlines many of the social, economic and political forces that brought about prohition and its repeal. At the end he concludes:

The many lessons of Okrent's story include: In the fight between law and appetite, bet on appetite. And: Americans then were, and let us hope still are, magnificently ungovernable by elected nuisances.

Previously, Future of Capitalism reviewed "Last Call."

Elected (and unelected) nuisances are still very much with us. One such unelected nuisance is the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which has recently decided to hound some publicity by threatening to sue McDonald's - for marketing Happy Meals.

"McDonald's is the stranger in the playground handing out candy to children," said CSPI litigation director Stephen Gardner. "McDonald's use of toys undercuts parental authority and exploits young children's developmental immaturity--all this to induce children to prefer foods that may harm their health. It's a creepy and predatory practice that warrants an injunction."

Let's see "stranger," "playground," "candy," and "predator" ... what image are they trying to convey?

Mike Rosen helps out (via Weasel Zippers):

Ronald McDonald is a child abuser! That's the latest delusion of those nannyist, busybody scolds at the so-called Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), now threatening to sue McDonald's if the fast-food chain doesn't immediately desist in luring kids to their "un-nutritious" Happy Meals by bribing them with toys. Mickey D's offending promotion features Shrek-themed figures bundled with Big Macs, Chicken McNuggets and fries. Oh, the humanity!

I understand that CSPI wants to make a point, but do they really need to do it so grotesquely?

Well, fortunately the story doesn't end here. McDonald's CEO, Jim Skinner struck back! (h/t Tom Marr):

First, the public does not support your lawsuit. Internet sites, blogs and network surveys suggest that public opinion is running overwhelmingly against your premise. Our customer websites and phone lines at McDonald's are also busy, with more than nine out of ten customers disagreeing with your agenda. Parents, in particular, strongly believe they have the right and responsibility to decide what's best for their children, not CSPI. It really is that simple.

Wow, parents should be able to decide what's best for their children, not busybody outsiders! What a concept!

Bloodthirsty Warmonger comments:

This is known as "calling their bluff," as McDonald's Corp. can spend CSPI under the table if they started litigation proceedings.

Since I keep kosher, I won't be going to McDonald's, but I'm very happy to see CEO Skinner defend his company so well.

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