President Barack Obama was bound to oppose Mr. Netanyahu’s entirely predictable speech before the US Congress. And Mr. Obama, an advocate of extreme campaigning, as usual pulled out all the stops on his rhetorical organ.
It may be best to get some housekeeping details out of the way.
Nothing said by Mr. Netanyahu will be fresh. He will tell the Congress what he has been shouting from the rooftops for decades: that the sly mullahs in Iran are determined to produce a nuclear weapon; that Iran, as a repository of nuclear weapons, will present a threat to the existence of Israel, as well as other states in The Middle East not friendly to Iran; that Iran, by shipping munitions to al-Qaida and its affiliates, is directly responsible for the deaths of US soldiers who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan; that Islamic hardliners in Iran will not be bound by paper arrangements; that the dismantling of sanctions on Iran will simply embolden the enemies of the West; that Iran is an exporter and enable of Hamas, a terrorist organization, and so on and so on. The Obama administration has weathered such observations for years. Nothing new here.
More than a year ago, Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic reported, “The other day I was talking to a senior Obama administration official about the foreign leader who seems to frustrate the White House and the State Department the most. ‘The thing about Bibi is, he’s a chickenshit,’ this official said, referring to the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, by his nickname.”
Asked by Mr. Goldberg to expand on his comment, the Obama official said, “The good thing about Netanyahu is that he’s scared to launch wars. The bad thing about him is that he won’t do anything to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians or with the Sunni Arab states. The only thing he’s interested in is protecting himself from political defeat. He’s not [Yitzhak] Rabin, he’s not [Ariel] Sharon, he’s certainly no [Menachem] Begin. He’s got no guts."
Asked at a press conference whether Mr. Obama agreed with the assessment, Josh Earnest, unreeled the usual non-apologetic script. No, the president did not agree with the assessment of the high government official: “There is a very close relationship between the United States and Israel. But that close relationship does not mean that we paper over our differences.”
It is true that the “United States and Israel” have in the past had a close relationship, but the relationship between current President Barack Obama and current Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu is frosty, the differences between them often being papered over by slick presidential communications directors such as Mr. Ernest, who did not say whether Mr. Obama would fire the top official in the Obama administration for calling Bibi a chickens**t.
While nothing said by Mr. Netanyahu to Congress will endanger pending presidential or Congressional elections -- thank God they are over – it seems apparent that Mr. Obama is not disinterested in Israeli elections. “A top appointee in President Barack Obama’s 2012 election campaign,” The Daily Caller has reported, “is now working to defeat Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the upcoming March election.”