Wednesday, May 25, 2011

B.O. the Bobo Doll

I have to admit, I just don't get it. Obama is a much cannier politician than the Republicans/conservatives give him credit for – I mean, he projects this air of being cool and aloof, and above the fray. If Reagan had “Teflon”, then Obama has Teflon with earlaps. Even when Obama gets down and dirty with his opponents, he does it in an offhand, robust way as if he were sitting at a bar talking with his homies – not in that kind of pathetic, whiny way exemplified so well by Jimmy Carter, for example. But when it comes to dealing with Israel, Obama's brain seems to turn to mush, and he always winds up saying the wrong thing at the wrong time – and no amount of pushback, no smackdowns by the Israeli cabal, seem to ever teach him any lessons. The most recent kerfuffle involving the “1967 borders” is an example. The minute you say the word “1967” to the Israelis, their faces turn red and they start huffing and puffing, with steam shooting out of their nostrils like an angry bull. And of course, he immediately backed down – sort of – and started mealy-mouthing about “swaps” and so on... but the damage was done, and we had, once again, to witness him getting a good, sound talking-to – in public – by Bibi Netanyahu. Somewhere Joe Biden had to be smiling – since it was Obama who sent him into the lions' den a while back in order to be thoroughly humiliated.

Now – aside from the broader issue of the very existence of the State of Israel... its advisability... its viability... and so on, which I've covered quite thoroughly in this blog, the question has to be, once again – why? Why does he keep hitting his head against this brick wall, time and time again? I'm tempted to say that it's at least partially due to the long-standing love-hate relationship between American blacks and American Jews – but Obama, wherever he was born (and frankly, I don't give a damn), would have a hard time fitting into that mold. After all, didn't the “black leadership” at some point, way back when, declare that Obama “wasn't really black” in a way that would make him an authentic “black” candidate for president? Yes, I remember – even if no one else does. So did his time in Chicago acculturate him in that ambivalence? I'm skeptical... not to mention which, we're not talking about American Jews anyway, but about Israel – assuming there's a distinction.

Another possibility – also previously proposed on this site – is that the whole “dialogue” between the Obama administration and Israel is little more than a pro wrestling match, where guys who are – away from the ring – good friends and drinking buddies have to pretend to hate each other in order to put on a good show. This is the shopworn act of “getting tough with Israel”, which fails every time, whether it's genuine or not. In other words, they agree to put up with a certain amount of, lets say, adolescent rebellion on our part, just to let our leaders occasionally save face... and we agree to put a sock in it in short order, and mainly to not change our “eternal bond”, or reduce our support in any way. So they save face, and so do we. Very comfy... but ridiculous nonetheless, not to mention humiliating. I mean, no matter how you feel about Obama, it is a bit hard seeing the Israelis repeatedly peeing in his punch bowl with impunity. The point is that no matter what Israel does, nothing changes... and everyone knows that, and accepts it. And yet there is this requirement that every once in a while we start making these “get tough” noises, only to get slapped down. Those are the rules of engagement, in other words -- and they cannot be violated.

Surely there has to be a better way. One option would be for Obama – with Hillary Clinton close at hand, and Biden lurking in the background wearing a shock collar – to state, once and for all, that we were no longer going to “interfere” in Israeli affairs, or offer any ideas, plans, “blueprints”, outlines, etc. etc. In other words, simply disengage from the entire process – while continuing to provide support with troops and money and diplomatic cover, of course. This would, admittedly, be to admit that Israel is in charge of our foreign policy, and therefore of the administration, Congress, etc. -- and it would hardly do to just come out and finally admit this, after decades of avoiding the issue. So Israel has to remain the invisible elephant in the drawing room, and we have to put on this periodic humiliating show of independence and pretend that we have real influence over there, which we clearly don't.

What I'm trying to demonstrate here is that the whole thing is a game – a charade – that has been going on for as long as most of us can remember... and that this is the way -- the only way -- that it can be played – or so think our various presidents and diplomats. It is, indeed, a sorry state of affairs, but an intractable one, unless we decide to do that which is unthinkable, which is simply to disengage entirely and leave Israel to its own devices (and its own fate). But that, for some unfathomable reason, is considered “political suicide”, like unto doing anything about Social Security and Medicare on the domestic front. But something is only “political suicide” if there is a real chance that a substantial portion of the American populace will object to it – and how many of our citizens would really, truly object to the notion of cutting Israel loose (and setting us free in the process)? What's more likely is that it's not about public opinion at all, but about an entrenched power structure that has put one American president after the other on the ropes. But even discussing this power structure is forbidden, again for “political” reasons... so the prospects for any real change are virtually non-existent. So we are fated to see this same sorry scenario repeated time and time again -- David slaying Goliath with words. And remember, we are talking about an "ally" here, not an enemy. And if our "ally" can treat us this this way, isn't that going to start giving some other people some very unsavory ideas?

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