Posted by: theoptimisticconservative | May 21, 2011

The Remarkable Clarifying Powers of Obama

I don’t think I’ve ever seen an international issue clarified in as little time as the 26 hours or so it took to get from “1967 lines” to “No way.”  And we have President Obama to thank for it.

In all the discussion of how he was schooled and taken to the woodshed by Prime Minister Netanyahu, there has been little recognition of the fact that Bibi had no choice but to say what he did in the press conference on Friday.

Some pundits with specialized knowledge of the “peace process” rushed out after the Obama speech to insist that the president was merely articulating a negotiating position long accepted by both the US and Israel.  With all due respect to them, that’s not the point.  Negotiation itself is a process with rules dictated by human nature.  The substance of a particular negotiating position isn’t the only thing that matters; it matters equally, and very often more, that one party to negotiations have leverage, or bargaining chips, to get the other party to meet him halfway.

By proclaiming a US position on the pre-1967 armistice line, as a starting point, Obama removed any leverage Israel had in negotiating the “land swaps” he referred to, as well as in bargaining over the other conditions at issue.  There is a big difference between accepting an Israeli negotiating position, and announcing that the US will tolerate only that specific negotiating position.

As to why Obama did this, I believe it was largely an effort to make a bold, galvanizing announcement – one designed to prod the parties back to the table – without straying outside the boundaries of what his team regards as the tacit understanding achieved since Oslo.  The president threw bones to everyone in his speech, in a sort of score-keeping attempt at tending all constituencies.  In offering a catalyst to his anti-Israel base, he did not want to alienate pro-Israel constituencies in the US.  He needs more than his base to get reelected.  The speech reflected this, checking off a series of constituency-appeal blocks while ultimately offering almost no specifics.

But of the few real specifics it contained, one was a condition Netanyahu knew he could not reenter negotiations under prejudice from.  If you’re negotiating for a new car, and you’re haggling at $20,000, you don’t tell the salesman you’re willing to go to $22,000.  You hang in there and make him “incentivize” you to go higher with add-ons or other concessions.  If he simply won’t come down from $25,000, you may even walk away, because that deal just doesn’t work for you.  But if your wife is there giving you “spouse eye” and audibly whispering, “Honey, I want this car, give the man $25,000,” does that aid your negotiation or hinder it?

If Obama had merely recommitted America to seeking a resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, without staking out a specific parameter for the negotiations, I doubt Bibi would have made the statements he did in the press conference on Friday.  It all could have been left unsaid, for who knows how many more months.  But Obama backed him into a corner by announcing a US position based on the pre-1967 armistice line.  Failing to address that prejudicial announcement – appearing with the American president in seeming accord – would have made Israel look weak and out of options.  Israel can’t afford that; indeed, no nation in that part of the world can.

So Bibi said what had to be said.  Where Obama had stepped in and outlined a position the US has no business delineating, Netanyahu said what only the prime minister of Israel is in a position to say.  It was not Obama’s place to say any of these things – that the “right of return” demand is “not gonna happen,” that the pre-1967 armistice line is not acceptable as a border – any more than it was his place to impose the pre-1967 line as a condition.  The purpose Obama served – however inadvertently – was getting Bibi to say these things.  And say them from the White House, sitting next to the president of the United States, to boot.

Obama served this purpose by hearkening to his particular muse: the Muse of Campaigning.  I’m not sure he has ever heard from the Muse of Negotiation, but in the case of his Middle East speech, the two muses had conflicting advice.

Obama isn’t the first American president to give short shrift to the fundamentals of negotiation; most of our presidents know little about it.  As a superpower, we are essentially a continent-size island with only two land borders, and our chief executive is his own separate branch of government, intended to counterbalance the legislature rather than emerging from it after years of parliamentary sausage-making.  It is rare for our presidents to enter the office with any meaningful experience in negotiation, and even rarer for them to appreciate it as a political discipline and be good at it.

But I don’t know that we’ve ever had a president who seemed, as much as Obama does, to live in a galaxy far, far away from “negotiation,” the human concept.  It’s not that he appears to dismiss the ramifications of his actions for ongoing negotiations; it’s that they don’t even seem to occur to him.  In one of the most counterintuitive episodes in a long time, it took an attitude this blunderingly dysfunctional to corner the consummate statesman Benjamin Netanyahu and induce him to say, bluntly and unequivocally, what had to be said about Israel’s irreducible requirements for survival.

J.E. Dyer’s articles have appeared at Hot Air’s Green Room, Commentary’s “contentions,Patheos, and The Weekly Standard online.


Responses

  1. The President is an enigma. It is almost inconceivable that someone could win his high office yet be so deficient in leadership. He appears to lack even a working comprehension of the difference between strategy and tactics. Everything he does has the appearance of tactical maneuvering. Looking at his maneuvering reminds me of playing chess with my nine year old son; some moves are pretty good but he always looses to me because he doesn’t have a winning stategy like, for example, control the middle of the board.

    • Welcome, 1077westernave. My apologies for the delay in your comment appearing; there’s a one-time “approval,” after which your comments appear automatically. Join the fun any time.

    • He really is, by some measures, perhaps the most unaccomplished and unimpressive people to have ever won the office. (Not to say that being impressive and accomplished is either necessary or sufficient for success [e.g. Madison, Buchanan) .

      The reality is he has never really had a job for very long and was never especially effective at the ones he did hold. A little mediocre “Community Organizing”, a little – yes, very little – practicing law, some time in the legislature – notably sans virtually any accomplishments therein – hence the lack of negotiating experience.

      I’m not saying that he’s not intelligent or could not have gotten and perhaps done well in some challenging situations. One can talk about affirmative action and grade inflation at HLS all one likes but even accounting for all that no one graduates from there MCL without being very intelligent and having put in some amount of work. (FWIW, I know several people from his year there – 2 of them in his 1st Year section, one an absolutely brilliant Afrikan American most emphatically in no need of any preference to have attained any of her many accomplishments- and all say he was meaningfully more able than many of his classmates though by no means considered one of the absolute stars of the class).

      Nor is it that he did not have access to any number of challenging positions which were open to him not only on the basis of his status as the first Afrikan American President of the Law Review but also because of his very real academic accomplishments, but he did not choose to take advantage of them. There may have been many reasons for this, but one can’t help thinking, and this notion is supported by what we have seen of him in office, that laziness is a not insubstantial character trait where the “Good Professor” is concerned.

  2. The ‘funny’ thing is that if Israel & the US, if they are friends, then Obama could have, in a pre-talk, simply clarified matters that he was forced to backtrack on.

    http://myrightword.blogspot.com/2011/05/obama-extreme-optimist.html

    • Indeed. That would have been un-Obama-like, but it certainly could have been done.

      Israel isn’t the only ally Obama has surprised with these weird little policy explosions. For all his administration’s talk of “smart power,” Obama seems to have not one advisor who counsels him on the basics of diplomacy and statecraft.

      Readers, check out the My Right Word link — worth a read (as always).

      • We know how closely he has kept British secrets and the extent of the courtesy extended to Poland and the Czech Republic.

  3. Indeed. It would seem Barry didn’t take advantage of Harvard Law’s famous negotiation program.

    OT, OC but it’s noteworthy that POTUS has managed to provide a dramatically greater distraction from all the wonderful goings on of the “Arab Spring”, most notably the festivities in Syria, than the Iranians/Baby Assad/Hamas/ could have fantasized about as they engaged in their little Nakba-associated pranks. This is the one of the biggest stories in the world at the moment (perhaps the biggest story the last couple of days) completely wiping the ongoing slaughter out of the news (not that it has ever been that prominantely featured.

    • Good point, and not really off-topic, I think. Obama made it clear in his speech that he buys the theme in which the Arab-Israeli conflict and the issue of “Israel” figure as THE nexus of politics and passion in the Middle East. With his brand of “explosive policy movement” this week, he has done much to bolster that theme, even if it was done unintentionally.

      Whatever he thinks he said, here’s what the world heard:

      Blah blah boilerplate mumble mumble Arab Spring yada yada blather blather ISRAEL!!! ISRAEL!!! ISRAEL!!! Thunder lightning explosions headlines noise fury ISRAEL!!! ISRAEL!!! ISRAEL!!! Drum roll cymbals…
      CLONK (the noise made by the Netanyahu pushback from the Oval Office)

      • And in the process he hardly endeared himself to the Arab world as an “even handed” peace broker by having Bibi* give him that dressing down in the White House – although, as you say, the later really had no choice.

        Incidentally, Bibi and I are old pals (almost 20 years standing). I was an intern at Good Morning America in DC and when he was supposed to come on the show one day (as he often did) my producer (who knew I admired him) called me even though I wasn’t scheduled to be in that day – it was a Monday. We had a couple of extensive discussions that lasted, in the aggregate, almost 3 minutes. I mentioned to him that I had written a paper in school about his brother. When I saw him next just about exactly 10 years later (at the Mark in Manhattan a couple of months after 9/11) I came up to him and mentioned our previous meeting and he actually remembered the bit about the paper. Pretty amazing considering the literally thousands of similar encounters he must have had in the interim.

        • That’s interestinbg, cavalier, but not surprising. I think Bibi would be more likely to remember someone who had written about his brother Yonatan than just about anything else.

      • In fact, media commentary worldwide was extremely positive. Go check. Your own reaction shows (given your extreme views on this issue) that you well understood the import of the speech.

        The ‘CLONK’ was, of course, the sound of Netanyahu throwing himself under a bus (yet again).

        • OC’s views may indeed be at variance with those of many among the bien pensant but that speaks to absurd and contemptible nature of the latter .

          As for Netanyahu, its hard to identify a 3 year period in his life, howsoever indolent, where he didn’t accomplish significantly more than Obama had in the entirety of Obama’s prior to his ascension to the Presidency.

          • I’ve never been a “bien pensant” – I’m more a ‘mal pensant’ really.

            And never let it be said that I don’t consider furniture salespersons to be vital to the health and future of western civilization.

            By the way, isn’t it wonderful that you can speak French so fluently.

            A bientot.

            • Wait, mon Dieu, are we discussing the relative merits of the employment histories of these two men as if that really matters regarding their grasp of geo-politics, et al.? Why can’t we review the academic histories of their fathers? But I will admit that Barry plays much better basketball then Netanyahu.

              • To be fair, there are many highly educated people with decades of immersion in the consideration and practice of diplomacy (indeed a majority of such people) whose views are much closer to those of Obama than Netanyahu.

            • At the very least Je suis plus certain, doch ganz bestimmt, dass ich viele mehr Spreche als der Obama sprechen kann. Pour certain ce n’ais pas bolshoie dostizhenie.

            • One would think that our Hostess, in light of her prior occupation, is herself a rather proficient linguist.

  4. You make me laugh (yet again) with your inability to comprehend the irony in your argument.

    There you go criticizing the president for his supposed lack of negotiating skills (As if a civil servant like yourself were an expert in same) Any lawyer would tell you that the one fundamental of negotiations is that no-one negotiates for real until they are taken out of their comfort zone and put under pressure. Your oft-repeated mantra is that the United Startes must never put Israel under pressure. Adherence to that mantra by a succession of US administrations has gotten us exactly nowhere with the Israelis.

    Netanyahu’s problem is that for the first time in a very long time he is being taken out of his comfort zone – not because the president has said anything really new about US policy on the parameters of a solution to this conflict (he hasn’t) – but because he is facing a president who might actually mean what he says rather than mouthing bromides about peace while at the same time winking slyly in the direction of the Israelis.

    Netanyahu has come to Washington, not to further peace, but to bury it with the assistance of his friends in the Republican right-wing and AIPAC. Negotiation isn’t what he has in mind. Buying time to continue the colonization of the West Bank is his objective. He is also trying to buy time in the forlorn hope that Obama won’t be re-elected and he will again be back in his comfort-zone dealing with a Republican administration that is prepared to place the interests of Israeli extremists ahead of the long term foreign-policy interests of the United States.

    It is also bemoaned by those who put the objectives of the Israeli right-wing before the interests of the United States that Netanhahu doesn’t “trust” Obama, and that Obama needs to regain that trust. “Trust” in this case presumably means “trust to do what he is told”. In fact, Obama is dead right in refusing to kowtow to this foreign ethnocrat. The good negotiator knows that uncertainty in the mind of your opponent is one of your best weapons.

    The panic among the Likudists – here and in Israel – is testimony to the fact that their campaign (and their excuse-of-the-day policy) is running out of road – and also testimony to the fact that in Obama the Israeli rejectionists have finally come face to face with a poker-player rather than a pussycat.

    • “Panic”? To borrow from the sports world, Obama has pitched one very slowly for Netanyahu. How can the President not grasp that first saying 1`967 borders and then mentioning Jerusalem, for example, is simply allowing the Arabs literally to get away with murder. All that’s left, from their perspective after all the new neighborhood areas are ‘returned’, is to arrange for how many Jews at what time on on what days will be permitted to get to the Western Wall. Delirious with joy at this American gift, who needs to negotiate peace?

      • You obviously didn’t hear his speech then.

        He made it clear that the large Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem would be incorporated into Israel and that the Palestinians would have to concede on this point.
        He also made it clear that there would be no right of return for Palestinian refugees, and that the Palestinians would have to concede on this point also.
        On both these points he prempted the bargaining position of the Palestinians.

        Otherwise he re-affirmed long-standing US policy.

        Finally, he said that the status of Jerusalem (including any division of the metropolitain area) and the matter of the Christian, Jewish, and Moslem holy places would depend on negotiations.

        Basically, he has pre-empted Abbas’ bargaining position and given Netanyahu what he has always said were his baseline requirements.

        Of course, what has happened is that he has called Netanyahu’s bluff, because Netanyahu doesen’t want to bargain at all. He wants to kill the negotiations because his real objective is to have a free hand to continue the colonization of the West bank and Arab East Jerusalem.

        Obviously, if the Jewish land-grab continues there will be no possibility of any Palestinian state. In which case, is Netanyahu prepared to give the non-Jews of his Greater Israel equal status and protection under the law, or is it his aim to corall them into smaller and smaller Bantistans and ghettoes?

        • Actually, decadent that I am, I do own a TV and a computer so I did watch, almost real-time. But there are ommissions you do realize. Even a St. Louis newspaper understands what you do not: “Obama endorsed Palestinians’ demands for the borders of its future state based on 1967 borders — before the Six Day War in which Israel occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. That was a significant shift in U.S. foreign policy.” The phrase “contiguous state” must mean that Gaza and Judea & Samaria are to be joined/linked which means Israel is to be split even if by a tunnel or bridge. How practical is that? Is Israel guilty of “endless delay” after its moratorium and Bibi accepting in principle a Pal. state? Afrer Barak and Olmert giving all away but refused?

          The point is the Pals. do not want a state. They just want the Jews not to have one. It really is that simple and plain.

          Why would Obama suggest there might be a need to “prevent a resurgence of terrorism” if there’sd peace unless, of course, he knows that this peace will not mean closure for the Pals. They want it all, in stages.

          Why would Obama ask: “How can one negotiate with a party that has shown itself unwilling to recognize your right to exist?” when the question should be “Why should Israel be pressured to so negotiate?” Obviously he will nudge us on that as well just like the UK has moved in that direction.

          So, you see, I do read. Do you?

          • No. Noone but those who are intent on misconstruing what Obama said thinks for a moment that “contiguous” was meant to mean anything other than the removal of the patchwork of illegal Israeli settlements and Jews-only roads from the West Bank (other than those in East Jerusalem which Obama has told the Palestinians must be conceded to Israel). These settlements and roads are what is making the West Bank non-contiguous.

            Barak and Olmert didn’t give anything away. In fact they offered no schedule for the removal of the illegal settlements. No access for the Palestinians to their aquafer. Instead, they offered a permanent Israeli occupation of the Jordan Valley. At the same time, in an act of bad faith, and in spite of the Oslo promises, they presided over the continuing colonization of the West Bank by Jewish settlers.

            The leaks to Al-Jeezera of the Palestinian position in the recent negotiations shows that the Palestinians both want a state, and were prepared to make fundamental consessions to that end. I could just as easily say that the Israelis don’t want their own state (don’t they already have Brooklyn?), and only wish to stop the Palestinians having one. The fact is that both sides want their own independent state for the same reasons as people everywhere aspire to independence.

            There are violent rejectionist elements on both sides. These minorities will have to be faced down – by force if necessary – and a settlement will need to provide for this.

            How can the Palestinians be expected to negotiate with an Israeli giovernment which contains elements who not only reject the idea of a Palestinian state, but would gladly “cleanse” the West Bank of all non-Jews if they had the chance?

            In reality, each side will have to negotiate with the other as it finds them.

  5. Well OptiCon, it appears that you have confronted your intellectual superior.

    Paulite certainly has you pegged as nothing more than a very tedious, uninformed, yet officious, civil servant bimbo.

    Let’s see you rationalize your way out of this snake pit.

    You should really learn to play poker. 🙂

    • You exaggerate somewhat.

      I merely said she lacked a sense of irony.

      I certainly don’t consider her my intellectual inferior, officious, or a bimbo. In fact I understand some of the big words she uses even less than she does.

      p.s. I’m a rotten poker player

      • But you would at least agree that she is a tedious, uninformed, civil servant; yes?

        • I will not be drawn.

          • Fine. Then I’m taking my ball and bat and going home.

      • The serious warming problem on Mars trumps all of that of course.

  6. BHO believes that mastering the nuances of international diplomacy would have negative effects on his fairway wood play and jump shot. So he leaves that to Samantha Power and Cass Sunstein. They’re the ones putting the words on his teleprompter. But nobody voted for them.

    • and not too many folks voted for Nancy Reagan’s astrologer either.

      some folks do understand that when they vote for a president they’re gonna get an administration.

  7. Comparing the holder of Kennan’s old post, the chief of State Dept Planning, and one of his most importan t domestic policy players, with an acquaintance of Nancy Reagan, lol.

    • I agree and, believe me, anyone who would be well acquainted with Nancy Reagan wouldn’t be fit to hold a serious job in government.

      but you can fool most of the people some of the time, especially if the stars are aligned.

  8. The President is the embodiment of Chauncey Gardener. Sellers greatest role is a spot on metaphor our President that spends his time Being There.

  9. Why does anyone think that a new round of negotiations will end up any differently than all the previous ones? What leverage does Obama have–is he going to cut off aid to Israel? Does anyone really think the Israelis will talk to Hamas? That the Palestinians will renounce the “Right of Return”? That any Palestinian government can enforce any agreement that the Israelis could live with?

    There isn’t going to be any agreement, as has been clear since 2000. The Israelis need to transition from a focus on negotiations to a strategy for dealing with Palestinians AS INDIVIDUALS, within the framework of the incorporation of most or all of the territories into Israel. The Israelis need to determine the terms on which they want to offer citizenship to individual Palestinians, perhaps starting with Palestinians who need protection from their own government(s).

    • And what do you propose the Israelis offer to the Palestinian “individuals” they don’t want to offer citizenship to after incorporating most or all of the territories into Israel?

      Or would they intend offering Israeli citizenship to all or most of the Palestinian individuals on the West Bank?

      And would this be citizenship with equal legal rights for all religions – like citizens in civilized Western Democracies?

      I would be delighted to hear what you have in mind.

      • I would take it one step at a time–annex piece by piece, in direct response to terror attacks and the like, offer Israeli citizenship (and protection) first of all to Palestinians who directly request it and are willing to separate themselves from Palestinian institutions and support for violence toward Israel. Make things very difficult for Palestinians who continue to support violence against Israelis, and expel any who are overtly involved in planning violence. Keep giving individual Palestinians as stark a choice as possible, which would mean making the citizenship offer a good one, identical to that enjoyed by Israeli Arabs. Israel could handle that in a piecemeal fashion, and then we’ll see–maybe that would put enough pressure on Palestinians outside of Israeli controlled territory to focus on improving their lives rather than demonizing Israel so that they might make themselves fit to join Jordan or even federate with Israel down the road. But stay focused on what you can do now, and on incentives for the short and medium term–leave the big deals and final settlements aside.

        Palestinians who neither support violence nor want citizenship pose a problem–maybe Israel can just gradually treat them as citizens, even if it’s against their will, if they stay out of trouble.

        • and what, my good adam, are you planning on doing with all the people living on that land who do not wish to be annexed?

          and all the people living on the rest of the planet, including the US. who will be very opposed to the annexation?

          nobody gave the Israelis the West Bank and even their one ally and protector isn’t gonna let them hold onto it.

          it’s not in the interests of the US to allow that. the PA has given up fighting Israel and we’re not going to let the Israelis ignore that fact to our detriment.

          We’ve supported Israel long and hard and defended them against much, but offense ain’t defense and we’re not up for an Israel that steals what it neither owns nor needs.

          • It will take time, a more fed up Israeli public, a more sympathetic American government–but in the long run there will be no alternative. A gradual absorption of the territories and its inhabitants who aren’t consumed with killing Israelis and destroying Israel would be better than management by competing terror gangs.

          • I don’t agree that the PA has given up fighting Israel. There are constant attacks against Israel from supposedly PA controlled territory. Their fight is merely less overt and intended to carry a denial that is plausible to their supporters. If they are going to govern, they have to take the responsibility to control their people.

            And not everyone in the US would think that annexation is unjustified. Israel need only wait for the next rocket or mortar attack on their civilians, launched from Palestinian-occupied territory to have a justification for making their own cross-border incursion and taking away the source of such attacks. They need not wait long: tomorrow or the next day.

            Disposition of the Palestinian occupants would be a troublesome problem, however, as nobody wants them.

    • Obama would love to (or would at least very seriously consider) eliminate or cut aid to Israel if he could.

      • “If he could” is the operative term.

  10. Incompetence seems to be the reason or excuse given for Obama’s stumbling here. While that is quite true for this disaster of a man, and granted that he is surrounded by a most overrated group of nobodies, what was at work primarily was his preferences, or prejudices. It is depressing to observe that after all this time, both before and after the election, people on the conservative side cannot grasp that apart from dullness, make no mistake, he is dull like in slow, he desires a partiality of policy to the less attractive elements in the Mid East. and elsewhere I might add. I emphasize “less attractive”. Of course he’s a bumbler and surrounded by bumblers, but does that exclude a vicious element at work? A little late and past due, but time to wake up with what we are stuck with.

    • mostly, you’re stuck with your own ignorance, john.

      anybody old enough to have experienced the Reagan presidency should know better than to call Obama mentally dull.

      • anyone obtuse enough to imply that Reagan’s clarity of principle equates to mental dullness mistakes verbal facility for wisdom.

        • Reagan was certainly able to deliver his lines clearly and his principles also were clear and simple. What he wasn’t was of of more than average intelligence or even average in working hours for a president. He also was inattentive to detail to the point where he was able to defend himself from criminal charges by presenting the defense that he was ignorant of all the felonious behavior of his subordinates.

          It’s pretty funny to read the bilge from john and others about Obama’s deficiencies while thinking of Reagan.

          • read Time magazines publication of Reagan’s many personal letters to Nancy and friends, which real a deep, penetrating and active intelligence and then reiterate the charge that Reagan was of only average intelligence. They are quite an eye opener.

            Reagan was unafraid to delegate, he understood that leadership consists of leading a team…which entails clearly outlining the goals to be achieved and the principles under which those goals are to be pursued. Bringing on board qualified people whom one trusts, providing them with the tools and direction necessary to achieve those goals and then getting out of their way is true leadership.

            Reagan was also the oldest President to ever serve and recognized that pacing himself, which requires rest in your 80’s, was necessary for him to do the job. Given his accomplishments as President, it was a wise strategy.

            Were Obama to achieve the equivalent, he’d have to end Islamic terrorism and jump start the economy into robust, long term growth and health. Until he achieves that, comparison to Reagan leaves Obama sadly wanting.

            • Geoffrey, nothing of what I said is rebutted by those letters. I’ve read them and quite a few other things, including appraisals of this friends and biographers.

              —–” Bringing on board qualified people whom one trusts…”—

              and when those qualified people are tried for and convicted of crimes of misfeasance and the president only escapes indictment by pleading no memory of events, then trust is not well-placed, either by the president or the electorate.

              • The pervasive and massive corruption of the Obama regime is almost as legendary as the many deficiencies of Barry himself. Reagan was certainly of far more than average intelligence, even as per the routine (even if in some respects utterly meaningless) IQ points.

                Obama is probably somewhat higher in respect of pure intelligence and indeed I give him every benefit of the doubt on this point (as per my very generous, nay even indulgent comment above) but for all that one is sometimes amazed at his stumbling over his lines (even in the speech on Thursday), his lack of fluency and an occasional slowness in unscripted moments, his frequently poor performance when under any kind of rhetorical pressure.

                As I say, this is not necessarily attributable to lack of intelligence but perhaps at least in part to deception. He must believe that the American people are too dumb to realize all that he is doing for them, too prejudiced to give him a chance and so feels the need to obfuscate. Even so, his inability to obfuscate with greater ease is puzzling. To be sure, his profound and often exhibited ignorance on many matters is hardly helpful (here too, perhaps he knows more than he lets on but wishes to conceal this knowledge for the purpose of making his rhetorical and ideological arguments).

                And obviously, his laziness is extraordinary and justly celebrated. As Geoffrey writes above Reagan was a man more than 20 years Barry’s senior and had to manage his workload. The latter has not such justifications.

      • fuster, “Ignorance” is when you lamely defend someone by faulting someone else. A reasonably intelligent child would realize that B being stupid doesn’t change A’s mental capacities, assuming B is stupid in the first place. If you can’t choose your insults with more flair and imagination, at least reach for your $4.95 pocket dictionary, perhaps the only book you have or know, and look up non sequitur. Have someone read it to you. Then try thinking. There’s always a first time. As for Reagan V Obama, well you have informed me of your political judgment and it agrees with your own overall intelligence. I surmise therefore you share more with Obama than just his politics. BTW, compare Reagan with Gorbachev in Iceland, then this bumbling fool with Bibi in the WH, Enjoy those $1.6trillion deficits baby, while you can.

        • ignorance is not knowing that intelligence and hours spent working in a particular job, held in succession and for a term, are relative as much as absolute.

    • Greetings, Einstein.

      And what exactly, pray, was the “stumble” of which you speak?

      And what led you to deduce that it was his preferences or prejudices that were “at work”?

      And what great office of state do you occupy that renders the President’s advisors “nobodies” in comparison to your eminent self?

      And, isn’t is such a pity that the American people are so stupid (in comparison to yourself, of course) that they elected such a bumbling idiot – and after 2 years of seeing his form, he is still riding high in the polls. You must be so ashamed of us.

      • “And, isn’t is such a pity that the American people are so stupid (in comparison to yourself, of course) that they elected such a bumbling idiot –and after 2 years of seeing his form, he is still riding high in the polls. You must be so ashamed of us.”

        Ashamed? Of course not. We pity the unfortunate that were born with, and must endure life, through the ravages of acute mental incapacitation. Condemned to live out their lives totally dependent upon the charity and custodial supervision of the state.

        What we are ashamed of is that in such a great nation as ours, we have been unable to find a remedy for this affliction that is so prevalent in our society and so manifestly embodied in individuals such as you.

        But, on the brighter side (so to speak), you’re better entertainment than watching TV. 🙂

      • Paulite, if there is a rebuttal in the slop you posted I fail to see it. Churlishness will get you nowhere. Obama was made to look a fool in his WH meeting. A man who needs a teleprompter to speak to school children is a man who must be kept on a short leash by his handlers, his polices have been miserable failures, his treatment of allies is clumsy, his plain contempt for the public expressed in his policies, is obvious, do you require a tutorial, and with all the contempt and more that Normal People could heap on this loser, he is trying his best to throw Israel to the wolves, the muslim wolves.
        Go back to 1949 borders? With people who fanatically wish to destroy you? See above, and don’t bother me. And don’t lump the American people into one dumb, sheep like mass, speak for yourself. Bye

  11. The expression “can’t see the forest for the trees” comes to mind.

    Obama isn’t interested in negotiations. He’s not interested in using any kind of leverage by the US to help achieve a sustainable resolution to the conflict.

    All his words are “smoke and mirrors”. Designed to obscure his real goal, which is to incrementally pressure Israel into an increasingly publicly perceived posture of a rogue nation and obstacle to peace in the M.E. Once that public perception achieves a political ‘tipping point’ he can pull US economic and military aid to Israel and back UN resolutions designed to economically strangle Israel. Reaching the point where Obama can overtly take action against Israel is going to take years, certainly after the 2012 US election. All of the posturing prior to that tipping point is preparation for Obama’s long term goal regarding Israel.

    Obama does not merely favor the Palestinians, he is a covert enemy of Israel, actively opposed to its very existence… but aware that he cannot publicly acknowledge that fact or even allow his words and behavior to rise to the level where denial of these accusations is untenable.

    Obama is a committed ideologue and not only an enemy of Israel but opposed to the national sovereignty of the US. He’s a traitor in sheep’s clothing.

    But a traitor who’s smart enough to never come out of the closet.

    • Sorry Geoffrey, I hadn’t read your comment here when I made some similar points in response to Fuster above. I allow that perhaps you’re being a bit harsh on Barry here but would hardly rule out the possibility that you are entirely correct.

  12. “(Obama’s) real objective is to..pressure Isreal into a…perceived posture of a rogue nation and obstacle to peace…..”

    If it is, he’s way behind the curve.

    Netanyahu did that long ago.

    • were the M.E.’s Islamists to abandon violence, Israel would make almost any sacrifice to achieve peace.

      were Israel to abandon the willingness to react with violence, Israel would cease to exist and genocide against Israeli’s would arise.

      only someone who engages in intentional obtuseness can label Israel as the obstacle to peace in the ME

  13. ===”Obama isn’t interested in negotiations. He’s not interested in using any kind of leverage by the US to help achieve a sustainable resolution to the conflict.”===

    that’s a rather absurd opinion, Geoffrey and you haven’t anything but your own smoke with which to buttress it.

    • I have much to buttress that observation fuster, it is not a view that I quickly nor cavalierly adopted. Circumstantial evidence can rise to the level of certainty for those whose agenda and world-view do not prevent objective consideration of observed evidence and behavior. Laying that behavior and circumstantial evidence out however, for someone whose mind is already set upon dismissal is an exercise in futility. We’ve all had plenty of time to observe Obama and anyone who can’t acknowledge what’s easily seen, doesn’t want to see it, nor will they acknowledge it without reality compelling them to do so.

      “Once in a while, we stumble upon the truth, will you face it or decide to pick yourself up and hurry along, as if nothing had happened?” Churchill paraphrased

      “All truth passes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed; Second, it is violently opposed; and Third, it is accepted as self-evident.” — Arthur Schopenhauer

      “When you’re one step ahead of the crowd, you’re a genius.
      When you’re two steps ahead, you’re a crackpot.” — Rabbi Shlomo Riskin

      “Talk sense to a fool and he calls you foolish!” Euripides

      • Geoffrey, sorry but I’m not Obama’s biggest fan nor closed to criticism of him based on fact. Feelings don’t impress me quite as much as I have seen you to be someone who, on occasion, let’s feeling carry a bit too much of the argument.

        I don’t doubt your sincerity or your intelligence, but, in past discussions, I have found you to overestimate the capabilities of people who are not aligned with interests p the US and exaggerate their number, their malignity and the danger that they pose.
        Similarly, I read your criticism of Obama to be over-broad and you allow yourself to write of him as less than what he is due to his not sharing YOUR world-view, in you view, and ascribe to him things best ascribed to America’s enemies…and none of these things are evident, even circumstantially.

        • fuster,
          I accept your sincerity and your assessment of me is, of course your perfect right. I find your assessment of Obama to be a perfectly reasoned… rationalization.

          Time will tell if my estimates are overestimates or not. I actually wish for them to be but fear they are not.

          “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts.” – Daniel Patrick Moynahan …

          • well, Geoffrey, ‘slong as we’re trading opinions and not facts, we’re not treading on Sen Moynahan’s toes.

  14. I don’t think Obama made an error with regard to advancing negotiations. He tried to sway negotiations in favor of the Palestinians, and against Israel. In my opinion, Geoffrey is right that this is part of an attempt to demonize Israel in public opinion. It will succeed with a certain part of the public that has no concern about the nearly daily cross-border attacks on Israeli ciitizens, nor the expressed hostile intent of Israel’s neighbors.

    His incompetency arose from the advice of his Campaigning Muse, not his Negotiation Muse. From a campaign point of view, the meshuggenah goy got his putz in a ringer and tried to pull it out with a speech to AIPAC. I am not sure he succeeded. But American Jews are very forgiving of liberals. We shall see.

  15. Obama’s speech was just his latest attempt to ingratiate himself with the Islamic World and the Third World. Because his destiny is to be a world leader, and to bring about the proper role of Islam in world power and world affairs.

    Since the Arab Spring is about to deteriorate into the Islamic Extremism Renaissance, Obama needed to set the record straight — none of this was his fault; he had proposed a peaceful solution; and if that failed (as surely he knows it will), then he’s not to blame for the Muslim Brotherhood’s taking over the Middle East and, with Iran, driving Israel into the sea.

    The Israelis see his speech for what it is. Sadly, American Jews have not. Yet.

  16. fuster, quit while you’re behind, your attempts at sophistication are a parody of insecurity. So after the grossness directed at me by your limited imagination, of a sudden you are no big fan of Obama. You really do take people who you are no big fan of seriously, if not yourself. Now do try to pay more attention to the facts you pay cheap lip service to, and brace yourself. Recall that those facts may, can, should, lead to “feelings”. Not the kind you earlier exhibited, mindless and indefensible, but related to or connected with conclusions, ideas, positions, and don’t wet your panties, but principles as well.
    Oh, I almost forgot, Obama is trash. I waited for a response from you, forgot the old theological saying, “from nothing, nothing comes”. Buy Gold, for when we lose our status as a reserve currency, then stock up on canned beans. Just want to show you I care. It was fun while it lasted but I tired of using you as a target, Sayonara

  17. —“The hysterical way that American hawks reacted to the decision to cancel the missile defense plan is instructive for understanding how they define U.S. and allied security interests. Hawks tend to apply the same definition no matter which ally it is. According to this definition, U.S. and allied security depends on the U.S. endorsing the most confrontational and nationalistic policy view in the allied country, which in practice means that U.S. “support” for an ally becomes identified with American acquiescence to relatively hard-line nationalist allied policies, and any reluctance or refusal to acquiesce is dubbed betrayal, abandonment, or put under the catch-all label of appeasement. In this way, American hawks insist that the U.S. not only tolerate, but actively indulge Israeli intransigence regarding its settlements and occupation, and any attempt to challenge the allied government on these points is viewed as a hostile act.”—

    http://www.amconmag.com/larison/2011/05/29/hawks-and-allies/


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