Yes, the administration has an open mic problem — but it’s still really not surprising that President Barack Obama would disparage Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to French President Nicholas Sarkozy. He hasn’t exactly shown himself eager to do whatever possible to demonstrate his commitment to the U.S.’ continued friendship with Israel.
The president’s gaffe was largely glossed over on the campaign trail — perhaps because sexual harassment allegations against Herman Cain have consumed so much of the oxygen of the race lately. But at least two GOP contenders didn’t let the president’s thoughtless comments go unnoticed.
In a recent statement, Mitt Romney said Obama’s bad attitude is yet another indicator of the need for new leadership:
“President Obama’s derisive remarks about Israel’s Prime Minister confirm what any observer would have gleaned from his public statements and actions toward our longstanding ally, Israel,” Romney said in a statement. “At a moment when the Jewish state is isolated and under threat, we cannot have an American president who is disdainful of our special relationship with Israel. We have here yet another reason why we need new leadership in the White House.”
And Michele Bachmann said the incident provides the president with an opportunity to demonstrate leadership — if only he’ll take it:
“I call on President Obama to immediately apologize to Prime Minister Netanyahu and I also believe that the president should demonstrate leadership and demand that the French President Sarkozy do the same,” Bachmann told reporters on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner in a Newsmax interview published last night exhorted Obama to polish his manners toward Israel, in general.
“And I just think we’ve gone way over the line. Israel is our ally,” Boehner said. “They’ve been our friends for 60 years. When you look at that part of the world, it’s the one ally year in and year out, day in and day out and frankly, I think they should be treated better.”
Far from treating Israel preferentially, Obama seems to think he can place all the pressure for an agreement between Israel and Palestine on Israel — and yet somehow still maintain that he has Israel’s best interests at heart.
The U.S. has, fortunately, all but assured the failure of the Palestinian bid for full recognition from the United Nations — but the Palestinians aren’t about to abandon their attempts to circumvent the negotiation process. Now’s not a time for the president to be anything but supportive of Bibi — in public and (presumably) private settings.