The U.S.-Israeli friendship is genuine, but Obama and Bibi are sorely testing it beyond its traditional tensions.
Last week, administration anger against Israel and its prickly prime minister metastasized. “Fuck the Jews,” a leading official reportedly muttered. “They’ll vote for us anyway.” “We’re conducting foreign policy, this isn’t a synagogue,” the Secretary of State seethed, moaning that “instead of having a lubricant” for the peace process like Yitzhak Rabin, America is stuck with “sandpaper like Netanyahu.” “Netanyahu just drove us crazy… because he was just unbelievably difficult,” the Secretary of State continued, recalling recent negotiations. Israel’s Prime Minister has declared this “one of the worst periods in American-Israeli relations.”
American-Israel relations have turned bizarre. In 2013, Barack Obama offended Benjamin Netanyahu by not addressing the Knesset; in 2015, Netanyahu offended Obama by addressing the US Congress. This latest Netanyahu-Barack brouhaha isn’t really about protocols and partisanship. It’s about poisonous personal chemistry between America’s president and Israel’s prime minister, expressed now in their clash over Iran. Still, worrywarts take heart: the enduring American-Israel friendship will outlast these two temporary leaders.
Since the times of Noah, we’ve valued privacy. So why are Americans so conflicted about it now?
Last Friday’s White House traveling summit on cybersecurity at Stanford University featured sophisticated discourse about Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Centers and ISAOs—information sharing and analysis organizations. Underlying this Geek Speak, the attendees, led by President Barack Obama, faced some fundamental dilemmas rooted in the Bible, the “don’t tread on me” American Revolution, and the Constitution, complicated by our Information Age miracles. They debated: “what is privacy,” and “how to maximize both personal freedom and public safety?”
You really surprised and impressed us. Enlisting was enough of a stretch for an immigrant- by-parental-choice with American college aspirations. But with your characteristic zeal and skill, you just finished officer training school. Last Tuesday, watching you march in your crisp army fatigues and get pinned, was surrealistic. Never having served in the army, always having assumed you would do your required minimum and move on, I found the ceremony delightfully unfamiliar and awe-inspiring.
Hillary Clinton has to make the case that her presidency will accomplish something, despite the hate that goes back to the 1980s.
If, in the 1960s, paranoids yelled, “The Russians are coming,” today’s more credible cry should be, “the Hillary haters are coming.” As the most famous Hillary convert David Brock squabbles with former Barack Obama supporters over control of Hillary Clinton’s shadow presidential campaign, the Hillary haters are crawling out from under their rocks. Since she became a national figure in 1992, Hillary Rodham Clinton has been one of the most famous, yet polarizing, Americans.
Bibi Netanyahu’s “Bibi-sitter” ads got one thing right. This election feels juvenile. Apparently, I missed the memo, but it seems that politicians and reporters have agreed to make Israeli politics an idea-free zone. Focusing on the timbre of the opposition leader’s voice, the gap between the settlers’ leader’s front teeth, and the deposits redeeming the prime minister’s bottles, prevents important discussions about the tone of the political debate, the gaps between rich and poor, as well as the intellectual, ideological, political and financial investments needed to redeem the Zionist dream.
The toxic resurgence of political correctness goes back beyond the American campus to Trotsky, Mao and Che.
Jonathan Chait’s thought-provoking New York magazine article, “Not A Very P.C. Thing to Say,” challenges “the language police” for “perverting liberalism.” Sadly, predictably, critics have proved Chait’s point, continuing to reduce intellectual debate to an essentialism based on an essayist’s biology rather than an essay’s validity. One critic dismissed him as a “sad white man” and a “petulant man-baby.” The history of Political Correctness Chait sketches is too telescoped, however. The impulse’s roots run deeper, while its presence on campus has been more constant—and toxic.
Henry Clay, Lincoln, Mandela and King all show how far America has come—but also has to go—on race.
One hundred fifty years ago, on Jan. 31, 1865, Congress passed the 13thAmendment to the Constitution banning slavery. This week also marks 165 years since Henry Clay introduced the 1850 Compromise trying to heal his divided country, 25 years since Nelson Mandela was freed from prison, and six years (and a week) since Barack Obama became the first African-American to deliver the State of the Union Address. And despite all the issues that still exist, these four points on history’s graph plot out a near-miraculous trajectory of racial progress. America’s race problem has been solved!
Can America’s ‘I’m-Ok-You’re-OK’ overly-psychological culture handle Islamism’s ‘I’m-Ok-Die-Infidel!’ death cult.
Barack Obama seems ready to fight. In his State of the Union address he boasted about “assisting people everywhere who stand up to the bankrupt ideology of violent extremism.” To demonstrate his determination, he will host a conference on the subject on Feb. 18. The White House announcement emphasized that this summit will study strategies for involving “education administrators, mental health professionals, and religious leaders.”
No other recent president combined substance, empathy and a zest for the job like Bill Clinton did when he gave his State of the Union address. Obama should study up.
This weekend, President Barack Obama is perfecting his State of the Union address, to be delivered on Tuesday. Just as basketball players watch clips of old stars like Dr. J. or Julius Erving—Obama’s boyhood hero—the president might want to download President Bill Clinton’s addresses. I would particularly recommend Clinton’s 1998 and 1999 speeches. Perhaps by watching this political virtuoso, Obama can get his speechmaking mojo back.