President Obama went before the UN and delivered possibly the least credible, most irrelevant, and downright disappointing speeches of his career. A career which has seen its share of stunningly wonderful, eloquent ones. It is yet a another mark of how completely lost his presidency has become.
The major contention of this speech was that statehood would not come for the Palestinians at the UN, but rather must come through direct negotiations between the parties. He’s got it precisely wrong. Israel has guaranteed that negotiations between it and the Palestinians, even with U.S. mediation, cannot work and will never work.
France, in the form of Pres. Sarkozy, has it more or less right. The two parties must be given strict time tables and even parameters for negotiation and told that if they fail the UN will recognize a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders. And that if Israel refuses to accept the outcome it will be subject to UN sanctions.
At this point, this is the only language Israel can understand. I hate to express things this baldly since I am a supporter of Israel. But supporting a country means leading it away from the precipice when necessary.
Speaking of precipices, Obama ought to take a very close look at the staff who’ve served him so poorly on this one. Why, in heaven’s name did it even come to this? If you have nothing to contribute on the subject, why even intervene in the way he has? He hasn’t just wasted his political capital, he expended it unnecessarily in opposition to his own interests. If Dennis Ross was the champion of this strategy it’s about time to do some housecleaning. Several pundits have begun to call for Obama to rid himself of advisors like William Daley. But he ought to take a look at Ross as well, who’s led him in a political Valley of the Shadow of Death. Can a president countenance retaining advisors who lead him into irrelevancy on the world stage?
This comment by a NY Times reader was telling:
If the message is that the only way for the Palestinians to find peace is by declining to stand up for themselves, constantly backing down in the face of aggression, and capitulating to their enemies at every turn, I can’t imagine a better messenger to deliver that message than a man who lives it every day, President Barack Obama.
Sarkozy’s speech,which really wasn’t radical at all, appeared so, in juxtaposition to the stale irrelevancies of Obama’s. Sarkozy too was capitalizing on the decline in Obama’s stature on the world stage. He was telling the U.S. president: if you can’t lead, get out of the way.
Obama can expect many more such challenges if his rhetoric continues falling as flat as it has. Further, Obama is not only falling flat, but he’s actually betraying the progressive expectations many of us had for him. That means he’s going to retain all his Republican enemies, plus he will anger his former supporters who expected so much more of him. Obama right now suffers from the worst of both worlds. I fear that the upcoming elections may repudiate both him and all Democratic Congressional candidates.
Can any U.S. president not realize when he’s embraced warmly by Bibi Netanyahu, as he was in the latter’s UN speech, that he’s in big trouble?
This article first appeared at Tikun Olam