The US, Israel and the Politics of Dumb

February 28, 2013 1:48 am 4 comments

President Obama. Photo: Wordfromjerusalem.

As Barack Obama gets ready to visit Israel, it is worth noting how much he and Benjamin Netanyahu have in common.  Both were re-elected with reduced support, both are re-staffing their cabinets, and both are making a mockery of the job.

President Obama has persisted in his choice of Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense even though Hagel demonstrated repeatedly at his hearings that he knew little  about his job, was clueless about the policies of the Obama Administration  and even ignorant of  his own positions over the years.

Obama said Hagel was qualified for the job because Hagel was once a soldier. By that measure, any infantryman who sat in a trench or dug a latrine can command an army and direct the most complicated military machine in the world.

This is the kind nonsensical statement Obama makes with a straight face and with all his habitual pompous pauses and stentorian tones that the lap-dog media laps up.

With an equally straight face, Prime Minister Netanyahu announced he would appoint Tzipi Livni to direct Israel’s negotiations with the Arabs, though she has failed at almost every negotiation and diplomatic job  she has ever undertaken.

A commission of inquiry into the 2006 Lebanon war, said then-foreign minister Livni largely failed in her job to explain Israel’s policy. When her then-boss, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert left office, Livni, leader of leader Israel’s then-largest party, Kadima, twice failed to form  an Israeli government, though she held all the cards.

Along with Ehud Olmert, Livni failed miserably at war and peace, botching the battle against Hizballah in Lebanon while also booting talks  with the PLO.She and Olmert offered the greatest concessions ever. They failed.  When she was asked about this, Livni pretended it was all Olmert’s fault. She knew nothing, saw nothing

After losing her Kadima Party leadership to Shaul Mofaz, Livni swore she was leaving politics, but she even failed at retiring gracefully. She needed to return to the one profession in Israel where failures are forgiven easily.

But this is one make-over too many for the woman who first became a blonde and then claimed that she was the  “Mrs. Clean” of Israeli politics.

Since her return, Livni’s biggest success was going on TV to show  how to eat a “Kremm-Bo”—the Israeli version of a fluff-filled cream puff. [I promise I am not making this up.—MW] In front of cameras,  Livni tamped down the cream puff with her hand and made it disappear—a  wondrous triumph of  air-head over  fluff.

Polls show that most Israelis doubt that Livni could handle anything tougher than a cream puff. That is because they know her. Ariel Sharon picked Livni to join him in 2005 in his new Kadima Party—not for any great talent but rather as a convenient decoration,  because Sharon  sought a little feminine fluff to soften his image.

Sadly, Netanyahu has learned from Sharon, believes he needs decorations, not policy. He is in danger of turning himself and his future government into a joke  just as Obama is in danger of turning his administration into a home for dumb soldiers.

President Obama thinks he is strong enough politically and smart enough to do without smart and independent minds in his cabinet.  He is probably wrong on both counts, and he is proving he is the opposite of Abraham Lincoln, who wanted talented and independent people around him to supply tough independent advice.

Obama—and some media—have deliberately misinterpreted Obama’s relatively narrow election victory over Mitt Romney as a “mandate” or “generational shift.” Obama further interprets this is a license to appoint people—like Chuck Hagel—who  do not even deserve to be called mediocre.

Netanyahu is making a similar mistake. Israeli voters gave their verdict on people like Tzipi Livni who made careers pretending to reach peace with the Palestinians, while actually making things worse. Meanwhile, most Israelis do not think that the PLO or Hamas want peace.

Israeli voters prefer a new generation of politicians—Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennet—who want to talk less about Palestinians and act more on other issues.

Ignoring their voice would be wrong and dumb indeed.

Dr. Michael Widlanski, an expert on Arab politics and communications, is the author of  Battle for Our Minds: Western Elites and the Terror Threat. He teaches at Bar Ilan University.

4 Comments

  • Mihai-Robert Soran-Schwartz

    Has anyone ever seen something as dumb as the politics inspired by Benzion Netanyahu and executed by his servile, testosterone lacking son Benjamin?
    I didn’t. But there are many who’ll say yes, after looking into a mirror

  • elliot j. stamler

    Dr. Widlanski dismisses the democratic decisions of both the American and Israeli peoples because in his exalted opinion they don’t possess his apparent insight and wisdom. He impresses me as an academic know-it-all and is especially ignorant about Sec. Hagel whom, while I opposed his confirmation, is infinitely smarter and more knowledgable than this columnist who is so full of himself.

  • ….and the US Senators, in their joint and several wisdoms, confirmed Hagel. Independant thinkers, one would have liked to believe.

  • Arthur Fliegenheimer

    Hagel was chosen because Gomer Pyle and Barney Fife were not available.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Featured Sports World Palestinian Soccer League Withdraws Bid to Suspend Israel From FIFA

    Palestinian Soccer League Withdraws Bid to Suspend Israel From FIFA

    The head of Israel’s soccer association called on his Palestinian counterpart to “join forces,” as the Palestinian Football Association withdrew its bid on Friday to have Israel suspended from FIFA. “Let’s leave it to the politicians to do politics,” said Israel Football Association chief Ofer Eini, moments after PFA Chairman Jibril Rajoub announced that his group had withdrawn the proposal. After his remarks, Eini shook hands with the Palestinian soccer chief. Rajoub thanked “those” who convinced him to drop the [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Israeli-American Group Congratulates Cavaliers’ Blatt on Reaching NBA Finals

    Israeli-American Group Congratulates Cavaliers’ Blatt on Reaching NBA Finals

    JNS.org – An organization whose work focuses on the estimated population of 500,000-800,000 Israeli Americans congratulated David Blatt, the Jewish head coach of the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Cleveland Cavaliers and a longtime Israel-based coach, for clinching an appearance in the NBA Finals. The Israeli-American Council (IAC), whose stated mission is “to build an active and giving Israeli-American community throughout the United States in order to strengthen the State of Israel, our next generation, and to provide a bridge to [...]

    Read more →
  • Food US & Canada Bacon Flavor Ben & Jerry’s ‘Not Gonna Happen’ Because it Wouldn’t be Kosher

    Bacon Flavor Ben & Jerry’s ‘Not Gonna Happen’ Because it Wouldn’t be Kosher

    Famed ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s will not be introducing a Bacon flavored product to its offerings because the company intends to keep its entire line kosher, Marketing Director Alison Gilbert told AOL’s morning show Rise recently. “It’s kind of funny, a lot of people look for bacon in our ice cream, which is probably not gonna happen because all of our ice cream is kosher,” she said, referring to Jewish dietary restrictions that proscribe the consumption of pig [...]

    Read more →
  • Israel Sports Israeli Judo Team Faces Antisemitic Harassment in Morocco: ‘We Will Murder You’

    Israeli Judo Team Faces Antisemitic Harassment in Morocco: ‘We Will Murder You’

    Israeli athletes at a world Judo championship in Morocco reportedly faced antisemitic slurs during the competition, news site WorldNetDaily reported on Monday. “We will murder you,” and “you’re not wanted here, go home,” were among the vituperative attacks directed at the Israeli Judo Association team, which was in Morocco last week for the World Masters Judo Tournament. According to Haaretz, each Israeli teammate was met with boos and jeers upon entering a fight. Additionally, no Israeli flags were present at [...]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Lady Gaga Accepts ADL Award: ‘Your Philosophies Are So in Line With Ours’ (VIDEO)

    Lady Gaga Accepts ADL Award: ‘Your Philosophies Are So in Line With Ours’ (VIDEO)

    Pop superstar Lady Gaga on Thursday accepted an award from Jewish human rights group the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on behalf of her Born This Way Foundation, which strives to combat bullying among young people. “Your philosophies are so in line with ours,” she said of the ADL upon accepting the Making a Difference Award in a videotaped message, which was shown at a ceremony in New York City. “We want to help young people know that their feelings and who they are on [...]

    Read more →
  • Music Personalities At 80, Singer-Songwriter Leonard Cohen’s Jewish Roots ‘Very Much Intact’

    At 80, Singer-Songwriter Leonard Cohen’s Jewish Roots ‘Very Much Intact’

    JNS.org – Eighty years young, Leonard Cohen fits many descriptions—singer, songwriter, poet, novelist, monk. From his Jewish upbringing in Canada to the present day, Cohen has always explored his spiritual side. This month, the singer-songwriter released the CD (May 12) and iTunes (on May 8 of this year) formats of his latest album, Can’t Forget: A Souvenir of the Grand Tour, which features live recordings from his world tours in 2012 and 2013. Last year, Cohen’s Popular Problems was voted by Rolling Stone [...]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports FIFA Head Says Israel Should Not be Booted From World Soccer Association

    FIFA Head Says Israel Should Not be Booted From World Soccer Association

    JNS.org – Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) head Sepp Blatter said during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that contrary to Palestinian complaints, Israel has not violated any FIFA statutes and should not be suspended from international soccer’s governing body. “We should not come to one federation saying we will exclude them,” said Blatter, the Jerusalem Post reported. “If the national association is fulfilling its obligations then there is no need to intervene,” he said. “I’m on a [...]

    Read more →
  • Featured Middle East Sports Jewish Rights Group Slams Palestinian Attempts to Suspend Israel From FIFA

    Jewish Rights Group Slams Palestinian Attempts to Suspend Israel From FIFA

    Jewish human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) said on Tuesday it was “appalled” by a Palestinian Football Association initiative to suspend Israel from FIFA, calling it another “front waged in the context of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign.” “We are appalled at the temerity of the Palestinan Football Association (PFA) demand that FIFA suspend Israel at your forthcoming Congress in Zurich,” wrote the group’s international relations director, Dr. Shimon Samuels, in a letter to FIFA President Joseph [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.