Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

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. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Middle East Larry King Asks Saudi Arabian Fan If Taking Pictures With Jews Is Permitted

    Larry King Asks Saudi Arabian Fan If Taking Pictures With Jews Is Permitted

    Jewish former CNN host Larry King asked a Saudi Arabian fan if taking pictures with Jews is allowed in his country, before agreeing to pose for a photo with the man, The New York Times reported on Wednesday. The world-famous interviewer was leaving the Ritz Carlton hotel in Washington, D.C. with a New York Times reporter when a “dark-skinned man” approached and asked to take a picture with him, according to the publication. Whereupon, King asked the fan where he was from. When the man said Saudi […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Britain’s Lord Sugar Says Synagogues Will Be Empty With Yom Kippur Matchup of Jewish-Supported Soccer Teams

    Britain’s Lord Sugar Says Synagogues Will Be Empty With Yom Kippur Matchup of Jewish-Supported Soccer Teams

    British-Jewish business tycoon Lord Alan Sugar joked on Wednesday that London synagogues will likely be empty during Yom Kippur with congregants fleeing to watch the match-up of two leading English soccer teams known for having hordes of Jewish fans. “Spurs V Arsenal cup game drawn on most important Jewish festival,” Lord Sugar pointed out on Twitter. “Both teams have loads of Jewish fans. Conclusion Synagogues will be empty.” North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal FC will go head-to-head in the Capital One Cup third-round […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Jewish Men Pass Jimmy Kimmel Social Experiment, Rescuing ‘Spongebob’ in Distress (VIDEO)

    Jewish Men Pass Jimmy Kimmel Social Experiment, Rescuing ‘Spongebob’ in Distress (VIDEO)

    Two Jewish men were the only unwitting participants in a social experiment conducted by Jimmy Kimmel, for his popular TV show. As part of a candid-camera-like sketch featured Monday night on Jimmy Kimmel Live, the host devised different street scenes to observe human behavior — in particular, to see how long it would take people walking down California’s bustling Hollywood Boulevard to notice and interact with others in distress. One scene involved a man in a Spongebob Squarepants costume who had “fallen down” on the sidewalk and needed help […]

    Read more →
  • Education US & Canada International Jewish Organization Blasts Israeli-Born Star Natalie Portman for Comments on Holocaust Education

    International Jewish Organization Blasts Israeli-Born Star Natalie Portman for Comments on Holocaust Education

    A major Jewish organization rebuked actress Natalie Portman on Monday for saying in a recent interview that Jews put too much emphasis on teaching about the Holocaust relative to other genocides. The Israeli-born movie star told the U.K.’s Independent that the Jewish community needs to examine how much focus it puts on Holocaust education over other issues. She said she was shocked when she learned that a genocide was taking place in Rwanda while she was in school learning only about the horrors of the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel Book Draws Parallels Between Holocaust and Palestinian Nakba, Sparks Outrage

    Book Draws Parallels Between Holocaust and Palestinian Nakba, Sparks Outrage

    JNS.org – A new book that draws parallels between the Holocaust and the Palestinian Nakba (the Arabic term for the displacement of Palestinian refugees during Israel’s War of Independence) has sparked outrage ahead of an official book launch, to be hosted by the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute on Sept. 7. The Zionist organization Im Tirtzu wrote a letter to the institute demanding that it cancel an event it planned in honor of the book’s authors, under the title The Holocaust and […]

    Read more →
  • Education US & Canada Natalie Portman Says Holocaust Education Shouldn’t be Used for ‘Fearmongering’

    Natalie Portman Says Holocaust Education Shouldn’t be Used for ‘Fearmongering’

    Famed actress Natalie Portman warned on Friday against the use of Holocaust education to evoke fear and paranoia. In an interview with the U.K. Independent she added that the trauma should make Jews more empathetic to others who have also experienced hatred. “Sometimes it can be subverted to fearmongering and like ‘Another Holocaust is going to happen,’” the Israeli-American star said. “We need to, of course, be aware that hatred exists, antisemitism exists against all sorts of people, not in the same way. I […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary A Righteous Gentile Navigates the Sharkpool of Washington’s Middle East Correspondents (REVIEW)

    A Righteous Gentile Navigates the Sharkpool of Washington’s Middle East Correspondents (REVIEW)

    The Tribalist, by Louis Marano, is ostensibly a work of fiction but at its core a kind of love song by a gentile journalist for the State of Israel, and especially its secular Zionist core. (Because of the relentless attacks by left-wing polemicists on Israel’s allegedly “messianic” fringe, it’s often forgotten that most of Israel’s founders and all its leaders have been secular Zionists.) The author, the product of an Italian-American family in Buffalo, served two tours of duty in […]

    Read more →
  • Food Jewish Identity Rugelach Roundtable: Does Beloved Pastry Need Dairy to Taste Good?

    Rugelach Roundtable: Does Beloved Pastry Need Dairy to Taste Good?

    JNS.org – Rugelach (singular: rugala) are a beloved traditional Jewish pastry, with a quirky history to boot, but they often present a kosher conundrum. Though parve rugelach are often a preferred dessert after a meat meal for those observing kosher laws (which stipulate a waiting period between eating meat and dairy), some of today’s most popular rugelach are known for their dairy fillings. Pastry chef Paula Shoyer—author of the books “The Kosher Baker: Over 160 Dairy-free Recipes from Traditional to Trendy” and […]

    Read more →