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...

  • Book Reviews Personalities Biography Sheds New Light on David Ben-Gurion’s Place in Jewish History

    Biography Sheds New Light on David Ben-Gurion’s Place in Jewish History

    JNS.org – There is one sentence in “Ben-Gurion: Father of Modern Israel” that made me sit up in surprise. I thought that I knew the basic facts about how Israel came into being, but while describing what it was like in the days and hours before the state was declared, author Anita Shapira provides one important anecdote I was not aware of. On the 12th of May, the Zionist Executive met to decide what to do. Moshe Sharrett had just returned [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    An actress starring in the controversial Met Opera The Death of Klinghoffer defended the show on Tuesday by comparing it to the 1993 Holocaust film Schindler’s List, New York Post reported. “To me, this was like [the movie] Schindler’s List. We make art so people won’t forget,’’ said the actress, who plays a captured passenger in the show and asked not to be identified. The Met Opera focuses on the infamous murder of Lower East Side Jewish resident Leon Klinghoffer, 69. The wheelchair-bound father of [...]

    Read more →
  • Analysis Arts and Culture Beyond ‘Klinghoffer’: Opera’s Composer, Librettist Have Broader Jewish Problem

    Beyond ‘Klinghoffer’: Opera’s Composer, Librettist Have Broader Jewish Problem

    JNS.org – One of the most controversial operas in recent memory, “The Death of Klinghoffer,” debuted Oct. 20 at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. The Met has scheduled seven more performances through November. The first staging did not occur without protest, as about 400 demonstrators—including Jewish communal and nationally recognized leaders—came to Lincoln Center to denounce the anti-Jewish and anti-Israel opera. “Klinghoffer,” the creation of composer John Adams and librettist Alice Goodman, premiered in 1991—with few additional stagings. The opera is based [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Israeli Actress Gal Gadot in Talks to Star in Ben-Hur Remake

    Israeli Actress Gal Gadot in Talks to Star in Ben-Hur Remake

    Israeli actress Gal Gadot is in negotiations to take on the female lead role in the remake of the 1959 classic Ben-Hur, according to The Hollywood Reporter. If the deal is finalized Gadot will play Esther, a slave and Ben-Hur’s love interest. Actor Jack Huston will star as the Jewish prince who is betrayed into slavery by his childhood friend Messala, played by Toby Kebbell. Ben-Hur fights for his freedom and vengeance with the help of Morgan Freeman’s character, who trains Ben-Hur how to win at chariot-racing. [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Young Israelis Try to Crowd-Fund Their Way to Major League Baseball Playoffs

    Young Israelis Try to Crowd-Fund Their Way to Major League Baseball Playoffs

    JNS.org – Baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie are the American dream. So why do two young men who have built their lives in Israel have a GoFundMe crowd-funding webpage with the urgent message that they need $3,000 to travel to the U.S. to watch the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles square off for Major League Baseball’s (MLB) American League championship? Brothers Naftali and Yoni Schwartz, 27 and 25, respectively, are Kansas City natives. Even though they made aliyah with their [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Race Cars Speed Through Jerusalem in Amazing Exhibition

    Race Cars Speed Through Jerusalem in Amazing Exhibition

    Some 3,000 years ago, King David probably never imagined cars racing at 240 kilometers per hour (150 miles per hour) through the ancient capital of the Jewish people. But on Monday and Tuesday, October 6-7, thousands of Israelis lined the streets to watch Porsche, Audi, and Ferrari race cars fly through the capital against the backdrop of the Tower of David, the Old City Walls, and other city landmarks. The second annual non-competitive Jerusalem Formula One Road Show had been [...]

    Read more →
  • Israel Sports NBA Superstar LeBron James Says He Wants to Visit Israel

    NBA Superstar LeBron James Says He Wants to Visit Israel

    Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James expressed interest in visiting Israel someday, local news site Cleveland.com reported on Sunday. Speaking to Israeli reporters before the Cleveland Cavaliers’ preseason debut against Maccabi Tel Aviv, the NBA star said he had never visited the Jewish state but “I want to look forward to going there if I get an opportunity to.” When asked by an Israeli reporter if there was “any chance that LeBron James and Cleveland comes to Tel Aviv,” the athlete said [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Florida Rabbi Dominates Former Basketball Star Congressman in Hoops Showdown (VIDEO)

    Florida Rabbi Dominates Former Basketball Star Congressman in Hoops Showdown (VIDEO)

    A Florida-based Chabad rabbi put former basketball star, U.S. Congressman Curt Clawson to shame on the court when the two faced off one-on-one recently. A YouTube video, posted online on Tuesday, shows Rabbi Fishel Zaklos of Chabad of Naples shooting hoops with the Florida politician, who played basketball in high school and at Purdue University in Indiana. The game took place in the parking lot of the Chabad Jewish center run by Zaklos. During the 1-minute clip, Zaklos scores two impressive [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.