It’s in keeping with the bizarre way the 2012 elections are shaping up that the most important endorsement any candidate of either party has managed to land so far is from a foreigner.
Considering that President Obama cannot win reelection without Florida’s electoral votes, and that our recession-ravaged state could easily swing either way a year from now, anything that might get disillusioned Sunshine State Obama voters off their sofas and down to the polls could spell the difference between national victory and defeat.
This is purely anecdotal, but I talk to a lot of people down here in New York’s sixth borough, and their sentiments about the president’s handling of Israel⎯and the Middle East conflict in general⎯range from bewilderment to disappointment to anger to disgust. “He hasn’t even visited Israel as president yet. What’s he thinking?” one person said to me. Symbolism means a lot in this thorny corner of politics.
The ’67 borders speech was a loser, for sure. Nobody heard the accompanying “land swaps” part, because they were so apoplectic that he’d even brought it up, they shut down and stopped listening.
So now that the elections are looming again, it’s time to think about mending fences. For that, you need the man with the ultimate street cred in the Jewish community, the Prime Minister of Israel. They know his imprimatur doesn’t come cheap. For him to say that what you’ve done is a “badge of honor,” you gotta deliver.
Obama made a cold political calculation in a no-win situation. His pro-Israel stance on the Palestine statehood question didn’t make him any friends in the rest of the world, but he was astute enough to remember that the rest of the world is not registered to vote in Florida.
So, he delivered.