Barack, Benjamin, and The View
This morning I heard the question of FOX whether or not it was appropriate for President Barack Obama to meet with the ladies on the View, specifically Whoopi Goldberg, instead of sitting with world leaders like Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who were coming to America to attend the summit at the United Nations. As usual, the employees of FOX point a damning finger at Mr. Obama for the perceived slight against our good ally. According to FOX, when Israel says jump, Mr. Obama should be asking how high. Mr. Netanyahu crossed the Atlantic to make his pilgrimage to the U.N. and would like to take advantage of the opportunity to meet with Mr. Obama face to face. He was in the neighborhood after all. However, the White House said that the President made other plans and declined Mr. Netanyahu’s offer. Instead, he kept to his previous schedule this campaign season and kept his appointment on the View.
Now it’s no coincidence. Rumor has it that Mr. Obama and Mr. Netanyahu get along like cat and dog. Since Mr. Obama became President his relationship with the Prime Minister has been described as rocky and frosty. But despite the personal friction between these two men, the relationship between Israel and the United States remains a strong one. Mr. Obama has assured the world that Israel has no greater ally than the United States. Mr. Netanyahu has said that the relationship Israel has with the United States is as strong as it’s ever been.
But exactly how the two countries approach the problems of Iran and its alleged pursuit of developing a nuclear bomb is an issue between the two. Israel feels that its very existence is at stake and says that it wants America’s blessing to conduct a military intervention. The Obama administration believes that economic sanctions and diplomatic pressure would be a far better approach for influencing Iran’s behavior. Mr. Obama believes that there’s plenty of time to do a military strike if sanctions fall short.
Mr. Netanyahu has publicly criticized Mr. Obama asking what are we waiting for. He exhibits a sense of near panic and is ready to attack Iran as soon as permission is given. Mr. Obama is more relaxed and patient. It could be little more than a good cop bad cop form of diplomacy to convince Iran that America and Israel are serious. Nevertheless, a lot of people are taking the conflicting strategies at face value, using the disagreement between the two leaders as a measure of the dislike between the two men. Hence, the criticism of Mr. Obama for not granting Mr. Netanyahu an audience as the doomsday clock ticks down to a confrontation with Iran.
People should remember that Mr. Obama is not the President of Israel. He is the President of the United States. Mr. Netanyahu is not one of Mr. Obama’s constituents and is not entitled to see the President at his own convenience. No one outside of a handful of his personal staff has the influence to impact the President’s agenda. Mr. Obama says he speaks with Mr. Netanyahu on the phone on a regular basis and he’s very much aware of the Prime Minister’s position. In the meantime, he is planning to campaign to keep his job and an appearance on the View is part of his reelection strategy.
The visit to the View wasn’t just an arbitrary choice made for sole purpose of pissing off the Prime Minister. The View is a very popular show with its primary demographic of women. Currently, the female demographic is one that the President is leading against his opponent Mitt Romney in the race to the White House and Mr. Obama plans to defend that lead. Essentially, it’s not the women of the View that the President was trying to engage at the cost of a face to face meeting with Mr. Netanyahu, but the American people. With his job on the line right now, it’s obviously more important to the President to get in front of his employers instead of giving time to a petulant leader from another country, even if it is a leader from one of our more important allies.
As the election draws down to the wire Mr. Obama understand he has to make an appeal to the people to keep his job. In all honesty there is plenty to criticize about his performance over the last three and a half years. In an attempt to expand his favorability with people who didn’t vote for him and would never vote for him, he abandoned his core political beliefs and his political base. A lot of people who voted to give put him in the oval office weren’t all that excited about giving him another shot. He had some explaining to do. He had to convince people that he has learned from his mistakes and he would like to put those learned lessons into a second term. And part of the process of convincing us that he’s worth another shot is to endear himself to us by making appearances on shows like the View. It’s part of the ritual of getting and maintaining the office.
So yes Mr. Obama decided not to see the leader of our close ally. He understands that people who want to take him down no matter what will point to the perceived snub and say that it’s outrageous. But these people will say Mr. Obama’s behavior is outrageous no matter what he does. If he goes on the View he’s not doing his job and meeting world leaders and our allies. But if he doesn’t campaign for his job, people will say he doesn’t care about the race and is taking the American people for granted. In the end, the President has to do what he feels is right. Hopefully, this is just a glimpse of his new philosophy of not listening to what his political opponents have to say and doing his best to win them over. Maybe this is just the first sign of a Barack Obama who will do what he feels is right based on what he believes is best.