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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Obama should speak out on Freeman nomination

Writing in Sunday's Washington Post, Charles Lane castigates The One for failing to speak out on the recently aborted Chas Freeman nomination.
To be sure, Freeman protested his "respect" for both Obama and Dennis Blair, the director of national intelligence directly responsible for picking Freeman. But if Freeman's attack on the "Israel Lobby" means anything at all, it is that the president and his staff are either too weak to resist the machinations of these foreign agents -- or are in cahoots with them. The same would go for the senators and House members who also opposed Freeman.


So far, however, President Obama has had exactly nothing to say about this extraordinary claim -- either in his own defense, or in defense of the American citizens whom Freeman has impugned.

Asked on Tuesday whether Obama agreed that Freeman was "unfairly driven out," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said he hadn't talked to the president about it and left the briefing room. When I contacted the White House press office on Friday, a spokesman e-mailed back that they "don't have anything additional to add."

No doubt the president faces a dilemma. I imagine that he finds Freeman's comments repugnant, but to say so publicly would raise questions about why the man was appointed in the first place. And Obama has other things on his plate. If I were him, I'd rather deal with Citibank than dive into the nasty Freeman fight.

But the administration's silence is disappointing just the same. The president needs to knock Freeman's insinuations down hard -- for two reasons. The first is to stop them from gaining any more currency than they already have in the rest of the world, especially in Arab and Muslim regions.

The second has to do with the United States itself and the quality of our political culture. Barack Obama first electrified the country when he told the Democratic convention in 2004 that "we are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the Stars and Stripes, all of us defending the United States of America." That ennobling message helped propel him to the White House, and it is a major theme of his presidency.

Letting Freeman's comments pass unchallenged would undercut it.
Of course, Lane is right. Obama should speak out against Freeman's anti-Semitic message. But he probably won't. Unlike his idol, he is neither a great communicator nor a great unifier or healer. Read the whole thing.


More here.


At 9:37 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 9:38 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Obama won't. Staff is policy and are a reflection of the views of the person who named them and charged them with carrying it out. Chas Freeman's nomination says something about Obama's views about Israel and the Middle East and it isn't good to say the least.


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