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Thursday, November 04, 2010

The weakening of Barack Obama: Good for the Jews?

There seems to be unanimity that the results of Tuesday's midterm elections in the United States have weakened President Barack Obama. But is that good for the Jews? Or would be better off with a strong Barack Obama?

Israel's opposition leader, Tzipi Livni, believes that a weakened Barack Obama is bad for Israel and bad for the Jews. And of course, she blames her rival, Binyamin Netanyahu, for that outcome.
"For those of you who believe that the loss of Obama is good for Netanyahu, I ask myself have you all gone crazy??" Livni said rhetorically, making reference to the results of the previous day's midterm elections in the US.

If Congressmen were elected who support Israel, this is good for Israel. He who says that a weak US or a weak American president is good for Israel is not just speaking stupidly, they are encouraging something that endangers Israel itself."
Often, Israel could be better off with a strong American President. Not in this case. This President is so hostile to the Jewish state that we are better off with him weakened and unable to impose his will on us. If everyone else is going to be able to defy him, we ought to be able to defy him too.

Yoram Ettinger believes that the election ought to serve as a wake-up call to Israel regarding the power of the American people and the power of Congress. He urges Israel's politicians to recognize Congress' potentially potent role in foreign policy and not to compromise Israel's interests by kowtowing to Obama.
Contrary to the "Jerusalem Misperception," Congress can force presidents to follow the will of the people in domestic as well as in foreign and national security areas.

In two years, President Obama has been transformed from an electoral asset to a lethal electoral liability, threatening Democrats on Capitol Hill. From a consensus, moderate Democratic president in 2008, he is perceived in 2010 as a president of political polarization, representing the radical Left of the Democratic Party. Never have Americans been so insecure - personally and nationally - and so indecisive about the future of the US.

As high as were the expectations from Obama, so devastating is the perception of his performance domestically (unemployment, foreclosures, taxes, regulations, big government, deficit, controversial health reform, etc.) and internationally (eroded US stature, threat of Islamic terrorism, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, etc.) The Obama Cloud has cost Democrats the support of many independents, women, youth and the elderly, who were responsible for the sweeping Democratic victory in 2008.

The new 112th Congress will be more confrontational within a political system which constrains the power of the president through an elaborate system of Checks & Balances, an effective Separation of Powers, a Congressional Power of the Purse, a Congressional role in policy-making, an exclusive Congressional legislative role and the preconditioning of policy-implementation upon Congressional approval.

For example, it was Congress – and not the president – which terminated US military involvement in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Angola and Nicaragua and severed US ties with the white regime in South Africa. Congress has the power – which is not always exercised - to initiate, rescind and curtail arms sales, to award, cut and suspend foreign aid, to expand, limit and suspend US funding of the UN and other international organizations and to direct the President to implement a policy toward other countries and the UN.


Obama cannot count on a solid Democratic support in the 112th Congress. A substantial number of Democratic legislators distanced themselves from the president during the 2010 campaign in order to survive the wrath of the constituent. Additional legislators may refrain from cooperating with the president, in order to avoid the list of "Obama Casualties" in 2012. For instance, first-term West Virginia Senator, Democrat Joe Manchin won largely on the coattail of a TV commercial featuring him spraying Obama's initiatives with shotgun bullets and calling for the repeal of Obama's healthcare reform.

At a time when "800 pounder gorillas," such as 17 and 14 terms Representatives Ike Skelton and John Spratt – Chairmen of the House Armed Services and Budget Committees – are defeated, hardly any Democrat feels safe toward the 2012 election.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was a master at playing off the Republican Congress against Bill Clinton in the '90's. Can he and will he do it again?

Some 'Palestinians' also agree that Obama's defeat means much less pressure on Israel.
Yasser Abed Rabbo, a Palestinian peace negotiator, voiced confidence the Republican victories would have no bearing on the White House's Middle East policy.

"The American interests in the region do not change as a result of midterm elections," he told Voice of Palestine radio.

But George Giacaman, a Palestinian political scientist, said the Obama administration had already shown "great weakness" in standing up to Israel over settlements.

When the White House confronted Israel last year over plans for settlement expansion on land Palestinians want for a state, Republicans seized on the dispute as a sign that Obama was weak on security issues and unfairly pressuring on a trusted ally.

"Maybe there will be a period of waiting to see if the American administration plans to do some serious work but there is a great feeling of despair and hopelessness," Giacaman said.

In any case, he said, "we only have one year left" before Obama devotes his attention to a campaigning for re-election in the 2012 presidential poll.
And where am I on this? While I'm still a little wary of Obama trying to become a foreign policy President as his domestic options come crashing down around him (think Richard Nixon in 1974), or deciding that he's already a lame duck anyway and going for broke against us, I believe that it is much better for Israel that Obama was weakened in this election. Obama can take nothing for granted - not even the 2012 nomination - and so by next fall he will become an almost-full-time campaigner again. Time spent campaigning takes away from time to do other things - like pressure Israel.

So yes, the weakening of Obama is good for the Jews and for Israel.

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At 2:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This whole attitude of what's "good for the Jews" is antiquated and irrelevant in the not so long run.

What's good for the Jews is good Jews. Always. Works every time. We haven't seriously tried it for the most part for 2000 years.

Wake up, Yidden!

At 3:25 PM, Blogger Juniper in the Desert said...

Since when was Tzipi Livni the expert on what is good for Jews??

She is a totally submitted dhimmi!

At 3:40 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Agreed. Obama has no interest in the Middle East peace talks now that there's no political advantage in it for him. And he has his hands full trying to defend his gains of the last two years from a Republican clawback. And being weakened at home means he is even less likely to place any real pressure on Israel in the foreseeable future.

At 8:41 PM, Blogger Abe Bird said...

Tzipi Livni herself is bad for Israel! No governmental official expressed himself regarding to US elections, but Tzipi Livni had the arrogance to raise that hypothetical Israel’s stand on the US ballots, in order to harm Netanyahu. It is immensely irresponsible behave of bad political character named Tzipi.


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