Saturday, January 3, 2009

The fascinating double standard of being President-elect...

... is that you can issue detailed national statements on your economic bail-out plan, and even publicly call for Congress and meet with legislative leaders to pass specific legislation...

... but that as Israel actually invades Gaza, your position is that you're monitoring the situation closely, and--besides--we only have one President at a time, you know.

At this point it is even immaterial to me (from a certain perspective) whether Barack Obama is pro-Israel, pro-Palestinian, or strictly neutral on the growing conflict--I'd just like to see him use that spine of steel to express an opinion.


Brian Miller said...

I'm sure he'll be getting right on that, after he finishes upbraiding Rick Warren for all those naughty things Rick has said in public. ;)

Delaware Watch said...

What if Obama's view is that Israel is acting like a shit and if he were to say so now, it would make Israel's actions worse in Gaza before Obama gets in office? I think it's possible that he is holding back because he doesn't want to make a bad situation worse by speaking out now. But I could be wrong.

I also think that there must be a line where a President-elect doesn't effectively tell a sitting Prez what to do. Where that line is admittedly difficult to determine. But foreign policy is mostly an executive branch function and domestic/economic policy is less so. So Obama is sending messages to Congress about the economy but not to Bush about foreign policy. It's a fuzzy matter, I admit, but that might be the kind of distinction Obama is working w/.

Brian Miller said...

You seriously expect a "do whatever the polls say" guy like Obama to say something negative about Israel?


Never, ever gonna happen. Ever.

Even criticizing the actions themselves won't work -- as I've been informed even by some commenters on these sites, demanding an end to indiscriminate bombing of civilians by BOTH sides apparently makes one the love child of Hitler and Stalin.

Steven H. Newton said...

I'd like to believe that, but I don't.

For a man who said in debate three that the US should not stand by while genocide occurred (you will recall that you and I had differences on the efficacy of such interventions), to stand by now without at least raising his voice against the use of US weapons to target Gaza is, to me, more important than an impact on the Israeli elections or the tradition of not contradicting a sitting president on foreign policy.

Ask yourself this: how will Obama have any credibility to take on Israel's actions after 20 January if he continues to remain silent now?

Bowly said...

Mark your calendar: I agree with Dana--the second paragraph, at least. Look back to campaign rhetoric, even. Obama's healthcare plan was certainly more detailed than any foreign policy plan. And the further removed from direct US involvement an event was (i.e., anything not named Iraq or Afghanistan), the less specific he was.

This is true of most candidates, by the way. Aside from some Iraq policies and McCain's "Bomb bomb Iran," rare was the direct foreign policy pronouncement. "I'll talk to the leaders and make things better with my superior diplomatic skills" was the normal bullshit response.

I can frankly understand his reluctance to say something that could force the US into a tense situation that would have to be handled by the sitting president. I find this silence on this far less damning than his silence on Prop 8.