Pro-Israel conservatives are roughing up President Obama over his less-than-stalwart stance toward Israel. On the heels of its 30-minute documentary, the Emergency Committee for Israel, founded by Bill Kristol, Gary Bauer and Rachel Abrams, is out with a devastating new ad:
Meanwhile, the left’s defense of Obama has taken on a familiar tone. On Monday, Maureen Dowd, in typically screechy style, demanded in a column titled “Liz Cheney: Desist!” that Republicans stop pointing out how badly the president’s Iran policy is working out. She proclaimed (my comments are in brackets):
The Israeli fear of an Iranian nuclear weapon must be respected, not least because the regime intent on developing this weapon is the world’s greatest center of Holocaust denial. [Actually, we fear it too, as the president said in painting Iran as a national security threat to the United States.] And the timing is tricky. As Bill Kristol put it, Obama’s urge to wait “would precisely undermine Israel’s ability to determine her fate.”
But I’d feel better if our partner was not the trigger-happy [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu [what evidence for his trigger-happiness?], who makes hysterical arguments even in the absence of a dire threat. [His point is that once Iran has the bomb it is too late. Didn’t she say Kristol had a point on that?] At Aipac, he compared those who want to be less hasty than he does to America’s refusal to bomb Auschwitz in 1944. [No, he held up the letters from the FDR administration refusing to bomb the train lines to the death camps to make the point that Jews can’t afford to rely passively on others spare them from annihilation.] . . .
At Aipac, Liz Cheney urged that we put ourselves in Israeli hands because “America’s track record on predicting when nations reach nuclear capability is abysmal.” She’s right about that, given her father’s wildly erroneous assertions about W.M.D.s in Iraq. [Her Dick Cheney obsession knows no bounds, but if our intelligence agencies have a rotten track record, isn’t Bibi right?]
You get the drift. Now, when Dowd strays from gossipy armchair psychology into policy, it is always a dizzying experience — a kind of parallel universe where facts get rearranged like pieces on a chessboard. But this was a bit much even for her. (If you have a strong stomach, you can read the entire column to get the full flavor.)
Well, Liz Cheney was having none of it. In a fundraising e-mail on behalf of her organization Keep America Safe, she decided to make hay out of the left’s insistence that the right essentially shut up about the Iran threat:
Yesterday, Maureen Dowd took to the pages of The New York Times, the country’s most liberal newspaper, and called on me to “desist.” Ms. Dowd — and other members of the left-wing media — don’t like it when President Obama’s irresponsible and reckless policies are challenged with substance and facts. She would prefer we keep quiet instead of pointing out the danger to America’s national security posed by a nuclear armed Iran. She thinks you and I should sit silently while the president pins his hopes on more sanctions and engagement with the regime in Tehran. . . .
During Tuesday’s press conference, President Obama belittled and dismissed Republicans who have called for action to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Obama accused Republicans of “casually” suggesting war and using “a lot of bluster” when discussing Iran. On the contrary, those of us speaking out understand the risk of the world’s worst state-sponsor of terror armed with a nuclear weapon. We know that the only way to convince Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons program is by convincing them that they will face devastating military action if they continue down this path. The latest round of Iranian-proposed talks are nothing more than a delaying tactic to buy time to advance their weapons program.
At precisely this moment, when we should be standing shoulder to shoulder with the state of Israel, President Obama and members of his administration seem more concerned with restraining Israeli action than stopping Iran’s nuclear program. For the last three years, time and again, this administration has refused to stand with Israel.
I must say, however, that Dowd is not alone. I have encountered in just the last few days a number of Democratic operatives and liberal media types (yes, there is some overlap there) who are driving the following talking point: The Republicans shouldn’t get to the “right” of Obama on Iran. The country is tired of war.
This is very curious on a number of levels. First, do they not believe the president that the military option remains on the table and that he will deploy all means to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon? Are they saying then that he doesn’t really mean it and that the conservatives are the only ones really committed to use of force? Or perhaps, they really think like the president that the Iranians can be sweet-talked out of their nukes.
Second, the issue most pressing is whether Israel will attack Iran to prevent the Islamist revolutionary state from acquiring a nuclear arms capability that is beyond the Jewish state’s ability to strike. The “U.S. is tired of war” line suggests a less-than-robust level of support by the United States. I mean, if Israel initiates military action, wouldn’t their “tired of war” line counsel that the United States should stay out of it?
One lefty media maven dismissed all the polling (and it is uniform) showing that Americans support Israel’s right to self-defense, think military force should be used, if need be, and would favor support for Israel in the event of hostilities. It seems the Obama-ites have convinced themselves that the public shares their lackadaisical attitude toward Iran’s progress on acquiring nuclear blackmail capability. It smacks of the same delusion about public opinion that overtook them after the passage of Obamacare. (They’ll learn to love it — really!)
Since 2010, when conservatives started holding Democrats accountable for how they voted on Israel, and not simply how they self-identified (“pro-Israel”), the left has demanded that Israel not become a subject of political debate — in their vernacular, a “political football.”
But all matters of public policy are subject to debate in our democracy. Obama and his spinners want it all one way: credit for killing Osama bin Laden and Moammar Gaddafi, and that’s it. But in fact there are many areas on which Obama’s national security policies have proven disastrous and dangerous (e.g. Russian “reset,” massive defense cuts, the collapse of the “peace process,” abdication on human rights). Those issues, just like every other public policy issue, should be scrutinized and debated. And if the Dems’ only defense on Iran policy is “shut up,” then I suspect they understand they are not actually with the American people (or Congress for that matter) and do not have a record that can stand up to examination.