The Washington Post

So much for the post-Osama Obama

The Post reports:

Top Democrats have joined a number of Republicans in challenging President Obama’s policy toward Israel, further exposing rifts that the White House and its allies will seek to mend before next year’s election.

If the purpose of the last few days was to assuage Jewish voters, reset President Obama’s Middle East policy and build on Obama’s one unalloyed success (killing Osama bin Laden) the White House failed miserably:

White House officials say Obama’s assertion did not reflect a shift in U.S. policy. But the president’s comments touched a nerve among pro-Israel activists, drew a rare Oval Office rebuke from Is­raeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and instantly became a litmus test in domestic American politics.

Now Obama — whom critics often accuse of employing a play-it-safe governing style in which he waits for others to take the lead — is largely isolated politically in raising the issue of boundaries.

The result, as The Post describes it, is unease within a voting bloc that is solidly — and generously — Democratic:

Still, some Jewish Democrats said Tuesday that they remain concerned. One major party donor who attended AIPAC, speaking on the condition of anonymity to avoid alienating leadership, said there was a sense of “disappointment” in the hall about Obama’s remarks.

That sentiment helped explain why top Democratic leaders appeared so eager to distance themselves from the president.

“No one should set premature parameters about borders, about building or about anything else,” said Reid, clearly nodding to the controversy in remarks late Monday night to AIPAC.

Hoyer said that “Israel’s borders must be defensible and must reflect reality on the ground,” echoing past U.S. language. He added that negotiations must begin “without preconditions.”

And another Democrat, Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. (Pa.), drew applause Tuesday when he declared that Israel’s borders “must be defensible and must be determined by parties on the ground.”

Aside from whatever domestic fallout there may be this is powerful evidence, if any were needed, that the assassination of bin Laden did not do much to boost Obama’s foreign policy standing, sharpen his focus or curb domestic criticism. To the contrary, now Democrats feel compelled to attack him on foreign policy.

Beyond Israel there is a powerful lesson here: The American people expect a foreign policy that is in tune with our interests and our values. Or as Bibi Netanyahu observed:

My friends, the momentous trials of the last century, and the unfolding events of this century, attest to the decisive role of the United States in advancing peace and defending freedom. Providence entrusted the United States to be the guardian of liberty. All peoples who cherish freedom owe a profound debt of gratitude to your great nation. Among the most grateful nations is my nation, the people of Israel, who have fought for their liberty and survival against impossible odds, in ancient and modern times alike.

Obama has the gift of the anti-bully pulpit. He brought Americans together on ObamaCare — to oppose his plan. And he’s brought together Americans who can agree on little else these days to oppose his Israel stance as well. Definitely a uniter, this fellow.

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.


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