With Obama having gotten 78% of the American Jewish vote in 2008, Romney is doing all he can to chase after that vote. As we know when Mitt is around, there is no low too low and he doesn’t care who he hurts to get what he wants. Those qualities contribute to the narrative he’s establishing that he is a diplomatic nightmare and is best left to the boardroom picking over the carcasses of starving American small businesses rather than pursuing posing as a shambles of a statesman.
As Romney heads to Israel, you no doubt will be bombarded by frothing rage of conservatives telling you that Obama has killed Israel, etc. Lest you be taken aback by the venom, I’ve prepared a few talking points for you. But first, in case you thought this was an easy peasy trip for Romney, let’s review what’s at stake for the players.
Romney has been beating the war drums with Iran consistently, and yet he desperately needs to avoid telling you people that he is going to war with Iran if you elect him. So, that’s tricky business. How is he going to define exactly how he would do the “opposite” from Obama?
Romney, who has pledged to “do the opposite” of Obama for Israel (isn’t that just so Romney?), starts his Israel undermine-the-President tour Saturday, on the fast day of Tisha B’av, commemorating the destruction of the First and Second Jewish Temples of Jerusalem. He’s already had to move a fund-raiser scheduled during the holiday after criticism. Yes, Romney never goes anywhere without a fund-raiser, and yes, that’s unusual for a visit to Israel, but this is Mitt Romney, R-Money as his family inadvertently spelled out on stage one fateful day.
After pledging to not criticize the President on foreign soil, Romney pulled another Anglo-Saxon by giving an interview to an Israeli paper owned by Sheldon Adelson (billionaire who has pledged $100 million to R-Money), Hayom, in which he tore into President Obama, wading into policy territory he should have avoided. Romney is so busy outrunning his London gaffes and his failure to disclose his taxes and his Bain I-was-there-I-wasn’t-there, that he seems imperviously clueless to matters of diplomacy – like what is at stake for the leader he’s meeting. Romney tends to use these leaders for his own agenda, not caring how damaged he leaves them with the American President, let alone their own country.
Americans are cringing in advance, waiting for Romney to step in it regarding tense Middle East relations. He’s not known for his ability to navigate the easiest of waters, and these are far more treacherous than those he faced so poorly in London.
On the Romney agenda are meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, allegedly an old Romney managing consulting friend, and Palestinian leaders. While practically claiming Netanyahu as his bestie at every occasion, Netanyahu told Vanity Fair that he barely knows Romney, “I remember him for sure, but I don’t think we had any particular connections. I knew him and he knew me, I suppose.”
Now, what do you suppose that’s all about? Netanyahu needs to appear bipartisan and he is not interested in being used by Romney as a weapon against President Obama. Sure, behind closed doors is one thing – but he can’t afford a public appearance of backing Romney over Obama. So, as much as Romney likes to paint his relationship with Israel as a given, there are more dangers in this visit than he acknowledges. And given Romney’s inability to see the interests of the people he’s meeting, expect him to use Netanyahu to save him from his London debacle.
In the meantime, you will no doubt be assailed with the dead-eyed authoritarian followers repeating their Fox talking points against their leader’s “target”, President Obama. I’ve already been treated to a few myself on Twitter.
Here are two points to make to the wingnut banging his head against the wall of endless rage:
1) Obama just pledged $70 million in aid to Israel on Friday. Obama has issued the stronger sanctions against Iran than Bush, and he’s managed to get other countries on board. Under President Obama’s leadership, the United States gained the support of China, Russia, and other nations to pass the most comprehensive international sanctions regime that Iran has ever faced. The President also worked with Congress to pass the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions and Divestment Act, and signed additional sanctions hitting Iran’s central bank and oil revenues, targeting Iran’s entire financial system for the first time. These are stiffer sanctions than Bush used against Iran. What has Mitt done or said he would do besides threaten war with Iran?
On Friday, the President signed a bill enhancing the U.S.-Israeli military partnership that “underscores our unshakeable commitment to Israel,” and announced an additional $70 million in military aid to support the expansion of Israel’s short-range rocket defense system, Iron Dome. The President said Iron Dome “is a program that has been tested, and prevented missile strikes inside Israel, and is critical in terms of providing security and safety for Israeli families.”
2) Angry conservatives are accusing Obama of not caring about Israel because he hasn’t visited since his election (Greta Van Sustern has set this narrative for the Fox faithful followers- directing them to their target, albeit without any basis in fact or consistency in values).
However, Ronald Reagan never went to Israel. Does that mean he too didn’t care? George W.H. Bush never went. And George W Bush didn’t go until the 8th year of his Presidency (break this down for the conservative as the last year of his second term, also known as if Obama gets re-elected, it would be after that – studies show that conservatives are bad at nuance and deductive reasoning). Guess who toddled off to Israel? Richard Nixon, while avoiding the coming Watergate crisis. And we all know how Nixon really felt about Jewish people, thanks to the Watergate tapes (Nixon’s offensive, private prejudice isn’t a one-off; it’s a common theme among Republicans who wear the flag of Israel on one lapel while bashing Jewish people from the other side of their mouth). Jimmy Carter went. But it is Bill Clinton who went to Israel the most — four times, to be exact.
Let that sink in. Yes, these people are beyond silly. The outrageous thing is, they have no idea just how ridiculous they appear because they are not interested in the facts. They’re just screaming at you because their leaders at Fox News (PR branch of the GOP) told them to. Whatever Fox/GOP leaders say, the followers do. No questions asked, and lies are not a problem. They don’t care. Anything goes for the mindless attack weapon, and that’s what these folks have become – nothing more than a weapon deployed by the GOP at critical moments, set out upon happy Americans hell bent on destroying the moment.
Oh, to be a weeping wingnut pinned to the cross of a failed talking point. Don’t blame them, research shows us they were made this way. The psychology of the American right wing (as researched by Canadian-American psychologist Bob Altemeyer) is that of a frightened follower who eagerly awaits instructions for whom to target with their relentless anger over change. They don’t have “values” other than maintaining society as they want it to be, which leads to predictable (and scientifically proven) racist, sexist, and heterosexist attitudes. They are obsequiously subordinate to their power-seeking, often cruel and dangerous leaders.
These are people who get off on increasing the hierarchy of their social dominance instead of seeking equality — think boys who hold other boys down and cut their hair who become men who strap their dogs to the top of the family car for a 12 hour ride who become presidential candidates who seek war with Iran and can’t stop trying to bully the President on foreign soil no matter the cost to the political leaders and allies left behind.
Speaking of which, we await Romney Israel gaffe number two (number one being his attack on Obama/America in Adelson’s paper). How craven and crass can Mitt Romney be? Will he out Palin Sarah in Israel too? Stay tuned.