So we are watching unfold a sort of Chicago-style Realpolitik, flavored with the traditional academic leftist disdain for the Jewish state. The subsequent result is not so much a cut-off of U.S. aid as a subtle shift in perception abroad: Israel’s multiple enemies now are almost giddy in sensing that America is not all that into protecting the Jewish state, intellectually or morally. ~Victor Davis Hanson
The only people who seem to be “almost giddy” these days are conservative and Republican critics of Obama, who seem to think that their ludicrous obsession with demeaning Obama’s support for Israel is being vindicated by events. Of course, they cannot point to any decrease in Obama’s actual support for Israel, because there has been no decrease of any kind, so they are reduced to talking about “subtle shifts in perception,” feelings, moods, and changes in style. These shifts are so subtle that they can only be seen by the trained eye of the ideologically-motivated pundit. As I have said before, Obama’s critics were once obsessed with his supposed superficiality, and now it is they who cannot stop talking about purely superficial things when criticizing him.
What on earth would “Chicago-style Realpolitik” look like? On the face of it, that sounds like a pretty hard-nosed, steely-eyed, “he pulls a knife, you pull a gun” approach that would mean that insults and disrespect would merit severe reprisals. Continued disrespect would require that an example be made of the offending party. It would be Bismarck meets Capone meets Daley. Obviously, the administration is so far from handling relations with Israel this way that there’s really nothing more to say.
When provoked, the administration responded angrily for a few days before returning everything to the status quo. When ignored and thwarted over the last year, the administration has been fairly accommodating and continually re-states its “absolute, total and unvarnished” commitment to Israel. Instead of rebuking or criticizing Israel over its counterproductive Gaza operation, the administration has done just what you would expect and defended the operation against criticisms contained in the Goldstone report. Netanyahu went so far as to mention this last point in his AIPAC speech and to thank Obama for it. All of that is an expression of “academic disdain” for Israel? This demonstrates an unwillingness to defend Israel intellectually and morally?
Then again, I can understand Hanson’s frustration. He and others like him have spent so much time building up an absurd image of Obama as the embodiment of everything they fear and hate, and then he turns out to be a pretty typical, boring center-left Democratic politician who holds just about every conventional, mainstream view you would expect him to have. It has to be galling to be so profoundly wrong about almost everything one has written about the man, and so at this point the only thing to do is keep re-stating the earlier nonsensical claims with greater and greater intensity. Sure, it’s discrediting and embarrassing, but that hasn’t stopped them before now.
Update: Kevin Sullivan makes a similar point:
So while Israel is just as militarily and strategically secure as it has ever been – if not more so – critics like Hanson worry about Israel’s perceptual and “intellectual” insecurity . . . whatever that means.
It’s becoming increasingly difficult to take these people seriously.
Unfortunately, a great many people on the right not only take them seriously, but they are absolutely convinced that these critics are brilliantly attacking Obama for his mistakes.