Andrew Exum comments on Perry’s Middle East speech and notes that he was speaking at the same press conference with Likud MK and deputy Knesset speaker Danny Danon. He asks:

Why is there no penalty for fraternizing with Israeli extremists?

I realize Exum isn’t trying to be funny, but he must know as well as anyone why there is no penalty. There is no penalty because the position that Danon holds on settlements does not bother the voters Perry needs to win the nomination (it might even help with some of them), and no one in any position of influence within Perry’s party thinks there is anything wrong with the company Perry keeps. On the contrary, having Perry appear alongside a Likud politician more nationalist than Netanyahu sends an unmistakable signal that Perry wants to be aligned publicly with some of the most uncompromising members of the current coalition government*. That is just what many Republican hawks want to see. Under those circumstances, how could there be any penalty?

Who would enforce such a penalty if not voters, party elites, or donors? If there were very many editorial boards strongly opposed to Danon’s position, newspapers might publish disapproving editorials, but Perry would ignore them and his supporters would dismiss them. As much as many American hawks might sometimes pay lip service to official U.S. policy on settlements and the two-state solution, they regard these official policies as obstacles to be overcome or removed. Danon says openly what they tacitly take for granted. If they must invoke the Oslo process to bury the process, that’s what they’ll do.

* It really doesn’t hurt Perry to be seen alongside pro-annexation hard-liners, since it allows him to appear that much more reasonable by comparison.