When Barack Obama replaced George Bush, there was unbridled joy among the elites. The days of "cowboy diplomacy" were over! Finally, we had a president who was a careful multi-lateralist who wouldn't rudely impose his will, but would instead work with allies to build consensus.
But that's not what Obama delivered with Israel last week, is it? Obama went to the State Department and insisted Israel needed to stop its "unsustainable" policy toward the Palestinians and "boldly" retreat behind pre-1967 borders. A stunned Benjamin Netanyahu responded as any ally would if so roundly betrayed. He publicly -- correctly -- denounced Obama's policy prescription.
Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic magazine (and website) posted an item on May 20 headlined: "Dear Mr. Netanyahu, Please Don't Speak to My President That Way." Netanyahu, he wrote, threw a "hissy fit." That pretty much encapsulated the American media's reaction. "Cowboy diplomacy" is just fine from time to time -- if the man in the saddle is Obama.
On that night's "NBC Nightly News," reporter Andrea Mitchell was finding anonymous distaste for Netanyahu from other Israeli officials, never mind that his country was unquestionably applauding him.
"I was told that even some Israeli officials, David, were uncomfortable with what they acknowledge was a lecturing tone by the prime minister. But he felt very strongly he had to say this to the world, to President Obama's face."
By the time Sunday's "Meet the Press" rolled around, Mitchell heightened the attack on Netanyahu for daring to lecture the Almighty Barack.
"Netanyahu seized on it. Even before he got on the plane, he criticized the president, and in such a fashion! He lectured him in the Oval Office. And if you look at that picture that you have up there right now, it was a stone-faced Barack Obama and Netanyahu basically treating him like a schoolboy."
And then, some more anonymity: "People even who work for Netanyahu, some Israeli officials, told him later that he went too far. That it was, it was really rude and that there would be blowback to this."
Mitchell's NBC sure was less outraged when Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez came to the U.N. in 2006 and denounced President Bush as a devil.
Kelly O'Donnell was downright blase: "Chavez repeatedly called the president 'a devil' and labeled him a 'Yankee terrorist.' The administration quickly dismissed the swipe. ... And some say that the Venezuelan president cannot be so easily ignored because he has so much oil."
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