Diana West

Somehow, I imagine, "Nice car you have, King," is probably more like it.

Another intriguing opportunity for discussion came (and probably went) when Obama later met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah -- "a Palestinian flag between them and photographs of the late Palestinian leader (sic) Yasir Arafat and of Mr. Abbas himself on the wall behind them," as The New York Times rather luridly put it.

Did Obama, in the ensuing hour of closeted discussion, ever ask: President Abbas, how do you expect to be considered a "peace partner" -- let alone receive hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars -- when, as widely reported in your government-controlled media this month, you just "sent blessings" to the family of Samir Kuntar, the notorious child-murdering terrorist recently released by Israel? And why does Fatah -- supposedly the "moderates" in these parts -- lavish praise on Dalal Mughrabi, whose remains Israel also released? Mughrabi led the worst terror attack in Israel's history (37 dead, including 12 children), but Fatah has exalted her for "the most gloried sacrifice action in the history of the Palestinian-Israeli struggle."

I doubt such questions occurred to Obama. Why should they? The candidate was there to generate campaign pictures. With this PR mission in mind, it didn't make sense, for example, to ask during his meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, why, according to a recent and widely publicized Der Spiegel interview, the Iraqi leader's chief concern these days appears to be gaining the legal right "to prosecute offenses or crimes committed by U.S. soldiers against our (Iraq's) population." What's up with that, Nouri -- not enough U.S. blood and treasure spent in Iraq yet? The answering look of apoplexy would surely spoil any campaign photo.

Of course, across the political aisle, the McCain campaign isn't exactly burning with curiosity over such questions, either. Which is precisely our national problem. We need a leader who seeks such status-quo-changing answers.


Diana West

Diana West is the author of American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character (St. Martin's Press, 2013), and The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization (St. Martin's Press, 2007).