Last week President Barack Obama gave his long-awaited speech on the Middle East at the State Department. No one remembers anything he said other than his call for Israel to begin negotiations by agreeing to return to its pre-1967 borders.
Although the White House denied it, and Obama reiterated his denial at a speech before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) over the weekend, here's how MSNBC reported Obama's position during his speech on Thursday:
"Obama's urging that a Palestinian state be based on 1967 borders - those that existed before the Six-Day War in which Israel occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza - marked a significant shift in U.S. policy and seemed certain to anger Israel."
The Egyptian Ambassador to the U.N. heard it that way, too. MSNBC quoted Maged Abdelaziz as saying:
"What is positive about (Obama's speech) is the emphasis on the 1967 borders."
On Friday, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with the President. In a photo op after the meeting, President Obama said:
"Obviously, there are some differences between us; the precise formulations and language. And that's going to happen between friends."
Prime Minister Netanyahu, according to CBS News' Bill Plante, "showed no such restraint" when he responded:
"I think we both agree that a peace based on illusions will crash on the rocks of Middle Eastern reality."
Plante described Obama as "staring icily as Netanyahu lectured him" that "Israel would not negotiate on the basis of the 1967 borders."
Obviously whatever the White House thought was going to be the take-away from his State Department speech; it wasn't. They were so eager to have positive coverage in the Arab world that the Washington Post had an item headed: "White House invites Arab bloggers to Obama's Middle East speech."
At AIPAC on Sunday, the President sought to recalibrate by emphasizing the part of the 1967 borders demand in which he had said that there should be "mutually agreed upon land swaps" to account for developments over the past 44 years.
Obama high-tailed it out of town for a week-long tour of Europe where Libya, NATO, Syria, Yemen, Greece, Spain and Ireland will be on his agenda.
In Indianapolis, Gov. Mitch Daniels announced via e-mail in the early Sunday morning hours that he would not be participating in the GOP primary campaign for the 2012 Presidential nomination.
This is instructive in the ways of Washington: