Obama Could Not Be Clearer About His Israel Stance

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: May 13, 2008 4:25 PM

It says something about Obama's stance that the very statement meant to make his position crystal clear, delivered by his own representative on Jewish issues, is one of the more clumsy, opaque, convoluted sentences of the entire campaign:
“We’re going to continue to keep making this case with initiatives to make it clear that his support for Israel could not be more unequivocal,” Mr. Wexler said.
Got it. All clear now that I've diagrammed the sentence.

As is the case with all things Obama, I think he's being deliberately vague to allow for maximum interpretations and minimum consequences. This tendency got him into trouble in his interview on Israel with "The Atlantic:"

JG: Do you think that Israel is a drag on America's reputation overseas?

BO: No, no, no. But what I think is that this constant wound, that this constant sore, does infect all of our foreign policy. The lack of a resolution to this problem provides an excuse for anti-American militant jihadists to engage in inexcusable actions, and so we have a national-security interest in solving this, and I also believe that Israel has a security interest in solving this because I believe that the status quo is unsustainable. I am absolutely convinced of that, and some of the tensions that might arise between me and some of the more hawkish elements in the Jewish community in the United States might stem from the fact that I'm not going to blindly adhere to whatever the most hawkish position is just because that's the safest ground politically.

Obama's advisers have since stated that the "wound" of which he speaks is clearly the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and not Israel itself. That interpretation is only marginally better for Obama, in my mind, but the tactic is undoubtedly helpful for him.

Credulous news organizations like the NYT will report that Obama's making all the right moves, and valiantly assuring Jewish voters of his staunchly pro-Israel stance in the face of relentlessly unfair GOP attacks on irrelevant associations and misinterpreted statements.

Gaza phonebankers will assume his outreach is posturing and read the very real signals of his associations, staff, and comments as proof that Gaza GOTV should kick into overdrive.

A deliberately blank canvas makes a dangerous presidential candidate, and the problem with Obama's pro-Israel stance persists-- it's anything but clear.

(You know what? I blame the staff!)