Scott Johnson at Powerline, like many others, was unimpressed with President Obama's May 29 Mideast speech. The president fails "to distinguish properly between friends and enemies," he wrote.
Let us drive a little deeper and ask a question. Why would the president announce in his speech, before negotiations had even started between Israel and the Palestinians, that he believed "the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps"?
To put his unilateral concession--what our labor union friends would call a "give-back"--in perspective, let us ask another question. When has the president, in negotiations with the loyal opposition in the United States, ever made a similar concession before negotiations even began?
Let us make the issue even clearer. Has the president, in the ongoing negotiation of federal spending cuts, offered, as a starting position, that federal discretionary spending should be rolled back to the 2008 level, which is the minimum demand of his Republican opponents?
The answer is obvious. President Obama is conceding nothing on the federal budget. He is clearly going for the best deal he can get on spending, and will continue to do so in every crisis negotiation.
The president did not concede the continuation of the Bush tax cuts until the last moment last December. He did not concede any spending cuts in his 2012 budget. His people did not concede any spending cuts until forced to in the continuing resolutions saga. And in the current debt ceiling negotiations, the president's team official position is a "clean bill" with no spending cuts. Oh, by the way, the Budget Committee in the Democratic Senate has failed to produce a budget resolution as required by law because Democrats don't want to concede anything on spending'
Let us give the president credit for believing in his government-run health-care system, his national network of very fast trains, his clean energy, his high energy prices, and his wacko left-wing judge nominees like UC Berkeley professor Goodwin Liu. President Obama fights tenaciously for the things he believes in. He clearly believes that he should pass as many of his left-wing initiatives as possible, and only retreat when forced to. The president clearly does not believe in "the consent of the governed." He pushes as hard as he can, knowing that every policy he pushes over the finish line, whether in legislation or in regulation, becomes a new strong point on the border of Big Government Empire.
But when it comes to Israel, the president's position is also clear. President Obama doesn't have a dog in that fight. So it is easy for him to unilaterally give away the issue of the 1967 borders so he can pose as a peacemaker. It costs him nothing to make his flaccid speech about Mideast peace and the Arab Spring. Why, he's always been in favor of things like that. But he certainly wouldn't risk reelection for the sake of Israel.
Of course, it is possible that the Jewish vote will start heading south, and the president's pollsters may soon start worrying not just about wavering "prominent Jewish Americans" but real voting Jewish bubbies in South Florida. That's probably why the president went to AIPAC on February 22 and said that "the commitment of the United States to the security of Israel is ironclad. (Applause.)"
So the president is all in favor of Israel. But why does the president treat people that want to harm the United States better than he treats conservatives and Republicans? I will tell you why. He does it because it is coded into the DNA of his left-wing secular faith.
Politics is a fight for power. For American exceptionalists, the great fight is between the forces of freedom and the forces of coercion; we march toward the vision of political freedom and limited government. But President Obama is different. For him, the great fight is the left-wing fight of resistance and liberation, an educated elite marching with the victims toward a vision of sharing the wealth. Conservatives look at Israel and see a nation that has fought for its freedom. President Obama looks at Israel and gets distracted by Palestinian victims with a right to share the wealth of the Jews.
That's why American conservatives experience liberals as irritating know-it-alls that just don't get the notion that every new government program chips away at our freedom. But liberals look at conservatives as evil oppressors -- racists, sexists, homophobes -- that deny justice for traditionally marginalized peoples. And liberals don't seem to believe in the forgiveness of sins, at least, not so you'd notice.
Say all you want about Arab thug dictators. In their campaign against Israel they are at least trying to unify their peoples against a foreign "threat." But American liberals are always dividing America, fighting a civil war by other means. For liberals, the "other" is always other Americans.
President Obama's Mideast speech does achieve one goal. His empty bromides about 1967 borders and Arab Springs keep his progressive base at home for 2012. The president does have a dog in that fight.