Barack Obama’s Pilgrimage

Gershom Gorenberg

Sometime before November, traffic in Jerusalem will be tied up by Barack Obama’s visit. My new article in The American Prospect explains what Obama should do while he’s here to prepare for the presidency, and why he won’t do any of that:

…In Jerusalem, Obama has another task — shoring up support among voters who question his pro-Israel credentials. This is hardly the Jewish vote as a whole. Rather, it is the subset that falsely conflates “pro-Israel” with supporting the hawkish side of the Israeli political spectrum. Trying to satisfy those voters while demonstrating a fresh, diplomacy-based foreign policy increases the chances of a slip-up…

Besides those constraints are the practical ones. Protocol forces a visiting political figure to spend his time with top officials, providing a terribly restrictive view of a country. Even if Obama wanted to emulate the legendary Arab ruler Harun al-Rashid, who slipped away from his palace dressed as a commoner to learn what was really happening, the Secret Service and its Israeli counterparts would keep him a prisoner of security arrangements. The pilgrimage that would really help Obama to understand what he needs to do as president consists of the inexpedient, the unlikely and the impossible…

Read the full article here.

7 thoughts on “Barack Obama’s Pilgrimage”

  1. Campaign finance

    Last month he announced that he would be rejecting public financing for his campaign, and would instead rely on private donations.

    The McCain camp accused Mr Obama of “going back on his word”, although Mr Obama insisted that he had never made a promise to stay in the public finance system.

    Surveillance programme

    Mr Obama also raised eyebrows when he announced that he would not be opposing a bill going through Congress giving immunity to telephone companies involved in the Bush administration’s controversial warrantless wiretap programme.

    His decision angered many of his supporters on the left, who accused him of going back on his 2007 pledge “to support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies”.

    Gun control

    When the Supreme Court decided to overturn Washington DC’s handgun ban, Mr Obama declared that the ruling “provide[d] much-needed guidance”, despite having previously argued (in a written answer that he says was drafted by an aide and which he had not approved) that the ban was constitutional.

    Iraq

    Withdrawing troops from Iraq has long been one of the central planks of Mr Obama’s campaign, and was something that set him apart from other Democratic candidates running for the party’s presidential nomination.

    Since his campaign began, however, conditions in Iraq have changed, violence has reduced, and some commentators have suggested that Mr Obama’s position is out of date.

    Mr Obama himself has announced that he plans to visit Iraq, where he will make “a thorough assessment” which could lead him to “refine” his policy.

    Some critics have seized on this as an indication that Mr Obama is laying the groundwork for a change in position.

    Free trade

    Mr Obama recently hinted to Fortune magazine that his strong anti-free trade rhetoric during the primaries may not be reflected in his actual trade policy should he become president.

    His remarks are a neat summation of the pressures and temptations that lead politicians to shift their positions during the process of running for office.

    “Sometimes during campaigns the rhetoric gets overheated and amplified,” he said.

    “Politicians are always guilty of that, and I don’t exempt myself.”

  2. Whatever he does he should do what is in AMERICA’S best interest to do.

    For he is our leader, not yours.

    I am so sick of AIPAC buying up our politicians. I am not saying it isn’t in our best interest to support Israel but if it is in our best interest to support Israel why do Israel have to go through such organizations like AIPAC to buy up our politicians like they do? Answer me that.

    Look, in the past I would never speak ill of our President among foreigners but after the way the Left treated Bush, I am done with all of that.

    Obama doesn’t speak for me. He isn’t my President. He represents all the ugliness of America and all of what America SHOULDN’T be about. He will do great damage to America and Her interests, worse than even Jimmy Carter did.

    But I believe in the end we will rise up and become stronger from this time of struggle and like with Carter will in 2012 elect a leader who will work in the interests of America and set things right!

    But as for you people in Israel, a one, two punch of Olmert and Obama, that will be too much for you. I don’t see how you will recover.

    But the good news is that us seeing what happens to you will be one of the things that will wake us up to Obama leading to a devastating defeat for him in 2012.

    So, as the missiles fly in your neighborhoods, don’t worry, we will avenge you. And I will personally thank you for helping Americans realize the change in direction that needs to take place in America.

  3. By the way, you know that Obama is Arab don’t you?

    His father’s family were for the most part Arabs living in Kenya and not as they call it in Kenya “tribal African”.

    I believe Obama’s dad only had one “tribal African” ancestor. That would have been one of his grandmothers. The rest were Kenyan Arabs.

    So for the record:

    Mr. Obama is 50% Caucasian from his mother’s side. He is 43.75% Arabic, and 6.25% African Negro from his father’s side.

  4. The sad thing is that Juan McCain would even be worse.

    For America that is.

    Juan McCain has this socialist plan for the environment. Juan McCain has this socialist plan for the health care system.

    But since Juan McCain isn’t seen as a socialist I believe he could “go to China” in a way Obama wouldn’t be able to.

    I believe of the two Juan McCain can boil frogs much better than Obama. Obama will turn up the heat too fast and the frog will jump right out of that pot. But not with Ole Juan McCain. That is why for America Obama is ultimately the best thing to happen to America because he will make Americans realize we need to change directions.

    Juan McCain might be better for Israel though. But we are electing an American Leader.

    It took the Holocaust for the Jews to get Israel. It took Carter for America to get a good leader like Reagan. Obama will harm us greatly but in the end he will wake us up and we will demand that our country stop going in the wrong direction.

    But that won’t happen under Juan McCain, just like if Ford had defeated Carter in 1976 we would still be fighting the Cold War because Reagan would never have been elected.

    Sometimes it must take something bad to lead to something good.

  5. Reagan was a fraud ;a B-actor at best which means he could communicate his Bull-Shit better than his opponent and I must confess I voted for him over the Iranian debacle which in retrospect had it’s roots in the 1953 take over of the elected government by the British and the CIA .He sold the “smaller government” BS and gave us bigger government and bigger debt and Cheney and Rumsfield which the Bushies’ have just continued. We broke the Soviets in the arms race.They could not keep going in the”money war” nothing to do with Reagan’s so-called leadership. His so- called leadership put us in a financial hole and extended our involvement in everybody elses battles. Maybe Obama will get us out of this desire to tell every country how to run their business and keep us from invading soverign nations who we believe are so-called threats to our security. Germany invaded Poland, because it told the world,was threat to their security and the Nurenberg Tribunal said such invasion of a soverign nation was a crime.
    History will judge who had the greatest effect on humanity during his lifetime between Carter or Reagan. Reagan will not even be a “also ran” Bush won’t even be a *

  6. Steve :Arabic is a language not a specific racial group .Skin pigmentation seems the “holy grail” of xenophobes and biggots not to be outdone by ethnocentric religious right throughout the world.

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