In the New York Times today, Roger Cohen reports that George Mitchell told him: "[N]o one in the world knows American politics better than me, and this I will say. There has never been in the White House a president that is so committed on this [the Israel-Palestine] issue, including Clinton who is a personal friend, and there will never be, at least not in the lifetime of anyone in this room."

So in two sentences, Mitchell manages, first, to offend Bill (and Hillary?) Clinton, by claiming Obama is more "committed on" Israeli-Palestinian peace than his predecessor. Given the time and effort Clinton invested in the pursuit of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, Mitchell's statement can only be correct if "committed on this issue" means "willing to go further in pressuring and weakening Israel." In that respect, Obama is more "committed" not just than Clinton but than any of his predecessors in the last half century.

Second, one has to marvel at Mitchell's claim that "no one in the world knows American politics better than me." George Mitchell has basically been out of American politics for fifteen years. What's more, when he took over as Senate majority leader in 1989, there were 55 Democratic senators. His successor was minority leader, not majority leader--as Mitchell's great knowledge of American politics contributed to the Democratic debacle of 1994. One hopes he is advising Obama on political strategy today.

Next Page