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Wexler Still Vouching for Obama

4:16 PM, Jun 4, 2009 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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Rep. Robert Wexler, one of Obama's most important and visible surrogates during the campaign on the issue of Israel, offers Greg Sargent his take on the president's speech:

Wexler told me he thinks that Obama's promise to "say in public what we say in private" to all parties was "one of the critical lines in the speech, even though casual observers may gloss over it."

Wexler explained that this one line concealed far more significance for his audience than many would appreciate. He said Obama was reassuring Arabs that America would no longer give wink-wink-nudge-nudge private support for Israeli military actions, a vow that will have great resonance in the Arab world.

He was saying that "it is no longer acceptable to say in private, `Go Israelis, take on Hezbollah,' or `Go Israelis, take on Iran,'" Wexler said. "He has called out all of the parties, including ourselves, to step up to the plate as adults and make difficult political decisions."

Wexler seems giddy at the prospect of a president who refuses to offer private support for Israel in a potential confrontation with Hamas or Hezbollah or Iran. Of course, President Bush offered such support publicly. By refusing to endorse Security Council resolutions calling for an immediate cease-fire, our last president was twice willing to provide the Israelis with much needed cover in a time of war. If Obama's words mean what Wexler thinks they mean -- and I think they do -- then we can expect the Obama administration to publicly and privately rebuke the Israelis in the event of a confrontation with the Iranians or their proxies. Whether that prospect will make Wexler's constituents quite so giddy remains to be seen.