Feb 23, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 23 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
David Axelrod is the man who, more than any other, could be called Barack Obama’s brain (though Axelrod would be publicly horrified by the honorific, and would hasten to assure Valerie Jarrett that he has never been in communication with the editors of this magazine). In his new book, Axelrod describes a moment late in Obama’s first term where Obama acknowledges having a “Bulworth” list of “issues on which he felt he had been insufficiently forthright,” but about which he would be more candid in his second term. (The reference is to the Warren Beatty movie in which a candidate finally decides to tell the truth.) About what issues was Obama now going to be honest? One of them was Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, with regard to whom Obama “felt he had pulled his punches . . . to avoid antagonizing elements of the American Jewish community.”
One’s first reaction is that Obama needn’t have worried, since major elements of the American Jewish community seem more committed to staying on good terms with Obama than to forthrightly defending Israel. But Obama perhaps mistakenly assumed that behind much of the Jewish community’s bark there was some bite, and kept his true views under wraps until reelected.
No longer. The Obama White House’s amazing assault on Netanyahu in recent months has culminated in the attempt to make sure, as one Obama aide put it, that “there will be a price” for the prime minister’s accepting the invitation of the speaker of the House to address Congress. That price will not be limited to Netanyahu personally, though there has been no shortage of personal attacks on him. That price will also be exacted on the state of Israel. Why? Well . . . why not? The Israelis elected Netanyahu. Even the Israeli opposition parties say they won’t give back all the “territories”—which includes the Old City of Jerusalem—to allow for the establishment of a terrorist-friendly or terrorist-dominated Palestinian state. Even the opposition parties seem to take seriously what Obama has said but doesn’t himself mean, that an Islamic Republic of Iran with nuclear weapons is unacceptable.
Obama wants to claim that his problem is with Netanyahu. Obama’s political allies on the left and his credulous well-wishers in the nominally pro-Israel parts of the Jewish community want to believe his problem is with Netanyahu. But his problem is with Israel, a state founded by a bunch of folks who Obama believes were unjust to the Palestinian Arabs living there and that is now inhabited by a bunch of folks who keep getting in Obama’s way. Obama doesn’t have a Netanyahu problem. He has an Israel problem.
This is nothing new and nothing to panic about. The Jewish state and the Jewish people have survived far more formidable threats than Barack Obama. Still, dealing with a hostile American president isn’t easy for the prime minister of Israel. But surely the worst way for Netanyahu to deal with Obama’s hostility would be to succumb to bullying and cancel the speech he’s been invited to deliver. Which means that friends of Israel, of whatever political party and whatever degree of hawkishness or dovishness on Iran, the Palestinian question, or a host of other issues, need to stand with Netanyahu. In doing so, they stand with Israel.
As a joint statement by Christians United for Israel and the Emergency Committee for Israel (which I happen to chair) put it,
Some Senators and Congressmen are now threatening to boycott the speech. Whatever their intentions and reasons, their action will be construed, at home and abroad, as a victory for the enemies of Israel and the enemies of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship. . . . Welcoming Israel’s Prime Minister to the halls of Congress is the least that those who claim to be friends of the Jewish state should do.
Welcoming the prime minster with courtesy and respect as the leader of a democratic ally is the least we should do, but it’s not all we can do. We can also learn from him. Netanyahu has spent many years on the front lines of the war on terror. As a young man, he was fighting terror while Barack Obama was fighting boredom. As an adult, while Obama was community-organizing his way to the presidency, Netanyahu was a participant in the civilizational struggle in which both Israel and the United States, as leaders of the West, are engaged.
The answer may depend on the Supreme Court.Jan 19, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 18 • By JAY COST
Traditionally, the new year is a time for reflection on the year that ended and predictions about the one to come. Conservatives had an excellent 2014, as the Republican party gained control of the Senate, won more House seats than at any time since the Great Depression, and made historic gains in state governments. What of 2015?
They wanted a public drama, and got it.Jan 19, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 18 • By FRED BARNES
"I'm for the most conservative outcome that we can get,” Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell told Politico’s Manu Raju last summer. House speaker John Boehner would agree with that goal. But critics to their right disagree. They are for the most conservative outcome they cannot get.
Hosted by Michael Graham.4:50 PM, Jan 6, 2015 • By TWS PODCAST
THE WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with executive editor Fred Barnes on the re-election of John Boehner as Speaker of the House, what it means for the caucus, the GOP agenda in 2015 and beyond.
Dec 15, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 14 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
Many Brits are known to enjoy a pint a day. Winston Churchill certainly did—though his daily ration was a pint of champagne, not ale. So it was fitting that the wartime prime minister was toasted last week in Washington with clinking glasses of bubbly. House speaker John Boehner invited a small group—of which The Scrapbook was happily part—to celebrate two birthdays: that of the great man himself, and that of the bust in the Capitol that honors him. One was the 140th, the other just the first.
Jul 14, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 41 • By TERRY EASTLAND
On a wide range of matters, including health care, energy, immigration, foreign policy, and education, says House speaker John Boehner, President Obama has ignored some statutes completely, selectively enforced others, and at times created laws of his own, thus failing to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” as Article II of the Constitution requires of a president.
Same as the old farm bill.Feb 24, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 23 • By DAVE JUDAY
The president just signed into law the Agricultural Act of 2014, a multiyear, comprehensive agricultural, rural, and nutrition policy measure. As legislation goes, it was rather unremarkable. What was remarkable was the path it followed to approval. Unlike most farm bill debates, which tend to be festivals of bipartisanship and comity, this one split lawmakers—rural from urban, House from Senate, Republican from Democrat—along every political fault including between the Tea Party caucus and the rest of the GOP.
Hosted by Michael Graham.4:55 PM, Feb 11, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast, with editor William Kristol on his memo to the House GOP, and how the GOP can position itself for a successful 2014.
How the House speaker rallied his restive troops.Oct 14, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 06 • By FRED BARNES
After the reelection of President Obama, House speaker John Boehner was disappointed, dispirited, and wary of a new round of clashes with the president. House Republicans had planned a fresh effort to repeal Obamacare, but, he told NBC News, “the election changes that.” He negotiated with Obama to raise taxes and spending by $1 trillion each before backing off. And with the Bush tax cuts about to expire and plunge the nation over a “fiscal cliff,” Boehner endorsed a deal to limit higher tax rates to those making more than $400,000.
ADVANCE EDITORIAL from the JULY 29, 2013 issue.2:34 PM, Jul 18, 2013 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
House Republicans don’t get no respect. Has there been in recent times a more derided, mocked, and pitied bunch? Establishment types think the backbenchers are Neanderthals, grassroots activists denounce the leadership as a bunch of squishes, and the media can’t find enough bad things to say about all of them.
But you know what? The House Republicans deserve some respect. They’re doing okay.
If he does, "It will be one of the last things he does [as speaker]."4:05 PM, Feb 26, 2013 • By TWS PODCAST
THE WEEKLY STANDARD podcast, hosted by Michael Graham, with Fred Barnes on the sequester and Chuck Hagel.
The House speaker survives a near-death experience.Aug 8, 2011, Vol. 16, No. 44 • By FRED BARNES
For House speaker John Boehner, Tea Party Republicans weren’t the problem as he sought support for a package of spending cuts attached to an increase in the debt limit. The biggest impediment to a House majority was Republicans fearful a primary opponent would use a vote to boost the debt limit against them.
1:13 PM, Jul 28, 2011 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Nancy Pelosi on today's vote: "What we're trying to do is save the world from the Republican budget. We're trying to save life on this planet as we know it today."
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