Obama makes a joke at his own expense today at the annual prayer breakfast, but as you can see in the video, his laugh isn’t full, but instead an afterthought, because the President knows all too well the dangers underlying the subtext of his material.

Republican Rep. Mark Kirk won the Illinois primary in a walk and is well situated in the general election for Barack Obama’s old Senate seat, going into the race as the front runner. The symbolism will become clear. Kirk’s rise possibly portending something bigger when you look closely.

Could Kirk be AIPAC’s new man in Washington? Perhaps. TPM’s Justin Elliot does an introduction piece on it today. But there is a larger narrative building that makes the right’s rhetoric against Obama even more dangerous, when you consider the larger target of foreign policy, where the Middle East has always been a lightning point.

Open Secrets reveals Rep. Kirk as the number four recipient of big bucks from the pro Israel forces, with only Obama, McCain and Hillary leading him. That’s rather remarkable given the heavy weights in the Senate, of which Kirk is now poised to be one. If you don’t remember, he was one of the leaders against Chas Freeman‘s appointment, an organizing force. If you don’t recall, Mr. Freeman blasted the Israeli right lobby after he pulled his name from nomination, after having been swiftboated by them in a character assassination led by Israeli neocon hawks that evidently believe America’s historic friendship with Israel, as well as our renowned fealty to backing our friend at every turn, is not sufficiently appreciated. A charge that is absolute rubbish.

Anyway, Kirk’s rise to take Obama’s Senate seat is really a tell on what’s been roiling the political bloodstream on the Middle East since Pres. Obama’s speech in Cairo. That there has been much shuttling around regarding negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, but no policy movement whatsoever, as even Stephen Walt suggesting in January that George Mitchell should just resign.

Obama blinked — leaving Mitchell with nothing to do-because he needed to keep sixty senators on board with his health care initiative (that worked out well, didn’t it?), because he didn’t want to jeopardize the campaign coffers of the Democratic Party, and because he knew he’d be excoriated by Israel’s false friends in the U.S. media if he did the right thing. I suppose I ought to be grateful to have my thesis vindicated in such striking fashion, but there’s too much human misery involved on both sides to take any consolation in that. – Time for George Mitchell to resign

The current sag in Pres. Obama’s domestic credibility having larger ramifications than most appreciate, especially with the Congress headed towards a potential cataclysmic earthquake in 2010; traditional voices now openly speculating that not only the House may tip GOP, but the Senate as well. As I don’t do predictions, I’ll let you to speculate the odds on either, though it’s obvious Democrats are in for it as things stand right now.


Whereas Kirk is actually a traditional right-wing hawk Republican on all things Israel, never mind that this position has not made Israel any safer over the years, the far right Israeli voices in America are marshaling another type of campaign against moderation and progress targeting Pres. Obama. One that is not only insidiously offensive, but dangerous in the extreme. It is represented well today by a stunning FrontPage post by Robert Spencer, who is pushing pieces by AtlasShrugged’s Pamela Geller, the two of them joining together in a book to be published by Threshold Editions, an imprint of Simon and Schuster entitled, “The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War on America,” due out in late July 2010. Fittingly, the forward is done by John Bolton (and as some regulars will remember, the coupling of Geller and Bolton became the subject of quite a fracas when I inserted myself in the John-Pamela love fest back in 2006, which resulted in several humorous exchanges with Bolton’s people.).

As of 2005, the “chief editor” of Threshold was Mary Matalin. It’s not Regnery, the behemoth right-wing publisher, which has been behind other Robert Spencer books, but having the imprimatur of Simon and Schuster, which is the publisher usually noted, gives the upcoming and undoubtedly venomous screed to come an aura of respectability. Look for specials from Human Events and WND to come.

As can be seen by perusing Spencer’s post today on FrontPage, as well as Geller’s Holocaust “investigation” connections regarding certain prominent Muslims and including Palestinians, with regular swipes at the progressive rising J Street, these attacks from Israeli hawk wingnut central are inspired by the notion that any engagement with Arabs and Palestinians, let alone Muslims, where their firing line begins, must be stopped to save Israel. A nutty notion, but that’s their oxygen. The prime recipient of their hatred directed at Pres. Obama, whom the Israeli right deems an enemy, because our President dared to have the audacity to challenge conventional U.S. Middle East policy that has gotten Israel nowhere, certainly no safer, doing the unthinkably right thing by demanding new settlements cease. The Israeli press trying mightily to ruin Obama in Israel, not completely succeeding, as my report on polling revealed, thus the entry of the American Israeli hawk right.

The sad reality being that since Obama’s Cairo speech there has been exactly zero progress in the Middle East. Rep. Kirk and his farther fringe friends like Spencer and Geller know Pres. Obama has been stopped short of real progress in Middle East talks, so they’re preemptive attack looking to 2012 has begun. Not that the Spencer-Geller contingent will move the majority, as these people work on the fringes, with Kirk potentially a new Israeli hawk headliner. That he could be in Obama’s old Senate seat offers powerful symbolism if nothing else.

Meanwhile, the Israeli right remains primarily worried about Iran, pushing confrontation, another point of contention over Obama’s policy of engagement.

However, now that Obama’s domestic strength has been weakened, with many believing Middle East progress will escape the promise once instilled in Pres. Obama’s administration, the right is emboldened. Feeling this is the time to swiftboat anyone who believes the facts and hope lie in Israel admitting their wrongs and offering a real deal with the Palestinians. If for no other reason than the alternative to progress is the unthinkable for us all. Though the continued raging over the Goldstone report doesn’t offer much hope.

While Rep. Kirk eyes the Senate, he remains above the fray and among the usual Israel Hawk crowd, his couterparts on the fringe right mounting a renewed anti Obama campaign, with Spencer and Geller doing the dirty work. It’s looking like Jerome Corsi on steroids, and we all know where that one ended, so no one should dismiss the ultimate goal and that they’re starting very early.