ROMNEY PUTS the capital “p” in presumptive nominee, his insatiable ego never satisfied. He thinks everything is about him, so treads where more sober foreign policy experts wouldn’t dare.
As all this was playing out, Eli Lake got an exclusive for the Daily Beast, reporting that Dennis Ross is bowing out of politics and won’t be campaigning for Pres. Obama this election cycle. A former Clinton aide and friend of AIPAC stated the obvious:
“Ambassador Ross was obviously the No. 1 pro-Israel surrogate for the Obama campaign in 2008,” said Josh Block, a former press aide for the Clinton administration and former top spokesman for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. “The fact that after three years of working on Mideast policy side-by-side with the president, Ambassador Ross has decided to sit out this campaign, unlike other former top officials now at nonpartisan think tanks, will certainly be understood as a message of its own, intentionally or unintentionally.”
Jeffrey Goldberg was incensed by the Romneys’ visit to the Temple Mount, which came on a day that’s supposed to be reserved for fasting and mourning. More over at the Atlantic, but here’s Goldberg’s punch line that’s in Romney’s face.
It is also, on this particular Tisha b’Av, the location of a very important photo opportunity for an American presidential candidate.
How vulgar is this?
Mr. Romney also boldly stepped into and over the line on American foreign policy, which he has no business doing, as well as going beyond his role as a candidate, by declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel. Now, I have no doubt he and others on both sides of the political aisle believe this wholeheartedly and that it’s a foregone fact. But it’s self-important amateurism, even dangerous, to Pres. Obama, who’s still got a lot more to concern himself with right now than the November election.
The speech itself sounded as if it could have been written by Netanyahu’s bureau. So it’s no surprise that when the two met later for dinner, Netanyahu thanked him for his “support for Israel and Jerusalem.”
In general, Netanyahu embraced Romney as no Israeli prime minister has ever before embraced a candidate running against an incumbent U.S. president: Aside from their working meeting in the morning, Netanyahu also hosted Romney and his wife and sons for dinner at his official residence.
Romney’s entire visit to Israel was born in the Prime Minister’s Office. According to Tablet Magazine, those who cooked up the visit over breakfasts at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem a month ago were Romney’s adviser Dan Senor and Netanyahu’s adviser, Ron Dermer, who himself hails from a Republican family in Miami.
The two clandestinely planned the visit in order to preempt Barak Obama visiting Israel before the Republican candidate. Senor and Dermer decided to give the scoop on the visit to the New York Times.
Of course, Jennifer Rubin was delighted by Romney’s speech and his demeanor.
Those pro-Israel Democrats who vouched for Obama in 2008 are now desperate to concoct criticisms of Romney (see my exchange with Jeffrey Goldberg), even for the moving symbolism of visiting the Kotel (the wall of the Second Temple) on the day mourning its destruction, Tisha A’Bav. (Romney noted: “It was Menachem Begin who said this about the Ninth of the month of Av: ‘We remember that day,’ he said, ‘and now have the responsibility to make sure that never again will our independence be destroyed and never again will the Jew become homeless or defenseless.’ This, Prime Minister Begin added, “ ‘is the crux of the problems facing us in the future.’ ”)
That Romney would visit the site of the Second Temple’s destruction on the commemoration of its destruction, like going to Normandy cemeteries on D-Day, is a sign of great sensitivity. (Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu underlined this point by inviting him to break the fast on the mourning day at Bibi’s home).
No one can be so naive as to not understand this whole spectacle was about squeezing Pres. Obama, while Romney allies continue the ridiculous charge that the President isn’t a supporter of Israel.
The politics of Israel, shown through Mitt Romney’s actions over the weekend, is part of the obscenity that makes the notion of peace impossible, with “equilibrium,” which Steve Clemons asserts is a more accurate goal, getting further off with each presidential election cycle. Romney is not only a hawk, but he’s more dangerous than George W. Bush, who brought Israel Hamas through pushing elections the Palestinians weren’t ready for.
A whole new fresh hell awaits if the language of Mitt Romney on Israel becomes the foundation for foreign policy discussions, following the race into the debates this fall.