Wednesday, February 3, 2010

On the Cusp of Bicuspidora

I'm in the middle of reading two or three books at once, and don't feel like writing much. So I'll just point to my old friend Ash Khalil's article on President Obama's evasive answer to a student's question about human rights in Gaza. Those who have exulted over Obama's superiority to Bush as a speaker should meditate on the opening sentence of his reply: "The Middle East is obviously an issue that has plagued the region for centuries, and it's an issue that elicits a lot of passions as you have heard." That's right down there with Bush fils and Bush pere when it comes to getting lost in the coils of grammar. The rest of his answer can be read here. No one could have predicted that he'd ever be asked such a question, I'm sure.

I also like this quotation from Stephen Walt in Ash's article:
“It’s not as if the dysfunctional condition of Israeli and Palestinian internal politics was a dark mystery when Obama took office,” wrote Harvard University professor Stephen Walt recently on the Foreign Policy Magazine website. “Did they ever ask themselves what they would do if Netanyahu dug in his heels, as anyone with a triple-digit IQ should have expected?”
It's a question that not only I but others have asked on numerous occasions before and since Obama took office. Did Obama and his Team of Rivals ever ask themselves how they would deal with the Republicans' hostility? Did they even imagine they'd have to deal with it? Did it ever occur to them that they should ask for more than they wanted in bargaining with opponents of their initiatives? Evidently not.