When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began his speech before Congress Tuesday, I viewed him simply as a foreign right winger imported by our own homegrown right wingers to embarrass the president in a novel fashion. I was listening with one ear, happily tweeting snark like, "Netanyahu: 'I deeply regret some see my being here as being political. That was NEVER my intention.' Then you should have come in April, pal" when the import of the Iran situation began to sink in a little, enough to at least make me worry that I was being glib about something truly dire, and about this deal that's being brokered, which I really don't know much about. It's not like the administration has been talking much about it. Anyway, I pulled back, and wrote this. Maybe I'm a cheap date, and the talking heads say he wasn't very persuasive, in their jaded eye. But he made enough sense for me to worry, which perhaps was the point. That, and to get himself re-elected in two weeks. And embarrass the president.
Bibi Netanyahu used to hang around the Sun-Times.
In the early
2000s. After a vote of no-confidence, Netanyahu had lost the prime
minister's office to Ehud Barak in 1999 and was wandering the
wilderness. He toyed with retiring from politics, but that wasn't going
to stick. Now he was groping, trying to find his way back. It seemed
like he was always stopping by here, and why not? He had a powerful,
rich, fanatically loyal pal in our owner, David Radler, who liked to
have him around, I suppose, because it made him feel connected and
international and generally Israeliffic.
I remember glancing into
an editorial board room, seeing Netanyhu, and tiptoeing quickly away,
thinking, "Why don't you get a job?"
He has a job now, once again
prime minister of Israel, for the past five years, overseeing the
nation's hard right turn, which might come to a halt in a fortnight,
should his Likud party slide in the March 17 elections (Israeli has a
parliamentary system, so prime ministers are elected by the dominant
party and whatever coalitions it forms). The latest polls are about
Of course that was before he addressed Congress. He's back
stateside (or should I say, "he's baaaack"?) not haunting the Sun-Times
offices, thank God, but assisting the Republicans in their constant
quest to embarrass Barack Obama before he gets out of their clutches and
is handed over to history, which is sure to be kinder to him than
current events have been.
John Boehner invited him to address
Congress, and he came, to plug the hard-line Israeli view that Obama and
his lackey, Secretary of State John Kerry, are about to hand the keys
of doom to the Iranians and urge, in their thin, Barney Fife voices,
that they please drive carefully.
Not if Netanyahu can stop it.
"We must all join together to stop Iran's march of conquest, subjugation and terror," Netanyahu said, to rapturous applause....
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