In a meeting with fifteen Rabbis last week, White House shief of staff Rahm Emanuel said that the administration “screwed up the messaging.” Part of me wants to buy that, but I’m very skeptical. I’d have been a lot more reassured had Emanual said, “we screwed up our strategy.”
For one thing as Jennifer Rubin notes, the Rabbis chosen to meet with the President were known for being favorably disposed towards him.
As to the build-up, Moline lets on that no one predisposed to say nasty things about Obama was invited, nor was anyone who didnâ€™t vote for him. (â€We also wanted people who had not engaged in the kinds of behaviors I mentioned in my introduction, which is to say people who had been positively predisposed to President Obama once the election was over, but found themselves troubled by what had transpired over the subsequent year.â€)
But was the purpose, as Rubin alleges, simply to ensure a positive reception? Or did the President feel that if Rabbis known to be sympathetic were bothered by the administration’s policies, that there was real work to be done?
Then there are Herb Keinon’s observations.
The truth, however, is that beyond the â€œmessage problemâ€ there are indeed fundamental conceptual differences between how the Israel and the US view regional reality.
. . .
The differences are there, and they are real. What has changed now is that the administration has decided, in large part because of electoral considerations, that rather than playing these differences up, as it has done up until now, they will now keep them in the background â€¦ at least until the midterm congressional elections in November.
After that, it will be time again for the Netanyahu government to duck and look for cover, until the US presidential primary season heats up in the fall of 2011. Then electoral considerations will again become paramount in Washington, and Israel will again catch an American reprieve.
The only real reason to change approaches now would seem to be electoral considerations.
The Obama administration has been very open about its courting of Muslims. But the administration’s outreach to the Rabbis or even to Democratic legislators hasn’t made the pages of either the New York Times or Washington Post.
Based on the timing, President Obama’s own record and the administration’s relative quiet about the outreach to the Jewish community, it would appear that the Jewish outreach or “charm offensive” is more cynical than sincere. I think that Rahm Emanuel was right about the “messaging.” The administration doesn’t believe that it was wrong in its approach to the Middle East – including blowing up a bureaucratic snafu into an international incident – it’s mostly concerned that that approach will be “misunderstood” as being anti-Israel or, at least, unfair to Israel. The truth is that it would be no misunderstanding.
Crossposted on Soccer Dad.