Pusillanimity or Hypocrisy or Both
By FRANKLIN C. SPINNEY
I believe Obama's schtick during his campaign for president was to subtly encourage his adversaries to impale themselves of the horns of their own contradictions. This kind of strategy can be particularly effective in the all-important moral dimension of an election, or indeed, any other kind of conflict. To be sure, Obama had the help of widespread disgust with Bush, as well as an exquisitely timed, terrible financial meltdown, but the parallels in his campaigns against Hillary Clinton and John McCain suggest he had an instinctive feel for gaining leverage by using what reformers in the Pentagon called the Motherhood and Mismatch, or M&M, strategy. (See my CounterPunch essay on that theme.) But to date, his strategy for governance has failed utterly to live up to that brilliance. He blew at least two stunning opportunities that seemed designed in heaven for a decisive M&M strategy. He capitulated to a morally bankrupt establishment by bailing out the banksters and then caving in to the insurance companies on health care reform.
Obama now has a third opportunity, and like his campaigns against Clinton and McCain, it is partly the result of his own making, be it accidental or deliberate. As Ira Chernus shows in a persuasively argued 19 October essay, Israel's hypocrisy in the so-called peace process has reached stunning proportions. The Palestinians are going out of their way to accommodate Israel in the so-called peace talks, but each time the Palestinians sell out their patrimony by caving in to a new Israeli demand — like recognizing Israel as a Jewish state as opposed to recognition of Israel per se, the Israelis up the ante by inserting poison pills aimed at queering any deal — like saying that settlement expansion in East Jerusalem will not be part of a settlement freeze because East Jerusalem is a part of Israel, a claim not recognized by international law, the United States, or Europe, and then acting as if Israel is the injured party.