Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Obama Visits Israel

As President Obama's staff was packing his bags for a trip to Israel and Jordan, the Embassy of Israel released a fluffy, feel good little video:

Yes, it's strange. 

Like the video, the visit to Israel will most likely be for optics.  This is an administration who has insulted and badgered the Israel leadership for four years with no real indication that anything will change in the next four years.  President Obama does the minimum with maximum photo ops.  He is only just now going to visit Israel, though Prime Minister Netanyahu has been here numerous times in recent years.  

During his arrival ceremony, Obama joked about his pleasure in getting "away from Congress". My, so clever.  Maybe he wants to portray himself as fully engaged with our Congress.  We all know that is, indeed, a joke.  Simply meeting with Democratic leadership or with any Republican warrants headlines and endless note on cable news.

As he stood on the tarmac at Ben Gurion International Airport with Israeli officials, an open mic caught him joking to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “It’s good to get away from Congress.”
The president is there just days before Passover, the most holy of Israeli holy days. He could have been more considerate in his timing, but that's not much of a concern for this White House.

In what is Mr Obama's first trip to Israel as President, he is expected to reassure America's top ally in the region that the country is still high on his agenda, and a number of public events are supposed to help reassure a nervous Israeli public. That said, some actions speak louder than words as many have already begun resenting the visit because of the timing- just days before Passover.
And, the presidential limo had to be towed away after it stalled out on the way to the airport, driven by the president's chauffeur.  Apparently, the chauffeur filled the tank with the wrong fuel on the way to pick up the president at the airport.  Oops.

The First Lady is noticeably not on this trip.  That's a shame.  Somehow the presence of the first lady on overseas trips seems more reassuring in the sincerity of the visit, no matter who occupies the East Wing of the White House.  

The photo op with President Peres was pleasant for the viewer but no questions were taken after each man made statements.  The press conference with Prime Minister Netanyahu was a bit strained.  The press corps didn't seem to fall for the optimism being promoted by both sides.  

Today was all about the optics of the visit.

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