Friday, March 22, 2013

Mr. MacGuffin Goes To Mediocre-ville

Empress Trudy

I am not going to write very much about President Obama's trip. Many people have done it with probably more interest and detail than I have. And with more passion either for or against his failures, successes and gaffes. He said some things that the Arabs like, the far left likes and some things that they hated and some things fairly neutral to everyone else. He spoke to 'his base' – college students (some of them, not the college students who live in Yesha) and chanted the things that college students like to hear. The limo broke down, there was a sandstorm, he met Ms. Israel and smiled from beneath the giant face of Yasser Arafat. He memorized a sentence of Hebrew. He called for a 'contiguous Palestinian state', a direct quote. He said Jews living in Yesha is bad. He mentioned 2-5 rockets attacking Sderot. Syria's red lines are now orange. Something vague and contradictory about Iran which is still a huge problem. Hamas is now different from Hezbollah. Traffic got snarled up. Expectations were low and everyone met those goals.

For a populist it was a mediocre performance but mediocrity was the best possible outcome anyone could expect and hope for. Because President Obama is a MacGuffin. He's whatever you want to see and hear. He's the golden briefcase in “Pulp Fiction”. To the college students in the convention center he hit most of the points they want. To the moderates he might have appeared moderate. He shlepped to tatty Ramallah and told them what they wanted to hear. To the Jews in Yesha and Jerusalem he was the pro Arab mouthpiece from Cairo 2009. No one's quite sure what it is he said or why he said it let alone what's next or why, but they're pretty sure they heard something they expected to hear and it reinforced for the most part what they already believed.

So what was the point of it all? From the perspective of transparency, there might have been no point. Obama is about 1 year from the terminal glide path of his lame duck Presidency. Abbas is in year 9 of his 4 year term and is 76 and reputed to be quite ill. Hamas is struggling not to be pushed aside by their own fanatics even more fanatical than they are no matter how much Obama claims they are 'legitimate'. The regional Arab leaders don't seem to care all that much, haven't said anything. Not even N asrallah had much if anything at all to say. Normally one would expect at least Hezbollah or Iran to scream about The Great Satan. All Iran managed to do is repeat their threats to drop atomic bombs on the Jews.

I think the point was there is no point.

What's obvious now is that no one cares about the “Palestinians”.  It's a blip. Not even the "Palestinians" appear to have any goal or strategic objective; and if they do it doesn't involve Obama despite his words about the peace process or whatever. Obama can make pronouncements about Jews who are not suffered to live in Jerusalem but few people are listening. In fact the only people who are, are HERE in the US. The goal of Obama's trip might be purely for domestic consumption. The Jewish Democrats, represented by Debbie Wasserman-Schultz might be the target. Obama is appeasing them. The New York Times, the pro Obama media, Talking Points Memo and twitteratti. Those might be the point of this. Of course the far fringes of the Obamazone aren't buying it either.

Yesterday Peter Beinart on “Hardball” said he doesn't believe Obama can free himself from the sway of the uber-Jews and he doesn't believe that the uber-Jews won't cause World War 3 in an unprovoked attack on the peaceful peace loving Persians of Peace who of course don't even know what an atomic bomb is, let alone build one. Never mind they were saying they'll nuke the Jews – while Obama was there – that's clearly one of those "mistranslations" we hear so much about. So not even the fringes of the Obamasphere were appeased by this. But on the whole I suspect the point was us here, not them over there. The DNC can say that Obama is the King of the Jews and everyone else gets to shrug.

Mr. MacGuffin went to Mediocre-ville and something about something was said. It wasn't very filling but it was cheap and if it were a Yelp review it would be "Meh – they served from food."


  1. Can't say that I disagree with any of this.

    At least he got to see again, with his own eyes, how things are on the ground. For most of the rest, it has the quality of theater, as does so much of politics these days. There is no transparency.

    For many American Jews, just as Clinton was the first black President, Obama is the first Jewish one.

  2. This is a terrific piece, Trudy, and I have to say that I am reasonably pleased with Obama's visit because while I was expecting him to do damage, I do not yet see that he has.

    Your analysis above is about as spot on as anything that I have read.

    We'll see how the dialogue plays out over the coming days and weeks, but I don't see much to be concerned about.

    I think the point was there is no point.