From sneezes to freezes
By Michael R. Shannon
Politicians are notorious for their inability to take a joke or tell one, and the Obama Administration appears to be a particularly humor-free zone. That's why I think all cabinet secretaries should be issued one staffer who has not attended an Ivy League school, but who did tell an original joke sometime after the age of 21.
Then the public would be spared the sight of Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano teaching the citizens of the United States how to sneeze on their arm.
One look during rehearsals at Janet Napolitano doing her Bela Lugosi impersonation and the Humor Czar would have quietly told her that particular tidbit of information should come from a nurse, teacher or third grader.
Personally, I thought Janet looked hilarious until it occurred to me the problem with this Administration is that you're never certain they won't escalate into more personal areas of hygiene instruction.
So it's no wonder that a White House that has time to teach America to sneeze also has time to supervise zoning and building permits in Israel. Earlier this month, the Administration strongly condemned Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's decision to continue construction of 2,500 apartments in East Jerusalem, which just happens to be the capital of Israel. Construction must be stopped – frozen.
Sneeze lessons for Americans. Freeze demands for Israelis.
To put this in perspective, the Obama administration has no problem with Iran building nuclear power plants, because criticizing Iran would be "interference." But the thought of an ally adding to its housing stock is an outrage.
This is just another in a series of damaging, counter-productive foreign policy decisions made by The One. Missile defense in Eastern Europe, preservation of democracy in Honduras, "peace" in the Middle East, and nukes in Iran all have one element in common: Obama does the reverse of what the Bush Administration did.
Now there's a comforting thought for America's friends and allies: the foreign policy of the world's one remaining superpower is governed by Newton's Third Law of Motion: for every new administration there is an equal and opposite policy reaction.
You expect this sort of upheaval in Botswana or Detroit, but I don't think the diplomatic world will be comfortable with a United States that turns on a dime.
Which brings us back to Barack's "smart growth" policies in Israel. US attempts to bring peace to the Middle East are a 30-year steaming pile of failure, simply because it takes two to tango. You can't sign a durable peace when only one-half of the warring factions is ready to stop fighting.
Obama, of course, has the power to make all things new. So he reverses clear US policy with regard to building in Jerusalem and the West Bank, and treats Israel like it is the intransigent party.
But Obama's peace plan is going nowhere, because his mental framework for viewing negotiations is wrong. It's difficult to explain a genuine life-and-death conflict like the Middle East to White House staffers whose most violent encounter was wrestling with their sister for control of the remote.
So instead, let's compare it to something they are familiar with: a really bad divorce. Here Israel is the husband. He's resigned to the fact this relationship is not salvageable and he's going to endure a lopsided settlement. All he wants is to live in peace and to divvy up the property – which is why he's sitting at a table with Dr. Obama, listening to him drone on about feelings and communication.
The Palestinian Arabs are the wife, and she wants all the property and the right to make him return anything he's owned since they first met. Plus, she genuinely wants hubby dead and spends the child support money in sleazy biker bars trying to hire someone to kill the old man.
At home she tells the children the husband is an evil abuser who wants to sell their organs and she burns up the phone lines calling UN 9–1–1, claiming that hubby is slapping her around and trying to molest the kids.
At the counseling sessions, she won't agree to any compromise. Instead, she complains about alimony and says he's a liar who won't let her travel.
So maybe a good place to start negotiations would be to suggest that the wife stop hiring assassins and quit indoctrinating the kids.
But no, wise Dr. Obama doesn't like pressuring the wife, because she's only an eye roll away from hysteria. So instead, he wants the husband to supply an MRI that proves all his organs are original equipment.
It's testimony to Jewish tolerance that they endure this quack.
Progress will be made when we and the Administration recognize three truths regarding the Middle East:
Michael R. Shannon is a Virginia-based public relations and media consultant with MANDATE: Message, Media & Public Relations who has worked in over 75 elections on three continents and a handful of islands.
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