‘The tongue weighs practically nothing,” notes the anonymous aged adage, “but so
few folks can hold it.’ Some supercilious sorts don’t even seem to try too hard
– like American President Barack Obama, given to remarkable and repetitive
chattiness when he’s precariously near open microphones. He is so
accident-prone, in fact, that we’re forced to deduce that he personifies that
most rare of hybrids – the schlemiel and schlimazel rolled into
Yiddish clearly distinguishes between the two categories of
klutziness. The schlimazel is the one on whom soup is spilled, while the
schlemiel is the one who spills it. The uncommon confluence of bad luck and
clumsiness leaves one and the same character suffering embarrassment while
serving as the instrument of his own embarrassment.
It’s bad enough that
Obama chooses to make nice to foreign headliners and disclose to them defeatist
strategies – the sort he cultivates secretly and most certainly shouldn’t want
exposed to all and sundry. However, if the penchant to resort to such
manipulative candor cannot be overcome, it should – one would think – be best
practiced behind closed doors.
Obama’s predilection to prattle in the
vicinity of plugged-in sound equipment can either denote extraordinary
overconfidence and a smug presumption of invulnerability or it’s indicative of
Whatever it is, Obama is serially
Thus last November he chitchatted chummily with French
President Nicolas Sarkozy during the G20 summit in Cannes. “I can’t stand him.
He’s a liar,” a chagrined Sarkozy blurted in reference to the man both of them
love to loath – Israel’s own PM, Binyamin Netanyahu. Word is that Sarkozy’s
feathers were ruffled because Bibi didn’t credit him with Gilad Schalit’s
Pointedly, Obama not only failed to defend Netanyahu but
actually expressed unreserved agreement with his cantankerous interlocutor.
“You’re fed up with him, but I have to deal with him even more often than you,”
The trouble was that this frank articulation of
unambiguous aversion towards Israel’s democratically elected head of government
– a staunch ally of America – was inadvertently broadcast to journalists
covering the event.
One would imagine that after his onmic misadventure,
Obama would be unable to again pull off the pretence of impartiality.
Nonetheless, he audaciously did just that and welcomed Netanyahu to Washington
recently as his forever bosom buddy. The approaching campaign season softens
animus – or seems to. Accordingly, Obama spares no effort to convince his Jewish
electorate that he’s not halfway as sinister as some say.
But when a
politician loses fear of amplifiers and visible recording paraphernalia, all
sorts of things are bound to spill out. And so at another international
conference (the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit last week) Obama hobnobbed with
another leader (outgoing Russian President Dmitri Medvedev) when that darn mic
was (unbeknownst to him) switched on.
Thus unawares, Obama exhorted not
only the Russian honchos but also the whole listening world not to fall for his
electioneering blarney. His subtext was that he’s obliged to say one thing
preelection to hustle votes, but that afterwards, if he secures his second term,
he’ll do another thing entirely.
This is how it went: Obama: “On all
these issues, but particularly missile defense, this can be solved but it’s
important for him [Vladimir Putin] to give me space.”
Medvedev: “Yeah, I
understand. I understand your message about space.
Space for you…” Obama:
“This is my last election. After my election I have more
Medvedev: “I understand. I will transmit this information
The Obama-Medvedev banter wasn’t Israel-centered. It
revolved around America’s planned anti-ballistic shield for Europe (mostly
against Iranian attack). But Obama’s predilection for deception should
disconcert us too because likely the same sort of doubledealing is now practiced
in regard to our life-and-death perils.
Obama unabashedly establishes
that what he promises now isn’t how he’d conduct himself on his final term, when
the dread of the electorate is lifted from his shoulders. It’s not like we
didn’t infer this, but Obama’s admission must intensify our intuitive insights.
He indisputably plots his course exactly as we suspect.
Privately – with
all the calculated conniving that implies – Obama relayed a message to
Medvedev’s patron, Russia’s once-and-future boss Vladimir Putin, that greater
“flexibility” vis-à-vis Kremlin opposition to American missile defenses will
follow Obama’s reinstatement in the White House. Post-election (when Obama has
nothing to lose), he’d be free to cut a deal with the Russians that would be
deadly to his pre-election interests.
Once he’s impervious to
voter-backlash, Obama in effect suggests to his Muscovite counterpart, he’d be
prepared to please the Russians even if he thereby displeases the American
But he needs a period of grace because the Americans he
undertakes to bamboozle are also the very ones whom he’ll have to persuade to
The purported leader of the Free World no less than offers
the most powerful first-hand corroboration of his fecklessness to his prime
geopolitical adversaries. Mind you, ex-KGB hotshot Putin wasn’t born
In 2009 Obama terminated the missile- defense system for the
Poles and Czechs. Obamaesque goodwill, though, went unrequited. Russia helped
build Iran’s nuclear reactor at Bushehr, stymies anti-Iran sanctions and
underpins Syria’s Bashar al-Assad.
That said, Obama’s latest cozying up
to Medvedev represents a whole new twist on appeasement. There’s no getting away
from the fact that Obama appealed for Putin’s forbearance in order to help him
Putin’s payoff would come when second- term President
Obama accedes to his demands.
What Medvedev was asked to tip Putin about
wasn’t supposed to be shared with American voters or overseas
From Obama’s words it emerges that he considered it essential
that his capitulation to Russian pressure against missile defense development be
kept under wraps – for now. Voters, hence, have every right to ask whether there
are other surprises Obama might spring if reelected.
In that vein, Jewish
voters (those who still care) need to ask whether Obama is being straight with
them in his palaver on the Mideast, both as regards Iranian nuke ambitions and
Palestinian cynical stonewalling.
predilections mustn’t escape the scrutiny of American Jews, no matter how
knee-jerk liberal most of them invariably are.
If Obama – as the latest
flap in Seoul signaled – isn’t shooting straight with the American public in
general, odds that he deliberately deludes his Jewish supporters.
than the incredible recklessness of making risky (if not altogether unethical)
pitches while wearing a microphone, is the blithe manner in which Obama strove
to brush the slipup aside. His flippancy all but screams out that he holds his
plebian voters in thinly disguised contempt.
Even more disconcerting is
the fact that he appears to have succeeded in laughing away the incident, as if
it constituted no more than an actually endearing indiscretion involving pesky
electronic gadgetry. He somehow managed to paper over the shocking content of
his overheard conversation – conspiring with an inimical foreign rival behind
the backs of his own voters, with an eye to duping these voters.
much can be more serious than that and potentially more politically disastrous.
Still, Obama comes off as immune to what would quash the prospects of other
incumbents. Lack of honesty with the voting public – especially when so
glaringly exposed – should by logic be catastrophic to his reelection cause. And
yet the fallout is barely perceptible, as if Americans refrain from dwelling on
the ramifications of clandestine “flexibility” with Russian
It’s no joke when the leader of the world’s sole remaining
superpower proposes to placate a hardnosed pushy competitor who aspires to
regain his country’s erstwhile superpower status.
It’s worse when
electoral advantage is linked to playing fast and loose with basic security.
It’s worst when the president himself is unmistakably heard peddling this shady
These aren’t tendentious leaks from unnamed sources. What
was unintentionally imparted to us is as credible as can be precisely because it
wasn’t intended for our ears. Truth surfaces when arrogant jabberers let their
guard down, feeling free to expound on hidden agendas – expediently hidden for
very ulterior motives.
Without much ado, Putin was told that his
irresponsible record will be rewarded by more gratuitous pliability from Obama.
America’s allies everywhere must now be wary in the utmost extreme – and
principally so Israel, which is the most threatened and loyal of the allies and
in the vanguard of them all. Should Obama win his “last election,” we’ll all
have lots to worry about.
No amount of post-gaffe lightheartedness on
Obama’s part should be allowed to downscale our alarm about his possible
Jews have every reason to be leery of a second Obama term,
after he’ll have waged his last campaign, as he himself stressed. Obama’s lack
of candor regarding Israel has been demonstrated all too often. The above-quoted
badmouthing of Netanyahu at Cannes is only one of numerous examples.
we must always bear in mind that what we overhear by coincidence is surely a
negligible fragment of worse utterances to which we never become privy. What the
open mic divulges is but an infinitesimal indication of what’s said out of our
earshot. But that fortuitous tiny tidbit is a fortunate omen because forewarned
We better hope this omen robs us of peace of mind – for the
sake of our own self-preservation. All bets should now be off because Obama
plainly doesn’t deserve the benefit of our doubt.
shenanigans such as those he broached to Medvedev, doubt becomes nothing less
Medvedev assured Obama: “I stand with you.” His
endorsement, though, must elicit the precise opposite from us. In the wise words
of playwright Tennessee Williams, “We have to distrust…. It is our only
defense against betrayal.”www.sarahhonig.com