Another Tack: The wonderful wizard of Hope (Arkansas)

Another Tack The wonder

His real name, according to author L. Frank Baum, was Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkel Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs. Since it's a bit cumbersome, the bearer of this moniker squeezed it down to the initials only, which came out as O.Z.P.I.N.H.E.A.D. From the third letter onward the acronym spells "pinhead," not desirable for an ambitious individual, even if it does hint at the truth. Obfuscating that truth and enhancing his image, therefore, necessitated a further trim, leaving only OZ. Mr. Diggs, originally of Omaha, Nebraska, made his none-too-impressive living as a circus magician. For promotional purposes he painted the OZ logo boldly on the hot-air balloon he used for some of his none-too-impressive tricks. His fortunes dramatically improved after said balloon once drifted to the Emerald City. There, this otherwise ordinary con artist found himself worshiped by the naïve denizens as the all-knowing Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Incredibly they hung on to the presumed supreme sorcerer's every word, and he did his utmost to sustain the myth. Just like former US President William Jefferson Clinton (born Blythe), originally of Hope, Arkansas. Whenever hot air ferries this political magician over to our backwater, the natives incredibly hang on to his every word, inane and hackneyed as it may be. This possibly is the last spot on Earth in which he is still worshipped as a great wizard and he laps it up. Seeming to do his darnedest to enlighten his benighted fans, he in fact does his utmost to sustain the myth. DURING HIS latest speechifying extravaganza, Slick Willie (as fellow Arkansans called him) pontificated when memorializing Yitzhak Rabin: "Had he not lost his life on that terrible November night, within three years we would have had a comprehensive agreement for peace in the Middle East." No kidding. It's a stretch to believe the wizard was sincere. He must have at least dimly recalled that the Oslo pipedream had revealed itself a haunting nightmare. Packed passenger buses were blown up and what Rabin euphemistically dubbed "victims of peace" were slaughtered in our streets. There are more than a few indications that Rabin himself was already growing increasingly edgy and unsure. The great historical irony is that he may have been assassinated on the verge of awakening from the hypnotic Osloite delusion. Rabin resolutely opined against a Palestinian state, the re-division of Jerusalem and ceding the Jordan valley. There can be no certainly that by 1998 he'd have marched dutifully down the path outlined for him by Shimon Peres and Clinton. It's all moot. It's conjecture. It can be argued just as cogently that Rabin read the adverse polls and understood he'd lose the next election if he didn't correct his course. Clinton's assertion is as trustworthy as the claims Diggs of Omaha made for the snake oil and patent elixirs he peddled at county fairs. All post-Rabin Israeli premiers toed the Oslo line and offered concessions, some of the sort Rabin bluntly opposed. Peres exploited his few months as caretaker to cede Judea and Samaria cities. Israelis paid in blood for Peres's recklessness, which had to be undone - following the Park Hotel carnage - via 2002's Operation Defensive Shield and the security fence. Although given the voters' mandate to veer away from Oslo, Netanyahu didn't during his 1996-99 tenure. His successor, Laborite Ehud Barak, was Clinton's darling. Clinton actively helped him defeat Netanyahu. Clinton did for Barak what few American presidents ever dared openly do even for their most promising foreign protégés. The none-too-impressive then-White House resident pulled out all stops in his unabashed intervention in Israel's domestic politics, boosting Barak in a fashion unseen since the CIA's blatant interference in Italy's post-WWII election. Brashly Clinton didn't even bother to cover up his tracks but dispatched his own spin doctors, private pollsters and campaign strategists to get Barak elected. After Barak's 1999 win, the Wizard of Hope could hardly contain his glee. On the eve of Barak's first visit as PM, Clinton quipped that he's "as excited as a kid awaiting a new toy." It was pretty demeaning to look upon the leader of an allied sovereign state as a plaything, but Clinton greeted with pomp and circumstance a guest whose election constituted his personal triumph. The American president made Barak's political battle his own. Hence it's more than a tad disingenuous to now suggest that Clinton could count on no Israeli leader after Rabin. Yet wonder of wonders - even Clinton's chummy favorite couldn't manage to salvage peace from the Oslo disaster. Not that Barak hadn't tried. Not that Clinton didn't prod him at Camp David and then desperately at Taba. Not that Barak didn't offer for sale almost everything - even Judaism's Holiest of Holies. But Arafat violently spurned Barak's egregious generosity and kindled the 2000 intifada. IN A recent Jericho conference PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat divulged that at Camp David Clinton entreated Arafat, "as a believer," to acknowledge a Jewish bond to Jerusalem and admit the great Jewish temple once stood where al-Aksa mosque was subsequently constructed. Arafat remained adamant: "I will never recognize that any temple existed. If we don't liberate Jerusalem from Jewish presence now, there will be those who will do so in five years, or ten, even a hundred, if that's what it takes." It's this ongoing and unabating Arab intransigence which foiled and keeps foiling all attempts to broker peace. Moreover, this intransigence is evident regarding all contentious issues, not merely Jerusalem. While Israel has made risky concession after risky concession, the Palestinians simply haven't budged from their starting standpoint. Yet meddling sorcerers like Clinton manage to make it appear that Israelis are culpable. Clinton serially imparts the false impression that Israeli leaders - both before and after Rabin - just didn't seek peace enough. He underscores this by preaching that Israelis must make peace because "you cannot get a divorce and move to another planet." He scares us that "Palestinians have more babies" and, therefore, "if you want to be a democracy and a Jewish state you have to cut a deal." Besides this being our business and none of his, the abiding implication of the omniscient kibitzer's admonitions is that the problem begins and ends with Israeli attitudes. "You need to get this done and you do have partners," judges the infallible wonderful wizard. This is fake, as fake as O.Z.P.I.N.H.E.A.D's powers. Baum's wizard is of course eventually exposed, while Clinton is adulated by our homegrown munchkins as if he has every right to talk down, reprove and lecture to us. Furthermore, unlike Baum's bumbling fraud, Clinton is no ne'er-do-well. He globetrots, earning upwards of $200,000 per appearance. Everywhere he profitably declaims precisely those timeworn stereotypic cliches his moneyed hosts expect to hear. Same here.