Another Tack: Obama of the open mic (JERUSALEM POST OP-ED) By SARAH HONIG 04/06/12)
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‘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 one.
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
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
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 exceptional
Whatever it is, Obama is serially careless.
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 release.
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,” Obama bellyached.
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
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 flexibility.”
Medvedev: “I understand. I will transmit this information to
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 people.
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 win
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 allies.
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
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
Obama’s pro-Arab/pro-Muslim predilections mustn’t escape the scrutiny
of American Jews, no matter how knee-jerk liberal most of them
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.
Worse 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
Hardly 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 autocrats.
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 transaction.
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 reelection.
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
And 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 is forearmed.
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.
Indeed, considering shenanigans such as those he broached to
Medvedev, doubt becomes nothing less than mandatory.
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.” (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 04/06/12)
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