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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Thomas Friedman, "U.S. Fringe Festival": No Room for Compromise?

Have you followed the Obama administration's efforts over the past five years to restart negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians? The Obama administration has persistently demanded that the Israelis toss the Palestinians some sort of bone, e.g., a halt in settlement construction, in order to get talks moving. A pity Obama cannot adhere to this same strategy when attempting to end the shutdown in the US and avoid a debt default.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "U.S. Fringe Festival" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/09/opinion/friedman-us-fringe-festival.html), Thomas Friedman compliments President Obama on his intransigence involving negotiations with the Republicans. Friedman writes:

"President Obama is leading. He is protecting the very rules that are the foundation of any healthy democracy. He is leading by not giving into this blackmail, because if he did he would undermine the principle of majority rule that is the bedrock of our democracy.

. . . .

The president has said that he would give the G.O.P. an agenda for negotiations that could start when the government is funded and the debt ceiling lifted. He’s ready to consider trading the medical-device tax in Obamacare for another equivalent source of revenue or having a talk about closing tax loopholes and reforming entitlements — to both lower the deficit and raise revenue to invest in infrastructure or early childhood education. What Obama will not do, and must not do, is pay an entry fee to that negotiation — say giving up the medical-device tax — just to help Boehner down from the tree. Cruz & Co. would claim victory."

No "entry fee" to negotiation? Tell that to the Israelis.

Given what's at stake here - an epic economic disaster - there is no room for games involving ego. Obama has almost no experience in negotiations, and it shows. When you want to reach a settlement, there comes a time to drop the rhetoric and make some sort of conciliatory gesture in order to initiate talks.

Friedman is afraid that any such gesture could strengthen the hand of Ted Cruz? So Obama should call for round-the-clock talks with John Boehner to settle this thing. Boehner would emerge as the hero, not Cruz, and Obama would also share in the glory.

But then such a move would demand leadership on the part of Obama, which is not part of his repertoire.

Friedman can rail against Republican gerrymandering of Congressional districts, but sooner or later (let's hope sooner), compromise will be necessary.

3 comments:

  1. "The Obama administration has persistently demanded that the Israelis toss the Palestinians some sort of bone, e.g., a halt in settlement construction..."

    A better example of failed diplomacy would be how the current administration pressured the Israeli government to free terrorists with blood on their hands - without getting anything in return other than continued violence.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/13/us-palestinians-israel-prisoners-idUSBRE97C0Z620130813

    Imagine for a moment that in order to move a certain policy forward, a foreign government demands that the US immediately release Sirhan Bishara Sirhan. After all, he fits the description of the very same prisoners that the US is demanding that Israel free. He's Palestinian, a terrorist, he committed a politically motivated murder prior to the Olso accords... what's the difference? Then, once he's released the same foreign government claims that more has to be done in order to 'bring both sides to the negotiating table' and demands that the the US also free Ted Kaczynski (AKA, the Unabomber'), Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (the "underwear bomber"), Ramzi Yousef (WTC terrorist) and 100 other "prisoners".

    I can't imagine what dirt the NSA has accumulated on all the Israeli politicians who willingly agreed to this insanity.

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  2. "President Obama is leading. He is protecting the very rules that are the foundation of any healthy democracy."
    Looks to me like an apologia or simply propaganda.
    Translation: "President Obama isn't leading. He is endangering American democracy."

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  3. Jeff, I am preoccupied with Oslo Nobel. It looks interesting.
    2009 - Obama for encouraging Islamism
    2011 - an Islamist activist
    2012 - "Nobel Peace Prize to the IAEA (of the UN) headed by (noted Egyptian anti-Israel propagandist) Mohamed El Baradei for their work in allowing Iran to continue to develop nuclear weapons.'
    2013 - again to Obama for saving the skin of a Muslim monster
    I haven't checked 2010 yet.
    Well, something is rotten in Norway.
    What do we have there? A mix of Knut Hamsun crowd and Malmo crowd?

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