A reader calls my attention to the latest noxious column by Roger Cohen. On full display is the mutual suck-uppery between the Gray Lady’s incessant Israel basher and the administration’s hapless peace processor, George Mitchell. Cohen writes of Mitchell:
He was asked about Netanyahu during his visit and, according to notes I saw, responded: “I believe Netanyahu is serious, capable and interested in reaching an agreement. What I cannot say is if he is willing to agree to what is needed to secure an agreement.”
That meeting concluded with Mitchell saying: “You asked if I think Netanyahu is serious. They ask the same question. You are an expert on Palestinian and Israeli politics. They are the same. But no one in the world knows American politics better than me, and this I will say. There has never been in the White House a president that is so committed on this issue, including Clinton who is a personal friend, and there will never be, at least not in the lifetime of anyone in this room.”
Let’s examine that a bit. Is the PA serious about peace? Is there any indication that the Palestinians are “serious, capable, and interested” in reaching an agreement? Cohen doesn’t bother to ask, for the answer would either strain even the most deluded peace-process fan’s credulity or reveal that, of course, the Palestinians aren’t serious — that’s why they must be lured, bribed, and cajoled to meet not-even-face-to-face with the Israelis.
Next. Mitchell — no doubt speaking slowly so Cohen can record every word of praise — tells his scribe what an “expert” on the Middle East he is. Hmm. Does that include Cohen’s quasi recantation of his views on Iran? But then Mitchell isn’t done — because no one, not a soul knows American politics like George Mitchell. Apparently, he’s working on that little problem which is that two-thirds of the public disapprove of his Middle East policy. (And, really, Mitchell is wasted in the Middle East. With Obama in the 40s in approval polls, shouldn’t Mitchell be chief of staff? You know, have a real job where his skills won’t be wasted in 16 months of fruitless Middle East shuttling.) And then he delivers the final masterstroke of ingratiation and puffery — Hillary, close your ears — “There has never been in the White House a president that is so committed on this issue, including Clinton who is a personal friend, and there will never be, at least not in the lifetime of anyone in this room.” Not Clinton. Not anyone. And Obama is so committed that he’s accomplished what, exactly? Ah, strained Israeli relations to the breaking point, encouraged Palestinian intransigence, induced moderate Arabs to up the ante against Israel, and driven his own poll ratings in Israel into the low single digits. But it’s his intentions that matter, you see.
Really, even for Cohen — and for Mitchell — this is embarrassing stuff. But it does reveal how tone-deaf both are, and how they imagine that grandiose intentions replace results, and that self-definition supersedes reality. You can understand why Obama’s Middle East policy is such a mess.