The New Yorker’s David Remnick writes that Hillary Clinton’s Friday night address at the Saban Forum (and the fawning video introduction) left no doubt that she’s running in 2016:
Friday night, however, was on the record—and surprisingly revealing. Hillary Clinton was the main speaker. In a packed ballroom of the Willard Hotel, she was greeted with a standing ovation and then a short, adoring film, a video Festschrift testifying to her years as First Lady, senator, and, above all, secretary of state. The film, an expensive-looking production, went to the trouble of collecting interviews with Israeli politicians—Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak, Tzipi Livni—and American colleagues, like John Kerry. Tony Blair, striking the moony futuristic note that was general in the hall, said, “I just have an instinct that the best is yet to come.”
The film was like an international endorsement four years in advance of the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary. The tone was so reverential that it resembled the sort of film that the Central Committee of the Communist Party might have produced for Leonid Brezhnev’s retirement party if Leonid Brezhnev would only have retired and the Soviets had been in possession of advanced video technology. After it was over there was a separate video from the President. Looking straight into the camera, Obama kvelled at length: “You’ve been at my side at some of the most important moments of my Administration.”
Billionaire Democratic donor Haim Saban wrote an effusive New York Times op-ed praising Obama’s Israel policy earlier this month. Today, the White House announced that Saban’s wife, Cheryl, has been nominated to represent the U.S. at the upcoming UN General Assembly. Now, before anyone jumps to conclusions, I’m sure these were totally unconnected events, and Cheryl Saban beat out a line of career diplomats for this important honor based on her resume as an “author, philanthropist, and advocate for women and children,” as well as her very serious book What Is Your Self Worth? A Woman’s Guide to Validation.
The Free Beacon reports:
The White House announced Wednesday it has nominated Cheryl Saban, the wife of Univision chairman Haim Saban, to be a representative of the United States to the General Assembly of the United Nations.
Cheryl Saban is described as an “author, philanthropist, and advocate for women and children” in the White House announcement, serving on boards of the Saban Research Institute, Girls Inc., and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. …
Cheryl Saban’s nomination comes less than a month after her husband penned a New York Times op-ed defending President Obama’s Israel record.
The position was a marked turn for the Egyptian-born Israeli-American, who criticized Obama personally in 2011 for not visiting Israel, and labeled in 2010 the Obama administration “really left leftists, so far to the left there’s not much space left between them and the wall.”
What timing. Not 24 hours after the Democratic National Committee issued a platform backtracking from its pro-Israel positions in 2008, billionaire entertainment mogul and formerly disgruntled Obama donor Haim Saban took up arms for the administration’s Israel record in the New York Times:
In July, he provided an additional $70 million to extend the Iron Dome system across southern Israel. That’s in addition to the $3 billion in annual military assistance to Israel that the president requests and that Congress routinely approves, assistance for which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed deep personal appreciation. …
In contrast, through painstaking diplomacy, Mr. Obama persuaded Russia and China to support harsh sanctions on Iran, including an arms embargo and the cancellation of a Russian sale of advanced antiaircraft missiles that would have severely complicated any military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Mr. Obama secured European support for what even Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, called “the most severe and strictest sanctions ever imposed on a country.” …
Finally, Mr. Obama has been steadfast against efforts to delegitimize Israel in international forums. He has blocked Palestinian attempts to bypass negotiations and achieve United Nations recognition as a member state, a move that would have opened the way to efforts by Israel’s foes to sanction and criminalize its policies. As a sign of its support, the Obama administration even vetoed a Security Council resolution on Israeli settlements, a resolution that mirrored the president’s position and that of every American administration since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
Apparently that’s all it takes to convince Saban that the president is pro-Israel: providing military assistance, sanctioning Iran, and blocking Palestinian attempts to delegitimize Israel at the UN. That isn’t nothing, but it’s certainly the bare minimum. What would Obama’s other options have been? Cut off military aid? Veto Iranian sanctions legislation passed by congress? Forgo his power to block a Palestinian statehood bid at the UN?