The Dayton Daily News in a cartoon challenges Vice President Joe Biden to say that three times quickly. It could make for a great spot on U-tube. We have had the New Deal, the Fair Deal, the Square Deal and now, thanks to Joe, we have the Big F---ing Deal.
Well, it is a big deal. Like it or not, passage of the health care bill rearranges the deck chairs and President Obama showed he could lead. He then took the momentum of that victory into his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and drew a line in the sand.
Recent disputes with Israel have made the President look weak, editorialized the NY Times on Sunday. Continued weakness would have made the US seem like a rubber stamp of all Israeli policies and have given Arabs and Palestinians alike an excuse to walk away from the "proximity" peace talks.
They still may, but not because the US hasn't shown backbone. The Israeli cabinet met Friday and insists it's going ahead with the disputed development in East Jerusalem. They seem to be treating it like local politics as usual.
President Obama sees the issue in a much broader sense. Tom Friedman in his Saturday column in the Times said it very well. "..there has been a tectonic shift beneath the surface of US-Israeli relations. In the last decade the Israeli-Palestinian peace process - for Israel - has gone from being a necessity to a hobby. And in the last decade, the peace process - for America - has gone from being a hobby to a necessity. Therein lies the problem."
That's what happens when you fight a two-fronted war and need some gentler PR than you're getting in the Arab world. Friedman says the festering Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues to foment anti-American feeling in the area and makes the US job of organizing sanctions against Iran's nuclear ambitions next to impossible.
Israel sees the Iranian situation and the Palestinian issue as separate and the US sees them as integrated. Avi Shavit, a columnist for an Israeli daily, says "Netanyahu should have made a genuine move on the Palestinian front that would have made a genuine move on the Iranian front possible."
Bibi chose to play local politics and we have a stalemate. He should have read the US papers for the last few weeks to see how President Obama went all in on the health care issue and bet the ranch. As I said at the top of the piece, like it or not, it was leadership the way it's supposed to be exercised.
If you want to get good and upset, read page three of the Sunday NY Times "Week in Review" section. It's the track of a war game played out if Israel decides to take on the Iranian nuclear facilities. There are no winners and the potentialities are scary. President Obama is not going to back down and Netanyahu has positioned himself where he can't back down.
The situation is critical (but not serious- remember that old line if you ever need to break tension at an ugly meeting.) Maybe Hillary as Secretary of State can pull off a negotiation worthy of the titans of days gone by like John Foster Dulles. This administration might just be hitting its stride.
Remember, I am on a mini vacation with my wife (we are tied in Scrabble games right now and I have never won a series. Never.) Puerto Rico is really special. Weather has been great and all you have to do is raise your hand and another little drink with umbrellas and fruit sticking out of it magically appears.
I want to write about the bond market and the backup we have had in yields. I also was surprised by Uncle Ben saying that he would like to start shrinking the Fed's balance sheet. The end of the Fed buying mortgage paper is upon us and I think the euro zone did as much as they could for Greece, but they essentially fudged the whole thing and kicked the can down the road. Comments on all that to come later this week. But, for right now, if I can get my wife to take two fruity drinks for every one I take, a series victory could be at hand! _______________________________________