Political Insider

A look behind the scenes in the political world

Richard Cohen Psychoanalyzes President Obama

President Obama, cool and detached and still sounding more like a professor than a president, remains a mystery to many analysts. In today's Washington Post, columnist Richard Cohen takes a stab at psychoanalyzing the chief executive, and the results are interesting.

In Congress, J Street, AIPAC fight over Gaza flotilla letters

Update: I had a call this afternoon from an AIPACer who took me to task for writing that the 79 Senators who signed the AIPAC-endorsed letter - now over 80 - was "not a slam dunk."

Point taken; getting 4/5 of the Senate to sign anything is no mean achievement.

The Gaza flotilla, Turkey - and some ugly talk about the Armenian Genocide

Here's something pretty ugly percolating just beneath the surface of Jewish politics these days.

For years, Armenian Americans have appealed to the Jewish community for help in their efforts to get official U.S. recognition of the World War I era Armenian Genocide by Turkey.

Jews were their natural allies, they thought, because of our own history, but pro-Israel leaders had different ideas.

B'nai B'rith poll: the latest in the 'who can slam J Street the most' sweepstakes?

Update: the folks at Americans for Peace Now point out that I missed a key finding of the B'nai B'rith survey. APN spokesman Ori Nir, in a press release, points out that "a full 55 percent agreed" with the statement "A two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict is essential to Israel's survival as a national home of the Jewish people as a vibrant democracy."  

BP oil spill: Obama's 'Katrina?'

 For weeks, Republicans have been gleefully predicting that the massive BP oil spill and the uneven response of the federal government would be President Obama's Hurricane Katrina.

Generally, I've scoffed at the claim Obama's response will define his presidency – and that the definition would include the word “incompetence.”

But now I'm not so sure, but not necessarily for the reasons the Republicans say.

Coming soon: a new Iran day of reckoning for pro-Israel groups?

Could pro-Israel leaders here face a grim day of reckoning on the issue of Iran's nuclear program?

Last week the UN Security Council passed new sanctions demanded by the Obama administration, which won the support of China and Russia – the biggest obstacles to a new sanctions regime. Congress seems poised to pass tougher U.S. sanctions targeting companies, individuals and states that deal with Iran's nuclear sector, JTA reports.

Defending Israel, but maybe not its policies

 In recent days I've read a few eloquent pleas for American Jews to stand up and support Israel in the face of worldwide condemnation; now, the writers argue, is not the time to quibble about policy.

Some of these are written by people I really respect – and I'd respectfully like to take issue with them.

Gaza blockade angst

If you don't think the tide is turning against Israel's Gaza blockade, you're just not paying attention. There are numerous reports Israel is looking for a way out of what seems like a punitive and arbitrary blockade, but I suspect that won't do much to counteract the intense and mostly negative worldwide scrutiny that followed the botched Gaza flotilla raid and the lame Israeli PR efforts to justify it.

A modest Washington Post proposal for altering, not ending the Gaza blockade

Today a Washington Post editorial offers a surprisingly sensible solution to the problem of Israel's Gaza blockade, which is under mounting international condemnation and which the Obama administration calls 'unsustainable.”

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