For the second time in one week, Jonathan Chait has annoyed me. Last time, it was his pseudo-apology for being in favor of the Iraq War. This time it is his (unfortunately rather common) reaction to Obama’s recent trip to Israel. Basically, he says: Obama did a great job, why didn’t he do that four years ago? His first sentence, for example, is, “President Obama today gave a speech in Israel that he probably ought to have given a few years ago.”
I have no problem with this sentiment. I don’t exactly agree, of course. Obama’s first term had slightly more important issues to deal with. Remember the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression? Remember 50 million people without health insurance? Remember the worst accidental oil spill in human history? (America was also directly involved and very largely culpable in the worst oil spill ever.) So I think that Obama wasn’t exactly a slacker; he had other things to do.
My problem with Chait’s article is that he seems to think that anything Obama does would change how conservatives view him. He claims that Obama has been viewed with suspicion in Israel. I’m not sure that’s true. Certainly his welcome in Israel was much better than lukewarm. Instead, Chait focuses on the way that the conservative pro-Israel (neocon) voices in the United States have acted toward Obama. But they would have been just as antagonistic toward Obama as I’m sure they will continue to be.
Look. This is very simple. The president is a Democrat. Therefore these people will always complain about the president unless he gives them the one thing they want more than anything else: war with Iran. Otherwise, just like all other conservatives, Obama is “the devil.” Nothing he does or says will change that.
At least: until he’s been out of office for four years. Then they’ll say, “That Obama was actually all right. But this Clinton chick is a fucking communist!”