Getting it wrong with Congress

In the post below, I suggest that by next year at this time, President Obama’s audacious domestic agenda will have traumatized every congressional Democrat who depends on non-liberal voters for re-election. But Obama’s fearless left-liberalism is not confined to domestic matters. Indeed, his hostility towards Israel is already unsettling congressional Democrats, including some who don’t particularly need non-liberal votes.
Thus, 71 Senators, including a majority of Senate Democrats, sent a letter to President Obama calling on him to press Arab states to take major steps toward normalizing ties with Israel. The letter recognizes Israel’s numerous unilateral steps towards peace and calls on “Arab leaders to take similar tangible steps to demonstrate their commitment to the peace process”. It also lists specific ways in which Arab nations can do so, beginning with recognizing the State of Israel.
The letter does not say anything about Israel stopping natural growth in its settlements, the centerpiece of Obama’s policy towards Israel. Left-wing Jewish-American pleaded with liberal Senators to make the inclusion of the settlement a condition of signing the letter, but a majority of Senate Democrats ignored this plea.
On the other hand, a majority of Jewish Senators (7 of 13) declined to sign. The non-signers were Russ Feingold, Dianne Feinstein, Al “Diaper Dandy” Franken, Herb Kohl, Frank Lautenberg, Carl Levin, and Bernie Sanders. The signers were Barbara Boxer, Ben Cardin, Charles Schumer, Arlen Specter, Ron Wyden, and of course Joe Lieberman.
Meanwhile, as David Hazony reports, House majority leader Steny Hoyer gave an interview to the Jerusalem Post praising Prime Minister Netanyahu and declaring that Congress has differentiated between East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank. This, Hazony explains, is “nothing less than a slap in the face to the administration’s explicit refusal to make such distinctions.”
Obama’s relations with Congress seem to be going off the track. On health care (and previously the stimulus legislation), he’s a follower, to his detriment. On Israel, he’s trying to lead, as is appropriate on foreign policy, but few are following.

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