Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The pander umbrella

  • You know, in asking the following question:
    "Would either of you — and you’ll have two minutes, and President Obama, you have the first go at this one. Would either of you be willing to declare that an attack on Israel is an attack on the United States, which of course is the same promise that we give to our close allies like Japan? And if you made such a declaration, would not that deter Iran? It’s certainly deterred the Soviet Union for a long, long time when we made that — when we made that promise to our allies."
     Bob Schieffer did something really quite terrible. He deliberately tried to tempt the next President of the United States (whoever he might be) into a pander that would have changed American foreign policy for the worse, and the more dangerous. The differences between the US alliance with Israel on one hand and NATO Article V or the security guarantee of Japan on the other are there for a reason, but it would have been very easy for one candidate or the other to decide in the heat of the moment "I need to tell voters what they want to hear on this one, not sound like I'm splitting hairs, and Schieffer has asked the question in such a precisely-worded way that the only way to avoid sounding like I'm splitting hairs is to extend the full umbrella to Israel."

    I haven't thought that many moments in this campaign were to either Obama's or Romney's credit, but it is to both their credit that they didn't take the bait.