Saturday, March 27, 2010

Poker Player-In-Chief

The president's meeting with Israeli leader Benhamin Netanyahu said a lot about this man we're still getting to know.

According to an international intelligence newsletter, the Israelis decided that coming to Washington in the midst of the climax of health care reform was a good strategic move; they figured Obama would be so distracted that it would ease the tensions created by that embarrassing little announcement of new West Bank settlements during Joe Biden's visit.

It didn't quite work that way.

The Israelis had a big bluff planned; they were going to take the offensive, claiming they were being unfairly chastised. They could warn that an important historical alliance was being threatened.

They don't have any chips - Israel needs America far more than America needs Israel. But they're worried that this president is friendly to Arab states and they planned to bluster a bit and bring him back into line.

Reports say the American president was very interested in Netanyahu's explanation for the diplomatic screwup and very unimpressed with his attempts to explain that there was no way he could have known that the announcement would happen just as Obama's Number Two man was speaking about hope for a peaceful Jerusalem.
And then the president played his hand.

He did something no president has ever done to an Israeli leader. He got up, said he had dinner plans and left the Israelis with his staff.

"If you come up with something new," he said, "call me."

It was brilliant. It put Israel on notice that it wouldn't be pushing this president around. It left the Israelis to try to make good on their blunder. And it reportedly freaked them out so much that they left the White House, fearful that the phone line they'd been offered in the White House was bugged.

Israeli newspapers describe their leader as returning home "humiliated".

I want to do a little dance! This is diplomacy!! This is dealing with foreign leaders with brains, not brawn. This is making it clear where we stand without threats...with some finesse. And this is clearly a guy who knows how to play poker.

The Chicago paper did an article on Obama as poker player a few years back. It's enlightening.

I'm beginning to have some hope for this administration again.

Obama The Poker Player


ArtSparker said...

Would be wonderful if Israel got called on its policies...Obama moves very deliberately.

The Bug said...

This was refreshing to read - I had to share it with my husband!

DUTA said...

Don't get carried away! Netanyahu is full of inventiveness. He'll find some trick or strategy to deal with Hussein Obama .

Susan said...

ArtSparker, I think that deliberateness is precisely what makes a good poker player. Study the cards, study the other players, consider, then act. Bug, glad you liked it.
DUTA, Netanyahu's inventiveness was clearly not up to the challenge. I'm sure he'll be coming up with another tack. But the first hand has made him realize he underestimated his opponent.
And our president's name is Barack Hussein Obama. Did you forget? Or was that an attempt to express an opinion of his sympathies?
If it bothers you that our foreign policy is attempting to deal with the reality that a large portion of the world is Arab, you need to consult a map. And improved relationships with Arab nations does not preclude continued good relations with Israel.
Only children play the "we can't talk if you're his friend" game.

DUTA said...

Susan, believe me that I'm more critical of my country than you'll ever be.
But, your nation is going towards civil war and economic bankruptcy, and the world knows it , so that's what should bother you, and not Obama's showing the finger to Netanyahu, and you calling it smart foreign policy.

Susan said...

DUTA, don't be too quick to assume the world knows what it's talking about. A study of our history shows we have ALWAYS been a very cranky, contentious people. Some of the horrible behavior you see in Washington pales beside some of what's been done before, but the difference is we now have the ability to make everyone aware of it nearly as it happens.
So could we be spinning toward civil war and bankruptcy? Certainly.
But I wouldn't count us out yet.
This is a nation that makes a whole lot of noise, but then seems to pull itself together when it is convinced it has no other choice.
And I am not critical of your country, which I assume is Israel.
I'm critical of exclusive, rather than inclusive, diplomacy.
Those days are over - we have no choice.

Carol E. said...

Obama is one smart man. I think he's one of our best! Loved this post. I believe, like you, that this was diplomacy, not giving the finger. Brilliant.

Reya Mellicker said...

I agree with you 100% and so do a bunch of Israeli citizens who have no affection for their government.

I love our president!