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With the AIPAC Conference going on in Washington through tomorrow — and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House today — all eyes are on the U.S. — Israel relationship this week; a relationship that President Obama hasn’t exactly tended to with enthusiasm.
Against this backdrop, it’s instructive to read Jay Nordlinger’s piece in the newest print edition of National Review, “Cousinhood, Lately”, which looks at how the British have been similarly displeased with the diplomatic neglect bordering on contempt they receive from the White House. One passage in particular, noting President Obama’s decision to return the bust of Winston Churchill that the British government had loaned to the White House (a gift that George W. Bush displayed in the Oval Office), is grimly illuminating:
From the White House, the bust went to the home of the British ambassador in Washington. An experienced Washington hand tells the following story: One night after dinner, the ambassador and an American visitor were looking at the bust. The Ambassador remarked to his visitor, “We are keeping it here for the time being, trusting that your next president, whoever he is, will want it back.”
In 2012, as in 2008, there will likely be those who make the case for Obama partially on the grounds that he bolsters America’s standing in the world. Perhaps they should consult with the nations that have traditionally been America’s strongest allies, which increasingly seem to regard the Obama presidency like a bout of flu: tolerable only because it is ephemeral.