Friday, January 02, 2015

Bobo on Bibi

Spot the difference --

[1] “The good thing about Netanyahu is that he’s scared to launch wars,” the official said ... . “The bad thing about him is that he won’t do anything to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians or with the Sunni Arab states. The only thing he’s interested in is protecting himself from political defeat. He’s not [Yitzhak] Rabin, he’s not [Ariel] Sharon, he’s certainly no [Menachem] Begin. He’s got no guts.”

[2] To me, his [Netanyahu] caution is most fascinating. For all his soaring rhetoric and bellicosity, he has been a defensive leader. He seems to understand that, in his country’s situation, the lows are lower than the highs are high. The costs of a mistake are bigger than the benefits of an accomplishment. So he is loath to take risks. He doesn’t do some smart things, like improve life for Palestinians on the West Bank, but he doesn’t do unpredictable dumb things, like prematurely bomb Iran. He talks everything through, and his decisions shift and flip as the discussions evolve.

[1] is the notorious White House "chickenshit" anonymous quotes to Jeffrey Goldberg a couple of months ago. [2] is David Brooks writing his first 2015 New York Times column from Israel. Abstract from the personal dislike of Bibi that comes through in [1]: the fundamental assessment in both is the same.

As with many David Brooks columns, the question is whether he's messaging a right-of-centre bloc of readers of the New York Times, or his fellow conservatives. Because if it's the latter, he's telling them that Obama is right about Bibi.