Friday, January 09, 2009

We Shall Make No Policy Until Its Time

Michael Totten defends Barack Obama over his silence regarding the Gaza crisis:
If Obama opposes Israel’s use of force to defend itself from missile attack, he deserves credit for keeping his opinion to himself while he is not actually president. As he has stated on several occasions: the United States only has one president at a time. “We can’t have two administrations running foreign policy at the same time,” he says. “We simply can’t do it.” He could try to undermine the current President Bush, but he’s right that it wouldn’t be proper.

On the other hand, perhaps he silently supports Israel’s short operation in Gaza against a terrorist army with whom he himself repeatedly said he would refuse to negotiate. If he said so out loud, though, his global “hope and change” honeymoon would be over before it even began. It’s not in his interest to hobble himself from the start, nor is it in America’s interest or Israel’s.

I have to agree. While I'm still in wait-and-see mode over many things Obama, I appreciate his respect in not undermining the current president, however unpopular. While it could just be that he really doesn't want to have to take the job any sooner than necessary (and who could blame him), evidence suggests otherwise.

He's NOT silent on the economy. He's saying plenty there, and it's a good thing. Right now the economy is as much a matter of perception as a matter of substance. The Democratic Congress wants to get to work fixing things, and if Obama doesn't want to lose control of the helm there he needs to be involved. Even though it may be weeks before anything gets through congress, it's important to be seen doing something.

Foreign policy, on the other hand, is NOT Congress' arena. It's important there be one and only one Voice of the US. Congress has passed resolutions supporting Bush's position on Gaza, however, and that is entirely appropriate. Obama seems to know that on matters of foreign policy he needs to keep quiet until it's his turn.

He'll get his turn soon enough. For many reasons, most of which could be simultaneously true, he is smart to wait.

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