March 5, 2015

Character Moments Versus Political Ones: Netanyahu's State of Disunion

If the general public failed to grasp the audacity of Tuesday’s imagery, it’s only because commentators, activists and partisans were so overwhelming focused on the politics and ideology. Trumping those elements, however — and nearly always a factor when Netanyahu is concerned — is the overriding and confounding issue of character.

In a textbook case of over-denying the obvious, Netanyahu’s main talking point surrounding his opportunity to address a joint session of Congress — in the heat of Israel’s Prime Ministerial campaign, and in defiance of the U.S. administration — was that “I’ve got nothing against Barack Obama.” But then, what was more awkward — considering the optics — was Bibi physically splicing himself into the backdrop, and the provenance of the President on the yearly occasion of the State of the Union. (And yes, of course, world leaders on occasion are invited to address a joint session, but not by exploiting the chasm stretching between the two ends of the Hill.)

The fact that Netanyahu so willfully jumped into that fray, and the center of this picture (just weeks after Obama’s delivery of the SOTU, one might add) is such a blatant act of opportunism, it otherwise drowns out the words.

— Michael Shaw

(photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times from NYT Pictures of the Day, March 3, 2015. caption: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel after his address to Congress in Washington.)

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Michael Shaw
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