This week was supposed to be a big deal at the United Nations, where the 66th General Assembly convened to watch a motley collection of men (and the occasional woman) try to look important in a big town making with the big talk.
The Muslims have been having a high old time of it all week, living it up in their role as the splinter in the world's big toe. The delegates to the U.N. have been making life miserable for everyone on the east side of Manhattan, with cops blocking streets without notice, trying to clear the way for rented limousines through gridlocked streets. Sirens shriek like banshees deep into the not-so-good night. Few of the notables actually look very notable, and some of the dignitaries look more dignified than others, but praise be to Allah, if the folks back home in the Islamic Republic of Kabootchie or the Royal Kingdom of Scaroompie could see them now.
Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, has been having the highest old time of all at the center of the raging controversy, as controversies rage in a forum as ultimately inconsequential as the United Nations. The question before the house was whether a Palestinian state should take its place among Gabon, Lower Slobbovia, Upper Volta and the other world powers. The noise signifying not very much has been deafening (if you've forgotten to turn down the volume in your earphones).
Mr. Abbas is 76 years old, and he won't get many more thrilling climaxes, and he naturally relishes every one of the cajoleries, pressures, threats and bribes offered this week to either (a) tone down or (b) turn up the pressure for a vote for the Palestinians in the Security Council. Mr. Abbas, in the view of the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, "has suddenly been cast out-of-character as a Caesar who gazes at the teeming arena below him before dispassionately turning his thumbs down, as the Arabs and Palestinians ecstatically cheer him on."
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the clown prince of comedy from Iran - who says the dour disciples of Muhammad have no sense of humor? - reprised his vaudeville act at midweek with a noisy riff on the wickedness of the Great Satan. He had no new material, merely repeating the indictment of the Americans as slave-masters, war-makers, whoremongers and worst of all, enablers of the Little Satan. The Americans in the audience and some of their friends hit the exits early, hoping to beat the traffic back to their hotel suites.
This was serendipity for Barack Obama, who got caught with his pants at his knees by the sudden squall over Palestinian statehood. The president, who works hard to keep his indifference to Israeli survival under wraps, spent the week trying to keep the question of Palestinian statehood from coming to a vote in the Security Council, where it would probably succeed, and he would have to order an American veto.
The veto might reassure American Jewish voters who finally recognize their Obama love as unrequited, but a veto would enrage the Muslims in the Middle East, whom the president has courted with passion and apologies over the first three years of his presidency. In the event, he didn't have to order the veto, and he got to make a speech. He spread the usual jelly of moral equivalency, hectoring in equal measure both Jew and Muslim to restrain themselves and get back to the table to process peace. Alas, processed peace, like processed cheese, is neither peace nor cheese.
The Palestinian statehood frenzy, as anyone can see, is not really about Palestine, but about the presidential politics of 2012. The White House has been in a panic since the Republicans captured that House seat in a heavily Jewish district in Brooklyn and Queens, which had been held by a Democrat since the Coolidge era. That result turned on the question of whether Barack Obama or the Republicans were the truest and bluest friends of Israel. Suddenly, the Jewish vote was in play. Losing only a fraction of it would spell Democratic disaster in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, where the president is already hip-deep in alligators.
The president has been making goo-goo eyes at the Palestinians, casting himself in the role of a faithless lover. He knows all the honeyed words, he has the diamond bracelet in hand, and he's confident he can spread enough kosher goo to keep hope alive. But the abused Jewish voter has the motel receipt found in his coat pocket. A guilty lover's lot is not always a happy one.
• Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.
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