- - Sunday, August 10, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Could the milquetoasty, bloviating windsurfer and failed White House wannabe from Massachusetts be having a worse time of it?

First, Secretary of State John Kerry got caught on a hot mic mocking Israel and offered an embarrassing excuse that made him look like a rube. Then, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hung up on him, like he was a badgering high school boyfriend. And then, a picture began circulating of him riding a girl’s bike — a pink girl’s bike — wearing sandals. (Weirdly, his toenails were not painted pink.)

That’s a bad run. Oh, and the Israeli media have been hammering him for his ham-handed handling of the latest Middle East crisis.

The bobbing and weaving Mr. Kerry, who famously said he voted for the Iraq War funding bill before voting against it, ran his mouth late last month like he wasn’t America’s top diplomat. In an odd exchange — caught on Fox News cameras before a Sunday interviewMr. Kerry ripped Israel for its counter-offensive against Hamas.

“It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation,” he said, apparently a sarcastic reference to civilian-death reports coming only from the Palestinian Ministry of Health, controlled by Hamas terrorists. “I hope they don’t think that’s an invitation to do more,” he said. “That better be the warning to them.”

Host Chris Wallace smartly asked the secretary about his strange comments, even playing a video of the phone conversation he was having with a State Department aide.

In explanation, Mr. Kerry said: “I reacted obviously in a way that, you know, anybody does with respect to young children and civilians. But war is tough, and I said that publicly and I’ll say it again. We defend Israel’s right to do what it is doing in order to get at those tunnels.”

Reacted as “anybody does”? Check the little wooden thingy on your desk, Mr. Kerry, you’re Secretary of State. Frankly, no one expects you to say anything bluntly, ever. You’re the one person in America who is allowed to give a wandering, evasive answer. It’s called diplomacy.

Then last week, the Israeli PM had had quite enough of Mr. Kerry, who apparently had been as blunt with him as he had on the Sunday talk show. So, Mr. Netanyahu simply hung up on him.

The State Department went into defense mode. “Their phone call was cut off,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said at a briefing, citing a “communications issue.”

Asked whether Mr. Netanyahu had hung up on Mr. Kerry, she said: “Sometimes, calls get cut off. You — it was a brief call, is what I’m trying to convey. There was nothing There was nothing that interesting about it, no. That was not the case. That was not the case.”

But an Israeli news agency said the two have not spoken again.

Meanwhile, the Israeli media have bashed the undiplomatic Mr. Kerry for his failing efforts.

“Like a blind person groping for the ladder to climb down from the roof but instead falling down the chimney, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the government he represents have not missed an opportunity to step in all the Middle Eastern potholes along their way,” the daily Israel HaYom wrote.

Haaretz wrote: “The Obama administration proved once again that it is the best friend of its enemies, and the biggest enemy of its friends. The man of peace from Massachusetts intercepted with his own hands the reasonable cease-fire that was within reach, and pushed both the Palestinians and Israelis toward an escalation that most of them did not want.”

Ynetnews was brutal: “This isn’t the first time Kerry is caught smiling at Israel while inciting against it behind the scenes.” The Jerusalem Post piled on: “It takes a certain artistry to irritate and annoy not only the Israeli left and the Israeli right at the same time, but also both Jerusalem and Ramallah.”

As if that wasn’t bad enough, just as the whole process was melting down (Egypt would step in Sunday and broker a new deal), a photo emerged of Mr. Kerry riding a little girl’s pink bike.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, perhaps mulling a White House run in 2016, couldn’t help himself. “I know that folks have been sort of teasing John Kerry about being in Nantucket,” he said.

Then, he twisted the knife. “Maybe Israel’s safer if he spends more time in Nantucket, windsurfing or riding a girl’s bike or whatever it is in Nantucket.”

Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at josephcurl@gmail.com and on Twitter @josephcurl.

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