Mitt Romney launched one of the stranger attacks of the campaign season yesterday, unveiling a new ad about U.S. relations with Israel.
For now, we can put aside the propriety of Romney treating the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem as a prop in an attack ad. Instead let’s focus on this claim: “Barack Obama has never visited Israel as president.” Unlike most Romney attack ads, this one happens to be based on an accurate detail: Obama visited Israel as a candidate, but not during his first term. It’s a fact that’s apparently outraged Sean Hannity and Bill Kristol, too.
That is, at least they’re pretending to be outraged.
Look, as fodder for campaign commercials go, I realize some shots are going to be stronger than others, but this is deeply silly. George W. Bush didn’t visit Israel at any point during his first term. Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush didn’t travel to Israel during their respective terms in office at all.
In fact, in the last 64 years, there have been 12 presidents. Seven of them did not visit Israel at all, and two waited until their second term. To suggest this is scandalous – or to use Romney’s words, evidence of flawed “values” – is absurd.
Romney is desperately seeking support from Jewish voters, but in his desperation, he’s trying to play Jews for fools.
What matters is not whether Obama takes a trip to Israel, but whether he and his administration have shown support for Israel. And according to Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak, U.S.-Israeli relations are “extremely good, extremely deep and profound.” Barak added, “I should tell you honestly that this administration under President Obama is doing, in regard to our security, more than anything that I can remember in the past.”
Something to keep in mind as Romney’s ad reaches the airwaves.