David Axelrod is a campaign and message strategist, not a foreign-policy guru or diplomat. Having said that, on Meet the Press yesterday, there was a strange and ominous evasiveness in his inability to say what Obama thought of Israeli warplanes hitting targets in the Gaza Strip:
MR. GREGORY: What is the president-elect’s position on this offensive against Gaza by Israel?
MR. AXELROD: Well, obviously, it’s a very serious situation. He spent some time on the phone with Secretary Rice yesterday, and he is monitoring the situation. But we’ve said repeatedly through this transition period that we–there’s only one president at a time, and President Bush speaks for the United States of America until January 20th, and we’re going to honor that moving forward.
MR. GREGORY: But in the course of the campaign, the now president-elect visited Sderot . . .
MR. AXELROD: He did.
MR. GREGORY: . . . in fact, in southern Israel, and he said that Israel had a right to defend itself against rocket attacks from Hamas.
MR. AXELROD: Indeed, he did.
MR. GREGORY: Does he believe it’s appropriate for Israel, if it takes his decision, to push Hamas from power?
MR. AXELROD: He did, as you said, visit Sderot in July, and he said then that he thought that when bombs are raining, raining down on your citizens, it is–it’s obviously unacceptable and there is an urge to act. And so–but again, I don’t want to go beyond that because we only have one government and one president at a time. And he’s going to continue to consult with Secretary Rice and the president and the administration on this and monitor these events. And he’ll be prepared to take over on the 20th and, and, and discharge his responsibilities then.