The Campaign Spot

Please Don’t Tell Me Obama ‘Hopes that This Crisis Is Over Before He Takes Office’

Over at Deutsche-Welle’s Across the Pond, a contributor concludes I’m (surprise!) “off the mark” for noting that Obama is “doing exactly what President George W. Bush has been doing and got hammered by the press – taking lengthy vacations.”

The counterargument, basically, is that Obama is not president yet. Yes, but nothing precludes him from laying out what his view is; we know he’s setting policy in 20 days or so. In several emerging and pressing issues since Election Day, we’ve seen nations and groups facing the decision of whether they should agree to a compromise, or whether they would get a better deal starting January 20 — Pakistan’s cooperation in the Mumbai massacre and the UAW’s decision on concessions to get an auto bailout, to cite two examples. In both cases, the incoming president and his spokesman have said little beyond platitudes, and nobody quite knows exactly what the position of the U.S. government is going to be in three weeks. It’s like a big national and international surprise party.

Is Israel hitting Hamas as hard as it can now because they think they’ll have a less sympathetic ear starting January 20? Or is a low-level purpose of their military offensive to test where they stand with the new administration? Does Obama think that Israel is acting appropriately? Or does he think there is something disproportionate about their military action?

Somehow, I’m less than reassured by the idea that Obama “hopes that this crisis is over before he takes office.”

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