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Policy by teleprompter

Published September 13, 2012 1:01 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

SAN DIEGO — There has long been a constituency on the left that despises Israel for what it perceives to be abusive treatment of the Palestinians. And, it seems, this element made itself heard at the Democratic National Convention.

During closed-door negotiations by the platform committee to update the wording of the 2008 Democratic Party platform, existing language that declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel was mysteriously removed. Also deleted was language recognizing Hamas as a terrorist organization and calling on the United States and its allies to "continue to isolate Hamas until it renounces terrorism, recognizes Israel's right to exist, and abides by past agreements."

And, in a story that got much more attention, a reference to "God" also came out — as in a call on government to let U.S. workers make the most of their "God-given potential."

The language about Jerusalem and God was hastily restored a day later after an outcry in the media, and a lot of head-scratching by people in both parties.

But, shamefully, the condemnation of Hamas stayed out. So now, condemning a terrorist organization that has killed women and children is considered controversial by the Democratic Party? That's unbelievable.

About how all this came to pass, and just who it was that removed the language in question, no one is saying.

However, the Obama campaign is talking — in circles. According to Politico, campaign officials at first claimed that President Obama was aware of the changes in the platform and then later insisted that he didn't learn about them until he watched the news. The Associated Press offered a counterview by reporting that Obama didn't know anything about the changes.

What the campaign did fully acknowledge, and wanted everyone to know, was that Obama had personally intervened to restore the language about Jerusalem and God.

Even this was messy. Putting the language back into the platform required a two-thirds voice vote by the delegates. But the voices of delegates against restoring the language turned out to be just as loud — if not louder — than the voices of delegates trying to carry out Obama's directive.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who served as the convention chairman, lost control. He called for three separate voice votes to get the result he wanted, and still couldn't get there. Finally, Villaraigosa declared: "In the opinion of the chair, two-thirds having voted in the affirmative ... "

In the opinion of the chair? Really?

Inconveniently, someone on the convention floor snapped a photo of the teleprompter just as Villaraigosa was declaring the outcome of the voice vote. What you see, clear as day, are the exact words that Villaraigosa mouthed from the podium.

One of two things happened. Democratic Party leaders knew how the vote was going to turn out before it was called, and thus the language was loaded into the teleprompter for Villaraigosa to dutifully read. Or they hastily fed the language into the teleprompter to help pull the mayor out of the hole he was digging for himself with a series of voice votes that weren't going the way they wanted them to go.

Whatever. The significant thing is that, if you look at what's happening in the Middle East, this is hardly the time for political high jinks and foreign policy by teleprompter.

In March, Obama claimed that his track record in office proved "that when the chips are down, I have Israel's back."

Well, the chips are down. And this president and members of his party have repeatedly turned their back on one of America's best friends and strongest allies.

Recently, the Obama administration brushed aside new and troubling findings in a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency suggesting that Iran's nuclear program is accelerating faster than anyone imagined. According to the report, Iran has ramped up production of nuclear fuel and installed more than 2,000 centrifuges inside a fortified underground laboratory. In response, the administration rejected calls by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for clear "red lines" that Iran can't cross without risking military conflict.

These are perilous times we're living in. We are in need of a better president who shows more support for Israel and a firmer hand in dealing with Iran. This job calls for someone who can be taken at his word, doesn't back down and states unequivocally the right thing to do.

The choice is clear: Mr. Teleprompter for President.