Israel, Indianapolis & Austin
Last week President Barack Obama gave his long-awaited speech on the Middle East at the State Department. No one remembers anything he said other than his call for Israel to begin negotiations by agreeing to return to its pre-1967 borders.
Although the White House denied it, and Obama reiterated his denial at a speech before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) over the weekend, here's how MSNBC reported Obama's position during his speech on Thursday: "Obama's urging that a Palestinian state be based on 1967 borders - those that existed before the Six-Day War in which Israel occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza - marked a significant shift in U.S. policy and seemed certain to anger Israel."
The Egyptian Ambassador to the U.N. heard it that way, too. MSNBC quoted Maged Abdelaziz as saying: "What is positive about (Obama's speech) is the emphasis on the 1967 borders."
On Friday, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with the President. In a photo op after the meeting, President Obama said: "Obviously, there are some differences between us; the precise formulations and language. And that's going to happen between friends."
Prime Minister Netanyahu, according to CBS News' Bill Plante, "showed no such restraint" when he responded: "I think we both agree that a peace based on illusions will crash on the rocks of Middle Eastern reality."
Plante described Obama as "staring icily as Netanyahu lectured him" that "Israel would not negotiate on the basis of the 1967 borders."
Obviously whatever the White House thought was going to be the take-away from his State Department speech; it wasn't. They were so eager to have positive coverage in the Arab world that the Washington Post had an item headed: "White House invites Arab bloggers to Obama's Middle East speech."
At AIPAC on Sunday, the President sought to recalibrate by emphasizing the part of the 1967 borders demand in which he had said that there should be "mutually agreed upon land swaps" to account for developments over the past 44 years.
Obama high-tailed it out of town for a week-long tour of Europe where Libya, NATO, Syria, Yemen, Greece, Spain and Ireland will be on his agenda.
In Indianapolis, Gov. Mitch Daniels announced via e-mail in the early Sunday morning hours that he would not be participating in the GOP primary campaign for the 2012 Presidential nomination.
This is instructive in the ways of Washington:
I have known Gov. Daniels since 1980 when I was the press secretary for a young Congressman from Huntington Indiana who was running for a Senate seat against 18-year incumbent Birch Bayh. Mitch was the chief-of-staff for the other Senator from the Hoosier State, Dick Lugar.
Mitch helped out in the closing days of that campaign and had a very positive impact on Dan Quayle becoming a U.S. Senator in that election.
I have known him for 30 years; but I don't know him. He has been kind enough to acknowledge me by name when we've been in the same place at the same time but to say I know Mitch Daniels is the equivalent of people who say things like "I had breakfast with President Obama two weeks ago" neglecting to mention there were 2,713 other people in the ballroom at the time.
Not everyone in politics thinks they need to put themselves or their families through the rigors of an 18-month campaign during which every semicolon is discussed to see if it should have been a comma, and everything that has happened in their lives becomes fodder for geniuses like me to talk about on television.
If an NFL team has a losing record, then the most popular guy in the stadium is the backup quarterback. He has not thrown an interception nor fumbled a snap from center. No one knows whether he can move the team down the field any better than the starting QB, but the fans want someone else.
I don't think Governor Daniels is through with public service but he will not be a candidate for President in 2012.
Among the sitting Republican Governors now getting some attention is the Governor of Texas, Rick Perry who was re-elected in 2010. According to one of my sources, he made an excellent impression with his speech to a meeting of Republican State Chairs the other night.
He continues to deny any interest, but let's see if Gov. Perry shows up in Iowa or New Hampshire in the next couple of weeks.
On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Links to the MSNBC, CBS, WaPo and HuffPo stories. Also a pretty good Mullfoto with my new Canon G12 and a rapture-related Catchy Caption of the Day.