Duck! Here Comes the Mud!

Republicans chafe when the media predicts a dirty campaign with the lion's share of mud thrown at Barack Obama.

Republicans chafe when the media predicts a dirty campaign with the lion's share of mud thrown at Barack Obama. But if the past 24 hours are any guide, there's good reason for that assumption, and you can blame it on Republican House leader John Boehner.

At issue is this exchange that Obama had about

Goldberg: Do you think that Israel is a drag on America's reputation overseas?

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Obama: No, no, no. But what I think is that this constant wound, that this constant sore, does infect all of our foreign policy. The lack of a resolution to this problem provides an excuse for anti-American militant jihadists to engage in inexcusable actions, and so we have a national-security interest in solving this, and I also believe that Israel has a security interest in solving this because I believe that the status quo is unsustainable. I am absolutely convinced of that, and some of the tensions that might arise between me and some of the more hawkish elements in the Jewish community in the United States might stem from the fact that I'm not going to blindly adhere to whatever the most hawkish position is just because that's the safest ground politically. I want to solve the problem, and so my job in being a friend to Israel is partly to hold up a mirror and tell the truth and say if Israel is building settlements without any regard to the effects that this has on the peace process, then we're going to be stuck in the same status quo that we've been stuck in for decades now.

As ABC's The Note (opens in new tab) points out, Boehner chose to completely distort Obama's comments, saying: "Israel is a critical American ally and a beacon of democracy in the Middle East, not a 'constant sore' as Barack Obama claims."

Boehner's comments are as politically stupid as they are intentionally wrong and misleading. It's exactly the kind of thing that allows Obama to argue that Americans deserve a better kind of government and to make the case that he wants to be a different kind of politician who ends the mudslinging (or at least rises above it) and brings real change to Washington.

Let's hope voters see Boehner's comments for what they are. I bet they will.

Mark Willen
Senior Political Editor, The Kiplinger Letter