Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
When you let a week pass without blogging one wonders sometimes so what, what did I miss, and who cares? As for latter perhaps some readers actually do care, as for the first and the second there is a curious, sad reaction. Not much new has transpired to which I might have made any serious contribution to the conversation.
I weighed writing about why everyone left Washington not for several days but for a week while the American people watched the country move closer and closer to the fiscal cliff. Clearly America’s leaders were thinking that they might as well enjoy the holidays since there was no negotiable proposal that either the congressional leaders or the President was prepared to bargain over. Clearly, Howard Schultz, the President of Starbucks has it right when he asked his D.C. baristas to write Come Together on the coffee cups they served to Washingtonians on the beltway. Somehow, Congress especially does not accept the fact that the public is indeed genuinely frustrated with the constant stalemate in Washington.
It is amazing that no one–in their midst–has been willing to stand up and rail out against this unconscionable performance by our political leaders. One asks why the group of Senators retiring in few days did not take the lead and do the public’s biding. They too will be on that side of the fence in a week.
Similarly, President Obama has no more campaigns to run. Did he truly calculate that were he to fight this battle down and dirty, he would be an instant lame duck President for the next four years? Did he not consider the power he might be able to acquire if he truly went to the barricades with Congress this time? So what did I miss?
There had been a thought about commenting on Christmas in the Holy Land where I have been any number of times. The strange feeling for non-Christians from the West to experience Christmas in a moderate or warm winter climate which has always defied the white Christmas imagery. In fact this is the rainy season of the year in Israel and there is a far greater likelihood of rain than snow.
Christians have been a minority in the Holy Land for centuries which is also a strange image for those in the West where the perception is one of Christian majorities. For some time now the Christians population in the Holy Land has been declining and the politicos have—and continue-to blame Israel for this fact based almost exclusively on Arab—Christian and Muslim—propaganda.
Meanwhile, Syria is continuing to tear itself apart. Iran continues to proceed with its nuclear program. The Egyptian people ratified a Constitution which many observers fear will only evolve into another authoritarian regime with the only difference between Morsi and Mubarak being that Morsi will try to impose strict Muslim rule.
The pre-election jockeying in Israel appears to be getting a bit more interesting although we appear only to have seen the tip of the iceberg of the corruption and dubious machinations which were being transacted within the Foreign Ministry under Lieberman’s watch. At the rate that the exposes are proceeding, it is quite conceivable that Lieberman may not be serving in the next Knesset. Meanwhile, most of Europe is on a two week holiday vacation, from what is not entirely clear.
So I guess Yogi Berra was right; it's Déjà vu, all over again.