Republicans are suggesting that President Barack Obama dissed Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu during a hot-mic incident involving French president Nicolas Sarkozy.
"I cannot stand him. He is a liar," Sarkozy said to Obama about Netanyahu, unaware that the mics were on and reporters were listening.
Obama replied: "You're fed up with him, but I have to deal with him every day!" In other translations, there's no exclamation point. So it appears: "You're fed up with him, but I have to deal with him every day."
Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney issued a statement this morning: "President Obama’s derisive remarks about Israel’s Prime Minister confirm what any observer would have gleaned from his public statements and actions toward our longstanding ally, Israel. At a moment when the Jewish state is isolated and under threat, we cannot have an American president who is disdainful of our special relationship with Israel. We have here yet another reason why we need new leadership in the White House.”
Democrats are liable to say this wasn't derisive. This was diplomatic.
So if you don't like Obama, it was a dis. If you like him, it wasn't. And if you weren't there and want to know more to form an opinion, well, you can't rely on the reporters for more details. Unfortunately, the cowed press corps that overheard the comments didn't report about it until days later.
But here's one aspect of the story, noted first in yNet News that isn't being mentioned by Obama critics (and a New York Times blog by the way): The conversation apparently began with President Obama criticizing Sarkozy for not having warned him that France would be voting in favor of the Palestinian membership bid in UNESCOdespite Washington's strong objection to the move.
So Obama was laying into Sarkozy for not backing the US position that backed Israel's position regarding the Palestinians.