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Romney wins the pandering prize for his debate comments on Israel

January 27, 2012 | 10:37 am

Romney-DebateNot surprisingly, there was a good deal of pandering at Thursday’s Republican presidential debate. With the exception of Ron Paul,  the candidates took a hard line on easing relations with Cuba, a sop to Florida's die-hard anti-Castro Cubans.

But the worst panderer was Mitt Romney on the subject of the Middle East.

"I believe the best way to have peace in the Middle East is not for us to vacillate and to appease, but is to say we stand with our friend Israel,” he said. “We are committed to a Jewish state in Israel; we will not have an inch of difference between ourselves and our ally Israel.”

“Not an inch of difference”?  Even if an ultra-right Israeli government abandons any effort to negotiate with the Palestinians?" Or annexes the West Bank? Or bombs Iran when the U.S. thought it was counterproductive?

Romney is essentially giving the Israeli government -– any Israeli government -– veto power over U.S. policy in the Middle East. Of course, a President Romney would never actually execute that policy. There is a long tradition of presidential candidates taking extreme pro-Israel positions on the campaign trail and, once in office, gravitating to the policy of past administrations, Republican and Democratic, of criticizing Israel  (albeit mildly) when appropriate.

Yet another reason for American voters, regardless of their view on Israel, to descend into cynicism.


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Photo: Mitt Romney speaks during the Florida Republican Presidential debate Jan. 26 at the University of North Florida. Credit: Paul J. Richards /AFP/Getty Images

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