Political tidbits: Carter “confident” about Obama, Franken gets good news (UPDATED)

  • Speaking in Beirut, Jimmy Carter says he was "perhaps the most disturbed American, out of 350 million" when Barack Obama called for an undivided Jerusalem at the AIPAC policy conference in June, reports Ahmed Shihab-Eldin in the Huffington Post:

Carter was so distressed that he called Senator Obama immediately after it and was pleased when a few hours later, Obama appeared to soften his rhetoric in a CNN interview.

  • But Carter says he’s confident the president-elect will "act quickly"  and "commit to solving the conflict" in the Middle East, while taking his customary shot at the pro-Israel community :

"I don’t have any doubts about any of those things concerning Barack Obama," he said. "But I know tremendous political pressures exist in my nation among political office holders to comply almost without exception to the policies of the Israeli government."

  • Al Franken won a couple victories in Minnesota on Friday, including a recommendation by the state Board of Canvassers to count improperly rejected absentee ballots, reports The Hill. And an Associated Press analysis of challenged ballots finds that Franken, down by 192 votes, might just pull this race out:

The AP also found that of the 3,500 challenged ballots that easily could be assigned, Franken netted 200 more votes than Coleman. But Coleman has withdrawn significantly fewer ballot challenges than Franken — that is, the pool of challenges that can now be awarded to Franken is larger, and both campaigns announced Sunday that they would withdraw more challenges by Tuesday.

  • Meanwhile, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty — a contender for the Republican vice presidential nomination this summer and a possible presidential candidate in 2012 — is in Israel on a state trade mission. Here’s the schedule — which included a talk to to the Israel Business Conference yesterday. MyFox Twin Cities notes Israel is Minnesota’s 22nd largest trade partner and  looks another benefit of the mission:

Political analyst David Schultz says the trip could be a political payoff as well as an economic one. "For people who have presidential ambitions, trying to develop stronger relations with the Jewish population is a very, very important thing to do."

  • The New Republic’s Michael Crowley doubts that Haaretz story last week saying Obama would offer a "nuclear umbrella" to Israel, and says that "you don’t have to be a weak-kneed liberal to be resigned to an Iranian bomb, pointing to a story from The Nation about John Bolton’s appearance at the American Enterprise Institute last week:

His conclusion, stunning in its finality: "We are going to have to deal with a nuclear Iran."

In so saying, Bolton — among the hawkiest of hawks from the now neoconservative-movement-in-exile — broke ranks with many of his neocon colleagues. Most of them haven’t given up on stopping Iran, as evidenced by a raft of new reports from neocon-linked thinktanks. And they’re busily calling for stepped-up sanctions, making bellicose threats, and warning of military action by the United States and Israel. But Bolton is folding his cards.

  • Shas has ripped off Obama’s "Yes We Can" slogan, but it’s a "bastardization" of Obama’s message, writes Alex Sinclair in Haaretz:

Obama’s "Yes We Can" was a call to all Americans to join his mission. The "we" was a call to everyone. … The Israeli nation is nowhere to be seen in Shas’ "we". It is a narrow and parochial "we" – the "we" that refers only to Shas and its own specific sectarian goals.

  • The Jerusalem Post’s Shumel Rosner talks to "AIPAC trial" defendant Steve Rosen about the new Obama foreign policy team:

We have more reasons for confidence at this early stage than we did at a similar point with the George W. Bush administration, and that one became what is generally regarded as the most pro-Israel in history.

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