Olmert’s golden touch (UPDATED)


Just in case you were starting to think that you might miss Ehud Olmert… the Israeli prime minister reminds us of his ability to say just the wrong thing at the wrong time.

Video has surfaced (if you can navigate the Hebrew, click here) of Olmert bragging to an Israeli audience earlier this week that he had personally gotten President Bush to "shame" his secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice. According to Olmert, it was his call to Bush that convinced the president to have the United States abstain rather than vote in favor of the U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a cease-fire in Gaza.

According to the French news agency AFP, Olmert told the Israeli audience:

"I said ‘get me President Bush on the phone. … They said he was in the middle of giving a speech in Philadelphia. I said I didn’t care, I need to talk to him now. He got off the podium and spoke to me. I told him the United States could not vote in favor. It cannot vote in favor of such a resolution. He immediately called the secretary of state and told her not to vote in favor."

How exactly did Olmert think he’d be helping Israel by publicly showing up Rice and making Bush look like Jerusalem’s lackey? And that’s assuming the story is true (last week MIchael Goldfarb reported on the Weekly Standard’s Web site that the abstension option was actually the compromise proposal of National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, splitting the difference between Rice’s desire to vote for the resolution and Vice President Dick Cheney’s desire to veto it).

The other irony here is that the U.S. abstension wasn’t exactly the Kissinger-Nixon airlift during the Yom Kippur War. Several Jewish groups criticized the Bush administration’s refusal to veto the measure — the bottom line being that the White House allowed the binding resolution to pass. So, in other words, Olmert is pumping his chest over a half-defeat (sort of like when a football player dances after making a tackle, with his team down by a few touchdowns).

UPDATED: Ron Kampeas points out that this Reuters story from last week would seem to lend credence to Olmert’s version. Of course, the question still stands: Why is he announcing this to the world, especially when White House sources would seem to be leaking a version to Goldfarb that scrubs away any Israeli fingerprints.

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