The pro-Israel community’s plaint about President Obama, going back almost to the beginning of his presidency, is that he doesn’t consult with friends.
The argument goes like this: You have an agenda, we appreciate it, but it would helpful if you helped us massage the message.
The line between "massage" and "changing" can be blurred, though, which may be why presidents like to keep pro-Israel groups close, but not too close.
The problem with such distancing is that, taken to a fault, it catches by surprise a constituency that says all it wants to do is help.
So, this week, we were all wondering: To what degree was AIPAC caught by surprise by Obama’s speech Thursday, and his call for talks based on 1967 lines?
Lee Rosenberg, AIPAC’s president, opened the conference and took a minor age (as I noted in my live blogging) to even get around to acknowledging Obama was about to speak. He did not mention the controversy at all.
Then Steny Hoyer spoke, and Rosey was back to introduce his old friend.
He noted that they had known each other for over a decade, how they had "shared moments," and then said:
However Mr. President I am mystified why I remain the friend not to share any moments … (very subtle beat) as your teammate on the basketball court.
Obama picked it up, so to speak:
Thank you Lee, for your kind introduction. I did not know you play basketball — I will take your word for it.