In Israel, Obama finds new way to not pick a favorite ally

I've written before about the linguistic contortions U.S. leaders go through to express the depths of their bonds with close allies -- be it Australia, Britain, Canada, or Japan -- without elevating any one country above the others. There's the "the United States has no stronger ally than ____" model, which places the referenced nation in a good-natured tie for first place with several other special relationships, and the "one of our strongest allies" approach. On Wednesday, Obama took a particularly ingenious tack upon arriving in Israel. Before characterizing the alliance between the two countries as "unbreakable" and "eternal," he declared:

Today, the sons of Abraham and the daughters of Sarah are fulfilling the dream of the ages -- to be "masters of their own fate" in "their own sovereign state."  And just as we have for these past 65 years, the United States is proud to stand with you as your strongest ally and your greatest friend.

See what he did there? Change "your" to "our" and a host of furious no-stronger-allies would be knocking on Washington's door. But, as Obama's speechwriters are well aware, it's probably fair to say that Israel received a visit from its closest partner today.

Uriel Sinai/Getty Images


Carl Levin wants an apology from Joe Scarborough too

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This morning, MSNBC hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski issued an on-air apology for blaming Nancy Pelosi for flip-flopping on the Iraq war even though she actually opposed the intervention and voted against it from the beginning, something Foreign Policy fact-checked a few hours after the Morning Joe broadcast.

"We apologize for that mistake," said Brzezinski.

"We do," added Scarborough.

Oddly, the two hosts didn't apologize for blaming Michigan Senator Carl Levin for flip-flopping on the war -- an equally mistaken claim -- and defended the segment as a whole.

"We actually showed several examples of [flip-flopping]," said Brzezinski.

"Several good examples!" interrupted Scarborough. "But we showed one bad example."

"I think the other examples were really interesting.... It was a great piece," Brzezinksi added.

But as we noted yesterday, Levin also voted against the Iraq War Resolution, and spoke fervently against administration rhetoric about the potential for Saddam Hussein to use a WMD against the United States. "He would not, in my judgment, initiate an attack with a weapon of mass destruction, because it would lead to his own destruction," Levin told Meet the Press in 2002. "He's a survivalist. He is not a suicide bomber."

When asked if Sen. Levin was conceding the point that he was somehow culpable for the Iraq war, his chief of staff David Lyles told FP, "We certainly aren't conceding that point. We will reach out to them and remind them of Senator Levin's position."