Today on the Great, Pointless "Crippling Candidate Gaffe" Beat

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 24 2012 5:41 PM

Today on the Great, Pointless "Crippling Candidate Gaffe" Beat

The president sits down with 60 Minutes. He gets asked by Steve Kroft about a possible Israeli first strike on Iran. He answers diplomatically.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

KROFT:  You're -- you're saying you don't feel any pressure from Prime Minister Netanyahu in the middle of a campaign to try and get you to change your policy and draw a line in the sand? You don't feel any pressure? 
OBAMA:  When it comes to our national security decisions, any pressure that I feel is simply to do what's right for the American people. And I am going to block out any noise that's out there. Now I feel an obligation, not pressure but obligation, to make sure that we're in close consultation with the Israelis on these issues because it affects them deeply. They're one of our closest allies in the region. And we've got an Iranian regime that has said horrible things that directly threaten Israel's existence. 
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Twelve hours later, the Romney campaign's Surrogate Voltron goes into overdrive. Rep. Illeana Ros-Lehtinen!

President Obama... referred to concerns about the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran as ‘noise’ coming from 'one of our closest allies in the region.’ The President of the United States must be unwavering in his commitment and resolve to standing with our most loyal democratic ally.

John Bolton!

President Obama recently characterized Israel’s concern about the prospect of a nuclear Iran as ‘noise,’ and, to add insult to injury, knocked Israel down a notch to simply ‘one of our closest allies in the region.’ But the fact of the matter is that Israel is without a doubt our closest and most reliable ally in the region.

For some reason, George Pataki!

On 60 Minutes last night, instead of calling Israel ‘our closest ally’ in the Middle East he downgraded it to ‘one of our closest allies.’ The shift may seem modest, but in the world of diplomacy it is an earthquake.

Can we trust a president who merely says he's "in close consultation with the Israelis on these issues because it affects them deeply"? I don't know if we can.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.