Obama is not the first U.S. president to be frustrated with Israel

The Morning Line

Today in the Morning Line:

  • U.S. and Israel’s frayed relationship between allies
  • Reagan had his own misgivings
  • Let’s get together: Clinton and Obama meet up
  • Dems’ question — Go ‘wit’ or ‘witout’ Philly?

U.S.-Israel relationship at ‘lowest point’ of Obama’s presidency? The Wall Street Journal this morning front-pages a story that has Washington tongues wagging. The paper reports that Israel has gone around the White House for more weapons from the Pentagon and that President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “had a particularly combative phone call” Wednesday. U.S. officials accuse Netanyahu of having “pushed the administration aside, but wants it to provide Israel with security assurances in exchange for signing onto a long-term deal.” In fact, the Journal writes, “The battles have driven U.S.-Israeli relations to the lowest point since President Barack Obama took office.” Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark Regev denied the extent of the divisions between the countries, saying Thursday morning on MSNBC that just as there are disagreements between Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton, a member of his own party and his former secretary of state, it would only be “logical” that sometimes there would be policy disagreements between the U.S. and Israel — even if they are still close allies.

A long history and an American partisan divide on Israel: The divide, however, comes amid Obama administration officials’ frustrations with Israel’s handling of the Gaza crisis and what some in the administration feel, as Secretary of State John Kerry alluded to in his hot-mic moment, is not a precise military effort that has killed far too many civilians. It’s not the first time the U.S. has disapproved of an Israeli military campaign or an American president was frustrated with Israel. In the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan — yes, the conservative hero — threatened to cut off weapons supplies because of Israel’s advancement into Beirut, Lebanon, and his administration blamed Israel for allowing the Sabra and Shatila refugee camp massacres of thousands of Palestinians to take place. In the U.S., sharp partisan divisions have emerged on the levels of support for Israel. A July Pew poll found that while 73 percent of Republicans sympathize with Israel, just 44 percent of Democrats do. But the biggest change over the years appears to be with Republicans, who have grown to be more in lockstep with Israel. In 1978, about 49 percent of Republicans sympathized more with Israel and about 44 percent of Democrats did. For Democrats, that’s the same level of support today, but Republicans’ support has steadily grown and is currently at an all-time high.

Mideast sympathies topline party break

Clinton-Obama drama: There’s nothing like an island party to mend fences. Speaking of that Clinton-Obama division, three days after Clinton’s interview with The Atlantic, in which she, in part, criticized President Obama for his handling of foreign policy, the two former rivals ended up at a party together in Martha’s Vineyard Wednesday night. Clinton was on the island for a previously scheduled stop on her “Hard Choices” book tour, which happened to overlap with the president’s annual vacation there. During the signing, Clinton was questioned about her disagreements with Mr. Obama. “We have disagreements, as any partners and friends — as we are — might very well have,” the former secretary of state told reporters. She added, “But I’m proud that I served with him and for him.” For the remainder of the book signing, however, Clinton steered clear from answering any more questions about the subject. When asked whether she agrees with his policy on Iraq, Mrs. Clinton sharply — and awkwardly — pivoted, saying “I’m excited about signing books.”

Wisconsin race now too close to call: It’s not often that a call of an election is rescinded. But that’s what the AP did with the now-too-close-to-call GOP primary race for the 6th Congressional District in Wisconsin to replace retiring Republican Rep. Tom Petri. Just 214 votes now separate state Sen. Glenn Grothman and state Sen. Joe Leibham. About 1,500 absentee ballots are outstanding, and a recount is likely.

Democrats check out Philly and its steaks: About 20 Democratic Party officials were in Philadelphia evaluating its bid for the 2016 national convention. The smart money is on Philly to get the bid, though Brooklyn is holding out hope. At 11:30 in the morning, the DNC search committee officials partook in a political ritual — eating cheesesteaks. Of course, they chose Pat’s over Geno’s, the adjacent steak shop that requires customers to “speak English” when ordering, because, “This is America.” Geno’s is the locale of choice for some GOP presidential candidates. But, forget the Pat’s vs. Geno’s spat. One of your authors went to college about 45 minutes from Philly, and having had a cheesesteak or two, prefers Jim’s on South Street.

Daily Presidential Trivia: On this day in 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law the Social Security Act. What larger program was the act a part of? Be the first to Tweet us the correct answer using #PoliticsTrivia and you’ll get a Morning Line shout-out. No one guessed Wednesday’s trivia: How many years after President Truman gave military aid to the Vietnamese regime of Bao-Dai did the U.S. send troops into Vietnam? The answer was: 15 years, in 1965.


  • Islamic militants’ siege on Mount Sinjar is over, the Pentagon announced late Wednesday. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said it’s now “less likely” the U.S. will stage a rescue mission since many of the trapped Yazidis have escaped.

  • Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has changed his schedule to visit Ferguson Thursday, calling the situation there “deeply troubling.”

  • Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery, along with a Huffington Post reporter, was arrested Wednesday night in Ferguson for “trespassing in a McDonald’s”.

  • Rep. Colleen Hanabusa brought a suit against the Hawaii Elections Office to delay Friday’s special election that is being held for those residents who could not vote, due to Saturday’s tropical storm. Now a small area of the island of Hawaii is the center of the state’s extremely close Senate race.

  • Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick signed into law a sweeping overhaul of the commonwealth’s gun laws, including adding Massachusetts to a national background check database and allowing police officers to keep guns out of the hands of people they deem dangerous.

  • Republicans want to challenge a Securities and Exchange Commission rule that restricts how much Wall Street financiers can contribute to governors and other state officials running for federal office. And because of the Supreme Court’s ruling in McCutcheon v. FEC last term, they think there’s a chance.

  • Democratic congressional leaders may have called for Mr. Obama to take executive action on immigration — with Sen. Chuck Schumer saying the White House should act in October — but what they really want now is more complicated given that executive action could put vulnerable Democrats in a tight position ahead of the midterms. Instead, they’re now shifting the burden of action back to Republicans.

  • A Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va. announced Wednesday that it would not stay the July decision which held that the commonwealth’s gay marriage ban was unconstitutional. If the Supreme Court does not issue their own stay, Virginia could start issuing marriage licenses to gay couples starting August 20.

  • Pennsylvania and Maine maintain their top spots on The Hotline’s ranking of governors’ mansions most likely to flip parties.

  • The Washington Post looks at which states are lacking in women in the executive office. There are eight states without a female major-party nominee since at least 1970, and 24 states have never had a female governor.

  • Back home in their districts, Senate Democrats are putting on a positive face about retaining their Senate majority this fall.

  • An antidote to Democrat Sen. Kay Hagan’s vulnerability this fall may be “the visceral reaction” to GOP State House Speaker Thom Tillis and the conservative legislature, which Democrats are painting as more guilty of overreach than Mr. Obama and Washington.

  • The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee launched their first ad hitting Thillis in their $9.1 million investment in North Carolina.

  • The latest attack on Colorado Sen. Mark Udall is a $500,000 buy from Americans for Prosperity knocking the incumbent Democrat for “covering up for Obamacare.”

  • State Department whistleblower John Napier Tye maintains that the NSA’s expansive data collection powers abroad violate Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights. The New York Times compares the agency’s powers to collect data on Americans at home and abroad.

  • Rhode Island may be the least polarized state, not because its Republicans are New England moderates, but because of the the conservatism of many in its Democratic supermajority.

  • Keep an eye on the Rundown blog for breaking news throughout the day, our home page for show segments, and follow @NewsHour for the latest.


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