Tuesday, February 10th, 2009
James Besser in Washington
Israelis are going to the polls in higher-than-expected numbers today, and official Washington might be worried about the outcome – if it wasn’t so completely preoccupied with a collapsing economy at home and the increasingly bitter, partisan effort to stop the slide.
No doubt Mideast specialists at the National Security Council and State Department are paying close attention, but there’s little indication the Israeli election is playing big with an administration that has a lot more pressing issues on its plate.
My friend Doug Bloomfield, a syndicated columnist and popular speaker on the pro-Israel circuit, may have had the best three-sentence analysis of the election to date.
“All last year we constantly talked about the size and impact of the Jewish vote, and in the end it wasn’t decisive,” he said, referring to the recurrent and wildly inaccurate predictions that American Jews would somehow prove decisive in the 2008 presidential race here. “But today, the Jewish vote will determine the outcome of an election. And everyone will be unhappy.”
That probably means in Israel, where voter unhappiness seems to be the dominant theme of the election, and in Washington, which is hoping for a change in the region’s political and diplomatic stalemate even as it focuses on other crises.