US Secretary of State John Kerry looks like a bit of an idiot these days. On Monday he announced that he will be returning to Israel and the Palestinian Authority and Jordan for the fifth time since he was sworn into office on February 1. That is an average of more than one visit a month.
And aside from frequent flier miles, the only thing he has to show for it is a big black eye from PLO chief and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
When Kerry was here last month he unveiled a stunning plan to bring $4 billion in investment funds to the PA. If his plan actually pans out, its champions claim it will increase the PA's GDP by a mind-numbing 50 percent in three years and drop Palestinian unemployment from 21 to 8 percent.
Standing before world and regional leaders on May 26, Kerry said plaintively, "This will help build the future. Is this a fantasy? I don't think so."
Abbas and his underlings wasted no time, however, in demonstrating that indeed, Kerry's plan is fantasy. Abbas appointed Rami Hamdallah, a Fatah apparatchik with perfect English, to replace America's favorite moderate Palestinian, Salam Fayyad, as PA prime minister.
As The Jerusalem Post's Khaled Abu Toameh has pointedly explained, Hamdallah was appointed for two reasons. First, to facilitate Fatah's absconding with hundreds of millions of dollars in donor aid to the PA and to Palestinian development projects precisely of the type that Kerry hopes to finance with his $4b. grant. The second reason Abbas appointed Hamdallah the English professor from Nablus was because his language skills will enable him to make American and European donors feel comfortable as his colleagues in Fatah pick their taxpayer- funded pockets.
Aside from mooning Kerry in the middle of his speech in Jordan, Abbas couldn't have thought of a more graphic way to show his contempt for Kerry and the Obama administration.
But that wasn't the only thing the Palestinians did. Again, as Abu Toameh has reported, the popular Palestinian response to last week's World Economic Forum in Jordan, where Abbas and Kerry rubbed elbows with President Shimon Peres and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, was to attack the businessmen who accompanied Abbas to the conference. Their crime was meeting with Israeli businessmen who came to the conference in Peres's entourage. Led by Fatah activists, Palestinian writers, unions and others also went after Palestinian businessmen from Jenin who went to Haifa to meet with Israeli businesspeople at the invitation of Haifa's Chamber of Commerce. The "anti-normalization" crowd is calling for Palestinians to boycott Palestinian businesses that do business with Israelis.
And again, that isn't all. At the PLO's birthday celebrations this week, Abbas said that the group's 1964 charter reflects the will of the Palestinian people. That charter calls for the destruction of Israel. It was written three years before Israel took control of Judea, Samaria and northern, southern and eastern Jerusalem.
But wait, there's more. The Palestinian leadership attacked Kerry personally and his plan as an attempt to bribe them. They promised that while they will happily take the money, $4b. measly dollars won't convince them to moderate one iota. They still demand that Israel release all Palestinian terrorists from its jails, agree to its demographic destruction through the so-called "right of return," or unfettered immigration of millions of foreign Arabs to Israel, and the surrender of all of Judea, Samaria and northern, southern and eastern Jerusalem to the PLO as a precondition to beginning negotiations.
And for all that, Kerry responded by applauding Hamdallah's appointment and announcing he will return here next week and is planning to roll out his own comprehensive peace plan very soon.
Israeli leaders for the most part have reacted to Kerry's constant harping by rolling their eyes. He seems like a complete lunatic. Obviously he will fail and the best thing we can do is smile and nod, like you do when you are dealing with a crazy person.
Even when Kerry claimed that the reason Israelis aren't interested in peace is that we have too much money to care, we didn't take offense. Because really, why take anything he says seriously? And aside from that, they ask, what can the Obama administration do to us, at this point? Every single day it becomes more mired in scandal.
The Guardian's revelation Wednesday that the US government has been confiscating the phone records of tens of millions of Americans who use the Verizon business network since April is just the latest serious, normal-presidency destroying scandal to be exposed in the past month. And every single scandal - the IRS's unlawful harassment and discrimination of conservative organizations and individuals, the Justice Department's spying on AP journalists and attempt to criminalize the normal practice of journalism through its investigation of Fox News correspondent James Rosen - makes it more difficult for President Barack Obama to advance his agenda.
As for foreign policy, the whistle-blower testimony that exposed Obama's cover-up of the September 11, 2012, al-Qaida attack on the US Consulate and CIA annex in Benghazi has caused massive damage to Obama's credibility in foreign affairs and to the basic logic of his foreign policy.
Ambassador Chris Stevens was tortured and murdered by al-Qaida terrorists who owed their freedom of operation to the Obama administration. If it hadn't been for Obama's decision to bring down the regime of Muammar Gaddafi, who had been largely harmless to the US since he gave up his illicit nuclear weapons program in 2004, those al-Qaida forces probably wouldn't have be capable of waging an eight-hour assault on US installations and personnel in Benghazi.
With the Benghazi scandal hounding him, the Syrian civil war and, for the past week, the anti-government protests in Turkey all exposing his incompetence on a daily basis, these Israeli leaders take heart, no doubt in the belief that Obama's freedom to attack us has vastly diminished.
Although this interpretation of events is attractive, and on its face seems reasonable, it is wrong.
And it would be a devastating mistake for Israeli leaders to believe it.
Since he entered office, Obama has responded to every defeat by doubling down and radicalizing.
When in 2009 public sentiment against his plan to nationalize the US healthcare industry was so high that Republican Scott Brown was elected senator from Massachusetts for the sole purpose of blocking Obamacare's passage in the US Senate, Obama did not accept the public's verdict.
Instead he used a technicality to ram the hated legislation through without giving Brown and the Senate the chance to vote it down.
And now, as his Middle East strategy of appeasing Islamists lies in the ruins of the US Consulate in Benghazi and in the cemeteries interning the Syrians murdered in sarin gas attacks as Obama shrugged his shoulders, Obama is again doubling down. On Wednesday he announced that he is elevating the two architects of his policy to senior leadership roles in his administration.
Obama's appointments of UN Ambassador Susan Rice to serve as his national security adviser, and of former National Security Council member Samantha Power to serve as ambassador to the UN, are a finger in the eye to his critics. These women rose to national prominence through their breathless insistence that the US use force to overthrow Gaddafi in spite of clear evidence that al-Qaida was a major force in his opposition.
Power is reportedly the author of Obama's policy of apologizing to foreign countries for the actions of past administrations. Certainly she shares Obama's hostility toward Israel. And she has been outspoken in expressing her negative opinions.
In a nutshell, Power's vision for US foreign policy is a noxious brew of equal parts self-righteousness, ignorance and prejudice. And now she will be responsible for defending Israel (or not) at the most hostile international arena in the world, where Israel's very right to exist is subject to assault on a daily basis.
Obama's decision to appoint Rice and Power in the face of the mounting scandals surrounding his presidency generally and his foreign policy particularly is not the only reason Israeli leaders should not expect for his weakened political position to diminish Obama's plan to put the screws on Israel in the coming years. There is also the disturbing pattern of the abuse of power that the scandals expose.
To date, all administration officials questioned have denied that Obama was in any way involved in directing the IRS to use the tax code to intimidate with the aim of discrediting and destroying conservative organizations and donors. Likewise, they say he played no role in the Justice Department's espionage operations against American journalists, or in the intentional cover-up of the al-Qaida assault on US installations and personnel in Benghazi. But mounting circumstantial evidence indicates that this is not true.
White House visitor records show that IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman visited Obama's White House 157 times. His predecessor Mark Everson who served under president George W. Bush only visited the White House once.
So, too, as Andrew McCarthy reported last month in National Review, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney admitted that Obama spoke with then secretary of state Hillary Clinton at 10 p.m. on September 11, 2012, during the al- Qaida assault in Benghazi.
It was after that phone conversation that the administration changed its talking points about the nature of the assault, purging details on the identity of the perpetrators and blaming an unrelated Internet movie trailer for inciting the attack.
The one thing all the scandals share is a single-minded willingness to pursue radical goals to the bitter end. The IRS's targeting of conservatives was an appalling abuse of executive power, unlike anything we have seen in recent history. The passage of Obamacare in the face massive public opposition was another means to the end of destroying his opponents.
The cover-up of the Benghazi attack was a bid to hide the failure of a policy in order to double down on it - despite its failure. The only reason you would want to double down on an already failed policy is if you are ideologically committed to a larger goal that the failed policy advances.
The similarities of the pattern of behavior in all of these actions, as well as the circumstantial evidence already unearthed, indicate strongly that despite the denials, Obama was in fact involved and may have directed the actions of all of his underlings in all of the scandals now unfolding.
What this means for Israel is we cannot be lured into complacency by Kerry's buffoonery or Obama's apparent political weakness. This is a man who is most dangerous when attacked. And this is a man who is absolutely committed to his ideological agenda. We had better be ready, because if we are not, we won't know what has hit us.