For the next two weeks, the right has delivered President Obama a clear ultimatum: Meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or face constant nagging about every single nonessential appointment you make. It's a game that will be played at least until the end of the month, when the UN conference in New York draws to close. That's the summit Netanyahu tried to use as an opportunity to get face time with Obama, only to be rebuffed by the White House due to a "scheduling conflict." As Haaretz's Barak Ravid and Natasha Mozgovaya reported earlier:
The White House National Security Council Spokesman Tommy Vietor told Haaretz the two would not meet due to a scheduling conflict. "The President arrives in New York for the UN on Monday, September 24th and departs on Tuesday, September 25th. The Prime Minister doesn’t arrive in New York until later in the week. They're simply not in the city at the same time."
… An official in Jerusalem said that the Prime Minister's Office sent the White House a message stating that although Netanyahu will spend only two and a half days on U.S. soil, he is interested in meeting Obama and is willing to travel to the U.S. capital specifically for that purpose. The official added that the White House rejected the request and said that at this time Obama's schedule does not allow for a meeting.
Now, every nonessential appointment on the president's calendar may be considered "a rude snub to 7 million Israelis" as The Telegraph's conservative columnist Nile Gardiner put it. Here are just the latest presidential appointments drawing scrutiny:
- Following a National Journal scoop that the president will go on The Late Show with David Letterman on Sept. 17, the conservative blogosphere pounced. "Obama Announces Letterman Spot on Day He Snubbed Israel," reads a Newsmax headline. "Obama is to return to Letterman's show just a month after First Lady Michelle Obama made two Late Show appearances," wrote an outraged Todd Beamon. It didn't end there.
- John Nolte over at Breitbart caught wind that Obama would be attending a fundraiser next Tuesday—a fundraiser at which Jay-Z and Beyonce will be in attendance! "NO TIME FOR NETANYAHU, BUT OBAMA TO ATTEND JAY-Z, BEYONCE FUNDRAISER," reads the headline. The bit of news comes from EW:
Entertainment Weekly confirmed Tuesday (September 11) that Hov and wife Beyoncé will host a fundraiser for President Obama at the rapper's 40/40 Club in Manhattan next Tuesday. The president will be in attendance at the 100-guest event, with ticket prices hitting $40,000 per guest. Reportedly, it will be Obama's last fundraising event in New York City before the November 6 election.
Gamely taking part in this exercise of gotcha scheduling, Mitt Romney vowed to always amend his schedule to the whims of Netanyahu. “I can’t ever imagine if the Prime Minister of Israel asked to meet with me, I can’t imagine ever saying no,” Romney said, according to a pool report earlier today. “They’re our friends. They’re our closest allies in the Middle East.”
Buckle up: it's going to be a long September of scheduling nitpicking.