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The President’s Double Standard

President Obama recently rose to the defense of Huma Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, when a handful of congressmen alleged that close relatives of Ms. Abedin had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood (which is on the U.S. list of terrorist organizations) and implied that the State Department had, as a result of the supposed connection, cut some members of that group slack in terms of gaining entry into the U.S.

At a White House iftar dinner marking the end of the fasting during the Ramadan holiday, Mr. Obama said Ms. Abedin has been “nothing less than extraordinary in representing our country and the democratic values that we hold dear.”

He referred to her as an “American patriot” and added that America owes her “a debt of gratitude.”

That’s all fine and good, but consider the following:

Well over a year ago, The New York Times carried what can only be described as a hatchet job on longtime foreign policy adviser and diplomat Dennis B. Ross.

In the May 21, 2011 piece, written by Times reporters Helene Cooper and Mark Landler, Mr. Ross was essentially painted as disloyal to the administration (and by extension to the country) because he had the temerity to support some Israeli positions in his advice to the president.

The inference is that such advice is so self-evidently against American interests that it could only have been offered by someone whose pro-Israel agenda trumps U.S. interests.

The article started off with a description of an administration meeting “over how far to push Israel on concessions for peace with the Palestinians.” King Abdullah II of Jordan, who, curiously, was an invitee, is quoted five lines into the article about his serious problems with Mr. Ross:

From the State Department, “we get good responses,” the Jordanian king said, according to several people who were in the room. And from the Pentagon, too. “But not from the White House, and we know the reason why is because of Dennis Ross” – President Obama’s chief Middle East adviser. Mr. Ross, King Abdullah concluded, “is giving wrong advice to the White House.”

The article continued:

By almost all accounts, Dennis B. Ross – Middle East envoy to three presidents, well-known architect of incremental and painstaking diplomacy in the Middle East that eschews game-changing plays – is Israel’s friend in the Obama White House and one of the most influential behind-the-scenes figures in town.….His friends and associates say he has long believed that peace negotiations will succeed only if the United States closely coordinates its efforts with the Israelis.

….[Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and Israel’s backers in the United States view Mr. Ross as a key to holding at bay what they see as pro-Palestinian sympathies expressed by [Obama Middle East adviser George] Mitchell; Mr. Obama’s first national security adviser, General James L. Jones; and even the president himself.

A regular one-man fifth column is Mr. Ross, as portrayed by the Times. Yet we looked and looked and looked and saw nothing from the president or anyone else in his administration defending Mr. Ross, who has served this country and three presidents with great distinction. Apparently, what’s good for the goose, in this case Ms. Abedin, isn’t quite so good for the gander, Mr. Ross.

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