My first impression of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came in 1991 during the opening days of the first Gulf War. I didn't know who he was before then.
By the time I was watching him on CNN, "BiBi,' as he is known, had already served as a combat soldier in the IDF special forces (where he was wounded in the much-publicized rescue of a hijacked airliner in 1972), had graduated with a master's from MIT, and been involved with many facets of Israeli government for years. Of course, I was just a dumb high school kid who knew none of this.
The thing is, I didn't have to know all that. Not the specifics, anyway. He told me everything I needed to know when he was standing there on CNN, with the occasional SCUD missile landing in the downdown Jerusalem background.
For those who don't remember those days, it was a nerve-racking time. This was the largest military engagement America had been involved in since Vietnam. Some people* were really panicked about it. There were a lot of doomsayers, especially in the media, speaking in dubious tones about "the fourth largest army in the world," and Saddam's vaunted, battle-hardened Republican Guard.
*I was not one of those people. I was a life-long military geek--
probably the only kid at my high school with a subscription to Jane's Defence Weekly. I may not have known shit that I *should* have known, like how to solve quadratic equations in algebra, but damn if I couldn't yammer all day about the systems of the AH-64 Apache or the capabilities of a Los Angeles-class attack sub. Yeah, I was not exactly a social butterfly. But I knew for damn sure that these reporters were talking out of their asses.
But there, in the midst of all this, was "BiBi." I remember him thereon CNN, being asked asinine questions by some anchor, and he just stood there with this knowing half-grin and a Machiavellian twinkle in his eyes, almost amused, as if saying, "I'm humoring you because you clearly don't know better." While the reporter tried to pry some kind of affect of concern or uncertainty out of him, Netanyahu was the picture of calm, answering in his deep, resonant baritone, as cool as a mountain lake.
I didn't know about Netanyahu's history, but I knew I was seeing leadership. I watched him, and I just knew--this guy has it handled. He is a tough bastard who knows his shit. I felt safer knowing there was a guy like this on our side.
That just isn't what I see when I look at Barack Obama. There is nothing about Obama that exudes leadership presence. He seems like a lawyer. An academic who is more suited to being on a committee than to being an executive making big decisions. A talking head community organizer who is less interested in how things are than in how the public will perceive them.
Barack Obama gives off the same vibe to me as Jimmy Carter--he just seems *smaller* than the office of the presidency, like a kid trying on dad's neck tie.
Now, I know what you are probably thinking, if you know me at all.
I promise you, I am not just saying this because he is a Democrat. There are plenty of Democrats who were very impressive as leaders, like FDR, Truman, JFK, and Bill Clinton. I may have passionately disagreed with Bill Clinton most of the time, but I never questioned that he was in charge, that he was directing policy. Remember in school, when you'd get broken up into groups to do some assignment, then one unlucky kid would get tagged to present the group's results to the rest of the class? Obama always looks like that kid to me.
Netanyahu reminds me of what real leadership looks like. He also reminds me that Israel's fight is our fight--something Obama doesn't seem to understand. Israel is not perfect, but they are not the monsters that leftists in the media and Jew-haters like Helen Thomas would have us believe. Israel is our only true ally in the Middle East, our staunchest ally in the war against terrorism, and we need to have their back all the way. Obama should do what he does best: study. Study Benjamin Netanyahu, and learn what real leadership is.