Remember last week when it was widely and clearly reported that soon-to-be House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Republican of Virginia, had told Prime Minister Netanyahu that the GOP majority would side with him against the Obama administration? And how this was kind of extraordinary in a bad way—not because politicians should march in lockstep with members of the other party, but because there is principled opposition, and then there is telling a foreign leader you will side with him over the leader of your own country?
Well, we can all breathe a sigh of relief: Cantor never actually said that. A spokesperson explained that the highest-ranking Jewish congressperson told the Israeli prime minister that “the new Republican majority will serve as a check on the administration” just, y’know, in a general way, not specifically on Mideast issues—“not in relation to U.S.-Israel relations.” You see, Netanyahu is known for his special curiosity as to domestic U.S. tax policy. (It is interesting that Cantor’s office felt the need to clarify, implying that it agrees that there would be something wrong with Cantor having said that.)
The remaining problem is that Cantor seems to say things concerning Mideast policy that he doesn’t actually mean. Late last month, recall, he pledged to separate Israeli aid from the rest of foreign aid, a universally disliked idea that, fortunately, he didn’t actually want to enact. Maybe the thing to do is discount absolutely everything Cantor says about the Mideast and just wait to hear what his spokespeople say?
Obama Remark Misinterpreted, Cantor Spokesperson Says [JTA]
Candid Cantor [Capital J]
Earlier: Cantor’s Foreign Aid ‘Trial Balloon’ Is Popped’