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You Say It Best When You Say Nothing At All

A lot of people seem to be wondering today whether Barack Obama will break his silence over Israel's attack on Gaza. The NY Times devotes a whole art

thumb_obama aipac_42671.JPG A lot of people seem to be wondering today whether Barack Obama will break his silence over Israel's attack on Gaza. The NY Times devotes a whole article to the question, noting that Team Obama's message discipline is strong and they are sticking to the mantra of "there is only one president at a time." Despite that, there are signs that Obama is broadly sympathetic to Israel - but if he's the more nuanced individual he has claimed to be then he has to realise that the current assault is deeply counter-productive.

Obama could, if he wished, stick to his "one president at a time" - which is only just and correct - while still pressuring the current president to end his hands-off stance on events in Gaza. He could, if he wished, make use of the tame stenographers of the press corps by planting questions to which he could answer "there's only one president at a time" in many, inventive ways.

Consider, for example, that the UK's Gordon Brown has been one of the first Western leaders to break their enabling silence and demand both a ceasefire and access for humanitarian aid to Gaza. Imagine a planted question leading from that.

Reporter: Mr President-Elect, Gordon Brown has called for a ceasefire and access for aid to Gaza. Do you agree the Israelis should now cease their assault?

O: Prime Minister Brown has my greatest respect, he's a strong friend and ally. However, the US only has one President at a time so I can only urge you to ask President Bush that question.

See how it would work? That would put the focus of the American media back on Bush, who has refused to cut short his final vacation to help deal with the crisis.

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