Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Today's lesson: How to turn a one-cycle news story into an international kerfluffle

"I tried to stop them but
they wouldn't listen to
me, Mrs. Cleaver."
"Stow it, Eddie."
After a long and grueling international business trip, John came home to find his two sons, Izzy and Peel-o, stockpiling water balloons and mud balls on opposite sides of the driveway ... again.

Determined to put an end to this silliness once and for all, he sat them down, one on each knee, and said, "Hey, look at me ... both of you. Now I know exactly what you guys are going through. In fact, I understand your conflict even better than you do. Heck, your old man was once young and full of piss and vinegar just like you.

"But here's the thing, this fighting has got to stop. The neighbors are starting to talk, and your mother is just about at the end of her rope. So I want you two to shake hands and promise never to fight again.

"OK, you don't have to shake on it. Just promise me you'll both be on your best behavior from now on. Now run off and play nice like good little soldiers."

Just as John was out of earshot, Izzy says to himself, "Who the hell died and made him king? He doesn't know diddly-squat about what I'm going through. I wish he'd go on a business trip and never come home!"

Unfortunately Izzy spoke a bit too loudly and his mom heard every word. And boy, was she mad. She blasted open the screen door, marched up to her sons, and screamed, "Your remarks, Izzy, if accurate, are offensive and inappropriate, especially given all that Dad is doing to support your security needs. Dad has been working day and night to try to promote a secure peace for you."

As you can imagine, everyone in the neighborhood heard the commotion and it was all that anyone talked about for days.

Of course, that was just a reenactment for demonstration purposes. Here's what really happened--from the Washington Post:

The State Department responded with unusual sharpness Tuesday to remarks by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, who characterized Secretary of State John F. Kerry’s efforts to shepherd Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations as “misplaced obsession and messianic fervor.”

In remarks that Yaalon’s office later said he believed were off the record, he reportedly told the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot that Kerry “cannot teach me anything about the conflict with the Palestinians.” A security plan for Israel drawn up by retired U.S. Gen. John Allen as part of Kerry’s peace proposals “is not worth the paper it’s written on,” the paper quoted Yaalon as saying.

“The only thing that can ‘save us,’ ” Yaalon said, “is for John Kerry to win a Nobel Prize and leave us in peace.”

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, traveling with Kerry on a visit to the Vatican, said the remarks, “if accurate, are offensive and inappropriate, especially given all that the United States is doing to support Israel’s security needs.” Adding that Kerry, Allen and others “have been working day and night to try to promote a secure peace for Israel,” Psaki said.

Lesson: Keep the high horse in the barn until you really need it. Because that nag almost always makes news.

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