Michael Totten

"Hussein" Has Nothing to Do With It

President Barack Obama agreed to be interviewed by Israel’s Channel 2, and at one point he came across like a peevish and blinkered man who hasn’t a clue how others see him or how the Middle East works.

During the interview Wednesday, when confronted with the anxiety that some Israelis feel toward him, Obama said that “some of it may just be the fact that my middle name is Hussein, and that creates suspicion.”

If he was trying to reduce anxiety among Israelis by making that comment, I can assure him he failed.

I was in Jerusalem the day he was inaugurated. Everyone knew his middle name then, and the Israelis I met on that trip swooned over him as much as my bohemian neighbors in Portland did. Whether for good reasons or bad, his plummeting poll numbers are based entirely on what has occurred between then and now.