This memorable line from future Texas Governor Ann Richards was aimed at soon-to-be President George H. W. Bush. It was included in Richards' keynote address to the 1988 Democratic National Convention, which nominated Michael Dukakis as its candidate to oppose Bush.
It is a superb Texas sweet-talking barbed description, dripping with sarcasm and righteous anger. It came to me that this is a term that fits all sizes of U.S. politicians who "can't help it" when it comes to Israel. They were born into political life with the silver foot of the Israeli narrative dictating their every political move.
The video of Richards' famous line is at the end of this posting.
I recalled the impact of that 1988 "Poor George" line when I read what former President Bill Clinton said at an event honoring Israeli President Shimon Peres on the occasion of Peres' 90th birthday:
"The longer the Palestinian conflict remained unsolved, the more acute the demographic challenge would become for Israel. [...] No matter how many settlers you put out there, the Palestinians are having more babies than the Israelis as a whole ... You've got an existential question to answer."
Poor Bill, he can't help it. He talks about Palestine and Israel as though Palestine is not in the room. He can't help it. Demographics is the problem? Please.
Clinton's speech was delivered on the opening night of the fifth annual Israeli Presidential Conference, held in Jerusalem. It was an upbeat look to the future by the famous guests. According to Ha'aretz, the opening night included a celebration of President Shimon Peres' 90th birthday. In addition to Clinton's speech, Barbara Streisand (below) was on hand for a concert honoring Peres.
There were at least 24 Emmy, Grammy, Nobel and Oscar winners at Jerusalem's International al Conventions Center for the gala event. David Alexrod, former Obama adviser, showed up to engage movie actress Sharon Stone in a closing night discussion on leadership.
During Streisand's concert, Ha'aretz reported that:
"Streisand sang two songs: 'People,' from Funny Gir l, and, at the request of Peres, also Avinu Malkanu, a song based on the Jewish prayer recited during services on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. 'This is a song that asks God to have compassion for us and our children,' she explained.
"Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, and actor Robert De Niro were among the many seen swaying to the tunes."
Stephen Hawking was nowhere to be seen. As I wrote for Wall Writings on May 14:
"University of Cambridge physicist Stephen Hawking stunned Israel last week with his announcement that he would boycott the fifth annual Israeli Presidential Conference, scheduled to be held in Jerusalem, June 18-20.
"Hawking was responding to an incongruity: He had been invited to attend an Israeli conference of scientific, economic and political world leaders under the lofty title: 'The Human Factor in Shaping Tomorrow.'"
After the Streisand concert, USA Today wrote: