(Jerusalem-Israel) Republican strategists have to be hoping that President Bush is just assuming the role once played by Casey Stengel or at least is a fan of Norm Crosby.
While addressing the Knesset, Israel's parliament Friday, on the sixtieth anniversary of the country, the President took time to take a subtle swipe at possible democratic presidential nominee, Barack Obama.
"Happy Birthday, Israel," said Bush. He then went on, "But had we followed the democratic notion of negotiating with hummus, I don't think we'd be eating any cake now or matzo. To think that a dish can solve the terror situation, as tasty as it is, is just simply misguided."
After a long silence, Parliament Member Morey Amsterdam, no relation to the borscht belt comic of "Dick van Dyke" show fame, asked, "Excuse me, sir. But what do you mean?"
The President was direct. "Barack Obama thinks peace can come to the Middle East by focusing on a food, and not even an entrée. Is that the direction we want to go in?"
Amsterdam politely asked, "So you do mean Hummus…the food?"
"Bingo, Holland," Bush replied, having also already given Amsterdam a nickname.
"That's what I was afraid of," said Amsterdam and quietly sat down, muttering something in Yiddish not fit to reprint in a family publication.
The White House was quick to issue a statement on the matter, which gave the administration's customary clarity on the issue: "The President in no way meant to imply that Hummus is to blame for the problems in the Middle East. The President has been a long time supporter of the chic pea. However, he prefers to call it garbanzo."
The statement also stressed that "to say that the President believes that Barack Obama's belief that focusing on hummus to bring stability to the region is misguided is….'"
For someone reason the rest of the statement was left out due to "threats to national security under the Patriot Act."
The matter was again brought up at the White House afternoon press conference when an AP reporter asked White House Press Secretary Dana Perino if President Bush did not know the difference "hamas", the Middle Eastern faction, and "hummus" the Middle Eastern dish.
"I don't believe that was apparent in the President's statement," said Perino. "What is apparent is that hummus will not solve the current Middle East situation, which is true."
The AP reporter attempted a follow-up, but Perino said that he didn't look "too good" and that White House security may want to "take you away."
Calls to the reporter's home phone resulted in a disconnected number.