Diplomat for Obama

Print More

Kurtzer.jpgYesterday we had a visit at Trinity from Daniel Kurtzer, now of the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton, whose three-decade career in the State Department included three years as President Clinton’s ambassador to Egypt and four years as President Bush’s ambassador to Israel. (After leaving that job and the department in 2005, he spent a year as commissioner of the Israeli professional baseball league, but that’s another story.)
Kurtzer has been as scrupulously non-partisan a diplomat as you are likely to find. In his after-dinner talk, he made it clear that he had great appreciation for the efforts of the first Bush administration–Secretary of State James Baker in particular–in moving towards a peace settlement in the Middle East. He also made it clear that President Clinton’s peace efforts at the second Camp David summit had been sorely lacking in diplomatic preparation, and that he believes the foreign policy of the current Bush administration has been a disaster.
At dinner Kurtzer disclosed that, just that morning, he had informed the Obama campaign that he would publicly endorse their candidate, a decision he had reached, he said, after much soul searching. When I asked him, after his prepared remarks, to explain why, he said that he had come to the conclusion that the Republicans needed to be defeated in November, and that Obama was best equipped to do that and to pursue a new course in Middle East diplomacy. Replying to questions from some older Jewish folks in the audience, who expressed considerable unease about Obama’s candidacy, he defended his new principal, denouncing the hostile emails that have been circulating and defending Robert Malley, one of the former state department officials who has given Obama advice.
Kurtzer is an orthodox Jew who was an undergraduate at Yeshiva University. The Obama campaign has asked him to go to Ohio to speak to Jewish groups this weekend. He’ll be there.