THE BLOG
11/22/2013 07:52 pm ET Updated Jan 25, 2014

Barack, Barak and Peace in the Middle East

As much as I have kidded President Obama -- whose first name means blessed -- about the absurd comparisons between him and the Messiah, he may be most at home with a comparison to another Biblical character, and I don't mean Moses, another comparison that I have ridiculed.

No, President Obama may find his closest Biblical soulmate in his namesake, Barak. A captain of the Israelites during the era of the Judges, Barak chased after Sisera, general of the Canaanites.

But Barak, whose name in Hebrew means lightning, was not the quickest of men. Like our president, a methodical fellow who may be better suited for the Supreme Court than the presidency, Barak arrived too late to kill Sisera, who had already been slain by Jael, a Kenite woman.

As I wrote a couple of years ago, "It was only after the deed had been done that Barak, an ironic victim of his name, showed up to discover the dead body. As the Bible makes clear, it is Jael, not Barak, who is blessed above all others."

Similarly, one wonders if a contemporary Jael, such as 2016 presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton or Elizabeth Warren, might learn from the mistakes of President Obama and show better managerial skills in solving many problems that have evaded this president.

Certainly, one suspects that Hillary, despite her legal background, would be less obsessed with the legal process than President Obama.

Yes, President Obama deserves credit for passing a health care law, which will hopefully work in spite of its bungled rollout, that numerous presidents, including Bill Clinton, could not. But President Obama may actually hearken back to another 20th-century president, William Howard Taft, in terms of his temperament, intellect and professorial inclination.

Taft, who, along with Teddy Roosevelt, is the subject of Doris Kearns Goodwin's latest presidential biography, The Bully Pulpit, never really felt comfortable as president. He preferred the scholarship of being a judge, in his case, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

The comparison is not a perfect one by any means. Unlike Taft, President Obama relishes the limelight, but he sometimes seems to deliberate too much on major issues, such as Syria, where he was bailed out by Secretary of State John Kerry in an unscripted moment.

For all the progress that apparently is being made in the removal and destruction of Syria's chemical weapons, the situation there is far from optimal. Assad remains in power, and the civil war in his country has spilled over into Lebanon and threatens Israel.

Is it possible that Hillary Clinton is a modern-day Jael? Could she clean up the Middle East and get the credit for solving one of the most intractable conflicts in the world?

Like Jael, who covered Sisera with a mantle and hammered a nail into his temple, Hillary, a true Old Testament heroine, has used trickery or ambition to her advantage. Consider how she, like Bathsheba, has ensured that the dynasty of Bill Clinton, heralded at times as the David of our era, continues with her blood, not the blood of any other women who may have known her husband.

And consider how, the Benghazi tragedy notwithstanding, Hillary escaped from her position as Secretary of State without any of the major controversies surrounding John Kerry. The 2004 Democratic presidential nominee has been described as "indefatigable" by some and compared to Neville Chamberlain by others.

But the nation's top diplomat reminds me more of Don Quixote, lost in an imaginary realm of chivalry. There is no crisis for which he thinks he cannot reach a civil agreement through his courtly rectitude. Beyond Syria, which remains a quagmire, and Afghanistan, where Kerry hopes to seal a security arrangement with President Karzai, subject to the endorsement of the loya jirga, Iran represents, by far, the biggest problem of all.

While President Obama deliberates like the law professor that he is, Secretary Kerry is trying to finalize details on, among other issues, limiting Iran's uranium enrichment to 3.5 percent. As many others have suggested, it strikes me as folly indeed to think that the Iranians won't do just as the North Koreans did, wait it out and keep spinning centrifuges until they have developed nuclear weapons.

Given his penchant for speaking French on his overseas missions, Kerry may actually be more like Candide than Don Quixote or anyone else. Yes, it is necessary to cultivate one's garden, but it is also necessary to stand strong on behalf of Israel, France and the U.S.'s Arab allies and recognize when we are being duped by an Iranian regime prone to lying and spewing hatred.

Perhaps, Hillary Clinton, as crafty as Jael, will swoop in after 2016 and rescue Israel and the U.S. from the questionable leadership we are seeing now. In the meantime, she too, like Iran, will have to wait it out. If the Bible is right, she may very well get the credit she deserves.