After this morning’s deficit-reduction speech in the Rose Garden, Barack Obama will head north to our fair city. He’ll attend a $35,000-a-head fund-raiser in Manhattan this evening, the first of several fund-raising events while he’s in town. But that’s not the only reason for his visit.
You may have heard: Obama is a little worried about the Jewish vote after the Democratic candidate lost N.Y.-9 in a race that was seen as a referendum on the president and his Israel policies. As John Heileman writes in this week’s New York cover story on Obama and Israel, the president’s approval rating has slipped 28 points lower among Jewish voters since his inauguration in 2009 — a frustration that’s also reflected among the president’s big-ticket Jewish donors.
This week’s U.N. General Assembly presents an opportunity for Obama to recapture some of that support. Mahmoud Abbas is set to ask the assembly to recognize Palestine as a member state. The Palestinian request might be largely a symbolic one, but it also provides Obama with a chance for some political theater of this own: The U.S. has promised to try to block the request, and the president will sit down with Abbas and Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, probably on Wednesday. The meeting would let Obama emphasize that, despite his comments during the spring about the use of pre-1967 border, he’s a good friend of Israel. Great friend. Best friend! B.F.F. for life! He wants to make friendship bracelets with every single Jewish voter in America, in fact. What does everyone’s schedule look like in the next year?