If you thought that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had hit rock bottom with his warmongering speech to Republicans in Congress, then rest easy. Somehow, Bibi has reached a new low.
On the eve of Israeli elections, with poll numbers flagging and his coalition disintegrating, Bibi has resorted to the last choice available to bedraggled Republican primary candidates everywhere: an ill-chosen far-right celebrity spokesman with nothing useful to say. None other than exhausted old Internet meme Chuck Norris has stepped forward to endorse Bibi's candidacy in the final hours of election season, informing the Israeli public that "you have an incredible country" that needs to be kept safe from "the evil forces that are threatening not only Israel, but the United States."
Yawn. Bibi must not know that even among Americans, Norris is considered an in-joke more along the lines of Clint Eastwood ranting to an empty chair than anything resembling a credible voice in politics. The most prominent role Norris has had lately was as a tired, literal Chuck Norris joke in The Expendables 2 in 2012, somehow coming across as more of a desiccated mummy than Sylvester Stallone. It's possible that Norris made his endorsement without the suggested approval of the Netanyahu administration, but even if so he's just the latest example of Republicans tripping over themselves to lick the prime minster's feet - an end goal Bibi has recently made few denials he is reaching for.
Still, though, Norris clearly knows what he's talking about. In between delivering creaky, joint-cracking roundhouse kicks (he's 75, believe it or not) to an unending series of ethnically stereotypical bad guys, Norris has somehow found the time to let the Israeli public know that America's least-remembered Texas Ranger supports the only candidate who is bothering to stand up against those despicable Iranians. Netanyahu's obsession with bombing Iran is now a campaign theme that threatens to blossom into self-parody; as Obama recently intoned, "there’s no expert on Iran or nuclear proliferation around the world that seriously thinks that Iran is going to respond to additional sanctions by eliminating its nuclear program."
Somehow, I doubt the endorsement of the Lone Ranger will change the ayatollahs' minds. A young Chuck Norris might be shot to death trying to infiltrate an Iranian nuclear facility. Current-day Chuck Norris might have a heart attack on the way to the airport.
OK, maybe that's too mean. No one should be surprised that the aging action star, following the lead of other fading luminaries like Steven Seagal and Mickey Rourke, has decided to endorse a radically reactionary foreign leader whose interests are essentially diametrically opposite to those of the current U.S. administration. Norris has been a fringe, somewhat pathetic right-wing C-lister for years, having warned voters in 2012 that a second Obama administration would usher in "1,000 years of darkness" (presumably with free health care). His image is built entirely on nostalgic Americana machismo and a disturbing fondness for lethal martial arts moves and firearms. He's exactly the type of right-wing ideologue whose cultural memory reverberates in sync with the unsilenceable high-frequency signal emitting from Ronald Reagan's grave, coupled with an increasingly sour tinge of desperation as he slides into irrelevancy.
Basically, screw Chuck Norris. He has less influence on the American political spectrum than serial fondler Herman Cain, for god's sake. As long as he's enjoying his much-desired retirement by filming advertisements for Israeli hardliners instead of trying to convince me that Jesus held the key to a balanced miracle diet, I couldn't care less what this archaic reminder of how low-budget CBS used to be does with his spare time. Norris might as well film an Israeli election-time ad for Jews For Jesus.
The real, disturbing takeaway from this embarrassing spectacle is what this indicates about Netanyahu. Having (possibly irreparably) destroyed the Israeli-U.S. "special relationship" for as long as he remains in office with his little speech stunt, Bibi is increasingly acting like a freshman Republican congressman flustered about the democratic rebellion being mounted by all those Commie protesters. Is this guy trying to prove to Israelis he can fix their broken economy or that he can repeal Obamacare?
Somehow, I imagine that Israelis really don't give a shit what Chuck Norris thinks. At this rate, he might as well summon the Zohan.