8:22 am Sep. 17, 2012
On Sunday morning, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a football analogy to communicate the threat from Iran.
"They're in the red zone," he told David Gregory on "Meet the Press."
"You know, they're in the last 20 yards. And you can't let them cross that goal line. You can't let them score a touchdown, because that would have unbelievable consequences, grievous consequences, for the peace and security of us all; of the world, really."
Netanyahu, who caused a diplomatic stir earlier in the week by implying the United States needed to set a "red line" for Iran's nuclear program, made a couple of appearances on Sunday morning, appearing with Gregory on "Meet the Press" and on CNN's "State of the Union," where he questioned host Candy Crowley's assertion that all that uranium might be for a peaceful purpose.
"It's like Timothy McVeigh walking into a shop in Oklahoma City and saying, 'I'd like to tend my garden. I'd like to buy some fertilizer,'" he said. "Come on. We know that they're working on a weapon."
The tone of the shows was less political than might be expected two months before a presidential election, with Ambassador Susan Rice appearing on NBC, ABC, CBS and FOX to offer the latest assessment of the situation in Libya, but mostly avoiding political questions about Mitt Romney's handling of the crisis.
Netanyahu claimed he was being apolitical too.
"I'm not going to be drawn into the American election," said Netanyahu, who is a keen observer of American politics and a longtime acquaintance of Mitt Romney. "And what's guiding my statements is not the American political calendar, but the Iranian nuclear calendar."
When pressed by Gregory as to whether he agreed with Romney's statement that President Obama, who recently declined to meet with Netanyahu in New York, had "thrown Israel under the bus."
"There's no bus ... The only bus that is really important is the Iranian nuclear bus. That's the one that we have to derail," he said.
But political or not, Rep. Peter King of Long Island said Netanyahu's Sunday appearances were evidence of a serious problem.
"The fact that you were to have the prime minister of Israel, on this show, explaining his relationship with the president of the United States at a time of such turmoil in the Middle East, we've never had a situation like this, where there's been such a disconnect between U.S. president and the Israeli prime minister," King said on the show's roundtable. "And the fact that he won't even meet with him at the U.N., while is going to meet with President Morsi, sends terrible signals."
King was seated next to Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim-American elected to Congress, and a witness who testified at King's much-publicized hearings on Muslim extremism in the United States. (King was slightly rankled at the time that Ellison's emotional testimony had absorbed all the coverage of the hearing and had been used to demonize King, even after King had invited him to testify.)
Ellison suggested Romney was falling short of a standard set by Ronald Reagan.
"I mean what about Reagan?" Ellison asked. "Reagan said, 'You know, when we have a crisis like this, we should all come to as Americans and not sort of divide up politically and try to seek a point.'"
King, who has agreed with the sentiment of Romney's statement during the crisis, if not his exact timing, offered some defense for the Republican candidate saying he didn't know the extent of the situation at the time.
"Well, silence is often a good choice," said NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell.