Obama, Helen Reddy, and a Teenage Sucker

Posted on November 17th, 2010

Who I thought I was getting

President Obama has offered Prime Minister Netanyahu a real sweetheart deal. Apparently, we get all sorts of great stuff if we just agree to stop building homes out here for another three months.

I haven’t felt this excited since I signed up for the Columbia House “Music for a Penny” deal when I was a long haired, spiked wristband wearing, dressed-all-in-black teenager.

I remember getting this incredible offer that if I signed up right away, I could get ten cassette  tapes (an ancient way people used to store music) for just a penny each! Each tape would be delivered straight to my door. What a great deal! I signed up and couldn’t wait to bolster my already impressive collection of AC/DC, Led Zepplin, and other hard rock greats.

Who I got

Instead, I ended up with the complete works of Helen Reddy and the Captain and Tennille. These tapes didn’t cost me just a penny either.

See my problem was I just read the words that were printed on the mailer in big red letters. I forgot to read the small letters written in black on the bottom of the letter. I wouldn’t really get “Back in Black” for a penny until I had paid full price for a whole library of music not fit for an elevator. (My apologies to any Reddy fans. No, on second thought there is no excuse for that.)

So while everyone is writing about all the shiny new stealth planes that Obama is going to give us for a penny’s worth of a settlement freeze, it appears likely that all we are going to get is a full price edition of Reddy’s Greatest Hits (“and more!”) It would be worth it to read the fine print on this deal closely.

But that’s just the point. The fine print isn’t even written.

However, we do know (based on the State Department) a few things about “the deal”:

Just a penny each!

1) The 3 billion dollars of stealth planes would not be delivered until we have signed a comprehensive peace agreement. Anyone marking that date down in your weekly planners?

2) We would not be asked for additional freezes. Unless President Obama thinks that doing so would promote peace. Better hold off on that February building contract.

3) The U.S. would veto any anti-Israel United Nations Security Council resolutions. But they won’t put that in writing because it leaves the Palestinians with no real leverage.

Think about this: Hasn’t the U.S. traditionally vetoed anti-Israel resolutions because supporting its closest ally in the Middle East was always a foundation of U.S. foreign policy? In other words, do we now have to pay for the music we already own?

When I signed the Columbia House deal, my parents tried to warn me. “There is always a catch,” they told me. “Slow down and know what you are getting into.”

But of course, how can you tell an excited teenager to slow down when he believes he has just discovered the best deal on the planet. I was rewarded by my haste to send the envelope back with enough “easy listening” to last several lifetimes.

Instead of “Hells Bells,” I sat sadly with “I am Woman, Hear Me Roar,” while my head banging friends couldn’t stop laughing at what a sucker I was.

I hope that if the Israeli cabinet is getting all excited about this sweet deal, they should first read the fine print before sending that envelope back to Obama with the future of Israel inside.

Yes, at 43 I can finally tell my parents that back then, they were indeed right. Unfortunately, right now we are dealing with the security of Israel, which is a tad more important than the bank account and reputation of a heavy metal teen.


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  1. Chaim Sherman says:

    Yeah, but what makes this worse than your record purchase, is that this ain’t the first time we’ve made this deal!!

  2. Robert Rubinoff says:

    Hey, Jordan – I *like* Hellen Reddy! I even have her Greatest Hits album! But I have the original version with a blue cover, without the “and more”. So if you don’t want your copy, you can send it to me!

    Meanwhile, I think it was a terrible mistake for Netanyahu to agree to the original freeze – precisely because of this: once you’ve started the freeze, then it’s easier to push to keep extending it. After all, we already agreed once, why not again? And it quickly becomes not “what do you want in return for the freeze” but rather “what will you lose if you start building again”.


  3. Robert Rubinoff says:

    (okay, I *like* Helen Reddy, but apparently I have trouble spelling her name.)