I guess you know how solicitous U.S. conservatives have become about their “Leader of the Free World,” Benjamin Netanyahu. But here’s a fresh example from the Weekly Standard‘s Daniel Halper, under the headline “WH Avoids Congratulating Bibi.”

On CNN this morning, White House aide David Simas avoided congratulating Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the Israeli elections. Instead, he would only congratulate the Israeli people on having an election.

Said statement, which Halper did go on to quote, makes it pretty plain that any “congratulations” would be inappopriate and premature since nobody’s actually “won” yet.

As you know now, the hard work of coalition building begins. Sometimes that takes a couple of weeks. And we’re going to give space to the formation of that coalition government and we’re not going to weigh in one way or another except to say that the United States and Israel have a historic and close relationship and that will continue going forward,” [David] Simas said.

So what would conservatives have had the White House do? Congratulate Bibi on exceeding polling expectations? High-five him for an apparently successful effort to scare right-wing Israelis into voting for Likud by rattling the hobgoblin of high Arab turnout? It’s really impossible to say.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.