Independent presidential candidate John Anderson has been making some remarks abroad that risk damage to his chief political asset -- the impression of taking thoughtful positions whatever their political consequences. Reports of his visit to Israel leave the contrary impression of taking unthoughtful positions for obvious political purposes. Going on to Egypt he had to stress that he backed a shift of the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem only as a final act in negotiations over the disputed city. But he had already appeared to be currying favor with the Israelis and with Jewish voters back home, as he also did in saying that a case could be made on security grounds for some of the Israeli settlements in occupied territory that have been denounced as illegal by the US and the United Nations.
So overt did candidate Anderson's politicking seem to the moderate Palestinian mayor of Bethlehem that the mayor refused to meet with him, saying: "He should do his campaigning in America, not in East Jerusalem." Indeed, when Mr. Anderson was questioned before his trip, he said it was not to be politicking but an effort to sound out foreign leaders about US policies and increase his own understanding. That suggests more listening and less talking, at least if the latter simply sounds like the politicians Anderson was supposed to be different from.