Man Without Qualities

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Pathetic ... And Bound To Lose XLIII: Back To The Races

As noted previously in this series, Senator Kerry seems to be having a bit of a hard time mastering the art of national Democratic identity politics, as large parts of several essential ethnic groups - native Americans, Hispanics, African Americans - threaten to go wandering off the Democratic plantation.

Now, wouldn't you know it, it's the jews:

Stuart Weil is ... a longtime Democrat who regularly attends synagogue. Four years ago, he voted for Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore. This year, not only does he plan to vote for President Bush, he's urging his Jewish friends to do the same. .... Weil and thousands of other AIPAC members welcomed Bush to their annual meeting with 21 standing ovations.... Bush won about 17% of the Jewish vote in 2000, but supporters are aiming to raise that to about 30% in this election, based largely on his support for Israel.

"By defending the freedom and prosperity and security of Israel, you're also serving the cause of America," Bush told the AIPAC delegates Tuesday.

His 39-minute speech was interrupted repeatedly with cheering and applause. On two occasions, at least a third of the audience burst into chants of "Four more years!" .... Steven Windmueller, an expert on Jewish voting behavior at Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles, agreed that Jewish voters were becoming less liberal, but he said the pattern was more complex than Republican strategists assumed. .... Since Bush came into office, his administration has made a concerted effort to court the Jewish community .... Moreover, Jewish leaders have had extraordinary access to the president.... "My impression was of a very human and humble individual who wanted to dialogue and not lecture, to share and not pontificate," said Jacob Rubenstein, chief rabbi at Young Israel in Scarsdale, N.Y., who attended one session in the Oval Office last fall. ....

One of the few polls of Jewish public opinion suggests some movement toward Bush. The survey, conducted last November and December for the American Jewish Committee and Foreign Affairs magazine, found that 24% of respondents said they had voted for Bush in 2000, and 31% said they planned to support him this fall. But the poll is unlikely to be an accurate gauge of voter behavior because it surveyed all adults identifying themselves as Jewish, not just those registered to vote or likely to vote. ....

Weil ... thinks otherwise. But his efforts to form a local branch of the Republican Jewish Coalition are stirring opposition among Jews in his community. "Oh, the hate mail I've been getting," he said. "You should see what they say."

And this kind of thing isn't going to help the Democratic effort.

UPDATE: Worse and worse:

"There is a strong fear among American Jewish leadership that the whispering campaign that 'the Jews started it,' will become public," a senior congressional staffer said. "We could be seeing others get on Hollings' bandwagon."

"Bush felt tax cuts would hold his crowd together and spreading democracy in the Mideast to secure Israel would take the Jewish vote from the Democrats," Hollings said in a column first published on May 6 in the Charleston Post and Courier. "You don't come to town and announce your Israel policy is to invade Iraq." ....

For his part, Hollings said Israel has never claimed that Iraq maintained a weapons of mass destruction arsenal. The senator, who later refused to retract his statements, said Wolfowitz's advocacy of a plan to promote democracy among Arab states comprised an Israeli initiative.

"With Iraq no threat, why invade a sovereign country?" Hollings asked. "The answer: President Bush's policy to secure Israel. Led by Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and Charles Krauthammer, for years there has been a domino school of thought that the way to guarantee Israel's security is to spread democracy in the area."

It is only a matter of time before the cries begin that John Kerry has an obligation to denounce Senator Hollings' outrageous comments - for which he offers not one jot of evidence to support. Do Democrats think that they are helping John Kerry's presidential effort with unsupported arguments that "Bush lied! He and his people really wanted to help Israel, the dirty S.O.B.'s - but they didn't tell us that!

Isn't the Hollings approach a sure-fire way to convince American jews - indeed, people from all walks - that Bush has been a more committed friend of Israel than they had thought - and that many Democrats are a lot more untrustworthy, anti-semitic and anti-Israel than anyone thought? Is that good for the Democrats? Doesn't a ride on the Hollings' bandwagon require the Democrats to buy one-way tickets to oblivion?

POSTSCRIPT: And here's the most recent House of Ketchup roundup.

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