Commentary Magazine


Sestak Defends the Gaza 54 Letter and His Keynote for CAIR

Joe Sestak made a trip to Morning Joe to discuss his Senate race. And, sure enough, the ECI ad was played again. (I imagine that the Toomey camp was pretty pleased about that.) He was with quite a sympathetic panel as the likes of Pat Buchanan (really), Bill Press (really), Mike Barnicle (really), and Norah O’Donnell tripped over each other as they rushed to assure Sestak that they too thought the ad was a “cheap shot” or really not important (although important enough to air twice on the show and get Sestak in to defend himself) because the race is all about domestic policy. The panel was so agreeable (or unprepared) that it didn’t challenge Sestak when he tried to explain the Gaza 54 letter (my comments in brackets):

Scarborough: The center of this attack ad says you signed a letter, very I thought good, dramatic lighting on the Sestak signature [but you couldn't see those of the other 53, all Democrats who are among the worst Israel-bashers], asking for an end of the Gaza blockade, saying Israel was out of line ["collective punishment" was the operative phrase], and that the Gaza blockade needed to be ended.

Sestak: I signed a letter that said we have to ensure that Israel has $10 billion every — every year for its military assistance. [Not responsive.] I also signed a letter that said that as I went about the world, we have vital interests. Israel is one. We have important interests. We also have humane interests [which apparently don't include the interest in seeing Israeli children aren't subjected to rockets]. We said in a letter, I said Ms. Clinton, could you see, while not impacting Israel’s security, are we able to get cleaner water to the children there? [Has he seen the photos of the markets and the new Gaza mall?]

Scarborough: And do you support the end of the blockade?

Sestak: No. I think it’s a legal — yes, I’d like to see it end [Tricky when you are trying to recall the varied positions you have taken, isn't it?] but not until we can ensure that there is a two-state solution. [He didn't say that in the Gaza 54 letter -- why?] I think Israel has the right to have a blockade so that arms aren’t flowing into those really causing harm in Gaza, which is Hamas.

You’re not convinced? No, I don’t suppose so.

He also talked about his CAIR appearance. No apology, no regrets. His excuse: Gov. Ed Rendell told him to go and went with him. And it’s important to talk to people with whom you disagree. But then why didn’t he enumerate the areas of disagreement instead of showering CAIR with praise when he spoke at the admission-charging event? Would he have gone to speak to an overtly anti-black or anti-Hispanic group? How about the Muslim Brotherhood?

The remainder of the interview was just plain odd. He declared his support for small business (so no expiration of the Bush tax cuts, which would hit small businesses that file under the individual tax rates?) and said he was going to Washington to stop all the fighting. But he was there. He voted for the Obama agenda, 97.8 percent of the time. I suppose he thinks voters won’t notice.

I suspect there are a lot of Democrats scratching their heads and biting their nails. In this year, the Democrats have to run very smart races to survive the GOP wave. So far, Sestak isn’t.