Commentary Magazine


Posts For: December 30, 2011

The Jewish Dissent Canard

Yesterday, Marc Tracy, a blogger for Tablet, posted a response to Jonathan Neumann’s COMMENTARY article, “Occupy Wall Street and the Jews.” As an aside, he posited that “dissent and heresy” constitute the “other, dialectical half” of Judaism’s obsession with “laws and authority.”

This, in its pithy way –stated as a fact so self-evident that it need not be justified – illustrates well today’s central American Jewish argument over Judaism and Jewish authenticity, revealing how far from the true facts of things a small but well-placed minority of writers, philanthropists, and activists have strayed
and how, by so doing, they have set the latest roadblock to an invigorated American Jewish future.

Read More

Yesterday, Marc Tracy, a blogger for Tablet, posted a response to Jonathan Neumann’s COMMENTARY article, “Occupy Wall Street and the Jews.” As an aside, he posited that “dissent and heresy” constitute the “other, dialectical half” of Judaism’s obsession with “laws and authority.”

This, in its pithy way –stated as a fact so self-evident that it need not be justified – illustrates well today’s central American Jewish argument over Judaism and Jewish authenticity, revealing how far from the true facts of things a small but well-placed minority of writers, philanthropists, and activists have strayed
and how, by so doing, they have set the latest roadblock to an invigorated American Jewish future.

The basic claim is this: A central aspect of the Jewish tradition (“half” of it, let’s say) is opposition. Figures like Hannah Arendt or Spinoza are cast as the central Jewish protagonists in a supposedly long-arching tradition.

More charitably, the claim is most likely driven by a vague sense of the Talmudic tradition, the great and awe-inspiring discussions that characterized the intellectual life of the long-vanished academies at Sura, Pumbedita and elsewhere.

Perhaps there is justification in casting this tradition as “dialectical,” if one is reaching for the ancient Socratic sense of the word. More likely though in its common usage today it is derivative of the Hegelian tradition popularized by Marx and, especially when coupled with the supposedly sacred values of dissent and heresy, little more than an intellectual club thought to be sufficiently sturdy to batter away all opposing arguments.

This is the central problem with the “Judaism as dissent” meme. Modern terms and ways of thinking about politics are coupled with a thin Jewish veneer to make far-reaching and radical claims about the Jewish past and future. Clothed in supposed authenticity, they are cast as, at a minimum, worthy halves of a Jewish tradition we all must grapple with.

The great intellectual tradition of the Jews has always been based on an expansive conception of truth and obligation, and not just halfway. The fire of the Talmudic tradition is driven by the conviction by interlocutors like Hillel and Shammai that they were in search of eternal truths God had revealed to the Jewish people, not by the postures of dissent or, even less, heresy. The Talmud in fact has its own idiomatic heretic: Elisha ben Abuyah, a brilliant student derided in the text as acher, “other,” precisely because his radical dissent from those truths eventually moved him outside of the community.

Today’s partisans of Jewish dissent likely believe that they are replenishing a tradition stunted in those American synagogues where rituals like responsive English readings are indeed stale and inauthentic.

Glorifying dissent though is simply today’s version of packaging the Jewish tradition in a contemporary box deemed more palatable than the true tradition, whose wonders only reveal themselves through patient and difficult study and are usually not in style on Madison Avenue.

Worst of all, the dissent posture so attractive to this cohort and the world they live in probably does not have nearly the resonance those inauthentic synagogues had for our parents’ generation, and so does not have the resources sufficient to match even their accomplishments. Which means that in the efforts of writers like Tracy, if they cannot be dissuaded from their strange path, we are seeing the emergence of a tiny yet indulged and influential American Jewish generation with little chance of appealing to anyone but itself and therefore doing its part to ensure that another generation of American Jews must pass before we can find one able to grapple honestly with the majesty of its own tradition.

 

Read Less

Perry’s Ignorance is Not a Virtue

ABC News reports Texas Governor Rick Perry admitted he didn’t know about the Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas, a case which struck down the state’s anti-sodomy law and similar laws in 13 others. The case was decided while Perry was governor, and he even wrote about it in his book Fed Up!, calling it one of the court cases in which “Texans have a different view of the world than do the nine oligarchs in robes.”

But in Iowa yesterday, Perry said, “I wish I could tell you I knew every Supreme Court case. I don’t, I’m not even going to try to go through every Supreme Court case, that would be — I’m not a lawyer.” He added, “We can sit here and you know play I gotcha questions on what about this Supreme Court case or whatever, but let me tell you, you know and I know that the problem in this country is spending in Washington, D.C., it’s not some Supreme Court case.”
Read More

ABC News reports Texas Governor Rick Perry admitted he didn’t know about the Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas, a case which struck down the state’s anti-sodomy law and similar laws in 13 others. The case was decided while Perry was governor, and he even wrote about it in his book Fed Up!, calling it one of the court cases in which “Texans have a different view of the world than do the nine oligarchs in robes.”

But in Iowa yesterday, Perry said, “I wish I could tell you I knew every Supreme Court case. I don’t, I’m not even going to try to go through every Supreme Court case, that would be — I’m not a lawyer.” He added, “We can sit here and you know play I gotcha questions on what about this Supreme Court case or whatever, but let me tell you, you know and I know that the problem in this country is spending in Washington, D.C., it’s not some Supreme Court case.”

Asked by a columnist with the Austin American Statesman for clarification on whether he knew what the case was about, Perry responded, “I’m not taking the bar exam…I don’t know what a lot of legal cases involve.” When told that the Supreme Court case struck down the Texas sodomy law, Perry said, “My position on traditional marriage is clear…. I don’t need a federal law case to explain it to me.”

This episode illustrates why some of us are wary of those (like Perry and Herman Cain) who make a virtue of being outsiders and seemingly take pride in their ignorance, as if it’s proof of their outsider status.

To devalue the significance of “some Supreme Court case” is silly and unwise, to say nothing of being at odds with Perry’s own past statements. Lawrence v. Texas was hardly an obscure case, especially for a man who was serving as governor of Texas at the time. And to ask Perry to comment on the case hardly qualifies as a “gotcha question” (an all-purpose defense for people like Perry, Cain, and Sarah Palin).

I, for one, appreciate politicians who have actually done their homework before they run for president, who demonstrate intellectual curiosity and a command of the issues. Knowledge isn’t a substitute for wisdom, of course — but neither is knowledge antithetical to it. And Rick Perry has shown, time and time again, that he’s simply not prepared for a presidential run. This is one reason why he won’t win the GOP nomination.

Read Less

Will the Right Turn on Santorum?

Rick Santorum’s surge in Iowa can still be measured in terms of days rather than weeks, but even this late sign of life in a campaign that many had thought to be dead only a couple of weeks ago is prompting some on the right to turn on the right-to-life favorite as insufficiently conservative. In a race where it seems all are entitled to their moment only to be followed by a bitter backlash that cuts them down to size, the last minute nature of Santorum’s bubble won’t apparently deprive him of a few days of critical and somewhat nasty scrutiny. But the attack on Santorum from Red State’s Erick Erickson as an “earmarxist” and “pro-life statist” has got to be confusing for a liberal media for whom the former Pennsylvania senator is a symbol of everything they hate about conservatives.

Erickson’s posts (here and here) about Santorum the last couple of days has laid out the case that Santorum’s record in the House and the Senate as a “big government” conservative makes him a “co-conspirator” with liberals who defend the federal leviathan. For him, Santorum was, like former House Majority Leader Tom Delay, a major culprit in the K Street project in which Republicans enlisted lobbyists to further their own interests. But though I think Santorum has little chance of beating Barack Obama in a general election and agree with Erickson that no matter how well Santorum does in Iowa he can’t be nominated, the assault on this week’s flavor of the month is more than a bit unfair.

Read More

Rick Santorum’s surge in Iowa can still be measured in terms of days rather than weeks, but even this late sign of life in a campaign that many had thought to be dead only a couple of weeks ago is prompting some on the right to turn on the right-to-life favorite as insufficiently conservative. In a race where it seems all are entitled to their moment only to be followed by a bitter backlash that cuts them down to size, the last minute nature of Santorum’s bubble won’t apparently deprive him of a few days of critical and somewhat nasty scrutiny. But the attack on Santorum from Red State’s Erick Erickson as an “earmarxist” and “pro-life statist” has got to be confusing for a liberal media for whom the former Pennsylvania senator is a symbol of everything they hate about conservatives.

Erickson’s posts (here and here) about Santorum the last couple of days has laid out the case that Santorum’s record in the House and the Senate as a “big government” conservative makes him a “co-conspirator” with liberals who defend the federal leviathan. For him, Santorum was, like former House Majority Leader Tom Delay, a major culprit in the K Street project in which Republicans enlisted lobbyists to further their own interests. But though I think Santorum has little chance of beating Barack Obama in a general election and agree with Erickson that no matter how well Santorum does in Iowa he can’t be nominated, the assault on this week’s flavor of the month is more than a bit unfair.

The Tea Party purist argument against Santorum that Erickson employs depicts him as an unredeemed big spender whose social conservative credentials shouldn’t deceive right-wingers into thinking he opposes big government. It is true that Santorum has sometimes voted for Republican spending sprees such as the prescription drug benefit and, yes, like so many other members of Congress, he acted sometimes as if his priority was to help Pennsylvania industries and projects via earmarks rather than to cut the budget and taxes.

But a fair look at his record shows that what Santorum did in his 12 years in the Senate and four years during which he was in the majority for almost all of it, was to try to govern. In a race where some, like Michele Bachmann, speak as if getting things done in Washington is merely a matter of asserting the correct policy and demanding that others bow to that dictate, Santorum is a man who understands how difficult it is to get anything done. Like the rest of the Republican Party during those years he may have made some mistakes. He is not, like Pat Toomey who now represents Pennsylvania in the Senate, a purist (and surely, one of Santorum’s worst mistakes for which some Pennsylvania conservatives have never forgiven him is his backing for Arlen Specter against Toomey in 2004) on the question of earmarks, taxes and spending. But to speak of him as part of the problem rather than someone who has genuinely sought to make a conservative difference is to distort the record.

Erickson is also wrong when he asserts that Santorum lost his race for re-election because of widespread disillusionment with Republican spending. It is true that the Jack Abramoff and other scandals played a big part in the 2006 GOP debacle. But in Santorum’s case, it would be a mistake to claim that Pennsylvanians rejected him because he brought home to the state too much bacon, even if I would agree that this wasn’t all that praiseworthy. Rather, Santorum’s problem was that in his second term in the Senate he allowed himself to become totally identified with social conservative issues–which was a mistake in a basically moderate state. His decision to highlight hard-line stances on abortion and gays and his prominence in the Terri Schiavo case made him look like an extremist.

The other reason he lost in a landslide was the war in Iraq. Santorum was a strong supporter of the war and bore the brunt for its unpopularity. Though the issue had little resonance at the time, Santorum also made concern about Iran and its nuclear program a prominent part of his campaign. His prescience on that issue is to his credit. Foreign policy is actually his greatest strength, even if he is better known for his uncompromising stances on social issues.

Santorum’s asset in Iowa is still his weakness in less conservative states. His identification with a strident social conservative agenda is such that it will make it difficult if not impossible for him to gain the votes of many independents or Democrats. But to put him down as insufficiently conservative on economics is a sign some conservatives are more interested in narrow ideological purity than anything else. Erickson sees Santorum’s rise as hurting Bachmann, Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich, whom he seems to prefer. He’s right about that, but to view any in that trio as more electable than Santorum is absurd.

Read Less

Obama’s Childish Playacting

In an interview on MSNBC, Politico’s Mike Allen, in discussing the confidence in President Obama’s camp, relayed what he was told: “We still have Michael Jordan.” This echoes a comment Obama himself reportedly once made: “I’m LeBron, baby. I can play on this level. I got some game.”

Now, the references to Michael Jordan and LeBron James shouldn’t be confused with those made during the 2008 campaign, when Obama was referred to by his aides as the “black Jesus.” (Though even Jesus, it should be pointed out, didn’t promise to heal the planet, repair the world, and reverse the rise of the oceans, as Obama said he would do if elected president.)

Read More

In an interview on MSNBC, Politico’s Mike Allen, in discussing the confidence in President Obama’s camp, relayed what he was told: “We still have Michael Jordan.” This echoes a comment Obama himself reportedly once made: “I’m LeBron, baby. I can play on this level. I got some game.”

Now, the references to Michael Jordan and LeBron James shouldn’t be confused with those made during the 2008 campaign, when Obama was referred to by his aides as the “black Jesus.” (Though even Jesus, it should be pointed out, didn’t promise to heal the planet, repair the world, and reverse the rise of the oceans, as Obama said he would do if elected president.)

You might think that nearly three years of shooting air balls would cause Obama and his aides to stay away from comparisons to Jordan and James, as well as to FDR and Lincoln. (“I would put our legislative and foreign policy accomplishments in our first two years against any president — with the possible exceptions of Johnson, FDR, and Lincoln,” Obama told “60 Minutes.” The use of the word “possible” is priceless.) But you would be wrong. The Obama cult of personality, with a touch of narcissistic personality disorder, goes on.

And you can count on one thing: If Obama is defeated in 2012, his narrative will be that we the American people were not worthy of the Great and Mighty Obama. Perhaps we can take some comfort that no people on Earth possibly could be.

Read Less

So Much for Hamas’s Change of Heart

In recent weeks, we’ve been hearing a lot about the big changes going on inside Hamas. The Islamist terrorist organization is, we are told, about to drop its commitment to “armed resistance” against Israel and adopt a policy of non-violence. There has even been speculation it will soon drop its refusal to recognize or negotiate with Israel as the unity pact it signed with its Fatah rivals allow it to become part of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority that rules the West Bank.

This flies in the face of everything we know about the terror group. But there is no need for skeptics to merely trust their instincts about Hamas. The group is itself making it clear its predilection for violence is not about to change. A spokesman for Hamas dismissed the reports about an order to cease attacks on Israel as so absurd it didn’t even merit a response. As the Jerusalem Post reports, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said claims that Hamas had abandoned the armed struggle “reflect the state of despair that the Israeli government is facing as a result of the firmness of the Palestinian resistance.”

Read More

In recent weeks, we’ve been hearing a lot about the big changes going on inside Hamas. The Islamist terrorist organization is, we are told, about to drop its commitment to “armed resistance” against Israel and adopt a policy of non-violence. There has even been speculation it will soon drop its refusal to recognize or negotiate with Israel as the unity pact it signed with its Fatah rivals allow it to become part of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority that rules the West Bank.

This flies in the face of everything we know about the terror group. But there is no need for skeptics to merely trust their instincts about Hamas. The group is itself making it clear its predilection for violence is not about to change. A spokesman for Hamas dismissed the reports about an order to cease attacks on Israel as so absurd it didn’t even merit a response. As the Jerusalem Post reports, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said claims that Hamas had abandoned the armed struggle “reflect the state of despair that the Israeli government is facing as a result of the firmness of the Palestinian resistance.”

It is natural for Westerners and Jews to attempt to project their own values on Hamas and to imagine that with enough patience and reason, the group can be persuaded to live in peace with Israel. But despite the political deals that Hamas might make as it attempts to maneuver its way into power in the West Bank in addition to its stronghold in Gaza, terrorism is not just a tactic for Hamas, it is the essence of its approach to Zionism. Just as Palestinian nationalism cannot define itself in any way but as an attempt to extinguish the Jewish state, so, too, is it impossible for Hamas to articulate its Islamist beliefs without resorting to violence. It isn’t just a tactic. It is integral to their worldview and their own sense of legitimacy as a Palestinian political organization.

Any expectation that this will change says more about the naïveté of some observers of the Middle East than it does about Hamas’s intentions toward Israel.

Read Less

General, Can You Spare a Billion?

The New York Times ran a story yesterday that is, at least to citizens of the English-speaking world, quite astonishing.

The overthrow of the Mubarak regime and the subsequent troubles have badly impacted the Egyptian economy. Not surprisingly, both foreign investment and the vital tourist industry have more or less disappeared. As a result, the Egyptian currency is under pressure, as foreign exchange reserves drain away to meet import needs. To help out (and, hopefully, to get some good publicity, which it badly needs) the Egyptian military has loaned the central bank $1 billion to shore up the Egyptian pound.

Read More

The New York Times ran a story yesterday that is, at least to citizens of the English-speaking world, quite astonishing.

The overthrow of the Mubarak regime and the subsequent troubles have badly impacted the Egyptian economy. Not surprisingly, both foreign investment and the vital tourist industry have more or less disappeared. As a result, the Egyptian currency is under pressure, as foreign exchange reserves drain away to meet import needs. To help out (and, hopefully, to get some good publicity, which it badly needs) the Egyptian military has loaned the central bank $1 billion to shore up the Egyptian pound.

As in many countries that lack the Anglo-American tradition of strict civilian control of the armed forces, Egypt’s military runs a vast commercial empire and doesn’t even report the profits to the civilian government, let alone turn them over to the treasury. As the Times reports,

“If they lend $1 billion, it means they have got a far greater amount out there,” Ragui Assaad, an Egyptian economist at the University of Minnesota, said in a telephone interview. “They want to show that they are trying to be as helpful as they can, but it is also a reminder that they have this big autonomous budget.”

This huge cash flow gives the military both independence from and influence over the civilian authorities. That this is a big problem can be demonstrated by quotes from two major 20th-century figures:

Georges Clemenceau: “War is too important to be left to generals.”

Harry S Truman: “If it were against the law for generals to be stupid, the jails would be full of them.”

 

Read Less

Hypocritical Dems In No Position to Blast GOP Over Paul

For years, Democrats have been on the defensive about the not inconsiderable portion of their party that was hostile to the State of Israel. But the attention and support being given Ron Paul in the Republican presidential race is giving them an opportunity to roast members of the GOP for refusing to treat the libertarian extremist as being beyond the pale of American politics. Thus, it was no surprise to read that the National Jewish Democratic Council condemned Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum for saying they would vote for Paul if he turned out to be the Republican nominee.

But to say this stance is hypocritical is an understatement. Did Jewish Democrats denounce their mainstream candidates for cozying up to racial hucksters and foes of Israel such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton and pretending, as Romney and Santorum now do for Paul, that these persons were preferable to any Republican? Did they denounce their party for treating Jimmy Carter as a respected elder statesman? Of course not. Though it is troubling to see the other GOP candidates treat Paul as if he were a reasonable presidential choice, that is the way the game is played. Democrats are no more righteous in this respect than Republicans.

Read More

For years, Democrats have been on the defensive about the not inconsiderable portion of their party that was hostile to the State of Israel. But the attention and support being given Ron Paul in the Republican presidential race is giving them an opportunity to roast members of the GOP for refusing to treat the libertarian extremist as being beyond the pale of American politics. Thus, it was no surprise to read that the National Jewish Democratic Council condemned Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum for saying they would vote for Paul if he turned out to be the Republican nominee.

But to say this stance is hypocritical is an understatement. Did Jewish Democrats denounce their mainstream candidates for cozying up to racial hucksters and foes of Israel such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton and pretending, as Romney and Santorum now do for Paul, that these persons were preferable to any Republican? Did they denounce their party for treating Jimmy Carter as a respected elder statesman? Of course not. Though it is troubling to see the other GOP candidates treat Paul as if he were a reasonable presidential choice, that is the way the game is played. Democrats are no more righteous in this respect than Republicans.

In truth, much of the Republican Party has rightly treated Paul as anathema. The Republican Jewish Coalition rightly refused to invite him to their presidential forum. It is also reassuring to see that the other candidates are finally shifting from a strategy of ignoring Paul’s radical approach to foreign policy and instead pointing out just how dangerous he and his ideas are.

But to expect the leading candidates to go out of their way to snub Paul or to declare him unfit for the presidency is unrealistic. Just as Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis and John Kerry held their noses and pretended that Jackson and Sharpton were reasonable alternatives for the presidency because they wanted their supporters’ votes in the fall, so, too, do Republicans pander to Paul.

The emergence of Paul is a worrisome sign not just for Republicans but all Americans. The limited success he has enjoyed so far illustrates that despite the overwhelming support of most Americans across the political spectrum for Israel, there is still a good-sized minority on the margins of both the left and the right that must be confronted. It is to be hoped Paul’s numbers will decline as his connections with racist and extremist forces get more exposure.

It is some consolation to Republicans that Paul does far better in the polls with Democrats and independents than he does with Republicans, a point that should give partisans like the NJDC pause before they speak too loudly about the libertarian’s source of support. Given that polls also show Republicans to be even more devoted to Israel than most Democrats, there is no chance he will be the nominee.

But it takes an extra helping of chutzpah for the NJDC, a group that has relentlessly defended every swipe at Israel on the part of the Obama administration, to start demanding Republicans take loyalty tests to the Jewish state. Though the NJDC claims Republicans who refuse to condemn Paul are putting party above principle, their endless apologias for Obama and other liberal Democrats who have distanced themselves from Israel are no different than the trimming being done by Romney and Santorum about Paul.

Read Less

CAP Under Fire for Anti-Israel Comment About Sen. Kirk

The dustup over anti-Israel comments made by writers and analysts at the Center for American Progress continued this week, after several pro-Israel organizations criticized the think tank for turning a blind eye to staffers who used terms like “Israel Firster” and accused members of Congress of having an allegiance to the Israel lobby.

The Jerusalem Post’s Benjamin Weinthal spoke to anti-Semitism historian Jeffrey Herf, who saw historical, anti-Jewish connotations in the CAP writers’ comments:

Read More

The dustup over anti-Israel comments made by writers and analysts at the Center for American Progress continued this week, after several pro-Israel organizations criticized the think tank for turning a blind eye to staffers who used terms like “Israel Firster” and accused members of Congress of having an allegiance to the Israel lobby.

The Jerusalem Post’s Benjamin Weinthal spoke to anti-Semitism historian Jeffrey Herf, who saw historical, anti-Jewish connotations in the CAP writers’ comments:

In a telephone conversation with the Jerusalem Post on Tuesday, University of Maryland historian Jeffrey Herf, who has authored books on anti-Semitism, said the phrase “Israel Firsters” is “dangerous.” The notion of “Israel Firsters” “delegitimizes support for Israel” and stokes the “dual-loyalty” charge against American Jews, he said.

The dual-loyalty conspiracy theory existed on “the far Left and far Right of American politics but has not yet seeped into the center of American politics,” Herf said.

CAP blogger Zaid Jilani used the term “Israel Firster” on Twitter several times, but deleted the tweets and apologized after his remarks were publicized. Another CAP blogger, Ali Gharib, was also criticized in the JPost story about his insinuation that Sen. Mark Kirk, an Illinois Republican, was a representative of AIPAC. Gharib made the comment on his private Twitter account:

Gharib wrote that Senator “… Mark Kirk (R-AIPAC) should care about *anyone* other than Israel.”

When asked about Gharib’s statement that the senator from Illinois represents AIPAC, [CAP spokeswoman Andrea] Purse declined to comment. …

[NGO Monitor President Gerald] Steinberg said, “And Gharib’s inference that Senator Kirk is controlled by AIPAC because he supports tough Iran sanctions is equally absurd and sadly reminiscent of campaigns that allege that Jews control American foreign policy. Gharib’s statement also should be publicly condemned by CAP.”

Gharib issued a clarification and apology for his Kirk comment on Twitter yesterday:

One my tweets several months ago, a crude characterization of a senator is being seized upon by critics branding me as an anti-Semite.(1/2)

(2/2) While the accusations are completely false and contemptible, I do apologize for the crudeness of the flippant tweet in question.

Kirk hasn’t weighed in on the controversy yet, but the JPost story has already drawn attention on the Hill. One Republican congressional aide said Gharib’s comment amounted to a charge of “dual loyalty” against a sitting U.S. senator.

“I don’t think you’ll ever see a U.S. senator lower him or herself to respond directly to a relatively unknown fringe blogger but clearly the Jerusalem Post story has forced this issue into the mainstream public debate,” one GOP congressional aide told me. “Gharib’s bosses probably told him he crossed the line and forced him to apologize. In the end, Team Podesta doesn’t want this kind of publicity and they certainly don’t want to be seen accusing U.S. senators who serve in the U.S. military of dual loyalty.”

Questions have also been raised about why stories by CAP bloggers have appeared in the vehemently anti-Israel fringe publication The Electronic Intifada. According to CAP’s spokesperson, EI republished the articles without permission. But critics have pointed out that stories by Gharib and fellow CAP blogger Eli Clifton still remain on EI’s site, despite the alleged lack of authorization.

The CAP saga is a broader reflection of growing internal divisions within the Democratic Party and on the progressive-left. Now that Republicans and the conservative movement have turned support for Israel into a key value issue, anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist segments of the isolationist far-right have found themselves unwelcome in the party. During the past decade and a half they’ve started to swell the ranks of the anti-Zionists in the left-wing pro-Palestinian and anti-war movements. The Democratic Party now has to decide whether it wants to let this strain of anti-Zionism trickle into its mainstream institutions, or whether it will reject these ideas, just like the conservative movement once did.

Read Less

Sinking Gingrich Flails at Krauthammer

Newt Gingrich has been trying to play the good guy who won’t attack his competitors–at least some of the time. But as his poll numbers head south in the last days before the Iowa caucuses, the candidate’s campaign is getting desperate and nasty. Politico reports that a statement issued by Winning Our Future, an independent group supporting the former speaker’s candidacy, launched an all-out attack on columnist Charles Krauthammer for his criticisms of Gingrich. According to the group, the distinguished conservative thinker is part of an “establishment media” campaign against Gingrich.

It is hard to know what is more bizarre: Gingrich’s attempt to cast Fox News and Krauthammer (who appears on the network) as the “media establishment” or the way this quintessential Washington insider/influence peddler is attempting to masquerade as an outsider in the capital. Gingrich, who likes to style himself the intellectual of the presidential race, is channeling Sarah Palin, who at one point attacked Krauthammer for being too elitist because he criticized her for lack of knowledge of the issues. But in this case, Gingrich’s minions are claiming that Krauthammer is “jealous” of Newt’s smarts. Especially grating for the Gingrich loyalists is the fact that Krauthammer mocked their candidate’s preposterous claim that his failure to get on the Virginia primary ballot was a disaster akin to the attack on Pearl Harbor; a statement so astonishing that Krauthammer cannot be blamed for treating it and its author as a joke.

Read More

Newt Gingrich has been trying to play the good guy who won’t attack his competitors–at least some of the time. But as his poll numbers head south in the last days before the Iowa caucuses, the candidate’s campaign is getting desperate and nasty. Politico reports that a statement issued by Winning Our Future, an independent group supporting the former speaker’s candidacy, launched an all-out attack on columnist Charles Krauthammer for his criticisms of Gingrich. According to the group, the distinguished conservative thinker is part of an “establishment media” campaign against Gingrich.

It is hard to know what is more bizarre: Gingrich’s attempt to cast Fox News and Krauthammer (who appears on the network) as the “media establishment” or the way this quintessential Washington insider/influence peddler is attempting to masquerade as an outsider in the capital. Gingrich, who likes to style himself the intellectual of the presidential race, is channeling Sarah Palin, who at one point attacked Krauthammer for being too elitist because he criticized her for lack of knowledge of the issues. But in this case, Gingrich’s minions are claiming that Krauthammer is “jealous” of Newt’s smarts. Especially grating for the Gingrich loyalists is the fact that Krauthammer mocked their candidate’s preposterous claim that his failure to get on the Virginia primary ballot was a disaster akin to the attack on Pearl Harbor; a statement so astonishing that Krauthammer cannot be blamed for treating it and its author as a joke.

The point here is not so much that Gingrich and his crowd don’t have a clue about who or what is the “establishment.” The intended targets of this attack — Fox, Krauthammer and the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal–are the intellectual guerrilla forces who have been intrepidly attacking liberal orthodoxies during the last decade while Gingrich was helping companies game the system in Washington.

Rather, it is the desperation evident as his house of cards campaign implodes. It was only a matter of time before his manifest liabilities in terms of his inconsistencies and monumental egotism began to grate on the public. But rather than go down in a dignified manner befitting the scholar he likes to play at the debates, Gingrich will sink while awkwardly flailing away at those who refused to ignore his obvious deficiencies. It isn’t a pretty picture, but the collapse of a presidential campaign never is.

Read Less




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.