There are those who will dismiss Fox News personality Geraldo Rivera’s announcement that he is considering running for the U.S. Senate in New Jersey in 2014 as a Republican as just one more publicity stunt in a career replete with them. Rivera’s public record is mixed, as it has combined serious advocacy on a number of issues with the sort of foolish excess that has given a bad name to tabloid journalism. If people think of him more as a celebrity than a journalist, it is his own fault and not something that he has seemed to mind very much.
Nevertheless, Rivera has as much right to run for public office as any other citizen and if he thinks he can spend the rest of his life more productively in public service that is to his credit. Though it is doubtful whether his notoriety will translate well into the political arena, he is both articulate and smart enough to give a good account of himself in any debate–even against a rising star like Cory Booker, who will probably be the Democratic nominee in that race. It is also arguable that someone running explicitly as a moderate Republican, as Rivera is calling himself, has a chance to win in a blue state like New Jersey. But in articulating just that rationale for his candidacy Friday afternoon on Fox News in an interview with Sheppard Smith, Rivera highlighted the seamier aspects of his past and therefore the difficulty of separating the outrageous media personality from the would-be political crusader.
One of the interesting subtexts about the debate over the nomination of Chuck Hagel to be secretary of defense has been the relative silence from the organized Jewish world. Though there was widespread shock from most pro-Israel activists, even those who were loyal liberal Democrats, about the president’s decision to choose one of the least Israel-friendly members of the U.S. Senate in the last generation to run the Pentagon, none of the major groups, aside from the Zionist Organization of America, spoke up publicly about his unsuitability for the post or his out-of-the mainstream views.
The reasons for this silence were obvious to anyone who understands their missions and how they operate. The refusal of the major Jewish organizations was rooted in their natural reluctance to embroil themselves in fights they think would hamper their ability to do their jobs. But at this juncture in the Hagel saga, after the nominee flopped at his Senate confirmation hearing and demonstrated how insincere his conversion from being tough on Israel and soft on Iran to a garden-variety backer of the Jewish state, it is time for them to reconsider. Though the odds still favor his confirmation, and with some senators, including Chuck Schumer and Claire McCaskill, citing their silence for their support for the nominee, the rationale of the organized Jewish world for staying out of this contretemps has evaporated.
The Obama administration is only beginning its second term, but it is already clear that its mishandling of Syria is turning out to be one of its biggest foreign policy failures. The evidence accumulates every day–whether in the form of more dead bodies piling up in Syria, or more refugees crowding neighboring countries, or more foreign jihadists rushing into Syria. Just yesterday the New York Times ran this interview with Hajji Marea, one of the most potent rebel commanders to emerge out of the fighting, who is quoted as follows:
“America keeps silent,” he said. “The way we see it as Arabs: If you are silent, then you are agreeing with what is happening.”
Sitting nearby, Abdel-Aziz Salameh, Al Tawhid’s political leader, warned that time was running short for the United States. “All the world has abandoned us,” he said. “If the revolution lasts for another year, you’ll see all the Syrian people like Al Qaeda; all the people will be like Al Qaeda.”