Earlier this month, DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz found herself in hot water after she seemingly fabricated a statement she attributed to Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, essentially accusing Republicans of playing politics on Israel. Now Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer has taken it a step further, echoing a sentiment that has been floating around the American media for a while. Boxer wrote an open letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accusing him of “inject[ing] politics” into the effort to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
Of course, we should always be wary of someone accusing a country’s most senior political figure of playing politics, as if presidents and prime ministers are somehow non-political actors. Boxer writes that she is “stunned” that Netanyahu would ever doubt President Obama’s commitment to Israel, and then played a bit of politics herself, instructing Netanyahu to publicly recant his comments and replace them with statements that might better help the president’s image on this issue:
At a joint event sponsored by J Street and the American Arab Institute during the Democratic National Convention last week, Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen claimed that Mitt Romney “would be game over for Israel’s existence,” according to the JTA. Surely Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the National Jewish Democratic Council will strongly rebuke this partisan attack on Romney’s Israel policy any minute now?
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) is going on the offensive, accusing Mitt Romney of not just being bad for Israel, but of being an existential threat to the future of the Jewish state.
“I think that Mitt Romney would be game over for Israel’s existence,” he said at a panel discussion co-sponsored Tuesday by the Arab American Institute and J Street, “because just allowing us to follow what Netanyahu wants and not to try to force the process into bringing about a two-state solution will lead to Israel’s nonexistence.”
He said that such a path “inevitably will result in a war,” warning that nuclear weapons could be involved.
CNN’s Don Lemon took on the unenviable — and apparently impossible — task of trying to wrench a truthful comment out of Debbie Wasserman Schultz last night. Lemon played DWS audio of her comments about Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, which contradicted her claim that the Washington Examiner’s Phil Klein misquoted her. Even faced with her own recorded words, DWS continued to insist that Klein misquoted her:
CNN’s Don Lemon: You accused the reporter of misquoting you, you said you didn’t say it. But then in the clip, you said it. And then you said ‘I categorically deny saying it’ — but there it is. How do you respond to that?
Debbie Wasserman Schultz: So Don, if you look at what the Examiner — which is a conservative blog site, so it’s not surprising that they would deliberately misquote me — and I’ll reiterate that they did deliberately misquote me. First, they took only the first line of what i said, and then they cut it off. And so you haven’t played the rest of what I said. And what they did was, they reported that I said that Republican policies were dangerous for Israel, and actually that’s what Ambassador Oren commented on. I never said that Republican policies are bad for Israel.
In fact, Klein never reported that DWS claimed Oren said Republican policies were dangerous for Israel.
Via the Washington Examiner, Obama advisor David Axelrod appeared on CBS today and blamed “others” for removing pro-Israel language from the Democratic platform while Obama was distracted with other obligations:
David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett played cleanup this morning on the Democratic platform mess, blaming ‘others’ for allowing ‘Jerusalem’ and ‘God’ to drop out of the platform language.
“Honestly Charlie, he was counting on others, he had some other duties and responsibilities so when he learned that it had been taken out of the platform, he had it put back in,” Axelrod said, explaining that the President learned about the missing language yesterday.
Who are the “others” Axelrod is referring to? We actually don’t have to wonder, since it’s listed on the DNC website.
Yesterday, as Alana reported, a voice vote over an amendment to change the Democratic platform went horribly awry. Apparently at the behest of the president, language to add the word God as well as calling the city of Jerusalem the capital of Israel was reinserted into the Democratic platform. Despite it being present in 2008, the language was removed from the platform that was written (and uncontroversially passed) by the Democratic delegates present in Charlotte this year. After Republicans made the issue a story only a week after Democrats hammered Republicans about parts of their platform, the president decided to intervene.
As you can see from the video that Alana posted from BuzzFeed, the voice vote was so unclear that Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had to ask for three different votes. Before announcing his interpretation of the “yeas” and “nays” an unidentified woman approached him and audibly told him “Let them do what they’re gonna do.” From the video each vote sounds at best 50/50, with the nays sounding louder as the votes go on. National Review’s Jonah Goldberg was on the scene and reported his (and his liberal reporter-seat mate’s) interpretation of the vote:
Even the DNC can’t keep its story straight on why it initially omitted language affirming Jerusalem as Israel’s capital from its 2012 platform, and then hastily shoved it back in over the objections of delegates.
On Tuesday, CNN’s Dana Bash said the DNC told her it was “simply following what the Obama administration’s policy is, and the White House said several months ago that the status of Jerusalem is an issue that should be resolved in the final status negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians.”
Debbie Wasserman Schultz is apparently unrepentant, after falsely accusing a Washington Examiner reporter of misquoting her in a story that put her at odds with the Israeli ambassador. The Washington Free Beacon’s Adam Kredo confronted the beleaguered DNC chair at the Democratic convention last night:
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D., Fla.) told the Washington Free Beacon Wednesday evening that she will not be apologizing to Washington Examiner reporter Philip Klein after she falsely accused him of “deliberately misquoting” her.
“No, I definitely will not” offer Klein an apology, Wasserman Schultz said with a slight laugh as she was exiting an event meant to honor Center For American Progress founder John Podesta.
Asked if she had a message for Klein, Wasserman Schultz bristled.
Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz is not having a good convention. The Washington Examiner’s Phillip Klein busted her yesterday. Klein reported that DWS falsely claimed that Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren had told her that what Republicans were doing “was dangerous for Israel.” Oren flatly denied that he said it. DWS then went on Fox to claim that Klein was misquoting her and that she never quoted Oren in that manner. Of course she had and Klein had the audio to prove it.
That earned her a “pants on fire” truth rating from PoliticFact but unfortunately when she next appeared on national television she wasn’t asked about it. Yet CNN’s convention floor interview with DWS was not without some interest. Wasserman Schultz was asked about the embarrassing moment earlier that night when a majority of Democratic delegates seemed to vote no on changing their platform to include God and reaffirm support for Israel on Jerusalem. With a straight face Wasserman Schultz not only falsely claimed there had been a two-thirds majority for the change, she insisted that Jerusalem had actually never been taken out of the original draft! While politicians like DWS are used to lying with impunity and not being called on it, when CNN cut back to the commentators in the booth, her statements were met with incredulity and laughter.
At the Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol draws a comparison between disgraced Senate candidate Todd Akin — who was promptly branded a pariah by Republican officials after his comments about “legitimate rape” — and DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was caught misrepresenting comments from the Israeli ambassador this week:
Every important Republican was asked about Akin in the days following his comment. Will reporters ask leading Democrats whether they stand by their national chair, who has doubly lied about a matter of international import? Will any Democrats have the courage to call on Debbie to go?
As Alana wrote last night, the Washington Examiner’s Philip Klein has now produced an audiotape of a talk given by Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz that resolves the mystery surrounding her recent comments about Israel. There is now no doubt that, despite her denial on national television last night, Wasserman Schultz told a group of Jewish Democrats that Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren said, “that what the Republicans are doing is bad for Israel.” Oren says he never said such a thing and that denial is credible since, as he pointed out, Israel has good friends on both sides of the political aisle. That leaves us not only with the question of why Wasserman Schultz felt constrained to lie about it but why she ever made such a claim in the first place.
Wasserman Schultz lied about making the claim that Oren backed her ideas about the GOP because she probably didn’t know there was a tape of her talk and figured she could simply deny the truth. Perhaps she also thought Oren would not wish to contradict her publicly. She didn’t count on the fact that the ambassador is an honorable man and that it is not in his country’s interest to allow the Democrats to falsely portray him as taking sides in a partisan dispute. That DWS has been publicly outed as a brazen liar is a disgrace to her party, the Congress and the Jewish community she pretends to lead. But it is not terribly surprising given the vicious partisanship she has come to exemplify. Yet of far greater interest is the argument this lie was used to buttress: the claim that Republican criticism of President Obama’s attitude and policies toward Israel is hurting the Jewish state.
DWS and other Democrats have sought to brand the GOP as dragging what ought to be a bipartisan concern into the mud of election year politics. This is an absurd and hypocritical charge that says more about their contempt for democracy that it does about their love for Israel.
After Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren disputed DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s claim that he called the GOP “dangerous” for Israel, the Florida congresswoman tried to dodge blame by insisting the Washington Examiner misquoted her. Unfortunately for DWS, the Washington Examiner’s Phil Klein just posted audio of her comment, and it matches up exactly with his original report.
First, here’s Wasserman Schultz insisting that she was misquoted by Klein on Fox News earlier tonight:
Now, listen to the audio of Wasserman Schultz at a DNC Jewish outreach event yesterday, saying exactly what Klein reported she said:
Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren “categorically” rejected DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s claim that he told her Republican actions are “dangerous” to Israel this afternoon. The ambassador issued this statement in response to Phil Klein’s report in the Washington Examiner:
“I categorically deny that I ever characterized Republican policies as harmful to Israel. Bipartisan support is a paramount national interest for Israel, and we have great friends on both sides of the aisle.”
If true, this is a huge blunder by the Israeli embassy. Why on earth — even in assumed confidence — would Israeli ambassador Michael Oren tell Debbie Wasserman Schultz — the woman responsible for getting Democrats elected — that the GOP was “dangerous” for Israel? That isn’t the type of thing that stays secret for long.
I am willing to give Oren the benefit of the doubt here that he didn’t actually say it, mainly because DWS a.) isn’t exactly known for sticking to the truth, and b.) has been insisting to every Israeli official in earshot for the past year that GOP criticism of Obama is bad for Israel, and it could be that she interpreted a polite non-response from Oren as an endorsement of that view. But judge for yourself. Phil Klein reports:
Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz claimed on Monday that Israel’s ambassador to the United States has accused Republicans of being “dangerous” to Israel by criticizing President Obama’s record.
The Florida congresswoman made the charge at a training session for Jewish Democrats held by the Obama campaign here at the Democratic National Convention, aimed at teaching Jewish Democrats how to convince their fellow Jews to vote for Obama. …
As she was wrapping up her remarks, she claimed that, “We know, and I’ve heard no less than Ambassador Michael Oren say this, that what the Republicans are doing is dangerous for Israel.”
This hasn’t been the best month for Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Last week, Wolf Blitzer called her out for misleading comments on Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan, and last night Anderson Cooper tore apart her allegations about Mitt Romney’s abortion position (via Allahpundit):
As usual, Wasserman Schultz refused to back down, but since she’s defending a completely indefensible and obviously false claim there’s only so much she can say. When Cooper reads her the Los Angeles Times article that she completely took out of context in a fundraising email, it’s pretty much game over.
Does this mean the Democratic National Committee will stop sending out breathless, over-the-top fundraising emails about how the Romney campaign wants to send women back to the dark ages? Somehow, I doubt it.
It’s not often that I feel the urge to defend Debbie Wasserman Schultz. But this criticism of her in Politico struck me as a little ridiculous:
Many of Obama’s advisers have quietly begun questioning whether they should have picked Wasserman Schultz, an outspoken Florida congresswoman, as his DNC chairwoman. She has clashed with Chicago over her choice of staff and air-time on national TV shows — and they think she comes across as too partisan over the airwaves.
Obama’s brain trust secretly commissioned pollster David Binder to conduct an internal focus study of the popularity of top Obama campaign surrogates. Number one was former press secretary Robert Gibbs, followed by Cutter. Traveling press secretary Jen Psaki, who was added to a second study, was third. Axelrod, Plouffe and current White House press secretary Jay Carney were bunched in the middle. Wasserman Schultz ranked at the bottom.
This seems hard to believe. Conservatives can find plenty to complain about when it comes to Wasserman Schultz, but on the partisan hackery scale, is she really any worse than Gibbs, Carney, Cutter, et al.?
Apparently that’s what some members of the Obama campaign want us to believe. Back in February, the Wall Street Journalreported that Obama advisors made a concerted effort to get DWS to “tone it down”:
Mary Katharine Ham catches several media distortions about Paul Ryan yesterday, including the misleading claim that Ryan voted to ban abortions, even in cases of rape and incest. In fact, Ryan was one of more than 60 co-sponsors of the Sanctity of Human Life Act, which doesn’t technically ban anything. As Ramesh Ponnuru explains, the act simply affirms the right of state legislatures to protect unborn life. The question of how to act on that right is up to the individual legislatures:
The first item: “He supports the Sanctity of Human Life Act” (emphasis in original). Odell wrote that the bill “seeks to ban all abortions, including in instances of rape and incest.” Ryan may, for all I know, believe that abortion should be illegal with exceptions only to save a mother’s life. But has he really co-sponsored a bill to effect this policy? No. The bill declares that fertilization marks the beginning of a human life and then “affirms that the Congress, each State, the District of Columbia, and all United States territories have the authority to protect the lives of all human beings residing in its respective jurisdictions.” In other words, it doesn’t ban anything: It merely affirms that legislatures have the authority to protect unborn life. If Odell wishes to argue that a legislature moved by the convictions of the bill must, to be consistent, ban abortion with no exceptions for rape and incest, she can do so. It’s not in the bill.
For a party that’s supposedly so thrilled at the opportunity to run against Paul Ryan’s budget plan, the Democrats are spending an awful lot of time focusing on unrelated social issues. Here’s the DNC’s Debbie Wasserman Schultz hammering Ryan’s pro-life views in an email blast today (via Weekly Standard):
As a member of the House Budget Committee, I’ve seen firsthand just how extreme Paul Ryan is, so I’m not going to mince words: Paul Ryan in the White House would be a nightmare.
Over the last two years, we’ve seen an unprecedented number of attacks on a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions — and Congressman Ryan has been at the forefront of all of them.
He wants to end Medicare as we know it. He co-sponsored a radical “personhood” bill that could have banned the birth control pill, in vitro fertilization, and all abortions — even in cases of rape or incest. What’s more? He wants to allow states to criminally prosecute women who choose to have abortions and the doctors who perform them.
We cannot afford to let this man be a heartbeat away from the presidency.
There’s only so much mud the Democrats can sling at Paul Ryan’s deficit plan before the public starts to catch on that the Democratic Party has no plan for tackling the problem whatsoever. So they’re still going to have to continue to make this election about small issues — hence the completely irrelevant attack on Ryan’s views on abortion. Planned Parenthood is also ramping up its Paul Ryan fear mongering, lest the American people elect a pro-lifer “a heartbeat away from the presidency” (ignore the fact that Romney, who would be the actual president under this scenario, is also pro-life).
Back in May, I wrote about the controversy that ensued when a Miami synagogue invited Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz to speak at a Friday evening Sabbath service. When members protested about the hijacking of a religious observance for partisan purposes, Miami’s Temple Israel disinvited her, leading to some spurious charges that local Republicans had “bullied” the shul. As Bryan Schwartzman of Philadelphia’s Jewish Exponent reports, DWS is back in the news this week for another synagogue appearance, this time at Reform Congregation Knesseth Israel (KI) in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, and again, Republicans are complaining.
While this event is far more defensible than the Miami appearance, it still raises some important questions about the way religious institutions get dragged into partisan politics. With polls showing President Obama losing popularity among Jewish voters, Democrats are going all out to try to prevent a precipitous drop in support in this otherwise solidly liberal community. Which means synagogues are on the front lines of a nasty partisan argument that they would do well to avoid.
A Miami synagogue is the center of controversy this week for canceling an appearance by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chair of the Democratic National Committee. The president of Temple Israel there said the invitation for her to speak after Friday night services was cancelled due to “security concerns.” But, as the Miami Herald reports, it’s no secret the real reason is that a prominent member of the synagogue had resigned because he was told there would be no equal time on the program for a Republican.
Wasserman Schultz and the Democrats are representing this as an attempt to prevent her voice from being heard and an instance of Republicans injecting politics into the situation. But the truth is just the opposite. As the congresswoman says, constituents should be able to hear their representative, but the Reform synagogue is not in her district. Even if it was, inviting an intensely partisan figure such as the DNC chair to speak at a religious service during an election year is inappropriate. Sabbath services should not be turned into rallies for the Democratic Party or President Obama or occasions for trashing the GOP, because we all know all too well that is what happens every time DWS opens her mouth. The same principle would apply were it House Majority Leader Eric Cantor being imposed on the congregation.
On “Anderson Cooper 360″ last night, Hilary Rosen slammed Ann Romney for “never actually work[ing] a day in her life.” Within two hours, both David Axelrod and Obama campaign manager Jim Messina were scrambling to distance themselves from Rosen’s comments on Twitter.
Why is the Obama campaign so concerned? Apparently Rosen was enlisted in February to advise Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz on public relations (h/t Jim Geraghty’s invaluable Morning Jolt). The Wall Street Journalreported on Feb. 16 that Rosen was brought on to “tone down” DWS’s image:
Obama advisers have occasionally told [Wasserman Schultz] to “tone it down” and “back off a smidgen,” Ms. Wasserman Schultz says. She agreed with them to enlist two seasoned Democratic female pros, Anita Dunn and Hilary Rosen, to begin giving her occasional political advice and media training, advisers say. “I’m glad to get constructive criticism,” Ms. Wasserman Schultz says.
The media pros prepped her for an important Jan. 13 appearance on the “Bill Maher Show”—from her tone to her clothes (they know better than to suggest she blow out her curly hair, advisers say). Ms. Wasserman Schultz had lots of “don’t” instructions: Don’t make news, don’t try to be funny, don’t laugh at the comedian’s jokes, don’t use your hands (although she balled her fists at one point and did “karate chops” when making her points). Her biggest “do:” Attack Mitt Romney, which she managed to do despite the topic of discussion: Marines urinating on dead Taliban fighters.