Commentary Magazine


Topic: Eric Cantor

Another Attempt to Distract, Another Losing Issue

Obama’s attack on the Chamber of Commerce for its imaginary foreign donors hasn’t succeeded in distracting voters. Gallup reports:

Creating jobs and securing the country’s borders are most top-of-mind when Americans are asked what the federal government is currently not doing that it should be doing. …

The poll also asked the reverse question — what is the federal government currently doing that it should not be doing? Overall, Americans are somewhat less likely to offer a specific response on this question (71% do), with healthcare legislation most commonly mentioned, by 18%.

Let’s see, the items voters care most about are the items Obama has done nothing about (immigration reform) or has made worse through his policies (taxing, regulating, passing mandates on employers).

Aside from it’s falsity, the Chamber of Commerce attack is peculiar. It’s not directly aimed at the GOP. (What is he saying, “Don’t elect Republicans because they may have taken money from the chamber, which I am accusing without evidence has foreign contributors“?) And it blows to smithereens the White House’s claim that the administration isn’t anti-business. Liberal blogger Greg Sargent observes:

The full-scale assault from the White House and Dems on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Karl Rove’s groups shows no signs of abating. But is it already a political flop?

Some commentators are rushing to proclaim this offensive a political failure. Mark Halperin, for instance, wondered allowed today: “I’m not sure how this appeals to voters.” Halperin then stated this as outright fact: “It’s just not relevant to voters.”

Republicans are now entering the fray — and they, too, agree it’s a political flop, claiming that it will make Dems look anti-business. “All that Democrats have done is remind people of their anti-business fervor while drawing attention to the fact that their anti-growth policies have failed to put Americans back to work,” reads a statement from Eric Cantor’s office.

Well, it’s not the first, nor I suspect the last, desperate stunt and irrelevant issue Obama will toss out in the next three weeks. And it sure isn’t going to help Chuck Schumer raise big bucks from Wall Street. Like much of what the White House does, the chamber gambit has very little upside and quite some downside for the Democrats. The GOP can hardly believe its good fortune.

Obama’s attack on the Chamber of Commerce for its imaginary foreign donors hasn’t succeeded in distracting voters. Gallup reports:

Creating jobs and securing the country’s borders are most top-of-mind when Americans are asked what the federal government is currently not doing that it should be doing. …

The poll also asked the reverse question — what is the federal government currently doing that it should not be doing? Overall, Americans are somewhat less likely to offer a specific response on this question (71% do), with healthcare legislation most commonly mentioned, by 18%.

Let’s see, the items voters care most about are the items Obama has done nothing about (immigration reform) or has made worse through his policies (taxing, regulating, passing mandates on employers).

Aside from it’s falsity, the Chamber of Commerce attack is peculiar. It’s not directly aimed at the GOP. (What is he saying, “Don’t elect Republicans because they may have taken money from the chamber, which I am accusing without evidence has foreign contributors“?) And it blows to smithereens the White House’s claim that the administration isn’t anti-business. Liberal blogger Greg Sargent observes:

The full-scale assault from the White House and Dems on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Karl Rove’s groups shows no signs of abating. But is it already a political flop?

Some commentators are rushing to proclaim this offensive a political failure. Mark Halperin, for instance, wondered allowed today: “I’m not sure how this appeals to voters.” Halperin then stated this as outright fact: “It’s just not relevant to voters.”

Republicans are now entering the fray — and they, too, agree it’s a political flop, claiming that it will make Dems look anti-business. “All that Democrats have done is remind people of their anti-business fervor while drawing attention to the fact that their anti-growth policies have failed to put Americans back to work,” reads a statement from Eric Cantor’s office.

Well, it’s not the first, nor I suspect the last, desperate stunt and irrelevant issue Obama will toss out in the next three weeks. And it sure isn’t going to help Chuck Schumer raise big bucks from Wall Street. Like much of what the White House does, the chamber gambit has very little upside and quite some downside for the Democrats. The GOP can hardly believe its good fortune.

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Time for Democrats to Correct Course on Israel

In an interesting interview with Steve Moore, Minority Whip Eric Cantor explains the new face of the Republican Party — reform-minded, fiscally disciplined, and energetic. He also has this interesting observation on the pro-Israel coalition:

Mr. Cantor believes the American-Jewish community is overwhelmingly Democratic because Jews “are prone to want to help the underdog.” But he thinks the Jewish allegiance to the Democratic Party is changing, in large part because of Israel. “I tell the Jewish groups that more and more of the problems with convincing folks that Israel’s security is synonymous with our own comes from the Democrats. There are a lot in the progressive movement in this country who do not feel that the U.S. should ever be leaning towards Israel. They are openly hostile” toward the Jewish state.

Mr. Cantor points to a poll indicating that 46% of American Jews say they would consider voting for another individual for president. “That is astonishing given the history. Reagan got 40%—that was probably the high water mark.”

There are multiple reasons for Jewish allegiance to the Democratic Party, and I tend to favor an explanation other than Cantor’s. But his analysis of the Democratic caucus is candid and accurate. However, there is an opportunity for the Democratic Party, or a significant segment of it, to right itself and re-establish its full-throated support for Israel.

Certainly there are hard-core leftists who played footsie with Soros Street, signed on to the Gaza 54 letter, and cheered Obama’s Israel policy. But far more members of the Democratic caucus in the Senate and House were pulled by partisan concerns and felt obliged to run interference for Obama. For months and months they dared not criticize the administration. When Obama “condemned” Israel, many reacted with platitudes rather than a sharp rebuke of the president. When it came to the flotilla, the Senate letter (and the House letter to a lesser extent) revealed Democrats’ reluctance to challenge the president on his straddling at the UN.

But the landscape is about to shift dramatically. Obama’s approval ratings are tumbling. Those Democrats who survive the 2010 tsunami will owe little loyalty to the Obama team. And the putrid results of Obama’s flawed Middle East policy are now there for all to see. In other words, there is little reason for House and Senate Democrats to follow the Obama administration’s lead on Israel. We already saw a hint of this when 87 senators signed on to a letter that, in effect, warned Obama not to blame Bibi for the potential collapse of the peace talks.

Once the 2010 midterms are behind us, J Street completes its collapse, and the damage to the Democratic Party is assessed, there is an opportunity for those pro-Israel Democrats who pulled their punches to reconnect with their Republican colleagues and re-establish that broad-based pro-Israel coalition. A good start would be a unified message on Iran along the lines Joe Lieberman detailed in his recent speech on the subject. Another would be some congressional action with regard to political and human rights abuses in the Muslim World. Why are we giving billions to Mubarak when he represses his people? Why aren’t we cutting funds to the UN Human Rights Council?

There are still liberal Democrats who will shy away from such moves and be uneasy about confronting the administration. But frankly, carrying water for the Obami is not good for one’s political health. And Democrats will be all too familiar with that truism come November.

In an interesting interview with Steve Moore, Minority Whip Eric Cantor explains the new face of the Republican Party — reform-minded, fiscally disciplined, and energetic. He also has this interesting observation on the pro-Israel coalition:

Mr. Cantor believes the American-Jewish community is overwhelmingly Democratic because Jews “are prone to want to help the underdog.” But he thinks the Jewish allegiance to the Democratic Party is changing, in large part because of Israel. “I tell the Jewish groups that more and more of the problems with convincing folks that Israel’s security is synonymous with our own comes from the Democrats. There are a lot in the progressive movement in this country who do not feel that the U.S. should ever be leaning towards Israel. They are openly hostile” toward the Jewish state.

Mr. Cantor points to a poll indicating that 46% of American Jews say they would consider voting for another individual for president. “That is astonishing given the history. Reagan got 40%—that was probably the high water mark.”

There are multiple reasons for Jewish allegiance to the Democratic Party, and I tend to favor an explanation other than Cantor’s. But his analysis of the Democratic caucus is candid and accurate. However, there is an opportunity for the Democratic Party, or a significant segment of it, to right itself and re-establish its full-throated support for Israel.

Certainly there are hard-core leftists who played footsie with Soros Street, signed on to the Gaza 54 letter, and cheered Obama’s Israel policy. But far more members of the Democratic caucus in the Senate and House were pulled by partisan concerns and felt obliged to run interference for Obama. For months and months they dared not criticize the administration. When Obama “condemned” Israel, many reacted with platitudes rather than a sharp rebuke of the president. When it came to the flotilla, the Senate letter (and the House letter to a lesser extent) revealed Democrats’ reluctance to challenge the president on his straddling at the UN.

But the landscape is about to shift dramatically. Obama’s approval ratings are tumbling. Those Democrats who survive the 2010 tsunami will owe little loyalty to the Obama team. And the putrid results of Obama’s flawed Middle East policy are now there for all to see. In other words, there is little reason for House and Senate Democrats to follow the Obama administration’s lead on Israel. We already saw a hint of this when 87 senators signed on to a letter that, in effect, warned Obama not to blame Bibi for the potential collapse of the peace talks.

Once the 2010 midterms are behind us, J Street completes its collapse, and the damage to the Democratic Party is assessed, there is an opportunity for those pro-Israel Democrats who pulled their punches to reconnect with their Republican colleagues and re-establish that broad-based pro-Israel coalition. A good start would be a unified message on Iran along the lines Joe Lieberman detailed in his recent speech on the subject. Another would be some congressional action with regard to political and human rights abuses in the Muslim World. Why are we giving billions to Mubarak when he represses his people? Why aren’t we cutting funds to the UN Human Rights Council?

There are still liberal Democrats who will shy away from such moves and be uneasy about confronting the administration. But frankly, carrying water for the Obami is not good for one’s political health. And Democrats will be all too familiar with that truism come November.

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J Street’s Dead End

Easy prediction: the revelation that J Street has been underwritten by George Soros, who has used the anti-Semitic canard that Jews cause anti-Semitism, and a mystery woman from Hong Kong, and that it has lied about its Soros connection, will spell the end of J Street. It might limp along, but its days as a player – or wanna-be player, more precisely – are over. The Jewish press has excoriated it. Mainstream Jewish leaders are doing the same. Eli Lake, who broke the initial  story of the Soros connection, reports:

Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said Monday that The Times story was important because it exposed how Mr. Soros was funding J Street despite previous denials from the group. … Mr. Hoenlein said “this is further evidence of the duplicity that they have manifested all along, portraying themselves as something they are not, and engaging in attacks against others when they should have been taking care of their own house.”

More important, it has become politically radioactive. The White House wouldn’t comment on Soros Street or whether it will enjoy the same cozy relationship it did when it concealed its Soros ties. Minority Whip (soon to be Majority Leader) Eric Cantor turned up the heat:

In an interview Monday, Rep. Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican and House minority whip, said: “The White House needs to disassociate itself from J Street, denounce J Street and cut off all ties.”

Mr. Cantor, the only Jewish Republican in the House, added that “I am hopeful this revelation will now cause people to begin to ignore what they say. They are not reflecting the mainstream position of the pro-Israel community in America, nor do I think they help benefit the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

J Street’s beneficiaries, like Rep. Steve Cohen, are offering a nominal defense, but it’s hard to see others throwing themselves on Soros’s grenade.

Joel Pollak, who is running against J Street endorsee Jan Schakowsky, is calling on his opponent to give back the Soros money:

Jan Schakowsky is one of the top recipients of campaign cash from J Street, the far-left organization that opposes Israel at every opportunity. It turns out that J Street has taken $750,000 from George Soros, despite the earlier denials of J Street executive director Jeremy Ben-Ami. And J Street took even more money–almost half of its budget–from a foreign donor in Hong Kong. The organization has lost any credibility it may have had.

Thus far this election cycle, Schakowsky has received tens of thousands of dollars from J Street–close to $50,000, according to OpenSecrets.org, and perhaps twice as much in reality. J Street has made me their #1 target in the 2010 election, because I have taken on their leaders and their misguided policies–and also because I received the endorsement of Alan Dershowitz, whom J Street attacks, among other Jewish leaders. … In February, Jan Schakowsky boasted: “I’ve been a supporter of J Street since its inception.” In June, she thanked J Street for its money. Today, it’s time for her to cut her ties to J Street and give back the cash.

How long before others do the same?

J Street operated under the guise that it was a legitimate grassroots, pro-Israel organization. Its positions have demonstrated that it is anything but pro-Israel. The Soros revelation demonstrates that it is not a genuine expression of  “liberal Zionism” (we’ll leave discussion of that oxymoron for another time). If Democrats are really concerned with the influence of shadowy money in politics, cutting ties and returning the dirty Soros Street loot is the best way to prove their concern for the health of our democratic process. And you don’t need a law that tramples on the First Amendment to do it. Just give back the cash.

Easy prediction: the revelation that J Street has been underwritten by George Soros, who has used the anti-Semitic canard that Jews cause anti-Semitism, and a mystery woman from Hong Kong, and that it has lied about its Soros connection, will spell the end of J Street. It might limp along, but its days as a player – or wanna-be player, more precisely – are over. The Jewish press has excoriated it. Mainstream Jewish leaders are doing the same. Eli Lake, who broke the initial  story of the Soros connection, reports:

Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said Monday that The Times story was important because it exposed how Mr. Soros was funding J Street despite previous denials from the group. … Mr. Hoenlein said “this is further evidence of the duplicity that they have manifested all along, portraying themselves as something they are not, and engaging in attacks against others when they should have been taking care of their own house.”

More important, it has become politically radioactive. The White House wouldn’t comment on Soros Street or whether it will enjoy the same cozy relationship it did when it concealed its Soros ties. Minority Whip (soon to be Majority Leader) Eric Cantor turned up the heat:

In an interview Monday, Rep. Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican and House minority whip, said: “The White House needs to disassociate itself from J Street, denounce J Street and cut off all ties.”

Mr. Cantor, the only Jewish Republican in the House, added that “I am hopeful this revelation will now cause people to begin to ignore what they say. They are not reflecting the mainstream position of the pro-Israel community in America, nor do I think they help benefit the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

J Street’s beneficiaries, like Rep. Steve Cohen, are offering a nominal defense, but it’s hard to see others throwing themselves on Soros’s grenade.

Joel Pollak, who is running against J Street endorsee Jan Schakowsky, is calling on his opponent to give back the Soros money:

Jan Schakowsky is one of the top recipients of campaign cash from J Street, the far-left organization that opposes Israel at every opportunity. It turns out that J Street has taken $750,000 from George Soros, despite the earlier denials of J Street executive director Jeremy Ben-Ami. And J Street took even more money–almost half of its budget–from a foreign donor in Hong Kong. The organization has lost any credibility it may have had.

Thus far this election cycle, Schakowsky has received tens of thousands of dollars from J Street–close to $50,000, according to OpenSecrets.org, and perhaps twice as much in reality. J Street has made me their #1 target in the 2010 election, because I have taken on their leaders and their misguided policies–and also because I received the endorsement of Alan Dershowitz, whom J Street attacks, among other Jewish leaders. … In February, Jan Schakowsky boasted: “I’ve been a supporter of J Street since its inception.” In June, she thanked J Street for its money. Today, it’s time for her to cut her ties to J Street and give back the cash.

How long before others do the same?

J Street operated under the guise that it was a legitimate grassroots, pro-Israel organization. Its positions have demonstrated that it is anything but pro-Israel. The Soros revelation demonstrates that it is not a genuine expression of  “liberal Zionism” (we’ll leave discussion of that oxymoron for another time). If Democrats are really concerned with the influence of shadowy money in politics, cutting ties and returning the dirty Soros Street loot is the best way to prove their concern for the health of our democratic process. And you don’t need a law that tramples on the First Amendment to do it. Just give back the cash.

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Want Immediate Certainty and Comfort? Give Me $700 Billion

In response to Eric Cantor’s Wall Street Journal op-ed calling for current tax rates to be extended for all taxpayers “and most importantly for small businesses and investors,” the White House posted a response on its blog yesterday. Written by its deputy communications director and entitled “No Excuse for Holding Middle Class Tax Cuts Hostage,” the response argued Republicans are preventing Obama from giving “immediate certainty and comfort” to the middle class:

Under the Obama plan, every middle class family would receive the immediate certainty and comfort of knowing their [Bush] tax cuts were permanently extended. … And here’s what [the Republicans] are holding middle class tax relief hostage for: having our nation borrow $700 billion that we can’t afford to provide an average tax cut of $100,000 to millionaires and billionaires.

There is another way to phrase the issue: should $700 billion be transferred from the private economy to the government, or should the government be required to cut spending by $700 billion to allow those who earned it to invest in their businesses and the broader economy? To put it in less subtle terms: should $700 billion be transferred to the organization that runs the post office, has yet to produce a budget for the current year, was unable to forecast accurately the impact of the $787 billion it used for “stimulus,” is already spending too much, and threatens to borrow $700 billion “that we can’t afford” if the private economy won’t cough up the money?

The reference to “millionaires and billionaires” (and the much greater number of non-millionaires who would face significantly higher taxes) is a little like a spendthrift teenager arguing his generous allowance ought to be increased because Dad has the money and won’t miss it. The teenager’s argument is a bit beside the point.

The White House threat to borrow $700 billion more unless its allowance is increased comes on top of the 3.8 percent tax increase inserted into Obama’s health-care legislation earlier this year as a new “Medicare contribution” – one that, as noted here, (1) is not a “contribution,” (2) has nothing to do with Medicare, and (3) was given its misleading name to hide the fact that Obama is currently seeking his second substantial tax increase on investment income.

It is a little unclear who is holding whom hostage in this debate, but the “immediate certainty and comfort” the middle class and others desire may be not Obama’s Chicago-style bargain but rather an end to one-party government seeking more tax increases to support an “unsustainable” level of deficits its own spending has produced.

In response to Eric Cantor’s Wall Street Journal op-ed calling for current tax rates to be extended for all taxpayers “and most importantly for small businesses and investors,” the White House posted a response on its blog yesterday. Written by its deputy communications director and entitled “No Excuse for Holding Middle Class Tax Cuts Hostage,” the response argued Republicans are preventing Obama from giving “immediate certainty and comfort” to the middle class:

Under the Obama plan, every middle class family would receive the immediate certainty and comfort of knowing their [Bush] tax cuts were permanently extended. … And here’s what [the Republicans] are holding middle class tax relief hostage for: having our nation borrow $700 billion that we can’t afford to provide an average tax cut of $100,000 to millionaires and billionaires.

There is another way to phrase the issue: should $700 billion be transferred from the private economy to the government, or should the government be required to cut spending by $700 billion to allow those who earned it to invest in their businesses and the broader economy? To put it in less subtle terms: should $700 billion be transferred to the organization that runs the post office, has yet to produce a budget for the current year, was unable to forecast accurately the impact of the $787 billion it used for “stimulus,” is already spending too much, and threatens to borrow $700 billion “that we can’t afford” if the private economy won’t cough up the money?

The reference to “millionaires and billionaires” (and the much greater number of non-millionaires who would face significantly higher taxes) is a little like a spendthrift teenager arguing his generous allowance ought to be increased because Dad has the money and won’t miss it. The teenager’s argument is a bit beside the point.

The White House threat to borrow $700 billion more unless its allowance is increased comes on top of the 3.8 percent tax increase inserted into Obama’s health-care legislation earlier this year as a new “Medicare contribution” – one that, as noted here, (1) is not a “contribution,” (2) has nothing to do with Medicare, and (3) was given its misleading name to hide the fact that Obama is currently seeking his second substantial tax increase on investment income.

It is a little unclear who is holding whom hostage in this debate, but the “immediate certainty and comfort” the middle class and others desire may be not Obama’s Chicago-style bargain but rather an end to one-party government seeking more tax increases to support an “unsustainable” level of deficits its own spending has produced.

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GOP: No Escape Route for the Democrats

A week after Minority Leader John Boehner’s bobble on extension of the Bush tax cuts, Minority Whip Eric Cantor is making sure there is no doubt about his party’s position: “Republicans unequivocally oppose any impending tax increase. House Republicans have called on Speaker Pelosi to allow the House to vote on legislation that would freeze all tax rates for the next two years.” In short, the GOP is not about to let the Democrats out of the corner the White House has painted them into.

Cantor explains the Republicans’ logic:

The reality is that this tax hike is just one more step along the way to creating an anticompetitive new norm in this country marked by bigger government, less growth and structurally higher taxes and unemployment.

The strategy to achieve the progressive left’s endgame is simple. First comes the provocative class warfare rhetoric. Second comes the vast assumption of government control over the economy. Third comes the growth of government spending and entitlements. And alas, higher taxes on our nation’s job creators and workers.

The only way out of this economic morass is through innovation, entrepreneurship and economic freedom. President Obama’s impending tax increase is not just a hike on a few “millionaires and billionaires,” as the White House tries to frame it. Roughly half of all small business income in America will face a higher rate, making this tax increase a direct assault on job creation and innovation.

But there is another reason for the GOP to hold firm: the Obama maneuver has split his party, made his base uneasy, and made life even more difficult for Democrats in unsafe seats (which is practically all of them). The White House has led its party to a position that is both substantively flawed (the president himself declared it foolhardy to raise taxes in a recession) and politically unsustainable. Bad policy meets bad politics. It has certainly been the Democrats’ pattern in the Obama era.

A week after Minority Leader John Boehner’s bobble on extension of the Bush tax cuts, Minority Whip Eric Cantor is making sure there is no doubt about his party’s position: “Republicans unequivocally oppose any impending tax increase. House Republicans have called on Speaker Pelosi to allow the House to vote on legislation that would freeze all tax rates for the next two years.” In short, the GOP is not about to let the Democrats out of the corner the White House has painted them into.

Cantor explains the Republicans’ logic:

The reality is that this tax hike is just one more step along the way to creating an anticompetitive new norm in this country marked by bigger government, less growth and structurally higher taxes and unemployment.

The strategy to achieve the progressive left’s endgame is simple. First comes the provocative class warfare rhetoric. Second comes the vast assumption of government control over the economy. Third comes the growth of government spending and entitlements. And alas, higher taxes on our nation’s job creators and workers.

The only way out of this economic morass is through innovation, entrepreneurship and economic freedom. President Obama’s impending tax increase is not just a hike on a few “millionaires and billionaires,” as the White House tries to frame it. Roughly half of all small business income in America will face a higher rate, making this tax increase a direct assault on job creation and innovation.

But there is another reason for the GOP to hold firm: the Obama maneuver has split his party, made his base uneasy, and made life even more difficult for Democrats in unsafe seats (which is practically all of them). The White House has led its party to a position that is both substantively flawed (the president himself declared it foolhardy to raise taxes in a recession) and politically unsustainable. Bad policy meets bad politics. It has certainly been the Democrats’ pattern in the Obama era.

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Boxing In the Democrats

It wasn’t a good day for House Minority Leader John Boehner. As the Wall Street Journal editors explain, he smudged up a clear and effective distinction between the parties on the Bush tax cuts, leaving his members dazed:

Republicans scrambled yesterday to regain their footing, with House Minority Whip Eric Cantor returning to the winning GOP argument that any tax hike on “working families, small-business people and investors” is a “non-starter.” We hope so. As for Mr. Boehner, this stumble on the easy issue of taxation in the best GOP year since 1994 makes us wonder if he’s ready for prime time.

Fortunately, House Republicans didn’t compound their leader’s error. To the contrary, they moved swiftly to box in their Democratic colleagues in advance of the midterm elections. Roll Call reports:

The top Republicans on three House committees on Monday called on their Democratic counterparts to clear committee agendas immediately and begin work on a bipartisan bill to create jobs by freezing spending and cutting taxes.

In their letter to the chairmen of the Ways and Means, Appropriations and Budget Committees, Ranking Members Dave Camp (Mich.), Jerry Lewis (Calif.) and Paul Ryan (Wis.) proposed the House work to enact a two–point plan to extend the Bush tax cuts for two years and freeze non-security discretionary spending at 2008 levels.

It’s smart politics — which Democrats are brave enough to vote no or to stall? — and smart policy. What’s interesting is that both Camp and Ryan, two of the sharpest reform-minded congressmen in the Republican caucus (both of whom made a good impression at the health-care summit), are leading the charge. They have figured out that this is no time to be a squish. Elections, after all, are about choices, and this move presents voters with a stark one.

It wasn’t a good day for House Minority Leader John Boehner. As the Wall Street Journal editors explain, he smudged up a clear and effective distinction between the parties on the Bush tax cuts, leaving his members dazed:

Republicans scrambled yesterday to regain their footing, with House Minority Whip Eric Cantor returning to the winning GOP argument that any tax hike on “working families, small-business people and investors” is a “non-starter.” We hope so. As for Mr. Boehner, this stumble on the easy issue of taxation in the best GOP year since 1994 makes us wonder if he’s ready for prime time.

Fortunately, House Republicans didn’t compound their leader’s error. To the contrary, they moved swiftly to box in their Democratic colleagues in advance of the midterm elections. Roll Call reports:

The top Republicans on three House committees on Monday called on their Democratic counterparts to clear committee agendas immediately and begin work on a bipartisan bill to create jobs by freezing spending and cutting taxes.

In their letter to the chairmen of the Ways and Means, Appropriations and Budget Committees, Ranking Members Dave Camp (Mich.), Jerry Lewis (Calif.) and Paul Ryan (Wis.) proposed the House work to enact a two–point plan to extend the Bush tax cuts for two years and freeze non-security discretionary spending at 2008 levels.

It’s smart politics — which Democrats are brave enough to vote no or to stall? — and smart policy. What’s interesting is that both Camp and Ryan, two of the sharpest reform-minded congressmen in the Republican caucus (both of whom made a good impression at the health-care summit), are leading the charge. They have figured out that this is no time to be a squish. Elections, after all, are about choices, and this move presents voters with a stark one.

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No Deal, Mr. President (Updated)

Whatever is going on with House Republicans, Senate Republicans seem to be holding firm on the extension of the Bush tax cuts. In the Washington Post, Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was emphatic:

McConnell said Democrats have zero chance of passing Obama’s plan in the Senate. He said not a single Republican would support it, leaving Democrats short of the 60 votes needed to cut off a filibuster. “That’s a debate we’re happy to have. That’s the kind of debate that unifies my caucus, from Olympia Snowe to Jim DeMint,” McConnell said, citing the most liberal and most conservative Republicans in the Senate.

That plan, of course, is a combination of new spending and selective tax cuts while allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire. It is not often that Snowe and DeMint are in lockstep, but the prospect of tax hikes in a recession has that effect. Moreover, a growing number of Democrats now support a full extension of the Bush tax cuts:

Half a dozen Democratic senators and Senate candidates have voiced support for a temporary extension of tax cuts for the rich. In the House, more and more incumbents have also taken that position. Among them is Rep. Gary Peters, a Michigan Democrat who represents a traditionally Republican seat in the Detroit suburbs. Peters told the Detroit Free Press last week that extending the cuts “is the right thing to do, as anything less jeopardizes economic recovery.”

Given all that, it is no surprise that Minority Whip Eric Cantor has put out a statement that makes clear he’s not about to allow a tax hike on “small business people and investors. Raising taxes in this environment is a non-starter for me and millions of American small business people who are struggling to keep the lights on and meet their payroll obligations.” Cantor is calling for “Speaker Pelosi and President Obama to allow all members of the House — Republican and Democrat — to vote on legislation that would prevent tax increases for every American.” That sounds like the emerging consensus for the GOP, as well as for moderate Democrats who want to hold on to their seats.

UPDATE: Senator Lieberman has also joined the “No Deal” bipartisan coalition. He has released a statement that reads, in part: ” I don’t think it makes sense to raise any federal taxes during the uncertain economy we are struggling through. The more money we leave in private hands, the quicker our economic recovery will be. And that means I will do everything I can to make sure Congress extends the so-called Bush tax cuts for another year and takes action to prevent the estate tax from rising back to where it was.”

Whatever is going on with House Republicans, Senate Republicans seem to be holding firm on the extension of the Bush tax cuts. In the Washington Post, Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was emphatic:

McConnell said Democrats have zero chance of passing Obama’s plan in the Senate. He said not a single Republican would support it, leaving Democrats short of the 60 votes needed to cut off a filibuster. “That’s a debate we’re happy to have. That’s the kind of debate that unifies my caucus, from Olympia Snowe to Jim DeMint,” McConnell said, citing the most liberal and most conservative Republicans in the Senate.

That plan, of course, is a combination of new spending and selective tax cuts while allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire. It is not often that Snowe and DeMint are in lockstep, but the prospect of tax hikes in a recession has that effect. Moreover, a growing number of Democrats now support a full extension of the Bush tax cuts:

Half a dozen Democratic senators and Senate candidates have voiced support for a temporary extension of tax cuts for the rich. In the House, more and more incumbents have also taken that position. Among them is Rep. Gary Peters, a Michigan Democrat who represents a traditionally Republican seat in the Detroit suburbs. Peters told the Detroit Free Press last week that extending the cuts “is the right thing to do, as anything less jeopardizes economic recovery.”

Given all that, it is no surprise that Minority Whip Eric Cantor has put out a statement that makes clear he’s not about to allow a tax hike on “small business people and investors. Raising taxes in this environment is a non-starter for me and millions of American small business people who are struggling to keep the lights on and meet their payroll obligations.” Cantor is calling for “Speaker Pelosi and President Obama to allow all members of the House — Republican and Democrat — to vote on legislation that would prevent tax increases for every American.” That sounds like the emerging consensus for the GOP, as well as for moderate Democrats who want to hold on to their seats.

UPDATE: Senator Lieberman has also joined the “No Deal” bipartisan coalition. He has released a statement that reads, in part: ” I don’t think it makes sense to raise any federal taxes during the uncertain economy we are struggling through. The more money we leave in private hands, the quicker our economic recovery will be. And that means I will do everything I can to make sure Congress extends the so-called Bush tax cuts for another year and takes action to prevent the estate tax from rising back to where it was.”

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RE: Giving Too Much?

A spokesman for Minority Whip Eric Cantor had this to say to me about the Bush tax cuts and a potential deal to give the president what he wants: “Eric will fight against all Obama/Pelosi/Reid efforts to raise taxes on working families, small-business people, and investors with every tool that he has.”

That really has been and should be the position for conservatives. There is zero reason, either politically or substantively, to allow Obama to hike taxes on anyone in this economy. And perhaps Boehner’s press release late Sunday is an effort to clarify that this is the position of House Republicans. I frankly can’t imagine a single GOP vote in favor of allowing any of the tax cuts to expire.

A spokesman for Minority Whip Eric Cantor had this to say to me about the Bush tax cuts and a potential deal to give the president what he wants: “Eric will fight against all Obama/Pelosi/Reid efforts to raise taxes on working families, small-business people, and investors with every tool that he has.”

That really has been and should be the position for conservatives. There is zero reason, either politically or substantively, to allow Obama to hike taxes on anyone in this economy. And perhaps Boehner’s press release late Sunday is an effort to clarify that this is the position of House Republicans. I frankly can’t imagine a single GOP vote in favor of allowing any of the tax cuts to expire.

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No Bang for Our Three Trillion Bucks

Yesterday the president proposed yet another stimulus — $50B in public works spending. Sound familiar? On one level, it seems simply absurd. Republicans lambasted the plan. Minority Whip Eric Cantor released a statement comparing this to “blindly throwing darts at the board.” But opposition may well be bipartisan: “Many congressional Democrats are also likely to be reluctant to boost expenditures and increase federal deficits just weeks before elections that will determine control of the Congress.” Not even the New York Times is impressed with Obama’s idea for an “infrastructure” bank:

But the notion of a government-run bank — indeed, a government-run anything — is bound to prove contentious during an election year in which voters are already furious over bank bailouts and over what many perceive as Mr. Obama pursuing a big government agenda. Even before the announcement Monday, some Republicans were expressing caution.

The assertion that a $50B program, after multiple stimulus plans, will improve our economic fortunes will strike some as nearly comic. As the Wall Street Journal editors observe, “never before has government spent so much and intervened so directly in credit allocation to spur growth, yet the results have been mediocre at best. In return for adding nearly $3 trillion in federal debt in two years, we still have 14.9 million unemployed.” The editors offer this explanation:

The Administration rejected marginal-rate tax cuts that worked in the 1960s and 1980s because they would have helped the rich, in favor of a Keynesian spending binge that has stimulated little except government. More broadly, Democrats purposely used the recession as a political opening to redistribute income, reverse the free-market reforms of the Reagan era, and put government at the commanding heights of economic decision-making.

Mr. Obama and the Democratic Congress have succeeded in doing all of this despite the growing opposition of the American people, who are now enduring the results. The only path back to robust growth and prosperity is to stop this agenda dead in its tracks, and then by stages to reverse it.

Or more succinctly: Refudiate Obamanomics!

And to top it off, Obama showed his peevish side one more time, claiming that his critics “talk about me like a dog.” No, they talk about him like he is an increasingly desperate and out of touch liberal pol whose main obsession remains his own image.

Yesterday the president proposed yet another stimulus — $50B in public works spending. Sound familiar? On one level, it seems simply absurd. Republicans lambasted the plan. Minority Whip Eric Cantor released a statement comparing this to “blindly throwing darts at the board.” But opposition may well be bipartisan: “Many congressional Democrats are also likely to be reluctant to boost expenditures and increase federal deficits just weeks before elections that will determine control of the Congress.” Not even the New York Times is impressed with Obama’s idea for an “infrastructure” bank:

But the notion of a government-run bank — indeed, a government-run anything — is bound to prove contentious during an election year in which voters are already furious over bank bailouts and over what many perceive as Mr. Obama pursuing a big government agenda. Even before the announcement Monday, some Republicans were expressing caution.

The assertion that a $50B program, after multiple stimulus plans, will improve our economic fortunes will strike some as nearly comic. As the Wall Street Journal editors observe, “never before has government spent so much and intervened so directly in credit allocation to spur growth, yet the results have been mediocre at best. In return for adding nearly $3 trillion in federal debt in two years, we still have 14.9 million unemployed.” The editors offer this explanation:

The Administration rejected marginal-rate tax cuts that worked in the 1960s and 1980s because they would have helped the rich, in favor of a Keynesian spending binge that has stimulated little except government. More broadly, Democrats purposely used the recession as a political opening to redistribute income, reverse the free-market reforms of the Reagan era, and put government at the commanding heights of economic decision-making.

Mr. Obama and the Democratic Congress have succeeded in doing all of this despite the growing opposition of the American people, who are now enduring the results. The only path back to robust growth and prosperity is to stop this agenda dead in its tracks, and then by stages to reverse it.

Or more succinctly: Refudiate Obamanomics!

And to top it off, Obama showed his peevish side one more time, claiming that his critics “talk about me like a dog.” No, they talk about him like he is an increasingly desperate and out of touch liberal pol whose main obsession remains his own image.

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Let’s Talk About Reconciliation

As Abe details, the left has become so infuriated at critics of the Ground Zero mosque and so exasperated with Obama’s performance that it’s verging on the unintelligible. But while the left and the objects of its affection — the mosque builders — rage at those who want the mosque to simply be moved, they have given additional ammunition to the critics who have decried the Ground Zero mosque as more of a provocation and stunt than a symbol of healing.

Eric Cantor makes this point skillfully today:

Everyone accepts the fact that radical jihadists were the ones that perpetrated this crime — leave out the state sponsorship — everyone knows the reasons those individuals boarded those planes that morning was because they felt their religion — Islam allowed them to do it, or their version of Islam,” Cantor said.

If they wanted to build a mosque somewhere else, Cantor said he’d be in favor of it.

“But think about it,” he said. “Why would you want, as an imam, why would you want to put a cultural center right there if it’s meant to heal people when right away it’s caused such a national uproar? That is in and of itself evident of the fact that they’re not interested in healing or bringing people together. They’re interested in posing their view. That’s what so insensitive about it.”

And look at the results. The pro-mosque side has resorted to name-calling and offensive analogies. The cause of “reconciliation” has been set back and the entire country is now discussing why so many people are confused about Obama’s religion.

But this is really par for the course when it comes to the entire notion of Muslim outreach. The outreach is expected to go one way. When those supposed to be solicitous of Muslim sensitivities instead proffer their own interests, they are accused of being nationalistic, xenophobic, racist, and following in the footsteps of anti-Semites. My, this sounds like a faint echo of what Israel is subjected to every day.

Peace, reconciliation, tolerance — these all are cooperative activities. Perhaps the entire notion of “Muslim outreach” is flawed, based on the mistaken idea that one side — that would be the non-Muslim World — must atone, seek forgiveness, and boost the other’s ego. That, we are seeing, both here and in the Middle East is a recipe for disaster, for it enfeebles one side and alleviates them of the responsibility to examine their own actions, modify their behavior, and understand that their opponents’ concerns are grounded in history and experience. Like the “peace process,” it turns out that “Muslim outreach” creates more problems than it solves.

As Abe details, the left has become so infuriated at critics of the Ground Zero mosque and so exasperated with Obama’s performance that it’s verging on the unintelligible. But while the left and the objects of its affection — the mosque builders — rage at those who want the mosque to simply be moved, they have given additional ammunition to the critics who have decried the Ground Zero mosque as more of a provocation and stunt than a symbol of healing.

Eric Cantor makes this point skillfully today:

Everyone accepts the fact that radical jihadists were the ones that perpetrated this crime — leave out the state sponsorship — everyone knows the reasons those individuals boarded those planes that morning was because they felt their religion — Islam allowed them to do it, or their version of Islam,” Cantor said.

If they wanted to build a mosque somewhere else, Cantor said he’d be in favor of it.

“But think about it,” he said. “Why would you want, as an imam, why would you want to put a cultural center right there if it’s meant to heal people when right away it’s caused such a national uproar? That is in and of itself evident of the fact that they’re not interested in healing or bringing people together. They’re interested in posing their view. That’s what so insensitive about it.”

And look at the results. The pro-mosque side has resorted to name-calling and offensive analogies. The cause of “reconciliation” has been set back and the entire country is now discussing why so many people are confused about Obama’s religion.

But this is really par for the course when it comes to the entire notion of Muslim outreach. The outreach is expected to go one way. When those supposed to be solicitous of Muslim sensitivities instead proffer their own interests, they are accused of being nationalistic, xenophobic, racist, and following in the footsteps of anti-Semites. My, this sounds like a faint echo of what Israel is subjected to every day.

Peace, reconciliation, tolerance — these all are cooperative activities. Perhaps the entire notion of “Muslim outreach” is flawed, based on the mistaken idea that one side — that would be the non-Muslim World — must atone, seek forgiveness, and boost the other’s ego. That, we are seeing, both here and in the Middle East is a recipe for disaster, for it enfeebles one side and alleviates them of the responsibility to examine their own actions, modify their behavior, and understand that their opponents’ concerns are grounded in history and experience. Like the “peace process,” it turns out that “Muslim outreach” creates more problems than it solves.

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No U.S. Cash for Hezbollah’s Lebanese Army Allies

Last week, the Lebanese army, apparently acting in concert with Hezbollah terrorists, launched a sneak attack on Israeli soldiers who were clearing away a tree on their own side of the border. One Israeli officer was killed in cold blood, and another was wounded. Israel’s response to this provocation was restrained; it merely returned fire on the Lebanese army, killing two soldiers and one Hezbollah-affiliated “journalist” who had come to the border specifically to observe the hit on the Israelis. But while even the anti-Israel United Nations peacekeeping force Unifil agreed that the Lebanese fired first and attacked Israelis on Israeli soil, the international community had little to say about this incident. Western nations, including the United States, are worried that speaking up about this will undermine the government of Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Syrian agents murdered Hariri’s father in 2005, and protests against this act led to the Cedar Revolution, in which the Syrians were chucked out of the country. But since that signal victory for the West, the Syrians and their Hezbollah allies have won back control over the country. Hariri is now forced to accept a role that his father rejected: a vassal of Damascus and an ally of Hezbollah, which now has a place in his cabinet. As last week’s incident proved, the Lebanese army, once thought to be the lever by which the country could be pried from the grip of Syria, is now in cahoots with Hezbollah. Yet it is still in line to be the recipient of U.S. aid, approved in the days when Lebanon and its army were thought to be allies of the West against Islamist terrorism.

The State Department says it is still trying to investigate the incident and whether it is true that the Lebanese used weapons sent by the United States to shoot at Israel. But at least some members of Congress are paying attention.

Rep. Nita Lowey, the New York Democrat who chairs the House appropriations subcommittee on foreign aid, announced today that she is putting a hold on the $100 million allocated to be sent to the Lebanese army in 2010 but which has not yet been disbursed. Lowey says she wants to see how Lebanon and the Hariri government respond to the incident before this money or the $100 million Lebanon is supposed to get in 2011 is sent to Beirut. House Republican Whip Rep. Eric Cantor called for the aid pipeline to the Lebanese army to be stopped altogether, noting rightly that the line between that army and the Hezbollah terrorists had become blurred.

Instead of pretending as if the Cedar Revolution had not been annulled while both the Bush and Obama governments slept, the administration should be following the lead of Lowey and Cantor. As Evelyn noted, not only did Hariri falsely claim that Israel fired first but his government is also now not even recognizing the international border with Israel. Rather than playing along with the fiction that U.S. aid to Lebanon would fund an army that would be a check on Hezbollah, under the current arrangement Washington is helping to pay for the terrorist group’s fellow killers. That must end, and Lebanon — and Hariri — must be put on notice that there is a price to be paid for carrying out cross-border murders at Hezbollah’s behest.

Last week, the Lebanese army, apparently acting in concert with Hezbollah terrorists, launched a sneak attack on Israeli soldiers who were clearing away a tree on their own side of the border. One Israeli officer was killed in cold blood, and another was wounded. Israel’s response to this provocation was restrained; it merely returned fire on the Lebanese army, killing two soldiers and one Hezbollah-affiliated “journalist” who had come to the border specifically to observe the hit on the Israelis. But while even the anti-Israel United Nations peacekeeping force Unifil agreed that the Lebanese fired first and attacked Israelis on Israeli soil, the international community had little to say about this incident. Western nations, including the United States, are worried that speaking up about this will undermine the government of Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Syrian agents murdered Hariri’s father in 2005, and protests against this act led to the Cedar Revolution, in which the Syrians were chucked out of the country. But since that signal victory for the West, the Syrians and their Hezbollah allies have won back control over the country. Hariri is now forced to accept a role that his father rejected: a vassal of Damascus and an ally of Hezbollah, which now has a place in his cabinet. As last week’s incident proved, the Lebanese army, once thought to be the lever by which the country could be pried from the grip of Syria, is now in cahoots with Hezbollah. Yet it is still in line to be the recipient of U.S. aid, approved in the days when Lebanon and its army were thought to be allies of the West against Islamist terrorism.

The State Department says it is still trying to investigate the incident and whether it is true that the Lebanese used weapons sent by the United States to shoot at Israel. But at least some members of Congress are paying attention.

Rep. Nita Lowey, the New York Democrat who chairs the House appropriations subcommittee on foreign aid, announced today that she is putting a hold on the $100 million allocated to be sent to the Lebanese army in 2010 but which has not yet been disbursed. Lowey says she wants to see how Lebanon and the Hariri government respond to the incident before this money or the $100 million Lebanon is supposed to get in 2011 is sent to Beirut. House Republican Whip Rep. Eric Cantor called for the aid pipeline to the Lebanese army to be stopped altogether, noting rightly that the line between that army and the Hezbollah terrorists had become blurred.

Instead of pretending as if the Cedar Revolution had not been annulled while both the Bush and Obama governments slept, the administration should be following the lead of Lowey and Cantor. As Evelyn noted, not only did Hariri falsely claim that Israel fired first but his government is also now not even recognizing the international border with Israel. Rather than playing along with the fiction that U.S. aid to Lebanon would fund an army that would be a check on Hezbollah, under the current arrangement Washington is helping to pay for the terrorist group’s fellow killers. That must end, and Lebanon — and Hariri — must be put on notice that there is a price to be paid for carrying out cross-border murders at Hezbollah’s behest.

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Eric Cantor v. Mitch Daniels and Paul Ryan

Eric Cantor is asked a perfectly reasonable question in this interview (h/t: Andrew Sullivan): if the entitlement crisis is anything like you argue (which it is), what entitlement cuts are you, Cantor, willing to embrace? He doesn’t give an answer, which is a problem. It comes across as what it is: double-speak and a lack of candor and political courage on the part of the GOP leadership. Cantor wants to paint an apocalyptic scenario — but doesn’t want to speak about any of the tough but inevitable steps we need to embrace. At the same time, Speaker Boehner is chatting up the idea of changing the 14th amendment to deny children of illegal immigrants citizenship, which is at best a distraction and will never see the light of day.

Representative Cantor is usually pretty good on television; this clip, then, exposes what a key GOP vulnerability is.

To his credit, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels was willing to be specific in his interview on Fox News Sunday regarding entitlement cuts. In addition, Cantor’s colleague Paul Ryan has put out a very specific plan — one’s he’s eager to talk about with just about anyone, anywhere, anytime.

The Daniels-Ryan approach is far better because it’s more honest, more serious, and more responsible. My sense is that in most moments in American politics, that is what the public is longing for.

Republicans won’t get away with this Cantor-like dodge for long. They will lose, and they should lose, credibility with the public if they can’t be far more specific than Mr. Cantor.

Eric Cantor is asked a perfectly reasonable question in this interview (h/t: Andrew Sullivan): if the entitlement crisis is anything like you argue (which it is), what entitlement cuts are you, Cantor, willing to embrace? He doesn’t give an answer, which is a problem. It comes across as what it is: double-speak and a lack of candor and political courage on the part of the GOP leadership. Cantor wants to paint an apocalyptic scenario — but doesn’t want to speak about any of the tough but inevitable steps we need to embrace. At the same time, Speaker Boehner is chatting up the idea of changing the 14th amendment to deny children of illegal immigrants citizenship, which is at best a distraction and will never see the light of day.

Representative Cantor is usually pretty good on television; this clip, then, exposes what a key GOP vulnerability is.

To his credit, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels was willing to be specific in his interview on Fox News Sunday regarding entitlement cuts. In addition, Cantor’s colleague Paul Ryan has put out a very specific plan — one’s he’s eager to talk about with just about anyone, anywhere, anytime.

The Daniels-Ryan approach is far better because it’s more honest, more serious, and more responsible. My sense is that in most moments in American politics, that is what the public is longing for.

Republicans won’t get away with this Cantor-like dodge for long. They will lose, and they should lose, credibility with the public if they can’t be far more specific than Mr. Cantor.

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Bibi’s Visit

The do-over White House get-together between Obama and Bibi is set for today. The White House is strenuously denying that there has been any “rift” between the two countries. (But will it admit to a “shift,” as Michael Oren called it?) So there will be smiles and cameras — but what will change?

There are many ways in which the relationship can be repaired and in which Obama can rescue his Middle East policy from disarray. First, rule out any international investigation of the flotilla incident; Israel is a functioning democracy and can look after itself. Second, pull out of the UN Human Rights Council (in an op-ed, Min. Whip Eric Cantor and Rep. Peter Roskam call for that — but, alas, the letter to the president following the flotilla incident, which the AIPAC backed, left that request out). Third, insist that the PA meet face to face with Bibi, and refuse to do the Palestinians’ negotiating for them through proximity talks. Fourth, affirm that a nuclear-armed Iran will be prevented by American military action, if it comes to that. Fifth, confirm that Israel has the right to self-defense and the right to maintain a naval blockade, and that attempts by “activists” and/or state sponsors to break it are acts of aggression, which Israel, with the full support of the U.S., is entitled to counter.

These items would repair the actual rift between the two countries, which is grounded not in conflicting personalities but rather in differences in outlook and vision. You say Obama can’t do any of these things? Of course not; there is a chasm between the two governments that nothing short of a full-scale policy reversal or the 2012 election will resolve. Yeah, it’s going to have to be the latter.

The do-over White House get-together between Obama and Bibi is set for today. The White House is strenuously denying that there has been any “rift” between the two countries. (But will it admit to a “shift,” as Michael Oren called it?) So there will be smiles and cameras — but what will change?

There are many ways in which the relationship can be repaired and in which Obama can rescue his Middle East policy from disarray. First, rule out any international investigation of the flotilla incident; Israel is a functioning democracy and can look after itself. Second, pull out of the UN Human Rights Council (in an op-ed, Min. Whip Eric Cantor and Rep. Peter Roskam call for that — but, alas, the letter to the president following the flotilla incident, which the AIPAC backed, left that request out). Third, insist that the PA meet face to face with Bibi, and refuse to do the Palestinians’ negotiating for them through proximity talks. Fourth, affirm that a nuclear-armed Iran will be prevented by American military action, if it comes to that. Fifth, confirm that Israel has the right to self-defense and the right to maintain a naval blockade, and that attempts by “activists” and/or state sponsors to break it are acts of aggression, which Israel, with the full support of the U.S., is entitled to counter.

These items would repair the actual rift between the two countries, which is grounded not in conflicting personalities but rather in differences in outlook and vision. You say Obama can’t do any of these things? Of course not; there is a chasm between the two governments that nothing short of a full-scale policy reversal or the 2012 election will resolve. Yeah, it’s going to have to be the latter.

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Here’s That Bipartisan Alliance

Minority Whip Eric Cantor does the talking, but standing with him are Congressman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), Congressman Mike Pence (R-Ind.), Congresswoman Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), and Congressman Peter King (R-N.Y.):

So will Democrats now come forward to join in Rep. Peter King’s resolution?

Minority Whip Eric Cantor does the talking, but standing with him are Congressman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), Congressman Mike Pence (R-Ind.), Congresswoman Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), and Congressman Peter King (R-N.Y.):

So will Democrats now come forward to join in Rep. Peter King’s resolution?

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RE: RE: What Is Obama Up To?

The reaction to the report regarding an international investigation of the flotilla and then the confirmation from the administration that it is searching for some type of international element have indeed caused an immediate push-back. From Minority Whip Eric Cantor:

It would be naïve to assume that the United Nations intends to give a fair and balanced account of the flotilla incident. As we saw with the Goldstone Commission, these so-called investigations are designed to demonize Israel and strip it of its right to self defense. The Obama Administration should not lend America’s stamp of approval to a witch hunt against a democratic ally who stands on our side in the battle against terrorism – lest one day American troops become the target of a similar smear attack. I hope that these reports are untrue and that the Administration makes its position known by standing with our friend and ally Israel.

And Josh Rogin ably explains the stakes:

While it’s true there is no specific resolution expected, sources close to the issue say, what pro-Israel leaders like Kristol are worried about are continuing calls for tougher measures against Israel, such as the vote in the Human Rights Council, and whether or not the administration will really oppose them with vigor. That point is made clearly in the first line of a letter addressed to the president that is currently being finalized by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY. In a rare show of bipartisan comity, the two Senate leaders are calling on Obama not just to oppose new efforts to isolate Israel at the U.N., but to openly declare America’s support for the Jewish state. …

“Israel has announced its intention to promptly carry out a thorough investigation of this incident and has the right to determine how its investigation is conducted,” they wrote. “In the meantime, we ask you to stand firm in the future at the United Nations Security Council and to use your veto power, if necessary, to prevent any similar biased or one-sided resolutions from passing. . . 

“We write to affirm our support for our strategic partnership with Israel, and encourage you to continue to do so before international organizations such as the United Nations,” the letter reads.

Why should this be such an ordeal for the administration? In any other administration, the Reid-McConnell letter would never have been necessary. Everyone — Democrats and Republicans, not to mention Jewish groups — would assume that the administration would never entertain a witch hunt of this type and that it would be pressing for an investigation of the terrorists instead. But this is an administration like no other, and Israel supporters must devise a new approach to it in these troubled times.

UPDATE: Perhaps this is the way to go. A letter signed by 78 Republican House members was sent to Bibi Netanyahu affirming American support for Israel and for the maritime blockade. It is what Obama should be saying, but won’t.

The reaction to the report regarding an international investigation of the flotilla and then the confirmation from the administration that it is searching for some type of international element have indeed caused an immediate push-back. From Minority Whip Eric Cantor:

It would be naïve to assume that the United Nations intends to give a fair and balanced account of the flotilla incident. As we saw with the Goldstone Commission, these so-called investigations are designed to demonize Israel and strip it of its right to self defense. The Obama Administration should not lend America’s stamp of approval to a witch hunt against a democratic ally who stands on our side in the battle against terrorism – lest one day American troops become the target of a similar smear attack. I hope that these reports are untrue and that the Administration makes its position known by standing with our friend and ally Israel.

And Josh Rogin ably explains the stakes:

While it’s true there is no specific resolution expected, sources close to the issue say, what pro-Israel leaders like Kristol are worried about are continuing calls for tougher measures against Israel, such as the vote in the Human Rights Council, and whether or not the administration will really oppose them with vigor. That point is made clearly in the first line of a letter addressed to the president that is currently being finalized by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY. In a rare show of bipartisan comity, the two Senate leaders are calling on Obama not just to oppose new efforts to isolate Israel at the U.N., but to openly declare America’s support for the Jewish state. …

“Israel has announced its intention to promptly carry out a thorough investigation of this incident and has the right to determine how its investigation is conducted,” they wrote. “In the meantime, we ask you to stand firm in the future at the United Nations Security Council and to use your veto power, if necessary, to prevent any similar biased or one-sided resolutions from passing. . . 

“We write to affirm our support for our strategic partnership with Israel, and encourage you to continue to do so before international organizations such as the United Nations,” the letter reads.

Why should this be such an ordeal for the administration? In any other administration, the Reid-McConnell letter would never have been necessary. Everyone — Democrats and Republicans, not to mention Jewish groups — would assume that the administration would never entertain a witch hunt of this type and that it would be pressing for an investigation of the terrorists instead. But this is an administration like no other, and Israel supporters must devise a new approach to it in these troubled times.

UPDATE: Perhaps this is the way to go. A letter signed by 78 Republican House members was sent to Bibi Netanyahu affirming American support for Israel and for the maritime blockade. It is what Obama should be saying, but won’t.

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Reaction to UN Sanctions

Various lawmakers and groups  are weighing in on passage of the pitifully ineffective UN sanctions to which Brazil and Turkey refused to agree. Eric Cantor’s statement is among the better ones:

After months of delay and foot-dragging only bought time for Iran to advance its nuclear program, it is encouraging that the United Nations finally mustered the will to act. While the sanctions are a step in the right direction, they represent the lowest common denominator and are too weak to bring about a change in Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Moving forward, these sanctions must serve as a floor — not as a ceiling. It’s now time for Congress to swiftly pass sanctions legislation with real teeth, and President Obama must follow suit by imposing these sanctions upon the Iranian regime. We encourage our EU allies as well as Russia and China to follow our lead by passing stronger sanctions on the Iranian regime before it is too late.

And it might be helpful to point out that for all our bowing and scraping before Russia and China, we got a UN sanctions agreement that is unlikely to do anything other than stem the calls for military action.

But the best assessment so far comes from Senate candidate Dan Coats:

The sanctions resolution passed today is too little, too late. Proactive measures such as this should have been taken years ago. Instead, with no real incentive for the Iranians to comply, we have only bought them more time to develop a nuclear weapon which they could potentially achieve yet this year. While we have been flailing away with a combination of diplomacy and weak sanctions, Iran’s centrifuges have been rapidly spinning. Real meaningful comprehensive steps must be taken immediately to address this growing threat. Iran has already ignored three sanctions — I don’t see why the fourth will make any difference.

But alas, AIPAC is cheering wildly. (“AIPAC strongly applauds today’s U.N. Security Council passage of new sanctions against Iran –  the sixth Security Council resolution demanding that Tehran immediately suspend all nuclear work and open up to full inspection. We commend the Obama administration’s strong leadership effort to secure passage of this important measure.”) AIPAC also calls for more sanctions, but it’s ludicrous to claim, “This latest Security Council action provides yet another indication of Iran’s deepening isolation.” Even the Washington Post knows this is laughable.

It’s time for Congress to man up: pass those exacting sanctions with no carve-outs. And as candidates, it’s time to distinguish the Obama cheerleaders (Great job on sanctions!) from the savvy observers.

Various lawmakers and groups  are weighing in on passage of the pitifully ineffective UN sanctions to which Brazil and Turkey refused to agree. Eric Cantor’s statement is among the better ones:

After months of delay and foot-dragging only bought time for Iran to advance its nuclear program, it is encouraging that the United Nations finally mustered the will to act. While the sanctions are a step in the right direction, they represent the lowest common denominator and are too weak to bring about a change in Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Moving forward, these sanctions must serve as a floor — not as a ceiling. It’s now time for Congress to swiftly pass sanctions legislation with real teeth, and President Obama must follow suit by imposing these sanctions upon the Iranian regime. We encourage our EU allies as well as Russia and China to follow our lead by passing stronger sanctions on the Iranian regime before it is too late.

And it might be helpful to point out that for all our bowing and scraping before Russia and China, we got a UN sanctions agreement that is unlikely to do anything other than stem the calls for military action.

But the best assessment so far comes from Senate candidate Dan Coats:

The sanctions resolution passed today is too little, too late. Proactive measures such as this should have been taken years ago. Instead, with no real incentive for the Iranians to comply, we have only bought them more time to develop a nuclear weapon which they could potentially achieve yet this year. While we have been flailing away with a combination of diplomacy and weak sanctions, Iran’s centrifuges have been rapidly spinning. Real meaningful comprehensive steps must be taken immediately to address this growing threat. Iran has already ignored three sanctions — I don’t see why the fourth will make any difference.

But alas, AIPAC is cheering wildly. (“AIPAC strongly applauds today’s U.N. Security Council passage of new sanctions against Iran –  the sixth Security Council resolution demanding that Tehran immediately suspend all nuclear work and open up to full inspection. We commend the Obama administration’s strong leadership effort to secure passage of this important measure.”) AIPAC also calls for more sanctions, but it’s ludicrous to claim, “This latest Security Council action provides yet another indication of Iran’s deepening isolation.” Even the Washington Post knows this is laughable.

It’s time for Congress to man up: pass those exacting sanctions with no carve-outs. And as candidates, it’s time to distinguish the Obama cheerleaders (Great job on sanctions!) from the savvy observers.

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RE: Virginia’s 11th

If you needed any reminder of the Washington Post‘s egregious cheerleading for Democrats in Virginia (which results in comical reporting and flawed analysis, as Gov. Bob McDonnell, a survivor of Post-attack syndrome, can attest), along comes this take on the contest in Virginia’s 11th:

The 11th District’s recent history suggests it is favorable to centrists. [Gerry] Connolly and his predecessor, GOP Rep. Tom Davis, lean toward the middle ideologically, and Connolly beat [Keith] Fimian in 2008 partly by arguing that the Republican was too conservative. Without explicitly calling himself a moderate, Herrity said he was the only Republican who could beat Connolly. Many national party strategists privately agreed with that assessment, although some worried about the effectiveness of [Pat] Herrity’s campaign. On Tuesday, Herrity barely scratched out a win in his home base of Fairfax County and lost by a huge margin in Prince William County.

Let’s count the ways in which this is ridiculous and misleading to voters. First, the key problem for Connolly, which the Post conceals, is that he has departed from Tom Davis’s moderate approach and aligned himself with Nancy Pelosi and the president on taxes, health care, cap-and-trade, and spending. But the Post has its narrative — Fimian is too extreme, Connolly is suited to the district — and it is not going to let facts get in the way. Second, which national party strategists are we talking about? None are named. The ones I’ve talked to knew all along that Herrity was a weak candidate, unimpressive on the stump, and unlikely to fire up the troops. That’s why Eric Cantor, among others, endorsed Fimian.

This is just one more example of why the Post‘s Virginia political reporting is routinely ignored by readers and politicians alike.

If you needed any reminder of the Washington Post‘s egregious cheerleading for Democrats in Virginia (which results in comical reporting and flawed analysis, as Gov. Bob McDonnell, a survivor of Post-attack syndrome, can attest), along comes this take on the contest in Virginia’s 11th:

The 11th District’s recent history suggests it is favorable to centrists. [Gerry] Connolly and his predecessor, GOP Rep. Tom Davis, lean toward the middle ideologically, and Connolly beat [Keith] Fimian in 2008 partly by arguing that the Republican was too conservative. Without explicitly calling himself a moderate, Herrity said he was the only Republican who could beat Connolly. Many national party strategists privately agreed with that assessment, although some worried about the effectiveness of [Pat] Herrity’s campaign. On Tuesday, Herrity barely scratched out a win in his home base of Fairfax County and lost by a huge margin in Prince William County.

Let’s count the ways in which this is ridiculous and misleading to voters. First, the key problem for Connolly, which the Post conceals, is that he has departed from Tom Davis’s moderate approach and aligned himself with Nancy Pelosi and the president on taxes, health care, cap-and-trade, and spending. But the Post has its narrative — Fimian is too extreme, Connolly is suited to the district — and it is not going to let facts get in the way. Second, which national party strategists are we talking about? None are named. The ones I’ve talked to knew all along that Herrity was a weak candidate, unimpressive on the stump, and unlikely to fire up the troops. That’s why Eric Cantor, among others, endorsed Fimian.

This is just one more example of why the Post‘s Virginia political reporting is routinely ignored by readers and politicians alike.

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Eric Cantor on the Flotilla

On Fox this morning, Minority Whip Eric Cantor gave an impressive performance on the flotilla. On Obama’s approach, Cantor says:

What I believe the President should be doing is standing by our ally Israel.  Everyone understands now the international community has gone in an uproar over this and the point that’s been missed is the fact that Israel’s enemies really are aiming to destroy Israel.  Those voices start in Iran, Syria and what’s seems to be now Turkey is throwing in with those voices.  We have consistently relied upon Israel in this country as part of our national security strategy and the President in trying to figure this out, ought to allow Israel to do what it must to defend itself.

What about a UN investigation?

Obviously we are a big funder of the UN, part of the UN Human Rights Council and have some influence there.  What I would encourage this President to do is to make sure that we don’t see an international investigation ensue which biased against Israel, our ally that is fighting off the Hamas terrorists in Gaza, which is shooting rockets into Israel, killing innocent civilians.

I think that’s a firm “no” on a UN investigation.

And finally on responsibility for the incident, Cantor isn’t confused or torn between allies:

We have seen over the last several years, Turkey begin to turn in a different direction away from the United States.  This is a good example; this flotilla was launched by a group out of Turkey. It seems as if that group would not be able to do what it did without the acquiescence of the Turkish government.  This group has ties to Hamas and other terrorist organizations.

It sounds like the Republicans in the House are emerging with an unequivocal position that will challenge Obama’s straddling and stalling. Where are the Democrats going to come out? We’ll see whether they scurry to support Obama or whether they have figured out that clinging to the White House is both bad policy and bad for their political health.

On Fox this morning, Minority Whip Eric Cantor gave an impressive performance on the flotilla. On Obama’s approach, Cantor says:

What I believe the President should be doing is standing by our ally Israel.  Everyone understands now the international community has gone in an uproar over this and the point that’s been missed is the fact that Israel’s enemies really are aiming to destroy Israel.  Those voices start in Iran, Syria and what’s seems to be now Turkey is throwing in with those voices.  We have consistently relied upon Israel in this country as part of our national security strategy and the President in trying to figure this out, ought to allow Israel to do what it must to defend itself.

What about a UN investigation?

Obviously we are a big funder of the UN, part of the UN Human Rights Council and have some influence there.  What I would encourage this President to do is to make sure that we don’t see an international investigation ensue which biased against Israel, our ally that is fighting off the Hamas terrorists in Gaza, which is shooting rockets into Israel, killing innocent civilians.

I think that’s a firm “no” on a UN investigation.

And finally on responsibility for the incident, Cantor isn’t confused or torn between allies:

We have seen over the last several years, Turkey begin to turn in a different direction away from the United States.  This is a good example; this flotilla was launched by a group out of Turkey. It seems as if that group would not be able to do what it did without the acquiescence of the Turkish government.  This group has ties to Hamas and other terrorist organizations.

It sounds like the Republicans in the House are emerging with an unequivocal position that will challenge Obama’s straddling and stalling. Where are the Democrats going to come out? We’ll see whether they scurry to support Obama or whether they have figured out that clinging to the White House is both bad policy and bad for their political health.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

When Israel is under assault, at least the White House isn’t condemning the Jewish state.

When Israel is under assault, Turkey demands that the U.S. condemn Israel. There is an appropriate response. Gen. Anthony McAuliffe had it right.

When Israel is under assault, the UN Human Rights Council is leading the charge. When will Obama recognize that our participation is another counterproductive engagement gambit?

When Israel is under assault, Rep. Tom Price declares, “Israel has every right to defend itself.” (Others, including Reps. Gary Ackerman, Ron Klein, and Gary Peters, did as well.)

When Israel is under assault, Minority Whip Eric Cantor goes to bat for Israel and urges Obama to do the same: “House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) pushed for Obama to exercise the veto power the United States enjoys as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council to nix a resolution that chastises Israel’s military incident Monday involving a flotilla, or group of small boats, trying to access Gaza in spite of a blockade.”

When Israel is under assault, Steve Emerson has the goods on the not-at-all-for-peace activists’ terrorist ties.

When Israel is under assault, Peter Beinart cheerily piles on, calling the blockade “indefensible.” He apparently has decided that being the new hero of the left as well as an object of derision by pro-Israel commentators is the way to go.

When Israel is under assault, Abe Foxman questions U.S. policy on the NPT: “I worry about the US decision to support a resolution at the UN Nonproliferation conference which specifically calls on Israel to open up its nuclear facilities and join the NPT treaty. What does this decision say about the Obama administration’s assumptions and directions regarding Israel?”

When Israel is under assault, at least the White House isn’t condemning the Jewish state.

When Israel is under assault, Turkey demands that the U.S. condemn Israel. There is an appropriate response. Gen. Anthony McAuliffe had it right.

When Israel is under assault, the UN Human Rights Council is leading the charge. When will Obama recognize that our participation is another counterproductive engagement gambit?

When Israel is under assault, Rep. Tom Price declares, “Israel has every right to defend itself.” (Others, including Reps. Gary Ackerman, Ron Klein, and Gary Peters, did as well.)

When Israel is under assault, Minority Whip Eric Cantor goes to bat for Israel and urges Obama to do the same: “House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) pushed for Obama to exercise the veto power the United States enjoys as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council to nix a resolution that chastises Israel’s military incident Monday involving a flotilla, or group of small boats, trying to access Gaza in spite of a blockade.”

When Israel is under assault, Steve Emerson has the goods on the not-at-all-for-peace activists’ terrorist ties.

When Israel is under assault, Peter Beinart cheerily piles on, calling the blockade “indefensible.” He apparently has decided that being the new hero of the left as well as an object of derision by pro-Israel commentators is the way to go.

When Israel is under assault, Abe Foxman questions U.S. policy on the NPT: “I worry about the US decision to support a resolution at the UN Nonproliferation conference which specifically calls on Israel to open up its nuclear facilities and join the NPT treaty. What does this decision say about the Obama administration’s assumptions and directions regarding Israel?”

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Will Jews Ever Part with the Democratic Party?

Eli Lake reports on the Obami’s anti-Israel bent and its impact on American Jews’ support for Democrats. On the Republican side, Lake finds an opportunity:

In the recent diplomatic rift between Israel and the United States, Republicans see a chance to attract votes and contributions from a demographic group that has voted overwhelmingly for Democrats — Jewish Americans.

Meanwhile, the White House has launched a charm offensive to smooth over its relationship with the Jewish community after two of the most tense months in recent memory between Israel and the U.S. …

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican, said he has detected what he called “buyer’s remorse” among Obama voters. Mr. Obama won 78 percent of the Jewish vote in 2008, and no Democratic presidential candidate since Jimmy Carter in 1980 has received less than 60 percent of the Jewish vote.

“I do think there is a sense of disbelief on the part of many in the American Jewish community after this administration’s desire seemingly to pressure Israel in as forceful a way as possible while it is trying to solicit the support and friendship of countries that have not been allies of the United States,” said Mr. Cantor, who is Jewish.

The administration’s response has been a “charm offensive” with American Jews, but little sign they are reconsidering their Israel policy. For now, Jewish leaders are wary. Malcolm I. Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, tells Lake that “many people will want to see what the administration does before they will restore trust.” And Abe Foxman of the ADL says, “To what extent this is cosmetic, rather than substantive, time will tell.”

But really, do the Obami have anything to fear? It seems that nothing short of a crow bar will separate the Jews from the Democratic Party. The degree to which Democrats take Jewish votes for granted is aptly summed up by Ira Forman, executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council, who pooh-poohs poll numbers showing a  drop in Jewish support for Obama and points to a recent special election in Florida: “If Republicans, as they say every election cycle for at least 18 years, are correct that Jewish votes are turning to their party, you’d think they would see it in the last special election, which took place in the most heavily Jewish congressional district in the country.” Translation: we don’t think Jews will ever actually vote against Democrats, no matter what Israel policy they adopt. Another Democrat echoes that view:

Rep. Eliot L. Engel, New York Democrat, who is Jewish, said there is concern in the Jewish community, but he does not think it has reached the point where Jewish voters will abandon Mr. Obama or the Democratic Party.

“I think people are watching and waiting and looking at the future, and people will be making judgments accordingly,” Mr. Engel said. “There has been a lot of angst over what is regarded in many circles as needless clashing with the Netanyahu administration and with Israel, and let’s hope this is a passing blip in an otherwise strong relationship.”

Are they right? Are Jews that indifferent to Obama’s policy toward Israel or that dense that they would continue to fund and vote for those antagonistic to the Jewish state’s fundamental interests? They grouse in private and tell pollsters they don’t like Obama’s approach, but if they write the checks and vote as they have, Obama’s gamble will have paid off. Plainly, he doesn’t see any domestic political fallout. After all, that strategy guru Robert Gibbs told him that the Jewish community wouldn’t balk. He may prove right — and the question that one sharp commentator asked wistfully remains: “Why do they despise their familiars and love The Stranger who hates them—and hates them all the more for their craven pursuit of him?”

Eli Lake reports on the Obami’s anti-Israel bent and its impact on American Jews’ support for Democrats. On the Republican side, Lake finds an opportunity:

In the recent diplomatic rift between Israel and the United States, Republicans see a chance to attract votes and contributions from a demographic group that has voted overwhelmingly for Democrats — Jewish Americans.

Meanwhile, the White House has launched a charm offensive to smooth over its relationship with the Jewish community after two of the most tense months in recent memory between Israel and the U.S. …

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican, said he has detected what he called “buyer’s remorse” among Obama voters. Mr. Obama won 78 percent of the Jewish vote in 2008, and no Democratic presidential candidate since Jimmy Carter in 1980 has received less than 60 percent of the Jewish vote.

“I do think there is a sense of disbelief on the part of many in the American Jewish community after this administration’s desire seemingly to pressure Israel in as forceful a way as possible while it is trying to solicit the support and friendship of countries that have not been allies of the United States,” said Mr. Cantor, who is Jewish.

The administration’s response has been a “charm offensive” with American Jews, but little sign they are reconsidering their Israel policy. For now, Jewish leaders are wary. Malcolm I. Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, tells Lake that “many people will want to see what the administration does before they will restore trust.” And Abe Foxman of the ADL says, “To what extent this is cosmetic, rather than substantive, time will tell.”

But really, do the Obami have anything to fear? It seems that nothing short of a crow bar will separate the Jews from the Democratic Party. The degree to which Democrats take Jewish votes for granted is aptly summed up by Ira Forman, executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council, who pooh-poohs poll numbers showing a  drop in Jewish support for Obama and points to a recent special election in Florida: “If Republicans, as they say every election cycle for at least 18 years, are correct that Jewish votes are turning to their party, you’d think they would see it in the last special election, which took place in the most heavily Jewish congressional district in the country.” Translation: we don’t think Jews will ever actually vote against Democrats, no matter what Israel policy they adopt. Another Democrat echoes that view:

Rep. Eliot L. Engel, New York Democrat, who is Jewish, said there is concern in the Jewish community, but he does not think it has reached the point where Jewish voters will abandon Mr. Obama or the Democratic Party.

“I think people are watching and waiting and looking at the future, and people will be making judgments accordingly,” Mr. Engel said. “There has been a lot of angst over what is regarded in many circles as needless clashing with the Netanyahu administration and with Israel, and let’s hope this is a passing blip in an otherwise strong relationship.”

Are they right? Are Jews that indifferent to Obama’s policy toward Israel or that dense that they would continue to fund and vote for those antagonistic to the Jewish state’s fundamental interests? They grouse in private and tell pollsters they don’t like Obama’s approach, but if they write the checks and vote as they have, Obama’s gamble will have paid off. Plainly, he doesn’t see any domestic political fallout. After all, that strategy guru Robert Gibbs told him that the Jewish community wouldn’t balk. He may prove right — and the question that one sharp commentator asked wistfully remains: “Why do they despise their familiars and love The Stranger who hates them—and hates them all the more for their craven pursuit of him?”

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