Wednesday, September 17, 2008

When Jews Advise Jews On How To Vote (Updated)

At work yesterday, someone handed me a printed copy of an email she had received about Sarah Palin. She asked me what I thought. Being a blogger, I thought I would share my thoughts, since this email seems to reflect the current level of criticism of Sarah Palin. Specifically, the piece claims to reflect the reasons why Jews should be wary of Palin.

The email is of an article by Mik Moore, co-Executive Director of the Jewish Council for Education & Research, whose attack on Sarah Palin is entitled President Sarah Palin. Moore does not disappoint in the sharpness of his attack. What is disappointing is the sloppiness of his arguments.

One of the blatant examples is his bringing up Buchanan:
In 1999 she attended a fundraiser for Pat Buchanan who was running for President. The same Pat Buchanan who praised Hitler and blames Jews for turning Congress into "Israeli occupied territory;" the same Pat Buchanan who merits seven separate pages on the Anti-Defamation League's website. Buchanan has described Palin as a "[pitchfork] brigader for me in 1996, as was her husband. They were at a fundraiser for me. She is a terrific gal." Like many on the Christian Right, Palin believes that the earth is 6000 years old and has supported the teaching of creationism in the classroom. As the editor of the L.A. Jewish Journal noted, a search for "Palin" in the AIPAC database produces no matches. That is because Palin has no record on Israel, one of many countries she has never visited.13
Mik Moore unfamiliarity with the facts rivals the image into which he tries to pigeonhole Sarah Palin. Jake Tapper writes on ABC News' Political Punch:
McCain-Palin campaign spokesman Michael Goldfarb writes: "Governor Palin has never worked for any effort to elect Pat Buchanan -- that assertion is completely false. As Mayor of Wasilla, Sarah Palin did attend an event with Mr. Buchanan in her home town where reports described her wearing a Buchanan for President button. She wore the button as a courtesy to Mr. Buchanan and in an effort to make him feel welcome during his visit, but immediately sent a letter to the editor of her local paper clarifying that the button should not have been interpreted as an endorsement of any kind."

...The McCain campaign says that instead of supporting Buchanan -- or even McCain -- in 2000, Palin actually supported Steve Forbes.

And indeed, another AP story from August 7, 1999 -- one month after the Buchanan trip to Wasilla -- states that joining state sen. Mike Miller of Fairbanks on the Forbes campaign's Alaska "leadership committee will be Wasilla Mayor Sarah Palin, and former state GOP chairman Pete Hallgren, who will serve as co-chairs."

As far as her belief in creationism, there are 2 basic points.

First, as far as supporting creationism, the AP reports:
As a candidate for governor, Sarah Palin called for teaching creationism alongside evolution in public schools. But after Alaska voters elected her, Palin, now Republican John McCain's presidential running mate, kept her campaign pledge to not push the idea in the schools.

As for her personal views on evolution, Palin has said, "I believe we have a creator." But she has not made clear whether her belief also allowed her to accept the theory of evolution as fact.

"I'm not going to pretend I know how all this came to be," she has been quoted as saying.

Apparently, pretense has been left to Mr. Moore, who claims to have Sarah Palin's beliefs down pat.

Secondly, if indeed Mik Moore's real concern is with Palin's lack of experience to be Vice President, why in the world is he bringing up her religious beliefs to begin with?

More silliness: Sarah Palin believes the Earth is 6000 years old--well, now we know how Mik Moore feels about Orthodox Jews holding political office. On the issue that Sarah Palin has no record on Israel, if by record Moore means a record of talking about Israel and US policy--as Governor of Alaska, why would she. By the same token, I pointed out earlier, there is a video of an interview with Sarah Palin back in February clearly showing a flag of Israel in the window and likely on her lapel.

On discussing Joe Biden, Mik Moore is similarly superficial. In President Sarah Palin, he writes:
Sen. Obama chose Sen. Joe Biden as his Vice President, cabinet member, and possible successor. Sen. Biden is among the most highly respected foreign policy experts in the United States, serving as the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He is known as tough and often blunt, willing to stand up to dictators like Slobodan Milosevic, whom he called "a war criminal" to his face.4 Biden's knowledge of Middle East affairs and his decades of strong support for Israel are well documented.5
There is no support for the claim that Biden, already well known for his gaffes during this campaign, is 'among the most highly respected foreign policy experts in the United States'. His claim that Biden 'is known as tough and often blunt, willing to stand up to dictators like Slobodan Milosevic, whom he called "a war criminal" to his face'--is comical on its face. The claim is based on an article whose source for this claim is Biden himself. As strong has Biden's statements in favor of Israel may be, let's not forget that not all have been equally as strong:
In a conversation with Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, after a sharp confrontation in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the subject of the settlements, Begin defined himself as "a proud Jew who does not tremble with fear" when speaking with foreign statesmen.

During that committee hearing, at the height of the Lebanon War, Sen. John Biden (Delaware) had attacked Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria and threatened that if Israel did not immediately cease this activity, the US would have to cut economic aid to Israel.

When the senator raised his voice and banged twice on the table with his fist, Begin commented to him: "This desk is designed for writing, not for fists. Don't threaten us with slashing aid. Do you think that because the US lends us money it is entitled to impose on us what we must do? We are grateful for the assistance we have received, but we are not to be threatened. I am a proud Jew. Three thousand years of culture are behind me, and you will not frighten me with threats. Take note: we do not want a single soldier of yours to die for us."

After the meeting, Sen. Moynihan approached Begin and praised him for his cutting reply. To which Begin answered with thanks, defining his stand against threats.
So just how does Biden feel about settlements today, how does he define them and is he still willing to cut off aid to Israel to make them do what he wants?

Part of Moore's problem of course is his confusion between longevity and judgement. Biden has the former, but Biden's judgment is as open to question as the respect in which Moore claims he is held.
In fact, decade after decade and on important issue after important issue, Mr. Biden's judgment has been deeply flawed.

In the 1970s, Mr. Biden opposed giving aid to the South Vietnamese government in its war against the North. Congress's cut-off of funds contributed to the fall of an American ally, helped communism advance, and led to mass death throughout the region. Mr. Biden also advocated defense cuts so massive that both Edmund Muskie and Walter Mondale, both leading liberal Democrats at the time, opposed them.

In the early 1980s, the U.S. was engaged in a debate over funding the Contras, a group of Nicaraguan freedom fighters attempting to overthrow the Communist regime of Daniel Ortega. Mr. Biden was a leading opponent of President Ronald Reagan's efforts to fund the Contras. He also opposed Reagan's efforts to send military assistance to the pro-American government in El Salvador, which at the time was battling the FMLN, a Soviet-supported Marxist group.

Throughout his career, Mr. Biden has consistently opposed modernization of our strategic nuclear forces. He was a fierce opponent of Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative. Mr. Biden voted against funding SDI, saying, "The president's continued adherence to [SDI] constitutes one of the most reckless and irresponsible acts in the history of modern statecraft." Mr. Biden has remained a consistent critic of missile defense and even opposed the U.S. dropping out of the Antiballistic Missile Treaty after the collapse of the Soviet Union (which was the co-signatory to the ABM Treaty) and the end of the Cold War.

In 1990, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and, we later learned, was much closer to attaining a nuclear weapon than we had believed. President George H.W. Bush sought war authorization from Congress. Mr. Biden voted against the first Gulf War, asking: "What vital interests of the United States justify sending Americans to their deaths in the sands of Saudi Arabia?"

In 2006, after having voted three years earlier to authorize President George W. Bush's war to liberate Iraq, Mr. Biden argued for the partition of Iraq, which would have led to its crack-up. Then in 2007, Mr. Biden opposed President Bush's troop surge in Iraq, calling it a "tragic mistake." It turned out to be quite the opposite. Without the surge, the Iraq war would have been lost, giving jihadists their most important victory ever.

On many of the most important and controversial issues of the last four decades, Mr. Biden has built a record based on bad assumptions, misguided analyses and flawed judgments. If he had his way, America would be significantly weaker, allies under siege would routinely be cut loose, and the enemies of the U.S. would be stronger.
There is plenty to argue about in terms of all 4 of the candidates, and the issue of Sarah Palin's experience is of course as open to discussion as is Obama's--but to throw around the rebutted issue of Palin and Buchanan is just plain negligent. I mean, seriously, for Mik Moore to trot out information that is known to be false is inexcusable:
She got her start in politics as an ardent anti-choice activist and member of the Alaska Independence Party,7 which advocates voting on Alaska's secession from the United States.
This is flat out not true. The New York Times, which originally carried the story, admitted 2 weeks ago:
The information in the Times article was based on a statement issued Monday night by Lynette Clark, the party's chairwoman, who said Ms. Palin joined the party in 1994, and in 1996 changed her registration to Republican.

On Tuesday night, Ms. Clark said her initial statement was incorrect and had been based on erroneous information provided by another member of the party whom she declined to identify. The McCain campaign also disputed the Times report, saying Ms. Palin had consistently been registered as a Republican.

After checking the party's archives, Ms. Clark said she could find no documentation that Ms. Palin had been a member.

Let's raise the level of debate, not lower it.

Update: Maybe it's too late...
The Jewish Council for Education and Research -- a new pro-Obama political action committee -- is organizing "The Great Schlep," in which hundreds of Jews will make the Southern exodus on Columbus Day weekend, Oct. 10-13. They will travel to the Fort Lauderdale area, where they will visit their grandparents, organize political salons in their condos and eat incredibly bad food.

...Barack Obama's trouble winning over older Jewish voters has been difficult for pollsters to explain, so I came here this week to visit my grandmother, Mama Ann, and find out what the hang-up is.

...To persuade Mama Ann to vote for Obama, I used many of the talking points suggested to me by Great Schlep organizer Mik Moore. These included the fact that Obama went to Columbia and Harvard, and McCain got bad grades in college; that Obama has been criticized by the Rev. Jesse Jackson; and that Obama ran the business side of his campaign better than any other candidate.
November cannot come soon enough.

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1 comment:

Soccer Dad said...

Maybe you should e-mail this to the NJDC.