Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Catch of the Day

David Freelander of the New York Observer, who talked to big Jewish Democratic fundraisers and found that -- shock and alarm! -- they're not abandoning Barack Obama after all. I think the key here is that the quotes sound as if they were scripted by the DNC, which in this case is very good evidence that Obama isn't in any danger of losing these folks. It's a fun article, and I recommend reading the whole bit?
[S]o far, only Haim Saban, the billionaire entertainment executive, has publicly declared that he was finished donating to the president. There was just one problem, though: Mr. Saban was a staunch supporter of Hillary Clinton and had never given money to Mr. Obama. Furthermore, Mr. Saban pledged to keep supporting down-ticket Democrats.
Via Greg Sargent, who adds:
I get that the campaign to paint Obama as anti-Israel is also about feeding a larger storyline, in which the Kenyan Muslim Marxist in the White House is hostile to a fellow western-style democracy struggling to survive against existential threats from Arab and Muslim foes.
Excellent point. I do think there's a bit more to Freelander reports, there's probably an ever-widening gap between "professional Jews" and the rest of the politically active Jewish community, and the possibility that some of the reason that the press buys GOP spin on this is that a subset of Jews who think of themselves as mainstream and nonpartisan really have become part of the Republican party network. But I also think Greg's point is a good one.

And, great catch!


  1. In all these discussions, we need to get one thing out of the way: no Democratic presidential nominee is going to lose the Jewish vote. Jews have consistently voted Democrat since time immemorial (1924, to be precise), but since about the late '60s Republicans have been crowing about the possibility of a mass Jewish exodus to the GOP. You hear it every few years or so (here is one amusing example from 2003), and it never comes to pass.

    The worst that can happen is something like the 1980 election, when the presence of a third-party candidate with disproportionate Jewish support led Carter to get a plurality but not majority of the Jewish vote. Jews are one of the most dependable Democratic groups and are simply not a swing bloc. Something cataclysmic would have to happen to cause such a realignment, and this pseudo-controversy over "1967 lines" ain't it.

    Now, it's perfectly plausible that Obama won't get quite the 78% of Jewish support he got in '08. I have no doubt there are Jewish uber-hawks who voted for Obama in '08 with some reservations and will be influenced by this incident not to vote for him again. (Ed Koch is probably a representative example of this sort of person.) I've met Jews like this, but my impression is that they represent a distinct minority. Most Jews are perfectly fine with President Obama, and those that aren't are generally the right-wingers who weren't going to vote for him anyway.

  2. Is this not a PR attack meant to appeal to the religious right? I doubt the GOP gave much thought to the Jewish vote, although they may have hoped a few Jewish leaders would give the issue a little credibility.

  3. I think most of the Israel pandering on the right is done to woo Christians, not Jews, who comprise a tiny chunk of the voting population. Even if 100% of the Jews in this country started voting Republican tomorrow, it wouldn't flip a single state, not even New York.

    But I also think there's something pathological about the way some conservatives talk about Israel, as if they are seeking approval from Jews. You can see this mindset at work in an ominous remark Huckabee made recently after he was criticized by Jewish groups for comparing the national debt to the Holocaust:

    "Israel and the Jewish people need to make friends, not insult the ones they have."

    Notice how he lumps "Israel and the Jewish people" together as one amorphous entity and almost seems to imply that his support for them is conditional on their not complaining too much.

    Some Christian conservatives view their support for Israel as a bargaining chip to placate Jews, or even a cover against charges of anti-Semitism. ("I can't be anti-Semitic because I support Israel" is a defense I have seen repeatedly over the years, the culprits ranging from Pat Robertson to Ann Coulter to the blogger Vox Day.)

    Given this situation, I suspect that some conservatives have truly half-convinced themselves that the oncoming Jewish exodus from the Democratic Party is near. Sometimes it is right-wing Jews, intent on fulfilling their end of the bargain in allying themselves with the Christian Right, who take this tack. Whoever it comes from, there's an element of wishful thinking in addition to pandering.

    It's part of the whole "epistemic closure" noted by Julian Sanchez. Right-wing Jews I've spoken with seem in utter disbelief that any self-respecting Jew could continue to support Obama after his "1967 lines" remark, and they react in shock when hearing that the ADL praised Obama's speech. The right has crafted a particular message about what views are inherently pro-Jewish or anti-Jewish, and people who get their information only from right-wing sources may have trouble reconciling what they believe with the reality of how Jews vote. So their only recourse is to assume that Jews are on the verge of a political exodus, even if such predictions have been made countless times in the past and never come to fruition.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Who links to my website?