A Flea in the Fur of the Beast

“Death, fire, and burglary make all men equals.” —Dickens

Tag: romney israel

Jewish Voters Sticking With Obama, Despite Conservative Crying About Israel

by evanmcmurry

If you had only been paying attention to headlines and opinion writers lately, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Obama was losing some sort of public relations war over Israel. Mainstream conservatives have been accusing him of shirking the all-important neocon ally, the DNC had itself a little to-do over the removal of Jerusalem from its platform, other Jennifer Rubin columns, and so on. The implicit warning from conservative quarters was that Obama was finally in danger of losing reliably Democratic Jewish voters, a small but crucial bloc neocons have been after for years.


President Barack Obama is closing extending his lead with Jewish voters, leading among registered voters 70-25 percent according to unreleased Gallup daily tracking poll data.

The data, obtained through a Democratic source, shows Obama up from leading 64-29 in polling this spring — and on par with his 2008 performance at this point when he led 69-25 over John McCain in Gallup polling. The data is drawn from tracking polls taken between July 1 and September 10th. (via)

Haaretz points out:

The rise in Jewish support for Obama, seems to indicate that American Jews are less concerned with Israel than might be thought. [sic]

They said it, not me. This is not just important to the national election, which Romney has for all intents and purposes ceded, but down ballot as well. We all remember this bullshit, right? In the Democratic quest to keep Congress from becoming a quagmire of obstinacy for the next four years, they need to hold on to all the seats they can; stray Jewish voters returning to the Democratic fold may save only one or two seats, but two years ago, one or two seats was the difference between health care and no health care.

The refusal of Jewish voters to cross party lines also speaks poorly for the Republican party in the long term. Sayeth Zeke Miller:

Despite a heated debate on Israel, most Jewish voters are Democrats and align closely with the Democratic Party on domestic issues from abortion to taxes and spending, and Republicans have tried without success for years to pry the group away from the Democratic Party.

In isolation, this doesn’t seem like such a big deal. Combine it, however, with the GOP needlessly antagonizing the increasingly important Hispanic vote, and smaller communities like Indian-Americans, and you have a different story. Via Robert Farley:

The bulk of Indian-Americans seem to behave very similar to the bulk of Jewish Americans, voting Democratic by large margins. Elite level coalition builders of this sort seem congenitally incapable of understanding just how goddamn scary mainstream Republican rhetoric is for minority voters.

The GOP is well positioned to cleave off certain segments of the voting population—their strident pro-Israel tic being a perfect opportunity—but can’t close the deal because of their noxious social policies. Combine this further with the fact that they weed out their own members based on stupid bigoted litmus tests, and you have a party that’s escorting itself to the margins of the mainstream.

Jared Diamond hits back: “Did you even read my book, Mitt?”

by pdxblake

Mitt Romney has written, re-written and re-re-written the meaning of his comments on the differences between the Israeli and Palestinian economies (still no correction on his mistake in the relative per capita GDP, which he said were around 3 to 1, but are really 10 to 1).

This was just the latest in his series of gaffes while he was overseas since he neglected to mention the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza as a factor for the economic performance (relying instead on differences in ‘culture’, as well as a sprinkling of ‘divine providence’ for Israel).  The Palestinian spokesman derided Romney’s comment as ‘racist’, but of course Romney was focused more on the reaction back in the US in his conservative base that he is furiously pandering to.

One of the “inspirations” for his “theories” was Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond, who gives Romney an ‘F’ for his understanding of the book and comes out swinging about Romney’s ability to be president:

Mitt Romney may become our next president. Will he continue to espouse one-factor explanations for multicausal problems, and fail to understand history and the modern world? If so, he will preside over a declining nation squandering its advantages of location and history.

That can be described only as “ouch”!

Open Mouth, Insert Foot: Mitt Romney’s economic history of Israel and Palestine

by pdxblake

The NYT has good analysis of Mitt Romney’s open-mouth-insert-foot moment from Israel where he diminished the difference in GDP per capita between Israel and Palestine, and then suggested that there were reasons including “cultural differences” and “divine providence” that explained the difference.  The NYT The Caucus blog describes:

Speaking to roughly four dozen donors at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, Mr. Romney suggested that cultural differences between the Israelis and the Palestinians were the reason the Israelis were so much more economically successful than the Palestinians, without mentioning the impact that deep trade restrictions imposed by the Israeli government have had on the Palestinian economy. He also vastly understated the income disparities between the two groups.

Romney’s comments were not well received by the Palestinian Authority:

In an interview with the Associated Press, Saeb Erekat, a senior aide to President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, called Mr. Romney’s remarks “racist.”

“It is a racist statement and this man doesn’t realize that the Palestinian economy cannot reach its potential because there is an Israeli occupation,” Mr. Erekat said. “It seems to me this man lacks information, knowledge, vision and understanding of this region and its people.”

The NY Times did their part to follow up with the Romney campaign for clarification about the economic impact of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, as well as the not-too-distant economic blockade of the Gaza Strip, but got no response from the Romney campaign.

On Monday afternoon, Romney campaign officials did not respond to a query about whether Mr. Romney believes that the blockade of Gaza or trade restrictions in the West Bank have had any dampening effect on economic activity in those areas.

Apart from the specific minefield that Romney ventured into, it appears that he might be suffering in part because he lost his foreign policy advisor to the culture wars in the US.

Romney’s Real Foreign Policy Problem

by evanmcmurry

Romney followed up his disastrous visit to England with one to Israel, where he was less buffoonish in some respects, but in others did even more damage to his credibility as a human person who can speak coherent sentences about other nations. James Downie has a round-up of everything he got wrong in and about Israel, including attributing the differences in GDP between Israel and Palestine to cultural mores. Downie concludes:

This overseas trip has made clear that not only does Romney surround himself with advisers who want to push the Bush-era foreign policy even further, he also has terrible foreign policy instincts.

It’s worth pointing out, now even more than when it happened, that Romney had an experienced foreign policy advisor, or at least one respected in the field, who had to resign after two weeks of non-service because he’s gay. This is another case of the GOP’s conservative bent screwing Romney coming and going: not only must Romney maintain unrealistic foreign policy positions to appease the neo-con sections of his base, but he must do so without the help of qualified advisors, who could perhaps instruct him on how to thread on issues like the Middle East, because of a stupid cultural litmus test. Having to either hold dumb positions or work without qualified advisors would be bad enough for Romney; having to do both is so difficult you almost feel bad for the guy.