"Once again, sons and daughters of slavery and Holocaust survivors are bound together with a shared agenda, bound by their hopes and their fears about national public policy."
-- Jesse Jackson at Temple Israel of Greater Miami, November 12
"Now, we blacks and Jews find ourselves fighting old battles we thought we had won ... We must stand together or we will perish alone."
-- Rabbi Steven B. Jacobs of Woodland Hills, with Jackson, protesting the election outcome at the same political rally.
Only Jesse Jackson could invoke slavery when Florida has a record African-American voter turnout. And for good measure, trivialize the Holocaust as well. Only in America would a rabbi lend credibility to such nonsense. What a country!
Mixing religion and politics is bad for conservatives, but okay for liberals. Jews will perish because Gore lost? Come on. Let's talk about what survival really means.
In the 1973 Yom Kippur War, as Golda Meir tells the story, Israel faced extinction. In the middle of a lonely night, an American president pulled rank and overruled the Pentagon.
Himself under siege during Watergate, Richard Nixon, nonetheless, quite simply and unilaterally, depleted American military supplies.
The commander-in-chief ordered and enforced an airlift of awesome proportions. (These Lockheed C-35A transports had been opposed a few years earlier by liberal Democrats as unnecessary. For schizophrenic Democrats, it's part of their mythology: cut U.S. military spending, but militarily support Israel.)
What would Bill Clinton have done when Golda Meir called? Madeline Albright? Sandy Berger? Do you have any idea how many meetings these people would have convened before responding, perhaps too late, to the desperate Israeli prime minister? What about Al Gore? Remember his Senate vote for the Persian Gulf War? Only after war supporters promised him more speaking time on the floor than war opponents would he cast a favorable ballot. Now, that's decisive leadership.
Did you know that a higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats in Congress have a pro-Israel voting record? (It doesn't matter that many represent districts or states with few Jews.) Do you want to compare the record on Israel of Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Jesse Helms with the late J.W. Fulbright? Still confused. Fast forward twenty years. Back to the future.
Suppose Richard Nixon, not Bill Clinton, had been elected president in 1992. What would have happened in the Mideast? Nixon would have communicated the following to Yasser Arafat: (a) After eight years of high stakes poker against Ronald Reagan, the Soviets folded. The Soviet Union's former Arab client states are on their own. Translation: No more MIGs for Syria, and you, Yasser, are on your own. (b) In case you haven't noticed, Iraq is no longer a military power, and if they don't agree to inspections, we'll bomb them. Translation: Yasser, you're on your own. (c) We will not deal with you unless you accept a rather quick timetable for settlement. Translation: We can find someone else, as the phrase goes, "to represent the aspirations of the Palestinian people."
Instead, Clinton honored Arafat on the White House lawn. But Arafat's propagandists continued to preach hate and destruction of the Jewish state. Then, Clinton dispatched James Carville and Clinton's other political lieutenants, in an intrusion into Israel's domestic politics, to direct Ehud Barak's political campaign to defeat Netanyahu. While Clinton subsequently called in political IOUs to enforce Israeli concessions, Arafat stood firm. And now Israelis and Palestinians are paying the price for Clinton's incompetent foreign policy.
Many Democrats pretended Arafat is not a terrorist. Now, in a totally different situation, many Democrats pretend that post-election Al Gore has not made a fool of himself. But surely his conduct during the past few weeks demonstrated more than his unfitness to lead. He talked of uncounted ballots when they were counted. He talked of counting all ballots when he sought to exclude the military ballots. And in all of this, sadly, the once proud and respected Joseph Lieberman becames a willing accomplice.
While the glib Lieberman on a Sunday talk show seemed to favor counting military ballots, he knew that Gore-Lieberman operatives resisted counting ballots cast by sailors in the Sixth Fleet that, in part, defends Israel.
Do I write too much about the Mideast? Should I talk about the environment? Perhaps you are one of those Democrats who oppose nearly any domestic energy program. Then you decry our dependence on "foreign oil" and the Arabs?
Inconsistency or hypocrisy? What are the interests of the Jewish community? Jewish issues? Vouchers? Remember when Joe Lieberman wanted to test a voucher pilot program for inner-city kids? I do. Then he became his party's nominee and changed his position. But is it really a "Jewish issue" to oppose opportunity for the underperforming trapped in miserable public schools? Church-state, you say? Where were you when the GI Bill let Jewish veterans attend Yeshiva University or Catholic students attend St. John's? Did you object when federal money subsidized Head Start programs in church basements? Affirmative action? Did you know that a higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats in Congress voted for civil rights legislation in the 1950s and '60s?
But we've moved beyond traditional affirmative action, meaning the provision of equal opportunity. Now, we're talking about racial and gender preferences. Remember when Joe Lieberman supported California's Proposition 209? Then, he became his party's nominee and said he didn't understand it. But is it really a "Jewish issue" to support race preferences?
Do you recall, only a few short decades ago, when Jewish students were denied college admission to Ivy League colleges due to Jewish quotas? Should my daughter, given her family income, be given preference over a boy from a poor family, just because she's a female and he's male? Working poor? Do you remember when Lieberman supported time limits and job training requirements for welfare recipients? Then he had his private meeting with Congresswoman Maxine Waters and stopped talking about welfare reform. Did you know that George Bush's tax plan would eliminate people at the bottom from paying any income tax? Did you know that income tax cuts and eliminating the marriage tax can buy more family time?
Let's give George W. Bush a chance.
Arnold Steinberg is a political strategist whose clients have ranged from Richard Riordan to Clint Eastwood. He has created political television and radio advertising and has conducted more than 1,000 survey research projects.