Right about now, Sarah Palin is looking like a great vice presidential pick—that is, if Barack Obama got to choose his opponent’s running mate.
So, she’s likely not good for John McCain, but is Palin, the relatively unknown governor of Alaska good for the Jews (the few real life frozen chosen, not the Sitka Jews of Michael Chabon’s world)? Rob Eshman, The Jewish Journal’s editor in chief, weighed this question in a news analysis Friday.
Despite the expected plaudits and scourges Palin received from the usual suspects, Rob argued that Palin could actually cost McCain some of the Israel Firsters that his track record and affiliation with Sen. Joseph Lieberman had given him such a firm grip on.
If McCain had picked Mitt Romney or Tom Ridge or—cue the bar mitzvah band—Joe Lieberman, he would have unquestionably swept up the Israel Firsters. These men have track records and gravitas when it comes to Israel and foreign policy. (This debate among Jews and Israel reflects the larger foreign policy concerns about Obama that Republicans are making the centerpiece of their opposition. Many conflicts in Jewish life mirror conflicts in the larger culture—that’s Anthropology 101).
But he chose Sarah Palin: former mayor of a small Alaska town, governor of Alaska, devout Christian.
As I’ve written about more than a few times, many devout Christians are Israel fanatics. But questions remain about Palin’s passion for the Promised Land, in part because she has less foreign policy experience than Obama. And also because she endorsed Pat Buchanan in his 2000 run for president. Rob continues:
Palin has no foreign policy experience. No Israel experience. Her AIPAC rating? When you enter her name on the AIPAC home page, you get this:
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No pages were found containing “palin”.
The RJC’s Greenfield says her AIPAC relationships are great, but confined to Alaska. And Republicans are now marshalling a great comeback to the charge that Palin once supported Pat Buchanan.
Buchanan is anathema to the Jews. He is someone who has blamed Israel and American Jews for directing American foreign policy against American interests. He has spoken kindly of Adolph Hitler—who is not popular with Jews—and, well, this is going to be interesting.
Sarah Palin might cause the Israel Firsters, who seemed to be pretty much done with Obama, to take a second look.