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With the first of the 2008 caucuses and primaries only months away, the endless presidential campaign is about to be clarified as the long list of candidates without a prayer are winnowed down to the few viable contenders.
In recent decades, the conventional political wisdom has been that the process by which our two major political parties choose a presidential standard-bearer has reinforced the latent extremism on both the Left and the Right. But interestingly, in this run for the White House, the centrists, or what passes for centrists these days, are beating out the ideologues.
Among the Democrats, there is little doubt that Sen. Hillary Clinton has become the odds-on favorite. Predictably, the boomlet for her main competition, Sen. Barack Obama, faded as his inexperience on the national stage became more noticeable.
Clinton backed the war in Iraq when it was backed by most voters, but she has followed the political wind by opposing it now that is deeply unpopular. Despite this, she still indulges in the occasional stray move to the center, such as her recent support for a nonbinding Senate measure that called for the designation of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist group, which was opposed by other Democrats who saw it as an escalation of the growing conflict with that Islamic republic.
While she remains on the same side of many issues as the Moveon.org crowd, there’s little doubt she’s the most centrist of the viable Democratic candidates. That will allow her to tack even farther to the center once the nomination is assured.
On the other side of the aisle, the outcome of the Republican race isn’t nearly as easy to predict.
The early favorite, Sen. John McCain, flopped once he stopped playing the party rebel. But going back to being incorrigible isn’t working either. His statement that he believed America was a “Christian nation” (in response to a question in an online interview about whether he could support a Muslim president) should reduce his chances of rallying Jewish support to his waning campaign.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has raised a lot of money but still lags in the polls. He may be a victim of religious prejudice – many Americans still look askance at his Mormon faith – but sympathy on that point won’t win many votes.
The long-awaited debut of film and TV star Fred Thompson, a former Tennessee senator, isn’t generating much excitement either.
Which leaves us with one other formidable Republican candidate: former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, who, despite his checkered personal history and eccentric personality, as well as his liberal stand on abortion, has led the polls for most of the past year.
Since most Republican voters are more afraid of terrorism than they are of global warming, Giuliani’s image as the 9/11 mayor has served him well. Rudy is also the darling of most Republican Jews for his strong stands on the war on Islamist terror, which is linked to his similarly passionate backing of Israel.
Though most Jews will back the Democrats no matter what and care more about domestic issues than Israel, Giuliani does give the GOP a chance to win over more of the minority of Jews (in key strategic states) whose votes will be influenced by the Middle East.
While seven years of serving New York in the Senate has given Hillary Clinton ample opportunity to pander to the pro-Israel community and establish her bona fides with the AIPAC crowd, there’s little doubt that the nomination of Giuliani would energize the most Jewish support for a Republican since Ronald Reagan ran against Jimmy Carter.
That prospect, as well as the probability that Rudy would give Hillary a run for her money in swing states, ought to excite a Republican base that knows the Democrats are heavily favored to win back not only the presidency in 2008, but to strengthen their majorities in the House and the Senate.
But the possible triumph of Republican centrism and the hope of victory in 2008 are being greeted with a less than enthusiastic response from the GOP faithful. Though Giuliani may be their best, and perhaps, only, chance to win next year, the truth is that some Republicans would rather see Hillary triumph than allow a pro-choice Republican to sit in the White House.
About the Author: Jonathan S. Tobin is senior online editor of Commentary magazine and chief political blogger at www.commentarymagazine.com, where this first appeared. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Wye would be seen to have set the groundwork for the creation of a Palestinian state
Blaming Israel for the violence in Gaza, he ends up justifying Hamas’s terrorism.
In the Thirties it was common for anti-Semites to call on Jews to “go to Palestine!”
“This arbitrary ban is an ugly stain on our democracy, and it also undermines the rule of law.”
We take US “aid” for psychological reasons-if we have an allowance, that means we have a father.
ZIM Piraeus isn’t Israeli-owned or flagged, incidentally, it is Greek operated.
Foolish me, thinking the goals were the destruction of Hamas thereby giving peace a real chance.
The free-spirted lifestyle didn’t hold your interest; the needs of your people did.
And why would the U.S. align itself on these issues with Turkey and Qatar, longtime advocates of Hamas’s interests?
Several years ago the city concluded that the metzitzah b’peh procedure created unacceptable risks for newborns in terms of the transmission of neo-natal herpes through contact with a mohel carrying the herpes virus.
The world wars caused unimaginable anguish for the Jews but God also scripted a great glory for our people.
We were quite disappointed with many of the points the secretary-general offered in response.
Judging by history, every time Hamas rebuilds their infrastructure, they are stronger than before.
One of the key talking points by apologists for Hamas in the current conflict is that it isn’t fair that Israelis under fire have bomb shelters while Palestinians in Gaza don’t have any. Among other factors, the lack of shelters accounts in part for the differences in casualty figures between the two peoples. But somehow […]
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Z STREET will have the ability to compel IRS officials to testify as to their practices and produce all records.
“Death of Klinghoffer” opera frames the issue as Israel’s existence being the real crime.
Palestinian leaders claim the kidnapping is an Israeli hoax or the act of Jewish criminals rather than terrorists.
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