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August 30, 2014 / 4 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘GOP’

Meet Josh Mandel, Rising Ohio Jewish GOP Rock Star

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

Meet Josh Mandel, who won the Ohio GOP primary and will take on Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, in the fall. A new-age GOP, his fiscal policy comes down to this: he says the country needs to undertake “sweeping regulatory reform.”

Mandel, 34, has been compared to the other dashing, young conservative, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.. Next week, Rubio is coming to Ohio to campaign with Mandel. “This guy is the real story coming out of Ohio,” one longtime GOP consultant in the state tells me. “He’s the rock star of the party.”

He has a serious battle ahead, against incumbent Brown, who holds a double-digit lead over the former Marine in polls. But he is not discouraged.

Brown will “still be beating us in the polls probably through the summer, maybe even into the early fall,” Mandel said. “The only poll we care about is Election Day and on Election Day, we’re going to win. He has an advantage in that he’s got great name ID. His name ID, his name recognition, is in the mid-90s. He also has a significant disadvantage in that everyone knows who he is but still less than half the people want to rehire him. Our challenge, our main obstacle, is building up our name recognition, getting known throughout the state of Ohio.”

The Atlantic’s Molly Ball asked what makes Mandel think he’s ready to be a U.S. senator. She reports: “Mandel looks me gravely in the eye” and responds:

“The Constitution,” he says, pausing for effect, “says that you have to be 30 years old. And I think the people who wrote the United States Constitution had a wisdom about them that was very special, and a vision for America that should be appreciated.”

Another long pause. “I served two tours in Iraq? In the Marine Corps?” he says. “I’m the treasurer of the state of Ohio, where, when the United States credit rating was downgraded for the first time in American history, and 14 government funds around the country were downgraded, we earned the highest rating we could earn on our $4 billion investment fund. Where we navigated the European sovereign debt crisis with a yield, rather than a significant loss like so many other — er, unlike so many other — a loss — you know what I’m trying to say. With a yield rather than a loss, when so many other corporations and organizations and governments lost money around the country.”

Mandel is a strong supporter of Israel. He and his wife Ilana were married in Jerusalem in 2008.

Mandel was a member of AIPAC at the Ohio State University. In 2008, he attended the 2008 AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, D.C, where he gave an address, and was quoted as saying “It was inspiring, the young people so motivated and gung ho about strengthening the Israel-United States relationship…Israel is our best friend and ally in the Middle East and it’s important that we maintain a strong and lasting relationship with them.”

At that conference, Mandel stated Iran was a threat, and discussed his divestment initiatives as a legislator in Ohio.

In February 2009, during Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli government issued a statement thanking Mandel for his support of the operation.

In May 2009, Mandel was a panel participant at the 2009 Awards and Installation Dinner held by the World Alliance for Israel PAC in the Los Angeles area.

In 2010 the OhioDaily obtained a copy of a letter sent to then Republican Treasurer candidate Josh Mandel from Canton, Oh. Rabbi Leah Herz, who scolded the young Mandel for race-bating:

Mr. Mandel, I do not question your heroism, and like all decent Americans I applaud your sacrifices while serving in our military.  As a Rabbi however, I say, “shame, shame” on the way you have behaved.  You are not a Nice Jewish Boy.

OK, so not everybody loves him…

Cracker Barrel – Or Crackpot?

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

Why have the media for the most part been so reluctant to expose the long documented fringe positions – including a clear and deep animus toward Israel – articulated by Texas congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul?

Why have journalists whose greatest pleasure consists of waxing indignant over any misstep or misstatement, real or perceived, by Republican politicians not been particularly eager to examine the racially charged statements – example: “Order was only restored in L.A. [following the Rodney King-inspired riots] when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks” – usually written in the first person in newsletters bearing Paul’s name in the 1980s and 1990s? (He now says he did not edit those publications and has claimed “moral responsibility for not paying closer attention to what went out under my name.”)

One theory is that many reporters kind of like the idea of having Paul around as a stick with which to hit the other Republican candidates, all of whom differ with Paul on most major issues. There has been a tendency to portray Paul as something of a principled eccentric, a wizened cracker barrel philosopher unafraid of bucking GOP orthodoxy, hence the disinclination to discredit him, either at present or when he ran for president four years ago.

When Paul mounted a run for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, James Kirchick wrote a disturbing expose of the man and his views for The New Republic. As Kirchick noted, there were those in the media who were all too eager to make a case for Paul’s alleged down-home integrity, all too often without bothering to mention any of his far from mainstream views.

(The conservative writer Christopher Caldwell described Paul as a “formidable stander on constitutional principle” while ABC’s Jake Tapper called him “the one true straight-talker in this race.”)

Kirchick’s article made something of a ripple among political junkies but really didn’t have much of an impact on the wider public; besides, outside of his relatively small but extremely devoted following, Paul in 2008 was never taken seriously as a candidate.

Four years later, with a wildly fragmented party and a collection of mostly unimpressive presidential wannabes, none of whom has failed to spark more than a passing infatuation among the GOP rank and file, Paul finds himself counted among the top tier of candidates in some of the early primary states.

However, writes Kirchick in a follow-up piece on Paul in the current issue of The Weekly Standard, not much has changed when it comes to Paul’s seeming embrace of conspiracy scenarios or his disdain for Israel:

Paul has gone right on appearing regularly on the radio program of Alex Jones, the most popular conspiracy theorist in America (unless that distinction belongs to Paul himself). To understand Jones’s paranoid worldview, it helps to watch a recent documentary he produced, Endgame: Blueprint for Global Enslavement, which reveals the secret plot of George Pataki, David Rockefeller, and Queen Beatrix, among other luminaries, to exterminate humanity and transform themselves into “superhuman” computer hybrids able to “travel throughout the cosmos.”

….In a March 2009 interview, Paul entertained Jones’s claim that NORTHCOM, the U.S. military’s combatant command for North America, is “taking over” the country. “The average member of Congress probably isn’t a participant in the grand conspiracy,” Paul reassured the fevered host, essentially acknowledging that such a conspiracy exists….
Likewise, Paul’s insistence that America should be a “friend” of Israel is belied by public statements like one from a November 22 GOP debate: “Why do we have this automatic commitment that we’re going to send our kids and send our money endlessly to Israel?”

Eric Dondero, a former Paul congessional and campaign aide, insists that Paul is not anti-Semitic, but acknowledges that he “is, however, most certainly anti-Israel.” In a widely circulated blog post this week, Dondero writes that Paul “wishes the Israeli state did not exist at all. He expressed this to me numerous times in our private conversations…. He sides with the Palestinians, and supports their calls for the abolishment of the Jewish state….”

Bachmann’s Pro-Israel Stance Shaped By Summer Work On Kibbutz

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011


WASHINGTON – Newly declared presidential candidate Michele Bachmann’s dedication to Israel dates back to 1974, when she was selected at age 17 to join a group of Minnesota teens to spend a summer in Israel.


Working on Kibbutz Be’eri in the Negev left an impression.


“We were always accompanied by soldiers with machine guns,” she said a year ago in an interview with TCJewFolk, a clearinghouse for young Jewish bloggers in Minnesota. “While we were working, the soldiers were walking around looking for land mines.”


Bachmann’s performance in the first major GOP debate has vaulted her to the forefront of a crowded Republican field.


Her capacity for self-deprecation helped her ace the June 13 forum on CNN. Other candidates stalled or looked embarrassed when the moderator posed quirky “either-or” pop culture questions. Bachmann said she liked both Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley, then delivered a full-throated laugh at her own inability to decide.


“When Michele speaks one on one, there is nothing fake about her,” said Danny Rosen, a Minnesota lawyer who is a  longtime supporter of Bachmann. “You can sense that she is revealing the real Michele. That can be a disarming quality.”


It’s been a problem in the past for the congresswoman from eastern Minnesota. Bachmann acknowledges that her tendency to speak off the cuff can get her into trouble.


“People can make mistakes, and I wish I could be perfect every time I say something, but I can’t,” she told CNN this week.


She also displayed command of the issues, particularly those relating to her fiscal conservatism. Bachmann, trained as a lawyer, at the tip of her fingers had analyses that she used to attack President Obama’s economic policies, citing a study that she said showed an 800,000 job-loss figure as a result of health care reform.

 

 


Michele Bachmann

 

Many of her pro-Israel supporters said they were especially impressed by her command of Middle East issues, pointing in particular to a recent video on Israel posted by her campaign. The video showcases Bachmann’s understanding of how Israelis view their alliance with the United States as nuanced, emotive and consistent with her deep Christian beliefs.


“We even share the same exceptional mission, to be a light to the nations,” she says in the clip. “After all, the image of America as a shining city on the hill was taken from the book of Isaiah.”


The video, which is dedicated to Israel, also blasts Obama for what she says was the president’s call for Israel to “give up its right to defensible borders.”


Caroline Glick, the conservative Jerusalem Post columnist, called the Bachmann video the most cogent explanation of the U.S.-Israel relationship she had ever heard.


“And this speech came out of nowhere,” Glick said. “She’s not pandering for votes. No one asked her to say this. She just decided that she had to make a statement.”


Bachmann held a reception after the most recent American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in May at the same time as receptions hosted by former U.S. House of Representatives speaker Newt Gingrich, who is also running for the GOP presidential nod, and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.


Bachmann easily attracted the biggest crowd, and she cut short her remarks to accommodate a line of photo-seekers snaking outside the hall.


Bachmann, the wife of a psychological counselor who runs a Christian-themed practice, told the crowd that she and her family make sure each year to have at least one Jewish event, attending a Jewish-themed play or movie.


Her formal candidacy announcement also included a reference to Israel.


“We can’t afford four more years of a foreign policy that leads from behind and doesn’t stand up for our friends, like Israel, and too often fails to stand up to our enemies,” she said in Iowa.


Bachmann reached out to Jewish backers in 2005 as soon as she sought the seat in the 6th District when Rep. Mark Kennedy, the Republican incumbent, launched an ultimately unsuccessful Senate bid. She had served in the state Senate since 2001.


Her career, launched out of frustration with her local school board – she is the mother of five and has been a foster parent for 23 children – has flourished as speeches calling for a return to what she said were the founders’ intentions have drawn conservative interest.


While Bachmann’s district includes two small Jewish communities, her interest in Israel and in Jews stems more from her upbringing and her beliefs than anything else, her supporters say. She has made fast friends among conservative Jews, attending their lifecycle events and sharing Friday-night dinners.


Todd Gurstel, a lawyer who backs Bachmann, was with her in 2008 when she toured the tunnel beneath the Western Wall. Gurstel said he enjoyed watching Bachmann fence with his liberal in-laws when she attended his daughter’s bat mitzvah.


“The thing that makes Michele different than any other politician is that she sticks to her conviction despite however outrageous it may seem to others,” he said, noting that he disagrees with the candidate on her opposition to such issues such as gay rights and abortion.


Frank Hornstein, a Democratic state representative, said her postures on gay rights, abortion and slashing social services make her a bad fit for the Jewish community.


“She has been a leading voice in opposition to things that have been a high priority for the Jewish community over many, many years,” he said.


Hornstein noted that in her Israel video, Bachmann never referred to a “two-state solution” even though polling shows that is the peace process outcome most U.S. Jews favor.


“When you have a candidate taking more militant positions on the peace process than the Israeli government, it doesn’t serve Israel well,” he said.


(JTA)

‘There’s A Double Standard When It Comes To Israel’: An interview with GOP senatorial candidate Jay Townsend

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

The November midterm elections may well alter the political face of this country. Opponents of Obama administration policies have galvanized their forces and are eager to make their voices heard to the American electorate.

One of those people is Jay Townsend, a GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate from New York who will be seeking to unseat incumbent Sen. Charles Schumer.

The Jewish Press: You started your career as a political consultant. What made you decide to throw your own hat into the ring?

I was very inspired last January when the people of Massachusetts elected Scott Brown to fill the Senate seat that had long been held by Ted Kennedy, a liberal Democrat. Massachusetts voters were outraged by the prospect of the health-care reform bill that was looming in the Senate and wanted a candidate who vowed to vote against it.

I called GOP party leaders in New York and asked if we had anyone who could or would challenge Sen. Chuck Schumer – a fervent supporter of the health-care reform legislation and the Obama agenda. The president’s plans for “change” in America scare me and many others to death and I decided to become a candidate.

Concerning the Obama administration’s position on the burgeoning Iranian nuclear threat, do you think the latest round of economic sanctions will prove fruitful and what path do you believe the U.S. should take on this?

I don’t think that we’re serious about enforcing these sanctions. We must come to the realization that we have enemies in the world and we have to stop pretending we can negotiate with these enemies. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad only understands brute strength. Clearly, the nuclear threat emanating from Iran is indeed imminent. The imposition of sanctions on Iran will only prove to be another feckless attempt at stopping the nuclear threat unless we convince other countries to participate fully.

We should try and enlist the help of the European Union, Japan and state owned banks and we must make the sanctions systematic. Basically, my argument with the Obama administration is that you cannot be patient with a tyrant and that is what Ahmadinejad is. He is never going to like us and we had better get accustomed to that.

There has been a dramatic shift in U.S. policy toward Israel, with the administration pressuring Israel to relinquish parts of Jerusalem for a future Palestinian state along with the settlements in Judea and Samaria. Do you think the creation of a Palestinian state is in America’s best interest and would you support an Israeli strike on Iran as former UN Ambassador John Bolton has suggested?

Israel is our closest and best ally and deserves to be treated as such. I felt Obama used the first year of his presidency to rub Israel’s nose in the dirt. Senator Schumer refused to voice his opposition to this. Look, if President Bush had done to Israel what Obama is doing, Schumer would have vociferously protested.

I don’t believe Israeli settlements are an obstacle to peace in the Middle East. That is patently ridiculous. I don’t believe the creation of a Palestinian state will bring peace to this war-torn region and I vehemently oppose the creation of a state that would represent an existential threat to Israel’s security. I would certainly support Israel’s right to defend itself against the Iranian nuclear threat; that would be in America’s best interest as well.

Over the last six months, Senator Schumer has held press conferences on such inane issues as airline baggage fees, the increase of salt in cheeseburgers, sunscreen and Facebook but he won’t utter a word of protest regarding the president’s treatment of Israel. Senators can make noise and they are indeed in a unique position to make such noise and I plan to do just that.

The demonization of Israel is growing at alarming proportions not only on our college campuses but also throughout the world, especially in Europe. What would you do in the Senate to help stop this phenomenon and how would you work to support Israel’s position vis-a-vis the U.S.?

I believe our support for Israel cannot be limited to uttering platitudes. It is America’s best interest to ensure that Israel possesses access to the best military technology available. The prime minister of Israel’s responsibility and obligation is to the safety, welfare and health of his nation and its citizens and he should not be excoriated for doing so.

Israel should never be held to a standard we wouldn’t hold ourselves to. Can you imagine what the reaction would be if Israel demanded that the U.S. negotiate with leaders of countries that deny our right to exist? That would never be tolerated, so why should Israel be expected to tolerate that kind of nonsense? There’s a double standard when it comes to Israel and Schumer knows this. Why is he afraid to call his president on the carpet for doing this? Why doesn’t he finally stand up for the constituency that elected him?

You’ve said you will work toward repealing the health-care reform bill. You call this an “entitlement” that this country cannot afford. What kind of reforms would you replace it with that would lower health care costs?

I don’t oppose health insurance reform – I oppose the way it was done. I think we should encourage our free market to work. Let’s allow the sale of health insurance policies across state lines. Let’s give individuals the same tax breaks as those who work for large employers. The small business owner should have the same tax breaks as someone working for IBM. Let’s allow people to purchase health savings accounts and what they use will come out of their health and savings account.

The health care plan rammed through the Senate will swell the ranks of the jobless, raise taxes on those who can least afford them, cause health insurance premiums to skyrocket, and place federal bureaucrats between doctor and patient. It will deprive millions of Americans of access to the quality health care they have come to expect, retard the development of new miracle drugs and medical devices, force doctors into early retirement, and ruin the best health care system the world has known.

In New York State, we will see the skyrocketing rates in our health insurance plans. The quality of health care will not improve and I expect that it will decline tremendously. Right now, in New York State, doctors are leaving by the droves and going to such places as Texas because of the exponential rise in their medical liability insurance. We’ve got to stop the frivolous lawsuits being filed against doctors and we’ve got to reduce the cost of defensive medicine.

Do Jews ‘Hate’ Sarah Palin? Debate Roils Jewish Conservatives

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

Forget 2012, Sarah Palin must think she’s headed to the White House even sooner.

How better to explain the former Alaska governor and GOP vice-presidential candidate’s eyebrow-raising comments a few weeks back, when she defended Israeli settlements on the basis that “more Jewish people will be flocking to Israel in the days and weeks and months ahead”?

After all, it’s hard to think of anything else more likely to convince American Jews to pack their bags for Israel than Palin taking up residence in the White House.

And that’s just based on what Jewish conservatives are saying about Palin, who remains the focus of intense public interest as her autobiography tops the bestseller lists and she begins a new career as a FOX News commentator.

Jennifer Rubin, who generally blogs and writes for Commentary about the perceived dangers of the Obama administration, has a story in this month’s issue headlined “Why Jews Hate Sarah Palin.”

The piece drew a swift rejoinder from former Bush administration aide David Frum, who rejected Rubin’s sympathetic take on the GOP presidential hopeful and argued that Jews would hardly be alone in not liking Palin.

The debate echoes wider fights among Republicans and conservatives, not only about Palin but also the future of the GOP.

“If one were to invent a political leader designed to drive liberal, largely secular, urban, highly educated Jews to distraction, one would be hard pressed to come up with a more effective figure than Palin,” Rubin wrote in her Commentary article.

Jews more than any other group, she asserted, fall in the camp of liberals and conservatives who see Palin as “uncouth, unschooled, a hick, anti-science and anti-intellectual, an upstart, and a religious fanatic.”

Rubin also theorized that Palin’s personal life made her “alien to American Jews,” whether it’s her interest in hunting and guns or her decision to have five children and go through with her final pregnancy after learning that she was having a baby with Down syndrome.

In addition, Rubin argued, Palin’s being viewed as “more sexy and athletic” didn’t sit well with Jewish women, who have grown accustomed to admiring female politicians who are “modest to the point of frumpiness in appearance and professional style.”

Frum, who served as a White House speechwriter and had been widely credited for helping to coin the term “axis of evil,” responded with a blog post challenging Rubin on several fronts, starting with the premise that Jews stand out in their dislike for Palin.

“The sole evidence she cites on behalf of her assertion [that Jews hate Palin] is a September 2008 poll in which Jews disapproved of Palin by a 54-37 margin. That does not look like foaming hatred to me, and anyway those numbers are now 15 months out of date,” Frum wrote in a blog post on his website, Frum Forum.

“Besides: Lots of people dislike Sarah Palin. Palin excites intense support among a core group of conservative Republicans. Beyond that base, she is one of the most unpopular figures in modern American life. She polls poorly among the young, among women, among independents. A plurality even of Republican women regard her as unqualified for the presidency.”

Frum also noted that Jews have been fond of politicians with larger families than Palin’s (Bobby Kennedy) and ones from humbler beginnings (Bill Clinton). He did, however, say that a major problem for Palin among Jews is “that they – we – doubt her intellectual capacity for the job.”

But Palin’s biggest problem in winning Jewish support, Frum speculated, is that she divides “her fellow-Americans into first class and second class citizens, real Americans and not-so-real Americans.”

“To do her justice, she has never said anything to suggest that Jews as Jews fall into the second, less-real, class,” Frum added. “But Jews do tend to have an intuition that when this sort of line-drawing is done, we are likely to find ourselves on the wrong side.”

Palin’s defenders, including Rubin, say that the Alaskan politician has only defended herself against unfair attacks from liberal and coastal elites.

Still, Rubin said in the conclusion of her article, Palin needs to take several steps if she hoped to expand her base and make inroads into the Jewish community.

Palin’s staunch support for Israel is a major plus but, Rubin wrote, she “must accept the obligation to speak with authority and command about pressing public-policy issues. She will have to make voters comfortable with the idea that she is neither ignorant nor lacking in intellectual agility.”

Rubin concluded that Palin must not only castigate her elitist critics, but “must also demonstrate that she can go toe-to-toe with them in articulating positions on the issues that all candidates are expected to address.” (JTA)

Do Jews ‘Hate’ Sarah Palin? Debate Roils Jewish Conservatives

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010


Forget 2012, Sarah Palin must think she’s headed to the White House even sooner.


How better to explain the former Alaska governor and GOP vice-presidential candidate’s eyebrow-raising comments a few weeks back, when she defended Israeli settlements on the basis that “more Jewish people will be flocking to Israel in the days and weeks and months ahead”?


After all, it’s hard to think of anything else more likely to convince American Jews to pack their bags for Israel than Palin taking up residence in the White House.


And that’s just based on what Jewish conservatives are saying about Palin, who remains the focus of intense public interest as her autobiography tops the bestseller lists and she begins a new career as a FOX News commentator.


Jennifer Rubin, who generally blogs and writes for Commentary about the perceived dangers of the Obama administration, has a story in this month’s issue headlined “Why Jews Hate Sarah Palin.”


The piece drew a swift rejoinder from former Bush administration aide David Frum, who rejected Rubin’s sympathetic take on the GOP presidential hopeful and argued that Jews would hardly be alone in not liking Palin.


The debate echoes wider fights among Republicans and conservatives, not only about Palin but also the future of the GOP.


“If one were to invent a political leader designed to drive liberal, largely secular, urban, highly educated Jews to distraction, one would be hard pressed to come up with a more effective figure than Palin,” Rubin wrote in her Commentary article.


Jews more than any other group, she asserted, fall in the camp of liberals and conservatives who see Palin as “uncouth, unschooled, a hick, anti-science and anti-intellectual, an upstart, and a religious fanatic.”


Rubin also theorized that Palin’s personal life made her “alien to American Jews,” whether it’s her interest in hunting and guns or her decision to have five children and go through with her final pregnancy after learning that she was having a baby with Down syndrome.


In addition, Rubin argued, Palin’s being viewed as “more sexy and athletic” didn’t sit well with Jewish women, who have grown accustomed to admiring female politicians who are “modest to the point of frumpiness in appearance and professional style.”


Frum, who served as a White House speechwriter and had been widely credited for helping to coin the term “axis of evil,” responded with a blog post challenging Rubin on several fronts, starting with the premise that Jews stand out in their dislike for Palin.


“The sole evidence she cites on behalf of her assertion [that Jews hate Palin] is a September 2008 poll in which Jews disapproved of Palin by a 54-37 margin. That does not look like foaming hatred to me, and anyway those numbers are now 15 months out of date,” Frum wrote in a blog post on his website, Frum Forum.


“Besides: Lots of people dislike Sarah Palin. Palin excites intense support among a core group of conservative Republicans. Beyond that base, she is one of the most unpopular figures in modern American life. She polls poorly among the young, among women, among independents. A plurality even of Republican women regard her as unqualified for the presidency.”


Frum also noted that Jews have been fond of politicians with larger families than Palin’s (Bobby Kennedy) and ones from humbler beginnings (Bill Clinton). He did, however, say that a major problem for Palin among Jews is “that they – we – doubt her intellectual capacity for the job.”


But Palin’s biggest problem in winning Jewish support, Frum speculated, is that she divides “her fellow-Americans into first class and second class citizens, real Americans and not-so-real Americans.”


“To do her justice, she has never said anything to suggest that Jews as Jews fall into the second, less-real, class,” Frum added. “But Jews do tend to have an intuition that when this sort of line-drawing is done, we are likely to find ourselves on the wrong side.”


Palin’s defenders, including Rubin, say that the Alaskan politician has only defended herself against unfair attacks from liberal and coastal elites.


Still, Rubin said in the conclusion of her article, Palin needs to take several steps if she hoped to expand her base and make inroads into the Jewish community.


Palin’s staunch support for Israel is a major plus but, Rubin wrote, she “must accept the obligation to speak with authority and command about pressing public-policy issues. She will have to make voters comfortable with the idea that she is neither ignorant nor lacking in intellectual agility.”


Rubin concluded that Palin must not only castigate her elitist critics, but “must also demonstrate that she can go toe-to-toe with them in articulating positions on the issues that all candidates are expected to address.” (JTA)

How The Media Spun Campaign ’08

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

    Based on her interview with Sen. Joe Biden, we may assume that WFTV (Orlando) Anchor Barbara West: 1. Did not graduate from a school of communications, 2. Will never receive an award from the Society of Professional Journalists, 3. Is unlikely to be employed by The New York Times in the foreseeable future, and 4. Will soon be working with Joe the Plumber, installing bathroom fixtures.

  Silly rabbit – didn’t West know that tough questions are reserved for Republicans?

  Yet there she was asking old leaden-tongued Joe how his running mate’s spread-the-wealth platform differed from standard Marxist redistributionism (from each according to his abilities, etc.) The vice-presidential candidate was reduced to sputtering “Are you kidding?” and “I don’t know who’s writing your questions.”

  I’m surprised the Delaware senator didn’t remind West that when a TV reporter posed impertinent queries to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1929, FDR penned an article for People magazine reminding his fellow Americans to “ask not what your country can do for you.”

  As all good journalists knoweth, you’re only supposed to ask embarrassing questions of Republicans. As a media minion, your curiosity should be confined to Sarah Palin’s wardrobe, her daughter’s pregnancy and Cindy McCain’s past addiction to prescription painkillers.

  West’s grilling of Biden (the campaign retaliated by canceling a later interview with his wife) was so extraordinary for the mainstream media as to constitute a freak occurrence – like a snowstorm in July or a British MP plagiarizing one of Biden’s speeches.

  Media bias in past presidential campaigns (going back to 1964) is nothing next to the way the drive-bys managed, manipulated and mangled coverage of the McCain-Obama race.

  The media doesn’t even try to disguise its schoolgirl crush. According to a survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, by a margin of 70% to 9%, those polled in mid-October said most journalists wanted Obama to win, over John McCain.

  At that stage of the 2004 campaign, the public said the media favored Kerry over Bush by 50% to 22% (comparable to 2000, when 47% of those surveyed said the press liked Gore, versus 23% who said reporters leaned toward Bush).

  The public’s perception is confirmed by a Project for Excellence in Journalism study, which looked at coverage of McCain and Obama in the six weeks following the nominating conventions. It found that while 57% of stories about the GOP nominee were negative and 14% positive, Obama’s positives/negatives were 36%/35%. In other words, there was four times as much negative coverage of McCain as of Obama.

* * * * *

  If the news media is a criminal conspiracy, The New York Times is its Vito Corleone. The Gray Lady sets the tone for the rest of the press, which sounds a lot like the Dixie Chicks humming the Internationale.

  You probably didn’t know that besides editing the editorial pages of the Times, Andrew Rosenthal is also a stand-up comic. Performing live at the Association of National Advertisers annual conference, Rosenthal observed that The New York Times “aims to ensure opinion and news are kept separate, even as the Internet increasingly blurs the line” (as reported by Advertising Age on October 17).

  For sheer hypocrisy, this is hard to beat. In the real world, The New York Times is to objectivity what Jack the Ripper was to women’s rights.

  After seeing their candidate bludgeoned in its news pages for months, on September 22 the McCain campaign charged that The New York Times is “150%” behind Barack Obama. Said McCain spokesman Steve Schmidt: “Whatever The New York Times once was [in the middle of the 19th century?], it is not today by any standard a journalistic organization. It is a pro-Obama advocacy organization that every day attacks the McCain campaign, attacks Senator McCain, attacks Governor Palin and excuses Obama.”

  This is a revelation on par with: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has issues with Israel.

  In late July, Rosenthal’s paragon of objectivity ran an opinion piece by Obama (“My Plan for Iraq”), then rejected a similar offering by McCain – the rationale being that McCain’s piece didn’t “mirror” Obama’s. As a top McCain aide explained, the paper simply didn’t agree with McCain’s Iraq policy, and wanted him to change his position, not “re-work the draft.” That’s fair.

  From the moment McCain announced his choice of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, the Times attack machine went into hyper-drive. A division of investigative reporters was deployed to Juneau, literally sifting through garbage to get dirt on Palin.

  Every aspect of the lady’s personal life has been subjected to media scrutiny.

  On September 2, the Times ran a convention story (“Palin’s Daughter’s Pregnancy Interrupts G.O.P. Convention Script”) worthy of The National Enquirer. Her daughter, Bristol, age 17, was five-months pregnant, the family announced. The Times covered the disclosure with glee. Here was a pro-family candidate who was such a lousy mother that she couldn’t keep her teen-aged daughter from getting pregnant – this from a newspaper that believes in giving condoms to 14-year-olds, without parental notification.

  From there, it was a dizzying descent into tabloid hell. The Times breathlessly informed readers that the Palins eloped on Aug. 29, 1988, and that their first child, Track, was born eight months later.

  The article hit rock bottom, when it reported “some claimed that Ms. Palin had not actually given birth to Trig [her youngest son], but that Bristol had, and that the family had covered it up.” As support for this absurdity, the Times cited photos posted on “various websites” supposedly showing that the governor didn’t look pregnant in the months leading up to Trig’s birth.

  In his speech to the Association of National Advertisers, Rosenthal compared the wild rumors and preposterous theories flying around the Internet with impeccable reporting at The New York Times. But the paper is willing to repeat the most outlandish cyber speculation, if it suits its purposes.

  Rosenthal’s rag was also fascinated with Palin’s wardrobe. The Republican National Committee is reported to have spent $150,000 to outfit her in a manner befitting a vice-presidential candidate. An October 23 New York Times story mentioned unnamed Republicans expressing “consternation” at the Palin “shopping spree” and wondering if this would “compromise her standing as Senator McCain’s chief emissary to working-class voters.”

  Naturally, there was no speculation on how Obama could campaign as a middle-class hero attired in $1,500-suits. At least Palin didn’t get her duds compliments of Tony Rezko.

  But most Times coverage of Palin focused on her alleged lack of experience, corny rhetoric and, well, the contention that she just wasn’t vice-presidential material.

  In an October 3 story on the vice-presidential debate, the Times termed Palin’s performance “unusual theater,” while stressing her use of phrases like “a heck of a lot.”

  The governor was said to rely on a “steady grin, folksy manner and carefully scripted talking points.” In other words, she’s a hick, a rube, a Republican Stepford Wife who can’t function without 3×5 cards.

  You may recall another politician whose intelligence the media questioned because of his use of index cards. He was the president who won the Cold War and gave us the longest peacetime prosperity in our history.

  A Times editorial, which ran the same day, charged that after “a series of stumbling interviews that raised serious doubts even among conservatives [again, unnamed] about her ability to serve as vice president,” Palin “never really got beyond talking points in 90 minutes, mostly repeating clich?s and tired attack lines and energetically refusing to answer far too many questions.”

  For The New York Times, anything not heard recently at a Manhattan cocktail party is a clich? or a tired attack line.

  Compare the foregoing to the Times’s carefully crafted coverage of Biden, whose gaffes are either buried with the TV listings or totally ignored.

  Discussing the current financial crisis, Biden reminded us that in 1929, President Roosevelt (who didn’t become president until 1933) went on television (which wasn’t widely used until the late 1940s) to explain the Great Depression to the American people.

  Speaking to Virginia coal miners, Biden revealed “I am a hard coal miner.” The closest anyone in his family came to working in the mines was a great-grandfather who was a mining engineer.

  At a September 9 rally in Columbia, Missouri, Obama’s running mate urged a Democratic state senator in a wheelchair to “stand up” so the crowd could get a better look at him – all of which was studiously ignored by the mainstream media.

  Then there was Biden’s prediction, at a Seattle fundraiser, that six months after he took office, foreign powers would “test” President Obama the way Khrushchev tested JFK in the Cuban missile crisis, thus implying Obama is so green that his inexperienced hand at the helm would invite an international crisis.

  Other than Fox News, the networks refused to air the remarks. The day after the event, the Times mentioned it briefly in the 11th paragraph of a page A-18 story headlined “Obama Briefly Leaving Trail to See Ill Grandmother.”

  If Palin had said McCain is so old and feeble that his election would have our adversaries circling like vultures, it would have appeared in The New York Times above the page-1 fold.

  The Palin Treatment wasn’t confined to coverage of the Alaska governor. Candidate’s spouses are usually off limits. Not this year. Not when the candidate is John McCain.

  In an October 18 profile, the Times just had to mention Cindy McCain’s past addiction to prescription pain-killers – a story that was old news a decade ago.

  The article noted that the McCains are apart much of the time – he in D.C., she in their Arizona home. For Congressional wives, this is hardly unusual, but, along with the revelation that the couple sometimes vacation separately, the story suggested that Mr. and Mrs. McCain aren’t that close and perhaps their marriage is troubled.

  The how-low-can-they-sink moment came when it was revealed that one of the reporters who wrote the piece tried to contact a friend of the McCains’ 16-year-old daughter, through her FaceBook page, to ask what she knew about Cindy as a mother.

  Even Joe The Plumber got the Times once-over with a blowtorch. An October 17 story (“Real Deal on ‘Joe the Plumber’ Reveals New Slant”) sought to debunk the GOP icon.

  Joe doesn’t have a plumber’s license (gasp!), owes back taxes and is a registered Republican, the story disclosed. And his name isn’t even Joe, it’s Samuel J. Wurzelbacher (who, FYI, owes less than $1,200 in back taxes.) For the Times to attack so minor a figure shows that the Democrats don’t have to spin the news; the media do it for them.

  All that was missing was an expose of the McCains’ dog: He benefited from the financial crisis. He voted with George Bush 96% of the time. His name isn’t Fido; it’s Floyd, and he isn’t even an Irish Setter. He’s really a Golden Retriever.

  The only time the paper mentioned Obama’s friendship with 1960s terrorist William Ayers was to rationalize the relationship or to attack the McCain campaign for raising the issue.

  An October 11 story said Ayers “worked with him [Obama] on a school project and a charitable board and gave a house party when Mr. Obama was running for the U.S. Senate.” This is like saying that Monica Lewinsky was a White House intern who shared certain interests with then-President Clinton.

  The Times didn’t think it was relevant to mention that Ayers and his comrades carried out more than 30 bombings, including the Capitol building and the Pentagon; that Ayers’s current goal is to “teach against oppression” embodied in “America’s history of evil and racism, thereby forcing social transformation”; that Ayers chose Obama to serve as chairman of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge – a group they used to fund radical causes like ACORN – and that the duo served together on the board of the Woods Fund of Chicago, another milch cow for the radical left.

  The New York Times used its editorials to blast McCain and Palin for talking about Ayers (“one of the most appalling campaigns we can remember” the paper wailed.) In so doing, the Republican ticket has moved beyond mere “distortions” of Obama’s record “into the dark territory of race-baiting and xenophobia,” the Times screeched.

  Given that Ayers is white and native-born, this isn’t an easy case to make. But the Times doesn’t have to actually prove a charge, just make it.

* * * * *

  A few more things about which The New York Times and the rest of the establishment media displayed a stunning lack of curiosity include:

   Why Obama sat in a pew of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ for 19 years listening to his preacher/mentor the Rev. Jeremiah (“God damn America!”) Wright spew racism and anti-Americanism.

   Obama’s relationship with Louis Farrakhan. Wright and Father Michael Pfleger (another friend of Obama) are tight with America’s most dangerous demagogue. Obama attended Farrakhan’s 1995 Million Man March, and described it in glowing terms in a community newspaper. Farrakhan practically anointed Obama in a January address to the Nation of Islam.

   Obama’s connection to the leftist ACORN (voter-fraud-r-us).

   Michelle Obama’s embrace of “black power” as a student at Princeton.

   The details of Barack’s acknowledged drug usage – what substances, if any, did he use besides cocaine? When did his addiction end? Was he using drugs as an Illinois state senator? Who was his supplier?

   Obama’s foray into Kenyan politics in support of an avowed Marxist who ran for president.

   Why Mr. Compassion hasn’t done anything for his Kenyan half-brother, who’s living in poverty, or his best friend from prep school days, who just got out of prison?

  Of course, the media’s interest in any of the above would presuppose that they actually wanted to report the news, instead of advancing their ideological agenda by pushing the candidate they adore.

  One of the defining moments of the 1964 Republican National Convention, which nominated Barry Goldwater at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, was when a speaker mentioned the media and angry delegates turned around and shook their fists at the press box. As the French say, the more things change, the more they remain the same.

  Don Feder is a former Boston Herald writer who is now a political/communications consultant. He maintains his own website, DonFeder.com. This essay originally appeared at GrassTopsUSA.com.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page//2008/11/05/

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