Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Let's Have Straight Talk on Jewish Issues, Senator McCain, by Gidon D. Remba

If you thought that the world’s most ignoble occupation was prostitution, think again: it’s politics. That’s right. Only a politician could solemnly pledge integrity, honesty and decency as nothing more than a ploy to get our votes, then twist the truth beyond recognition all the way to the polling booth.

Sure, all politicians lie. But not all politicians lie all of the time. Watching the 2008 election season closely, I’ve discovered a trusty rule of thumb: the more a politician’s positions suffer from moral and intellectual bankruptcy, the more they lie. How else did you think we got stuck with George W. Bush? Because he waged and won a superior battle of ideas?

A former top Republican strategist has said of Bush’s former senior campaign advisor Karl Rove that his “goal is never just to win, it is to destroy your opponent, [use] character assassination, whatever it takes. There is almost nothing Karl would not do. For example, religion was not part of Karl’s life but he viewed it as a political tool to be manipulated.” Only now the term “Rovian politics” has, for many, become redundant.

Though I have not supported McCain for President, I, like many others, admired the man for his willingness to stick to principle and sometimes buck the neoconservative mania of his party. Arianna Huffington notes that “his nobility and his true reformer years have given way to pandering in the service of ambition.” She has compiled a frighteningly long roster of recent McCain lies and deceptions, most of which the media have ignored. But when McCain hired as a campaign advisor Karl Rove, what did we expect? An honest, thoughtful issue-oriented contest? A Talmudic debate?

But McCain’s fall from grace began well before the campaign. Huffington sums up just a few of the most egregious charges in the case against him: He now wants to make permanent Bush’s good-for-the rich tax cuts that “he twice voted against, saying he could not ‘in good conscience support’ them; the campaign finance reformer [has been] replaced with a candidate whose campaign is run by lobbyists and fueled by loophole rides on his wife's jet; the hard-line stance against torture replaced by a vote allowing water boarding…and the embracing of the disastrous policies of a man he so abhorred he would not vote for him.” But we’re just getting warmed up. McCain has repeatedly misled the public with false charges that the Democrats favor “nationalized government-run healthcare,” evoking the specter of socialized medicine. Respected media outlets like CNN not only fail to correct such gross distortions; they even parrot them.

On issues vital to Israel’s security which will determine the future stability—or instability—of the Middle East like the war in Iraq and threatening war with Iran, McCain promises to out-cowboy George W. Bush. The New Yorker’s Hendrik Hertzberg notes that “McCain wants to stay in Iraq until no more Americans are getting killed, no matter how long it takes and how many Americans get killed achieving that goal—that is, the goal of not getting any more Americans killed. And once that goal is achieved, we'll stay.”

McCain promised the American people to pursue a presidential campaign that is more like a respectful argument among friends than a bitter clash of enemies. He suggested that his conduct during this contest will demonstrate why he is the candidate best able to build a bipartisan consensus to address our nation’s challenges: “I intend to wage this campaign and to govern this country in a way that [Americans] would be proud of me.” And “I’m going to raise the level of political dialog in America, and I’m going to treat my opponents with respect and demand that they treat me with respect.” He promised straight talk.

Despite these vows, he has joined those attempting to tar and feather Senator Obama with the outrageous remarks of Rev. Wright, which Obama has roundly rejected as “divisive,” “destructive,” and “appalling.” Even after being falsely attacked himself for miscegenation by Karl Rove in 2000, McCain has done little to stop a race-baiting TV commercial being run against Obama by the Republican party in North Carolina replete with Wright video clips. Why call for a frank discussion on the merits of his own and Obama’s plans for the war in Iraq or our ailing economy, when it’s so much more fun and effective to encourage us to dwell on the revolting Reverend or AWOL lapel pins?

Now his campaign has tried to paint Obama as the favorite candidate of the Israel-hating terrorists of Hamas. Yet McCain knows full well that Obama’s clearly stated position is the same as his, that the US and Israel must refuse to talk with Hamas until it recognizes Israel, renounces violence and accepts past agreements. What’s more, the Hamas official who referred to Obama did so while praising President Carter for negotiating peace between Egypt and Israel, and expressing hope that the former president could broker peace between Israel and Hamas. But these little facts would get in the way of destroying his opponent and winning at any price. But enough about Hillary Clinton…

McCain’s willingness to pander for votes without regard for moral scruples led him to seek out, and to continue to welcome the endorsement of Rev. John Hagee, a bigot whose views are no less offensive than those of Rev. Wright. Hagee writes in his recent book “Jerusalem Countdown” that the Jews are responsible for their own persecution: “It was the disobedience and rebellion of the Jews, God’s chosen people, to their covenantal responsibility to serve only the one true God, Jehovah, that gave rise to the opposition and persecution that they experienced beginning in Canaan and continuing to this very day….How utterly repulsive, insulting, and heartbreaking to God for His chosen people to credit idols with bringing blessings He had showered upon the chosen people. Their own rebellion had birthed the seed of anti-Semitism that would arise and bring destruction to them for centuries to come…” Of course, the rebellion of the Jews, and the anti-Semitism it breeds, will end only when the Jews accept Jesus as their savior.

Adding insult to injury, the McCain campaign has now appointed as national finance co-chair none other than Fred Malek, whose dubious background includes counting and demoting Jews at the Bureau of Labor Statistics during the Nixon Administration. And did I mention that McCain has declared America to be a Christian nation? How many fundamentalist evangelical voters did you say there were Karl?

If like me, you mourn the corruption of American politics, and long to see a presidential contest that is respectful, civil, and truthful, free of lies and smears, a campaign revolving around a forthright debate on policies and ideas and how they affect us and our children, then I invite you to join me and many others in endorsing an open letter to Senator McCain at http://www.mccainmustdenouncehagee.com/. Demand that the Senator renounce the endorsement of extremists like Pastor Hagee, repudiate his hateful anti-Jewish remarks, and dismiss anti-Semites like Fred Malek from his campaign. Take a stand for straight talk on Jewish issues—and on all that is at stake in this fateful election.

Gidon D. Remba, a veteran Israel activist and commentator, is editor and publisher of the http://www.jewsforobama.com/ e-newsletter. He blogs at http://tough-dove-israel.blogspot.com/

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