Friday, September 5, 2008

McCain's Israel Omission

A party convention speech is an important thing. It gives us a sense of a candidate's priorities. So what are we to make of the fact that, after allowing his convention to be used as a platform to batter Barack Obama on Israel (see, for example, Rudy Giuliani's speech), John McCain took to the stage on the most important political night of his life and didn't mention Israel, even once?

More than 4,400 words, by my count, and no mention of the Jewish State.

I know McCain supports Israel. And I suppose I might be feeling more charitable -- more willing to overlook his unfortunate omission -- were it not for groups like the Republican Jewish Coalition, which consistently seeks to use Israel as a wedge issue against Democrats. (Its home page states: "A Risky Choice Just Got Riskier: Obama-Biden," claiming the Democrats have a poor record on Israel; it features articles like "Why Sarah Palin Will Likely Be Better For Israel Than Joe Biden.") Likely? They do this, despite the fact that it's ultimately detrimental to Israel, the very cause they espouse. (As even AIPAC notes, the best thing for Israel is strong, bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress.)

Unlike McCain, Obama did choose to mention the Jewish State during his moment in the international spotlight. (My wife was the one who pointed this out to me -- it meant something to her.)

"You don't defeat a terrorist network that operates in 80 countries by occupying Iraq," he said. "You don't protect Israel and deter Iran just by talking tough in Washington. You can't truly stand up for Georgia when you've strained our oldest alliances. If John McCain wants to follow George Bush with more tough talk and bad strategy, that is his choice, but that is not the change that America needs."

Indeed, in his speech, McCain was all too happy to talk tough.

"We have dealt a serious blow to Al Qaida in recent years, but they're not defeated, and they'll strike us again, if they can," he said. "Iran remains the chief state sponsor of terrorism and is on the path to acquiring nuclear weapons."

Obama, of course, talked tough on Iran, too. He said:

"I will end this war in Iraq responsibly and finish the fight against Al Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan. I will rebuild our military to meet future conflicts, but I will also renew the tough, direct diplomacy that can prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and curb Russian aggression. I will build new partnerships to defeat the threats of the 21st century: terrorism and nuclear proliferation, poverty and genocide, climate change and disease."

I'm a writer -- a words guy. Words matter, especially when they are spoken by presidential candidates. Listen to the difference in their approaches.

McCain speaks in a language of fear, warning of imminent attacks. (See yesterday's post: "A Tale of Two Speeches") Obama speaks of partnerships and building up our military strength. He criticizes Bush's strategic decision to attack Iran. He presents an argument: By that action, we have neglected the true fight against terrorist networks in 80 countries across the globe. He speaks of deterring Iran (rather than bomb, bomb, bomb ... bomb, bomb b, bombing it), protecting Israel. I looked it up -- it means: "to defend or guard from attack, invasion, loss, annoyance, insult, etc.; cover or shield from injury or danger."

He made this pledge on a world stage before 42 million people.

McCain, apparently, didn't feel the need to mention it.

Now, I know McCain supports Israel. But he also picked Sarah Palin, as his running mate.

A recent Jewish Telegraphic Agency article includes these startling grafs:

Republicans have been scouring the archives to uncover evidence of Palin’s outreach to Jews and to Israel.
Her single substantive act is signing a resolution in June marking 60 years of Alaska-Israel relations, launched improbably in 1948 when Alaska Airlines helped shepherd thousands of Yemeni Jews to Israel. However, she did not initiate the legislation: Its major mover was John Harris, the speaker of the Alaska House.
The paucity of material led the Republican Jewish Coalition to tout the appearance of a small Israeli flag propped against a window of the state Capitol in an online video in which Palin touts the virtues of hiking Juneau.

The best the RJC can do, in terms of her Israel record, is a small Israeli flag in an online video? And yet they are not only okay with this -- they are pushing Palin, hard, on the Jewish community? This, after months criticizing Obama for his supposedly thin Israel resume?

Look, I'm nothing if not a Neurotic Democrat. I understand that rational and electable are two very different things. Do I need more proof than the AP article today, indicating that in the latest polling, Palin is more popular than Obama or McCain, with a 58 percent favorability rating? For picking her, McCain's favorability ratings jumped 12 percent. About 51 percent believe reporters are deliberately trying to hurt Palin. Her numbers are better than Bidens'. And Friday mornings' numbers already see the start of a McCain bounce that could totally wipe out Obama's.

Thank god for my sister, who, today -- depressed in the aftershock of this GOP convention -- emailed me a Buddhist saying that she has on her wall, in her apartment in New York City: "He who says it cannot be done should get out of the way of the person doing it."

We have 60 days until the election. I know it seems daunting to think about getting out and pitching in. But look -- when I was in graduate school for writing at Johns Hopkins, a teacher of mine gave me a trick to get us going: Don't think about writing every day -- that may seem too hard -- just start out with 30 minutes a day, and go from there. Later in my career, a teacher at the Iowa Writers' Workshop went even further, saying: Write for one minute a day. That's it. You'll see, he said -- it will turn into more.

Start there. Take one minute a day, for the next 60 days, and do something for this cause. Send an email to a wavering friend or family member. Send the Obama campaign $5 through the Web. Put a bumpersticker on your car, a button on your shirt, a lawn sign in front of your house. Do something -- no matter how small -- every day for the next two months. It will matter. And it will add up!

In his acceptance speech last night, John McCain said: "My friends, if you find faults with our country, make it a better one. If you're disappointed with the mistakes of government, join its ranks and work to correct them ... Fight for what's right for our country. Fight for the ideals and
character of a free people."

John McCain -- you can bet your bottom dollar we will.

Shabbat Shalom.


Loyal said...

I wouldn't make much of the Rasmussen Poll, teh timing and its sampling frame of such an instapoll are not reliable. It's main purpose and value is to garner attetnion, not to be a reliable snapshot of anything.

Some fun stuff.
Not So Competent Republicans There's a bunch on this at TPM who broke the story.

Some truth to be told:
Not so much a hero as a survivor

And back to your topic.

Larry Brickner coupla weeks ago at Palin's church

with Politico's take

Happy posting, ND!


Loyal said...

Damn, it did it again with that %20 thing. All of the posts work except this one:


Loyal said...

That last one was on me. Third time is the charm.



Loyal said...

ok ok I get it blogger doesn't want me linking to tpm, although G-d knows why. It keeps inserting before the

ND, any idea why???


Loyal said...

Last for now. 538 on the polling results:

Nate Silver on Daily Polls


NeuroticDem said...

Thanks, Loyal --
especially for the 538 stuff on Rasmussen. That helps ND. I know we don't really get an accurate picture until a week or so, too, but it's tough, with Palin working her magic.