One of the nice features of the Washington Post is their daily Federal Page, which periodically profiles people the Post considers “players”, as in big shots or soon-to-be big shots. Today’s profilee is Rep. Eric I. Cantor, Republican of Virginia. The title of this entry is the Post’s subheading, and of course it’s ethnic politics 101. Jewish voters are presupposed to be inclined to vote for those who self-identify as Jews. Fair enough; it often works.The Post, of course, can’t let any anti-Semitic stone go unturned, so it turns to everyone’s favorite apologist for terror, one of those annoying Ziggy Zogbys, this time James. Zogby raps that the Republican attacks on Arafat and the Palestinians have helped undermine the Middle East peace process. Right. Palestinian terrorism, the wonton killing of children and women (brave, noble sons of Arabia…), have had nothing to do with that. And, by the way, it’s hard to make peace when one side will not officially, in writing, acknowledge the other side’s right to even exist. This is gratuitous even for the Post; must be some particular bias against Republicans or Jews or both. Hmmm….
Getting back to the profile, its thesis is that Jewish voters will like Rep. Cantor mostly because of his strong support for Israel; and that Republicans generally are stronger friends of Israel than the Democrats. This should surprise no one who has been paying any attention to what people such as Tom DeLay, Dick Armey, JC Watts, Bill Bennett, Donald Rumsfeld, et al have been saying these past few years. Not to mention the fact that Dubya has met with Arik Sharon more times than any of his predecessors saw any of Sharon’s predecessors.
Back when I was a mere pup (pre-1967), it was the Democrats who could be counted on as stalwart friends of Israel. This was for two principal reasons. First, most Jews were Democrats because of their strong support for labor, civil rights, and other progressive causes. Support of Israel, at that time, believe it or not, was seen by most folks as embodying all three. Memories of the Shoah were still fresh, people.
Second, the Republicans were perceived by many Jews as having two fatal flaws. One was the perception that quite a few “country club” Republicans were anti-semitic in their attempts to keep their schools and country clubs white and “Christian”. The second flaw was the more real fact that the Republican Party was at war with itself as regards America’s proper role in the world. The isolationists (it’s an oversimplification, but think the Robert A. Taft wing) were attempting to correct what they saw as 20 years of New Deal and Fair Deal internationalism; more forward-looking Republicans, including Ike, knew that America had strode boldly onto the world’s centerstage as the prime defender of freedom, and could not leave.
Also, strange to remember, back then, the (Scoop) Jackson wing of the Democratic Party was a serious force for good in this country. As in, a strong, anti-communist national defense, coupled with a socially liberal program at home. Of course, back then, “socially liberal” meant a color-blind society with equal opportunity for all; not the equality of results, quota-forced representation, multiculturalism that masquerades today as “liberal”. Back then, one could be a liberal and support a strong military, both here and in Israel, as we were fighting the same enemy — evil totalitarianism and the terrorism it supported in Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Palestine.
So, what’s a liberal (read: neoconservative) to do? Vote Republican; they’ve changed into the party that will protect Americans.