tool with which to woo conservative Republicans: Israel
By Shmuel Rosner
-- -- There's been a
lot of talk lately about John McCain's problem with the more
conservative (and religious) right wing of the Republican Party.
In Super Tuesday McCain won among self-identified conservatives
in only three of the nine states that were covered by the exit
polls I looked at. His real strength is among moderates.
The dominant narrative for the rest of the Republican race could
be McCain's uneasy relationship with the right, writes
Michael Grunwald in Time.
The candidate is making an effort to win over this important
constituency: "I promise you," McCain assured conservatives in
his victory speech, "if I am so fortunate to win your
nomination, I will work hard to ensure that the conservative
philosophy and principles of our great party ... will again win
the votes of a majority of the American people."
The problem he has is clear: How does one win over the more
radical wing of his party without alienating the more centrist
voters on which one relies to help him win not just the
nomination but also the general election. McCain is using a
couple of tools as to try and achieve this goal. One of them,
and not a marginal one, is the State of Israel.
Senator Joe Lieberman is playing a role here. The
staunchest Jewish supporter
McCain has, Lieberman can promise both Jews and Evangelical
voters that McCain is the candidate who will not abandon Israel
(no wonder some people still think Lieberman is
McCain's top pick
for Vice President).
Lieberman also says that McCain understands how significant
the establishment of the state of Israel was. He is an avid
reader of history and also has "a sense of history." He is
familiar with the story of the country. He will not do anything
that will "compromise Israel's security." Lieberman has real
confidence in McCain, a "total comfort level" because "I know
"In his potential outreach to evangelical Christians, Lieberman
could trade on a relationship rooted in a shared concern for the
safety of Israel, as well the respect many evangelicals have for
Lieberman's Orthodox Jewish background and for his activism on
values issues like violence in the media", wrote
Jennifer Siegel of the
Forward, and rightly so.
But who needs Lieberman when it is so clear that the candidate
himself is using the Israel tool with his most problematic
constituency? Two weeks ago I
reported that "it is not
only the Jews who McCain is courting" with gestures and
statements concerning Israel:
Asked about his chances of winning the Republican nomination
despite his poor relations with evangelical Christians, he noted
that an influential segment of this community is very committed
to Israel, and "obviously I have been a very strong proponent to
the State of Israel."
And here is a statement he made earlier, in the summer: "The
State of Israel has never needed your support and your hopes and
your prayers they way they need it today," McCain said. "And God
bless you for your commitment." The occasion: the annual
Christians United for Israel Summit in Washington.
McCain's speech Thursday, at the Conservative Political Action
Conference here in Washington, was designed to hammer this point
home in an even more forceful way: "Those [Democratic] senators
won't recognize and seriously address the threat posed by an
Iran with nuclear ambitions to our ally Israel in the region",
McCain said. Meaning: If you conservatives really care about
Israel as you often say you do - I'm you're man. Here?s some
more: "I intend to make unmistakably clear to Iran we will not
permit a government that espouses the destruction of the State
of Israel as its fondest wish and pledges undying enmity to the
United States to possess the weapons to advance their malevolent
His speech, wrote
Stephen Hayes "was
surprisingly well-received". After the speech, Hayes reports:
[Tom] DeLay told a few reporters that a speech at CPAC could
not make up for McCain's record, but he would not rule out
voting for him. That might not seem like a big deal unless we
recall that DeLay had previously said that McCain "has done more
to hurt the Republican Party than any elected official I know
of." And he'd still consider voting for him?
DeLay is definitely one of those people to which a positive
message concerning Israel is of great importance, and might help
McCain do the trick.
2008 Haaretz. All rights reserved
Click on "comments" below to read or post comments
Be succinct, constructive and
relevant to the story.
We encourage engaging, diverse
and meaningful commentary. Do not include
personal information such as names, addresses,
phone numbers and emails. Comments falling
outside our guidelines – those including
personal attacks and profanity – are not
See our complete
use this link to notify us if you have concerns
about a comment.
We’ll promptly review and remove any
Send Page To a Friend
with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material
is distributed without profit to those who have
expressed a prior interest in receiving the
included information for research and educational
purposes. Information Clearing House has no
affiliation whatsoever with the originator of
this article nor is Information ClearingHouse
endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)