November 25, 2002
EITHER HE'S WRONG OR JIM BAKER WAS RIGHT:
Poll: U.S. Jews lukewarm on Bush
(Matthew E. Berger, Nov. 24, 2002, Cleveland Jewish News)
A majority of U.S. Jews rate President Bush's leadership on the Middle East as fair or poor, according to a new poll.
These results sharply contradict what has been perceived as strong support among American Jews for President Bush's handling of the Middle East conflict.
The new study, funded jointly by American for Peace Now and the Arab American Institute, also found that large proportions of both the Jewish and Arab communities in the United States would like the Bush administration to steer a middle course in the peace process, with 45 percent of Jews and 66 percent of Arabs choosing that option over policies that favor either Israel or the Palestinians.
Only 5 percent of Jews surveyed rated Bush's handling of the Middle East as excellent, with 23 percent saying it was good, 38 percent calling it fair and 31 percent describing it as poor.
The poll was produced in late October, and has a 4.5 percent margin of error. The poll was taken by Zogby International, headed by John Zogby.
This looks like a job for Patrick Ruffini
Posted by Orrin Judd at November 25, 2002 9:42 PM
This poll seems to confirm the reasonableness of American Jews in evaluating the situation. The solution to the crisis in the middle east is a middle ground position. Somehow split the territory in a reasonable manner so each people has their own country, or, if possible, eliminate the extreme positions on both sides. If the latter was possible then crisis is solved.
Yes, Arafat, a criminal terrorist needs to go under arrest for war crimes. But Sharon is not neccessarily so innocent, as we think, in that he sponsors unpublicized crimes of terror against innocent Palestines.
Bottom line and everyone's underlying fear and suspicion is that the middle east will be the undoing , in a major way, for the rest of the world, and due to three reasons, oil, extreme religion and our desire, understandably, to be a big brother to the Jews.
If 28% think it's good now, 50% may think it's good in two years. Nothing succeeds like success, and if Bush defeats the terror-sponsors, radically reduces the incidence of terrorism, and creates an opening to democracy in Iraq, Iran, and the Palestinian territories, then many Jews will acknowledge his accomplishments.
I doubt American Jews will be swayed from their generally liberal political outlook no matter what success Bush has abroad.
While it's true that many Jewish voters have traditionally voted left-of-center (though by no means all, and not always--e.g., Nixon garnered 33% of the Jewish vote in 1972), I would venture to say that for many of them, the issues of a) the growing threat and antagonsim to Israel (not that all Jews consider this issue to be a deciding factor), b) recrudescence of global anti-semitism (ditto), and c) the perception that the more liberal and left-wing elements of politics, academe, and journalism are responsible for either espousing those views, or are in sympathy with them will undoubtedly cause a reaction. Add to this the questions, increasingly being raised about the efficacy of social programs (those sacred cows of past years), and I think it would be foolish to deny that this reaction has already taken place; and wonder (though I have no data to back it up) to what extent it influcenced (if at all) the last election. Andrew Sullivan has convincingly analyzed (at least, for me) the widened spectrum of voters' concerns in post-9/11 America, and has coined a new category--"Eagles" (for better or worse)--of voters that fit into no recognizable category. Voters' motivations have become increasingly more complex. In this regard, Jews are no different. And if the Democratic party moves even more leftward in the years to come, the reaction of Jewish voters (and of course not only Jewish voters who have traditionally been aligned with the Democrats) will be even more pronounced.
The poll may be right but the fact that it was funded by an anti-war group, an Arab-American group, and conducted by Zogby (whose poor polling and possibility that his anti-war stance was affecting his polls was the subject of debate before the election) makes me question this poll. I'd think exit polls from the 2002 election on how Jewish voted would be a much better indicator.
One interesting recent phenomenon, underreported, of course, is how few Democrats are encouraging Joe Lieberman to run and that Diane Fienstein decided not to. The ugly truth is that there can not be a Jewish Democrat President. Blacks simply won't vote for them in the numbers Democrats need to win. One can as easily see Joe Lieberman becoming a Republican as any of the others we;'ve been speculating about. His pro-life conversion will even bring him back in line with his religious beliefs.
I agree with Barry - as I said, nothing succeeds like success, and as Republicans demonstrate success with their domestic policies as well as their foreign ones, Jews will come over. So far I think events are lessening their commitment to the Democrats, even if it's not visible in straight preference numbers. 79% of Jews may have voted Democratic in the last election, but they don't feel as bad about the Republican victory as they would have ten or twenty years ago.
It's unfortunate to have to say, but given geo-political realities, I thought Lieberman was an egregious choice for VP. In a more perfect world, he would have been no big deal, but that he himself seemed unaware of the ramifications of his potential election made me wonder about his judgment. (I also felt that his decision to simultaneously run for the Senate to be quite mercenary.)
Barry - now I have to disagree. At some point you have to be willing to say, screw the world and its prejudices; we'll be ourselves and the world'll have to learn to treat us with respect regardless of their dislikes. I would have applauded sending a black ambassador to South Africa during the apartheid regime and I wouldn't object to a Jewish VP either.
Lieberman himself irritates me . . . his moderation cannot be relied upon under pressure . . . Orrin, Lieberman will never party-switch, his wife and his daughters are Hilary-ish leftists who loathe Republicans.
He could be Bush's VP if he switched. As Jeff Greenfield, a law school classmate of his often notes, Lieberman seems always to have his eyes on the prize.
Orrin - you are quick to dole out rewards to Dems if they switch! I hope you're not planning to offer Gore the presidency if he switches?
Before he ran for president in 1988 Al Gore was more conservative than Bob Dole and we gave Dole the nomination. I'm willing to assume that the last 14 years was just his ambition guiding him.