September 14, 2003


Having a Jewish wife won't save Dean (Zev Chafets, September 14, 2003, Daily News)

Howard Dean has an Israel problem.

Last week, in the presidential free-for-all in Baltimore, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) blasted Dean for saying during a campaign stop a few days earlier that he wouldn't take sides in the Middle East. Dean added that he'd be "evenhanded," which in standard State Department English means pro-Palestinian. Later, Dean pleaded ignorance of the significance of the coded phrase. [...]

Dean has denounced Lieberman's complaint as "despicable" and proclaimed himself to be a friend of Israel in the mode of Bill Clinton. Nice try. Clinton, who served at a time of apparent peacemaking, did take on the role of honest broker, but he did it with Israel's blessing. Nobody in Jerusalem ever seriously doubted Clinton's essential sympathy and support.

Dean looks a lot less like Clinton than like Jimmy Carter, the President most associated with what Dean calls "the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party." Carter, an instinctive appeaser and champion of Third World dictatorships, took the Arab side in the dispute over the West Bank and Gaza, labeled Israeli settlements illegal and generally tried to turn American public opinion against Israel.

Dean's unmistakable ideological resemblance to Carter won't help the Vermont Democrat among supporters of Israel.

Here's a hint to the Dean campaign: He won't be able to hide behind Bill Clinton - or Dr. Judith Steinberg.

On a campaign stop in Iowa, Dean was asked by a woman named Norma Jean Sharp about his position on Israel. According to The Weekly Standard, Dean replied, "They'll be all right. ... I'm not going to let anything happen to Israel. My wife is Jewish."

One other way in which Mr. Dean resembles Jimmy Carter is his stubborn sanctimony. Rather than just admit he screwed up the Israel question royally and starting over, Dean is going to dig in his heels and drive himself even further off the reservation, because in his own mind he's right and anyone who would question him is not only wrong but inherently deceitful.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 14, 2003 10:09 AM

Carter's sanctamony was in part offset during his 1996 campaign run by his low-key nature. Dean, on the other hand, combines the same "I'm smarter than everyone else" attitude with an intensity at times that makes John McCain look like Sean Penn's Jeff Spicoli from "Fast Times at Ridgemont High."

If people thought Al Gore could be nanny-like at times, lecturing down to the electorate with his tones, wait until Dean really gets going -- he'll be the sadictic political science professor who calls you an idiot in front of the entire class becuase your theory of the world doesn't jibe with his.

Posted by: John at September 14, 2003 12:54 PM

Carter's sanctamony was in part offset during his 1996 campaign run by his low-key nature.

That's 1976, of course. By 1996, Carter was only screwing up with situation with North Korea's nuclear program, and leaving Bill Clinton to inflict the rest of the damage.

Posted by: John at September 14, 2003 1:01 PM

Dr. Steinberg does not participate in politics. What does she know about her husband, that the rest of us don't? Ordinarily, I would expect that many Jews would support Dean just because his wife is Jewish. However, I suspect that many Jews (myself included) have ruled him out on the basis of his comments about the Arab-Israeli war. It just sounds like one of those marriages where the husband is engulfed by some strange obsession, like stock car racing, and the wife has just decided, well he is a good father and a good provider, I'll just ignore this and get on with my life.
Does Dr. Steinberg think he is a crank?

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at September 14, 2003 8:32 PM

Where is Philip Stropshire to defend Dr. Dean? I thought for sure he would have some comment on this thread.

Posted by: jd watson at September 15, 2003 12:43 AM

I am close friends with a Dean campaigner here in NYC. The couple has apparently been caught on camera fighting many times. Expect this to come out if he gets the nomination.

Posted by: Matt C at September 15, 2003 1:39 PM