The PJ Tatler

Politico Calls this a Democratic 'Rift.' I Call It an Opportunity

Big surprise, two Soros-funded lefty outfits don’t much like the state of Israel. But the two outfits in question are very influential on the left, and may do real damage to the longstanding link between Democrats and the Jewish vote.

The Center for American Progress, the party’s key hub of ideas and strategy, and Media Matters, a central messaging organization, have emerged as vocal critics of their party’s staunchly pro-Israel congressional leadership and have been at odds, at times, with Barack Obama’s White House, which has acted as a reluctant ally to Benjamin Netanyahu’s Israeli government.

The differences are ones of tone – but also of bright lines of principle – and while they have haven’t yet made any visible impact on Democratic policy, they’ve shaken up the Washington foreign policy conversation and broadened the space for discussing a heretical and often critical stance on Israel heretofore confined to the political margins.

The daily battle is waged in Media Matters’ emails, on CAP’s blogs, Middle East Progress and ThinkProgress and most of all on Twitter, where a Media Mattters official, MJ Rosenberg, regularly heaps vitriol on those who disagree as “Iraq war neocon liar” (the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg) or having “dual loyalties” to the U.S. and Israel (the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin). And while the Center for American Progress tends to walk a more careful line, warm words for Israel can be hard to find on its blogs.

Events of recent years such as GOP attacks on Obama as insufficiently loyal to Israel, Israel’s controversial raid on a Turkish ship bound for Gaza and debates over the Iranian nuclear program have deepened the divide between some on the Democratic left and the party’s mainstream foreign policy apparatus.

There’s more and it’s worth a read. It’s no secret where Obama’s own ideological loyalties lie. The Center for American Progress runs the blog Think Progress. Obama, really his speechwriters, borrowed from that blog to build one of the lies he told in Tuesday’s speech. CAP is on the anti-Israel side of the Democratic rift. Its Media Matters allies are the ones falsely accusing American Jews of “dual loyalty.” Soros funds this swamp. This is the president who demanded that Israel go back to its indefensible 1967 borders as preconditions for peace. Which side does Obama seem to be listening to?

That the CAP is allowing anti-Israel commentary into its bloodstream is significant beyond its influence on Obama. When it was established, the CAP was supposed to be the left’s equivalent of the right’s Heritage Foundation, a mainstream idea factory to produce serious policy. It was also a holding pen for Democratic administrations-in-waiting. Now, it’s a font of rhetoric that edges toward outright anti-Semitism. In the Democratic dog, CAP is a head, not a tail. Its shift represents a serious directional problem for the Democrats.

The Republicans, meanwhile, are if anything stronger friends of Israel than ever. Just today, all of the GOP candidates except Ron Paul delivered strong remarks to the Republican Jewish Coalition. Here are Rick Perry’s, which were quite good. Newt Gingrich also delivered a great address, pledging to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Mitt Romney hammered away at Obama’s soft Israel policy. Chris Christie blew the roof off. All of the candidates did fairly well. The GOP really is Israel’s most reliable friend in Washington.

President Obama and his policies across the Middle East present the eventual Republican nominee with a golden opportunity to break off part of the Democratic coalition. The good news is, most of the candidates seem to realize that.