James Besser's blog

Introducing Our New Washington Correspondent

Loyal followers of our Political Insider blog, take heart. We're hard at work making sure that, after the departure of our longtime correspondent James Besser, you will continue to receive well-informed insights about Jewish news on Capitol Hill and elsewhere. We're revamping this blog to include both national news as the 2012 campaign shapes up and local political news from the greater New York Metropolitan area, so stay tuned.

Goodbye, or 'those 24 years sure went by quickly'

Okay, my secret is out: I'm retiring after 24 years on this beat for the Jewish Week (please hold your applause and your decaying vegetables). It seems like the right time to reflect on the changes I've seen in the Jewish world and Jewish politics during that period.

Many of the activists I met way back in the day are still toiling in Washington, and some of the issues that preoccupied them more than two decades ago are still in play, while others are long forgotten. How many remember the Lautenberg Amendment? In 1987, it was on the lips of most Jewish leaders.

Latino-Jewish Congressional Caucus set to launch

Talk about good timing: this week the American Jewish Committee is launching a congressional Latino-Jewish Congressional Caucus, chaired by Reps. Xavier Becerra (D-CA), Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Debbie Wasserman-Shultz (D-FL).

Why good timing? Earlier this month the Census Bureau released a report showing that the nation's Hispanic population is growing faster than just about any other segment.

The Palestinians U.N. Statehood Quickstep: a smart strategy, and an incredibly dumb one

I wrote this week about new Palestinian tactics in their endless effort to avoid direct negotiations with Israel, including the U.N. Quickstep – the accelerating effort to tap dance around negotiations with “official” recognition of Palestinian statehood in the General Assembly in September.

The more I think about it, the more this seems like a very smart strategy – and a very dumb one.

The friendless Anthony Weiner: A double standard, or is he just disliked?

As more Democrats call on Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) to step down in the wake of his admission of lewd Twitter behavior – and the fact that he lied about it for so long – I keep wondering if there's a double standard at work here.

After all, other members of Congress have been caught in worse sex scandals without putting their jobs in jeopardy or getting pounded on by members of their own party.

Was Anthony Weiner a rising political star before Tweeting himself into political oblivion?

I've been amused by all these stories referring to Rep. Anthony Weiner, who yesterday admitted he may have Tweeted himself right out of a job with lewd pictures and messages sent to women who are not his wife, as a “rising star” in Jewish and Democratic politics

There's little question Weiner is entertaining, as members of Congress go; his rants at hearings, immortalized on YouTube, provide great comic relief from the grim business of legislating in today's polarized political environment.

Weiner's woes and the politics of repentance

Until now I've refrained from blogging about the Twitter troubles of Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY), mostly because it was so unclear to me whether the charges that he distributed suggestive photos of himself through the social networking site were accurate or just another Internet-driven political hit job.

Wisc. Dems want Feingold to run for Kohl's seat

Politico is reporting that former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), who lost his bid for a fourth term in last year's election, may be the top choice of Wisconsin Democrats to run for the seat being vacated by Sen. Herb Kohl next year.

But the progressive pol is also party activists' top choice to run against the state's embattled Republican governor, Scott Walker, according to a second straw poll.

Wisc. Dems want Feingold to run for Kohl's seat

Politico is reporting that former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), who lost his bid for a fourth term in last year's election, may be the top choice of Wisconsin Democrats to run for the seat being vacated by Sen. Herb Kohl next year.

But the progressive pol is also party activists' top choice to run against the state's embattled Republican governor, Scott Walker, according to a second straw poll.

Lawrence Eagleburger dead at 80

Former Secretary of State Lawrence S. Eagleburger, who enjoyed particularly good relations with the pro-Israel establishment in Washington, died on Saturday at the age of 80.

Eagleburger took over as acting Secretary of State after the 1992 resignation of James Baker III, who left to honcho George H.W. Bush's unsuccessful campaign for a second term .

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