This is really cool; the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) and the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) actually agree about a presidential candidate
The subject of this rare amity: Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), the libertarian/Tea Partier who today announced his candidacy for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
"The National Jewish Democratic Council is deeply troubled by Representative Ron Paul's candidacy for president in 2012,” said David A. Harris, the NJDC president and CEO. “Paul has never missed an opportunity to vote against the U.S.-Israel relationship and has consistently grandstanded against U.S. financial and diplomatic support for Israel. American Jews should be deeply alarmed that someone with such a deliberately miserable record on Israel would be a major candidate in today's Republican Party."
Well, “major candidate” may be putting a bit too much partisan spin on things. As he has done in the past, Paul is expected to do well in straw polls and fundraising, but I haven’t found a single political expert who thinks he has a chance of winning the nomination.
Still, Paul's announced candidacy is a gift to Jewish Democrats as they counter the perennial GOP effort to portray their party as soft on Israel.
The RJC's Matt Brooks had this to say: "As Americans who are committed to a strong and vigorous foreign policy, we are deeply concerned about the prospective presidential campaign of Congressman Ron Paul. While Rep. Paul plans to run as a Republican, his views and past record place him far outside of the Republican mainstream. His candidacy, as we've seen in his past presidential campaigns, will appeal to a very narrow constituency in the U.S. electorate. Throughout his public service, Paul has espoused a dangerous isolationist vision for the U.S. and our role in the world. He has been a virulent and harsh critic of Israel during his tenure in Congress. Most recently Paul gave an interview in which he voiced his objection to the recent killing of Osama Bin Laden."
Brooks' partisan spin is that Paul's views don't reflect the GOP mainstream, which is true – but doesn't take into account the growing influence of the Tea Party movement, a faction with a strong streak of isolationism.
Look for the Dems to work hard to highlight Paul's credentials as a card-carrying Republican and for the GOPers to say "Ron who?" and insist that Paul, who first ran for the presidency as a Libertarian in 1988, is an outlier in the party.
But that may be harder to do with a relatvely lackluster flock of GOP contenders - and a recent CNN poll showing Paul doing better in a run against President Obama than any other Republican.
One more piece of political news with a Jewish twist: Sen. Herb Kohl, a Jewish Democrat from Wisconsin who's finishing his fourth term, announced today he will not seek reelection next year.
With Wisconsin's turn to the GOP in the last election, that could be dicey for the Democrats, who desperately don't want to give up their slim Senate majority. But things are looking better for the Dems in the Cheesehead State as the backlash continues to grow over the union busting efforts of the new Republican governor, Scott Walker.
Two years ago, Wisconsin - with a relatively small Jewish population - had two Jewish senators: Kohl and Russ Feingold. Feingold lost a reelection battle last year, and now Kohl is on his way out.
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