Political Insider

A look behind the scenes in the political world

AIPAC policy conference: where’s the buzz?

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009 Why does there seem to be much less buzz than usual about  this year’s AIPAC policy conference, which begins on Sunday at the Washington Convention Center? Don’t get me wrong; nobody doubts the policy conference will be the most spectacular Jewish political event of the year, as usual, or that Monday’s banquet will pull in throngs of lawmakers and other top politicians that other organizations can only dream of.  But chatter about the conference has  been surprisingly thin this year.

Good news for Jewish groups on the domestic front: Hate crimes, immigration reform, budget

Thursday, April 30th, 2009 It’s been a good week for Jewish groups active on the domestic front. On Wednesday the House passed by a 249-175 vote a hate crimes bill Jewish groups have had as a legislative priority for more than a decade.  For the past eight years former President Bush promised to veto it, but the strong Democratic majorities in both Houses and a new president who supports the measure have dramatically improved its chances, and backers are moving quickly to take advantage of the altered political landscape.

Big surprise: Jewish Ds and Rs disagree on Obama “100 days”

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009 Here’s a stunner: Jewish Democrats think President Barack Obama has done a great job during his first 100 days in office and Jewish Republicans disagree. Some Jews on the left say the new administration has become too centrist for their liking, but centrist Jewish groups that focus heavily on domestic matters couldn’t be happier.

Jewish Democrats, Republicans spin Specter switch

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009 Twenty four hours after Sen. Arlen Specter’s defection from the Republicans to the Democrats, you can see the spin machines on both sides of the aisle grinding out what they hope will become the central narratives of this political game changer.  Yesterday the leading Jewish Democrats and Republicans offered the Jewish Week what  turned out to be perfect distillations of their respective parties’ Specter spins.

Specter’s bombshell

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009 You can’t blame Jewish Democrats for being jubilant; not only has Sen. Arlen Specter’s defection to their side of the aisle dealt a major blow to Republican efforts to slow down President Obama’s legislative agenda, but it represented another symbolic swipe at a Republican PR effort that continues to insist the party is making big inroads with Jewish voters.

Reform leader, former Holocaust Museum official arrested in Darfur protest

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009 When it comes to Darfur demonstrations, Rabbi David Saperstein of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is a recidivist. On Monday Saperstein was arrested in a protest at the Sudanese embassy just down the street from RAC headquarters, along with several members of Congress and a former official of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council.

Update: Sabato on Obama’s Jewish vote

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009 A recent Political Insider item on University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato’s new book, “The Year of Obama: How Barack Obama Won the White House,” produced a flurry of email. Why, readers asked, does Sabato put the Jewish vote for Obama at 83 percent while earlier newspaper accounts had it at 78 percent?

Hate crimes bill: could 2009 be the year?

Monday, April 27th, 2009 You have to give this to major Jewish groups like the Anti-Defamation League: they’re persistent.  A bunch of them have been lobbying for a major new hate crimes bill for more than a decade, and even though it has passed numerous votes in both Houses of Congress the measure never quite makes it into law.

Minnesota voters to Coleman: Give it up, Norm

Monday, April 27th, 2009 Periodically during his six-month battle to win a Minnesota Senate race a recount showed he lost by 312 votes, former Sen. Norm Coleman, a Republican, has suggested voters should just do the whole thing over again.

Election 2008: Jews part of dramatic political realignment

Sunday, April 26th, 2009 University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato, possibly the most quoted political scientist on Planet Earth and maybe beyond,  has published a new book on the 2008 election, which he sees as one of a rare species:  transformational elections that change the landscape of American politics for years to come.
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