Sit down and clear your head before reading…
Last week the Republican Jewish Coalition published an ad making an issue of Pat Buchanan’s saying “I think Barack is right, we ought to talk to the Iranians” and “he’s right to say the Palestinian people have got a terrible deal over there and their suffering ought to be recognized. That’s Obama’s position. It’s my position.” (Click here to read my critique of the ad.)
Now the RJC has a new ad, this one featuring positive quotes from Democrats about John McCain. One of the quotes comes from Ira Forman, the National Jewish Democratic Council: “I have to take my hat off to [McCain] for putting principle in front of politics… I wish there were more John McCains.”
As it turns out, the quote in question comes from a 1999 JTA article. And, while these days Forman is pretty harsh in his criticisms of John McCain, the NJDC leader is not being quoted out of context. At the time, he was expressing genuine admiration for McCain, after the Arizona senator declared that there was no place in the GOP for Buchanan.
Here comes the punch line: George W. Bush, then the governor of Texas and a candidate for president, took the opposite view, arguing that there was a place for Buchanan in the GOP primary race. That position drew criticism from Forman. And guess who defended Bush?
The Republican Jewish Coalition last week said Buchanan’s views were abhorrent and that he had no place in the GOP. But Matt Brooks, the group’s executive director, defended Bush’s stance, saying it made practical sense.
“What (Bush) has done is to make sure Buchanan can’t leave the party and take Republican support with him (by) saying he was forced out of the party,” Brooks said.
JTA’s Eric Fingerhut spoke to Brooks and Forman. The Jewish Democratic leader called the recent ad “pretty ironic” given the back-and-forth over Buchanan. “Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Chuck Schumer and I have two things in common,” he continued. “The first is we thought the old John McCain had qualities you could compliment, but the new John McCain is radically different. The second is we’re all endorsing Barack Obama for president.”
Forman said that using the quote is a distortion because he was talking about a different John McCain. “I still wish there were more old John McCains,” he said. But the McCain of 2008 “is a radical new one” and “bears no resemblance to the John McCain of 1999.” These days McCain “is someone who’s willing to defend his campaign lies.”
As for Brooks… he said Forman’s quote “speaks for itself” and is “an absolutely legitimate quote” even if it is nine years old. It shows Forman believes “John McCain is a principled person.”
Brooks said that back in 1999 he was only “explaining Bush’s position,” not supporting it. He noted that the article does say the RJC had previously called for kicking Buchanan out of the party.
The point of the ad is to “underline that John McCain has always crossed party lines and had the respect of leading Democrats.”