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Political tidbits: Obama “first Jewish president”?

  • The Chicago Tribune, quoting Abner Mikva, asks whether Barack Obama is the "first Jewish president," noting that "it is clear that his political career, from its South Side inception to the audacious run for the White House, was nurtured and enabled by a close-knit network of Chicago Jews":

"I use a Yiddish expression, yiddishe neshuma, to describe him," explains Mikva. "It means a Jewish soul. It’s an expression my mother used. It means a sensitive, sympathetic personality, someone who understands where you are coming from."

  • The National Jewish Democratic Council’s Aaron Keyak, in the Huffington Post, points out a new NBC/WSJ poll showing Sarah Palin’s popularity among the GOP base:

According to this poll, Governor Sarah Palin has a favorable/unfavorable rating among Republicans of 73-13 percent. That’s right, for those Jewish Republicans who held their nose and voted for the McCain/Palin ticket, for those Jewish Republicans who chose to write-in their favorite celebrity, or even for those who voted for Obama/Biden but still align themselves with the Republican Party, Palin isn’t going anywhere.

  • John McCain’s top pollster, Bill McInturff, says using Jeremiah Wright as an issue would not have helped the Republican’s campaign and could have "destroyed his presidency" if he were elected, reports Ben Smith in Politico:

"I said ‘Look, if f we do win we’ll win with about 273 electoral votes and we’ll lose the popular vote by 3 million,’" recalled McInturff of the internal discussions about cutting attack ads with Wright. "If [McCain] had used that issue that way, you’d already be delegitimized as a president. You couldn’t function as government."

  • The Coleman-Franken Senate recount doesn’t appear to be any closer to ending, reports the St. Paul Pioneer Press:


Today, two state Supreme Court judges, two Ramsey County judges and the secretary of state will wade deep into one of the thornier issues of Minnesota’s U.S. Senate recount: whether that count should include mistakenly rejected absentee ballots. The answer from that panel, which will gather as the state canvassing board, is unlikely to settle the issue….

If the panel decides to include the improperly rejected ballots, it is unclear whether the entire recount process — done over three weeks at more than 100 sites across the state — would have to restart or whether the board could come up with another way to count the votes on those ballots.

  • Daniel Seidemann, at the Washington Post’s PostGlobal blog, takes exception to Aaron David Miller’s suggestion that Obama should make an Israeli-Syrian peace deal, rather than an Israeli-Palestinian agreement, his top priority:

Aaron, we are hanging on by our fingernails to the two-state solution.

If President Obama heeds your counsel, the day may not be far off when you ask, "Is it still there?" and I will be compelled to respond: "No, it’s gone". And just how devastating this will be to America’s global and regional interests, and to the viability of the State of Israel, needs no elaboration.

  • The New York Times reports on the controversy over the election of a Palm Beach County Republican committeeman with ties to white supremacist organizations:

Officially, the Republican Party of Palm Beach County rejected Derek Black’s recent election as a committeeman because he failed to sign a loyalty oath.

But such technicalities hardly explain how a minuscule election — Mr. Black won 167 of 287 votes — has attracted the attention of hate groups nationwide and opponents like the Anti-Defamation League. This, rather, seems to reflect heightened sensitivity to issues of race in the age of Obama, and the intrusive power of history.

  • Rahm Emanuel goes to hear his children perform at their Jewish day school’s concert and has to avoid questions about possible contact with indicted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, reports the Chicago Sun-Times:

“You’re wasting your time,” Emanuel said. “I’m not going to say a word to you. I’m going to do this with my children. Dont do that. I’m a father. I have two kids. I’m not going to do it.”

Asked, “Can’t you do both?” Emanuel replied, “I’m not as capable as you. I’m going to be a father. I’m allowed to be a father,” and he pushed the reporter’s digital recorder away.

APN recommends that the incoming president:

  • present to the public a vision of robust, sustained and credible U.S. leadership to achieve peace; 
  • put people on the ground, invested with presidential confidence and authority; 
  • galvanize international support; 
  • embrace and invest in working-level and people-to-people engagement.
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