White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett made her first appearance before a Jewish organization when she came to the National Jewish Democratic Council’s annual conference earlier this week.
Jarrett didn’t say anything new, but touched on all the top issues that a Jewish crowd would want to hear about: health care, Israel, Iran, and climate change/reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
She specifically thanked the NJDC for launching Rabbis for Health Insurance Reform, a campaign urging rabbis to sign on to a statement calling on Congress to ensure "affordable health care" is available to all.
She also reaffirmed President Obama’s desire to achieve a two-state solution in the Middle East, saying that her boss is "personally committed to the Israeli people" and their future living "safely and security in a Jewish state."
With only two major elections this November — the governships in New Jersey and Virginia — much of the conference was devoted instead to looking at the current political climate. Democratic strategist and CNN commentator Paul Begala took partisan shots at Mitt Romney, Dick Cheney and what he called a "comedy channel," Fox News, but also noted the frequent usuage, on both left and right, of Holocaust and Nazi analogies in recent political discourse.
"Anyone who takes the most unique crime in human history and compares it to anything else is wrong," Begala said. The conference also includes a panel discussion on "baseless hatred" and the "deterioration of political discourse" in the Jewish community.
The conference also included a look ahead to 2010, with political pundit Stuart Rothenberg predicting that 10-15 Democrats in Republican-leaning districts are likely to be "in big trouble" –including outspoken Jewish Democrat Alan Grayson (D-Fla.).
Also speaking at the event was be the man who will help to keep those endangered Democrats from losing their seats — Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) — as well as House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.).
And here’s the NJDC’s president, David Harris, earlier in the week on the MSNBC program "Morning Joe" talking about Holocaust analogies in politics.