The Democrats’ Jewish rollout


 The Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee just rolled out their outreach to the Jews with a conference call to supporters.

I briefed the surprising news that President Obama apparently plans to warn the Palestinians of consequences tomorrow if they go ahead with their bid for statehood recognition. Surprising, because it’s not news you expect to hear on a campaign call, or maybe I’m naive and old-fashioned. Also surprising, because although there’s a Capitol Hill consensus (more or less) on "consequences" — i.e., a funding cut — there’s not so much of a consensus anywhere else. Israel’s defense establishment dreads a funding cut that would undercut the relative stability emerging now in the West Bank, for instance. But let’s see what "consequences" Obama outlines.

Much of the call, led by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), the chairwoman of the DNC, and Robert Wexler, the former Florida congressman who now heads the Center for Middle East Peace, was about taking the offensive, and using the "ammunition," the "Myths and Facts"sheets on the campaign’s Jewish website, Jewish Americans for Obama. Here are some excerpts from her remarks:


You should be bold in defending the president, we want you to stand up and set the record straight.

Let’s not play defense here. We have to go on offense and spread,from the rooftops President Obama’s strong record.

Don’t forget the domestic record — on spending, on social issues — Wasserman Scultz said, accusing the GOP of having "nothing" to offer Jews in these areas.

Proactively dissemnate them (the talking points). attach these documents, write and craft your own email, demonstrate aggressively to your friends. colleagues and neighbors how strong this president is — but on top of that, the strength of the president and this party on his domestic record.

Beyond Israel there is nothing, I mean nothing that the Republicans are proposing …. That are in line with our values.

She also acknowledges nervousness about Obama.

I know many of you feel overwhelmed by the partisan fearmongering and deliberate distortions of our president’s record on Israel.

The uncertainty within the community continues for many.

Republicans and conservatives are already pushing back. Two of the responses that have cropped up so far (I’m not naming names) are a little specious: One is that "If Obama doesn’t have a problem, why are Democrats working so hard?"

Because they’re not stupid. Even in slam dunks, you fight for every vote. In any case, as Wasserman Schultz outlined, the party acknowledges that Obama does have a problem — it’s just that its dimensions are not as clear yet as some would pretend.

The other is that Obama "snubbed" Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House in March 2010. He did not. Israeli officials have repeatedly confirmed this version of events. (One of the central planks of the "snub" myth is that Obama threw over Bibi to dine with the family; Michelle and the kids were later proven to have been in New York that evening.)

There is, however, a GOP/conservative response to the call and the website that seems to have real legs:  Wasserman Schultz and Wexler were hyperdefensive about Obama’s failure so far to visit Israel as president.

None of their answers  — Reagan never went, GW Bush waited seven years, etc. etc. — got to the point, succinctly put by the Republican Jewish Coalition in a tweet:

@DWSTweets protests too much on BHO not going to #Israel; it stands out b/c he was in the neighborhood for Cairo speech but stayed away.

The first Jewish leader to ask Obama why he was not planning a visit to Israel, way back in the summer of 2009 — a month or so after his Cairo speech — was Debra DeLee, the CEO of Americans for Peace Now. He still hasn’t adequately answered.

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