Why no Arab Americans for Obama?


Back in 2008, I coupled an unfair Democratic attack on the "Jewish" bonafides of Sarah Palin with unfair Republican attacks on same of Mazen Asbahi, the Arab/Muslim-American outreach director for the Obama campaign, to make a point about how the political system tends to scare away folks who might have brushed up against unwise choices — even though they subsequently, wisely, rejected them.

The followup is interesting too. Republicans and Republican Jews brushed aside the Democrats’ specious attempts to associate Palin with Pat Buchanan and backed her, at least  through election day. The Obama campaign caved to the specious Islamist radical associations that had been foisted upon Asbahi, and he disappeared into history, along, apparently, with the campaign’s Arab American outreach.

Today, Rosie Gray at Buzzfeed picks up on the latest iteration of that anomaly: The Romney campaign announced an Arab Americans for Romney list which includes folks who lawyered for groups more closely tied to Hamas than those that were attached to Asbahi, and with at least one lawmaker who voted against Iran sanctions.

The Arab Americans for Obama list, meantime … doesn’t exist. It’s a dead page. There’s no such group listed on the Obama campaign’s communities page, although there is a Jewish Americans group. (There is an outreach to Arab Americans page on the White House communities website along with an outreach to Jewish Americans page.) I’ve asked the Obama campaign for comment, as well as the Arab American Institute, which posted the Romney campaign announcement. So far, nothing.

Gray quotes Jewish Democrats as decrying the double standard:


"There’s nothing wrong fundamentally with having an Arab-American group," said David Harris, president of the National Jewish Democratic Council. "But I’m sure the Obama folks would be pilloried if they put out any affinity group led by individuals who were deeply opposed in principle to Iran sanctions, for example," he said, referring to Rep. Justin Amash, a libertarian and ally of Rep. Ron Paul who voted against the sanctions.

True. Also true: Democrats can hardly complain of bullying if they don’t bother to put up a fight.

Fun related fact: Amash’s opponent, Steve Pestka, is a conservative Jewish Democrat who says he is within striking distance of unseating Amash.

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