Friday, November 18, 2011

Bud-lite slurp - Jews and Americans alike, It's Mitt's Time

First from my Bud Bil O'Reilly (the Bob Turner one): Don't steal it from Mitt, Newt!
"Yes, Mr. Gingrich is smart, too smart perhaps. And he is brash at a time when Americans thirst it. But he is not electable on a national scale. Too many Americans just don’t like or trust him. I can think of a dozen Democrats off hand who would consider voting for Mitt Romney. Not a single one of them would consider pulling the lever for The Newt. Ever. And to win states with a majority of Democratic voters, Republicans need crossover voters. Obviously.

Close your eyes and ask yourself if Mitt Romney might, theoretically, if they were to be contested, be competitive running against Barack Obama in New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Ohio, Michigan, or even – and this admittedly is a stretch – New York. The honest answer would be “yes.” Romney could win most of those states and run competitively in all of them, theoretically. Now, close your eyes and make that candidate Newt Gingrich. The idea of him putting Northeast or Midwest states – or Northwest states for that matter — into play seems preposterous. Democrats would line up for miles to vote against him – and defeat down-ballot Republicans in state after state along with him.

The fact is that Newt Gingrich cannot assemble a viable electoral map wide enough to win, and GOP party leaders know that. It’s one of the reasons Newt hovered not far above zero for so long. He will return there."
With regard to the Jewish Vote here is my Haaretz bud, Chemi Shalev blog on Mitt Romney's resolute position of getting a Big Chunk of the Jewish vote - steal the Presidency from Obama by stealing away the Jews from the Dems - the Reagan package:
"Although there are various forecasts of just how important the Jewish vote may turn out to be in the 2012 presidential elections, the few polls that have examined this issue as well as the observers of the American Jewish scene that I have spoken to have no doubt that Romney is the Republican candidate who is poised to make the most serious inroads into the traditionally Democratic Jewish vote. In spite of - or, possibly, because - he is such a devout Mormon.

First, most of the people that I talk to agree that if Romney gets 40 per cent of the Jewish vote, and thus emulates Ronald Reagan’s 39% share in 1980 or Dwight Eisenhower’s 40% support in 1956 – he will be able to boast of a historic achievement which may indeed be but a precursor to bigger and better things for the Republicans in the future. In a pinch, and on the yet-to-be proven assumption that a race between Romney and President Obama would be a close one, such a proportion of the Jewish vote may very well put Romney over the top in a state such as Florida, as many analysts have already noted, which may ensure the presidency for the Republican Party.

Romney’s moderate positions, his successful business background and his East Coast credentials play a major role in making Jews feel more comfortable with him than with other Republican candidates. An American Jewish Committee poll conducted in September already gave Romney 32% of the Jewish vote – more than any other candidate - compared to Obama’s 50%, and 18% that were undecided.

A coalition comprised of the 22% of Jewish voters who preferred John McCain over Obama in 2008, buttressed by the ever-growing number of newly-eligible Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox voters – who will come out to vote “even twice or thrice” if their Rebbe so orders it, as every Israeli knows – complemented by substantial numbers of Jewish professionals and business people who have despaired of Obama’s economic performance and reinforced by those Jews who have been driven crazy by what they perceive as Obama’s anti-Israeli animus - all of these could significantly bolster the Republican Jewish vote on November 6, 2012, especially, or perhaps only, if Romney is the candidate.

But the most important factor working in Romney’s favor, from a Jewish point of view, is the one that is his Achilles’ heel in the internal Republican contest – the disaffection towards him exhibited by ultra-conservatives, evangelicals and Tea Party types. All the so-called “non-Romneys” that keep popping up in the race – first Michele Bachman, then Rick Perry, then Herman Cain and now Newt Gingrich – are supported by the kind of groups that make most mainstream American Jews squirm and stay Democrat, and this includes the staunchly pro-Israeli Christian evangelicals.

And Romney has two other, possibly relevant personal tidbits in his personal biography: first, he is the son of Michigan governor George Romney, who was a leading Republican moderate and whose close friend and later campaign treasurer was Max Fisher, the late and great Jewish Republican macher, who moved from Romney’s failed presidential campaign in 1968 to that of the eventual victor Richard Nixon and from there to a position of unparalleled political sway. Secondly, it is not widely known that Romney knows Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu from the late 1970’s, when most Israelis hadn’t heard of him yet, when both were employed by the Boston Consulting Group. And according to published press reports, it was Romney who introduced the future prime minister to Fleur Cates, who went on to become Netanyahu’s second wife.

3. When Romney Senior was running for president in 1968, his Mormonism did not play a major role in the campaign, though there are those who claim it would have come up had he triumphed in the early primaries. But America is a different country today, and most polls show that Romney’s religion will likely play a significant and possibly critical role in his campaign. A survey by the Public Religion Research Institute released this week showed Romney’s approval rating dropping dramatically among Evangelicals, with a pronounced correlation between this drop and the increase in the number of those who realize that Romney is Mormon.

Jews, on the other hand, are probably going to have less of an issue with Romney’s Mormonism than any other religious group – with the ironic exception, perhaps, of American Muslims. Older and more liberal Jews may have problems with the LDS’s past discrimination against blacks and their exclusion of African Americans from the priesthood (which was lifted only in 1978 following a “revelation” to church leaders) while others may be deterred by what is still being described – most recently in a disturbing article by Yale’s noted literary critic Harold Bloom, discreetly tucked away in the middle of this week’s New York Times Sunday Review section - as Mormonism’s outlandish if not sinister internal rites and codes, including the polygamous image which Mormons have been trying to shed for decades but which was dramatically resuscitated by the HBO series “Big Love” which ended a five-season run only last March.

For most Jews, especially the Orthodox, Christians and Mormons are virtually identical, “six of one or half a dozen of the other”, at the very least, and very often members in the same brotherhood of shunned religious minorities. As one Jewish leader who served as a rabbi in the army in the Vietnam War told me: “In our unit there were 50 Protestants and Catholics in one corner, and me and the Mormon in the other.”

For Christians, of course, even in latter-day America, Romney’s Mormonism is more of an issue, with Catholics historically viewing Mormons as heretics and some fundamentalist Protestants seeing them as “a cult”, as Rick Perry’s pastor, Robert Jefress, controversially noted last month. Most recent polls show that anywhere between 35% and 50% of Evangelicals don’t consider Mormons to be Christians at all. And while Americans like to tell themselves that they live in a society in which a candidate’s religion does not have any impact on his chances of being elected and then go on to cite the precedent of John Kennedy’s Catholicism not having prevented his election in 1960 - they tend to overlook the fact that Kennedy may just be an exception, and an extraordinarily charismatic one at that, who simply proves the rule.
Thus, these groups will be doing their best to sideline Romney and to crown a more conservative candidate – and a more Christian one, though they won’t say so in so many words - as the primaries season gets underway in a little over a month, beginning with the Iowa caucuses on January 3.

Most of the Jews, I suspect, will be rooting for Romney on the sidelines. Not only is he the preferred candidate of those who will be voting Republican, he is also probably the favorite of those Jews who will carefully consider voting for him but end up going with Obama in the end once again."

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