AIPAC and the Evils of Republicratism

Gung ho at AIPAC

Gung ho at AIPAC

MJ Rosenberg makes these observations on his eponymous blog:

It’s hard to watch the AIPAC conference for more than a few minutes at a time. For me, the worst part is the pandering (and lying) by Democratic politicians eager to raise money for their next campaign.

So far, Joe Biden has been the worst. He is heavily funded by the Adler family of Miami Beach (he even brought President Obama to their home for a fundraiser), one of the big AIPAC families. Here is Biden talking about how the head of the Adler klan and another AIPAC mogul gave him his “formal education” on the Middle East. (Not to mention all that money.

And, of course, Biden (like John Kerry) knows better than his AIPAC speeches indicate. I have talked to him about Israel and Palestine.He can name the top Palestinian leaders in Fatah and Hamas and tell you the differences between their respective positions. He believes Israel needs to end the occupation and talk to Hamas. He would not dare say it publicly, although he has said  it so often privately that it is amazing the media never reports it.

But Biden does what he thinks he has to because, for politicians like him (that is, pretty much all politicians), nothing is more important than keeping donors happy. Call him a hypocrite but he cries all the way to the bank.

The Republicans are different. Supporting the occupation and threatening war with Iran come naturally to them. They don’t need lobby money for their campaigns and they don’t get Jewish votes anyway.  (This is not to say that they don’t like Sheldon Adelson’s money, just that as the pro-business party, they don’t need it). They support Netanyahu because they believe that the west needs to crush the Muslim world. They do not feign Islamophobia. It’s them.

Do we not hear echoes of  Yeats in this accurate picture of today’s politics?: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst/ Are full of passionate intensity.” And the AIPAC pandering is just a small detail in the larger canvas. Both parties have their eyes on where the money and influence are. The Republicans are utterly free to be who they are because, even if what they are is unpopular in general, it’s very popular specifically with the people with the money. On the other side, the Democrats need (or think they need) the money people in order to win the votes of the masses, whose interests are entirely at odds with those of the money people. And this need is an invitation to obligati0n, which is how we wind up with Wall Street financiers determining economic policy and insurance companies and pharmaceuticals writing health care reform in a Democratic White House.

The conviction-to-passionate-intensity ratio is also what has the Republicans driving the sequester bus. They’re stuck in one gear, but that frees them to make no moves whatsoever toward compromise with  the party whose public position is more in line with the public’s position in favor of higher taxes on the wealthy and fewer changes to social programs. It’s difficult to see how any movement in the gridlock won’t be coming from the Democratic side, which means a lower ratio of revenue increases to program cuts–just what the money people ordered.

Rosenberg is somewhat optimistic, however, that as the nation becomes less white and Anglo, the Democrats will ultimately be less beholden to AIPAC, which Rosenberg believes is heading the way of the Dixiecrats:  into the folds of the Republican base.  (Unlike AIPAC, the vast majority of American Jews–traditionally among the most reliably progressive of all demographics on all issues, including Israel–will not be joining that base.) “Biden’s bloviating for Israel will soon be history,” Rosenberg concludes. Isn’t it pretty to think so?  I’m not counting on it.

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