Skip to comments.For Jewish Republicans: Oy Veh
Posted on 06/11/2014 2:30:40 AM PDT by nickcarraway
The dream of a Jewish Republican speaker of the House is no more.
With House Majority Leader Eric Cantors startling ouster in a primary election this week, the man who was on a track to be the highest-ranking Jewish official in American history now appears consigned to the status of a Jeopardy answer. His defeat has left Jewish organizations in both parties reeling, especially the GOPs long-suffering Jewish coalition groups.
Cantor was and for now, remains the No. 2 Republican in a conference of 233 lawmakers. But for Jewish Republicans, Cantor is a singular figure, the only Jewish member of the House majority and the lone Jewish leader in a party that has strenuously courted the community in recent presidential elections, to little avail.
Now, with Cantors defeat, theres no longer a point man to help organize trips to Israel for junior GOP lawmakers, as Cantor routinely did. Jewish nonprofits and advocacy groups have no other natural person in leadership to look to for a sympathetic ear. No other Republican lawmaker can claim to have precisely the same relationship with gaming billionaire Sheldon Adelson, a primary benefactor of both the Republican Party and the Republican Jewish Coalition. And no other member can play quite the same role in promoting Jewish Republican congressional candidates, as Cantor did in one election after another. He is scheduled to headline a Long Island fundraiser this Saturday for Lee Zeldin, one of the few Jewish Republican House recruits this year. The event was announced only a few days before Cantors fateful primary. At the time, there was every expectation Zeldin would be appearing with the future House speaker, a man floated more than once for the vice presidency and for numerous statewide offices in his native Virginia.
Matt Brooks, the RJC president, called Cantors primary one of those incredible, evil twists of fate that just changed the potential course of history.
There are other leaders who will emerge, but Eric was unique and it will take time and theres nobody quite like Eric in the House to immediately fill those shoes, Brooks said. I was certainly hoping that Eric was going to be our first Jewish speaker.
Across the aisle, the reactions to Cantors defeat ranged from shock and distress to barely-restrained glee. For partisan Jewish Democrats, Cantor has long been a supremely annoying figure, perceived as a front man for a conservative party thats hostile to the values a strong majority of Jews share on issues from economic inequality to gay marriage to immigration, the central animating issue of Cantor challenger Dave Brats campaign.
As Democrats seek to cement a public perception of the GOP as an intolerant and homogenous party, the defeat of the nations leading Jewish Republican over his support for more relaxed immigration laws can only help.
And it now appears almost certain that the first Jew to lead one of the two chambers of Congress will come from the ranks of Democrats, where Jewish politicians including New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and New York Rep. Steve Israel already hold important roles of legislative and partisan leadership.
Still, several prominent Jewish Democrats expressed ambivalence on election night over the snuffing-out of a prominent Jewish political career and the elimination of a lonely figure in the House who looked at the very least on the surface like a receptive audience for Jewish-driven advocacy.
Rabbi Jack Moline, executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Committee, called it an especially bitter pill that Cantor went down to a challenger running to his right on immigration as Moline put it, that Cantor has been undone by an issue that they didnt make much progress on, but that is reflective of Jewish values.
From the point of view of a Democrat, Im not disappointed to see him go, Moline said, acknowledging: There is always a pride in the Jewish community when one of our own makes good, as I think there is in every community. So from that point of view, were disappointed, like we were disappointed when Rahm Emanuel gave up his quest to be the first Jewish speaker of the House.
Moline added: At least in that situation, we had pride in the fact that he was chief of staff to the president of the United States and went on to be mayor of Chicago. I dont see Eric Cantor going on to greater things in government.
Former NJDC president David Harris, calling Cantors loss a concern to nonpartisan Jewish organizations, argued that the political takeaway for Jewish voters should be clear. Jews are so well represented on the Supreme Court. Theyre so well represented in Congress. But as a professional political class, Jewish Republicans are just not part of that party, he said. If Cantor played a critically important symbolic role for Republican Jews, its unclear whether his defeat will bring immediate consequences for policy. The GOP is a staunchly pro-Israel party, even if many of its members may have never set foot in a synagogue. Other election returns Tuesday night demonstrated that: While Cantor went down, Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham easily defeated a pack of primary challengers after touting his strongly hawkish foreign policy views.
And as much as Cantor was an atypical Republican when it came to his ethnic identity, some Republican Jews shrugged at suggestions that his primary represented a real shift on substance. One GOP operative said he would be hard-pressed to name an important issue on which Cantor made the difference between success and failure for Jewish foreign policy groups, pointing out that Cantor supported defense cuts under the Budget Control Act that Jewish groups strenuously opposed.
If I had to pick tonight, do I get to pick Lindsey Graham or Eric Cantor, its not a choice at all, the strategist said. Cantor was ineffective.
Former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, who serves on the RJC board, said that from a historical perspective Cantors defeat was very sad but my politics dont revolve around my identity as much as they do my ideology.
It was a real point of pride to have Eric as a Jewish Republican. There are some other Jewish Republicans running in 2014, Fleischer said. Lets wait and see.
Steve Rabinowitz, a Democratic public relations consultant who works with a range of Jewish groups, said that for non-partisan Jews, Cantor was definitely a loss. He cited Cantors reliable backing not just for Israel and tough-on-Iran policies, but also his attention to issues such as services for Holocaust survivors and support for the nonprofit sector.
There are some in the community who are twisting themselves into pretzels tonight to figure out if its OK to comment on the race, Rabinowitz said. I have no love lost for him. Im bemused tonight.
Man, the only issues that really matter to liberals are race, sex, and religious affiliation. They disgust me as a breed. Cantor lost primarily because of his immigration stance, but mostly because he had turned into a mushy wuss.
That is precisely what they are doing. I heard Wassertwat's statement and Chuck You Schumer's statement last night.
The Gee Oh Pee had better find a succinct answer that nukes this every time. Else, this will really hurt, esp. among the low information crowd.
True Flaglady......if I would get 435 conservatives in Congress, not one of them needs to be a Catholic even though that is my religion. I want good conservatives not Catholic politicians....we have enough of those in reality...lol.
I didn’t even know he was Jewish. Big deal.
What mattered was his squishiness on immigration. That’s all.
Maybe, just maybe, the Jewish factions now wringing there hands over his defeat out there counted too much on having the awesome significance of a Jewish Speaker than they counted on having a free and sovereign America.
Seems to me, this country fell for the “awesome significance” of a first-anything, twice in fact. That didn’t work out so well, did it?
Frankly, never ONCE did I ponder the awesome significance of Cantor’s Jewish religion about anything. It simply did not matter to me. What only mattered was his unwavering commitment to whatever form of amnesty these people are calling it now days. And, this is the “awesome significance” of what brought his weasely little a$$ down.
Our COUNTRY - Sovereign. Not a dumping ground for third and fourth world crap hole illegal aliens regardless of their age.
Only a Democrat could write such drivel.
“evil twists of fate” as a point of view is not religious. Keep in mind that being Jewish is a race issue and, seems to me, not a religious issue for these guys.
I caught that reference also.
Too much schmuck. Not enough mensch.
I’m sure a lot of people didn’t know he was Jewish. Pretty soon libs will be calling “racism!” on this ouster.
The democrats are a sick bunch. Color, penis placement preference and anti-Christianity are all they have.
Jewish Americans are rabidly ‘open borders’ immigration radicals, too stupid to look at how that policy would work in Israel.
It would do the same here, but they are too dumb to see it.
Too many Jews remind me of the ones who followed Moses out of Egypt, but found freedom scary and chose instead to worship a golden calf idol as soon as Moses left them alone while he went up to receive God’s law on Mt. Sinai.
I always think of that story as symbolic of what has happened to my beloved America — as a nation we have turned our backs on the gift of liberty that our founders and subsequent generations gave us.
Other than Tea Partiers, how many candidates for national or state office ever invoke the concept of liberty these days when running for election (let alone while governing once they win)?
I watch the Republicans and I wonder that, as America descends into the hell of totalitarian leftism, they cannot even sell the concept of freedom to Americans. It just never occurs to them.
It is unbelievable to me that Jews (and I was born Jewish) have so relatively recent gone through the horror of the concentration camps and ovens, and yet they still always seem to support the party that advocates a total concentration of unlimited government power.
evil twists of fate
Eric Cantor = evil twit of fate.
I was completely unaware of long suffering Jewish GOP members.
I must be stupid.
He was a Democrat masquerading as a Republican, like most Republicans today
If one is Jewish and a Conservative, this is not an issue about religion.
If one is Jewish and a Conservative, this is not an issue about religion.
Leave it to Politico to get to the real, insightful, heart of the matter -- Cantor was defeated because Republicans hate Jews.