Alan Schlesinger is an attorney, former mayor of Derby, Connecticut, former Connecticut State Representative, and three-time unsuccessful Congressional candidate who received the Republican nomination for the seat representing Connecticut that is currently held by U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman and is contested in the 2006 election. Philadelphia recently interviewed him on his views of the Connecticut race as it pertains to U.S. and World issues.
PJV: Some Jews believe that they should back Jewish politicians irrespective of their positions on given policies, but by some accounts almost half the Democratic Jewish voters in Connecticut supported Ned Lamont. Do you believe there is such a thing as 'the Jewish Vote?" If so, why should you be supported over Senator Lieberman?
I think you are alluding to whether they vote as a block. Up until the
1980's, they did vote straight Democrat and usually for the Jewish candidate. In the
1980's, there was a shift whereby more Jewish people tended to split their vote and consider Republican candidates. At this point, I think Jewish voters still tend to vote Democrat and to support Jewish candidates which tend to be Democrat, but now they are very issue-oriented, and they will vote for who they think is the best candidate. The Jewish block vote has deteriorated
dramatically. Now, they are very savvy voters and have assimilated into the general population and
that is why you see a lot of Jewish Republican politicians now.
Any Jewish voter should support me over Joe Lieberman if they believe he has not been part of the solution to solving the problems of our budget deficit and unfunded liabilities
— Social Security, Medicare, healthcare, etc. I represent a totally different viewpoint over to handle the fiscal problems of the future. Joe Lieberman has been part of the Senate
"Ostrich Club." He has been extremely disingenuous with the voting public in promoting the cruel hoax that there is money put aside for their future. Once voters get to know me, the fiscally conservative
ones will support me.
If they are going to vote specifically on Iraq, I think there is very little difference between our positions. I think that I will be more hawkish with Iran than Joe Lieberman. I think
that is one other thing that Jewish voters should be considering. I think the true threat is not Iraq, it is Iran, and
I have been saying this for a long time.
PJV: Speaking of Iran, do you believe Iran's regime has been emboldened by having our troops pinned down in Iraq? Related to that, do you believe the rise of Shiite dominance in Iraq has increased the level of regional domination by Iran?
That is my concern. I thought invading Iraq was the right thing to do based on the information
going into Iraq. I am beginning to believe it was a mistake. We helped the
Iraqis; there is no question about that. I am not sure we helped our position or Israel because I am afraid of a Shiite coalition between Persian and Arab Shiites; what's the old saying?
"My enemy's enemy is my friend." I see that potential coalition spreading throughout the Middle East threatening the world assuming Ahmedejad gets nuclear weapons. I am beginning to think we actually created a monster of Shiite dominance throughout the area.
PJV: Moving slightly to the west of Iraq: what should be the position of the U.S. government regarding Palestinian statehood? More immediately, what should our position be on the Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Prime Minister Olmert's stated plan to remove some of them?
I am going to defer to the Prime Minister and the Knesset on the internal decisions of settlement by settlement, but I will say, I hope the wall is
PJV: The RNC chief Ken Mehlman refused (Aug 10 on
"Hardball") to endorse your candidacy. Can you comment on this?
You noticed that, eh? What has happened is that the Washington media and the White House have hijacked the Connecticut election. They've turned it into a referendum on the Democratic Party left taking over, with the hopeful defeat of the agenda of the
"liberal left." They want to show that even in a Blue state that the liberal left agenda is to be rejected. Therefore coming up with
PR for the White House on Iraq bodes well for the White House in 2008. That is why Mr. Mehlman won't endorse anyone in
Connecticut whether it is Alan Schlesinger or someone who can walk on water. Unfortunately the White House agenda is not in the best interests of the Republican Party or my candidacy. The White House agenda is for the White House.
PJV: Has there been any pressure on you to back out of the race?
A.S.: No, not at all. They just want status quo and they want to reject Lamont. I think the White House is afraid that the 60% of the electorate that is moderate or conservative is going to be splitting their vote between Lieberman and Schlesinger and
do not want to split it so that Lamont wins.
PJV: Do you have that same concern?
I feel that it is the chance of the lifetime. With two liberal Democrats in the race all I have to do is coalesce the moderate conservatives, and
I will easily win the election. What an opportunity to win. The problem is, based on polling data they
do not think it is viable, so what they want is the lesser of the evils. This is unprecedented in any state in any Senate race in the history of the U.S. The White House is trying to reshape the image of the Democratic Party and have a referendum on whether
they are going to be vindicated on Iraq.
PJV: What is your opinion of the Public Expression Of Religion Act of 2005 which limits the ability of citizens to file lawsuits claiming infractions of the Establishment (of Religion) Clause of the Constitution?
Not one of my major issues. Sometimes it's overused by the ACLU-types. I
do not think there has been a movement toward religion taking over government except in the minds of the ACLU and their supporters.
I want to. I hear it is unbelievably good. I know there are two schools of thought on it.
I am not a scientist; I am a finance guy, but I am extremely open to all sides of the issue and really learning more about it as the campaign progresses and hopefully as a Senator. I think the jury is still out, but I am very worried about global warming. But
I will tell you what: I am a lot more worried about the "global
warming" of a nuclear strike by Iran. That is really much higher on the hit parade right now.
PJV: What has been the effect of President Bush's "No Child Left Behind" education policy? What do you see as being the role of the Federal government in public and private schools in this?
I believe in Head Start. I do not think "No Child Left Behind" has been a great success. It had some good components. One reason
I am a Republican is that I believe that we can do in education is encouraging the coordination of parents, teachers, and administration. I think the Federal role should not be a major role except for funding purposes. I don't like to see teaching for testing. I
do not think it works.
PJV: One final question: On May 3, 2006, the House Armed Services Committee debated an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act [H.R. 5122] to support religious tolerance among military chaplains. It would require military chaplains to demonstrate
"sensitivity, respect and tolerance" for the beliefs of those to whom they minister. It was meant to respond to proselytizing in the service academies How would you vote on the Senate version? Why?
I am exceedingly offended by any proselytizing by any chaplain in the service.
It has always been the tradition in the U.S. for chaplains to respect all
religions, and I would vote in favor of mandating that across the board.