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The Philadelphia Jewish Voice
September 2005 < Thinking 

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Previous Issues
- August 2005
- July 2005

What is the President Thinking?

Perhaps the August heat is to blame. But as George W. Bush's approval ratings plummet - among Americans, American Jews, and even Orthodox Jews - the GOP and its Jewish representatives are grasping at straws. 

Making matters worse, despite a war on multiple fronts, Bush is back in Texas for what most Americans can only dream about: a five-week vacation, which the Washington Post noted is "the longest presidential retreat in at least 36 years" ... bringing Bush's total time at his Texas ranch alone to nearly 20 percent of his total White House tenure. 

To shift the focus away from a failing, vacationing president, GOP operatives in the Jewish community are now laughably claiming that a protester outside Bush's ranch - a Gold Star mother of a son lost in Iraq - somehow represents the Democratic Party position on Israel. This despite the fact that she represents nobody other than herself, and despite the fact that she has repeatedly denied making statements critical of Israel - in both the Washington Post and live on CNN

Of course no individual protester represents the Democratic Party any more than any extremist anti-choice "Operation Rescue" protester represents the GOP. To make either claim is absurd. 

Why are Republican operatives in the Jewish community so busy focusing on the alleged statements of a protester in Texas? The answer is simple: To deflect attention from the myriad disconnects between today's conservative movement and the American Jewish community. Below are just five recent examples of this disconnect between today's conservatives and the vast majority of American Jews: 

Comparing stem cell research with Nazi experiments. James Dobson, the far-right founder of "Focus on the Family" who is widely credited with playing a major role in George W. Bush's victory in 2004, "compared embryonic stem cell research with Nazi experiments conducted on live human patients during and prior to the Holocaust." Recently, Dobson joined GOP House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and other top conservatives in the "Justice Sunday II" broadcast. 

Asserting that liberals "kidnap the baby Jesus" at Christmas. 2004 GOP Convention keynote speaker and retired Senator Zell Miller said on the same Sunday broadcast that liberals "kidnap the baby Jesus" at Christmas, are "ready to discard the institution of marriage," and "will put you in jail" for displaying the Ten Commandments. Miller added that the Supreme Court has used "psychobabble" to justify the "barbaric killing of babies." 

Suggesting that Americans should "vote Christian." As the Forward reported earlier this summer, "As part of a bid to revive his Reagan-era conservative powerhouse, the Rev. Jerry Falwell, Moral Majority leader, is urging Americans to 'vote Christian' in 2008. "As national chairman of the Moral Majority Coalition, I am committed to lending my influence to help turn out at least 40 million 'faith and values' voters in 2008 to assure that Sen. Hillary Clinton, or someone of her ultra-liberal ilk, will never be president of this nation," Falwell wrote in a recent mass fund-raising letter. The letter comes with a car window sticker declaring 'I Vote Christian.'" 

Continuing the Bush White House assault on science. While George W. Bush earlier this month "essentially endorsed efforts by Christian conservatives to give intelligent design equal standing with the theory of evolution in the nation's schools," the current edition of the New Yorker ties the rise of intelligent design and the assault on modern science to broader Bush administration efforts: "From the beginning, the Bush White House has treated science as a nuisance and scientists as an interest group -- one that, because it lies outside the governing conservative coalition, need not be indulged. That's why the White House ... has altered, suppressed, or overridden scientific findings on global warming; missile defense; H.I.V./ AIDS; pollution from industrial farming and oil drilling; forest management and endangered species; environmental health, including lead and mercury poisoning in children and safety standards for drinking water; and non-abstinence methods of birth control and sexually-transmitted-disease prevention...." 

Cozying up to top Saudi leaders. Why does George W. Bush treat the Saudis as our friends, giving Saudi leaders a free ride when it comes to the virulent, outspoken anti-Semitism of Saudi leaders; or their support for terrorism; or their other repressive policies? The Washington Post suggests this answer: "Texas and Saudi Arabia have much in common. Oil. Vast tracts of scrubland. And political dynasties. No wonder King Abdullah is the only foreign leader to have two bilateral meetings with George Bush at the president's sun-baked Crawford ranch."