Last week, conservative impresario Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment.com posted video of a black U.S. Department of Agriculture bureaucrat telling an NAACP gathering that she didn’t fully help a white farmer. This prompted Ag to fire her, which prompted revelations that her remarks were deliberately taken out of context, which prompted offers to rehire her and an apology from President Obama. Now, the Shirley Sherrod affair has entered this week’s news cycle in a heated U.S. Congressional race featuring two Jewish candidates.
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois), running for re-election, called on her opponent, Joel Pollak, to stop writing blogposts for Breitbart’s site. Yesterday, Pollak’s spokesperson announced that the Republican candidate will not accede to that demand. “Andrew used intemperate language in his debate with the NAACP, which was wrong,” Pollak said in a statement. “It was even more wrong for the White House and the NAACP to punish a woman for alleged racism without conducting a full and fair investigation.”
Pollak is the first Republican whom influential Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz has ever endorsed, which to an extent has embodied how some American Jewish voters may be willing to compromise their generally Democratic politics over the Israel issue. Pollak is about as attractive as a Republican could be to a Jewish Democrat: He is Jewish and strongly pro-Israel, and believes abortion and gay marriage are issues best left to the states. At the same time, in this case he is declaring himself on the side of a debate associated with the Republican Party’s activist right wing, including the Tea Partiers. Will that turn off Jewish Democrats who may have been willing to look the other way when it came to, say, Pollak’s opposition to Obama’s health-care reform? It is barely three months till we find out.