When Rick Perry first rose to the top of the Republican race, I wrote, “Perry offers an unusually distilled version of everything that has consistently kept Jewish voters away from national Republicans—minus, crucially, his robust support for Israel.” (Liel Leibovitz showed today in his column just how un-Jewish, in about every way possible, Perry’s politics are.) Jonathan Tobin scrupulously acknowledges this today: “most American Jews fear evangelicals more than Hamas or Hezbollah,” he notes. “The one thing that could send the vast majority of Jews fleeing back to the Democrats, Israel notwithstanding, is the presence of a fire-breathing conservative Christian at the top of the GOP ticket.” He adds, “That’s the dilemma Rick Perry poses for those anticipating a love affair between the Republicans and the Jews. If Democrats can paint Perry as a threat to religious liberty, you can forget about a 40 percent or even a 30 percent Jewish vote for the GOP.”
Of course, so long as the primary is on, Perry can’t tack toward the center on the religion question, where his adherence to dominionism—which Tobin labels a “canard” despite its ample documentation one of several strong appeals he has for the Republican base. But that doesn’t mean he can’t continue to shine his pro-Israel bona fides, which he did today, publishing an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal and the Jerusalem Post, which doesn’t have a paywall, so go there. (One particularly clever touch: “Historian T.R. Fehrenbach once observed that my home state of Texas and Israel share the experience of ‘civilized men and women thrown into new and harsh conditions, beset by enemies.’”) He calls on the United States to pledge a Security Council veto (and credits President Obama with doing so) and to work against a General Assembly resolution. He calls for tying funding to this: “Our aid is, and must remain, predicated on the commitment of the Palestinian leadership to engage honestly and directly with the Israelis.” And he slams Obama on a series of tactical failures, including the initial emphasis on settlements. Yet even the conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin remains troubled by the perception that Perry is a foreign policy novice.
Is Obama vulnerable on the Jewish vote? Absolutely. Is Perry the guy to reap the advantages? I’m pretty sure no. At some point, it’s going to be Obama versus one other person, and if that is the wrong other person, the Jews are going to come back to their normal fold in the Democratic Party.
Perry Is Obama’s Ace in the Hole for the Jewish Vote [Contentions]
Comment: The Palestinians’ Illegitimate U.N. Gambit [JPost]
Perry’s Grasp of Foreign Policy Still Shaky [Right Turn]
Related: Christian Wrong [Tablet Magazine]
Bad Faith [Tablet Magazine]
Earlier: Perry’s Ascent Heralds Israel’s Rise as Issue