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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 4, 2009 / 10 Iyar 5769

The Death of Jewish Republicanism?

By Jonathan Tobin



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Specter's defection is a blow to the GOP but has little to do with either principle or ideology


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | 1980 was a golden year for Jewish Republicans. That November Ronald Reagan won nearly 40 percent of the Jewish vote for the presidency, a modern record for the GOP and a mark that they have never come close to achieving since then.


In that same year, Arlen Specter was elected as a Republican to the United States Senate from Pennsylvania riding happily on Reagan's coat tails. Back then Jewish Republicans trumpeted Reagan's impressive showing as well as the victories of candidates like Specter as proof that American Jews were finally shedding their allegiance to the party of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and other Democratic icons.


But Milton Himmelfarb's famous quip that Jews live like Episcopalians but vote like Puerto Ricans proved to be a more lasting insight on Jewish voting patterns than much of the analysis that came out of the 1980 election. Conservatives may believe that political ideas that were based on the immigrant experience are no longer relevant to Jewish problems but the majority of Jews who interpret their religious/ethnic tradition as being synonymous with liberalism disagree.


No Republican candidate for president has ever come close to equaling Reagan's vote that year including Reagan himself. In the last two presidential elections the pro-Israel stands of both George W. Bush and John McCain were not enough to trump other factors — including an unreasonable fear of conservative Christians as well as party-line loyalty to the Democrats — that proved decisive in determining the Jewish vote. In the eyes of liberal Democrats and some discontented Republicans such as author David Frum, the fact that social conservatives, such as 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, seemed to have effectively won control of the Republicans gives substance to the belief that moderates have no place in the contemporary GOP.


But Specter's departure from the Republican Party has far more to do with his personal political dilemma than it does with the future of the GOP.


Though he is hardly the only American politician of whom it can be said that he is in business for himself, Specter has always been a political party of one whose only platform plank is the advancement of the senior senator from the Keystone State. Specter was, after all, a Democrat in the 1960's when he first switched parties, not over any ideological differences with his party, but because his path to higher office was blocked. He remained in the party, not out of any loyalty to Republican liberalism such as that exemplified by Jacob Javits (a liberal Republican who represented New York in the Senate from 1956 to 1980) but out of convenience.


Once elected to the Senate, Specter's only consistent trait as a legislator was a hunger for massive amounts of legislative pork that he brought home to Pennsylvania solidifying his personal power. On foreign policy, he was no defense hawk in the sense that domestic liberals such as the late Henry "Scoop" Jackson or Joseph Lieberman were. On this, as on all other issues, he was a free-lancer rather than a true independent. Thus, while still counting himself as a backer of the Jewish State, he became Syrian dictator Hafez Assad's favorite U.S. Senator, frequently travelling to Damascus over the years.


Though he was pro-choice on abortion in a party in which the majority remained pro-life, it is a myth that this played a prominent role in hostility to Specter from the right. After all, two-term Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge was also a pro-choice Republican but remains a popular figure in his party. Rather it was Specter's dazzling inconsistency, disloyalty and relentless self-promotion that grated most on GOP sensibilities. It was no wonder that his foes in both parties found him a frustrating opponent. As, Joseph Hoeffel, his Democratic opponent in the 2004 election, said of Specter: "It's hard to run against Arlen on the issues because he's on both sides of every one."


In 2004, Specter faced a stiff primary challenge from Pat Toomey, a hard-core conservative congressman. Yet he still received the enthusiastic backing of President Bush and his Senate colleague Rick Santorum, both of whom were closer to Toomey on the issues than Specter. Hours after he won that race by a whisker, he held a press conference in which he emphatically turned his back on Bush.


Despite this, five years later, it appeared as if the 79-year-old Specter would still have an easy path to re-election in 2010 for a sixth term. Toomey had already announced that he would not challenge Specter again. But in January, Specter voted for President Obama's stimulus bill enraging conservatives and motivating Toomey to change his plans and switch from a race for the Pennsylvania statehouse to a Senate run. Given the fact that neither Bush nor Santorum would be willing or able to bail him this time, it was obvious that Specter was heading to defeat. Determined to save his seat at all costs, he jumped to the Democrats claiming that the Republicans had forced him out.


But the demise of liberal Republicanism happened decades ago not this past winter. Nelson Rockefeller-style GOP liberals disappeared a generation earlier as both of the two major parties became less ideologically diverse. If Arlen Specter was comfortable as a Republican running with right-wingers such as Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush, it is difficult if not impossible to argue that his switch had much to do with any distaste on his part for cultural conservatives or Republican intolerance for independent minds.


Rather it was the noxious personality of Specter and his indefatigable egotism that eventually earned him so many enemies in his home state party that nothing, not even the need to preserve a 40th senate seat for the Republicans, could ameliorate the open hostility that he provoked.


Though in the age of Obama the Republican tent is currently far smaller than it used to be, there is plenty of room in it for fiscal conservatives and foreign policy hawks that don't share the socially conservative views of Palin and others. Had Specter carved out a niche for himself on either of those topics, his views on abortion would never have brought him to the point where he had to jump from the GOP before he was pushed.


Jews remain incorrigibly liberal and more loyal to the Democrats than every sector of the population except African-Americans. The ascendancy of social conservatives in the Republican Party has ensured that this will continue to be the case for the foreseeable future even if this puts the Jews in the position of rejecting their closest allies on the question of security for the State of Israel. But this has little to do with Specter's apostasy. It may be that Jewish Republicans feel the senator's defection puts a period on their hopes for a greater share of the Jewish vote. But that is a more of a statement about their bad judgment in hitching their star to his shaky wagon than the supposed intolerance of a conservative-dominated party that desires purity over diversity. The strange journey of Arlen Specter from Democrat to Republican and back again to the Democrats is a story of one man's unbridled ambition and political expediency, not the tale of a party held hostage by the right.

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JWR contributor Jonathan S. Tobin is executive editor of Commentary magazine. Comment by clicking here.

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