Hillary’s Costly Braintrust, the New Jewish Establishment

US Politics
on 18 Comments

Did you see the Times article about the staggering fees commanded by Hillary’s genius strategists as the campaign lost its way? The three are pollster Mark Penn, whose team collected over $10 million in January, ad maven Mandy Grunwald, who has collected $2.3 million so far, and communications director Howard Wolfson, who billed a mere $267,000 in January. God knows he’s worth it:

“Fees and payments are in line with industry standards,” Mr. Wolfson
said. “Spending priorities have been consistent with overall strategic

But some Democrats are now asking if the money spent on a
campaign that appears to be sputtering — $106 million so far — was
worth it.

When I was a kid we used to feel Jewish shame when three Jewish names showed up in the news in this sort of light. Now there’s no shame at all, because of course the entire culture is monetized and corrupted; but my marvel is at the new Jewish establishment. How much of blue-state wealth-generation and power is in my people’s hands? Yes, Clinton represents the old guard; my meritocratic generation of Jews came inside with the Clintons 15 years ago, and now we are long in the tooth. But aren’t we empowered?

These gargantuan fees make my stomach turn. Who are we? Where are we going? What do we believe in? Those ancient Jewish questions. And a modern one: when will journalists begin to understand that the sociology of the Jewish rise is a legitimate and important story about American society and the formation of elites?

18 Responses

  1. jonathan ekman
    February 22, 2008, 11:35 am

    No gentile journalist in the MSM will ever
    have the courage to discuss the question of
    Jewish money and the influence it buys, while
    the few Jewish journalists who have the
    requisite temerity will automatically be
    pilloried as "self-hating Jews", so we are
    basically left with a Problem That Dare Not
    Speak Its Name.

  2. LAX
    February 22, 2008, 11:43 am

    From Wiki: A dominant minority, also known as alien elites if they are recent immigrants, is a group that has overwhelming political, economic or cultural dominance in a country or region despite representing a small fraction of the overall population (a demographic minority).

    At less than 3% of the population, I would argue that Jews are no longer just a media market-dominant minority in the U.S. They are the dominant minority.

  3. americangoy
    February 22, 2008, 11:46 am

    I wanted to post something here but Mr. jonathan ekman has beat me to it.

    But knowing me, I will do so anyway – I am verbose like that.

    In the American media, it is forbidden to discuss Jewish money influence on American politics, or if they DO mention it offhand, it must be with a caveat that "Jews give to both parties, and chiefly to Democrats, so there is no problem here. You hear that – NO PROBLEM! Move on now!"

    The trouble with this meme is that there definitely IS a problem – namely that much of the Jewish money is spent with a view of "What is good for Israel?".

    From that point of view, spending on both Democrats and Republicans makes perfect sense, as the lobby is hedging its bets so that no matter who wins, Israel will get its $3 billion "aid" next year…

    But, the media in the USA, when they actually (rarely) discuss Israel-USA policy disagreements, always bring on a nice fella from, say, AEI ("American Enterprise for Israelis institute") or the (Jewish) Heritage Foundation think tank, who are quick to say that "Israel and USA goals are the same" (for the first time in history this happens – of course, now we have Kosovo and Albania who also are 100% in agreement, strangely enough, for Kosovo to join Albania)…

    So there is no problem Americans – sleep tight, and watch your sons and daughters come home in a casket or without arms, legs or eyes, in part thanks to the "Israel first" lobby…

    And no, AEI and Heritage Foundation are not what I wrote them to be – at least not officially. If you don't know them – use your god given google to learn…

  4. Richard Witty
    February 22, 2008, 12:06 pm

    The scope of the fees to consultants is NOT just for the consultant and staff, but also for airtime, publications, mailing costs that the consultants contract to undertake.

    Its hard to know from the reports if its unfair or not.

    More telling though is the New York Times conclusions that Hillary "mismanaged" her campaign (not corruption, just poor strategy and poor utilization of resources).

    It killed her argument of experience and managerial competence.

    She has nothing left.

    "The trouble with this meme is that there definitely IS a problem – namely that much of the Jewish money is spent with a view of "What is good for Israel?"."

    Thats a GUESS. And an innaccurate one. I know MANY Jews, and we give to whom we consider the best candidate, of which their impression on Israel is a secondary component.

    We vote, and donate, on the basis of economy, adherence to high standards of civil liberties, respect for rule of law, effective and benevolent foreign policy.

    The invocation of "Jewish money" as an argument, is THE fascist argument. It was Hitler's, Mussolini's, Father Coughlin's, Lindbergh's.

    And, as such it says nothing.

    The invocation confirms Phil's mother's description of "The Israel Lobby" as the new fascism, the new "Protocols of the Elders of Zion".

    Its not "permitted" because it is hateful, false, irrelevant, malevolent.

  5. Jim Haywood
    February 22, 2008, 12:28 pm

    Here's the paragraph that caught my eye:

    "Joe Trippi … said … Mrs. Clinton built a top-down fund-raising operation that relied on a core group of donors … Mr. Obama, by contrast, focused on building a network of small donors whose continued ability to give has been essential to his success."

    TOP-DOWN is the key phrase here. Does anyone remember Mrs. Clinton's 'top-down' health plan of 1993? Its byzantine organizational chart caused such bafflement that not one of the six Congressional committees which reviewed it even reported out a bill.

    'Top-down' is a reflection of Hillary's autocratic personality. She doesn't have a populist bone in her body. No wonder she needed a 'listening tour' when she ran for Senate in New York. It must have been a new experience for her (listening, that is).

    By contrast, both Barack Obama and Ron Paul have demonstrated that the effectiveness of a grassroots campaign is not measured only in financial terms, but also in the genuine buzz it creates. There's no popular buzz for Hillary because, as an elitist, she doesn't trust the people.

    'Top-down' is for monarchs and autocrats. Here's to you, Your Majesty! Oops, I forgot to kneel. There goes my head!

  6. Jim Haywood
    February 22, 2008, 12:40 pm

    "We vote, and donate, on the basis of economy, adherence to high standards of civil liberties, respect for rule of law, effective and benevolent foreign policy." — R. Witty

    Your wisdom, sir, is exceeded only by your modesty. LOL!

  7. Charles Keating
    February 22, 2008, 1:56 pm

    Alice met him in Wonderland.

  8. Jessica
    February 22, 2008, 2:05 pm

    There is no need to feel "Jewish shame" about this issue. It is just politics as usual. I think Mark Twain said something to the effect that the only criminal class native to America is Congress. I would broaden his observation to include political consultants, too. Twain made that observation when there were very few Jews in America.

  9. Chuck
    February 22, 2008, 2:07 pm

    Charles Lindbergh was no facist by a long shot.

    Richard Witty, however, is an inveterate liar. His Americanism is strictly that of the poseur.

  10. Shlomo #5
    February 22, 2008, 2:54 pm

    Richard get's his information on Charles Lindbergh from Jewish novels. He doesn't like to have his preconceptions challenged.

  11. Defenestrator
    February 22, 2008, 5:24 pm

    Richard Witty,

    Prove just one thing you said, else you'll be lumped in with Krauthammer.

  12. Gene
    February 22, 2008, 11:48 pm

    Witty: "The invocation of "Jewish money" as an argument, is THE fascist argument. It was Hitler's, Mussolini's, Father Coughlin's, Lindbergh's."

    You can't dismiss an argument by saying Hitler (or Lindburgh) believed it too. Hitler advocated tree conservation and fuel efficient cars. But that hardly makes Nazi sympathizers out of the membership of Tree People or the Green Party.

  13. americangoy
    February 22, 2008, 11:55 pm

    ""We vote, and donate, on the basis of economy, adherence to high standards of civil liberties, respect for rule of law, effective and benevolent foreign policy." — R. Witty"

    So all of these trump a candidate's stand on Israel?

    As in, if a perfect candidate came up, who adhered to all these principles – was simply perfect for America, but..


    Had the temerity to question US aid to Israel, Israeli actions in Gaza, was perhaps calling for even handedness in American dealings with all sides of the Jewish-Palestinian conflict…

    You personally would vote for him, because he was perfect for America?

    And therein lies the $3 billion dollar question of dual loyalty – a heavy issue to bring out into the open, but an important one never the less.

    Am waiting for your answer.

    No weaseling out now – German and Italian and Japanese Americans FOUGHT against their countrymen in WW2.

    So no excuses.

  14. Leila Abu-Saba
    February 23, 2008, 12:17 am

    I'll say it again in this thread, with this preface – Despite my "funny" name, I am not an immigrant – I was born here, and my mother's people were born here going back ten or eleven generations to the earliest documented immigrant from England, 1649 in Virginia. (Somebody elsewhere on this blog tried to insult by telling me that as an immigrant, I wouldn't understand.)

    I never speak of "Jewish money" or "the Jewish lobby" – I try to be more specific than that. I married a Jewish man and most of his family is quite prosperous. Some have actual big bucks. THey are not monolithic in their ideas about Israel and I don't characterize them as a group on the topic. I speak of the "Israel-right-or-wrong" crowd. Yes it's clumsy but it describes more clearly the kind of person or group attitude I mean. I know there are people who donate money, lobby and organize on behalf of Israel who think whatever that country does is right. This is the problem in my view. To call this problem "Jewish" negates the wide range of thinking I have found among the many Jews I know in this country.

    Speaking of Jewish money makes no more sense to me than speaking of Muslim money. Which Muslims? Sunni fundamentalists in Saudi? Secular Shi'ite intellectuals in Beirut? My progressive Muslim friends in the States, with their queer politics and alternative art projects? Indonesian Muslims? Who are we talking about?

    If someone spoke of "Christian money" I would be equally confused. Which Christians? Lebanese right-wing Maronites? Jim Wallis of Sojourners? My friends the Catholic Workers living in poverty on the Lower East Side? Evangelical conservatives in Texas? Liberal Episcopalians in Brooklyn? Pro-Palestinian Quakers in Philadelphia? Left-wing Orthodox Christian revolutionaries in Lebanon and Palestine? Which Christians? I am a Christian because I was baptized (a Methodist BTW). Christian money – does that refer to my 401(k)? But I don't believe the Nicene creed, does my money still count?

    We all make sweeping generalizations. I do. But I think that persisting in using the term "Jewish money" invalidates the argument of the person who uses it.

    Of course I agree that it's important to look at money, power and influence, who possesses it and how they wield it. But I think it's equally important to be accurate. Since most of the Jews I know these days are pretty enlightened about Palestine and the Palestinians, I find it confusing to listen to an argument that lumps all Jews into one thought system. (No, I'm not saying most American Jews are so enlightened; I am saying that my sample set, leftist Berkeley/Oakland/Bay Area Jews with some New Yorkers thrown in, plus Richard Silverstein in Seattle – my sample set does not line up with these sweeping characterizations of "Jewish money.")

    I don't particularly agree with Richard Witty about much, but I agree with him on this: "The invocation of "Jewish money" as an argument, is THE fascist argument."

    However I don't find the term "the Israel lobby" equivalent. It refers to people who lobby on behalf of Israel. This is Phil's argument – this lobby exists. People in it admit that they are indeed lobbying for Israel. There is an Irish lobby. There is an Arab-American lobby but we argue with each other so much that we don't have much impact! There is an Armenian lobby, and so forth. Lobbying is part of the American system – I learned about it in government class in college. What is so awful about characterizing a lobby that pushes an Israeli agenda as "the Israel lobby?"

    Since I understand that not every Jewish person in the USA agrees with the aims of the Israel lobby, I don't find the term offensive.

    The problem for Richard Witty may be that he thinks that "Israel lobby" and "Jews" are terms that refer to the same exact set. This is false. Think of two large circles that overlap partially with each other, like those diagrams from math class. Some Jews do not support the Israel lobby; some in the Israel lobby are not Jews. Simple, huh?

    Heck, even what I would characterize as the Israel lobby is not monolithic. It's still useful to be able to name it as a lobby. It consists of people who lobby American governmental and other institutions on behalf of what they perceive as Israel's interests.

    Phil Weiss keeps insisting that we must speak openly of such lobbying and analyze how it has affected US policy in the Middle East. That's all.

    I really wonder if the commenters who go on about Jewish money are not actually trolling, looking to discredit the whole conversation with this old icky discourse. But that's my "Arab mind" at work, always seeing spies and conspiracies. (Irony)

  15. Richard Witty
    February 23, 2008, 4:43 am

    "I never speak of "Jewish money" or "the Jewish lobby" – I try to be more specific than that. "

    Thank you for that. It makes a big difference in keeping political discourse in the range of thinking, rather than hating.

    "I don't particularly agree with Richard Witty about much"

    If you actually dialogued with me, you might find that that is not as true as you imagine.

    "What is so awful about characterizing a lobby that pushes an Israeli agenda as "the Israel lobby?""

    There is none that is that specific and unanimous is the problem. It IS a term that is intended to characterize all with one brush. Richard Silverstein for example, is part of the Israel Lobby per the Walt/Mearsheimer thesis.

    When Michael Lerner (or I for that mattered) is taunted by leftists for carrying a sign "Zionists for Peace and Justice", that is also suppression.

  16. Charles Keating
    February 27, 2008, 6:59 am

    There are lobbys exclusively acting in the interest of foreign governments. They are registered as such in the clear light of day so anyone can consider the source. The Israel lobby, which originated as a Zionist enterprise, consistently drums up support for successive Likud regimes, is not one of them. The US congress and Excutive must toe the Likud line or get lost, regardless if that line is in the best interests of the U.S. or Israel–follow the campaign finance money, of which approximately two-thirds is is Jewish on the democratic side,
    and one-third on the Republican side. The key media for popular consumption sings this "Israel right or wrong" song and no other
    song get on American Idol.

  17. Naseer Ahmad
    March 22, 2008, 8:58 am

    As a "Liberal" I used to avoid saying
    "Jewish" anything, but if American media can't publish any pictures of the carnage in Gaza but lots of pictures of Jewish madrassa students getting killed (sorry) and each candidate expresses regret only for Jewish suffering, then I say something's amiss.

  18. celdet
    June 4, 2008, 7:43 pm

    Audacity of Hope:
    'I will stand with the Muslims
    should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.'

    this is a quote from Obama. What has the response been to this…has there been any?

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