I just heard Joe Trippi on NPR this morning admiring the Sarah Palin choice as potentially transformative. Not that he's for her. But Trippi is a populist operative, and he sees the power of Palin's appeal. Trippi emphasized that both McCain and Palin can play as outsiders who oppose government corruption.
At the risk of contradicting myself (it's never stopped me before), an argument can be made that Palin demonstrates that the Israel lobby is alive in the mind of the American polity. People know something's rotten in the state of Baghdad/Washington, and even if the MSM won't talk about the Israel lobby, apart from Joe Klein and Jeffrey Goldberg squealing out contraband thoughts, people have heard about the Israel agenda in countless ways. On the blogosphere, in the now-licit talk on Huffpo about Israel-firsters, in James Morris's impudent questions on CSPAN (he recently confronted a foreign policy panel at the LA Book Fair about the Walt and Mearsheimer book, and my friend author Zack Karabell said, "It's a bad book," without elaboration; want to elaborate, Zack? (Morris provided this link, says Karabell called it "a terrible book"), from all the murmurings by Colin Powell, Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Glenn Kessler in his bio of Condi Rice, etc. etc. People aren't stupid. They know there's a frikkin' lobby. When Obama talks about taking on the lobbyists in Washington, there's a shadow-illumination effect on the Israel lobby. Yes he kissed AIPAC's ring in June, but it was a craven moment that even Dana Milbank found squeamish-making. And Obama is officially against lobbyists.
That's why I think there's considerable political force in the Palin choice. Who knows what she'll do? She's obviously a populist, she hates lobbyists. Took on the oil industry, at times, in Juneau. And McCain cashiered Lieberman, the voice of the lobby, in choosing her. So says the Times today. I can't wait to hear what David Brooks will say about Palin. He's the new Republican Party, the sophisticated, blue-state neoconnish pro-stem-cell Republican Party. How happy can they be with Palin? They can't be happy. She's a force let loose in our politics. Who knows what she'll be saying in 10 years?
Does McCain love Lieberman? One of the lessons about Harry Truman supporting the Jewish state in '48 is that he did so at war with himself. He made antisemitic comments, said he wished all the Jews would go there now he'd given them a state, and he complained angrily about the Zionist lobby, even barring Chaim Weizmann from his office (Michael Beschloss reports). I am saying that an antipathy between populism and Zionist influence is now a traditional faultline in our politics, deeply aggravated lately by Israel's horrifying policies and Walt and Mearsheimer and Carter's bravery. It can't be wished away. The Palin pick suggests that the issue is half-consciously alive in the mainstream discourse, out there, and that it will break out bigtime before long, maybe even in the campaign ahead of us, and that President Obama will be able to use this populist force as a counterweight to the Is-lobs who think they own him and Jerusalem, and that he will thereby effect a just, and therefore lasting, peace. Inshallah