Obama’s philosemitic network reflects the new establishment

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
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Maureen Dowd points out wisely that the Obama administration is too white. There are only two blacks in the administration, she says.

unlike Bill Clinton, who never needed help fathoming Southern black culture, Obama lacks advisers who are descended from the central African-American experience, ones who understand “the slave thing,” as a top black Democrat dryly puts it.

The first black president should expand beyond his campaign security blanket, the smug cordon of overprotective white guys surrounding him — a long political tradition underscored by Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 when she complained about the “smart-ass white boys” from Walter Mondale’s campaign who tried to boss her around.

That "smug cordon" that Dowd astutely describes is also a philosemitic one. Israel lobbyist Mitchell Bard points out all the Jews in the Obama administration.

David Axelrod (2009- ) Senior Advisor to the President; Jared Bernstein (2009- ) Chief Economist and Economic Policy Advisor to the Vice President; Rahm Emanuel (2009- ) Chief of Staff; Lee Feinstein (2009- ) Foreign Policy Advisor; Gary Gensler (2009- ) Chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission; Elena Kagan (2009- ) Solicitor General of the United States; Ronald Klain (2009- ) Chief of Staff to the Vice President; Jack Lew (2009- ) Deputy Secretary of State; Eric Lynn (2009- ) Middle East Policy Advisor; Peter Orszag (2009- ) Director of the Office of Management and Budget; Dennis Ross (2009- ) Special Advisor for the Gulf and Southwest Asia to the Secretary of State; Mara Rudman (2009- ) Foreign Policy Advisor; Mary Schapiro (2009- ) Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission; Dan Shapiro (2009- ) Head of Middle East desk at the National Security Council; James B. Steinberg (2009- ) Deputy Secretary of State; Lawrence Summers (2009- ) Director National Economic Council; Mona Sutphen (2009- ) Deputy White House Chief of Staff

I think Bard may be missing a Shapiro (I’m guessing the asst secy of State is Jewish), as well as Stuart Levey, the Iran guy in Treasury, and czar Cass Sunstein. My impression is that Obama’s philosemitism outstrips Clinton’s and Bush’s. And the lesson is that Obama is a conservative person temperamentally who has a keen sense of where American power lies. Originally an outsider from a scattered family in the west, he gravitated unerringly toward the east coast Harvard establishment; and the American establishment today has a prominent Jewish component.

Here is Walter Russell Mead making a similar point (

in a Foreign Affairs review

of David Remnick’s book on Obama): “Most readers will feel that Remnick spends entirely too much time on detailed accounts of the ultimately irrelevant candidates who tried and failed to stop Obama’s march to the Senate in 2004. Instead, Remnick should have put his intelligence to work on the mostly white world of liberal Hyde Park activism, which had a profound effect on Obama during his years in Chicago. This is a regrettable oversight, since, as Remnick’s narrative makes clear, white (and often Jewish) friends and associates formed a critical part of Obama’s network.”

This is not a sinister trend; it is the trend that lifted me. And history suggests that establishments come and go, with particular sociological flavors. The WASPs are over; none are on the Supreme Court today. The significance of these numbers is the effect on Middle East policy. And of course, along with that, the absence of Arab-Americans; and the fact that people like Rashid Khalidi, Chas Freeman and Rob Malley (yes, a Jew, but a progressive one) are exiled from this braintrust.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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