Weiner’s progressive defenders blind themselves to the rightwing views that may now ensure his survival

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Two quick points about the Anthony Weiner scandal. First, among heavy hitters in the progressive media, no one wants to point out that Weiner’s Israel-Palestine views put him in deep Likud territory, which on the American spectrum translates into an ethno-nationalism beyond the pale were it to involve any other ethnic group. Weiner is a “progressive” on health care and taxes and gay rights and myriad other issues—and on this salient point, a veritable David Duke. I was astonished to hear him in person debating Brian Baird late last winter. I had expected smooth Democratic Party style hasbara, and heard instead the kind of “my people are always right” belligerence that might come from a Milosevic backer. 

Is Israel-Palestine so insignificant an issue that it deserves no mention at all by Chris “Weiner is a mensch” Matthews? Josh Marshall has run a half- dozen pieces on the scandal without mentioning that the congressman holds views on Israel-Palestine seemingly diametrically opposed to Obama’s and his own. Hendrik Hertzberg opines on Weiner’s “steel”, “determination” and “dignity” and hopes he’ll rise soon from scandal’s muck. It’s almost inexplicable, especially from those like Hertzberg and Marshall who have shown plenty of insight into where Israel’s present course is leading, taking America with it. 

Though avoided by media progressives, the Israel connection is likely to weigh on how the scandal plays out.

Weiner is a vital, even exemplary, figure in the “Progressive Except Palestine” nexus: he’s a smart, energetic and highly regarded Congressman—the kind other pols look up to. Every politician in New York (governors included) would like to be mayor of New York City; Weiner looked like he was going to be.

This place in the PEP firmament may ensure, against heavy odds, Weiner’s political survival. Progressives are common enough but those in government who can play the double standard game at a high level are rare. Already one can see the Zionist right beginning to rally to him. Morton Klein of the of the pro-settlement ZOA calls Weiner “among the best” in his positions on Israel, and Orthodox Jewish voices have begun to contribute weighty phrases about Jewish values and forgiveness and atonement.  We should expect more of this in the days to come.

Though GOP House majority leader Eric Cantor asked for Weiner’s resignation, this was early and pro forma, and it wouldn’t surprise to see him press the point no further. Of all people, Cantor recognizes Weiner’s value in keeping the American Congress lined up foursquare behind a country that traduces the professed values of most of its members.

About Scott McConnell

Scott McConnell is a founding editor of the American Conservative. The former editorial page editor of The New York Post, he has written for Fortune, The New Criterion, National Review, Commentary and many other publications.

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