I realized that I’ve been doing facile mindreading on Sheldon Adelson. How do we know why he’s giving his money to Newt Gingrich? Couldn’t Adelson be exercised about some policy — labor laws, international trade– that has nothing to do with that other issue that’s close to his heart, Israel? When I wrote the other day that Gingrich got paid $5 million by Adelson for his statement that the Palestinians are an “invented people”– well, sure, the timing’s right, but is that really why Adelson gave him the dough?
I.e., why does this episode show that the Israel lobby is a monomaniacal and constant force in our politics (as I regularly assert)?
I’ve looked into it, and the answer is that leaving aside personality issues–Adelson’s quirkiness and irascibility and giant ego– I believe he is making a calculated effort to advance an ultra-Zionist agenda that he does not trust Romney to adhere to without political pressure.
In a word, a President Romney might try and make a deal for a Palestinian state. And Adelson is trying to make sure that Romney is too beholden to neocons on election day in November ever to do such a thing.
This is precisely what he did in the 2000 election. Alarmed that Bill Clinton and Ehud Barak were planning to divide Jerusalem, Adelson (and others) intervened. And George Bush and Ariel Sharon put the peace process on ice.
Here are three smart people who can explain this better than I can.
Leon Hadar at Huffington Post says that the election results so far show that neoconservatism is on the run. He adds internationalist Jon Huntsman’s number to Ron Paul’s, to say
40 percent of the Republican voters in New Hampshire have rejected President George W. Bush’s global military adventures and democratic crusades. Moreover, the three most radical neocons in the race — former House Speaker News Gingrich, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, and Texas Governor Rick Perry — who cannot wait to start bombing Iran — in the case of Perry, to re-invade Iraq — got altogether 20 percent of the vote in New Hampshire….
If Republican candidate Romney wants to ensure that the supporters of Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman — that include many young voters and the kind of middle class professionals that constitute the critical bloc of “independent voters” — he would need to respond to their opposition to military adventurism in the name of regime change and nation building and accommodate their views by embracing a more prudent and realist foreign policy agenda that looks more like that of George H. W. Bush than that of his son. Or Romney is going to find out in the general election that it is his own neoconservative foreign policy views that may be “outside the mainstream” of the Republican Party and majority American opinion..
That realist pressure is just what Adelson fears. Another friend echoes this point:
Gingrich is the guy who says Palestinians don’t exist. Adelson, we’ve learned, loves this line. But Romney is the guy who hits Gingrich on Palestinians don’t exist and said he’s undecided on Pollard and moving the embassy to Jerusalem.
The latter here is the big dog whistle. That spells, for Adelson, Romney’s potential for weakness on an issue so big for Adelson that he bankrolled a whole organization to advocate (One Jerusalem– to keep J’lem unified).
Don’t forget that Romney wavers. The word in his last campaign was that Dan Senor and Mitchell Reiss were constantly at loggerheads representing the neoconservative and realist factions, respectively. Well, they’re both back this year, but along with a whole host of other neocons, and fewer of the realists.
Campaigns are good places to lay down bold ideas….You’ll probably do some minor damage to Romney by taking this, yes, longshot. But voters will probably forget about all that by November. The most important thing is making sure Romney gets yanked right, too.
Finally, here’s Scott McConnell:
Romney doesn’t need the money, Gingrich does, and he’s more ready to say extremist things than Romney, who is cautious. Adelson wants ideas represented that are generally beyond the pale in the political system. He need someone to push the envelope in a way that Romney would never do. Gingrich is not Barbara Lerner in the National Review saying that the West Bank is Israel’s, he’s someone who might be president.
McConnell says that neocons were disappointed with George W. Bush in his second term. Disappointed that he pushed the peace process, disappointed that he did not bomb Iran. They are deeply worried that a belief in a Palestinian state is now “institutionalized” in our political structure. Gingrich’s outspokenness on this question, and his ability to take Romney on, is Adelson’s best assurance that Romney won’t go wobbly.
McConnell: “Check out this right wing Zionist blog, Israpundit. The guy has good contacts in Bibi’s government. It talks about the long term plan to bury the two state solution, in consciousness as well as deed, and quotes a minister or sub minister. I think it fits in with what Adelson is trying to do.”
His cite is to Ted Belman, quoting Boogie Yaalon:
The peace process is like a super tanker in that it has a lot of momentum and must be turned very slowly. The current government is going about the slow turning by constantly taking position which show that the Arabs will never agree. In time the west will lose confidence in the two state solution. Similarly the Israel people are also being weaned off the two state solution. Much of the reason it has such a huge momentum is due to the policies of the former government.