Robert Reich pretends he’s stupid

Robt Reich photo by Perian Flaherty
Rob’t Reich (photo by Perian Flaherty)

This is shocking and outrageous. Robert Reich, the former Labor Secretary now a professor of public policy, affects ignorance on the score of why Sheldon Adelson has given Newt Gingrich all that money. The long quote below is from his blog.

Reich suggests that Adelson’s gift has to do with his casino interests. He does not mention Israel or Adelson’s friendship with Netanyahu or his millions to Birthright or One Jerusalem (Adelson’s cause leading up to 2000 election when he sought to sabotage the peace process). He cannot say what the Wall Street Journal states in the lead of a news story: “A shared interest in supporting Israel, fostered over 15 years, is at the heart of casino mogul Sheldon Adelson’s support for Newt Gingrich’s presidential bid.”

This is an important moment because it epitomizes the refusal of intelligent, prominent liberal American Jews to acknowledge the role of the Israel lobby (let alone dime out their crazy cousins, the neocons). Reich. Emphasis mine:

Adelson has done it again. He and his wife Marian have cut another $5 million check for Gingrich to go negative on Romney in Florida. The money won’t go as far as it did in South Carolina – TV ads cost a lot more in Florida – but it’s enough to give the Grinch a solid footing.

And, who knows? The Adelsons are billionaires. They might decide to put in another $5 million or perhaps $20 million into Gingrich’s Super Pac. The point is, there’s no limit.

Do you know who Sheldon and Marian Adelson are? Do you know what Gingrich has promised them, or what they think they’ll get out of a Grinch presidency? I don’t. But if Newt becomes President of the United States, they’ll be singularly responsible. And we better find out, because Newt will owe them big time.

Forget the Lincoln Bedroom. The Adelsons and their kids will have the run of the White House, including the Oval Office. Hey, they’ll take over the Old Executive Building next door and turn it into a casino.

Never before in the history of American politics has a single couple given more money to a single candidate and had a bigger impact – all courtesy of the Supreme Court and its grotesque decisions that speech is money and corporations are people under the First Amendment.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.
Posted in American Jewish Community, Israel Lobby, Israel/Palestine, US Policy in the Middle East, US Politics

{ 26 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Krauss says:

    The reason why the Israel Lobby is so powerful is not because of the hard-right crazies like Jonathan Tobin at Commentary. It’s the implicit backing of liberals like Robert Reich, Leslie Gelb, J.J Goldberg, Jeffrey Goldberg, Jonathan Chait and so on and on…

    These liberals are the enablers, playing stupid while the neocons burn away.
    The necons would never be as powerful as they are if they did not get this silent backing, contrast this vs the American debate on social issues like gay marriage, where there simply isn’t this kind of silent, implicit understanding on the ‘left’ towards the anti-choice people.

    We’ll never break the castles of the neocons, until we realize that the liberals, the moderates are playing along.

    It’s kind of like in the movie ‘The Help’ which focuses on the moderate middle class which defer to the radicals in their Deep South community. These people are not bad people, but they are misguided by a sense of ethnic loyalty and they cannot see their actions the way we can.

    It’s just like MLK said(not the “silence of our friends” comment), the biggest threat are the ‘moderates’, who have misgivings and are not always that enthustiastic, but neverless fall into line when the whip flies.

    Shame.

    • jewishgoyim says:

      I think Robert Reich is very different from the other dudes you cite. I think the others are kind of “liberal” neocons. It would not surprise me to learn that Reich is on the Mondoweiss side of the fence but that he has too much to lose as a public figure to say it. It is a little different from the neocons in sheep’s clothes that you single out.

      It is true that some people are disappointing in what they say compared to what one can think they think (Krugman comes to mind). But then not being explicit in criticizing the Israel lobby cannot be put on the same level as carrying water for it.

      I mean Jeffrey Goldberg = Robert Reich???? C’mon!!!! And I agree that he could have been a little more courageous on Adelson but still. The general direction of what he’s saying is 180° from what your other guys would say.

      • Citizen says:

        Reich described Adelson as a casino honcho, but chose not to also describe him as an Israel Firster despite the fact even Newt described Adelson’s sole concern as Israel, “Jewish survival.” So Reich raised the question of Adelsons’ motive for donating $10M to Newt and suggested (as Phil points out) only the red herring answer. Reich is complicit in keeping from the American public how they are dupes and pay for their own slow demise because our present and wannabee representatives are whores for a foreign country.

      • lysias says:

        I happened this morning to watch the last segment of Adam Curtis’s The Century of the Self. Reich appears in it, and is willing to be quite critical of Bill Clinton. No fear of saying something controversial there.

  2. Thanks Phil for highlighting this. Reich is an smart, articulate guy, and has a conscience. So how does this former Rhodes Scholar justify this intellectual pretense to himself? Refusing to acknowledge the power and influence of successful modern American Jews because it comes uncomfortably close to classic anti-Semitic tropes? Have courage Robert- much, much better to discuss such power and influence out in the open!

  3. Chu says:

    Title should read, “Robert Reich Thinks We’re Stupid”.

    I agree with what Krauss (above)is saying, but it’s apparent
    that there is the erosion of faith in the media, because of the
    inevitability of the internet, to interpret the great political landscape.
    Newspapers were great at establishing the dichotomy
    of right and left over the decades, now it’s more about one big establishment.

    The Paul movement is something that sprung up from
    the right, and one could argue as a result of the internet and it’s
    free flow of information. The Federal Reserve questions were key
    to Paul having a platform. And since that he has made a big dent in
    the republican establishment, it’s difficult for the the republican
    pundits to counter these concepts, And the democrats as well.

  4. marc b. says:

    i still don’t believe that that freak gingrich is electable, nor do i believe that adelson believes he is electable. but how does republican nominee romney respond to a robust gingrich/adelson campaign? is there a secretary of state, or secretary of the department of war, gingrich in romney’s future? it’s not just electability but the positioning of candidates at work here.

    to the condescending reich, chu has it right: you’re not as smart as you think, nor are we as dumb as you treat us. if reich’s willful ignorance is a defense mechanism against potential anti-semitism, it’s a tactic that will ultimately backfire.

    • American says:

      “if reich’s willful ignorance is a defense mechanism against potential anti-semitism, it’s a tactic that will ultimately backfire.”..marc b

      I think that is a good part of it.
      Reich is both smart and dumb—-he’s smart enough to understand the US Israel Firsters are flying too close to the flame in the US, and dumb or desperate enough to think he can throw the public off the trail by playing dumb himself.

    • Citizen says:

      I think Adelson is pushing the freaky Newt because he cannot lose since Newt is possibly on the right of his buddy Bibi N wrt Israel; last night, in response to a Palestinian American’s question raising the issue, how serious is the government in wanting peace in the ME when it has so little regard for Palestinians, Romney and Newt were both bending over backward, spewing out pure historic hasbara, and Santorum is the same–Adelson is just pushing for all the candidates to keep giving Israel anything it wants at our expense (and the World’s). They are all fighting over who loves Israel more and will show it at the expense of Dick and Jane. Adelson is just being an effective Zionist. If Americans can’t see this as a problem, and our own SCOTUS can’t see systematic bribery as not the same as free speech, than we will get what we deserve. And we will.

      Domestic social issues and entitlements will keep many from voting for Ron Paul. One of my sisters won’t vote for Ron Paul solely because she thinks he will effectively do away with Roe v Wade. She’s totally with RP on foreign policy and monetary policy.

      • in my fantasy life I think Newt is a Pretzel Patriot.

        Newt knows he can’t get elected.
        I don’t think he wants to be elected — he just wants money and the limelight to sell books & get speaking fees. Confinement to the White House and required to compromise would be like depriving him of oxygen.
        Newt is not as smart as his adoring fans think he is, but he IS smart enough to know that the crap Adelson is demanding him to say is pure BS.
        Newt also knows that his persona is a lightning rod — he grabs attention, and what he says grabs attention.
        So if Newt says, “Palestinians are an invented people,” he’s got to know that’s pure BS, he’s got to know a lot of people will shout it down, he’s got to know a lot of Jews will oppose it. Why does he say it?

        Because Adelson pays him to say it.
        Why does he take Adelson’s money?
        ‘Cause Newt likes & needs the $ duh
        and To keep Adelson’s money from going anywhere else.

        Adelson & Saban have been using American taxpayer money to harm the interests of Americans for a number of years now.

        Gingrich is returning the favor — He is using Adelson’s money to inform the deluded masses of the harmful character of the zionist ideology.

        I hope.

    • lysias says:

      What Adelson is enabling Gingrich to do is rapidly making Romney much less electable. If what Gingrich really wants is a post in a Romney administration, he’s doing a really lousy job of achieving that end.

  5. Kathleen says:

    Phil “This is an important moment because it epitomizes the refusal of intelligent, prominent liberal American Jews to acknowledge the role of the Israel lobby (let alone dime out their crazy cousins, the neocons). ”

    Phil many of us have recognized this unwillingness by intelligent allegedly justice minded Jews to not only willfully ignore the injustices in the I/P issue but go along, fuel these injustices with their silence. As you and others have pointed out many so called liberal and some conservative Jews have been coming out the last five or so years and making a stand. Knowing that criticizing Israeli policies that are in continual violation of UN resolutions and international agreements has and continue to endanger Isreal based on the 67 border. As well as put a dark shadow on the moral and spiritual standing of these individuals. One would think that Reich given his commitment to social and economic justice here in the states would have come to realize now is a much safer time for him to come out if indeed he has the capability to apply those standards to the I/P situation. Sad to think that such a brilliant man would be so woefully complicit when it comes to Israel’s crimes

  6. radii says:

    politics is about owing favors – who knows what favors Reich owes to the israeli lobby in some way?

    he is a nice man, he is quite intelligent and often correct in his economic assessments, he is a good talk show/news show guest

    he also did little but espouse rhetoric while Clinton’s labor secretary to stop the corporatization and free trade and outsourcing or checking the tech bubble that went on under Clinton

    • why is everybody bending over backward to protect REich?

      he keeps his lip buttoned because to do otherwise is to find oneself shunned by the Jewish community that keeps him where he wants to be.

      duh

  7. RE: “Do you know who Sheldon and Marian Adelson are? Do you know what Gingrich has promised them, or what they think they’ll get out of a Grinch presidency? I don’t.” ~ Reich

    MY COMMENT: Apparently Robert Reich did not watch the CBS Evening News yesterday evening!

    CBS EVENING NEWS VIDEO (from the 1/25/12 broadcast): Billionaire tycoon fueling Gingrich campaign ads
    Hotel and casino CEO Sheldon Adelson, along with his wife Miriam, have an estimated wealth of $23 billion. As Wyatt Andrews reports, their $10 million contribution to Newt Gingrich’s Super PAC is keeping anti Romney messages running on Florida television stations.
    LINK TO VIDEO – link to cbsnews.com

  8. dbroncos says:

    American:

    “Reich is both smart and dumb—-he’s smart enough to understand the US Israel Firsters are flying too close to the flame in the US, and dumb or desperate enough to think he can throw the public off the trail by playing dumb himself.”

    Yet Reich could do an even better job of throwing the public off the trail by avoiding the subject of the Gingrich-Adelson connection altogether. Instead, he asks the question: “Do you know what Gingrich has promised them, or what they think they’ll get out of a Grinch presidency?” Incredibly, he says he has no idea what Adelson wants for his money. Is this not an invitation for readers to find out for themselves?
    This could be a sign that Reich’s conscience is troubled, but not so much that he would provide an answer to his own question – not yet.

  9. Hostage says:

    all courtesy of the Supreme Court and its grotesque decisions that speech is money and corporations are people under the First Amendment.

    Clarification: speech is money under the First Amendment, but corporations are legal “persons” under the Supreme Court’s reading of the Fourteenth Amendment.

    Aliens are “persons” too, but the Supreme Court refused to grant resident aliens the right to vote or make campaign contributions. See for example Bluman v. Federal Election Commission. link to supremecourt.gov

    Corporations have no loyalty to the United States, especially those that are multinationals. The Congress should adopt a statute which stipulates that corporations are merely legal persons, but not citizens, and restrict the right to make contributions and vote to natural persons who are citizens of the United States.

    • piotr says:

      Hostage, are you sure? Permanent residents are allowed to make campaign contributions in USA.

      • Hostage says:

        Hostage, are you sure? Permanent residents are allowed to make campaign contributions in USA.

        The campaign contribution statute prohibits foreign nationals, including those residing here under employment visas or student visas, from taking part in our self-government. link to fec.gov

        The permission granted to permanent resident aliens to make campaign contributions is based upon the statute, not the First Amendment to the Constitution. link to codes.lp.findlaw.com

        I’m positive there are natural persons living in American Samoa and Washington D.C. , who are US nationals, that are either not allowed to vote or participate in our self-government, despite the meaning of the word “person” in the Fourteenth Amendment. The commerce clause should allow the Congress to stipulate that corporations are non-citizen US nationals too. The Supreme Court has already ruled that Congress can prohibit contributions from foreign corporations or aliens residing or doing business here without violating the First Amendment. If we can apply scrutiny to people and challenge their legal connection to the United States, then we can do the same to a multinational corporation.

  10. Hostage says:

    This is an important moment because it epitomizes the refusal of intelligent, prominent liberal American Jews to acknowledge the role of the Israel lobby (let alone dime out their crazy cousins, the neocons).

    Yes, there are several examples that come to mind of intelligent Jews with a Marxist background who are happy to condemn the neocons for being evil greedy “capitalists”, yet make the bizarre excuse that Zionists like Richard Perle and Eliot Abrams have long since abandoned their Jewish roots.

  11. piotr says:

    Infected by Reich’s ignorance, I googled for favorite causes of Sheldon Adelson. 1st hit:

    Online Poker Opponent Sheldon Adelson Gives $10M to Newt … (cardplayer.com, seems to me that at least one constituency wakes up and gathers pitchforks)

    Slate presents a different perspective: >>here are complicated political mysteries. There are mysterious-sounding events with not-so-secret explanations. Here’s today’s mystery: “Why does Sheldon Adelson want to give Newt Gingrich so much money?” The answer, as Gingrich put it: “He knows I’m very pro-israel, and that’s the central value of his life. He’s worried that Israel will not survive.”

    Hypothetically, say that I am an ardent Zionist, fan of Pamela Geller, but an even more avid afficionado of on-line poker. Slate story is very reassuring, especially if you also see this catch at rense.com (otherwise recommending organic food and investing in bullion): “In 2009, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), which is a hard-line Zionist group that wants Israel to retain the occupied territories and expand the Jewish settlements, presented Adelson its most distinguished and historic award, the Theodor Herzl Gold Medallion for outstanding achievement in Zionism. His wife received the Louis D. Brandeis Award. The couple now have their names on one of ZOA’s major awards, the Dr. Miriam & Sheldon Adelson Defender of Israel Award.”

    Still, Adelson is a casino boss first and foremost, and he is surely keen to kill online competition. Something that Ron Paul would never do. I also suspect that Adelson supports Gingrich precisely because many very rich Jews support Romney. Romney would end up being beholden to Israel, but Gingrich — to Adelson. With Gingrich in one pocket and Netanyahu in the other, both heads of respective governments, Adelson will stride from continent to continent like colossus and fellow billionaires will abase themselves. Wouldn’t be more prudent and, say, democratic, to go for a candidate that is supported by a consortium of lesser billionaires?

  12. lysias says:

    Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! this morning played the clip of Gingrich saying Adelson was giving him all that money because he (Gingrich) is a strong supporter of Israel.

    I wonder if Robert Reich listens to or watches Democracy Now!.

  13. powzon says:

    Having so valued Reich’s service, learning and instruction for so long, having presumed rectitude in his character and intellect, this is extremely disappointing.

  14. chauncey says:

    The link provided is to the Reich article at readersupportednews.org.
    RSN is run by Marc Ash, who started truthout.org. This fellow (and RSN) is very PEP.
    link to counterpunch.org

    (BTW, Ash claims he averaged 140k founding and running truthout before he got the boot.)

  15. Bravo. Sheldon Adelson is an aggressive proponent of endless war in the Middle East, to “protect” Israel, even if it costs the US trillions of dollars.

    Adelson wants Israel to annex the West Bank.

    Robert Reich surely is well aware of these facts.