Hagel hearing was senators’ audition for donors — Rosenberg

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More Israel lobby in the news. MJ Rosenberg has a column about why so many Senators were kissing up to the lobby in the Chuck Hagel confirmation hearing of 9 days ago. He says that even South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham was motivated by the desire for money from the lobby:

The Hagel hearing, on the other hand, wasn’t really a hearing at all. For the senators it was just an opportunity to audition in front of current or potential donors.

It was like getting a speaking role at the AIPAC annual conference, an opportunity to demonstrate that a legislator was 100% for whatever the lobby is for.

The worst thing was that a hearing about leading the Pentagon barely touched on any of the issues that affect America’s military. So eager were the senators to suck up to the lobby by proclaiming undying devotion to Israel that they barely mentioned the 1.5 million Americans on active duty and all the problems they face. Nor was there much interest expressed in the current war in Afghanistan or our continuing role in Iraq. Or about when the use of military force is warranted and when it isn’t.

No, it was all about Israel, actually not so much Israel as the Israel lobby. What, other than the desire to please the lobby, could have made Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) ask for Hagel’s commitment that Israel’s aid package would be exempt from sequestration cuts, unlike all the programs that actually affect her constituents?

But her pandering to AIPAC was typical, replicated by such other lobby devotees as Lindsey Graham (R-SC) who histrionically read from a lobby script attesting to the lobby’s non-existence – and demanded that Hagel apologize for ever suggesting that there is such a thing as the (gasp) “Jewish lobby.” Graham, no special fan of Israel, is concerned about a challenge from a Tea Party candidate in 2014 and is eager to raise money from AIPAC-associated donors to help him withstand the challenge

Of course, Gillibrand is from New York but that barely matters any more. She, like her Republican colleagues — Graham, Ted Cruz of Texas, Roy Blunt of Missouri, David Vitter of Louisiana and Mike Lee of Utah, — was playing for money not votes, national money. Although the Republicans know that that lobby donors are unlikely to support right-wing Republicans, they also know (as Jesse Helms discovered) that enthusiastic pandering to AIPAC will make it harder for their Democratic opponents to raise money. Not when, to use AIPAC’s term, the Republican incumbent is a “staunch supporter” of Netanyahu.

In short, the Hagel hearing was a nauseating spectacle.

I’d add this analysis to Rosenberg’s. New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg is diving into Illinois politics, targeting a candidate in the Democratic primary to replace a departed congressman because the candidate when formerly in Congress supported gun rights. Bloomberg’s ads single out the NRA, the leading gun lobby organization; because Bloomberg sees unfettered gun rights as a threat to public safety. His PAC ran an ad saying, “[Former Congresswoman Debbie] Halvorson got an A from the NRA.” Gun rights have now become a big issue in the campaign. Have you ever seen a major political figure running ads against the Israel lobby? No; the mainstream is unified in support for Israel. The only candidate I can remember running directly against the lobby was Marcy Winograd in California– and Politico took care to inform us that her support for one democratic state in Israel and Palestine was a fringe position even on the left.

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