Last night on Hardball, Chris Matthews bashed the 47 Senators who wrote the loony-toons letter to Iranian leaders and repeatedly questioned why they would seek to undermine U.S. foreign policy in apparent violation of the Logan Act, who had written the letter, and how Senator Tom Cotton had gotten 46 senators to sign on after being in the Senate all of a few weeks. Good questions. Matthews alluded to Republican donors:
Could it be politics? It’s OK to be for fighting Iran, because it’s pretty good, healthy in terms of fundraising and things like that. It makes you popular with some people, hawks… Big fundraisers are … very hawkish about Iran, that’s a fact.
But Matthews didn’t say anything about who those donors are. The man who can’t help identifying Peter King as Irish and guests Christina Bellantoni and Gregory Angelo as Italian simply can’t bring the word Israel lobby to his lips.
It’s a common affliction. This profile in the New York Times of lead letter-writer Cotton of Arkansas also never mentions Israel. Though Jennifer Steinhauer quotes Bill Kristol again and again, she identifies Kristol as
“the editor of the conservative Weekly Standard and an early supporter of Mr. Cotton’s political career.”
But Kristol is head of the Emergency Committee for Israel, which gave nearly $1 million to Cotton toward the end of his campaign challenge to Mark Pryor in Arkansas last fall. And Kristol speaks at AIPAC, the leading Israel lobby group. Again, not a word about it.
Steinhauer does describe the 6-5 Cotton as “alpine,” which Webster’s defines as “of or relating to a type of stocky broad-headed white men of medium height with brown hair or eyes often regarded as constituting a branch of the Caucasian race.” I don’t think Cotton is alpine.
And this is pretty squirrely too:
Back home [about 5 years ago], Mr. Cotton began to attend events at the conservative American Enterprise Institute and became closer to Mr. Kristol and others who saw his potential.
Israel appears to be the main motivation of those Republican donors. Paul Blumenthal is honest about this calculus, at Huffpo. The big Republican Party donors are pro-Israel donors:
Along with [Sheldon] Adelson, there are three other donors who fund both anti-Iran groups and the Republican Party’s super PAC infrastructure: hedge fund directors Paul Singer and Seth Klarman, and Home Depot founder Bernard Marcus. These four right-wing, pro-Israel donors gave a combined $11.5 million to some of the biggest opponents of the Iran negotiations from 2011 through 2013, and pumped $115 million into Republican Party super PACs in the 2012 and 2014 elections.
“Reasonable people can disagree on our country’s foreign policy, but I think everyone would agree it should be driven by the merits, not the ideology of big donors,” Adam Smith, spokesman for the campaign finance watchdog group Every Voice, told The Huffington Post. “Unfortunately, that’s the appearance Sheldon Adelson sitting in the House balcony gives off, and that’s a problem.”
And at Lobelog, Eli Clifton and Jim Lobe report on the Israel lobby’s support for Cotton:
Cotton’s rise to prominence didn’t come cheap and required friends with very deep pockets. His Senate campaign cost $13.9 million, and some of his biggest campaign contributions came from far outside his home state of Arkansas. That doesn’t include the nearly one-million-dollar contribution in supportive political advertising made by Bill Kristol’s Emergency Committee for Israel in the closing days of Cotton’s Senate campaign, as has already been reported here.
A National Review article from July 2013 offered some details about a fundraiser held on behalf of the then 36-year-old “farm boy” from Arkansas’ in New York City. The guest list, as described in the article, was a who’s who of the hawkish Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) leadership and the Republican Party’s most influential money men. It reads:
“The conservative hedge-fund billionaire Paul Singer and former Romney foreign policy adviser Dan Senor last month hosted a fundraiser for him in New York City that hauled in over $100,000 from high-dollar Republican donors including Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam. There, according to one attendee, Senor joked about Cotton’s looming senatorial bid, ‘just to acknowledge the elephant in the room.'”
I’m glad that the Israel lobby is at play more than ever before. As Martin Indyk said at the start of this amazing scandal, Netanyahu’s overreach could allow President Obama “to take on the Jewish lobby.” Now it turns out Jews overwhelmingly are siding with Obama, and the Israel lobby is broken apart. “From what I’m hearing, Jews across the political spectrum are mortified & furious at the shit Netanyahu, AIPAC & the GOP pulled this month,” MJ Rosenberg says. These are great stories for any journalist. When is the Mainstream Media going to talk about the Israel lobby in the Republican Party?
Photo thanks to Dylan Williams J Street feed.
Update: The New Yorker is also incurious about the sources of Cotton’s rise. It’s baffled by how this came to pass.
Something seems to be out of kilter in the political marketplace that yielded Tom Cotton. How are younger legislators with assets like military experience—something in too short supply in Congress—deployed and, more crucially, developed, and which talents are rewarded?
Golly. You’d think it was their first day at the neocon fair.