Sheldon Adelson is beginning to attain Koch Brothers-like standing for American liberals. I.e., his funding of Republican candidates is becoming controversial among Democrats; the press is finally beginning to pick up on a real problem, the corruption of the Republican presidential process by the man who wants to nuke Iran.
This weekend, Adelson is staging a beauty pageant for the Republican candidates in Las Vegas. The candidates are auditioning before the Republican Jewish Coalition, and it’s all about Israel. And Adelson is making news.
MARK SHIELDS: Judy, just one quick thing — $93 million Sheldon Adelson and wife gave to Republican candidates in 2012.
And the Koch brothers are talking about raising $900 million. They are not altruists. I mean, they have an agenda. Make no mistake about it. That’s what we’re talking about with the dimension of money now in our politics, which is very much in the saddle…
DAVID BROOKS: Yes. It would just say, quickly, there is a difference between an ideological agenda, which seems to me legitimate, and a business deal that you want to get ratified.
MARK SHIELDS: Well, OK. No, I’m not questioning — I would rather — I would take the second, quite frankly.
DAVID BROOKS: Interesting.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You would take which?
MARK SHIELDS: I would take a business — I would take a business deal, rather than somebody who is making foreign policy for the United States.
JUDY WOODRUFF: All right. Less than a minute.
At Adelson’s conference, former NY Gov. George Pataki is laying down the foreign policy line, reports Jacob Kornbluh at this Jewish political news site:
Pataki is expected to urge all presidential candidates to agree to terminate any nuclear deal President Obama signs with Iran if elected president, in a speech kicking off the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) spring leadership meeting in Vegas Friday evening, a source close to Pataki told JP…
In private meetings on the sidelines of the conference, Pataki, a potential candidate for president, will urge Republican Jewish mega-donors to ensure that all presidential candidates agree to terminate any deal President Obama makes with Iran as a pre-requisite to receive support, the source added.
Mitt Romney was the last winner of the Adelson primary, in 2012. And naturally he spoke at the RJC conference. Here is Matt Brooks of the Republican Jewish Coalition, reporting on the speech:
[email protected] speaking to @RJCHQ dinner – “this president has never met a red line he hasn’t walked away from”.
Jim Lobe reports that though S.C. Sen. Lindsey Graham toed the neoconservative line on the Iran deal, he isn’t important enough to be invited to Vegas.
Poor Lindsey: his campaign may never get off the ground, his Vegas invite rescinded at the last moment.
The Nation is also on the Adelson story. Ali Gharib describes Adelson as part of the Israel lobby:
Adelson demands of his beneficiaries total fealty to his extraordinarily hawkish pro-Israel views (he even publicly upbraided AIPAC, which he has funded to the tune of millions, over the group’s support for George W. Bush’s short-lived Annapolis process for Israeli-Palestinian peace).
Politico says that Marco Rubio is leading in the race to win the Adelson primary, though Scott Walker also has his hat in the ring.
Here’s another good sign. Democrats are politicizing Adelson’s primary. The chair of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, surely doesn’t want big Jewish donors to move to the Republicans and she attacks Adelson in the JTA as a rightwing outlier: “Courting Adelson is not Jewish outreach.”
This weekend, a collection of GOP presidential candidates will arrive in Las Vegas for a meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition. But don’t allow yourself to be fooled into thinking that these candidates are making a real attempt to appeal to American Jewish voters.
Their presence is all about winning over a single Jewish donor: Sheldon Adelson.
There is, to be sure, not one word of criticism of Israel or the settlement project in this piece, but an effort to change the subject to Jewish social progressive values, which are unrepresented by the Republicans.
Meantime, CNN Friday reported on Jeb Bush’s continuing efforts to throw Jim Baker under the bus because of mildly critical comments Baker made about Israel at the J Street Conference in March:
Jeb Bush on Thursday sought to distance himself from former Secretary of State James Baker, one of his foreign policy advisers, saying in a closed-door meeting that he doesn’t believe Baker should have recently addressed the liberal-leaning Israel advocacy group J Street. He also pledged that his foreign policy team will also consist of younger experts, according to two attendees.
Bush, a former Florida governor and likely 2016 GOP presidential candidate, was asked about Baker’s March J Street appearance during a question-and-answer session at a “meet and greet” hosted by the Manhattan Republican Party.
Baker made waves with controversial comments that were strongly critical of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Bush has come under fire from conservatives since then for not denouncing Baker’s remarks or his appearance before the group. Baker was secretary of state under former President George H.W. Bush, Jeb Bush’s father.
According to the two sources in the room, Bush — in a light-hearted tone — remarked that people like Baker and George Shultz, secretary of state under President Ronald Reagan, were over 85 years old, drawing some laughter from the audience. Bush went on to emphasize that he plans to surround himself with foreign policy advisers who are from a different generation
This is clearly about winning Adelson’s money. It would be nice if CNN talked about that.
Finally, go to the New Yorker, and they’re talking about the Koch Brothers. The joke is that the Koch Brothers have purchased Scott Walker, by Andy Borowitz. Isn’t this a way of avoiding the subject? It turns out Walker has a very clear line on Iran. He’s agreed, as Pataki puts it, to “terminate” the deal.
So far, only Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has vowed to disavow such a deal reached with Iran.