The stinging defeat of Senator Marco Rubio in his home state of Florida yesterday, and his withdrawal from the Republican race, have very powerful significance: pro-Israel neoconservatism has been flushed from the Republican Party, twenty years after it captured that party and produced the Iraq War.
Rubio ran as the candidate of the neoconservative faction in the Republican Party. He raised a ton of money on that basis. Donald Trump ran against the Iraq war and for a more evenhanded policy visavis the Israel/Palestine issue; and Trump smashed Rubio on his own ground.
The neoconservatives may now flock to Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side. Robert Kagan already has. Right now there is no other game in town.
Chris Matthews all but stated that neoconservatism is a Jewish pro-Israel movement last night. You have not heard such a bald description of the neocons’ agenda in the mainstream media ever I think, and that in itself is a sign of their loss of power:
One of the big factors that’s been unleashed… There’s a very significant but small number of people, they’re called noeconservatives. They’re sons of immigrants or grandsons of immigrants. They’re very pro Israeli. They’re very pro immigrant. Because they’re children and children of immigrants themsevles.
They’d been backing Rubio as their hope. He’s a hawk, he throws lines like Judea and Samaria, a reference to the fact of greater Israel, that the Likudnik party has never wanted to give away.
They send all those kinds of signals. Rubio has been that sort of guy. Now he’s gone.
They’re very active on the op-ed pages. They’re very intellectual. I like a lot of them personally. People like Bill Kristol, John Podhoretz, Robert Kagan, Charles Krauthammer, very smart people who have neoconservative culture and views behind them. They’re going to be interesting to watch now. I don’t think they’re comfortable at all with Trump with his latest line about being evenhanded on the Middle East. That’s not going to sell at all.
They don’t like him. They don’t think he’s classy enough….
That candidate [they go to] could very well be Hillary Clinton.
That’s when you’re gong to see a real sea change, on the op-eds of our major newspapers, people writing with a very strong evenhandedness [about the two parties]…
This is a big development night. Their vessel has sunk. Now they’re gong to be struggling in the water.
Marco’s Waterloo = the end of neonconservatism as a political force in the GOP. Glory, glory hallelujah!
In her victory speech last night, Hillary Clinton made an implicit nod to Israel and to Donald Trump’s wishywashiness. She echoed Marco Rubio’s attack on Trump as not supportive of our allies.
“We live in a complex and, yes, a dangerous world. Protecting America’s national security can never be an after thought. Our commander in chief has to be able to defend our country, not embarrass it, engage our allies, not alienate them, defeat our adversaries, not embolden them. When we have a candidate for president call for rounding up 12 million immigrants, banning all Muslims from entering United States, when he embraces torture, that doesn’t make him strong, it makes him wrong.”
Scott McConnell says the neocons are now thought to be up for grabs; and it means a lot that Matthews is talking about it:
Chris Matthews says Cruz pitched his speech tonite towards [Sheldon]Adelson/[Paul]Singer/ (FP hawks) and Koch bros. (kill the EPA). Incisive for TV.
Neoconservative Bill Kristol has moved on to a new strategy: getting an establishment Republican to run against Trump and Hillary Clinton.
An Independent Republican could win, w/ Clinton at 56 unfav & Trump at 67, & possibility of Trump meltdown in general.
Kristol is even notioning the candidacy of Tom Cotton, the Arkansas senator whom the neoconservatives made in 2014:
E-mail from serious guy: “Sasse or Cotton as Ind Rep/constl conservative? If either jumped in I’d be tempted to take leave to help them.”
When Kristol says that the guy is serious, he means that he has a lot of money. Kristol’s Emergency Committee for Israel lifted Cotton with $1 million in his 2014 Senate race, and he promptly attempted to sabotage the Iran deal. And no one really talked about it. Now they will, because the neocons are losing power.
As you read this, bear some things in mind. Matthews’s all-but-explicit identification of neocons as Jews is fine. Neoconservatism came out of the Jewish community, and was based on hawkish pro-Israel views; many Jewish writers said as much– even Alan Dershowitz, here. Back in the 1970s, neoconservative founders Norman Podhoretz and Irving Kristol originated the movement when they jumped to the Republican Party in the wake of George McGovern’s nomination by the Democrats; because they doubted the Democrats would use force to support Israel. A weak Defense budget would “drive a knife in the heart of Israel,” Kristol said outright in a Jewish publication.The creed was plain:
it is now an interest of the Jews to have a large and powerful military establishment in the United States… American Jews who care about the survival of the state of Israel have to say, no, we don’t want to cut the military budget, it is important to keep that military budget big, so that we can defend Israel.
Then in the 1990s, his son Bill worked to purge the “Arabists” and realists from the Republican establishment, people like Jim Baker and Brent Scowcroft who were against marching on Baghdad. Kristol and Kagan produced the neoconservative braintrust that helped to give us the Iraq war under Bush.
And all this time, neoconservatism was not politicized because there was a companion wing on the Democratic side: the liberal interventionists, the Democratic political/media bloc that supported the Iraq War, from Jeffrey Goldberg who may as well have been a neocon to Bill Keller to David Remnick to Chuck Schumer to Hillary Clinton. The entire foreign policy establishment was an Israel lobby establishment; no one argued about a militant Israel-supporting foreign policy in political races, except rank outsiders.
Hillary Clinton will now also be making a play for the neoconservative faction, inasmuch as there is a lot of money there. Read this comment, on a New York Times editorial, from a Hillary supporter, called Peg, who seems well-informed:
Hillary made 41 speeches in 2013. One was to a Jewish fed for 400,000 and one to a nurses org for 300,000. She got her average of 225,000 from Goldman. This is how the Clinton’s make a living and raise money for their foundation. It is very common for large orgs to pay big bucks for speakers. Graduation speakers can even get as much as 100,000.
It is a shame Bernie spun that into a conspiracy to gain votes.
The issue is, how much Hillary Clinton’s pandering to the pro-Israel conservatives and neoconservatives– the Jewish Federation, the Saban Forum, and AIPAC, or the American Israel Public Affairs Committee– distorts her foreign policy positions. Bernie Sanders has not made an issue of this; but possibly Donald Trump will. Clinton has promised to bring Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House in her first month in office. She has promised to Haim Saban– a big donor to Clinton and Barack Obama too, who shares many positions with rightwing donor Sheldon Adelson– that she will work with Republicans to fight the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, or BDS.
The good news from last night is that these positions may at last be politicized: They may be openly disputed in the coming election.