A Great Jewish Debate About 2008

Another Jewish debate about the 2008 Presidential election took place at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles.

These debates have taken place at various Synagogues around the country, but this one was probably one of the better ones. It was the way debates are supposed to be. It was civilized, polite, and informative. When people talk about “The Great Debate,” they refer to either Lincoln versus Douglas or Kennedy versus Nixon. Substance mattered. In today’s world of style, sound bites, and gotcha moments, adult debates are rare. One phenomenal debate was the Vice Presidential debate in 2000 between Joe Lieberman and Dick Cheney. The two calm and understated men sat inches from each other at a table, with the moderator barely noticeable. It was two men having a chat about issues, free of nonsense.

The debate at Sinai Temple had sharp disagreements, but the tone was very gentlemanly. It truly was a great debate.

The moderator for the debate was Brad Greenberg of the Jewish Journal. While the Jewish Journal does skew to the left, Mr. Greenberg made sure that the debaters, and not he, was the focal point.

Speaking for Barack Obama was California Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff. One of his claims to fame is that every April he pushes an Armenian Genocide resolution. He is married to a woman named Eve, which he gets kidded about.

Speaking for John McCain was Larry Greenfield, the California Executive Director of the Republican Jewish Coalition.

(For the sake of full disclosure, I am a member of the RJC Leadership, and Larry is a friend of mine.)

Larry remarked that he had his own ribbing at Sinai Temple. Once a month, Craig Taubman and his band play music at the synagogue. Craig kicked Larry out of their first band together because Larry was a lousy piano player.

Larry and Adam have a deep respect for each other, and he debate was a quality one. With that is the debate between RJC Director Larry Greenfield and Congressman Adam Schiff.

LG: “It is good to be here with Adam Schiff. He is not a partisan hack. He is a dedicated legislator. I have worked with him on anti-gang activity and on anti-nuclear proliferation issues.”

“With regards to debating, I prefer more light than heat.”

“The rise of Jewish republicanism is real, and it is frustrating to Jewish democrats.”

“Concerns with Obama run deep with regards to foreign policy, Israel, and combatting Islamofacism.”

“Islamofacism has been around for 1400 years. Jews were Dhimmis under Islamofacism during the Middle Ages, and women were and still are being mistreated. After 1400 years of Islam, Jews and women are still not equal. Sharia Law Finance studies are now taking place. We need to track the flow of sovereign wealth and other funds from nations. Islamofacists are using religious and cultural institutions to spread money to finance terror.”

“There are two main distinctions between the parties. The first distinction is that it is the republican party that is pushing to get us off of foreign oil. We can drill where it is safe, where tourists will not be affected. Congress is off right now, and they should be in Washington.”

“The second distinction is with economics. Some of my best relatives are still democrats. Yet entitlement reform is vital. 15.3 cents of every dollar is stolen out of your paycheck. The government does a lousy job with your money. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid make up 60% of the Federal budget. These costs have to be reined in. The democrats smeared such reforms as investing in Enron. We need Personal Savings Accounts.”

“The GOP agenda is a liberty agenda. We are not the party of taxes or the nanny state in Sacramento. The American dream and the dream of protecting our security interests is still alive in the GOP.”

AS: “Things will not get nasty tonight, although the crowd needs to know that Larry went to Cal and I went to Stanford.”

“I am Adam, I am married to Eve, but my children are not Cain and Abel. We were going to name one of them Noah, but thought that that might be too much.”

“I am not the Adam Schiff from the television show ‘Law and Order.'”

“Get involved in whatever campaign you choose. While I hope you will support Obama, get involved regardless of which candidate you support.”

“I am from Boston, and I grew up believing in the Kennedy era tradition that public service is a noble calling. My wife and I took our children and walked South Carolina precincts for Obama. Young people are seen as apathetic, but not this time.”

“The political climate is bitterly poisoned and partisan.”

“The public is weary after eight years of President Bush. In other nations, running against the United Staes is a good campaign strategy.”

“Electing Obama would be a catalytic event. Only a nation like America can do this.”

“We need help from other nations. It is tough to get helped when the USA is so disliked.”

“Obama’s election would have an effect on how we view ourselves.”

“Look for the candidate who can unite us. Today’s problems are not worse than World War II or the Cold War, but we are less united.”

“There are two very good people running for President. They are men of integrity with compelling personal stories. Primaries are said to often winnow out the best candidates. In this case the primaries winnowed in the two best people.”

“McCain is an honest man, but he is no longer a maverick. He has adopted the positions of the republicans and President Bush. He will keep to the pledges he is making now.”

“The issue of energy crosses all lines. It is a security issue, a foreign policy issue, an economic issue, and an agricultural issue. Obama is not tied to the oil crowd.”

LG: “McCain is a unifier. He has reached across the aisle. He fights earmarks. Obama secured an earmark for his wife’s company. Obama is not a candidate of hope or change. He is not a unifier or problem solver.”

“Democrats are making our allies nervous. On trade, they talk about repealing NAFTA. They are upsetting Columbia. Their protectionism talk is worrying the world.”

“Right now our relations with Japan, India and South Korea are high. Germany, France, Italy, Mexico and Canada all have center-right governments that are pro-American. In London, Red Ken Livingstone has been kicked out of office. In Australia, there was a pro-American government for a long time. Even when that government changed, the new government is equally pro-American.”

“The world does not hate us. The world’s left hates us.”

“The world likes Obama’s evenhanded neutral approach towards Israel. European leftists, the BBC, and intellectuals want Israel thrown overboard. President Bush won’t do this.”

“This is not your father’s democratic party of FDR, JFK, and Scoop Jackson. Joseph Lieberman was kicked out of the party. The Moveon.org takeover of the democratic party worries many Jewish democrats. We would go far to the left on foreign policy.”

AS: “We produce 3% of the world’s oil. We make up 25% of world demand. No amount of drilling could change this. The oil companies already have 68 million leased acres. They should drill there instead of asking for new leases. The oil from ANWR would supplu us for about 6 months.”

“On Israel, Obama has an A+ record with AIPAC. He worked on divestment from Iran.”

“We need to take the profits out of the petro industry so that we ar enot sending money to nations such as Russia and Venezuela.”

“The House has passed an energy bill.”

“Under this administration, we have built up deficits. We have cut taxes, but not spending. We should give tax credits to wind and solar companies instead of oil companies. They have the largest profits of any industry. McCain wants to continue giving tax cuts to the wealthy.”

LG: “Demagoguery regarding ANWR is completely wrong. ANWR is frozen tundra, not the setting described in a Hallmark card. One mile from here, we are drilling by Beverly Hills High School. It provides one million barrels of oil per year. The Arab Middle East is still only producing 30 million barrels a day, the same as 35 years ago. There is a deliberate supply restriction.”

AS: “The lethargy of the auto industry has come at a terrible price. We’ve lost jobs, while there are waiting lists for Priuses. The automakers went kicking and screaming into the 21st Century. The GOP’s primary focus is on drilling. What’s good for big business is good for America.”

“I am from the Tom Friedman school when he says that this is insane policy.”

“Obama worked with the GOP to pass ethics reform. He supports campaign finance reform. He worked with Dick Lugar  on anti-nuclear proliferation. He wants to stop the spread of loose nukes in Russia.”

“Obama is trying to run a positive and bipartisan campaign.”

Moderator: “In 1956 Dwight Eisenhower won 40% of the Jewish vote, with Ronald Reagan picking up a third of that vote in 1984. Given that those numbers are lower today, how can Jews be for the GOP?”

LG: “When asked if they support a close relationship between the USA and Israel, 90% of republican say yes. Only 50% of democrats say yes. Jews fit well within the party of Lincoln.”

“Some Jews think they ar evoting for FDR’s 20th consecutive term. The myths of FDR cn be disspelled another night. He turned back the Jews. Carter called Khomeini a prince.”

Moderator: “How does Obama address his Jewish problem?”   

AS: “Jewish GOP support has gone from 24% in 2004 to 28% today, a 4% increase within the margin of error. There have been scurrilous rumors about Obama. My dad is part of the Boca Raton Jewish Mafia. He hears them.”

“Obama has said that Jerusalem should be undivided. Obama is attacked by his associations. Jimmy Carter has nothing to do with this.”

“The Democratic Party does not feel entitled. We hav ethe spirit of Tikkun Olam, not the GOP. We must give back. This is not about ourselves.”

LG: “The facts have been well researched. This is about policy and ideology. Obama was mentored by Rasheed Khalidi and Edward Said. He gave money to the Arab organization that referred to Israel on its 60th anniversary as a ‘Nachbah (disaster).'”

“He is against the securtiy fence. He talks of no walls between peoples. In the real world, not the John Lennon world with no religions or walls, we need security.”

“He cites JFK’s meeting with Kruschev, which was a disaster. He cites Reagan meeting with Gorbachev, which came only after Reagan called them an ‘Evil Empire’ and had missiles pointed at them.”

“Obama’s advisers were against the September 6th, 2007, Israeli strike against Syria. Among Obama’s anti-Israel advisers are David Bonior and Chuck Hagel.”

“I was at the AIPAC conference. With an undivided Jerusalem, Obama backtracked the next day.”

“Does Obama hate Jews? No. Does he play political games? Yes. AIPAC gives everyone a good rating.”

AS: “McCain would be disappointed in the attacks and smears against Obama. Much of what Larry said has already been debunked. Bonior’s connection to the campaign was fighting for the Michigan delegation for Obama over Hillary.”

“Obama’s vote against Kyl-Lieberman was due to a provision regarding troop levels in Iraq.”

“Obama favors the same level of diplomatic engagement wih Iran, not McCain.”

“President Bush’s actions have not been helpful for Israel. They were helpful for Iran. His actions allowed North Korea to get bombs, and strengthened Hamas. McCain is the same as President Bush on Iran. Iran will develop the bomb if we don’t change our strategy. Iran cannot get the bomb.”

Moderator: “Why should I trust Obama on Israel?”

LG: “The question is what are the real term implications? It was President Bush that said no to dealing with Yassir Arafat.’

“Obama surrounds himself with people like Robert Malley and Samantha Power. Obama has said that Iran is not as serious as Nazism or communism.”

“We tried diplomacy with Iran. Russia and China blocked sanctions. Iran is a regime of terror. Negotiation gives them time to develop weapons.”

“The situation with Russia and Georgia is another problem. Obama does not carry a big stick. Yet people can calm down. McCain has 30 years of experience.”

AS: “Malley as an adviser has been debunked as a means of guilt by association.”

“This falsification is disturbing. Obama never said that Iran was no big deal. He favors muscular diplomacy. There is promise in Iran among the young people who like us, nd not the regime. This is the reverse of Saudi Arabia, where the regime likes us but the people don’t.”

“President Bush said that he looked into the soul of Vladiir Putin and saw great things. The President was impotent on Georgia. The President’s reaction had no effect on Russia. He had to go Albania to find a place where he was popular.”

LG: “Today we wrapped up a diplomatic success in Poland. We placed missile interceptors there. Poland and Libya have been diplomatic successes.”

Moderator: “What will make the next administration more effective than the last 8 years?”

AS: “Look at the primary turnout. Young peope are actually turning out. The President promised to be a uniter, and change the tone. The tone today is worse. Obama has the potential to bring the country together.”

“A McCain administration would be an intra-McCain battle for the soul of the McCain Presidency. If he announced he is only serving one term, then he is a lame duck after two years. There will be warfare within the GOP.”

LG: “We must be talking about different parties, if not different planets. The democrats are still warring, and might be at their convention.”

“We were unified after 9/11. Democrats decided to try and destroy President Bush when the going got tough.”

“Kerry, Reid, Murtha, and Durbin smeared our troops. The New York Times blew up our covert surveillance. The Moveon left as well as the Daily Kos have been Bush bashing for 7 years, in addition to their antisemitism. The left has destroyed civilized debate. They keep trying to silence conservatives through the fairness doctrine and union tactics. Obama is a partisan hack. McCain builds bridges.”

AS “Conservative talk radio is bad for the discourse in the United States.”

Moderator: “Where do the candidates stand on gun control?”

LG: “If Jews had guns during the Holocaust, there would have been a lot more dead Nazis. McCain is pro Second Amendment.”

AS: “Obama backs moderate Second Amendment support. He supported the FISA bill.”

Moderator: “Why should pro-choicers support McCain?”

LG: “McCain supported Breyer and Ginsburg. Obama was not highly generous regarding dignified people such as Roberts, Alito, and Bolton, who is a hero to Jewish people.”

AS: “Bolton is irrelevant with regards to abortion. Obama supports choice. McCain has been consistently anti-choice.”

LG: “I am aware that Bolton is not invovled with abortion. I was using him as an example to show that even somebody who is a hero to Jewish people will not get a fair shake from Obama. Bolton fought to overturn the ‘Zionism is racism,’ U.N. resolution, and that is not good enough for Obama.”

Moderator: “What are the most important issues?”

AS: “Energy, Iraq, the economy, and health care.” 

“Obama believes in a phase down of the troops. I’ve been to Iraq 4 times. There has been progress, but not politically.”

“Obama is criticized for for bringing up unilateral action regarding Pakistan. We need to draw down troops so Iraqis can make progress without using us as a buffer.”

LG: “McCain was the author of the surge.. No withdrawal until the job is done.”

“Israelis are safer without Saddam Hussein paying suicide bombers.”

“Obama’s inexperience an arrogance are a bad combination.”

“Go to the website for Investors Business Daily. Obama voted for tax increases 94 times. He wants to raise taxes on those making $42,000 or more. Tax cuts worked. JFK and Reagan understood this.”

“The United Nations is a group of dictators. Obama supports the U.N.”

“We need to empower entrepreneurs. Paying 50-60% in taxes is enough. Obama disagrees.”

“Obama’s ‘One Worldism’ finances dictators.”

AS: “One worldism is is conservative talk radio stuff to make Obama seem new agey. He does not want to turn over U.S. sovereignty to the U.N.”

“Obama is only raising taxes on those making more than $250,000 per year. McCain is not knowledgeable on the economy.”

“Too little regulatory oversight led to the economic problems we have today. Oil companies are not paying enough taxes.”

The debators then made their closing statements.

LG: “Make foreign aid tied to better performance, not by the U.N. The U.N. fails at everything.”

“McCain wants a liberation alliance.”

“This election is the American Hero vs. the American Idol. We are told not to engage in guilty by association, but an administration is comprised of the associates.”

“Israeli polls support McCain.”

“Democrats want to silence the debate through the Fairness Doctrine and check cards for unions.”

“McCain has been smeared by Wesley Clark and by anti-Israel Jim Webb.”

“There are thousands of stories of McCain. They are stories of service, sacrifice, resoluteness, and bipartisanship.”

AS: “McCain has a copelling story. He is a hero. Yet how will McCain handle the economy and foreign policy? What about universal health care?”

“Robert Malley is an anti-semite, but he has no ties to Obama.”

“Both McCain and Obama are men of integirty. Attacking Obama is personally beneath us.”

“I was the poster child in Congress for McCain-Feingold.”

“McCain went negative in this election because the GOP can’t sell McCain without tearing down Obama.”

“McCain should run on his record, but he is not the man for this hour.”

While there is plenty of time to analyze why Congressman Schiff is wrong, I commend him for a civilized discussion. I met him after the event, and spoke to him and his wife for several minutes. Consensus was not reached, but they were both very pleasant. I thanked him for his tone, and let him know that my main objection to him was that he was an effective spokesman, and that I wish fewer people would listen to him. He thanked me for the compliment.

Adam Schiff and Larry Greenfield gave us a spirited debate the way debates are supposed to be done.

The crowd was split, as is the nation.

Time will tell.


4 Responses to “A Great Jewish Debate About 2008”

  1. A little too much LG as opposed to AS in your synopsis, there, Tygrrrr…

    But I digress.

    “Joseph Lieberman was kicked out of the party.”

    Ya’ know, I’m getting very tired of this untruth. It’s all and well fine to be “civilized, polite, and informative,” but it is neither, civil, nor polite, nor informative to express an untruth when one really should know better. Now, I’m sure your friend Larry is an honest man making an honest mistake, but to a lot of people this might sound like a liar’s smear deisgned to make the Democratic party seem antisemitic. I won’t make that accusation myself, but I should civilly and politely inform all here that the above statement might well be inferred as the lowest sort of rhetorical device.

    In 2006, the CDC (Connecticut Democratic Convention) officially endorsed Lieberman for his incumbant bid for the senate. Ned Lamont came along and ran against him in the primary, and he won. Lieberman was not “kicked out of the party” – he was more than welcome to remain a Democrat. The VOTERS in the primaries chose someone else over him. That’s all. Lieberman then announced that he would run as an unaffiliated candidate anyway and that he would remain loyal to the Democrats, as he has for the most part to this day. It then became a three-way race. Lucky for Lieberman, the GOP candidate, the infamously aliased “Alan Gold,” was an extremely poor contender, polling at only a tenth of the vote. Lieberman won back his seat by a metaphorical default. he has caucused with the Democrats ever since.

    If conservatives truly want our national political dicourse to be “civilized, polite, and informative,” I would strongly suggest putting to rest to the lie that “Joseph Lieberman was kicked out of the party.”


  2. Well, just to make me look like an idiot, I just read that he will be speaking at the GOP convention…

    I think I’m done blogging today…


  3. blacktygrrrr says:

    The Tygrrrr Express offers condolences to the family of Cleveland, Ohio, Congressional Rep Stephanie Tubbs Jones. She died of an aneurysm at age 58.

    May God bless her family.


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