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Commentary from the Mile High City
Monday, August 02, 2004
I'm old enough to remember when the Republicans were the party of pan-Arab pragmatism, and the Democrats were the party of Israel. That started to change under Carter, but it took Reagan to give the impulse real momentum.
Reagan understood two things: that Israel was a friendly democracy, and that the Arab countries were not going to be any less pro-Soviet no matter what we did with Israel. In other words, there was neither tactical nor strategic advantage to trying to straddle. George H. W. Bush , and his team of Baker and Scowcroft set back this shift about 20 years. Bill Clinton was able to look pro-Israel while undermining the only non-Olso government the Israelis elected under Netanyahu.
Now, under George W. Bush, the Republican Party is firmly pro-Israel. Sadly, a gap has opened up as the Democrats move to the left on this, as well. Don't believe me? Our local representative here, Diana DeGette, voted against HR 713, condemning the ICJ's ruling against Israel's Security Fence. Of the 196 Democrats voting, fully 25% voted against or voted "present." Only 8 Republicans did so. Of those 4 voting against, one was Darrell Issa, an Arab American, and the other was Ron Paul, everyone's favorite isolationist.
Thanks to Project Vote-Smart, we can also look at year-by-year issue and group ratings for office-holders. And do a little statistical analysis. Vote-Smart, among other things, tracks ratings by issue watchdog groups. There's one group, called the Jews for Peace in Palestine and Israel (note the order). The group seems to be composed of Jews who demonstrate their concern for their fellow Jews by supporting policies that will lead to their deaths by the millions.
The also track Congressional votes, and produce +/- ratings for each representative. While the parties in the Senate are pretty close, the difference in the House is striking: the Republicans average a -1.48 rating, while the Democrats average -0.85. The Democrats also have a much greater Standard Deviation, 1.99, meaning that about 2/3 of Democrats fall between -2.85 and +1.15. The Republicans' S.D. is about 1.19. Remember, in this case, a negative score is the correct one to have.
Interestingly, the Denise Majette, whose impending political suicide is going to give Cynthia "Bush Knew" McKinney her seat back in Georgia, scores a -2. Even though she's been a solid liberal vote, she's returned sanity to her district on one issue, however temporarily.
The Republicans are not only more pro-Israel, but also significantly more unified on that fact, at least in the House. Does this mean anything? Well, the fact that the average House Democrats is statistically neutral between Israel and her enemies ought to be of some concern. On the other hand, the Senate tends to have a much stronger say in foreign policy issues, and the split hasn't manifested itself there - yet.