The Jews Aren't Going Anywhere

For what must be the hundredth time, Politico warns that Jews are getting ready to abandon Barack Obama:

One said he had the sense that Obama "took the opportunity to throw Israel under the bus." Another, who swore he wasn't getting his information from the mutually despised Fox News, admitted he'd lost faith in the president.

If several dozen interviews with POLITICO are any indication, a similar conversation is taking place in Jewish communities across the country. Obama's speech last month seems to have crystallized the doubts many pro-Israel Democrats had about Obama in 2008 in a way that could, on the margins, cost the president votes and money in 2012 and will not be easy to repair.

Oh, please. We hear this every few months: This is the year Republicans are going to make inroads with Jews! And they do try. The other day, Tim Pawlenty gave a speech in which he located the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: "We must recognize that peace will only come if everyone in the region perceives clearly that America stands strongly with Israel." I guess that despite what you might think, the Arabs don't perceive America as being sufficiently supportive of Israel. Problem solved!

We've been hearing this ever since Obama became the Democratic nominee in 2008. Jews don't trust him! He had Palestinian friends! There's that Reverend Wright! Here's an article from May 2008: "As Obama Heads to Florida, Many of Its Jews Have Doubts." And guess what: Obama won 78 percent of Jewish votes anyway. John Kerry got 74 percent in 2004, and Al Gore got 79 percent in 2000. In other words, Obama did pretty much exactly as well as other Democrats.

It's never hard to write this article. Just ask around, and you can find Jews to grumble about this or that. You don't exactly have to be Nellie Bly to get Jews to complain. It's kind of what we do.

And in the end, Obama will have no trouble raising money, and getting votes, from Jews. It's mostly ideological (most Jews are very progressive), but perhaps just as important, it's cultural. All the time Republicans spend talking about who's "one of us" resonates strongly with Jews. When they talk about how small towns are superior to cities, and the "heartland" is the "real" America while the coasts are fake, and how book learnin' is for elitists, and how important it is that politicians be religious (read: Christian), Jews hear it loud and clear. That message of cultural affinity with a certain kind of person sends a simultaneous message to Jews: This party is not for you and your kind. Sarah Palin can put on a Star of David necklace, but that's never going to convince Jews that they're part of the Republican family. GOP candidates can talk about their love of Israel all they want, but it won't be enough.