Monday, October 23, 2006

Let The Circumcision-And-Stomach-Stapling Jokes Begin!

In response to comments I've rethought my position on Prop. 205, Vote by Mail. It's basically a choice between two groups of voters who simply don't turn out enough: minorities, especially Native Americans, in the general election, and GOP moderates in the primaries. GOP moderates, of whom there are about 9 left in Arizona, have tried just about everything to increase turnout in GOP primaries, to little avail, so the next step is to put a ballot into everybody's mailbox in these upscale suburban districts because we just can't trust them to apply for one over the Internet, by phone, by mail, or through a campaign. (But heaven forefend we increase turnout by giving them a lottery ticket--that would diminish the democratic experiment, as opposed to giving in to their laziness.)

I would ordinarily call this one a draw, but what's sealed it for me is the constellation of groups supporting and opposing 205. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce, Secretary of State Jan Brewer, and the Arizona Republican Party are opposed; the Arizona Democratic Party supports it. The Arizona Republic endorsed it this morning, but I'm willing to overlook that. It's increased turnout in Washington and Oregon--but by about 6 percent, which is less than what was predicted, so you may want to take predictions of doubling of turnout in primaries with a grain of salt, but it's still an increase and couldn't hurt. So change the recommendation on 205 to YES, but this is absolutely the last thing we're going to do for GOP moderates, who always look so pitiful because they never, ever stand their ground. Guess what--the "real" Republicans don't respect you in the morning, either.

Now for the column; the editor came up with a very good headline when I was stumped (the best I could do was "Hayworth Next Plans To Run For Pope") but to my great regret, he cut the last line of the first paragraph, which I've put back in (yes, that means replacing a circumcision joke). I think Milton Berle (scroll down to third item) would approve.

East Valley Tribune, Oct. 22, 2006

I really wasn’t planning on slamming J.D. Hayworth yet again, but once his campaign spokesman insisted last Tuesday that Hayworth is a “more observant Jew” than anyone supporting Harry Mitchell, it’s time to unleash the hounds. Let the circumcision-and-stomach-stapling jokes begin!

Apparently as part of nationwide celebrations tied to President Bush’s declaration of “Character Counts Week,” Hayworth decided to back out at the last minute from a candidate forum at Congregation Beth Israel in Scottsdale. Hayworth and challenger Harry Mitchell would have been the undercard to the Senate headliners Jon Kyl and Jim Pederson. Instead, Hayworth sent two surrogates, Jonathan and Irit Tratt, who helped show that while politics may look easy, you shouldn’t leave it to total amateurs.


Rather than lauding Hayworth’s record, campaign spokesman Jonathan Tratt accused Mitchell of sympathizing with “Islamo-fascists.” The sole evidence for this charge is Tratt’s support of Hayworth, but as a Republican, he feels entitled to make stuff up. And not only was Mitchell in bed with terrorists, said Tratt, but anybody in the audience supporting him was “disloyal” to Israel. The audience didn’t take kindly to this kind of nonsense, so Tratt pointed his finger and said Hayworth is a better Jew than the audience. That went over really, really well, leading Irit Tratt to exclaim, “No wonder there are anti-Semites.”

Yep, that’s the way you assure the Jewish community that when you quoted copiously from Henry Ford’s anti-Semitic writings, you were doing so from absolutely pure motives. Not only can’t you be anti-Semitic if you’re pro-Israel, but apparently if you’re not a Republican, you’re not really a Jew. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee condemned the Tratts' remarks, calling them "repugnant" and "in no way representative of AIPAC."

As Tratt wrote in a letter to the editor earlier this year, Jews shouldn’t complain about Hayworth quoting Ford, because Hayworth not only voted in favor of a House resolution (one of those substance-free “post cards” to the rest of the world of which Congress is enamored) supporting Israel’s right of self-defense -- as did every other member of the Arizona delegation -- but Hayworth “made a floor statement supporting it.” Yes, Hayworth spoke in favor of Israel, and therefore not supporting Hayworth makes you a disloyal anti-Semite.

Apart from proving that so-called “leaders” in the American Jewish community now value rhetoric more than reality, I’m not sure why Hayworth’s campaign felt it necessary to get into an argument over who’s the better Jew, the Baptist incumbent or members of Congregation Beth Israel. It’s especially odd because Hayworth found it necessary to revoke his endorsement of state Rep. Russell Pearce over Pearce’s emailing to his supporters of an article from a neo-Nazi website.

Pearce claimed he never read the entire article, but the first part made a lot of sense to him, so he forwarded it to his supporters. After he learned it came from a white supremacist group, he apologized -- but that wasn’t enough for Hayworth, who withdrew his endorsement because Hayworth refuses “to be associated with any communication that contains anti-Semitic remarks.”


Blogger Ted Prezelski had two interesting takes on that particular statement. First, Hayworth is fine being associated with anti-Semitic remarks, so long as they were written by Henry Ford. Pearce just quoted the wrong anti-Semite. Second, the neo-Nazi site and article also goes after blacks and Hispanics in despicable terms -- but Hayworth was upset only by the anti-Semitism. Either Hayworth’s moral outrage only goes so far, or else he sees a real political opportunity for a Judeo-Christian white supremacist group. Whatever it takes, indeed.

But the prize for xenophobia beyond the call of duty goes to GOP candidate Randy Graf, running to replace Rep. Jim Kolbe in District 8. Graf didn’t cut and run like Hayworth; instead at a candidate debate, Graf defended Pearce: “We are of like mind of how government should be run. [It’s] been blown out of proportion. He’s a good person. He’s a good American patriot. He’s been a great legislator in Phoenix, and I’m proud to have him as an endorser of my campaign.”

And anybody who believes otherwise isn’t a good Jew.

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