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August 13, 2006

Watch the Bolton Nomination Vote Closely

Matt Stoller at MyDD has an important post up about the deep-pockets influence of the neoconservatives and what he calls the "Bloomburg Democrats", which I believe he would describe as Israel-backing, technocratic Democrats.  Stoller has just begun looking at the influence of right-wing neo-conservatives and the money put into the campaign coffers of both Republicans and Democrats to keep American foreign policy behind Israel, right or wrong.  Matt discusses the likely impact of the Lieberman loss on foreign policy:

While one would think that the Democratic Party will become more progressive on foreign policy in response to the loss, there are counterbalancing forces that suggest that leading Democrats will actually move to a more right-wing posture, while making a few limp symbolic gestures to the progressives.  Calling for Rumsfeld's resignation is one such gesture, since Kerry did it in 2004 and it is another version of the 'incompetence dodge'.  The political calculation is that Lieberman didn't lose because he was right-wing, he lost because he was a singularly awful politician.  As such, there's no need to move leftward since it's fairly easy to avoid a Lieberman-esque political backlash.

Matt wrote after the Lamont victory about AIPAC, the largest of the neocon money machines, and it's confusion over the Lieberman loss. 

The $1.3 million Lieberman took in over the final two weeks came from a few sets of donor communities, and one of them was the Bloomberg Democrats.  Now, AIPAC doesn't lose.  It just doesn't.  Except that here, it did.  Now the loss was quiet, and Lamont is pro-Israel, so the policy implications aren't clear.  But make no mistake, AIPAC's champion got completely spanked.  That's a big deal, and we'll see how big a deal as the Bolton nomination heats up.  We're in a weird place with AIPAC, since it's impossible to oppose Bush's foreign policy without coming into contact with the corrupt Israel lobby and a thicket of accusations.  That's a new and puzzling space for many of us on the left, especially since I grew up imbibing the 'Israel is always good' mantra in Hebrew school. (update: Sure enough, the Republican Jewish Coalition weighs in with the 'don't be a traitor to your religion line')

So, it looks like AIPAC and the Israeli Lobby was caught off-guard on the Lamont-Lieberman race and will be regrouping and quickly.  Bolton who was appointed UN ambassador as a recess appointment by Bush after being filibustered by the Senate in 2005.  It was a great humiliation for Bush.  Now, Matt says that both Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton may vote for Bolton this time.  Follow us after the fold.

Here's what he says:

This neocon PAC money is incredibly pervasive among both parties, and that it's now being used to push Bolton significantly changes the battle lines of his renomination.  Israel wasn't a factor in Bolton's first nomination; now Bolton and Israel are seen as the same thing, and the AIPAC neocons have moved in their artillery behind his nomination.  Schumer's amazingly successful DSCC fundraising has come at least in some part from this neoconservative money, and Senator Clinton is making  the rounds.  Her latest fundraiser was with Norpac, a neoconservative Israel-focused PAC that has lent support to Bush/Cheney '04, Rick Santorum, Jon Kyl, Mike Ferguson, Ben Nelson, Joe Lieberman, Steny Hoyer, Conrad Burns, Bob Menendez, and Nancy Pelosi.  Even though you might think that the Lieberman defeat would embolden the Democrats, the Bolton fight and the Lieberman loss have been linked together explicitly by neo-conservative PACs, and prominent orthodox right-wing Jewish leaders are calling on Jews to abandon the Democratic Party for being insufficiently supportive of Israel's failed war in Lebanon. 

The sad hijacking of Jewish political activism by right-wing neoconservative crazies is complete.  If you're not with Lieberman, if you're not with Bolton, if you're not with the far right of the Israeli political spectrum, you're not pro-Israel.  I have to say, it's pretty frustrating.  Every time I find a political obstacle to a more progressive American posture abroad, it seems like there's another more hidden and intractable one behind it.  It's shocking to me that there are no effective progressive Jewish groups focusing on foreign policy.  The only ones I've seen are pathetic, wonkified, and largely unwilling to deal with the reality of a crazy domestic right-wing leadership structure. 

Anyway, with the war in Lebanon ending and Lieberman's defeat showing that there's a political constituency for a sane multi-lateral approach to foreign policy, the Democratic Party has a real opportunity on its hands to stake out a progressive foreign policy path.  That starts with Bolton.  Or rather, Bolton will show which Democrats really understand what Connecticut Democrats were trying to say, and which ones are only listening, despite all the populist outrage in the hinterland, to the Beltway elite.

Posted by Lynn Allen on August 13, 2006 at 09:14 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink

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