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Thursday, December 8, 2011 | return to: news & features, national


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‘Clarity’ or inconsistency? Conservatives debate Gingrich

by ron kampeas , jta

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Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, all but counted out last summer as a 2012 presidential candidate, has come back from the political dead to pull ahead of Mitt Romney in the polls.

Gingrich has been focusing his attacks on President Barack Obama, particularly his record on foreign policy, and specifically the Middle East.

In a June 12 speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition, Gingrich said he would bring to foreign policy the “moral clarity” that the Obama administration has lacked, replacing what he deemed constant pressure on Israel with a policy that would “tell the truth about terrorism.”

The speech reflected the fact that one of Gingrich’s most stubborn redoubts of support has been among Jewish conservatives, many of whom still appreciate the checks he put on the Oslo peace process in the mid-1990s when he was speaker. Chief among them was a law that recognized Jerusalem as the capital. Gingrich has said his first act as president would be to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Some major Republican Jewish donors committed to other candidates only after it seemed Gingrich was not in the running. But he is no longer being counted out. According to polls, he leads Romney in early caucus and primary states such as Florida, Iowa and South Carolina, as well as nationally among Republicans.

Newt Gingrich, at a GOP leadership conference in Las Vegas Oct. 19, has said one of his first acts would be moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.   photo/gage skidmore/creative commons
Newt Gingrich, at a GOP leadership conference in Las Vegas Oct. 19, has said one of his first acts would be moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. photo/gage skidmore/creative commons
Gingrich’s surge has resulted in a new focus on his past statements and actions. A veteran of decades in public life, he has a long record that his opponents are now trawling through for ammunition.

His foreign policy views have not been immune from such examinations. While Gingrich says that as president he would bring moral clarity to American foreign policy, critics say he often sends mixed signals on the Middle East.

Jennifer Rubin, a conservative Washington Post columnist who backs Romney, dedicated a recent blog post to picking through what she depicted as Gingrich’s flip-flopping on the Iraq War. Rubin quoted reports showing Gingrich, as a member of the Defense Policy Board, helping to plan the war in 2002, and then pronouncing Iraq a no-win proposition in December 2003, when support for the war was still high.

Rubin said this, as well as Gingrich’s equivocation in 2006 on the American military surge that eventually drew Iraq back from chaos, was his “worst betrayal” of Republicans and demonstrated his willingness to place a premium “on political expediency over national security.”

More recently, Gingrich has faced criticism over apparent inconsistencies on Libya. On March 7 he accused Obama of waffling, saying that as president he would immediately and unilaterally impose a no-fly zone. When Obama did just that later in the month, Gingrich said intervention was a mistake.

Commentators attribute Gingrich’s surge to his strong performance in debates. The former history professor and best-selling author appears to command a wealth of knowledge on a wide range of topics.

Some Jewish conservatives, however, are skeptical of Gingrich’s intellectualism and where it has led him.

Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer slammed Gingrich for a 2008 television advertisement that he made alongside then–House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) calling for action against climate change — an ad for which Gingrich has since expressed regret.

Gingrich at times also appears tone deaf to certain pro-Israel sensibilities. Asked during a Nov. 22 GOP debate whether he would come to Israel’s defense if it should attack Iran, he said, “If my choice was to collaborate with the Israelis on a conventional campaign or force them to use their nuclear weapons, it will be an extraordinarily dangerous world if, out of a sense of being abandoned, they went nuclear and used multiple nuclear weapons in Iran. That would be a future none of us would want to live through.”

Israel’s oft-stated policy is that it would never be the first to use nuclear weapons, under any circumstance. Moreover, Israel has cultivated a posture of ambiguity on whether it possesses such weapons.

Gingrich’s campaign rolled out its foreign policy team earlier this month, as detailed in an article by Foreign Policy magazine’s Josh Rogin. The team appears to be stacked heavily with pro-Israel hawks, including David Wurmser, a former top adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, and James Woolsey, a former CIA director.

Heading the team is Herman Pirchner, who leads the American Foreign Policy Council, a Washington think tank that includes Gingrich on its board of advisers. The think tank’s vice president, Ilan Berman, also is on the Gingrich team, Rogin reported.

Some Jewish conservatives had praise for the team. “They leave a strong paper trail,” said Jim Colbert, policy director at the hawkish Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.


Comments

Posted by jerry pritikin
12/08/2011  at  07:21 PM
The Jewish Vote

If Jewish people are supporting Gingrich just because he’s supporting Israel… that’s a sad commentary. I vote for the best candidate based on their record,not their religion. This guy’s record is an open book to failure in politics, and his life style of changing wives,running up $250,000 credit bills at Tiffiny’s and fined by the House Ethic Committee $300,000 is a poor record to run on. He flip flops, and sells his opinion to the highest bidder. However, he’s no different then most of the tea-baggers and Right Wingers with his anti-abortion and anti gay stance. The average American will not contribute a dime or volunteer for this guy. What is it, that there are those who want to resurrect this has been Republican? The last time they did something like this, they brought back Richard Nixon and discovered he was still a liar and a crooked politician! As a Jew, I care about Israel, however there are more concerns at home to worry about. And if he is elected as President, there will be even more problems.

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Posted by craven_maven
12/09/2011  at  05:55 PM
Ufology

San Francisco liberals of J Weekly evaluating conservatism has about as much reality as Arab George Noury of “Coast to Coast AM” discussing UFO’s. In other words, this is little more than deluded, ignorant and disingenuous babble.

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Posted by Pogo
12/11/2011  at  11:53 AM

Palestinians” ARE an “invented” people.

After WWI, for example in 1948, the Arabs who lived in the disputed territories did not want to be called “Palestinians,” because it indicated that they lived under British rule. Palestine is what the British called their mandate in the region.

The Arabs who lived in Gaza were Egyptians, until Egypt attacked Israel in 1967 and lost the Gaza. The Arabs who lived in the West Bank were Jordanians, until Jordan attacked Israel in 1967 and lost Judea and Sumaria.

There wasn’t any “Palestinian” people until thug and terrorist Arafat showed up in his phony military garb in 1964 to announce that Israel belonged to Arabs. Ironically, Arabs were much better off economically prior to Arafat’s arrival, when they had viable cottage industries and freer access to the Israeli labor market.

It’s a joke that “Palestinian” leaders are now calling Newt Gingrich a “racist,” when they have declared that absolutely no Jews will be allowed to live in any future “Palestinian” state. By contrast, 20% of Israel’s population is made up of Arab citizens, who enjoy more freedom and economic opportunity than any other Arabs in the Middle East.

Newt is perfectly right in asserting that “Palestinians” are “invented,” no matter what how hard the media or Arab propaganda machine tries to deny it.

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Posted by rocky
12/15/2011  at  02:07 PM
More on the Conservatives

This month, the US pulls out the last of its troops from Iraq, but the bills related to the war will continue to come in for decades. Many thousands of US wounded war veterans (mentally and/or physically) will have to be cared for for the next 50 or 60 years.

The biggest loser of the war may turn out to be Israel, as its staunchest ally becomes an economic basket case. We have gone from being a nation that was on its way to eliminating its national debt during the last years of the Clinton administration to a nation flirting with national insolvency. The tax cuts, the wars and the financial collapse of 2007-09 have turned out to be a disaster for many American families, even Jewish ones. Don’t be deceived by a handful of Republican presidential wannabees who are shameless in their pandering for campaign contributions from a small number of Jewish American billionaires.

The only winner in the conservatives’ adventures in the Middle East may turn out to be Iran.

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