Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
Launching a blog is both daunting and ridiculous, not that you should assume that would ever inhibit Kahntentions. With so much always to say, however, and everyone else doing it, why not?
So, to begin–
Next December 19th Malia and Sasha may well be saying farewell to their friends at Sidwell Friends as they prepare to have one last sleepover in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, then to leave Washington on January 20, 2013. At the moment, though, it looks more probable that they will go off next December to Hawaii for their traditional Christmas vacation coming back for school exams and their father’s second inauguration.
This does not mean that President Obama has been such an outstanding President—which he has not—it is just that less than 11 months before Election Day, enough of the American people will realize the Party that nominated Sarah Palin as Vice Presidential nominee in 2008 still does not have its act together. At this moment—and time is measured in nano-seconds these days—an Obama victory seems likely.
Until there is an actual likely nominee, the President can work to improve his image and expand his base. He needs to attack them, the Republicans and not a candidate. The various constituencies to whom he appealed last time need to be cultivated. His campaign needs to stop the slippage and begin to firm up key states. The operation will have all the money it needs, but it needs to make sure it has the voters.
Which brings us to the question of what can the President do to help his campaign with increasingly disaffected Jewish voters? His speech at the convention of the Union of Reform Congregations, 4500 rabbis and synagogue leaders representing 900 synagogues and 1.5 million members last week was spot-on, with respect to the Jewish community’s most nagging concern about his Administration’s commitment to Israel. All the key buttons were there: “not wavering”, “two states for two peoples”, “values”, “democratic state”, “commitment …unshakeable”, etc. As Chemi Halev said in Haaretz , the speech locked up the votes of the Reform Jewish community.
How the speech will play out among the right-wing and within the Orthodox Jewish community where support has clearly dropped, remains to be seen. .Lines were once again drawn even before the President’s speech with the full page ad–undoubtedly timed to and placed by design– on Thursday by the Emergency Committee on Israel: “Why Does the Obama Administration Treat Israel Like a Punching Bag” in five newspapers: the New York Times, the Miami Herald, the Palm Beach Post, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and Variety, attacking the Obama Administration’s policy on Israel.
Stay tuned it could be a helluva ride!