Senator Chuck Schumer may have just lost any shot at succeeding Harry Reid as Senate Majority Leader if the Nevada Senator stumbles in the upcoming tough 2010 challenge he is facing.
Politico‘s Ben Smith shares word of a very harsh critique that Schumer publicly shared with a conservative Jewish show today of Obama’s Middle East policy.
Schumer’s screed gets to the edge of sounding as if he is more a Senator working in the Knesset than working in the United States Senate.
This is the 2nd time I know of that Schumer has publicly crossed the line when it came to zealously blaming his own government and colleagues in delicate matters of US-Israel-Palestine policy.
During the third of three major efforts of the George W. Bush administration to get the recess appointed US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton confirmed in the US Senate, Senator Schumer launched a passionate personal campaign to help Bolton succeed.
Schumer called many Democratic Senate colleagues and bluntly said, “A vote against John Bolton is a vote against Israel.”
Senator Christopher Dodd finally challenged Schumer’s advocacy for Bolton and this statement in a meeting of the weekly Democratic Senate Caucus at the time — and put an end to Schumer’s campaign.
What Schumer was distorting was that every administration, Republican and Democrat, had in the past been a good friend of Israel. Bolton represented the face of Jesse Helms-inspired pugnacious American nationalism largely disdainful of international institutions and engagement, and it was well within the latitude of the United States Senate to reject Bolton, or in this case filibuster him, on numerous grounds without having the Israel card pulled.
Schumer has an Israel blind spot.
From Ben Smith’s entry today:
New York Senator Chuck Schumer harshly criticized the Obama Administration’s attempts to exert pressure on Israel today, making him the highest-ranking Democrat to object to Obama’s policies in such blunt terms.
Schumer, along with a majority of members of the House and Senate, signed on to letters politely suggesting the U.S. keep its disagreements with Israel private, a tacit objection to the administration’s very public rebuke of the Jewish State over construction in Jerusalem last month.
But Schumer dramatically sharpened his tone on the politically conservative Jewish Nachum Segal Show today, calling the White House stance to date “counter-productive” and describing his own threat to “blast” the Administration had the State Department not backed down from its “terrible” tough talk toward Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Schumer, a hawkish ally of Israel since his days as a Brooklyn Congressman, described “a battle going on inside the administration” over Middle East policy.
“This has to stop,” he said of the administration’s policy of publicly pressuring Israel to end construction in Jerusalem.
“I told the President, I told Rahm Emanuel and others in the administration that I thought the policy they took to try to bring about negotiations is counter-productive, because when you give the Palestinians hope that the United States will do its negotiating for them, they are not going to sit down and talk,” Schumer told Segal. “Palestinians don’t really believe in a state of Israel. They, unlike a majority of Israelis, who have come to the conclusion that they can live with a two-state solution to be determined by the parties, the majority of Palestinians are still very reluctant, and they need to be pushed to get there.
Note to Senator Schumer: you have certainly unloaded a lot of blame on the White House today. I have done a quick lexis and Thomas search and have been unable to find a single instance in which you criticized the behavior of the Israeli government at any time on any issue.
If we are wrong, we would very much like to be corrected. Please let us know.
– Steve Clemons