Wednesday, September 14, 2011

TURNER DIARIES. The rightwing rap on Turner-Weprin in NY-9, as exemplified by John Podhoretz's post on the subject, is that Jews hate Obama because Israel, and in consequence are -- as conservatives have been wishing for decades -- abandoning the Democratic Party:
No one is saying a majority of such Jews are going to pull the lever for a conservative Republican like Rick Perry in 2012. But a more significant minority than usual might, and others, disgusted by Obama’s behavior toward the Jewish state, just may stay home.
You might expect the Hasidim to boycott the schvartze Obama, but Podhoretz says the NY-9 Jewish Turner voters are not necessarily Orthodox -- merely "older, heritage-proud, and were bathed from youth forward in Zionism."

But is it, as Podhoretz suggests, their Zionism that turned them? Maggie Gallagher of the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage thinks not:
NOM has a new poll coming out later today. We’ll have a chance to see how big an impact David Weprin’s “I’m an Orthodox Jew and I support gay marriage” speech had on voters in the district. Nobody appears to know how many Orthodox Jews there are in the district, but we hope to have some data on that, and on how many voters said gay marriage was an issue for them.

But really when 40 Orthodox rabbis tell their people its against Torah law to vote for Weprin, that has to be big.

Democrat Ed Koch’s endorsement of Turner was a huge factor. But so was [anti-gay] Democrat Dov Hikind’s endorsement and [anti-gay] Democrat Sen. Ruben Diaz. Both did robocalls for NOM to voters and so did a very prominent apolitical rabbi, Zachariah Wallerstein. Huge.
The "apolitical" Wallerstein thinks gays cause hurricanes and earthquakes.

If Gallagher's right, the course for Republican outreach in Jewish districts is clear: convince voters that gay marriage threatens the state of Israel. (In Israel itself, that would be a tough sell -- gays have served in the Israeli military for years and most citizens approve gay marriage -- but American Jews are often in the dark about how the folks in the homeland really think on major issues, so the scam could work.) GOP Jews might compare their Democratic opponents to Ernst Rohm, for example, or complain that Boy George stole their look.

If this race shows anything, it's that Republicans won't scruple to inflame ancient prejudices to win, and when times are tough this is more likely to work.

UPDATE. Some readers wonder what else was going on there. The ever-astute Liz Benjamin read some tea leaves and sorted some influences. To my mind: the economy sucks; Turner ran a campaign that soft-pedaled national GOP messages (unlike earlier local GOP candidates); the district liked Weiner but had no overriding cultural loyalty to the Democrats; and the economy sucks. Also gay marriage.

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