By E.J. Kessler

Published January 14, 2005, issue of January 14, 2005.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Three’s a Crowd?: After Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois was tapped this week to head the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, some observers were joking nervously that the Dems were stacking their leadership with too many big-city Jews. After all, Senator Charles Schumer of New York recently was named head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and last week, former Texas congressman Martin Frost of Dallas appeared to be emerging as the frontrunner for the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee.

The joke centered on the so-called values question.

“[H]ave you heard the one about the political party that engaged in oodles of post-election bellyaching about values voters, rural voters and the potential electoral power of evangelical Christians, and then decides to tap two big-city Jewish guys to head up its efforts to win back control of the House and the Senate?” asked ABC News’s influential daily online political briefing, The Note, January 6 after word of Emanuel’s appointment leaked. “It’s pretty funny.”

Well, The Note can stop fretting. According to strategist Howard Wolfson, a former executive director of the DCCC, even the Jewish Dem trifecta of Schumer-Emanuel-Frost would have “no impact” on the party’s perception or chances among the electorate.

Analyst Chuck Todd, editor in chief of National Journal’s Hotline, concurs or sees a net plus for Dems. “I don’t think it’s really as big of a deal as some might make it out to be,” he wrote in an e-mail. “In all three cases, it’s happenstance; that said, the effect would probably be a net positive for the party as it pertains to the Jewish community. It may end once and for all this supposed flirtation some in the Jewish political community are having with Bush and the Republicans.”

Ira Forman, executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council, noted that two of the three Democratic committees were led by Jews during 1997 and 1998, when Steve Grossman headed the DNC and Frost was at the DCCC. (Forman also might have noted that the Democrats were doing much better then than they are now.)

Grossman commented: “I actually think that people in the Jewish community have a special capacity to speak to people in the Evangelical community on issues of faith and values because the Jewish community so often has at its core values biblical and prophetic imperatives that would link them to the Evangelical community…. When I was sitting down with people in the Evangelical community when I was head of DNC, I would start with Isaiah and Deuteronomy.”

Grossman paused to recite a verse from Isaiah. (Can the incoming Republican National Committee chairman, Ken Mehlman — another “big-city Jewish guy” — do the same, we wonder?)

“People like Chuck Schumer, Rahm Emanuel, Martin Frost if he’s elected, I would hope they would be equally comfortable with that language,” Grossman added.

* * *

Bible Booster: In a related item, Barbara Ann Radnofsky, the Houston lawyer who is the first Democrat to declare her candidacy for the Senate seat held by Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison has pursued a philanthropic career that will hold interest for both Jews and Evangelical Christians: She’s a top giver to the Dead Sea Scrolls Foundation, and she sponsored the publication of a concordance scroll. The scrolls, the product of an ancient Jewish sect, the Essenes, are holy to both Jews and Christians, who study them for clues to their influence on the thought of Jesus.

“It’s been one of the most satisfying things imaginable,” Radnofsky said of her involvement with the scrolls foundation. “We hope to bring the scrolls to Houston.”

A much-published litigator who practices with the firm Vinson & Elkins, Radnofsky also is a regional vice chair of the Anti-Defamation League, directing its Hispanic outreach. She worships at Temple Sinai, a Reform synagogue in west Houston. A frequent donor to Democrats in Texas and elsewhere, Radnofsky sometimes uses the catch phrase “tough name, smart dame” on the stump, according to Political State Report.

* * *

Bush Benefactors: Leaders of the Republican Jewish Coalition collectively ponied up almost $1 million for President Bush’s inaugural, which will cost $40 million. Some $20 million has been raised so far for the event, mostly from corporations. Elliott Broidy and Sheldon Adelson each gave the limit, $250,000, while Sam and Marilyn Fox, Nancy and Jeffrey Marcus, Ilene and David Flaum, Ned Siegel and Marc Goldman gave $100,000 as individuals or couples.

LEADERSHIP POSITIONS: Rep. Rahm Emanuel, left, and Sen. Charles Schumer, middle, are heading two national Democratic committees. Former congressman Martin Frost, right, is vying to become the next chair of the DNC.

Find us on Facebook!
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight":
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here:
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.