CAMPAIGN CONFIDENTIAL

By E.J. Kessler

Published November 28, 2003, issue of November 28, 2003.

Smacking the Saudis: Trying to sound tough on Middle East terrorism, former Vermont governor Howard Dean smacked Saudi Arabia in response to a question from Tom Brokaw during Monday night’s NBC-televised presidential candidate debate in Iowa.

Asked by Brokaw whether he considered Saudi Arabia a “friend” or an “enemy,” Dean replied, “Seventy-five years ago, the Saudis made a deal with the devil. They decided that in return for leaving the royal family unchallenged by the very fanatical Wahhabi sect, that they would essentially fund the export of radical Islam to the Islamic world.

“Unfortunately, because the Saudis have an enormous amount of money, coming from us, principally, they have been very successful,” Dean continued. “Moderate Muslim nations such as Indonesia have begun to see the problems of radicalization. As long as the Saudis continue to fund the export of radical Islam around the world, they cannot be considered friends. … Right now you can’t get peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians because our oil money goes to the Saudis, who then spend it on terrorist groups and on teaching small children to hate Americans, Christians and Jews.”

Dean went on to plug ethanol, a corn derivative, as a way to lessen American dependence on Middle Eastern oil. One of the biggest corn producers is… Iowa. Funny how that works.

* * *

Conservative Calumny: GOPUSA, a conservative Web site, was criticized all over the blogosphere and at Salon.com last week for publishing, briefly, a column on financier George Soros that many found antisemitic.

Soros recently brought down the ire of conservative commentators by agreeing to spend millions on various Democratic efforts to defeat President Bush.

The GOPUSA columnist, however, trafficked in something way beyond mere commentary, which the site tacitly acknowledged when it pulled the column after a day.

“Satan Lives in George Soros,” wrote the pseudonymous columnist, who publishes weekly at the site under the pen name “Sartre.”

“The fiction which is interdependency has a prolocutor in the congregation of Moloch. His name is George Soros. No other single person represents the symbol and the substance of Globalism more than this Hungarian-born descendant of Shylock. He is the embodiment of the Merchant from Venice. … If Soros is correct when he says a ‘supremacist ideology’ guides the White House, what would you call the practices of the archfiend of Free Enterprise? The Soros deception would make Shylock proud. … [I]t’s not about antisemitism! [Outgoing Malaysian Prime Minister] Mahathir Mohammad was just stating the truth.”

Democrats went ballistic.

“Suddenly deleting such vile antisemitism from this Republican site — with no explanation, and no apology — simply won’t cut it,” the executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council, Ira Forman, said in a press release. “Virulent antisemitism causes very real damage, and GOPUSA must acknowledge this.”

The editor of GOPUSA, Bobby Eberle, did not respond to calls and an e-mail seeking comment.

* * *

Appraising Ann: In more columnist controversy, Ann Coulter, the stringy, famously unmarried blond who has carved out a place as the Gloria Steinem of the right with her ideologically-driven commentary, got a boost this week from an unlikely quarter — the Anti-Defamation League’s national director, Abraham Foxman.

After a Democratic operative complained to us that he thought a syndicated Coulter column on the Democratic presidential contenders had wandered into bigoted territory, we asked Foxman what he thought.

The offending passage?

“[T]he Democrats’ other big idea — too nuanced for a bumper sticker — is that many of them have Jewish ancestry,” Coulter wrote. “There’s Joe Lieberman: Always Jewish. Wesley Clark: Found Out His Father Was Jewish in College. John Kerry: Jewish Since He Began Presidential Fund-Raising. Howard Dean: Married to a Jew. Al Sharpton: Circumcised. Even Hillary Clinton claimed to have unearthed some evidence that she was a Jew — along with long-lost evidence that she was a Yankees fan. And that, boys and girls, is how the Jews survived thousands of years of persecution: by being susceptible to pandering.”

While allowing that Coulter tends to express herself in an “over the top” manner, Foxman said, “I don’t disagree with her. I find it a little strange, offensive and patronizing to flaunt your Jewish antecedents. Who cares? American Jews vote on issues. … Are [the candidates] running around flaunting their pedigrees as Baptists, Christians or Lutherans? They’re not.”

* * *

California Catch-up: California Senator Barbara Boxer, a liberal Democrat whom Golden State Republicans are itching to replace, lost one of her potential GOP challengers this week. Rep. Darrell Issa, the conservative San Diego lawmaker who made waves by bankrolling the recall of Democratic Governor Gray Davis, ended speculation that he would challenge Boxer by filing papers Tuesday for re-election to the 49th congressional district, according to his office.

* * *

New York News: Empire State election lawyer Jerry Goldfeder was named “of counsel” to Gephardt’s New York campaign, he told us in an e-mail.



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