Eric Cantor on “60 Minutes” Sunday night, grilled by Leslie Stahl on why most Jews are Democrats, unthinkingly digs himself into a hole and then tries pathetically to get out of it. He starts by saying it’s been “the bane of my existence for a long time,” being a serious, devoted member of a community that’s basically Democratic.
But what is it that makes most Jews Democrats, Stahl asks again. Now Cantor steps in it: It’s because Judaism places a high priority on concern for the less fortunate, which leads them to…um, never mind.
“It’s Tikun Olam. That is a concept in Judaism which means repair the world – and it’s a very charitable concept. And it’s that way in the Christian faith and others as well, that you give back. And clearly there is the ability to characterize all the social programs that exist at the federal level as reflecting that need to repair the world and to help those who can’t help themselves.”
Whoops, says Cantor’s facial expression, did I just say that? Can I leave yet? Stahl, meanwhile, is pouncing. “I know,” she says, “but you’ve taken a lot of criticism from American Jews for being a Republican. I mean, you go out and look at what’s said about you…”
Cantor comes back with a quick recitation of America’s fine charitable tradition and the right of middle class people to keep what they earn, but he’s toast. Watch:
Here is the full “60 Minutes” segment.
Jonathan Jeremy “J.J.” Goldberg is editor-at-large of the Forward, where he served as editor in chief for seven years (2000-2007).