On Monday, a public rally is set for Dag Hammerskjold Plaza, across from the UN, to protest Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s upcoming speech to the General Assembly and unite in opposition to his nuke program and his vow to wipe the US and Israel “off the map.”
Major Jewish and pro-Israel groups have sponsored such mass rallies for decades. And they’ve always featured political figures from both major parties – often, even rival candidates for the same office.
The point, and it’s an important one, is that support for Israel – and opposition to its warmongering enemies – generally transcends partisan politics in America.
This time, however, Sen. Clinton – who early on accepted an invitation to speak – reportedly hit the roof when she learned that she would share the platform with GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.
According to news accounts, the Obama campaign and Jewish Democratic groups likewise loudly protested what they perceived as a Republican tilt to the rally – on the dubious grounds that Palin “outranks” Clinton. Or maybe Hillary was just piqued that she was no longer the star attraction.
At any rate, Camp Clinton announced that the senator would just as soon stay home.
Rally organizers, trying to salvage the situation, then invited Palin’s counterpart on the Democratic ticket, Sen. Joe Biden. But his campaign turned thumbs down, reportedly citing a “longstanding commitment” to speak at a National Guard convention in Maryland.
At which point the organizers, in a not-especially-gracious move, disinvited Palin – along with every other political official who’d been asked to speak, saying that would prevent their message from being “obscured” by the tumult.
Such tumult as there might have been traces directly to the Democrats’ refusal to rise above partisan politics and share the public spotlight with a nationally prominent Republican.
As Sen. John McCain rightly noted in a statement, the threat that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose, to Israel and to America, is too great for the issue to be used as a political football.
Hillary Clinton and the Obama campaign could have driven that point home by her appearance at Monday’s rally.
But they chose instead to play politics.
I’m not sure the editorial has the back story right. It may well be that the Obama campaign asked Senator Clinton not to appear with Governor Palin at Monday’s rally. Indeed, Senator Biden’s deference to his other engagement suggests as much to me.
The editorial nevertheless concludes on a note that is inarguable: “What a disgrace.” But there’s a lot of that going around.
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