The Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI) is a new group whose missiion is “to educate the public about the serious challenges to Israel’s security and about what elected officials in this country are doing and should do in order to meet those challenges.” To that end, it has produced an ad that exposes the views of Rep. Joe Sestak, the Democratic candidate for the Senate in Pennsylvania, regarding the Middle East. The ad concludes by urging viewers to call Sestak and ask him to stand with Israel.
The ad created quite a stir on Joe Scarborough’s show this morning — a stir that confirms the need for an organization like ECI. The ad is a standard, but highly effective issue-advocacy attack piece. What’s different about it is that it pertains to Israel.
After showing the ad, Scarborough proclaims himself “afraid” that “Middle East politics is going to get in the middle” and “things are going to get very, very ugly.” Scarborough does not explain why the Middle East, unique among important issues, should not be the subject of unpleasant discussion during a political campagin.
Mike Allen of Politico takes a different approach. He informs the audience that ECI is the group of Bill Kristol and Gary Bauer. Scarborough repeats the point — “so this is Bill Kristol and Gary Bauer that are part of the group that’s funding these ads” — and makes it clear that he has no use for Kristol.
Next up is Mark Halperin who returns to Scarborough’s ridiculous talking point. Israel is going to be “politicized,” Halperin frets.
Things take a comic turn when Terry McAuliffe joins in. He expresses the idea that the others have been flirting with, but are too smart to state — that the ad somehow is “out of line.” McAuliffe can’t explain why; it has something to do with the music and the fact that the ad isn’t about jobs. McAuliffe, one of the least successful well-known political figures of my lifetime, concludes that the ad will backfire.
McAuliffe seems to bring the rest of the panel to its senses. Suddenly, the specter of Bill Kristol is lifted. Halperin admits that the ad is “issue based.” Scarborough notes that it uses Sestak’s own actions and statements. Allen concludes that the ad confirms how President Obama’s approach to Israel has created a political problem for Democrats.
He is right. The ad does and Obama has.
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