Schapiro: Netanyahu’s Speech Ripples Through Virginia Politics

March 30, 2015 Admin Politics

In Virginia, a state when happily provincial, global security and polite issues now have great resonance. The explanations are numerousmany: The 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, which stands on Virginia soil. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, brought out with forces based here. That Virginia, with a progressively varied population that consists of large numbers of Asians and Hispanics, is a trading partner to the world.

However there’s another factor, highlighted by the controversy over Israeli Head of state Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech Tuesday to a joint session of Congress: that Virginia political leaders, arising from the crucible that is a must-win swing state prized by both parties, are commanding national and worldwide attention.

No marvelNo surprise Tim Kaine’s boycott of the address created such babble. This was not simply a no-show by a first-term United States senator, one of an estimated 50 Democrats who declined to go to. It was a quiet, effective statement by among the celebration’s supposed stars, whom President Barack Obama considered for the vice presidency in 2008 and who is vieweddeemed a prospect for the nomination in 2016 on a Hillary Clinton-led ticket.

To Kaine, Netanyahu’s speech was a stunt to enhance his opportunities of re-election in Israeli elections March 17. It was not without domestic political ramifications, too. Due to the fact that Netanyahu was welcomed by the leadership of the GOP-controlled Congress– over the objections of the White Home– Republicans looked for to raise doubts about Obama’s commitment to Israeli security and to preventing a nuclear-armed Islamist Iran.

Hours after the speech, Kaine slammed Senate Republicans for ruining to block a possible US contract with Iran.

Kaine, an Obama confidant picked by the president for the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee, is no slouch on the Middle East.

When Democrats were in the bulk in the Senate, Kaine was his party’s eyes and ears on the region as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the Near East, South Asia, Central Asia and Counter-terrorism. Kaine, also a member of the Armed Solutions Committee, remained on the subcommittee after Republicans took the Senate in 2014.

By skipping Netanyahu’s look, Kaine not only signaled his loyalty to Obama in continuing arrangements with Iran on a nuclear offer that the prime minister says could still leave Israel vulnerable to attack. Kaine likewise calls attention to his anti-war credentials, burnished by his efforts with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a Vietnam POW beat by Obama in 2008, to reword the policies under which the United States goes to war.

That might amplify Kaine’s interest Clinton. Liberal grass-roots Democrats might see him as a counterweight to Clinton, whose hawkishness as Obama’s first secretary of state might go beyond that of her employer. However Kaine wouldn’t pass for a dove– not representing a defense-rich Southern state and sitting on Senate committees with jurisdiction over war and peace.

Still, the Republican right utilized Kaine’s absence to portray him as weak on Israel. Ahead of the speech, Laura Ingraham, the conservative commentator, tweeted out a list of the protesting Democrats, Kaine amongst them, under the post, “The Shame of the Dems– 50 boycotting Bibi.”

It noted that Kaine, who has broad Jewish support and whose kitchen cabinet includes numerous popular Virginia Jews, had been backed by J Street, a pro-Israel lobbying group that has actually slammed Netanyahu’s policies as unnecessarily bellicose and destabilizing.

If Kaine was drawing differences, Virginia’s senior senator, Democrat Mark Warner, was blurring them.

Warner, another favorite of the state’s Jewish voters and alsoas well as discussed as a possible running mate for Clinton, attended the Netanyahu address. A member of the Senate Knowledge Committee, Warner was barely re-elected in November, having actually failed to totally mobilize the Democratic base.

His appearance at the speech may avoid some in his celebration as another diss of Obama. They were manymanied during the campaign, a response to the president’s continuing unpopularity in a state he twice brought. However with the newest Quinnipiac Survey revealing Warner once again Virginia’s most popular politician– he has a 62 percent approval score– he might have been pushed to reach to a wider, bipartisan audience.

Partisanship remains the policy on Israel, even in unlikely quarters.

At the state Capitol, roughly two-thirds of the 33-member Residence Democratic Caucus declined to vote on a Republican-authored resolution Feb. 5 prompting support for Israel. Democrats whined that the resolution, by Del. Brenda Pogge of York County, seemed to endorse a single-state remedy to Middle East chaos, not two states– one, Jewish; the other Palestinian– as preferred by the United States.

Republicans circulated video of the walkout where Speaker Expense Howell of Stafford labeled the protest “a profile in guts.”

If that wasn’t already riling the Republican base, there was video of a combative Netanyahu appearing before Congress.

Residence Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-6th, blasted out a fundraising email that consisted of a link to a recording of the address and a plea for cash to assist him “remain to stand up to the far left who like to placate our opponents instead of presenting an unified and bold front.”

His greatly rural district in western Virginia is house to largegreat deals of religious conservatives, numerous of whom are strongly encouraging of Israel. Their views frequently reflect those of such Virginia-based evangelical leaders as Pat Robertson and the late Jerry Falwell that defense of the modern-day Jewish state is a biblical duty of this nation that might make sure the 2nd Coming.

The argument over Netanyahu’s speech marked the re-emergence of a Virginian who had a huge state about America’s role in the Middle East due to the fact that he utilized to be a big shot in Washington: Eric Cantor, the previous Residence Republican bulk leader.

As soon as the only Jewish Republican in Congress, Cantor has actually said little openly about politics or policy since he was rejected renomination nine months earlier in the Henrico County-anchored 7th District and joined a Los Angeles financial investment company. In an Op-Ed this previous weekend in USA Today, Cantor stated the focus should be on Netanyahu’s issues about Iran instead of the setting in which he expressed them.

“Awaiting America’s support in World War II, Winston Churchill famously quipped, ‘You can always count on Americans to do the right thing, just after they’ve attempted everything else’,” Cantor composed. “When it concerns a nuclear Iran, we cannot afford to attempt everything else, we need to stop them. And accomplishing that goal begins … with hearing the counsel of our closest ally in the region.”

And a figure who, for numerous Virginians, is no longer a flickering image on tv a half a world away.


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