Democrat activists this week gave Ahmadinejad a huge gift by sabotaging a major bipartisan anti-Iran rally. More important to them than Iran, apparently, was the opportunity to marginalize popular Republican vice-presidential candidate Governor Sarah Palin.
In a nutshell, here is what happened: The rally was organized by wide coalition of mostly Jewish organizations, including the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, the respected non-partisan umbrella group that is the closest thing the American Jewish community has to single and unified voice. They assembled an impressive protest of the presence of Ahmadinejad at the United Nations, to sound the alarm over his nuclear weapons program, and to urge world leaders gathered this week in New York to act strongly-and soon-to prevent a nuclear Iran that would threaten America, Israel and the world.
The organizers secured a number of high-profile speakers, including Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, recent Democrat presidential candidate Senator Hillary Clinton and Vice-Presidential nominee Sarah Palin. It is not yet clear whether Clinton was coordinating with Democrat strategists, but when she found out Palin was also invited, she bailed out. Too bad-having America's two highest profile female politicians together on the same stage condemning the misogynistic (among its many attributes) Iranian regime would have been a powerful image.
Following Clinton's lead, two of the sponsoring organizations-led by left-wing Democrat activists-demanded that Palin be barred from speaking lest the rally be a "partisan" event. The organizers pleaded with both Joe Biden and Barack Obama to speak, but both declined. Although Congressman Robert Wexler, a prominent Obama surrogate, was available to speak, the Democrats (including members of Congress) relentlessly pushed to have the Palin invitation rescinded.
Their argument was part naked pretext and part veiled threat: that maintaining the invitation just might prompt the IRS to investigate all sponsoring organizations' non-partisan tax-exempt status-an interesting understanding of "partisan" considering the invitations to Clinton, Obama, Biden and Wexler. (Perhaps this gives a clue how an IRS run by Obama lieutenants might treat political opponents). In an effort to maintain an appearance of Jewish unity against the evil of Iran, the organizers were forced to cave; Palin was given the boot. Game over. The Democrats won.
And so did Ahmadinejad. This had the makings of rally with impact. Besides being a tremendous show of bipartisan unity opposing Iranian aggression, the massive media attention paid to Palin's appearances would have brought the Iranian danger to the forefront of American consciousness. The rally was also attended by Iranian dissidents, human rights activists, gays, Christians, Jews and Iraqis, all of whom suffer at the hands of the mullahs' regime. Their under-reported causes could have used the publicity boost. Deflating the event by removing its star power did all these groups a huge disservice. We're sure Ahmadinejad cannot believe his good fortune. Thank you, Democrats!
Don't the Democrats vainly claim to be the party of the powerless and the voice of the voiceless? Fighters for human rights and protectors of liberty? They shouldn't flatter themselves. How did they help those causes this week? By strong-arm tactics, stifling dissent and sacrificing their "principles" for some perceived marginal political gain? Aren't those the sorts of things they're supposed to be protesting against? Perhaps they should tell us which principles they won't trample in order to gain fleeting political advantage.
In all likelihood, by getting their way and silencing Palin, the Democrats won only a Pyrrhic victory. This political gamesmanship is not going to sit well with most Jewish and pro-Israel voters-including Democrats and Independents-who take the Iranian threat seriously. The same day as the rally, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency warned that Iran could be hiding certain nuclear activities, and estimated that Iran could go nuclear in just six months. And this past Sunday, no longer content to merely "wipe Israel off the map,"Ahmadinejad presided over a military parade with banners reading "Israel should be eliminated from the universe." (Those must be some powerful nukes.)
Palin's non-speech, the text of which was released to the press (and is well worth reading), pulled no punches. She pointed out that Iran's radical Islamic government, committed to going nuclear, is already the world's leading sponsor of terrorism, is culpable in the deaths of hundreds of Americans in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and soldiers in Iraq, has murdered countless opponents, has persecuted its own Jews and murdered Jews as far away as Argentina, is fixated on anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial, and terrorizes its own people. She even quoted Hillary Clinton to make a bipartisan argument for stronger sanctions. Would it have been so unbearable to give her words national attention?
Democrats and Obama-supporters, please ask yourselves: was it really so important to begrudge any forum to Palin that you'd sacrifice a golden opportunity to raise the profile of Iran's increasingly imminent threat to world security? What, exactly, are your priorities?
By contrast, in matters of national security and international action, John McCain has constantly put aside partisanship. Earlier this year, he joined with Obama and Clinton issuing a united statement on ending the genocide in Darfur even though it's an issue on which Democrats have been more vocal.
When presciently advocating the then-unpopular "surge" of American troops in Iraq even though it jeopardized his presidential campaign, he famously said "I'd rather lose a campaign than lose a war." Can the Democrats say the same thing? By sacrificing unified leverage over the greatest security threat we now face in order to spitefully diminish and delegitimize an opposing candidate, we may have our answer.
Obama's talk of post-partisanship and "reaching across the aisle" looks increasingly divorced from reality. If his operatives can't even bring themselves to join Republicans in something with such wide bipartisan support and national security implications as preventing the nuclearization of Iran, just where is that supposed post-partisanship going to appear? Do they not agree that the enemy is Ahmadinejad, not the GOP?
There is something very wrong with a party that insists on sitting down with Ahmadinejad without preconditions, but refuses to share a stage with the Republican Party candidate for Vice President of the United States of America.
Kory Bardash is the co-chairman of Republicans Abroad Israel; Abraham Katsman is counsel to RAI