The White House PR effort these days is beset with contradictory messages. (The unemployment figures don’t matter. Oh, yes they do!) That’s certainly true with its PR offensive to retain the votes of Jewish voters. The Obama team is sending out conflicting signals on whether the president has a problem with Jewish voters and donors.
On one hand, they dispatched Alan Solow, former head of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and a major Obama backer, to spin up the liberal punditocracy, insisting there was no problem at all with Obama’s Jewish support. (My colleague Greg Sargent revealed this week that this was part of an organized effort to prevent disaffection of what has been one of the most loyal Democratic blocs of voters.)
On the other hand, Solow confesses there really is a problem. (Otherwise why would he be deployed?) The Jewish Chronicle Online reports:
With the Jewish vote emerging as a key battleground in the 2012 election, prominent Jewish supporters of President Obama are mounting a campaign to win more Democrat votes from the American Jewish community.
“The Jewish vote is important and meaningful to the President, and his campaign cares about it,” says Alan Solow. . .
“The Republicans are making a concerted effort to put the Jewish vote in play. We’re going to make sure the facts get out to make clear that President Obama is a very strong supporter of Israel,” he said.
But the president, as he has on the economy, is confusing messaging with policy. A Capitol Hill staffer, reacting to the spin squad, tells me: “If only President Obama cared about the security of the Jewish state as much as he cares about securing the Jewish vote. If he did, there would be no reason for the alarm bells to be going off among Jewish Democratic apologists for the president.”
A GOP adviser chimes in: “The Jewish vote is in play because Barack Obama put it in play by establishing the most hostile public posture of an American President toward the State of Israel since George H.W. Bush.” He asks, “What facts are they going to get out? The facts about how the Administration tried to cut Israel’s next-generation missile defense system during its first year in office? The facts about how the White House tried to shakedown Netanyahu on settlements by holding the Joint Strike Fighter hostage? The facts about how the President threw Israel under the bus on ‘67 borders and went back on the Bush-Sharon understandings on Palestinian refugees? This should be one heck of a fact sheet.”
Now, despite all that, Obama isn’t in danger of losing the majority of Jewish voters any more than he is in danger of losing the African American vote. Both groups are among the most stubbornly liberal and resistant to entreaties from the Republican Party. However, politics is a relative exercise. What will be telling is the extent to which Obama loses votes and financial support from a group that has been overwhelmingly devoted to the Democratic Party for decades.
But Jewish voters’ concerns about the flagging economy may swamp all other issues, as it may with other voters and their priorities. And the unemployment numbers, like the state of U.S.-Israeli relations, will be hard to portray in a positive light.