Another Nonstory About Jewish Voters
by Jonathan Singer, Fri Dec 11, 2009 at 02:13:43 PM EST
I've written about this too many times to count over the past four-plus years here at MyDD, and folks have been writing about it for even longer than that, but I'm always still a little surprised when I see an article like the one in today's New York Times suggesting that Jewish voters are unhappy with the Democratic Party or its standard bearer.
At the first Hanukkah party in the Obama White House, a Jewish student choir will sing in sweet harmony, the two young children of a soldier deployed in Iraq will light a 19th-century silver menorah from Prague and President Obama and his wife, Michelle, will greet more than 500 guests in a celebration that is expected to spill from the State Room to the East Room.
But to the dismay of some administration officials, the plans for next week's party -- one of the hottest holiday events for the nation's Jewish elite -- have been overtaken by feverish debate over the size of the guest list, the language on the invitations and what this says (or does not say) about Mr. Obama's relationship with Jews.
President George W. Bush, who began the tradition of White House Hanukkah parties, invited 600 people to his last party, administration officials say. But rumors spread wildly, first in the Israeli press and then locally, that President Bush had invited 800 people and that the Obamas were planning to invite only 400. (Administration officials say they have invited 550 people.)
Rabbi Levi Shemtov, the Lubavitcher Rabbi who kashered the White House kitchen in preparation for the Hanukkah celebration, summed up the hubbub best, saying, "This is all one big overblown latke," the rabbi said. Indeed. Jewish voters aren't so unsavvy as to be duped by an op-ed penned by former Bush administration official into believing that Barack Obama is abandoning their community by inviting 550 people this year instead of the 500 or fewer guests George W. Bush generally invited to the event. (Jewish voters also didn't sour on George W. Bush merely because, as noted in the article, his White House put -- no joke -- a Christmas tree on their Hanukkah invitations one year.)
They also, despite the spin from the right now and in the past, aren't on the verge of abandoning the Democratic Party. According to polling released this fall, Jewish voters remain among the most loyal supporters of the President -- not at all surprising considering that the community has given the Democratic Party between 78 percent and 87 percent of its support in recent elections.
So feel free to move along. There really is no story here (despite the article's presence in The Times today).