Two days into the Democratic National Convention, uproar has emerged as the Democratic Party platform was released. Among the controversial platform positions was the removal from previous years' platforms of "God," the removal of support for Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the refusal to meet with Hamas, refusal of the right of return for Palestinian refugees to Israel.
When controversy ensued, the DNC was forced to backtrack -- at least on the topic of "God" and Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. In an embarrassing display, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was forced to hold three voice votes before finally deeming the two amendments regarding God and Jerusalem to be reinserted into the platform. See the video here.
CNN reported that the nays seemed to exceed the ayes regarding the amendments. Then Villaraigosa just declared the amendments passed - to boos and rancor. Shades of Mayor Daley and the 1968 Convention.
Pro-Obama "journalists" spun the story as if Barack Obama suddenly intervened and rode to the rescue and personally intervened to get the two amendments passed.
That part may be true.
But the bigger story is that he knew of the language in the platform before it was released and passed.
Reid Epstein reports in Politico:
Two platform planks sparked division at the Democratic National Convention here Wednesday.It was only when blowback occurred that could hurt his political prospects that he stepped forward and inserted the language to assuage critics.
Things got so bad that President Barack Obama was forced to personally intervene, ordering language mentioning God and naming Jerusalem as the rightful capital of Israel be added.
Obama had seen the language prior to the convention, a campaign source said, but did not seek to change it until after Republicans jumped on the omissions of God and Jerusalem late Wednesday. And even then, it had to be forced through a convention hall full of delegates who nearly shouted down the change.
There is additional support for Epstein's reporting. Not only had previous reports indicated that the platform's original language was meant to conform to Obama's positions but the people on the drafting committee, and one in particular, have close ties to Barack Obama.
Eliot Abrams writes in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal (What is Israel's Capital? Democrats Have Trouble Saying):
Among the Democratic committee members this year were Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank, former Florida Rep. Robert Wexler, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, and former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland.None of these people are strangers to Barack Obama and no doubt were quite aware of his priorities and policies - and agenda going forward.
But did one person in particular play a key role in the sections regarding Israel?
All signs point to Robert Wexler as being that person.
Since 2008 he has been a defender of Barack Obama when it comes to his treatment of Israel. He has served as Obama's emissary (or at least one of them) to the Jewish community. When he served in Congress he was involved in Israel-related legislation. After he left Congress (he chose not to run for reelection because he was caught having lied about his residency) he went to work for a "think tank" that focused on the Middle East: the Center for Middle East Peace and Economic Cooperation . This is an appeasement-oriented think tank funded by a billionaire donor to Democrats. I wrote about Wexler in 2009 that this sinecure could be perceived as a thank you for promoting Obama's campaign in 2008. His role in defending Obama even extended to the convention itself when he delivered a speech on this topic. He is not just promoting Obama for partisan reasons - his paycheck may depend on it.
So it can be presumed that Robert Wexler has been very much in contact with Barack Obama and his campaign and was very aware of how Obama wanted the platform drafted. Wexler helped draft that platform, was very aware of what Obama's agenda is and Obama was more than in the loop.
Wexler is one of the more disgraceful former members of Congress - and, when controversy erupted, he pointed the blame at a prominent pro-Israel group. He lost this blame game (see Jennifer Rubin's blog) when his story was found to have many holes in it.
Of course, this is just one of many examples of Barack Obama pushing a policy regarding Israel and then being forced to back track when his political fortunes compelled him to trim his sails.
In a second term, Obama will need to do no more trimming. He will have a great deal more flexibility.
UPDATE: The Washington Post published this column on the controversy that confirmed Wexler helped write the controversial section on Israel:
"The language in the platform is 100 percent pro-Israel language," said Robert Wexler, a former Democratic House member from Florida who now runs the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace in Washington.So this is how Obama's emissary and spinner to the Jewish community defines 100 percent pro-Israel language? That says a lot about what Anderson Cooper might describe as the alternate universe people like Robert Wexler and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz live in - as does their President.
Wexler, who acted as a liaison for Obama to a sometimes-suspicious Jewish community during the 2008 campaign, served on the platform-drafting committee and helped write the section on Israel.
Labels: Antonio Villaraigosa» DNC» Jerusalem
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