Last week, Barack Obama's military adviser and national campaign co-chairman Merrill "Tony" McPeak accused former President Bill Clinton of "using divisive tactics and unfairly trying to question Barack Obama's patriotism." McPeak, a former chief of staff of the Air Force, previously supported Howard Dean and then John Kerry. He has campaigned for Obama and cut commercials claiming that Obama has the "right stuff" to be Commander in Chief. His job is to burnish Obama's image as a guy tough enough to be President. So who better to go after Bill Clinton and get the Obama campaign back on offense?
In off-the-cuff remarks to reporters Friday he even compared the former president's comments with the actions of Joseph McCarthy, the 1950s communist-hunting senator.
"I grew up, I was going to college when Joe McCarthy was accusing good Americans of being traitors, so I've had enough of it," McPeak said. And last month McPeak had to retract his statement that as president, Obama would not be reduced to "crying fits" like Mrs. Clinton
Well, it is likely that Obama will soon be having to retract Merrill McPeak. McPeak, who was arrested last year for driving under the influence, apparently has a problem controlling more than his thirst for fermented beverages. He also has a penchant for bashing Israel or, more particularly, Jews who oppose negotiating with terrorists.
McPeak has a long history of criticizing Israel for not going back to the 1967 borders as part of any peace agreement with Arab states. In 1976 McPeak wrote an article for Foreign Affairs magazine questioning Israel's insistence on holding on to the Golan Heights and parts of the West Bank.
In recent years McPeak has echoed the Mearsheimer-Walt view that American Middle East policy is being controlled by Jews at the expense of America's interests in the region. In a 2003 interview with the Oregonian, McPeak complained of that the "lack of playbook for getting Israelis and Palestinians together at...something other than a peace process....We need to get it fixed and only we have the authority with both sides to move them towards that. Everybody knows that."
The interviewer asked McPeak: "So where's the problem? State? White House?"
McPeak replied: "New York City. Miami. We have a large vote -- vote, here in favor of Israel. And no politician wants to run against it."
Translation (as if it's needed): Jews -- who put Israel over every American interest -- control America's policy on the Middle East. And McPeak has the audacity to accuse Bill Clinton of McCarthyism.
McPeak also claims that a combination of Jews and Christian Zionists are manipulating U.S. policy in Iraq in dangerous and radical ways: "Let's say that one of your abiding concerns is the security of Israel as opposed to a purely American self-interest, then it would make sense to build a dozen or so bases in Iraq. Let's say you are a born-again Christian and you think that Armageddon and the rapture are about to happen any minute and what you want to do is retrace steps you think are laid out in Revelations, then it makes sense. So there are a number of scenarios here that could lead you in this direction. This is radical...."
McPeak also noted: "The secret of the neoconservative movement is that it's not conservative, it's radical. Guys like me, who are conservatives, are upset about these neocons calling themselves conservative when they're so radical."
Guys like McPeak are upset because they think Jews have too much influence.
McPeak (in his Oregonian interview) also equated terrorist organizations with neoconservative supporters for Israel:
Interviewer: "Do you think...there's an element within Hamas, Hezbollah, that doesn't want Israel to exist at all and always will be there?"
Interviewer: "So this is -- this is multilateral."
Instead of discussing Hamas and Hezbollah, McPeak returns to his primary target: Christian and Jews who support Israel:
McPeak: "There's an element in Oregon [sic], you know, that's always going to be radical in some pernicious way, and likely to clothe it in religious garments, so it makes it harder to attack. So there's craziness all over the place. I think there is enough good will on the Israeli side -- I've spent a lot of time in Israel, worked at one time very closely with the Israeli air force as a junior officer, and so -- but that's maybe the more cosmopolitan, liberal version of the Israeli population."
In other words, American policy is the product of "religious Jews and neocons" who in McPeak's mind are just as much to blame for a lack of peace in the Middle East as are Hamas and Hezbollah.
It will be interesting to see how the Obama campaign formulates what should be its latest disavowal and dismissal of yet another anti-Israel and anti-Jewish "adviser."
McPeak's comments are worse than McCarthyism. They reflect the views of Reverend Wright and other Obama advisers who believe that Israel is just a problem to be solved, not an ally to support.
McPeak is not the only member of the Obama campaign who holds such twisted views. Others such as Robert Malley or Zbigniew Brzezinski have found themselves downgraded to "informal" advisers as their anti-Israel views are made public. Samantha Powers was dismissed for calling Hillary a monster, not for sharing McPeak's belief in the malign omnipotence of the "Israel lobby."
Obama has a Jewish problem and McPeak's bigoted views are emblematic of what they are. Obama can issue all the boilerplate statements supporting Israel's right to defend itself he wants. But until he accepts responsibility for allowing people like McPeak so close to his quest for the presidency, Obama's sincerity and judgment will remain open questions.
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