I had the pleasure recently of attending a political debate at Beth Haverim Synagogue in Agoura Hills, a city located within an hour’s drive of my home in Los Angeles. I have never been to this city, but the debate made the trip worth it.
The Synagogue wanted their congregants to see the liberal and conservative perspectives with regards to the 2008 election. I give this particular temple credit for even acknowledging that a perspective that is not liberal actually exists. Many synagogues in Los Angeles have yet to discover this. Perhaps because I was technically outside the heart of Los Angeles, open-mindedness was found.
Representing the liberal perspective was Andrew Lachman, who is affiliated with the Los Angeles Chapter of Democrats For Israel. The conservative viewpoint was presented by Larry Greenfield, who is the Executive Director of the California Region of the Republican Jewish Coalition.
For the sake of full disclosure, Larry is a dear friend of mine. For those that wish to accuse me of bias, I am a conservative blogger. Fairness does not mean neutral. I am supposed to be biased.
Rather than provide analysis, I shall allow the descriptive nature of the debate speak for itself.
LG Opening Statement:
“Happy Lag B’omer, and Happy Memorial Day.”
“600,000 Jews fought in World War II.”
“Islamic Jihad is about financial Jihad and religious Jihad.”
“It is the left that disparages the military. Dick Durbin compared our soldiers to the Khmer Rouge. John Kerry said that our troops are dumb, and that those who flunk out of school end up in Iraq.”
“This is not your father’s democratic party.”
“The left wing blogs contain most of the antisemitism. Anti-zionism runs wild on college campuses.”
“We should care about the downtrodden. However, we should also ask what actually works.”
“30% of Jews are prepared to vote republican in 2008, and we could even get 40%.”
“Republicans have a tested Pro-Israel veteran. Democrats have a rookie who brings concerns.”
AL Opening Statement:
“Even most republicans think that President Bush botched the war.”
“President Bush was the one who came out in favor of a Palestinian state.”
“Our current policies have made Israel less safe.”
“Barack Obama has 20 years of experience, which is the same as what Bill Clinton had when he ran.”
“The experience level of military service is not equal to how great a President will be.”
“Obama has been endorsed by Lee Rosenberg, the head of AIPAC, as well as Congressmen Henry Waxman and Howard Berman.”
“Obama wants divestment from Iran, and is anti-Hamas. The current Congress is the most Pro-Israel Congress in history.”
LG: “The democrats in the 1970s defunded human intelligence. They were wrong on missile defense.”
“Obama is against the Israeli security fence. He has a naive and left wing world view.”
“Obama would not name the Iran Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization.”
“He has had bad judgment regarding Pastor Wright. He has surrounded himself by people who are left wing and anti-Israel. Until she was forced out due to media pressure, he was advised by Samantha Power.”
“Things will be worse for Jews than the entire Carter period if Obama is elected.”
AL: John McCain initially said that he would appoint James Baker to negotiate, and we all remember what James Baker had to say about Jews.”
“Obama listens to people. McCain is supported by Pastor Hagee. Pastor Hagee is one of many Christians who support Israel because they want to convert us all.”
“McCain is against all earmarks. Aid to Israel is an earmark.”
“McCain waffles on torture, and on his description of Evangelicals.”
“Dialogue does not necessarily mean face to face discussions.”
“McCain will bring us right wing judges, and he will NAFTAize healthcare.”
LG: “Obama has also spoken warmly about James Baker.”
The republican idea is the American idea, that free markets work best, and help middle Americans.”
“People in Canada, England, and Germany die waiting for coverage.”
“Republicans stand for tort reform and medical liability reform. Lawsuits are the problem. OBGYNs have been driven out of Arkansas.”
“We spent 30 billion on oil in the 1970s, and were spending 100 billion on oil by 9/11. We are approaching spending 300 billion on oil.”
“We could drill in Alaska. It would take three planes and a snowmobile to get there. There are no birds there. There is no wildlife.”
“Obama’s campaign is about taxes on everybody, because liberals know what is best for everybody.”
“Investment funds are fungible. When people are overtaxed, they leave. America has the second highest corporate tax rate among industrialized nations, ahead of Japan.”
AL “Tax breaks have failed. Exxon is the most profitable company in the world.”
“Japan is beating us in the sales of hybrids.”
“McCain has a zero percent rating from the Sierra Club.”
“McCain was hypocritical in how he handled Cindy McCain’s drug problem. She got treatment while others go to jail.”
(This was a cheap shot, akin to Kerry and Edwards going after Mary Cheney. I spoke to Mr. Lachman after the debate and let him know. He was a nice guy, and while he initially tried to defend his remark, when I told him it was also a loser of a strategy because people would flock to Cindy McCain’s defense, he agreed. I recommended he stop using it, and he did agree. Of course, saying somehting is unwise is not the same as saying it is just wrong, but he was reasonable in hearing me out.)
“Most faith based money goes to Christians, because they put Bush in office. Only one percent of that money goes to Jewish groups.”
LG: “Democrats and republicans spend too much. When republicans try to cut spending, interest groups complain.”
“As for faith based programs, Jewish liberals simply do not apply for faith based money. They should ask for it, but it runs counter to their beliefs.”
“70% of our budget goes towards Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. 4% goes towards the war. It is entitlements, not the war, that is bankrupting our country.”
Questions were asked, and I decided to ask my question in a way that would catch Mr. Lachman off guard.
“How much money is too much to spend on a war that is completely lost, with people dying every day, with drugs and guns destroying things? At what point do we say that we have failed, and not give one more penny to Chicago, Detroit, other inner cities, and every public school, all of which have been run into the ground by liberals? How much is too much money to be spent on these failed war zones?”
(I love it when liberals think my question is about Iraq, and they prepare to agree with me, until I throw my curveball)
AL: “The problem with education is not that it has been administered badly by the left. The problem is that starting with Ronald Reagan, it has been strangled financially by the right. The right has cut budgets for cities, and they have suffered. It is not the left failing. It is the right strangling things.
LG: Ronald Reagan followed the example of JFK and cut taxes. Democrats today raise taxes, and people simply leave. Democrats want to tax the internet.”
“With regards to the war, Saddam Hussein is gone. The man who paid $25,000 to the family of every Palestinian suicide bomber is now dead thanks to this war.”
AL: When Clinton was President, Israel talked to Jordan. With Bush, the Iraq war strengthened Iran, which threatens Israel.”
“Democrats For Israel believe in clemency for Jonathan Pollard. He has served long enough.”
“We have to change the tone, and end the noise about such things such as Pastors. Obama can change the tone.”
LG Closing Statement:
“This election is the American Hero versus the American Idol.”
“When Kennedy talked with Kruschev, and Reagan talked with Gorbachev, there were tough stances taken before talks commenced. When Gorbachev acknowledged that Reagan would outspend him and bankrupt the USSR, only then did Reagan agree to talk.”
“The Chablis and Brie crowd continues to be rejected by Reagan Democrats.”
“McCain went to Sderot. He made it clear that if there were ever attacks at America coming from the U.S. Southern border, he would immediately stop them. I sreal has the right to do the same.”
“Talk to Colonel Bud Day. When he was captured and tortured, his arms were out of place. He told John McCain to break his arms so that could be reattached and grow back properly. McCain did not want to break his friend’s arms, but he did, and then reattached them properly. Today Colonel Bud Day is 84. He has the use of his arms, and he still flies. This is the kind of man John McCain is. He does not publicly talk about these episodes in his life because that is the man he is. He is the opposite of an arrogant upstart from Harvard Law.”
AL Closing Statement:
“There is a new way of doing things.”
“This is a choice between the far right and the American people. This is about which party meddled in the Terry Schaivo matter.”
“This is about corruption and the politics of the 1900s vs the future.”
“The GOP has gotten away from Tikkun Olam.”
“This election is about tolerance vs those who believe in the private sector and leaving people behind.”
Despite the fact that Mr. Lachman is smart, the issue still remains that democrats have no credibility on how they would handle Iraq when they cannot even handle an American city.
Blaming George W. Bush is typical, but blaming Ronald Reagan is a stretch. Liberals are failing 25 years later because of Reagan? Yeah, that is a great way to be held accountable.
Detroit is run by liberals. It has been run into the ground. New York City was dying until Rudy Giuliani took over for David Dinkins. Kathleen Blanco cried, Ray Nagin blamed white racism, and Haley Barbour rolled up his sleeves, and got the job done. San Francisco is so far gone that more people live now in San Jose.
People are fleeing Massachusetts for New Hampshire, and escaping New York for Florida, Arizona and Nevada. These are red states.
Some will say it has nothing to do with republicans. People move there because taxes are low. That is precisely what happens when republicans run things!
The debate between Mr. Lachman and Mr. Greenfield was civilized. They are friends, and have debated many times before.
Larry Greenfield is a former Naval Soldier. Mr. Lachman is a lawyer. They are both shaped by their experiences.
Minds were not changed publicly in the synagogue. My views were only reinforced.