As The New York Times reports, there was “an instant backlash” from the right after former Secretary of State James A. Baker III “accused Israel’s leader this week of undermining the chances of peace” in the Middle East.
Baker’s comments even caused Jeb Bush, whose father is considered Baker’s best friend, to back away from him somewhat.
Within minutes, conservatives on Twitter blasted Mr. Baker, who served under Mr. Bush, and who had just been listed as an adviser to Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor now poised to run for president. By the next morning, Jeb Bush authorized his spokeswoman to publicly differ.
“While he respects Secretary Baker, he disagrees with the sentiments he expressed last night and opposes J Street’s advocacy,” said the spokeswoman, Kristy Campbell. “Governor Bush’s support for Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu is unwavering, and he believes it’s critically important our two nations work seamlessly to achieve peace in the region.”
The NYT characterizes it as something of a “new litmus test” for the GOP. Indeed, even Republican Senator Rand Paul has appeared to be more hawkish in recent days.
What the Times fails to point out, however, is the Democrats’ glaring weakness in fighting the so-called war on terror and the catastrophe that has become their foreign policy, particularly across the Middle East, under Barack Obama.
If the GOP isn’t what it once was regarding Israel, neither is an Obama-led Democrat Party that worked to try and unseat Israeli PM Netanyahu, while leaking the Jewish state’s previously classified information on their nuclear program and negotiating with Iran to give them perhaps the very same capacity.
“Historically,” Mr. Ross added, “it was the Democrats who were closer to Israel than the Republicans. Now among Republicans, it is not just a possible issue to try to wean voters away but a measure of American reliability with its friends.”
That shift really began in earnest under President George W. Bush. Although he, too, had his differences with Jerusalem at times – he was the first president to make support for a Palestinian state official American policy – he became known as probably the strongest ally Israel had ever had in the Oval Office.