Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Now That's a Dark Horse of a Different Color

We see from Debbie Schlussel’s blog, and Niraj Warikoo at the Detroit Free Press, (“Event focuses on defending Constitution”), that last week’s Arab American Institute conference in Dearborn was co-sponsored by, among other businesses, Talil Chaine’s La Shish restaurant chain.

As we’ve noted a lot recently, (“LaShish: More Than Just a Restaurant, It's a Hezbollah Soap Opera"), Chahine is a fugitive from justice believed to be hiding out in Lebanon. He got in trouble for being a major money-launderer and fund-raiser for Hezbollah. The legend is that an angel of the Lord came to him in a dream and warned him to flee into Southern Lebanon just as the feds were closing in on him.

We’ve got no reason to believe Chahine’s still handling the day-to-day any more at his old restaurants, and his poor wife probably isn’t, either, as she’s gone off to jail. ("Chahine's Wife To Be Sentenced for Tax Evasion").

So we also have no reason to believe that any of the La Shish staff were required to attend the AAI event--the way, say, they were formerly required to participate in other after-hours duties, like helping Chahine skim receipts that he then sent to Hezbollah, or participate in green-card marriages, or bear Chahine’s love child. ("La Shish: More Than Just a Restaurant, It's a Hezbollah Soap Opera").

I was also struck, but not surprised by, the press’s helpful coverage of the conference in a way heavily weighted to suggest that the Democratic Party is the answer to the political aspirations of Arab Americans.

James Zogby is the big dog at AAI, its founder, and although he claims that AAI is non-partisan, he’s been described as “Arab American in Chief: - And a big Democrat, too", sitting “atop Arab American politics -- and ... trying to make sure as many Democrats as possible join him there.”

Zogby has also helpfully condemned the Israelis as "Nazis," and refused to call either Arafat or Hezbollah "terrorists."

I get a kick out of how loyally sympathetic reporters lend themselves to the cause of, in this case, selling the idea that the Democrats are the saviors of persecuted Arab Americans--and Republicans may as well just keep away. Here is Gregg Krupa at the Detroit News:

DEARBORN -- Arab-Americans said Sunday they are feeling estranged from the Republican presidential field because the GOP's policies are hostile to them, and just one candidate, dark horse Ron Paul, attended their three-day national leadership convention.

None of the top three Democratic candidates for the White House attended in person.

"On the Republican side it says that their debate is moving in such a negative direction that they simply are not, most of them, in a position to come before this audience," said James Zogby, founder and president of the American Arab Institute, which sponsored the National Leadership Conference in Dearborn.

“They have been building themselves up rhetorically and politically in such a hostile direction on these issues that I think it would be difficult.” (“Some candidates court Arab-American vote”).

So we have three paragraphs, in fact, the entire article, pointing out how Republicans are dissing Dearborn’s Arabs and can’t be bothered coming to what is, in reality, a Democratic pep rally, and then these “14 words” are quietly slipped in:

“None of the top three Democratic candidates for the White House attended in person.”

Elsewhere Krupa calls the two Dems who showed up live-- New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio--“both dark horse candidates.” (“Dem presidential candidates promise Iraq troop pullout”).

I guess two Democratic dark horses are worth more than one Republican dark horse. (Although I think Ron Paul’s candidacy qualifies more as “dark matter.” ).

The beauty of this is that the Democrats who showed up live, Kucinich, or on video, Obama and Edwards, (with the exception of Richardson), all bragged about how they were going to get dynamic results in the Middle East by drastically doing the opposite of everything the Bush administration has ever done, or ever considered doing. To wit:

Kucinich is going to get America “out of the Middle East and stop trying to dominate the politics of the region”;

Obama said, “Our neglect of the Middle East peace process has spurred despair and fueled terrorism”;

John Edwards reportedly said, “instead of spending billions on war in the region, as president, he would invest millions to establish public school systems throughout the region… I want to be the president who is going return America as keeper of peace in the region,’ Edwards said. ‘America needs to return to the position in which it is the moral leader in the world.’”

Just what the Middle East needs. More dropouts.

But in spite of all the tough talk, we already know the real reasons Obama and Edwards weren’t there. As Krupa reports:

Zogby and others said the Democratic presidential candidates felt they were caught in a cross-fire between the state Democratic Party and national party officials. While they were granted waivers by the national Democratic Party to appear in Michigan, which has run afoul of national party rules by scheduling a Jan. 15 primary, the candidates were concerned that coming here would send the wrong message to Democrats beyond Michigan. "The front-runners were busy looking over their shoulders at whether one would come and whether they'd take potshots for coming," Zogby said. "We heard that from a number of them."

And as we all know, achieving peace in the Middle East will require a hell of a lot less brass than standing up to Howard Dean. Sending the wrong message to Democrats beyond Michigan, or having to look over their shoulders, getting caught in a crossfire or wondering all the time if they’ll take potshots for coming to Michigan, takes a lot more courage and leadership than the cakewalk that, once in the White House, every Democrat politician knows handling Syria and Lebanon and Hamas and Iran is going to be.

None of this path-of-least-resistance stuff for these guys; not for them the easy road the Bush administration has been taking since 9/11.

And these are the candidates who are going to bring us peace in our time?

Except I don't believe for a second that the Democratic Party will keep its promises any better to Arab Americans than it did to African Americans. You may recall that the Democratic candidates, even without a fatwah from the national Party, refused to participate in a debate in Detroit sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus because it was being run by Fox News Channel, and they weren’t willing to be asked tough questions by known hard guys like Brit Hume and Wendell Goler. ("Why Buy the Cow When You Can Milk it for Free?").

Why bother? Special discount on African American voters this year. Anr Democrats are hoping to get the Arab Americans for the same deep, deep, discount.

Republicans have nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to Arab Americans.

Since September 2001, a Republican administration and majority in Congress made possible the liberation of 27 million Iraqis, 32 million Afghanis, and has contributed to the revival of democracy in Lebanon, meanwhile throwing fear and trembling into dictators in Syria, Iran, Egypt, Libya, and Saudi Arabia, and reversing 30 years of Western appeasement of fascistic religious extremism plunging scores of millions of Arabs into despair.

At the same time, Democrat policies have not freed one innocent Arabic person. The closest they've gotten is cheering the acquittal of indicted Arab terrorists, and demanding the freeing of the world’s most barbaric terrorists from Guantanamo Bay.

If I were an Arab American, I'd think twice about letting John Edwards tell me he's got my best interests in mind.

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