Is the religious affiliation of a presidential candidate's backers important?
According to Time's Joe Klein, it is.
In his July 23 piece entitled "McCain's Foreign Policy Frustration," Klein seemed to cross the line from geo-political analysis into anti-Semitism (emphasis added):
McCain's greatest claim to the presidency — his overseas expertise — now seems squandered. He has appeared brittle and inflexible, slow to adapt to changes on the ground, slow to grasp the full implications not only of the improving situation in Iraq but also of the worsening situation in Afghanistan and especially Pakistan...A more obvious explanation is that McCain has straitjacketed himself in an ideology focused more on enemies (real and imagined) than on opportunities. "It is impossible to ignore the many striking parallels between [McCain] and the so-called neoconservatives (many of whom are vocal and visible supporters of his candidacy)," writes the Democratic diplomat Richard Holbrooke in a forthcoming issue of Foreign Affairs. "I don't know if John has become a neocon," says a longtime friend of the Senator's, "but he sure has surrounded himself with them."
Neoconservatism in foreign policy is best described as unilateral bellicosity cloaked in the utopian rhetoric of freedom and democracy. McCain hasn't always sided with the neocons — he opposed torture, wants to close down Guantánamo — but his pugnacity seems a natural fit with theirs. He has been militant on Iran, though even there his statements have been tactical rather than strategic: his tactic is not to talk to the bad guys.
The strategic question here is whether to go for regime change or diplomatic engagement. McCain hasn't said he was for regime change, but he has rattled sabers noisily, joked about bomb-bomb-bombing Iran and surrounded himself with, and been funded by, Jewish neoconservatives who believe Iran is a threat to Israel's existence.
Forgive me, Joe, but was the "Jewish" necessary in this rant against neoconservatives? Jennifer Rubin of Commentary Magazine didn't think so:
Aside from the entire lack of factual support for the notion that McCain is funded by or “surrounded” by Jews, this is rank anti-Semitism of the worst kind, the type of conspiracy theory used for centuries to portray Jews as controlling levers of power behind the scenes. The notion that McCain is surrounded or funded by Jews is preposterous on its face and belies the same conspiratorial paranoia that has motivated the proponents of the Jewish Lobby myth for years...One does, however, wonder why Time permits this line of attack against Jews to continue and why the entire MSM turns a blind eye to such venal bigotry, which if directed against any other minority, would be grounds for professional ostracism.
I'll take this a step further: does one have to be Jewish to believe Iran represents a threat to Israel? That in and of itself is anti-Semitic given the continued proclamations by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Israel must be blown off the face of the planet.
Frankly, this level of geo-political ignorance mixed with anti-Semitism is what one expects of folks like Louis Farrakhan, not from Klein.