The other day, The Stiletto and a friend were debating the pros and cons of various McCain veep picks. The Stiletto posited a McCain-Lieberman ticket, while acknowledging the ambivalence Jews felt the first time Lieberman was tapped for the bottom half of a presidential ticket.  

The Stiletto’s friend added that he didn’t think the combo would attract the voting blocs that shunned Barack Obama because as an Orthodox Jew, Joe Lieberman (I-CT) is “too Jewish,” whereas assimilated Jews, such as Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Norm Coleman (R-MN), would be more palatable.  Perhaps The Stiletto is less pessimistic, but she disagrees with him on this point.

However, she recounts this conversation because the question, “is [X] good for the Jews?” is one way to sort out the issues for those who would be directly affected by dint of being Jewish.  

In this election cycle, Lieberman himself is making the case that the “GOP good for the Jews,” as Talking Points Memo put it, while The Economist asks, “Is Barack Obama good for the Jews?” and ponders the obverse question, “Are the Jews good for Barack Obama?”  Speculating about whether something is/is not “good for the Jews” is form of argumentum ad consequentiam. 

A variation of this paradigmatic speculative analysis favored by pundits is whether another terrorist attack on the U.S. would help Republicans and/or hurt Dems. Here’s a snippet of “Hardball With Chris Matthews” from September 6, 2007, where the host debates the impact of an impending Usama bin Laden tape with The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza and Newsweek‘s Holly Bailey: 

Matthews: … According to a group that monitors radical Islamic websites, a new video message from Osama bin Laden is expected to be released in the next 72 hours to address the sixth anniversary of the September 11th attacks on us. … Does it have a help to Rudy there? Does it help the Republicans generally? 

Cillizza: … It immediately brings to mind the sense that we are still in this war on terror. I think any time that that dynamic exists in the political dialogue, it helps Rudy. 

Matthews: … I say any time you say Iraq it hurts the Republicans. Any time you say terrorism it helps the Republicans. 

Bailey: I agree with you.  

In an interview with Fortune magazine, Charles R. Black Jr. a senior political adviser to the McCain campaign engages in just such speculative punditry, and Barack Obama (D-IL) promptly  expresses outrage, John McCain (R-AZ) hastens to offer the renounce-and-denounce statements that have become de rigueur in such situations and Black takes a page from Samantha Power’s (second item) Book of Penance and initiates vigorous self-flagellation Can a ritualistic “resignation” be far behind? 

The Washington Post reports: 

A top adviser to Sen. John McCain said that a terrorist attack in the United States would … “certainly would be a big advantage to him.” He also said that the December assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto, while “unfortunate,” helped McCain win the Republican primary by focusing attention on national security. … 

Asked about the comments … McCain said: “I cannot imagine why he would say it. It’s not true. I’ve worked tirelessly since 9/11 to prevent another attack on the United States of America. My record is very clear.” He added: “I cannot imagine it, and so if he said that – and I don’t know the context – I strenuously disagree.” … 

“The fact that John McCain’s top adviser says that a terrorist attack on American soil would be a ‘big advantage’ for their political campaign is a complete disgrace, and is exactly the kind of politics that needs to change,” [Obama] spokesman Bill Burton said. … 

Traveling with McCain, Black faced reporters in California to acknowledge his mistake. “I deeply regret the comments. They were inappropriate,” he said. “I recognize that John McCain has devoted his entire adult life to protecting his country and placing its security before every other consideration.” 

But Obama gave Hillary Clinton (D-NY) a pass when she mused on the political fallout of a terrorist attack in NH back in August 2007 – “It’s a horrible prospect to ask yourself, ‘What if? What if?’ But, if certain things happen between now and the election, particularly with respect to terrorism, that will automatically give the Republicans an advantage” – while lefty activists slammed her for writing McCain’s attack ads for him. No one accused her of wishing a terrorist attack on the U.S. for her own political gain.

Note: The Stiletto writes about politics and other stuff at The Stiletto Blog, chosen an Official Honoree in the Political Blogs category by the judges of the 12th Annual Webby Awards (the Oscars of the online universe) along with CNN Political Ticker, Swampland (Time magazine) and The Caucus (The New York Times).

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