Obama Reassures NE Ohio Jewish Leaders on Faith, Farrakhan & Zbigniew Brzezinski

Sen. Barack Obama met privately with Jewish leaders in northeastern Ohio this morning to discuss his candidacy for president. At the meeting, Obama reportedly responded to three concerns put to him by the Jewish leaders.

First, Obama was asked to put to rest questions about his religion, i.e., to state unequivocally that he is a Christian and not a Muslim. This Obama did, explaining once again that his middle name "Hussein" is from his grandfather and does not reflect his faith, and that he is in fact a devout Christian.

Second, Obama was questioned about his failure to denounce remarks by the minister of his church, Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., that are favorable to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, notorious for his extremely anti-Semitic statements. I don't have the precise wording, but Obama reportedly responded by comparing the situation at his church to a family that has an aging uncle who says embarrassing things at family gatherings, but is not challenged face-to-face because he is a relative and is elderly. Obama reportedly said that his minister is near retirement and Obama does not feel it is appropriate in the minister's final days to say negative things about him in public.

Third, the candidate was asked to respond to reports that Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter, is an important advisor to Obama on foreign policy and is likely to be a part of his government if Obama is elected. (Brzezinski joined in a controversial 2007 letter to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice that advocated "genuine dialogue" with Hamas as more strategically effective than efforts to further isolate the group.) Obama responded that he has had one lunch and received three emails from Brzezinski, that Brzezinski is not a senior advisor to Obama, and that Brzezinski would not be Secretary of State or a senior advisor to Obama as president.

This conversation was characterized to me as being an effort to put these hot-button questions aside so that Obama and Clinton can be fairly evaluated on their respective merits.

UPDATE: A much more complete account of Obama's discussion with Cleveland area Jewish leaders is here.

Brzezinski

Great. One of the few Democratic foreign policy gurus who got Iraq right from the beginning will be blackballed from the Obama Administration for being insufficiently docile to the AIPAC line.

"Change"? What change?

(Yes I know. Same problem with Clinton. Same uninspired reaction from me. What exactly are all these people cheering about?)

You're misrepresenting the man

Zbig "would not be Secretary of State or a senior advisor to Obama as president". That does not meen he would be "blackballed" from the Obama administration, as you suggest.

Zbig himself had said on Bloomberg that he's not an adviser to the Obama campaign and does not expect a senior position in an Obama administration, despite his endorsement of Barack.

There's no doubt that Obama will not hesitate to seek the wisdom of a great mind like Zbigniew Brzezinki, even if they don't agree on some things.

Foreign policy

The AIPAC reminds me of many other single issue advocacy groups in that they regularly go WAY overboard in the zealotry of their positions. But then, there are a LOT of groups that I would characterize that way.

As far as Brzezinski goes, there are other experts who "got it right" on the invasion of Iraq. Given a choice between "100 years in Iraq is OK by me" McCain and either of our candidates, it's no contest in my mind.

Besides, it's not so much a question of who got it right then, the issue is who can get us the heck out NOW with the minimum of carnage for all. Our occupation has, and continues, to cause the death of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians. While our withdrawal needs to be ASAP, nonetheless, we must manage that withdrawal as best we can, given the HORRIBLE situation that the neocon chickenhawks have created. They got us into this nightmare and now we have to clean it up. But the first priority is GET US OUT.

(Recently, I watched a Frontline rebroadcast of their investigation of the US in Iraq right after the invasion. My gawd-- what a cluster***k {well you know.})

I hope and expect that Bill Richardson will play a prominent role in our foreign policy going forward.

I'm looking for simple competence from our next administration as much as I am for ideological purity.

Like here in Ohio... just getting it right from day to day goes a LONG way.

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