Has Maureen Dowd's documented hatred of Paul Ryan pushed her over the edge? The New York Times columnist is accused by several pundits of employing anti-Semitic tropes in her latest Sunday Review column, the charmingly titled "Neocons Slither Back," currently the #1 e-mailed Times story as of noon Monday. Meanwhile, Times columnist Nicholas Kristof harshly criticized Mitt Romney and accused Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of "interfering in American elections."
Paul Ryan has not sautéed in foreign policy in his years on Capitol Hill. The 42-year-old congressman is no Middle East savant; till now, his idea of a border dispute has more likely involved Wisconsin and Illinois.
Ryan was moving his mouth, but the voice was the neocon puppet master Dan Senor. The hawkish Romney adviser has been secunded to manage the running mate and graft a Manichaean worldview onto the foreign affairs neophyte.
A moral, muscular foreign policy; a disdain for weakness and diplomacy; a duty to invade and bomb Israel’s neighbors; a divine right to pre-emption -- it’s all ominously familiar.
Dylan Byers of Politico has the roundup, exposing both Dowd's offensive tropes and her factual weakness.
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd set the Jewish political community on fire today with a column about the Republican ticket's foreign policy proposals that, according to her critics, peddled anti-Semitic imagery.
Dowd fairly observed that neither Mitt Romney nor Paul Ryan are experts in the field of foreign policy, but asserted their strategy was orchestrated by a "neocon puppet master" who was leading the neocon effort to "slither back" into power.
Such language, to say nothing of the questionable legitimacy of her claims, struck experts on American-Israeli relations as an inappropriate (though perhaps unintentional) appeal to anti-Semitic stereotypes, and especially offensive ahead of the first night of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah.
"Dowd's use of anti-Semitic imagery is awful," Steven A. Cook, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote on Twitter.
"Maureen may not know this, but she is peddling an old stereotype, that gentile leaders are dolts unable to resist the machinations and manipulations of clever and snake-like Jews," Jeffrey Goldberg, the Atlantic columnist and leading journalist on Israeli issues, wrote.
"[A]mazing that apparently nobody sat her down and said, this is not OK," Blake Hounshell, the managing editor of Foreign Policy magazine, tweeted.
Nicholas Kristof also played the tired "neocon" card in his own Sunday Review column, "The Foreign Relations Fumbler," and warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "to stop interfering in American elections." First Kristof insulted Romney several ways, saying he had embarrassed himself on a trip to Israel:
After that trip, you’d have thought that on foreign policy, Romney might remember the adage: Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.
Yet with the Middle East exploding in recent days because of a video insulting the Prophet Muhammad, Romney dived in with a statement that hit a trifecta: it was erroneous, inflammatory and offensive.
The Republican Party is caught in a civil war on foreign policy, and Romney refuses to pick sides. In contrast to his approach on the economy, he just doesn’t seem to have thought much about global issues. My hunch is that for secretary of state he would pick a steady hand, like Robert Zoellick, but Romney has also surrounded himself with volatile neocons.
With China, Romney seems intent on a trade war. In the Middle East, it appears he’d like to subcontract foreign policy to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Netanyahu recently tried to push the United States to adopt a nuclear red line that, if Iran crossed it, would lead us to go to war there. Obama was right to resist, and it has been unseemly for Romney to side with a foreign leader in spats with the United States.
(For my part, I think Obama should indeed set a red line -- warning Netanyahu to stop interfering in American elections.)