Does the Republican Party Have a Problem With Jews?

South Carolina Republicans defend Sen. DeMint by comparing him to penny-pinching Jews

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Two Republican leaders in South Carolina have raised questions about the party's racial sensitivity after glowingly comparing Senator Jim DeMint to Jewish stereotypes. They wrote in an op-ed for The Times and Democrat, a local newspaper, "There is a saying that the Jews who are wealthy got that way not by watching dollars, but instead by taking care of the pennies and the dollars taking care of themselves. By not using earmarks to fund projects for South Carolina and instead using actual bills, DeMint is watching our nation's pennies and trying to preserve our country's wealth and our economy's viability to give all an opportunity to succeed." The GOP leaders were responding to a state Democratic leader who had criticised DeMint for not adequately serving the state's interests.

  • So Much For The Big Tent RealClearPolitics' David Paul Kuhn warns of a greater Republican challenge of inclusiveness. "That news will not be well received by the national Republican Party. The GOP has long attempted, albeit with little success, to make inroads into the Jewish vote. Of course, this incident will not help. And it may not be big enough to hurt that much. But the news comes in the context of the GOP's macro push to portray itself as a more inclusive party of late. And every anecdote exemplifying otherwise undermines that push. That the offensive language was penned in an Op/Ed, rather than made in an offhand remark, makes it all the more politically foolish (and almost too stupid to believe)."
  • Endangering the GOP Local South Carolina newspaper the Palmetto Scoop (Think Progress calls the paper conservative) is unhappy. "Who in mainstream America thinks it's a good idea to write something like that in a guest editorial? Especially in light of the racially-motivated attention garnered by South Carolina Republican activists over the past few months. It's people like Ulmer and Merwin that make many folks fear for the future of the once Grand Ole Party."
  • Why Does GOP Allow This? Conservative legal professor William A. Jacobson rolls his eyes. "Who would associate with such people? Well, I don't worry about that much, because people who use stereotypes in a misguided attempt at praise can be educated, and have no actual malice. I am more worried about the people who associate with the haters who refer to Jews as Hymie and Diamond Merchants, who claim that Jews control the country, or who believe that Jews are satanic."
  • Republican Hypocrisy on Anti-Semitism Liberal blogger Jesse Taylor compares this to Republican saber-rattling on behalf of Israel. "When a Republican says something that's racist or ethnically offensive, it never actually is, so long as it's about black people. (Or, really, anyone, but mainly black people.) If they're in any way affiliated with any form of entertainment, it was a joke, he writes. "On the other hand, Republicans are fanatically protective of Jews Israel, and love bringing out anti-Semitism like an eight year old who just got a new G.I. Joe with a giant Star of David to hypocritically shove in Snake Eyes' face."
  • The Myth of Republican Jews Democratic blogger Jonathan Singer is sick of hearing about it. "A small band of Jewish conservatives seem to be able to convince the media every couple of years that Jewish voters are on the verge of flipping to the Republicans. Yet what they miss, in addition to serious policy differences between Republicans and the vast majority of Jewish voters (who voted 87 percent Democratic and 78 percent percent Democratic in 2008), is the massive cultural void separating conservative Republicans and American Jews. The rather shocking statement above is a testament to this divide, which frankly doesn't appear to be shrinking. At some point, presumably, the Beltway press is going to get this, no?"
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.