When it comes to pandering, Joe Biden’s campaign might be as confused as the Democratic presidential nominee looks sometimes.
But looks are often deceiving — especially when Democrats are involved.
Less than a week after the campaign officially distanced itself from Muslim activist, Women’s March co-founder and anti-Semite Linda Sarsour, top Biden aides privately apologized Sunday to Muslim activist groups, according to a report from a Middle East news outlet.
Clearly, things aren’t very clear for the Biden campaign. But in a political party where principles are nothing in pursuit of power, the seeming confusion is understandable.
While Democratic candidates have traditionally enjoyed strong support in American Jewish communities, those loyalties are being strained with anti-Semitism on the rise in the Democratic Party and the memory of Barack Obama’s barely disguised hostility toward the state of Israel still fresh in the memory.
That hostility no doubt made it easier for Democrats to accept Sarsour as a speaker during a meeting of the Democratic National Convention — the “Muslim Delegates and Allies Assembly,” as National Review reported.
However, the Democrats’ interest in keeping Jewish support was likely behind Biden spokesman Andrew Yates’ statement to CNN’s Jake Tapper that Sarsour “has no role in the Biden campaign.”
By Sunday, Biden’s camp had apparently decided that came off too harshly against Sarsour, a woman with a public history of anti-Semitism that would make Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar jealous.
Sarsour has called Israel a “supremacist” state. She’s a prominent supporter of the Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement aimed at throttling Israel’s economic life.
She has said Muslims shouldn’t “humanize” Israelis.
And on Sunday, no less than three Biden aides were apologizing to Muslim activists for the way the Biden campaign had treated her.
According to the Middle East Eye, a London-based news outlet founded in 2014 to cover the troubled region, Biden national coalitions director Ashley Allison, top Biden foreign policy adviser Tony Blinkin and Symone Sanders, another Biden adviser, told dozens of activists that the statement about Sarsour was out of line.
The conversation Sunday was supposed to be off the record, the Middle East Eye reported, but the outlet obtained an audio recording of it.
Allison told the activists she understood “the pain” the campaign’s treatment of Sarsour had caused Muslim activists, according to the report.
“I am sorry that that happened. And I hope that whatever trust was broken, that this conversation is one small step to help build back the trust, but that is not the last time we have this conversation,” she said, the report stated.
Blinkin said the remarks caused “hurt and disappointment,” according to the Middle East Eye.
“Historically, Republicans and Democrats have been quick to dismiss Muslim, Arab-American and especially Palestinian-American voices, and I want to reiterate on behalf of all of us our support for your communities,” he said, according to the report.
Sanders told the activists that the statement about Sarsour was an “egregious misstep.”
After the Middle East Eye published its story, CNN’s Tapper reported via Twitter that Sanders acknowledged the meeting took place “to affirm Vice President Biden’s unshakeable commitment to working with Arab, Palestinian, and Muslim Americans and to standing up against anti-Muslim prejudice, and to make clear that we regretted any hurt that was caused to these communities.”
Yet, Sanders added, “we continue to reject the views that Linda Sarsour has expressed.”
That’s more than a little hard to believe.
As the Middle East Eye reported, it wasn’t clear if the campaign’s apology was ever intended to become public. But since it has, it’s giving Americans who are paying attention a good look at the Democrats’ politics of appeasement.
The smart ones in Biden’s campaign understand the reaction caused by the appearance of an anti-Semite like Sarsour at an official DNC function. The clever ones thought they could get away with a pro-forma statement of denunciation, followed by a quiet, behind-the-scenes apology — thus enjoying the financial and electoral support of American Jews while placating the party’s increasingly anti-Semitic base.
Things didn’t quite go according to that plan. And the issue is getting plenty of mocking attention on social media.
Biden campaign to red-green anti-Semites: Sorry we denounced Linda Sarsour’s anti-Semitism last week. We didn’t mean it. We LOVE anti-Semites. (But please don’t tell the Jews we told you that).
Oh, and just checking, it’s still okay to hate Nazis, right?https://t.co/9xXd2CsiVQ
— Caroline Glick (@CarolineGlick) August 24, 2020
.@JoeBiden‘s team cannot have their cake and eat it too.
Either anti-Semitism is unconditionally unacceptable, or it isn’t.
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) August 24, 2020
Team Biden mends fences with Team Farrakhan.
Biden aides apologise privately over attack on Linda Sarsour https://t.co/Tsp8k7eGX3
— Arthur Schwartz (@ArthurSchwartz) August 24, 2020
The apology is public now, and the bipolar statements of the Biden campaign are out.
As Washington Examiner commentary writer Tiana Lowe put it:
“So which is it? Is Team Biden sorry for denouncing anti-Israel policies like boycotts, divestment, and sanctions, and Sarsour’s anti-Semitism, or do they stand by it? This should be an easy call, and it’s not particularly close.
“Consider, no reasonable person would ever expect a conservative to apologize for denouncing white supremacist David Duke because he had the correct position on welfare reform. Ditto for expecting a Democrat to align themselves with Kermit Gosnell because they’re pro-choice. Bigotry as rank as Sarsour’s defines her person, leaving all policy issues, many of those she supports anti-Semitic as well, by the wayside.”
The issue is pretty straightforward — the Biden campaign could either continue with its stance of denouncing Sarsour and her known anti-Semitism, or it could cave to a group of Muslim activists and hope no one found out.
Naturally, it chose the path that was both deceptive and confused at the same time.
Biden and his campaign deserve each other.
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