It isn’t often that a president looks presidential. Obama, Bush, and Clinton left much to be desired in the presidential looks department. Finally, however, in Mitt Romney, we have someone who looks the part. Forget about Bain and Seamus, Romney was crafted by God to become President. That’s why I’m voting for him in November. If only the 64% of Jewish Obama supporters would agree with my reasoning.
A recent poll showed Romney receiving 29% of support among registered Jewish voters, representing a 10 point drop for Obama, from 74% to a current 64%. While the drop is telling, Romney still has ways to go.
One way to increase his momentum of Jewish support would be through a promise to release Jonathan Pollard. In this particular political maneuver, however, time is of the essence. In fact, he needs to do it by Wednesday. Shimon Peres is scheduled to receive his Presidential Medal of Freedom on Wednesday, June 13th, and there has been a clamoring for Peres to request and even demand Pollard’s release ahead of the ceremony.
While the actual chance of Obama promising to release Pollard before Peres’ Medal of Freedom ceremony is microscopic, Romney has a unique opportunity to seize on the timing.
When and if Peres makes his plea to Obama, whether privately or publicly (even if it is done privately, the media will pick up on it), Obama will likely demur on the issue. That would create an advantageous opening for Romney to hold his own press conference and call on Obama to release Pollard immediately. This move would instantly create a very public battle line between Romney and Obama on a topic very dear to Jews. The 64% of Jewish Obama supporters will certainly take notice.
The argument against this maneuver is that Romney would not want to appear reckless. To make a promise without knowing all of the information (classified materials that only high ranking people within the current and prior administrations have seen) can come off as either pandering or reckless rhetoric. Some will argue that Romney has used up his entire pandering budget, after his convenient shift from centrist to “severe conservative”. I do not think this is pandering, though, because the topic is too sensitive an issue. It would not be the same as most Presidential candidates (Clinton, Bush, Gingrich, and Bachmann) promising to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem- we already accept that as habitual campaign rhetoric. (Romney, to his credit, did not promise to move the embassy, and instead said he would discuss the issue with the Israeli government- this clears up any pandering accusations.) Furthermore, Romney has publicly stated that he is open to examining the issue of releasing Pollard. Again, nisht on the pandering.
As for the notion of being reckless, that is certainly a reasonable concern. Honestly, what kind of irresponsible Presidential candidate makes a promise to action before he can properly review the details, many of which are highly sensitive and classified? (Why did Newt Gingrich just pop into my head and why does he appear so disheveled? Quick, someone give Callista a comb!). My answer to that is the plethora of high ranking clemency-supporters, which famously includes Henry Kissinger and former CIA director James Woolsey. All it takes is a conversation between Woolsey and Romney for Romney to confidently make his declaration of support for Pollard’s release. Certainly a man of Woolsey’s stature and (former) position has enough knowledge of the situation to properly advise Romney. That alone could assuage accusations of recklessness.
Of course, the notion of Romney calling for Pollard’s release as a purely political ploy underscores the legitimacy of the unfair life sentence. But Obama, a politician if there ever was one, needs to feel pressure. If Romney wants to be President, he has to apply pressure and play politics. Because in this case, a ploy might work.
“I am in politics because of the conflict between good and evil, and I believe that in the end, good will triumph.” Though certainly not evil and probably well meaning, Obama is still holding the keys to Pollard’s jail cell. If Romney can be an agent of good in this particular political scenario, then Margaret Thatcher’s words hold true.