At a time when most Congressional Republicans are trying to distance themselves from Donald Trump, one is behaving like a clone of his party's presidential candidate, complete with mind-numbing outrageous charges and incendiary rhetoric.
Rep. Lee Zeldin, the lone Jewish Republican in this Congress, has called Barack Obama a "racist," sounded like a Trump birther questioning the president's heritage, accused him of having "no idea what he is doing" and implying he committed treason.
Zeldin, a freshman representing New York's first district at the eastern end of Long Island, likes to imitate his idol, Trump, by phrasing an accusation as if he's not the one who actually made the charge.
He said the return of $400 million in frozen funds to Iran was a "cash ransom to the world's largest state sponsor of terrorism," virtually accusing the president of treason by suggesting he "is playing for the other team."
Zeldin's mindless charge of dual loyalty is particularly offensive coming from a Jewish congressman since so many of his Jewish colleagues have faced that shibboleth for being strong supporters of Israel.
Speaker Paul Ryan's called Trump's attack on the Mexican heritage of Indiana-born Judge Gonzalo Curiel "the textbook definition of racist," but Zeldin defended Trump, saying "the president of the United States is a racist with his policies and his rhetoric."
Trump, like many on the right, has trouble accepting an African-American or a woman as the president of their white man's Christian country. Sounds like Zeldin does, too.
Huffington Post has said Zeldin has "shown a willingness to engage in some of the basest forms of politics."
As the GOP's lone Jew in Congress Zeldin is often expected to give a hechsher or approval to his colleagues' positions on Israel. He is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, but the New York Post reported he "skipped out" on two thirds of the meetings in his first year that focused on ISIS and the Syrian crisis despite all "his tough talk" on those issues.
Zeldin told the Jerusalem Post that Trump would be a more reliable friend of Israel than Hillary Clinton despite saying he'd be neutral in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and that neither side really wants peace. He also flip-flops on where in Israel the U.S. embassy should be located, and has said Israel and other countries should reimburse Washington for past foreign aid.
More alarming, 50 leading Republican former national security officials have said Trump would be an unreliable ally to America's foreign friends like Israel and is unqualified to be commander in chief.
The GOP approach to the Jewish community is based on being super-hawks on the three I's – Israel, Iran and ISIS – and hoping we're stupid enough to overlook their generally dismal records on domestic and social issues that are at least if not more important.
Zeldin, 36, an Iraq war veteran, has predicted Trump would "annihilate" Clinton in his Long Island district, which went Democrat in the past two presidential elections.
His opponent is Anna Throne-Holst, a former Southampton town supervisor. Unlike the incumbent, she supports the Iran nuclear agreement and the two-state solution backed by Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Zeldin has strong support from anti-abortion and gun groups. The NRA gave him its A rating and National Right to Life scores him 100 percent. Planned Parenthood, NARAL, ACLU and the Friends Committee on National Legislation all give him zero ratings.
He has met at least twice with the rightwing group Oath Keepers, which the New York Daily News said dabbles in "fringe conspiracy theories," claims the Sandy Hook school massacre was a hoax and called President Obama a "Muslim/Extremist."
Zeldin has tied his wagon to Donald Trump in a district that went Democrat in three of the past four elections. Non-partisan election experts rate Zeldin's race a toss-up.