Republican Jewish Coalition repudiates another GOP candidate, Barbara Boxer wins ‘Wing Nut’ honors

Jewish Republicans are lining up to disavow one of their party’s congressional candidates – Rich Iott, who’s running for a House seat in Ohio and is a “tea party favorite,” according to the Atlantic, which broke the story.

There’s only one little problem with Iott: for years he dressed up in a Waffen-SS uniform while participating in reenactments of Nazi-era history.

According to the Atlantic, Iott denied any affinity for Nazi ideology, but added: "I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that here was a relatively small country that from a strictly military point of view accomplished incredible things. I mean, they took over most of Europe and Russia, and it really took the combined effort of the free world to defeat them. From a purely historical military point of view, that’s incredible."

Good move, Rich; now just about everybody in the Jewish GOP cosmos is fleeing in horror.

House Majority Whip Eric Cantor, second to none in Republican partisanship, said he would “absolutely repudiate” Iott’s reenactment activities in a Fox News interview.

The Republican Jewish Coalition, trying to put a positive spin on the story, “strongly commended Republican Party leaders for moving swiftly to sever ties to Ohio congressional candidate Rich Iott.”

The RJC noted that while “Iott has issued a number of responses to the story, but his first statement showed no awareness of the offense this activity would cause to Jews in general and Holocaust survivors in particular.”

"Rich Iott’s initial statement after the story about his Nazi-focused historical reenactments broke showed that he clearly lacks the judgment we should expect of lawmakers,” said RJC director Matthew Brooks.

Iott is the latest in a growing list of Republican candidates the Jewish GOP group refuses to support – a list including Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell and Rand Paul, running for the Senate in Kentucky.

The incident triggered one of those rare moments when Jewish Democrats and Republicans agreed on an issue.

When pictures of the Nazi-festooned Iott appeared, the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) said it was “appalled” and said his “willing engagement in these activities is not only an affront to the American Jewish community and the dwindling number of Holocaust survivors, but to those who served our country during World War II. His clear lack of judgment makes him unfit to serve our country as a member of Congress.”

On a broader level, I’m wondering this: will  World War II reenactments, with adult men dressed up like Nazis and presumably swaggering the way they think Nazis swaggered, follow the route of Civil War reenactments – which strip out the grim realities of the war and the terrible social wrong of slavery, and turn it into a big game?  That can’t possibly be good for historical memory. 

This is the year of the wing nuts, and today’s Daily Beast has a kind of rogues’ gallery of what it says are some of the nuttiest Senate candidates.

While the list is top heavy with Tea Party Republicans, it also includes some prominent Democrats – including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, blasted for being “a polarizing rather than unifying figure, both at home and around the nation, and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), the only Jew on the list. Boxer wins wing nut honors “in part because she’s managed to be a partisan, polarizing figure even in the dependably Democratic-leaning California,” the Beast writes. “In contrast to her colleague Dianne Feinstein, Boxer’s never really tried to broaden her left-wing base.”

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.