Tuesday reading: Chas Freeman and White House prayer

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

James Besser in Washington

Some interesting reading for your Tuesday.

Over at the Huffington Post,  National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) director Ira Forman, a partisan’s partisan,  offered some equal-opportunity and very nonpartisan criticism of some of the actors in the raging Chas Freeman controversy.

Forman charged some critics of  Freeman’s appointment to the National Intelligence Council with “appropriating…right wing tactics to question the loyalty of their ideological opponents.”

He cited a recent essay by Israel lobby opponent Stephen Walt, who slams Freeman critic Jeff Goldberg for – of all things – serving in the Israeli military.

“For years, Walt has complained about the intimidation of Israel’s critics,” Forman wrote. “Suddenly, Walt, himself, is trying to intimidate his own critics by questioning Goldberg’s loyalty to his country.”

Forman also went after Israel Policy Forum Washington director M.J. Rosenberg, a critic of the Freeman critics.

But the left hardly has a monopoly on the “who is a patriot” game,” Forman wrote.  “Throughout the 2008 election, we had to suffer the know-nothings who endlessly questioned then candidate Barack Obama’s patriotism.”

What Forman carefully avoids discussing: was the Freeman appointment a mistake, as even some activists close to the new administration say? Nonpartisanship goes only so far.

Read Forman’s column here.

Over at the Washington Post, the subject is prayer in the Obama White House.

Remember how some Jewish leaders were disconcerted by Barack Obama’s frequent talk about religion on the campaign trail, part of a trend seen by some church-state separationists as a dangerous mingling of faith and politics?

The Post suggests the faith focus is continuing now that Obama is president – but with a big difference.

“Prayer has become more common at presidential appearances under the Obama administration, including at nonreligious events such as stimulus rallies,” the Post reporter writes. “The White House is acting in a deliberately inclusive, interfaith way that seems to limit opposition.”

The shift is occurring as the White House faith based office gets in gear and looks for a third way that avoids the strong sectarianism of Bush administration faith based efforts, but also rejects the strict no-religion positions of groups like Americans United for Separation of Church and State – and Jewish groups like the Anti-Defamation league.

Read the Post story here.

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.