The Office of the Presidency Must Be Protected: AJCongress, Refuting Connecticut Editor, Maintains That Clinton's Problems Raise Issues of Jewish Concern.
Noting their disappointment with Clinton's actions, "which derogate from the moral leadership of the Presidency, and which narrow the opportunities Clinton has to advance his agenda," Rosen and Baum declared that more important than President Clinton's fate was repairing the damage done to the Office of the Presidency.
Responding to Tobin, Rosen and Baum enumerated a series of issues of critical importance to the Jewish community in which Clinton's distraction is apparent.
-- The stalled Middle East peace process, including most recently,
another failed mission by Dennis Ross to produce a redeployment
-- Saddam Hussein's abrogation of his agreement with U.N. Secretary
General Kofi Annan to permit weapons inspections. "Clearly," Rosen and
Baum said, "Saddam has been emboldened by Clinton's weakness; he
literally has a free hand now to proceed with his weapons of mass
-- Russia's economic crisis, including the possibility that Jews may be
made scapegoats, and the appointment of Yevgeny Primakov, "a friend to
Iraq and Syria among other Middle Eastern tyrannies, as Prime
-- The "specter" of the election in November of a Congress which would
undo social programs favored by most Jews in accordance with Jewish
values, and in addition attempt to break down the wall of separation
of church and state to bring about a "Christian nation."
They noted as well that when the President did take forceful action, bombing terrorist targets in Afghanistan and Sudan, his motivations were impugned.
But Rosen and Baum reiterated that their greatest concern, which escaped Tobin's "misguided umbrage," was to protect the Presidency.
"The problems confronting all Americans -- and given AJCongress' mission, the Jewish community -- are of urgent importance. They cannot wait while what are clearly collateral issues are sorted out," the Jewish leaders said.
They added, "The Presidency and what it represents to the governance of this country must be protected and its powers preserved. No matter what the personal frailties of any particular incumbent, we have what we have, and so we must proceed with the business of the United States."
The full text of the statement is as follows:
In his vehement and widely disseminated attack on AJCongress for its
expressed concern that President Clinton's Monica Lewinsky troubles are
distracting him from the nation's agenda, Jonathan Tobin wonders what
makes this a "Jewish issue?" It is difficult to believe that an editor of
a Jewish newspaper does not realize that any issue vitally affecting the
United States affects American Jewry.
Surely, we are disappointed by President Clinton's actions which
derogate from the moral leadership of the Presidency, and which narrow the
opportunities he has to advance his agenda. For now, at least, his bully
pulpit is seriously compromised. How this damage can be repaired remains
to be seen.
Whatever the personal fate of President Clinton, however, it is
imperative that the Office continue to receive the respect that is
indispensable for any President to fulfill his duties, international as
well as domestic. These include the ability to address problems which
confront all Americans, and given the AJCongress mission, are of
undeniable Jewish concern.
Israel and the Palestinians continue to haggle over the next step in
the peace process, without creative involvement from the President.
Latest reports indicate that Ambassador Dennis Ross once again returned to
Washington empty- handed, although agreement on a second Israeli
redeployment had previously been reported to be imminent.
To the dismay of Israel, not to mention much of America, Saddam Hussein
blatantly abrogates the agreement to permit weapons inspections he signed
with Secretary General Kofi Annan mere months ago, without much response
from the President. Clearly, Saddam has been emboldened by Clinton's
weakness; he literally has a free hand now to proceed with his weapons of
mass destruction programs.
When the President does act -- as in his attack on terrorist targets
in Afghanistan and Sudan -- his motives are impugned by American
legislators even as the President performs his constitutional duties as
Russia's economic crisis brings with it the inevitable threat that
Jews will be made the scapegoat, but in his recent visit to Russia, the
President never raised the issue with Boris Yeltsin. All he could offer
Yeltsin was advice to continue with reforms. The immediate result was the
appointment of Yevgeny Primakov - a friend to Iraq and Syria among other
Middle Eastern tyrannies -- as Prime Minister.
Clinton's distraction and weakness raises the specter of the election
in November of a Congress much like the one that tried to impose "The
Contract With the American Family" after the 1994 elections. It took some
time then to learn how to rally Americans against a legislative agenda
that threatened to vitiate the kind of society favored by an overwhelming
percentage of American Jews, a society based on Jewish concepts of concern
for the disadvantaged.
It is useful to remember that the "Contract," if successful, would
also have done much to further the concept of a "Christian nation" and to
break down the wall of separation of church and state that is so vital to
All of these issues have enormous impact on America's Jews. Our
urging of Congress to take its mind off Kenneth Starr's report and to
concentrate on these matters is consistent with these concerns.
Essentially our concern is less with the President than with the
Presidency. And the Office of the Presidency has been decidedly weakened
by the President's actions and the events that have followed. Whatever
the personal fate of the President, it is imperative that the Office
continue to receive the respect that is indispensable for any President to
fulfill his obligations, international as well as domestic.
The problems confronting all Americans -- and given AJCongress'
mission, the Jewish community -- are of urgent importance. They cannot
wait while what are clearly collateral issues are sorted out.
The Presidency and what it represents to the governance of this
country must be protected and its powers preserved. No matter what the
personal frailties of any particular incumbent, we have what we have, and
so we must proceed with the business of the United States.
We will not permit Mr. Tobin's misguided umbrage to deter us from
continuing to insist that this task be carried out forthrightly and
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|Date:||Sep 24, 1998|
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