Monday, September 20, 2010
Now Who's Meshugana? Dan Seals Blatantly Panders to the Jewish Vote in IL-10 (UPDATED x2)
Dan Seals, the third-time Democratic nominee for the 10th Congressional District in Illinois, has has pulled some real political boners in his time (recall Gas-Gate, Professor-Gate, and Van-Gate, among others.) But this latest one may take the cake, at least on the religious pandering scale. If we were rating this latest mess on the Scoville scale, we'd give it about a 15,000,000. But let's get to the story:
Dan Seals is criticizing his Republican opponent, Robert Dold, for attending a political event on Yom Kippur, which is the highest of the Jewish holidays. However, Seals is Episcopalian, and Dold is a non-denominational Christian. From Seals' campaign web page:
As families across Illinois’ Tenth District observed Yom Kippur – the holiest day of the Jewish year – Republican candidate Bob Dold joined radical front group Americans for Prosperity (AFP) at a rally in Northbrook on Friday night. [snip]
“Not only does his documented relationship with AFP show how out of touch Bob Dold is with 10th district voters, but to attend a hyper-partisan, fear-mongering rally on the most sacred day of the Jewish year is just plain disrespectful,” said Seals campaign Communications Director Aviva Gibbs.
So, why exactly does Seals think that Dold, a non-Jew, is offending Jews by attending such a political rally on Yom Kippur, to the point where Seals specifically called Dold out on it in a press release?
Now, Team Seals doesn't actually come out and accuse Americans for Prosperity as being an anti-Semitic group, but it's not too hard to read that accusation between the lines of his press release. Otherwise, why would it be something that would offend Jews? AFP certainly has President Obama running scared, so perhaps it's only expected that all Democrats would seek to demonize this group. Seals' baseless attack on Dold, using the banner of a religion that Seals doesn't even belong to, goes beyond the pale, however.
Team Seals seems to go even farther in this story as covered by Russell Lissau over at the Daily Herald:
The Dold campaign was aware Friday marked the start of Yom Kippur, but because Dold is not Jewish he carried out his schedule, [Dold spokesman Kelly] Klopp said.
Dold also had breakfast in Palatine on Saturday and spoke with merchants in Arlington Heights and went to a Korean community event later in the day.
Gibbs insisted Seals did no politicking on Friday night or Saturday.
"He did not attend any meetings, nor did he make any fundraising calls out of respect," Gibbs said in an e-mail.
So, now I'm quite confused: does Dan Seals thinks that all non-Jews should observe the Jewish holidays, and especially not engage in any political activity on such days, because to do so would be 'disrespectful'? Or is it just that Dan Seals thinks AFP is offensive to Jews and Dold shouldn't have been at that particular rally at that particular time? I can't believe that's the case, since his campaign went out of its way to state the fact that Dan was home being 'respectful' and not engaging in any kind of political activity.
Most interestingly, all of a sudden, Dan Seals has discovered the importance of Yom Kippur. Let's think about that. Seals has been the Democratic nominee for this office for three cycles, now: let's see, since 2006. That's a Yom Kippur every year in each of 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. So, of FIVE occurrences of Yom Kippur over that time period, NOW he decides that this is a campaign issue.
Did Seals also refrain from campaigning or any other political activity during those years on Yom Kippur? (of course, Seals has never been known for his work ethic, so it's not unlikely he was home anyway during those prior years, but I very much doubt it was out of respect for the Jewish holiday) I challenge anyone to even show me a prior statement from Seals in years past honoring Yom Kippur and its importance to Jews, as many non-Jewish politicians do.
According to the DH article, in any event, this is not an issue in the Jewish community:
Nothing in Jewish law or practice prohibits non-Jews from doing anything they would usually do on Yom Kippur or any other Jewish holiday, said Rabbi Michael Balinsky, executive vice president of the Chicago Board of Rabbis, a group representing more than 200 rabbis of all denominations.
However, I can see that if I was desperate to appeal to the Jewish vote in the 10th District, an important constituency, I might be desperate enough to make such a blatant pander to them. Well, then again, I would hope I'd never be THAT desperate.
I'd even suggest that Seals might be a bit meshugana.
Seals didn't refrain from campaigning during the entire month of Ramadan. Does that mean that Seals doesn't respect Muslims? It makes about as much sense as claiming that Dold doesn't respect Jews.
Do yourselves a favor, IL-10, and tell Dan Seals at the polls this November that three times is enough, and we're tired of your crap.
UPDATED: 9/21/10 7:00 a.m.: I don't usually point out comments elsewhere on other blogs and whatnot, but the comments to the Daily Herald article mentioned above are quite illuminating. Seems like Seals has really stepped in it, big time. Go read 'em.
UPDATED x2 1:50 p.m.: Wow, even the ultra-liberal DailyKos is ripping Seals a new one over this debacle. Says "Norm in Chicago":
I cannot believe that a Democrat’s campaign has actually said that a candidate for office must observe any religious holiday, especially one not of the candidate’s own religion. This is base political pandering and a clear violation of the separation of church and state. [snip]
It is not Dan Seals', nor any other person’s place to tell American citizens how or when to worship, nor to force another’s religion on them. On the contrary, what is highly disrespectful and insulting is the belief that pandering to a religion grants that religion respect. It does not.
The whole thing is worth reading. I bet Dan Seals' ears are still ringing (metaphorically speaking) after reading that chewing-out.