Palin's Disinvitation: How An Obama Op Politicized the Apolitical

I’ve been reading and hearing about Palin’s disinvitation to the anti-Iran rally organized by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in bits and pieces today. I knew of this last night and perhaps today it is out there in whole or in part somewhere already. But here’s how it went down.

Malcolm Hoenlein, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents and a throughly decent and honorable man, organized a protest rally to take place on the occasion of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s arrival again in New York to address the UN General Assembly. He invited many figures, including political figures from both major parties, conservatives and liberals, and people of many faiths. There was nothing about the event that was political – in the domestic Liberal v. Conservative or Democrat v. Republican sense. Not a thing. It was about Iran, Ahmadinejad, the state sponsorship of terrorism, Holocaust denial and protesting the affording of a grand stage for such representative speakers on our soil.

But a few days ago, Hillary Clinton backed out and had spokesmen – not herself – raise the objection that appearing would ‘politicize’ the event unnecessarily. Initial reaction was with Republican vitriol towards Senator Clinton and speculation that she simply would not and could not be seen standing shoulder to shoulder with Governor Sarah Palin, lest she further surrender her presumed role of the very image of successful women in American political leadership. There is no doubt that there is some truth to that, and perhaps that made the decision a bit easier for Clinton. But that was not the impetus.

Make no mistake that this was an Obama op and that it was Obama operatives directing the screenplay. Upon news of Palin’s invitation, it was assured that the event would garner a higher level of attention than it already commanded. And the images and footage of Palin speaking in protest (popular protest, it should be added) of Iran and the messianic Ahmadinejad upon the backdrop of the common perception of Obama’s weakness in foreign policy and national security simply could not stand. Furthermore, it would have provided endless campaign fodder with Palin shown standing against the world’s foremost state sponsor of international terrorism amid the audio-visual bites of Obama stating he would hold talks with Iran without preconditions. The effects would potentially be more than just stinging.

It had to be derailed at all costs. And the first step in the mission was to characterize it as a politicized event. Getting Clinton to step away from the invitation was easy enough – her own vanity played against her as noted above. Having her spokesmen give a ‘politicizing’ reason for withdrawing from the rally planted the seed. And the trap was laid expertly.

All that remained was Palin and the media hyper-focus on her. If she remained, the meme of a ‘politicization’ of an otherwise honorable event would be hung around her neck – and Malcolm Hoenlein’s – like an albatross. Yet she refused to rescind her acceptance as Hillary Clinton had.

Here’s where it gets a bit dirty. The Obama campaign could not publicly cajole her to stay away, yet they needed her away. Desperately. So the pressure was then applied to Malcolm Hoenlein and the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations.

Enter the National Jewish Democratic Council, which supports the Obama Campaign. They were enlisted and put to the front to apply direct pressure to the Conference of Presidents, also a Jewish organization. And it is not a stretch to imagine (though wholly my conjecture) that the Conference of Presidents has donors among the NJDC, and therefore more than simply conceivable that there were threats of significant funding halts and other future obstacles from among powerful NJDC members.

And through whatever ugly back room pressure was brought to bear squarely on Malcolm’s shoulders, he felt compelled to disinvite Sarah Palin against his wishes, but likely in hopes of saving the greater organization’s future from political saboteurs within his own faith.

And the Obama camp wins. Sarah Palin is denied the stage to demonstrate foreign policy leadership and voice principled opposition to the world’s premiere state sponsor of terrorism on Manhattan, in front of the UN and before recording FOX News cameras and microphones. No near-lethal ads this October running in Missouri, Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan – where voters would get the message loud and clear.

And Palin is left the last to exit the stage, positioned as the polarizing figure in it all. Hillary Clinton is portrayed as the apolitical and principled female figure who took the honorable initiative to shun politicization. That her withdrawal was the event that actually politicized it all is of no matter. And Obama’s carefully orchestrated handiwork is nowhere to be seen, seemingly above the fray.

But now you know. Because that’s how it went down.

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