Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Accuracy in Guilt By Association

The Republican campaign within the Jewish community in 2004 was often... well, to put it mildly, they didn't necessarily see themselves as bounded by reality.

Consider, as a telling example, this ubiquitous and false slur against Theresa Heinz Kerry.

But most relevant to today's news is this indefensible piece of direct mail sent out by the Florida and Ohio Republican parties to likely Jewish households. In 2004, the Republicans had the gall to accuse John Kerry of an alliance with Mahathir, a vicious anti-Semite... when we now learn that, "Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said Monday that disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff was paid $1.2 million to organize his 2002 meeting with President Bush, but denied the money came from the Malaysian government."

Let's get this straight -- Republican superstar lobbyist Jack Abramoff works his mojo successfully with the Bush Administration on behalf of vicious anti-Semite Mahathir... and Karl Rove and his minions sent out this libelous piece of mail to Jewish voters?

For more on why Mahathir's access to the Bush Administration was so good, consider this recent LA Times article:

One such GOP outreach featured Mahathir pictured beside Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John F. Kerry and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat above a Kerry quote in which he said "foreign leaders" wanted him to win the election. The campaign mailer suggested Mahathir and Arafat, "renowned for their hatred of the Jewish people," supported Kerry.

On one occasion, Abramoff — an orthodox Jew and a supporter of Israel — was asked whether he was comfortable representing a country led by a man known for anti-Semitic comments.

Abramoff responded, "They pay their bills on time."

And for more on late in the election Republican dirty tricks in Florida, please read this piece from the Miami Herald the day before the 2004 elections.


QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS. Atrios asks with regard to this tale of Jack Abramoff peddling influence on behalf of Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Muhammed, "why's the Heritage Foundation interested in having a famous anti-Semitic leader meet with and influence Bush?" The answer's pretty simple -- as Tom Edsall reported on April 15, 2005, "Think Tank's Ideas Shifted As Malaysia Ties Grew: Business Interests Overlapped Policy." That's the polite way of saying they were on the take. Heritage used to be sharply critical of the Malaysian regime, and then turned on a dime in the summer of 2001:
Heritage's new, pro-Malaysian outlook emerged at the same time a Hong Kong consulting firm co-founded by Edwin J. Feulner, Heritage's president, began representing Malaysian business interests. The for-profit firm, called Belle Haven Consultants, retains Feulner's wife, Linda Feulner, as a "senior adviser." And Belle Haven's chief operating officer, Ken Sheffer, is the former head of Heritage's Asia office and is still on Heritage's payroll as a $75,000-a-year consultant.
This is some very sordid stuff. It's not specifically on the subject of Heritage's Malaysia hijinks, but this old piece on think tanks for sale by Steve Clemons is worth revisiting.

--Matthew Yglesias

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