SOME OF HIS BEST FRIENDS ARE JEWS…. Arkansas’ Kim Hendren ran into a little trouble this week when he said he believes in “traditional values,” unlike “that Jew,” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). He later apologized, adding, “I shouldn’t have gotten into this Jewish business because it distracts from the issue.”
Schumer accepted his apology, and Hendren no doubt hopes to redirect his attention by to his Republican campaign for the U.S. Senate, but before we move on, Hendren has one more clarification.
Defending himself again to the Arkansas News, Hendren went further, saying he didn’t know why the words “that Jew” came out of his mouth. He added that there is a Jewish person in history he admires — Jesus. He’s also partial to Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman.
In general, when someone is accused of bigotry, and they deny it by pointing to two individuals in the targeted group that he or she likes, it tends to reinforce the perception of bigotry. It’s why “some of my best friends are…” has become such a painful cliche.
Moreover, to prove his affection for Jews, Hendren really thought to point to … Jesus and Joe Lieberman? Are you kidding me?
I hope Jon Chait won’t mind if I just borrow his snark:
While I don’t want to begrudge Mr. Hendren his taste in Jews, the pairing here is a little odd. I can easily imagine what qualities he admires in Jesus, and likewise I can imagine what draws him to Joe Lieberman, I have trouble seeing how one could look at all the Jews throughout history and pluck out these two examples as your ideal type of Jew.
Both, of course, are apostates of sorts. (You could easily imagine Jesus saying that he didn’t leave the Jewish faith, the Jewish faith left him.) Yet the differences seem more stark than the similarities. The contradistinction between the two in terms of speaking style and general charisma is fairly stark. Jesus, moreover, forgave his friends for betraying him and causing his own crucifixion, while Lieberman couldn’t forgive his friends for the comparatively minor betrayal of endorsing his general election opponent.
Hendren really should have quit while he was behind.