That Other Country, Right or Wrong

There’s a new Bloomberg poll out that shows the strange behavior of Republican politicians towards Benjamin Netanyahu and everything having to do with Israel is in fact a pretty good reflection of the GOP rank-and-file’s proclivities.

Yes, the poll shows the depth of the GOP base’s antipathy towards Barack Obama, with Republicans saying they are more sympathetic to Netanyahu than to Obama by a 67/16 margin.

But here’s the most startling question and answer: given the choice of agreeing that “Israel is an ally but we should pursue America’s interests when we disagree with them,” or that “Israel is an important ally, the only democracy in the region, and we should support it even if our interests diverge,” Republicans choose the latter proposition by a 67/30 margin. That’s with no mention of Obama or any particular dispute, mind you.

Now I guess the word “support” in this context is a bit ambiguous. But it sure appears Republicans are saying they are more solicitous of Israel’s interests than America’s.

I find that hard to square with self-defined patriotism, frankly. You can have all sorts of disagreements over what constitutes your country’s interests, of course. But flatly asserting they should be subordinated to another country’s interests is hard to accept from people who have a bad habit of thinking of themselves as the only real Americans.

Support the Washington Monthly and get a FREE subscription

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.