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 Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.