Republican establishment 2016 front runner Jeb Bush is already having to go into damage control mode over comments made by Bush family consigliere James Baker that were critical of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Baker, a former Secretary of State and White House Chief of Staff who is widely touted as one of America’s most respected elder statesman came under fire for blasting Netanyahu during a speech in front of liberal Jewish group J-Street on Monday. Baker ripped Bibi over “diplomatic missteps and political gamesmanship” and his pre-election declaration that there would never be a Palestinian State on his watch.
According to the Washington Post in the story “Jeb Bush stresses support for Israel in wake of James Baker’s comments”:
Presumed Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush says he disagrees with critical comments about Israel made Monday by former Secretary of State James Baker, according to his campaign team.
Baker, a longtime friend of the Bush family and an unpaid adviser to Jeb Bush’s expected presidential campaign, has been an outspoken advocate for the former Florida governor’s possible White House bid. Bush touted Baker’s support last month when he announced a 21-member foreign policy advisory team that is counseling him as he prepares to run for president.
Baker spoke Monday night at a conference hosted by the left-leaning J Street Group, an Israeli advocacy organization comprised mostly of Democrats. During his keynote address, Baker recounted decades of tensions between American and Israeli leaders and expressed support for the Obama administration’s ongoing talks with Iran.
Baker was notably critical of comments Netanyahu made in the closing hours of his reelection campaign last week, when the prime minister suggested that he no longer supported a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
While Netanyahu’s bombastic statements have been in some quarters attributed to nothing more than political rhetoric and Israel’s leader has himself backed off on them, they have further contributed to the toxic relationship between him and Emperor Barack Obama. Baker also dared to defend Barry during the speech as well as to chastise Republicans for turning Israel – America’s most critical Middle Eastern ally – into a political football. Controversy over Israel has dogged Baker in the past when he was once said to have remarked “f*ck the Jews, they don’t vote for us anyway”. He also has bragged about having Bibi banned from the State Department during Poppy Bush’s presidency.
Aspiring Republican candidates will no doubt pounce on Baker’s remarks to attack Jeb Bush as not being sufficiently loyal to Israeli policies which is already being set up as a key litmus test by many strategists. It may possibly even be a chink in Jebba the Hutt’s armor that can be exploited. He will inevitably face negative comparisons to his younger brother Dubya and his wimpy father but the Baker affiliation may actually stick to the Teflon candidate. With the right kind of political operation the expressed anti-Israel sentiment of Baker – an integral member of that foreign policy dream team that Jeb was hailing – could be a dagger. This would especially be the case if combined with the inconvenient fact that Jeb’s grandfather Prescott Bush’s Union Banking Corporation was actually shut down for doing business with Hitler’s Nazis during WW II.
If the third installment of the Bush Supremacy is to be avoided it needs to be attacked with hammer and tong before the big money really starts rolling in and the juggernaut becomes unstoppable. I hope that someone within the Ted Cruz and/or Rand Paul campaign organizations is paying attention because this is a golden opportunity to capitalize on anti-Bush sentiment.