tv [untitled] May 8, 2012 3:00am-3:30am EDT
presidential election. hosted by the american jewish committee, both men also addressed relations between the u.s. and israel and iran's nuclear program. earlier this year, barney frank announce head would be retiring at the end of his term after representing massachusetts's fourth district for over three decades. this event is an hour and 15 minutes. >> and john shapiro. [ applause ] >> good morning. john and i are delighted to welcome you to today's great debate of 2012 for ajc global forum. this has become an anchor event for the global forum, and the great debate can really be a -- is always a place where you can hear first the important issues. two years ago, many of us were
here for the memorable debate on iran. and as we heard yesterday, this continues to be a very pressing issue for the community. and last year, the event covered israeli relations with diaspora jews, another major issue that can be hold in the corridors of all major jewish organization. most importantly, this year the debate will be on the american presidential elections, an issue that will impact us all and have great implications for the state of israel. and of course ajc can be counted on to present all sides of the story in depth. >> thank you very much, linda. welcome to all of you. it's a delight to be here this morning. i think it's not going to be too far of a stretch to suggest that our debaters, william kristol
and barney frank will have some disagreements this morning about the election. and in fact i think on many political issues we mind find they have disagreements. but what they don't disagree on is the importance of being here with us today at the ajc, because what i believe what they do believe is in the value of the ajc, the respect of the ajc, the intellectualism, and the nonpartisan approach to the challenges that we face in this world, and the great success of our quiet diplomacy. so for that i thank them for being here today. i think it will be fun. and i would like to encourage you now to sit back, watch a brief introductory video, and then let the good times roll. so thank you all. [ applause ]
>> when we talk about a strategically important weekend, i have yet to find a region -- >> in the blue corner, veteran democratic congressman barney frank, famous for his quick tongue and an illustrious political career that has spanned the big issues from civil rights to financial regulation to foreign policy. >> in 2005/2006, people in the hillary clinton, bill clinton machine saying barack obama? are you kidding? >> in the red corner bill kristol, one of america's most celebrated political commentators and a thorn in the side of the obama administration on everything from health care to u.s./israel relations. the coming presidential election in november is one in which ajc's priorities will be center stage. what is the best approach to iran, given the regime's continuing drive to obtain nuclear weapons capability?
is the grand prize of an israeli/palestinian peace settlement something that has eluded successive presidents for more than half a century, any closer? and against the continued debate about homeland security, how close is the united states towards reducing its dependence on energy supplies from hostile states? over the next hour, these and other issues will be in the spotlight. so don't forget to submit your questions as we welcome you to ajc's great debate on election 2012. [ applause ] >> thank you. and thank you to linda and john.
and welcome to this year's ajc great debate. i especially want to welcome our viewers who are watching on c-span across the country and around the world. our subject is the 2012 american election. its implications for domestic and foreign policy, its specific implications for developments in the middle east and for the security of our democratic ally israel, its meaning as a yardstick of political attitudes and loyalties in the american jewish community. ajc, it must be clearly stated at the outset is strictly nonpartisan. we do not and we cannot support any particular candidate in any election. but nonpartisan does not mean nonpolitical. the policies that we advocate in the united states and around the world, policies to promote peace and security and human rights are policies that succeed or fail in the political arena. our engagement in the political
process could not be more intense. it is because of our active political interest that ajc regularly convenes election year debates and discussions on a slightly smaller scale than this in cities across the country. it's the reason that we publish candidates' responses to ajc policy questionnaires, conduct issue forums at the two parties' political conventions, and regularly and scientifically survey american jewish political opinion. in fact, the latest ajc opinion survey was released at the beginning of this week. and we will be discussing it shortly. before we begin our debate with congressman barney frank and "weekly standard" editor bill kristol, a word about our format. we'll begin with opening statements. each debater will have five minutes for his statement, and then two minutes to respond to his counterpart. we'll then move to the question and answer portion of the debate in which each speaker will again have up to five minutes to respond.
finally, each debater will have the opportunity to offer two-minute concluding remarks. these time limits will be strictly enforced. now, i'll ask bill to kick off this year's ajc great debate. bill, thank you. >> thanks, jason. it's good to be here. i have a long association -- i don't personally have a long association. my family has a long association with the ajc, and i've always had a high regard, of course, for the organization. my father worked commentary way back in 1947 to 1952 when commentary was part of the ajc, and before the ajc moved into their fancy building. it was thought to be a fancy building in the mid-'50s when they moved in. i think they were further downtown originally in some even dumpier place. and then my uncle worked at the ajc for many, many years i remember visiting him often and editing the year book. when i was chief of staff, i think i was the only person in
the bush white house who had several editions of the ajc year book in my bookcase in the old executive office building. it's good to be here to make the case, i guess that's what i'm supposed to do for mitt romney and the republicans against president obama. every four years i dutifully accept invitations to debate prominent intelligent liberals and democrats on behalf of the republican candidate before jewish audiences. it's always a pathetic scene. i have an unmatched record of failures at this effort from 1984 on. i won't even reigh really try. you're all adults. 98% of you. i'm sure there are very few undecided voters in this audience. i this will not be as bad as 1996, two times i did this. in 96 i debated a journalist, at the jts, jewish theology society
in new york. the woman, a moderator. i said, probably a pretty liberal crowd, clinton/dole, height of oslo, president rabin assassinated. dole had no particular affiliation, pro-israel. he wasn't close to the jewish community. i remember saying before he walked out on stage. i imagine this audience is probably a little bit pro-clinton. the moderator cheerfully said, i don't know. there are about 500 people a bout 480 of them are pro-clinton. 20 are undecided. i think i lost most of the undecided in the course of the evening, in the course of the evening. make my case for conservatism. in 2000, another true story, i debated, at northern virginia jewish community center where we live in northern virginia, months before the election, early in 2000, i said, they were
setting up an october brunch. sunday brunches at the jcc to debate the election. i debated a political operative from this area. we didn't know who the, the nominees were going to be at that event or if we did, we didn't know the ticket. i remember thinking this will be tough again. maybe i have a chance. because george w. bush was very pro-israel, it wasn't clear, clinton wouldn't be running for re-election, we would have a chance for a fresh look. then i remember the day al gore announced joe lieberman was joining the ticket. i'm like, joe lieberman personally has, spent a lot of time with every person in the audience at the northern virginia, jewish community center, that was really a wonderful moment, defending, defending, making the case for bush/cheney against gore/lieberman. turns out there were relatives, joe lieberman there, people in
his daughters' wedding. a nightmare. i told the stories to the lieberman a year later. i've thought it was amazing i made the case against them. joe thought it was funny. she was a little shocked that i actually hadn't voted for her husband in 2000. i mean, look the differences between the parties are pretty evident. i don't know they're as much specifically youisha^ bojewish. we have a center right republican party. and a center left democratic party. with pretty clear divisions. i very much hope, honest sly that this election is a policy heavy issue heavy election. i am worried it won't be. of course the campaign operatives take over in both parties. and we end up with idiotic side shows and little debates. the country deserves a serious debate about entitlement reform, tax policy, best way to stop iran, supreme court appointments about the whole spectrum of issues.
i am somewhat optimistic now that once the republicans are through the primaries and president obama didn't have a primary. another thing i'm unhappy about. i'm sorry barney is here instead of doing what he should have done and run against president obama in the primaries to give liberalism. here obama sells out the liberals on so many things and they let him sail to renomination, very fortunate. more unfortunate, because incumbent president whose don't have primary challenges have a belt better chance of winning. i spent a week trying to get people like barney frank and ru russ feingold. look, we'll have a serious debate, argument about foreign policy, national security, which i think is very important. should not be put aside simply on behalf of all the economic issues, entitlement reform, obama care and everything else. i think the ajc poll shows
romney doing better among jewish voters than mccain. obama beat mccain in the era of hope and change. 3 1/2 years ago. 72-28 among jewish voters if you allocate undecideds, in the ajc poll it looks like 68-32, 69-31 split among jews this time. if romney can do much better among the country as he looks like he will do among jewish voters he will beat president obama which i think will be a good thing for the country. >> barney. you will have extra time. >> thank you. let me acknowledge the -- the rueful compliment that bill paid me, regretting that i wasn't dumb enough to challenge the p it is only, my refusal to run against the president that would endanger the chances of the public policy i want being
accepted. i guess that is just one more case where i try not to live up to the stereotype people use regarding me. with regard to the election. there are some very important issues here. we have got to reduce the deficit. and the question is what mix of policies do you do? and there are real differences between the parties. i have one clear difference with the way bill shaped it when he said there is a center left democratic party and center right republican party. used to be. there has been a center right republican party. unfortunately, the republican party has moved much further to the right. and as thomas mann and norm ornstein just documented, political science has documented there has been some movement apart. the republicans have moved further right than democrats moved further left. bill just testified to that by his dig at those of us s who are sensible liberal for not attacking our president because he has not been able to get done everything we want. but the fact is that, the
republican party has moved entirely to the right so we now have as major debate in foreign policy on the republican side, whether or not the fact that you are gay disables you from being a foreign policy adviser. that has taken us s beyond the realm of rationality. if you look at the republican party in the house, you sadly no longer have a center right republican party if i hope you will. i have been proud to work with a lot of republicans. but i find it much harder to do in the current congress. and i hope there will be a resurgence of the -- of the more responsible, main sfroostream republicans. as to the election. obviously on most of the issues -- i say, just statistical fact, given the way american jews have been in terms of the political spectrum, we start out with a -- a notion that they're going to vote democratic in the majority. again that's been confirmed, when a 68-32, democratic margin is considered an erosion, as it would be.
but the, the issue that i think has to be framed as this. given the fact that most jewish americans, given their views on economics on the environment, on civil liberties on a woman's right to choose on a whole range of, use would be likeooikely to democratic. should they instead vote republican because president obama is weaker on israel? and i think the answer is no. one of the questions should this be a referendum on obama's approximately see towards israel, and american jooews. the most important reason there are not significant differences. in fact this notion that somehow president obama has been anti-israel -- i served with the president who did take some steps that were blocking israel in congress. george h.w. bush. the only time in my 31 years in congress when israel was frustrated trying to get a policy through the congress when
president george h.w. bush or w.h., whatever. i don't mean to denigrate it, i think it is h.w. he brought loan guarantees. israel sought loan guarantees to assimilate the immigrants. he blocked it, yitzhak shamir said this land will remain jewish for as far as the eye can see forever. i try to ameliorate that by pointing out shamir at that point was very short and very old and probably couldn't see that far. the fact is that push was able to block us from getting the loan guarantees. damaging israel. you also had the famous, i don't remember anybody in the obama administration being as openly negative about israel as secretary of state james baker. when he said -- here is my phone number. if israel wants to make peace. call me on television. in fact there was one example in which the obama administration delivered for israel as well as
any president ever has. you go back to about a year ago. you go book and look at the papers. there was this notion there was going to be at the u.n. a successful move by the palestinians to got their statehood recognized. and there was a fear that, the assumption was that was likely to happen. the fear was that americans would have to veto a resolution in the security council. clearly going to veto it. america and israel against the world and isolate israel in a way that was negative. the obama administration went to work. one of the most successful examples of diplomacy i have seen, the obama administration pulled out all its lobbying, we lobbied people in the european union, those that had congressional contacts. the obama administration successfully lobbied to the point where they could not get in the security council a sufficient majority so we had to veto it. a big victory for israel. xun pe unexpected one. one of the few issy has been able to do in the u.n.
and i will close with this. and the fact credibility was ind he was critical of some elements of the settlement policy. the notion you are a friend of israel if you agree with everything the israeli power does at the time, it is not just wrong but counterproductive. but many of my friends on right, who now think you can never criticize the israeli government. i remember people attacking begin over camp david and other things. it was because obama articulated the position he did there was a problem with the settlements there were too many. it was a mistake in phraseology, on 67, i believe he corrected it. i believe his separation from the government, israeli government, was one of the things that added to the credibility. so his administration was able to deliver one of the few diplomatic successes at the u.n. >> barney, thank you. we now, provide you, bill an opportunity to respond. >> yeah, it is revealing barney has to attack the george h.w. bush administration on israel.
the big story, barney presents to the republican party is moving to the right. the big story is republican party has become a reagan republican party with respect to israel and not bush/baker republican party. i served in the first administration, i was dan quayle's chief of staff, and argued with president bush he shouldn't be as tough. end of the day bush did the right thing in the gulf which helped israel. wasn't for the purpose of israel. the first gulf war, helped rise yal's security a lot. some people were opposed to that war and they weren't republicans. i would argue objectively having bush in the white house was actually a better thing than having michael dukakis s in the white house. and nixon didn't get a lot of jewish votes. an awful lot of jews were happy that nixon was president and not mcgovern. the current republican party to barney's distress is not the bush/baker, moderate, republican
party, and close to oil interests. the current republican party is pro israel party. barney's problem with it is too pro israel. they don't give the benefit of the doubt. they don't complain when they build an apartment building in north jerusalem that it is a cross the green line that exists in '67 and in an area that will be part of israel under any conceivable settlement including bill clinton settlements when there is a peace dual. no, the obama administration had to make a big deal about at apartment building. i am happy to defend the republican party and say mitt romney will be a more reliable friend of israel than president obama. >> response. >> well, i, it is not a reagan/republican party, to the right of reagan, on issue after issue. ronald reagan asked congress to raise the debt limit several times that was rational economic policy. these people that are running the house republican party
attack them. and mitt romney willing to accommodate the right-wing, actually attacked rick santorum because he voted to raise the debt limit at the request of ronald reagan. this is not a center right party. as to israel. we differ about what is the most effective way to defend israel. i have been going to college campuses, and berkeley, california, been to brown, i have been to, georgetown, yale. to defend israel the i do it from the left. i do it in part. one of the things i want to give credit to the netanyahu government. in the history of the united states, three government leaders have said pro gay rights things, bill clinton, barack obama and benjamin netanyahu, made a pro-gay statement. one of the few times that the republicans did not stand up to mra applaud him. scandalous sly. if your position is you are
going to defend whatever the israeli government does. your credibility as a worldwide defender of israel is weakened. i do not think it is possible, and the administration hasn't done tight say it is israel's responsibility to get peace. what israel needs to do in their own interest ties make it clear if there is not a two state solution for security for israel it is not israel's fault. there are clearly political pressures within the democracy of israel that i believe pull them away from what is the most s effective international advocacy. i am pleased to do countering. in the end, it is israeli government. the obama administration has taken no negative actions against the israeli government, unlike the bush administration. what we have though is i think a much more effective way of defending them and the results are very clear. >> that's good. i want to point out for the record. it is wonderful to have barney frank defending yitzhak shamir, benjamin netanyahu and rick
santorum. i applaud that. >> i was amraapplauding -- >> both of us prefer benjamin netanyahu to rick santorum. >> bill, let me begin the formal questioning with you. each election we hear that this -- this is the year that jews are going to shift their traditional democratic loyalty to the republican party. in, in ajcs just released survey of american jewish opinion, if the election was held today the jewish vote would split. about 61% for president obama. 28% for governor romney. remainder undecided. what do you make of the numbers? is, 2012, finally the year of the republicans? >> no. i think if you do the 61-28,
allocate undecided, 8-4, 68-32, 69-31. i have been saying 70-30. there will be progress over '08. jews eventually learn from reality it takes them quite a while sometimes. and i think younger jews and more affiliated jews will be voting more republican. a long, and slow process s for jews to, what i regard, to shed some old-fashioned views about the bush/republican party and the republican party of the 30s and 40s. i am not going to, i don't tell people how to vote and tell people to vote on religion, people should vote for the candidate they thing will do the best job as president. i will point out one thing in the poll, as jason knows, for the jews, the jewish americans whom the poll surveys. 80% of american jews asked for the most important issues, 80% of jews cite the economy. of those who cite national
security and u.s. rise yal relations, 42% of those would vote for obama. 44%, 45% will vote for romney. so if jews are -- you know, are liberals they will vote for president obama as they should. because president obama is a lot more liberal than president romney will be. for those jews, they are breaking slightly for romney. i think that is significant. >> first of all, the year we are waiting for as already come. bill may know the figures. but '76, what was, ford/carter breakdown was clearly -- >> '80 was the best year. reagan got 40% of the jewish. >> that's true. it took four years. >> and jimmy carter. >> and eroded. yeah, we have been, below that. but i think the answer is -- and i, those numbers are very interesting. i think that, that there has
been a miss pperception of the obama record. yes he was more critical of the settlements. i have been critical of the settlements. i believe it makes me a more effective advocate for israel. i go to a conference and told by young people they get beat up when they speak for israel. i volunteer to travel. i have been to, california, berkeley, not a right-wing bastion. i talk about israel's domestic liberalism. compared to its -- its repressive neighbors. in every area. but i also -- make it clear that i think the settlement policy is mistaken and in fact, weakens israel. that's what obama said. i think, as i said. i want to go back to this again. i would ask anybody to tell me. the last time israel scored as well in the u.n. as the it did when we kept them from getting a majority in security council. i think this is enhanced by the difference. so this notion that romney would be a better friend of israel --
for now -- as i say when we talk romney. there are no guarantees. no warranty on any romney position. but probably he would stuck with it. but the point is that i cannot think of a suingle policy actio where obama has not done what was in israel's clear interest. >> the ajc survey found that on domestic matters, jews remain where they have been for decades. as we have been discussing. firmly inside the democratic party's camp. you're frounwning, i know. >> just resigned to it. >> don't resign from it. we still want you. >> is it sustainable. a majority of jews favor democrats, on issues, what can republicans offer to turn them in a different direction, bill? >> look, this is not about talk and magic words. people aren't stupid. people have to make up their minds whether the policies work.
has president obama advanced an in graduation agenda, put his political capital on the line as president bush and senator mccain did in '06 and '07. but it is labor that is now the barrier to reform more than elements of the republican party. there are elements of the republican party that are bad. do you think obama's economic policies are working terrifically well? should the government have 25% of gdp? will tax hikes be good or bad? those are legitimate policy questions. you're all adults. you can make up your own mind. i would ask people take a fresh look. make up their own minds. mitt romney. one time governor of barney frank's state, massachusetts. a some what new face, running for president for a while. but he is not like a bob dole or a george h.w. bush who has been around for a long time. take a look at romney. take a look at his vp pick. take a look at the younger republican governor, congressmen, scott walker, mitch