It is hard to believe, but in just two weeks, American voters will all but determine the identities of the Democratic and Republican nominees for this year's presidential elections. It is hard to believe because today, after a handful of early primaries, neither side has even identified a frontrunner.
The open race, unprecedented in recent history, is a consequence of the fragmentation of America's political center. Ten years after Bill Clinton's impeachment; seven years after President George W. Bush's contested victory in 2000; and five years into the Iraq campaign, the cleavages both between the two major parties and within them have given purchase to candidates and policies that would have previously never made it out of the starting gate.
On the Republican side, this phenomenon is being played out in the campaigns of Congressman Ron Paul and Governor Mike Huckabee. On the Democratic side of the aisle, it is manifested in Senator Barack Obama's campaign.
Last Saturday Congressman Paul placed second in the Nevada primaries with 14 percent of the vote. Paul, who has raised some $20 million in three months, owes much of his mainstream support on both the Left and the Right to his pointed opposition to the war in Iraq. At the same time, his campaign's quest for mainstream respectability has been stymied repeatedly by the fact that neo-Nazi Web sites have embraced Paul's candidacy.
Paul's showing in Nevada was particularly impressive because a week before the Nevada primaries, James Kirchick of the New Republic published an in-depth investigative report on Paul's ideological background which showed that the neo-Nazis' support for him is not unjustified. Kirchick's report was based on a study of some three decades worth of mass-mailing political reports that have been published under Paul's name.
Kirchick's report, "Angry White Man" showed that between Paul's newsletters - whose articles are generally unsigned - and his public statements, there are strong indications that Paul shares the white supremacists' hatred of blacks, Jews and homosexuals. Moreover, Paul has spoken in warm support for the slave-owning Confederacy and the militia men who believe they must defend themselves against the Federal government and a web of global governance conspirators. He has also praised former Ku Klux Klan Imperial Wizard David Duke.
Before Kirchick's report, Paul outpolled Giuliani threefold in the early primary states. And after the report, he had his best showing to date in Nevada.
Less shocking, but still depressing is the candidacy of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. Huckabee, a former Baptist preacher is running an almost purely sectoral campaign for the evangelical vote.
Huckabee targets evangelicals by calling for the strengthening of America's Christian identity. Interestingly, in his bid for Christian support, Huckabee has not embraced evangelical advocacy of hawkish foreign policies and defense of Christian communities in the Muslim world. To the contrary, like former president Jimmy Carter, Huckabee advocates an emasculated foreign policy based on being nice to other countries. He likens disputes with foreign countries to family squabbles that can be solved by better communications. Following from this, Huckabee claims that America's problems with Iran are the result of America's lack of diplomatic relations with Iran.
To date, Huckabee won the Iowa caucuses, and has achieved strong second and third places in the other primary states. He lost South Carolina to Senator John McCain by a mere three points. But he doesn't appear to be made to last. His appeal to non-evangelical voters is almost nonexistent and without non-evangelical supporters, he has no chance of winning the Republican nomination.
In Contrast to Paul and Huckabee, Barack Obama has a good chance of securing his party's nomination for president and winning the general election. And this is disturbing because like Paul, he enjoys the support of hateful bigots. And like Paul and Huckabee, he holds foreign policy positions which are based on the notion that the global jihad is not a serious threat.
Although the rumors that Obama - whose father and step-father were Muslims and who was educated in Muslim schools in Indonesia - is a Muslim are demonstrably false, his Christian affiliations are a cause for alarm in and of themselves.
Obama belongs to the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. Its minister and Obama's spiritual adviser is Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr.
In an investigative report on Obama published last week by the American Thinker Web site, Ed Lasky documented multiple examples of Wright's anti-Jewish and anti-white animus. Wright has called for divestment from Israel and refers to Israel as a "racist" state. Theologically, he believes that the true "Chosen People" are the blacks. Indeed, he is a black supremacist. He believes that black values are superior to middle class American values and that blacks should isolate themselves from the wider American society.
Wright is a long-time friend of the virulently anti-Semitic head of the Nation of Islam - fellow Chicagoan Louis Farrakhan. The two traveled together to Libya some years ago to pay homage to Muammar Gaddafi. Last year Wright presented Farrakhan with a "Lifetime Achievement" award.
Although last week Obama issued a statement condemning Farrakhan for his anti-Semitism, he did not disavow Wright - who married him and baptized his daughters. Obama has taken no steps to moderate his church's anti-Israel invective.
Obama's affiliation with Wright aligns with his choice of financial backers and foreign policy advisors. To varying degrees, all of them exhibit hostility towards Israel and support for appeasing jihadists.
As Lasky notes, Obama has received generous support from billionaire George Soros. In recent years, Soros has devoted himself to replacing politicians who support fighting the forces of global terror and supporting Israel with politicians who support appeasing jihadists and dumping Israel.
As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Obama opposed defining Iran's Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist group. He calls for the US to withdraw from Iraq - only to return if genocide is being carried out and then, only as part of an international force. He also supports opening negotiations with Iran even if the Iranians continue to enrich uranium. In forming these views, he is assisted by his foreign policy team which includes Zbigniew Brzezinski, Mark Brzezinski, Anthony Lake, Susan Rice and Robert Malley.
All of these people are known either for their anti-Israel views or their pro-Arab views - or both. Malley, a Palestinian apologist invented and propagated the false claim that the 2000 Camp David summit between the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and then prime minister Ehud Barak failed because Israel wasn't serious about giving the Palestinians a state. This view is disputed by Barak and Clinton.
For her part, as chief foreign policy advisor to Senator John Kerry during the 2004 presidential elections, Susan Rice reportedly convinced Kerry to announce that if elected he would appoint Jimmy Carter and James Baker to serve as his envoys for Middle East peace.
Mark Brzezinski has openly called for unconditional negotiations with Iran. For more than 30 years, Zbigniew Brzezinski has distinguished himself as one of Israel's greatest foes in Washington.
Unfortunately, in the anti-war frenzy now gripping much of the Democratic Party, one could say that there is nothing notable about the fact that Obama has hired anti-Israel foreign policy advisors, attends an anti-Israel church, and receives financial backing from anti-Israel billionaires. But even in this atmosphere Obama stands out - for not only does he theoretically support appeasement, he is actively advancing the interests of Islamists seeking to take control over a state allied with the US.
Kenya currently teeters at the edge of political chaos and civil war in the wake of the disputed Dec. 27 presidential elections. Those elections pitted incumbent President Mwai Kibaki against Raila Odinga who leads the Orange Democratic Movement. While the polls showed the public favoring Odinga, Kibaki was declared the winner. Odinga rejected the results and his supporters have gone on rampages throughout the country that have killed some 700 people so far. Fifty people were murdered when a pro-Odinga mob set ablaze a church in which they were hiding.
Kibaki is close ally of the US in the war against Islamic terror. In stark contrast, Odinga is an ally of Islamic extremists. On August 29 Odinga wrote a letter to Kenya's pro-jihadist National Muslim Leaders Forum. There he pledged that if elected he would establish Sharia courts throughout the country; enact Islamic dress codes for women; ban alcohol and pork; indoctrinate schoolchildren in the tenets of Islam; ban Christian missionary activities, and dismiss the police commissioner, "Who has allowed himself to be used by heathens and Zionists."
Although Odinga is an Anglican, he referred to Islam as the "one true religion" and scorned Christians as "worshipers of the cross."
Obama strongly supports Odinga who claims to be his cousin. As Daniel Johnson reported recently in the New York Sun, during his 2006 visit to Kenya, Obama was so outspoken in his support for Odinga that the Kenyan government complained to the State Department that Obama was interfering with the internal politics of the country. After the Dec. 27 elections Obama interrupted a campaign appearance in New Hampshire to take a call from Odinga.
The past 10 years have not been good ones for the American political landscape. And in times of acrimony and fragmentation, people tend to vote their prejudices. The candidacies of Paul, Huckabee and Obama are testimonies to this fact.
It can only be hoped that in the coming weeks and months ahead of the presidential election, the political center of American politics will reassert itself and that the final race will be between leaders who abjure bigotry and understand that foreign policy is neither about minding your business nor being polite. It is about opposing enemies, supporting allies and knowing the difference between them.