The GOP throws away the Yiddishe Mama vote

An Arkansas Republican says he only called Sen. Chuck Schumer "that Jew" because he cares about tradition.

By Gabriel Winant
Published May 14, 2009 7:45PM (EDT)

Periodically, you hear a Republican complain, “Why isn’t [Minority Group X] voting for us? We’re the ones who represent their real interests.” Democrats, you see, actually want to make sure predominantly African-American schools stay in terrible shape by opposing vouchers. They’re also out to keep Hispanics poor. Oh, and while they’re at it, they’re quietly making arrangements with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for the destruction of Israel.

Somehow, the GOP manages to get all shocked that these arguments don’t have black, Hispanic and Jewish voters flocking to them. How have Democrats hoodwinked all these people?

Anyway, that brings us to Arkansas state Sen. Kim Hendren, from state Sen. Kim Hendren, currently the only Republican running against Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark. At a recent appearance with a GOP group, Hendren referred to Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., as "that Jew."

By way of apology, Hendren said later:

At the meeting I was attempting to explain that unlike Sen. Schumer, I believe in traditional values, like we used to see on The Andy Griffith Show. I made the mistake of referring to Sen. Schumer as “that Jew” and I should not have put it that way as this took away from what I was trying to say.

The bit about Andy Griffith is an especially deft touch. But if it's traditional values he's looking out for, well, he could do a lot worse than the Jews. Just ask "Fiddler on the Roof's" Tevye:

And who has the right, as master of the house,
To have the final word at home?

The Papa, the Papa! Tradition!

If only the spacetime continuum were a little more cooperative. Alas, the 19th-century shtetl doesn't get a vote in 21st-century Arkansas.

Gabriel Winant

Gabriel Winant is a graduate student in American history at Yale.

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