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Take THAT, Henry

By Michael J. Smith on Friday May 19, 2006 09:24 PM

Nice piece in The Nation (God, I thought I'd never write those words) about how the Israel lobby brought the Ford Foundation to heel. The story goes back a few years, but what happened, basically, is that the Lobby bullied the Foundation into steering clear of anybody who thinks the Palestinians have a case. Reminds me of that bit in Mel Brooks' History Of The World where some poor guy has been in the Bastille for twenty years because he once observed, in an unguarded moment, that "Hey, the poor ain't so bad."

No news here, really, except that the Nation piece details the leading role that "progressive" Democratic congressman Jerrold Nadler played in this ideological mugging. This really took me back.

My own memories of Nadler date from twenty-five years and more ago, to the days when he was an 'umble state assemblyman from my West Side district. I was involved in the tenant movement -- there was one, then, kiddies, believe it or not. I got to know Nadler's schtick very well. Year after year, the state legislature would entertain a bill to do away with rent regulation in New York City (which is a state law rather than a local one, and thereby hangs yet another tale of Democratic mal- and non-feasance that would take me too far afield to include here). Year after year, we would get breathless, dramatic, spine-tingling, cliff-hanging bulletins from our stalwart representatives -- like Nadler -- about how hard they were fighting to keep us from sleeping on the sidewalk heating grates. Year after year, they would come home having "saved" rent regulation -- at the cost of a concession here, a concession there, which over the years have effectively gutted rent regulation.

Now Nadler is -- I don't know any kind way to say this -- a remarkably obese man:

He's about five-foot-six, as I recall, and if he's not well over three hundred pounds, then I'm Markos Moulitsas Zuniga. He would arrive at these little tenant-movement cell meetings, in some West Side apartment, swathed in a Brooks Brothers suit incorporating enough fabric to pup-tent a whole troop of Cub Scouts. He always made a beeline for the couch, and sagged into it, swabbing the greasy sweat from his brow with a handkerchief that looked very unhappy about its lot in life. He then gave us a breathless blow-by-blow account of the parliamentary maneuvers, the narrow escapes, the fiendish ingenutiy of the opposition and his own preternatural astuteness in foiling these Snideley Whipsnade tricks.

Well, stop the presses, you're thinking -- isn't this what politicians do?

Indeed it is, and I probably wouldn't remember these little séances with such hallucinatory clarity if it had only been a question of Nadler and his bodily fluids. But what amazed me even then -- and amazes me a lot more now, even though I've seen so much of it -- is the way his auditors hung breathless and admiring on his every word.

You have to understand who these auditors were. Most of them were highly intelligent, strong-minded, little old West Side Jewish ladies who, though they probably weren't actually in Spain during the civil war, would have turned the tide if they had been there. Franco, you little vontz! -- and that would have been that for Franco.

What a sad and baffling sight it was, to see these these ladies who could chew you up and spit you out and not think twice about it, treating this blubbery putz Nadler as if he were Mick Jagger and they had just found their inner groupie.

The problem, of course, was that the ladies were all Democrats -- people who had sagely decided, sometime in the Truman administration, that there was nulla salus extra ecclesiam -- no salvation outside the party. They wouldn't have been so slavish, or so easily impressed, the day after they made this fateful decision, or the year after; but year after year, decade after decade, of Babylonish captivity had taken their toll.

They ended up putting Nadler in Congress, where of course he has distinguished himself as a kind of Grand Inquisitor -- okay, a Petty Inquisitor -- on behalf of Israel. I must say it's droll to think at what a rate the moldy corpse of anti-Semitic old Henry Ford must be spinning in its unhallowed grave, to see the foundation that bears his name taking dictation from the likes of Jerrold Nadler.

Comments (4)

J. Alva Scruggs:

The politest word for Nadler is schnorrer, and you can bet that his heartfelt commitment to Israel-supporting related program activities would shift to stern looks, scowls and mournful recriminations if they suddenly became the way to get him a few more terms in office.


nice picture
you can easily imagine
a bust of him
as the custom dash board
of some aipac ers lexus

When I first saw this headline, I half-expected it to be about those good pro-Palestinians who frequently pop up on Indymedia --with one breath they claim to despise all permutations of capitalism while they dust off old Henry with the other as if his Jew-baiting were some kind of archeological treasure worth re-visiting...

J. Alva Scruggs:

IndyMedia attracts a lot of anti-corporate wingnuts. They yearn for feudal guilds and the rule of a natural elite. "Rootless cosmpolitans" upset them greatly, as even the most ultra-nationalist Jews find when they spend some time in wingnut company.

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