The Republican Jewish Coalition held its California Summer Celebration Sunday evening at the Ronald Reagan Library in
Ken Mehlman gave an impassioned, compelling speech that earned him a standing ovation at the end. He began by saying how nice it was to spend an evening with his fellow “white Christians.” Then he recalled how he used to have to explain to his grandmother his oxymoronic status as a Jewish Republican:
When he was growing up in the 80s, his family was involved with HIAS, the remarkable organization that for more than 100 years has been engaged in the rescue, reunion and resettlement of Jews throughout the world. In the 80s, their efforts focused on the refuseniks in the
“There was a lot of talk back then about ‘Reagan Democrats.’ I was the first “Sharansky Republican.’”
Mehlman also wondered how many people, on September 12, 2001, would have believed that, during the subsequent five years, there would not be another attack on the United States, that two of the worst dictatorships in the world would be eliminated, that Saddam Hussein would be put on trial, that his sons and successors would be eliminated, that the head of Al Qaeda in Iraq would be killed, that constitutional governments would be formed in Afghanistan and Iraq, that Libya would voluntarily relinquish all its WMD, and that Syria would be forced from Lebanon by diplomatic action.
Answer: Not many would have believed that any of it would happen, much less all of it. But under the leadership of George W. Bush, it did.
Norm Coleman (former Democratic Mayor of Minneapolis) gave an eloquent and inspired address, including a stinging criticism of the UN and a moving defense of
History is a ribbon, always unfurling; history is a journey. And as we continue our journey, we think of those who traveled before us. . . . Now we hear again the echoes of our past: a general falls to his knees in the hard snow of Valley Forge; a lonely President paces the darkened halls, and ponders his struggle to preserve the Union; the men of the Alamo call out encouragement to each other; a settler pushes west and sings a song, and the song echoes out forever and fills the unknowing air.
It is the American sound. It is hopeful, big-hearted, idealistic, daring, decent, and fair. That's our heritage; that is our song. We sing it still. For all our problems, our differences, we are together as of old, as we raise our voices to the God who is the Author of this most tender music. And may He continue to hold us close as we fill the world with our sound -- sound in unity, affection, and love -- one people under God, dedicated to the dream of freedom that He has placed in the human heart, called upon now to pass that dream on to a waiting and hopeful world.
Seven years after that address, the
It was quite an evening.
Senator Mike DeWine with the Editor of Jewish Current Issues. Senator DeWine, who is in a difficult re-election campaign in Ohio, is the person who introduced the Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act in the Senate -- something he did not call attention to in his graceful remarks Sunday evening -- and he deserves support from our community for that Act alone.