Religion & Public Life With Mark Silk

Would Jewish conservatives embrace Mike Huckabee as the GOP presidential
nominee in 2012? Zev Chafets–whose book, A
Match Made in Heaven
, deals with Jewish-Evangelical support for
Israel–suggests as much in Ariel Levy’s profile
of Huckabee
in the current New Yorker: “There’s a lot of
Jewish money on the right that’s got to go someplace,
especially if Obama continues to be perceived as unfriendly to Israel.”
I’m skeptical.

From what I can gather, if Jewish Republicans are lining up behind
anyone at this early date, it’s Mitt Romney. He strikes them as a
serious guy, a businessman, and he also hails from a religious minority.
As for Huckabee, while they like him personally–many people do–his
evangelical roots and base of support give them the willies.

The Huckster does some whining to Levy about being pigeon-holed as The
Evangelical in the field:

“I’m not one-dimensional,” he told me. “I was the governor of Arkansas
for ten years! The lieutenant-governor for three! To say that I stepped
out of a pulpit last Sunday and said, ‘Hey, I think I’ll be President!’
No, I’ve paid my dues.

Dues he’s paid, but he was also present at the creation of the religious
right, and his social agenda hasn’t varied since. Nor was he averse to
playing the religion card against his rivals–especially Romney–during
the 2008 primary season. 

So far as Jewish conservatives are concerned, it’s one thing to
celebrate the Christian Zionism of American evangelicals. It’s quite
another to help one of them into the White House. Israel isn’t the key
to conservative Jewish money; no serious Republican candidate these days
is going to be anything less than an enthusiastic supporter. Separation
of church and state–government-sponsored prayer, the teaching of
evolution, faith-based social services, religion in the
military,etc.–is where the rubber hits the road. 

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