For Sheldon Adelson, Newt Gingrich and Binyamin Netanyahu, the political is the personal, and vice versa.
I make it a point not to judge people’s personalities on the basis of their politics; I’ve known, and known of, too many humble right-wingers and superior-acting left-wingers for that. But not infrequently, the personal and the political line up: the good guy (of either gender) has what I would call good political ideals, the bad guy has rotten ones.
At this rather fateful time for Israel, its three greatest champions – Bibi Netanyahu at home, Sheldon Adelson among American Jewry, and Newt Gingrich among American gentiles – are politically all Arab-bashers and personally all insufferable egomaniacs. I think this says something about Israel’s sphere of influence today, about what sort of people it lifts up.
In a news feature about Adelson titled “The Man Behind Gingrich’s Money,” the New York Times reported: “Even his two sons sued him at one point, accusing him of cheating them, though they lost.” The Times also reports: “Friends point out that [Adelson’s] staunch Zionist beliefs are consistent with his take-no-prisoners personality.” “Staunch Zionist beliefs,” i.e. “hatred of Arabs and of anybody who doesn’t hate them, too.”
About Gingrich, we already know: He visited his first wife in the hospital where she was recovering from cancer surgery and told her he wanted a divorce. His acknowledged professional code of behavior is “chimpanzee politics,” otherwise known as “winning through intimidation.”
Unlike Adelson and Gingrich, Netanyahu doesn’t go around scaring people; he leaves that to his wife Sara, who reportedly scares him, too. But a ruthless egomaniac he certainly is. I don’t think adultery, even serial adultery, necessarily makes you an SOB – but to go on prime time TV news and tell the world about it, like Bibi did in the 1993 Likud primary campaign? He was being blackmailed, somebody threatened to release a videotape of him and his girlfriend in the act. The solution he chose was brilliant politically – he played the outraged victim, smearing his chief rival, David Levy, for using “mafia” tactics to try to run him out of the race, which he never proved. But, uh, to voluntarily divulge your affair on TV while your wife is sitting at home? Some guy.
After Netanyahu won that primary, I researched a profile of him and had a phone interview with one of his close boyhood friends. The man, who insisted on anonymity, said that as a teenager in Jerusalem, Netanyahu was already “very dominant” in his political views. I wanted personal details – what was he like as a friend, I asked, would you say he was a loyal friend? The man answered: “I would say he was loyal to himself.”
Politically, Adelson, Gingrich and Netanyahu are all national triumphalists – it’s all about Israel (for Gingrich, Israel is an extension of America) beating the daylights out of whichever nation happens to stand in its way. Personally, Adelson, Gingrich and Netanyahu are also triumphalists – it’s all about beating the daylights out of whichever individual happens to stand in their individual way.
In 2012, these three gentlemen are the saviors of Israel, our showcase of Jewish civilization – Bibi, King of Israel; Sheldon, King of the Jews; and Newt, our favorite Righteous Gentile.
Oh, we are in great shape, my ethnoreligious brethren. We’re having us a real Golden Age.