It was that summer visit to Israel that solidified Romney's position as the elephant rider. One of his chief financial contributors is U.S. casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who funded Romney's trip to Israel. That trip was arranged by Dan Senor, a neoconservative who has emerged as a key foreign policy adviser for the Romney campaign.
Senor is not a foreign policy expert. His experience and area of expertise is public relations. He was the chief PR official in Iraq during the occupation of Iraq. Later Senor wrote a book that praised Israel's cultural superiority in the region, a position Governor Romney promoted in a speech in Jerusalem.
Senor did not serve Romney well in encouraging him to speak of Israel's superior cultural qualities in the Middle East, a viewpoint that Senor pushed in his own book, Start Up Nation: Israel's Economic Miracle.
What care he, if he can take back the White House for the neoconservatives. Both Senor and Adelson are so eager to have Romney ride that "elephant in the room" straight into the Oval Office, that they worry less about what the liberal media calls gaffes, and far more about key votes in swing states.
To be sure, Obama, influenced in part by having to deal with an Israel Lobby-controlled Congress, has also worked hard to curry favor with the Lobby, and to appease Israeli leaders. He has been both insulted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and he has rebuked the Israeli leader with some well placed snubs.
Which Obama will we see in the third debate, the appeaser of the Lobby or the President who glares at Netanyahu in righteous indignation?
Monday night, in the third debate, we could see Obama and Romney as two pro-Israel politicians trading jabs on who is Israel's best friend. Or, just maybe, the Commander in Chief will be back on stage, confronting an elephant-riding Mitt Romney on behalf of the nation Obama was elected to lead in 2008.
* * * *A Closing Personal Political Note:
Former South Dakota Senator George McGovern has been admitted to hospice care in South Dakota. He is suffering from "a combination of medical conditions due to age that have worsened in recent months, his family said in a statement."
"The senator is no longer responsive," the statement said. "He is surrounded by his loving family and close friends."
I have known George McGovern since 1971, when I was privileged to run, successfully, as one of his Illinois delegates to the Democratic National Convention. It was at that convention, held in Miami, Florida, when a young generation discovered that politics was a difficult but rewarding endeavor.
A World War II veteran who flew B-24 missions over Germany, McGovern was an anti-VietNam war presidential candidate who lost the 1972 election to Richard Nixon. He combined a love for life with a determination to defend his nation, when necessary.
His last official assignments allowed him to work in the area of world hunger. McGovern served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Agencies in Rome, Italy, 1998-2001. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on August 9, 2000, and was later appointed United Nations Global Ambassador on World Hunger in 2001. For more on McGovern's biography, click here.
He studied theology for a year at Garrett Seminary, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois. He earned his Ph.D., in political science at Northwestern. Over the years since 1971, McGovern became a good friend of mine. He was both a spiritual and political inspiration to me and to many of my generation, including the Nation's John Nichols, who wrote of his friendship with McGovern on McGovern's 90th birthday.
I last interviewed McGovern for a blog posting during the early years of Barack Obama's administration. You will find the Wall Writings link here. In that posting, I reported on a conversation McGovern and I had on the Palestinian-Israel situation, which he had followed closely for many years. I wrote this about our discussion: