The GOP Adelson Primary

A couple of weeks ago, the GOP contenders in the “Koch Primary” had to audition and kiss the ring ass of the Koch brothers for their billion dollar campaign war chest.

AdelsonMacaoThis past weekend was the “Adelson Primary” in Las Vegas.  The GOP contenders had to audition and kiss the ring ass of Sheldon Adelson, the corrupt casino magnate worth billions from casinos in Las Vegas and Macao. Sheldon Adelson’s Sands Corp. admits to violation of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Nice company these guys keep, dontcha think?

The New York Times reports, Republican Contenders Reach Out to Sheldon Adelson, Palms Up:

jeb-and-george-bush-1In a country wary of dynasties, former President George W. Bush said he could be a liability for his younger brother Jeb, a likely presidential candidate.

But he will never be a liability for the 700 Republican Jewish donors he spoke to in a ballroom here Saturday night. And especially not for Sheldon Adelson, the owner of the Venetian hotel and casino, where the Republican Jewish Coalition held its spring meeting, and the most sought-after donor in the contest for the Republican presidential nomination.

President Bush remains hugely popular with Mr. Adelson and other conservative members of the group, which has seen its numbers swell as tensions have increased between the Obama administration and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel.

That is good news for Jeb Bush. He has an extra hurdle to clear to win over members of the group, particularly Mr. Adelson, who spent at least $100 million to back Republican presidential candidates in 2012 and helped Mr. Netanyahu win re-election in March, and who is thought among donors here to be especially fond of Senator Marco Rubio of Florida.

Mr. Adelson became furious with Mr. Bush last month after the former Florida governor opted not to pressure James A. Baker III, one of the likely candidate’s foreign policy advisers and a secretary of state in his father’s administration, against speaking at a convention hosted by the liberal pro-Israel advocacy organization J Street.

Jeb Bush was not at the latest installment of the so-called Adelson primary — he appeared before the group last year. And while his brother explicitly avoided campaigning for him, his son, Jeb Bush Jr., pitched donors at a coffee shop in the casino.

Jeb Bush Jr. said that he shook hands with Mr. Adelson at an event the night before, and that he “admired him greatly in terms of what he does for this community and for the country.” He added that when it came to supporting Israel, his father’s “record speaks for itself,” but that the meeting was useful “in terms of outreach and engaging folks.”

Some of those folks definitely need reaching out to, starting with Mr. Adelson, who is worth an estimated $30 billion and can exercise enormous political influence in the “super PAC” era.

“He burned my ear up a little bit,” said Mel Sembler, a member of the Republican Jewish Coalition board and a longtime Bush family supporter who backs Jeb Bush. “He was upset, but I was upset myself, frankly. Jim Baker was out of line.”

* * *

Mr. Bush has sought to convince coalition donors and Mr. Adelson that he has nothing to do with his father’s chief diplomat. On Thursday, CNN reported that Mr. Bush noted to members of the Manhattan Republican Party that Mr. Baker is in his 80s, and that he had younger foreign policy advisers.

Asked if he was talking to donors to convince them that Mr. Baker’s remarks were in no way a reflection on his father’s feelings about Israel, Jeb Bush Jr. said, “Absolutely,” arguing that people would see that his father was “his own man.”

Riiight. Jeb Bush’s foreign policy team is eerily familiar, in one Venn Diagram: If Bush’s goal is to present himself as his “own man,” that list of advisers undermines the point somewhat: 19 of the 21 people on it worked in the administrations of his father or brother.

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas gave a speech that won plaudits from the assembled donors. (“Jews for Cruz,” some cheered.) Supporters of Mr. Rubio made the case for him on sidelines peppered with advisers to Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin.

Unwavering support for Israel’s government is the price of support from Mr. Adelson and the many other Republican donors here. But in an era when backing Israel has become Republican orthodoxy on par with reverence for tax cuts and Ronald Reagan, most candidates in the crowded field are already through the door. (“Our most cherished ally,” Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana said several times of Israel during his speech Saturday morning.)

* * *

In the last presidential election, many Republicans blamed Mr. Adelson for pumping $15 million into the primary campaign of Newt Gingrich, a long shot who used the money and time it afforded him to eviscerate Mitt Romney, the party’s eventual nominee, with political attack ads. This time, Mr. Adelson has expressed a desire to support a candidate who can win the general election.

And he finds himself on a political roll, at least in Israel, where his free and widely circulating newspaper, Israel Hayom, unabashedly backed Mr. Netanyahu.

When the prime minister made his controversial speech before Congress before the Israeli election, Mr. Adelson had a prominent seat in the House gallery. His wife accidentally dropped her purse on the head of a Democratic congressman, a mishap that many took as symbolic of what Mr. Adelson would like to do with his money.

This weekend, the candidates came to claim the purse.

Mr. Graham, who has joked that “I may have the first all-Jewish cabinet in America because of the pro-Israel funding,” met with a smaller group of donors on Saturday afternoon and said that if he did formally announce his candidacy, he would have a finance team “that you will be surprised by.”

“At the end of the day,” he said, “the Republican Jewish Coalition has become more powerful in Republican primaries than any time I can remember.”

More on what “C Plus Augustus” had to say to the 700 donors attending the closed-door Republican Jewish Coalition spring meeting. In Rare Remarks, George W. Bush Argues Against the Lifting of Iran Sanctions.

It was pretty much summed up years ago by The New Yorker. War Without End? – The New Yorker:

James Woolsey, a former director of Central Intelligence who has been proposed as a Minister of Information in Iraq by Donald Rumsfeld, forecasts a Fourth World War (the third, of course, having been the Cold War), which will last “considerably longer” than either of the first two. One senior British official dryly told Newsweek before the invasion, “Everyone wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran.” And then, presumably, to Damascus, Beirut, Khartoum, Sanaa, Pyongyang. Richard Perle, one of the most influential advisers to the Pentagon, told an audience not long ago that, with a successful invasion of Iraq, “we could deliver a short message, a two-word message: ‘You’re next.’

The Neocons’ perpetual war.

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