Each of the 17 possible GOP presidential candidates who will participate in the two GOP presidential debates next Thursday will be trying to stand out in the crowded field.
Already some seem tempted to try to trump the front-runner, Donald Trump, whose remarkable rise is partly due to his headline-grabbing comments on Mexicans, John McCain and other matters. Several competitors have made similarly ill-advised (or stupid) statements, most of which don’t merit editorial response.
But former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s characterization of President Obama’s proposed diplomatic deal on Iran’s potential nuclear weapons program as “marching the Israelis to the door of the oven” does deserve rebuke.
And not just from us. The Anti-Defamation League strongly criticized the comment, even though the organization is critical of some components of the multilateral Iran deal. In a statement, Jonathan A. Greenblatt, the league’s national director, called Huckabee’s comments “completely out of line and unacceptable.” Indeed, invoking the Holocaust should be reserved for discussion of one event — the Holocaust.
Ambassador Ron Demmer, representing an Israeli government actively campaigning against congressional approval of the deal, told USA Today: “We don’t in any way impugn the motives of the people who are doing this deal. … I think it’s important to conduct this debate in a way that’s befitting of the alliance between our two countries.”
That alliance is extraordinarily strong. So said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who told Congress last March: “We appreciate all that President Obama has done for Israel. Now, some of that is widely known, like strengthening security cooperation and intelligence sharing, opposing anti-Israel resolutions at the U.N. Some of what the president has done for Israel is less well-known. … In each of these moments, I called the president, and he was there.”
Debating the relative merits of the proposed Iran deal is healthy for democracy, and the topic should be fair game for the GOP candidates. But there’s no need to insult the intelligence of the American people.
So here’s some advice for Huckabee, Trump and the other candidates: Try to get noticed by doing something unique — act presidential.