"Let Russia Invade Georgia"
Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY)
Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) travelled to Florida last week to campaign for the national Democratic ticket led by Senator Barack Obama. Nadler gave a speech urging an audience of mostly Jewish retirees at a synagogue in Boca Raton, Florida to support Obama's bid for the American presidency. Nadler did not expect his off-the-cuff statements about Obama's controversial former pastor from Chicago (the Rev. Jeremiah Wright) and the Russia-Georgia conflict to end up on YouTube. However, Pamela Geller, a pro-McCain conservative blogger who publishes a blog called Atlas Shrugs, recorded Nadler's candid response to skeptical questions from his audience.
Today Fox News anchor Greta Van Susteren and the Associated Press picked up the story of the controversy over Nadler's remarks. Given that today is election day in America, Nadler's comment that Obama "didn't have the political courage" to leave his controversial former church in Chicago received far more attention in the media than his comments related to Russia.
According to the conservative magazine The Weekly Standard, in response to a question about Israel and Iran [audible near the fourth minute of the YouTube recording], Nadler criticized American foreign policy towards Russia. Nadler suggested that if the U.S. wants Russian cooperation on restraining Iranian ambitions to build nuclear weapons, than it needs to reconsider expanding NATO up to Russia's southern borders.
We have not been willing to put our priorities properly. We have not been willing to say ... "Hey Russia, we won't expand NATO into the Ukraine and Georgia, right next to your borders, if you cooperate with us on Iran." ...
I think Iran and Israel are a hell of a lot more important than expanding NATO to Russia's borders. Why should we? What do we need it for?
Watch the video of Congressman Nadler's remarks
It remains unclear if Mr. Nadler was speaking solely for himself or if these foreign policy views are typical of his Democratic colleagues in Congress. Both Democrat Senator Barack Obama and Republican Senator John McCain declared in the final 2008 presidential debate that they supported NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia. However, Obama gave no timetable for bringing these former Soviet republics into NATO, while McCain declared that this should happen as soon as possible.
Two weeks ago, speaking to a more friendly audience of Democrat donors in Seattle, Democrat Vice Presidential nominee Senator Joe Biden predicted that Obama would soon be tested by America's rivals abroad after winning the presidency. Without going into too much detail, Biden listed a confrontation with Russia as one possible scenario that would take the measure of the new Obama Administration.
The current Democrat-led Congress, of which Rep. Nadler is a ranking member with a relatively safe seat, received approval ratings in the single digits prior to Election Day, making it even less popular collectively than the Administration of President George W. Bush. Many pundits believe that long established incumbents in both parties could lose their seats. Nonetheless, even if there are surprises on Election Day, history suggest that more than 90% of U.S. Congressional incumbents will likely be returned to office. That total will likely include Rep. Nadler, who represents the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn in New York City.