Mitch Daniels, Arab-American

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There’s some snickering taking place on the left about Indiana governor Mitch Daniels receiving the Arab-American Institute’s 2011 Najeeb Halaby Award for Public Service at AAI’s May 4 gala. Daniels, it turns out, is half Syrian, his paternal grandparents having immigrated from near Homs early in the last century.They were Christians–he’s Presbyterian–but no doubt (heh, heh, heh) his ethnic origin will make this most presentable of undeclared Republican presidential candidates persona non grata to the Islamophobes of the GOP.

Really? So far as I can tell, there have been no overt expressions of concern about Daniels’ Arab antecedents on the right. But perhaps something of the sort can be read between the lines of anti-Daniels chatter by the neo-con likes of Mark Levin and Jennifer Rubin, both of whom have been called out by commenters as Jews bringing some anti-Arab bias to the table. 

Daniels has, most famously this election cycle, run afoul of social conservatives by proposing a “truce” on social issues. And he’s lately proved himself soft on immigration. There’s no question that AAI–a creature of Democrat James Zogby–is no friend of the neo-cons. Is its Halaby Award winner also squishy on Israel-Palestine? That would be the third strike.