Elizabeth Frawley Bagley was recently nominated by the Biden Administration to be our next ambassador to Brazil. Then someone – clearly not a member of the Biden State Department – looked into her recorded remarks and was most disturbed to discover that in the past, Bagley in an interview had complained about “Jewish money” and its influence on American political life. She also said that moving the American Embassy to Israel was “stupid.” Word spread; she was questioned about those remarks by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and when the vote on her nomination came up, it was a 11-11 tie, insufficient to permit her nomination to go forward. A report on this contretemps and the warning it sends to others with evidence of antisemitism in their past, is here: “Senate blocks Biden’s Brazil ambassador nominee due to antisemitic remarks,” by Dmitriy Shapiro, JNS, June 29, 2022:
The Biden administration’s pick for ambassador to Brazil was blocked by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee after a party line 11-11 vote on Thursday, with Republicans on the committee uniting to oppose her.
Nominated for the position in January, the ascension of longtime diplomat and Democratic donor Elizabeth Frawley Bagley appeared uncontroversial until the Washington Free Beacon reported an interview with Bagley from 1998. In the interview, she said that money was the reason American lawmakers support Israel and the idea of moving the US embassy to Jerusalem was “stupid”. The article galvanized Republican opposition to her nomination.
According to the Free Beacon, Bagley’s statements were from an interview for an oral history project at the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training, where questions from the interviewer prompted her to speak on the effects Israel advocacy supposedly has on American politics.
“There is always the influence of the Jewish lobby because there is major money involved,” Bagley said about the Clinton administration. “But I don’t remember any major issues coming out on that, besides the usual ‘make Jerusalem the capital of Israel,’ which is always an issue in the campaign.”…
“Bagley characterized the interview as a free flowing conversation and said that she regretted her “poor choice of words.”
“I’m very sorry about that choice of words and none of them reflect any of my thinking then or now,” she said.…
“I’m very sorry that we ever had the interview. [It] didn’t really make sense to do. It was an oral history. But it certainly does not reflect my views on Jewish Americans or Cuban Americans or anyone else,” Bagley said. “I absolutely, strongly support the right of Jewish Americans, Cuban Americans, Irish Americans, all Americans to be part of the political process, to be politically active, to raise money, give money to those that they support, as I have done myself.”
Don’t be silly. Of course those remarks reflect your views. Had they not done so, you might yourself have brought them to the attention of the committee, owned up to having said them, and explained that you now deplore them. Instead, you hoped they would stay hidden. You see that you were wrong. And it is only now, when caught out, that Ms. Bagley claimed that those interview answers “do not reflect my [current] views.” I don’t believe her.
Before the vote on Thursday, the Republican Jewish Coalition called on the Biden administration to withdraw Bagley’s nomination or, if it does not, for the senators to reject her nomination.
What is wrong with the Biden Administration? Why couldn’t they have done due diligence, and found out what some reporter for the Washington Free Beacon found out? And once that new information had been revealed, why didn’t they withdraw her nomination before the vote was taken? Was it because Elizabeth Bagley has been a major contributor to the Democratic Party, just like her late husband, Smith Bagley, heir to the R.J. Reynolds tobacco fortune, and the Bidenites weren’t going to abandon such a deep-pocketed donor over some antisemitic remark? And Elizabeth Bagley has rich and powerful friends, in the same Georgetown-and-Nantucket set of limousine liberals, or salon Bolsheviks, the people whom Wikipedia demurely describes as “philanthropists.” Amusing, isn’t it, that here we have Bagley, who owes her diplomatic career, including what would have been her ambassadorship to Brazil, not to merit, but to the amount of money she and her husband contributed to the Democrats, , raising the issue of “money” — that is, “Jewish money” which for some reason is particularly to be deplored — in politics.
There are only two possibilities to explain why the Biden Administration decided to nominate Bagley and to stick with her, even when her disqualifying remarks were made public. The first, that they simply didn’t do their due diligence. They failed to look into Bagley’s past remarks, didn’t care enough to find out what in her past might have been worrisome. She was a deep-pocketed contributor to the Democratic Party, and her husband had been not only a contributor himself but a Democratic fundraiser for decades. The second, that they knew perfectly well about Bagley’s antisemitic remark — “There is always the influence of the Jewish lobby because there is major money involved” — but it didn’t bother them. And even after Democratic Senators, including Robert Menendez and Ben Cardin, both on the Foreign Relations Committee, had grilled her, and deplored her statement, the Biden people still applied pressure on all eleven Democratic Senators, including Cardin and Menendez, so that they swallowed their reservations and voted for her anyway.
Ms. Bagley’s disgraceful, antisemitic comments are absolutely disqualifying; her outrageous slurs include suggesting the ‘Jewish lobby’ influences elected officials with ‘major money’ – an age-old antisemitic stereotype,” RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks wrote in a news release. “It is sad and troubling that this isn’t the first time the Biden administration has put forward a nominee who is hostile to Israel and the Jewish people.”
Morton Klein, the national president of the Zionist Organization of America, said that his organization was deeply concerned about the nomination of another person apparently hostile to Jews by the Biden administration and praised the committee members for voting against her nomination.
The vote came down to 11 for the Bagley nomination, all of them Democrats, to 11 against, all of them Republicans. In the end, the Democrats on the Foreign Relations Committee succumbed to the Administration’s pressure, and decided unanimously not to vote against someone who had been so generous to the Party in the past and, if they voted right this time, even if those votes would not be enough to get her nomination out of the committee, would no doubt continue to be as generous in the future. Bagley’s nomination, and the Democrats’ vote to confirm, were both “all about the Benjamins.”