Bintel Blog

When Lieberman Taught Palin About Rav Soloveitchik

By Gal Beckerman

Much of the juiciest material contained in “Game Change”, the new dishy chronicle of the 2008 election by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, has already made it’s way into the media. Elizabeth Edwards was prone to angry outbursts, Sarah Palin was an ignoramus, and Bill Clinton was … well, Bill Clinton, the lovable loudmouthed and inappropriate Bubba. For all the revelations though — perhaps with the exception of the surprisingly dysfunctional Edwards family — there was very little in the portraits that didn’t just confirm what most people already suspected about these characters.

As I was reading — I couldn’t help it! — I came across one more of these moments where the public persona is exactly what you would imagine behind the scenes. This scene did not get much publicity, but is worth transcribing in full. It involves Palin’s breakdown of sorts, in the days leading up to the vice presidential debate, and Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew. John McCain’s campaign manager, Steve Schmidt, had asked Lieberman to visit Palin and buck her up at a moment when her debate prep was going disastrously (For one thing, she kept calling her opponent, “Senator O’Biden” for some inexplicable reason):

The situation was wildly unconventional already: a Democratic senator being imported into a top-secret lockdown to assist a Republican vice-presidential candidate whose mental stability was in question, now Schmidt asked Lieberman to perform another unorthodox intervention.

“You’re both very religious,” Schmidt said. “Go in there and pray with her.”

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Israel's 'Most Beautiful' Lawmakers

By Nathan Burstein

Israel is in constant political gridlock, but at least the country’s lawmakers are good-looking.

So say readers of Spanish newspaper 20 Minutos. They ranked four Israeli politicians among the world’s 54 most beautiful in an online poll published this week. Current Knesset members Orli Levy, Ruhama Avraham Balila and Anastassia Michaeli were joined by former Knesset member Penina Rosenblum on the list, with Levy ranking highest at 14th overall.

Just one country, Spain, placed more politicians on the list, with Israel matching the United States and Mexico with its four. The rankings were restricted to female politicians, and also included former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko (#8), former U.S. vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin (#24) and former French presidential candidate Segolene Royal (#36). Peruvian congresswoman Luciana Leon topped the list, while U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton earned the distinction of being its oldest member, coming in 34th at age 61.

Of Israel’s representatives on the list, three are former models, with only Avraham Balila not drawing upon her looks as a previous source of income.

The four Israelis represent a limited range of the political spectrum: Levy and Michaeli hail from the right-wing Yisrael Beitenu, while Avraham Balila and Rosenblum first served in the Knesset as members of Likud. Avraham Balila, the outgoing tourism minister, is now a member of the centrist Kadima party.

Twenty-one of the 120 members of the incoming Knesset are women.

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Sarah Palin of the Holy Land

By Gabrielle Birkner

Having dubbed her “The Palin of Israel,” Newsweek looks at the model thin resume of Orly Levy — the fashion plate turned Knesset candidate on the hard-right Yisrael Beiteinu list. Of Levy’s candidacy, the Israeli writer and filmmaker Etgar Keret tells the magazine: “This would be like Paris Hilton going to the Senate. You could make a reality show about this.”

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