For reasons only known to him, he decided that when the White House made one of its many kitchens kosher for the annual Chanukah celebration last year, it was doing it only to pander to American Jewish voters. And he finds the very idea of a kosher White House kitchen to be offensive.
Here's some of his sputtering:
The most ridiculous (and insulting) White House pander came at Hanukkah. This article from the New York Times about how the White House was made kosher for one event has to be read to be believed. Here is an excerpt, enough to cause James Madison to commit suicide if he wasn’t dead.Indeed, I am also certain that not a single Jew will vote for Obama based on the kashering of the White House kitchen. In fact, I believe that the Obama campaign knows this as well.
Into the kitchen rushes a Lubavitch SWAT team of three rabbis and an intern. Three men, wearing aprons and industrial-strength rubber gloves, take on the ovens and burners. The fourth, in a suit and a black hat, is Rabbi Levi Shemtov, director of the American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad). He is the supervisor-in-chief.Absurd, offensive and utterly unnecessary. The percentage of Jews who require that level of “koshering” is infinitesimal and probably not 5 of them would be eating at the White House that night. Surely, they would not have minded eating a nice packaged kosher meal prepared specially for them rather than put the White House out like that.
He takes a long look around. He frowns.
“Who opened the brazier?” he asks, referring to the lidded counter-high vat, like a giant stainless steel pot, used for searing, reducing stock and braising meats. “The rabbi?” he asks, pointing to a colleague.
“No,” replies Chef Tommy, as his staff calls him.
“You’re kidding me,” Rabbi Shemtov says.
They huddle by the brazier. Rabbi Shemtov issues orders. The rabbis spring into action....
But, of course, the White House didn’t do it for them. It did it to impress the same imaginary Jews who will decide who to support for president based on such nonsense. My guess is that the number of people who fall into that category is zero.
Spending God knows (!) how much to sterilize the White House is silly and offensive but it does no harm.
So if everyone knows that it wasn't done to gain any Jewish votes, then Rosenberg's thesis is completely wrong. He just finds the idea "offensive" so he created a fantasy for why it was done.
Is there an alternative reason for the White House to go to such lengths? Of course there is. It is called hospitality. If a Jewish function is being done at one of the most prestigious addresses in the world, the hosts will naturally do everything they can to make it as inclusive as possible. Not that the guests demanded it - no doubt they would have been quite happy with a packaged meal, as Rosenberg says - but it is something that a thoughtful host, with the resources to do so, will automatically want to do. (I would venture to guess that the Chabad rabbi did it for free, by the way. What rabbi wouldn't jump at the opportunity to do something like that?)
There is also another likely historical reason why only kosher food was served to everyone. The first completely kosher White House Chanukah dinner came in 2005 in the Bush administration, after kosher and non-kosher food was accidentally mixed up at 2004's dinner. By choosing to make it all-kosher, the White House is indeed going above and beyond, but it is also ensuring that every guest can feel comfortable.
The menu, for those interested, can be seen here. It included Roulade of Chicken Breast, Pine Nut Herb Crusted Lamb Chops, Homemade Potato with Scallion Pancakes, Dill and Vodka Scottish Smoked Salmon and Homemade Soufganyot. I don't think that the guests who don't keep kosher felt at all slighted at not being served normal White House fare.
At any rate, the Bush and Obama administrations very thoughtfully decided to create an atmosphere of inclusiveness at their Chanukah parties, where no one feels uncomfortable opening up a double-wrapped package of kosher food and leaving aluminum foil all over the table, struggling with plastic silverware to cut overdone beef, while everyone else is eating a gourmet meal. It is an act of kindness, not of politics.
It takes a very special kind of self-hating Jew to consider White House kindness to be "offensive" when the recipients are Jews. (Do you think he is upset that the annual White House Iftar dinners are Halal?)
But that self-hate is par for the course for MJ.