President Kohn

A time line chronicling the rise of the first Jewish president

January 26, 2004(Sun-Sentinel): In an annual survey released this month, the influential American Jewish Committee found that the number of Jews who considered themselves Republican had increased from 9 percent in 2000 to 16 percent in 2003. The GOP sees this as a big opportunity for the party, and South Florida is a major battleground for Jewish ballots.

March 1(New York Times): Sen. John Kerry told dozens of Jewish leaders in New York on Sunday that he would continue the Bush administration policy of vetoing any U.N. resolutions seen as one-sided against Israel. He also repeated that the barrier Israel is erecting to separate Palestinian from Israeli territories is a "fence," not a "wall."

April 15(Washington Post): In declaring that Israel should be able to keep some of the occupied territories and block Palestinian refugees from settling in Israel, President Bush followed a familiar pattern of finding common cause with Jews. That Bush's move was good politics was evidenced by Kerry's quick move not to let the president outflank him among pro-Israel voters. "What's important obviously is the security of the state of Israel," the Massachusetts senator said, approving of the Bush-Sharon action.

April 20(Miami Herald): John Kerry sought to buttress critical support among Jewish voters in Florida on Monday, boasting of a "100 percent'' voting record in support of Israel and the backing of Joe Lieberman, who wowed the community in 2000. The remarks came as the White House stepped up outreach efforts to court Jewish voters.

May 15(Miami Herald): Vice President Dick Cheney defended the Bush administration's war in Iraq to the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County on Friday, declaring that Israel would benefit from a new democratic government in the region. "It was a fabulous moment for the Jewish people," said William Bernstein, the federation's executive vice president.

May 28(Boca Bugle): Still stinging from the vice president's fabulous moment with the Jewish people, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry made an unannounced visit yesterday to the Flakowitz Bagel Inn, where he harangued a half-dozen retirees for more than 20 minutes. "Did I call it a fence?" Kerry asked his bewildered audience. "I really liken it to a porch screen. It's like a big, beautiful porch screen, and I find it absolutely charming. Did I mention I'm half-Jewish myself?"

June 2 (Hallandale Herald): President Bush, whose polls suggest that he lost two crucial South Florida Jewish supporters earlier this week at a Boca bagel shop, promised the Broward County chapter of the Republican Jewish Coalition that, if reelected, his administration would not stop with Iraq. "My heart is with the Jewish people," the president said, tipping his new red, white, and blue yarmulke to the crowd. "And that's why we're going to invade Syria. Bechtel has already won a contract to construct the new Rosho-Disney World there. It's good stuff." Bush also ridiculed Kerry's touting of his Jewish heritage, which the Massachusetts' senator only recently learned about; his grandfather, Fritz Kohn, changed his name and converted to Catholicism. "I will not be outflanked on this issue," the president said.

May 14(Hollywood Haaretz): John Kerry made a surprise return to South Florida yesterday, riding up to the David Park Tennis Center on a borrowed Harley-Davidson. The Democratic contender, who wore a week's growth of beard and a black suit, gave what he called a "major policy speech regarding the Middle East" during which he promised to gain the support of the United Nations to make the kingdom of Jordan part of the new "Mega-Israel." Despite his promises, at least one tennis player could be heard to say, "I'm feeling less than wowed." Then two other players politely asked the candidate to remove his motorcycle from the court so they could finish their third set.

June 22 (Tamarac Tattler): During a campaign swing through Florida, President Bush wooed Jewish voters at the home of political mercenary Harold Wishna. In the Democrat turned Republican's Tamarac home, the president described his plans for new Israeli security. "My opponent called it a wall, then said it was a fence before finally settling on porch screen," Bush remarked. "I don't operate that way. See, I know Israel's future, people, and it comes in the shape of a death ray gun. I'm talking nuclear particle beams and all kinds of real neat stuff here. I'm gonna put a death ray gun up for y'all, and if an unauthorized Arab tries to cross, well, he'll get it in the tuchis." John Kerry, keeping his much-talked-about new beard, also backed the death ray gun initiative. "Ditto," said the challenger when told of the president's plan. "I'm actually in favor of a more advanced death ray gun than my opponent -- a kind of super-duper death ray gun, if you will."

September 1(Delray Beach Banner): John Kerry went on the offensive in a speech at Temple Emeth, attacking the president for failing to appoint any Jews to his Cabinet. The criticism prompted a strong rebuke from the White House. "What dreck," said President Bush, continuing his recent practice of sprinkling his speech with Yiddish words. "My department of defense is practically run by Jews, especially since Rummy resigned. Wolfy ain't no Lutheran, from what I can understand. And everybody knows my father happens to be Jewish -- you might remember him as a certain mensch called Jesus Christ." Kerry's strange transformation, meanwhile, continues: His hair is growing long, he's never without a hat, and he dons only black suits. Some speculate the Massachusetts senator is turning Amish.

September 14(Miramar Megillah): George W. Bush, in a presidential first, gave a five-minute speech yesterday at the politically conservative Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center entirely in Yiddish. After first wishing everyone in attendance a happy Rosh Hashanah, Bush suddenly broke into the German- and Hebrew-based language. But unlike the success of his Spanish utterances during the 2000 election, the president's foray into Yiddish seemed an unabashed disaster. He began with this inappropriate expression: "A shaynem dank dir im pupik," which translates to "Many thanks in your belly button." From there, it went downhill. At one point, Bush's words became insulting, especially when the president told his captive audience to "Gai kucken ahfen yam," or "Go shit in the ocean." The synagogue was aghast. "That was not a fabulous moment for the Jewish people," attendee Moe Friedman remarked. A campaign spokeswoman said Kerry couldn't comment on Bush's foibles because he was "in deep reflection as the Jewish New Year approaches."

October 17(Sunrise Scribe): Many expected an October surprise from President Bush, but it was John Kerry who shocked the nation yesterday. The Democratic candidate announced at an Orthodox synagogue in Sunrise that he had converted to Hasidic Judaism and had changed -- or "restored," as he put it -- his last name. "When I do things Judaically, I do them 100 percent, and that is why I chose to go Hasidic," Kerry said. "Further, from this day forward, I will be called John Kohn -- President John Kohn, that is!" Then he dramatically unfurled his new side curls. The audience sat in stunned silence for several seconds before someone shouted "Mazel tov," and the room erupted in cheers.

October 18(Deerfield Diaspora): After 24 hours of silence, the Bush administration issued a statement on John Kohn's conversion to Judaism, calling it "the ultimate flip-flop."

November 3(Fort Lauderdale Forward): John Kohn wins election as the 44th president after the State of Florida puts him over the top in a closer-than-predicted election. Ironically, Jews in the Sunshine State played little role in the outcome, coming out in record low numbers and voting overwhelmingly for Ralph Nader. Said one voter during an exit poll interview: "I'd seen enough of them both to know better -- Kohn actually stopped at my house unannounced for breakfast one morning. What a couple of meshugines."

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