Huckabee to visit controversial East Jerusalem hotel

Former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is planning to attend a gala at the controversial Shepherd Hotel in East Jerusalem. The Obama administration has condemned Israeli plans to renovate and construct housing on the site of the hotel, which is located in a Palestinian neighborhood:

Huckabee will be joined at the hotel dinner by over a hundred guests, including prominent Jewish and Republican activists from the United States.

Huckabee is also planning to visit the Jewish section of Hebron, Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, and Ma'aleh Adumim, the largest settlement in the West Bank.

Huckabee's trip is sponsored by Ateret Cohanim, an organization that runs a religious-Zionist Yeshiva in East Jerusalem, and works to encourage Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem. 

The Christian conservative Huckabee has been nicknamed "Huckabee the Maccabbee" for his strong support of settlements and an undivided Jerusalem. Gershom Gorenberg recently provided some background on the Shepherd controversy in the American Prospect. And M.J. Rosenberg wrote about the Netanyahu government's courting of U.S. evangelical support on last month.



Sarkozy and Bruni planning reelection baby?

Are voters more inclined to pitch their support to a candidate who looks comfortable kissing babies? It sure seems to have worked for Obama. But what about candidates who have babies?

Rumors that French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his lovely wife Carla Bruni are planning to have their first child together in 2011 are spreading around France. The more vicious slant of this gossip is that the couple is orchestrating the pregnancy to secure Sarkozy's reelection.  

The chatter comes from the French magazine Voici, which claims the story "has been circulating for several weeks" and that France's first couple is going to use the "'pregnancy card' ... to ensure public sympathy ahead of the next presidential campaign in 2012."

That's quite a charge, even for France's most amorous couple. Both Sarkozy and Bruni have children from prior relationships and while neither has announced plans for a pregnancy -- let alone such a well-timed delivery -- Bruni has said in the past that she'd love to have another child, and is open to adoption. (At 40 the former model has acknowledged conceiving may not be possible.)

There is something to be said for children and their ability to boost a candidate's image, painting him as the warm "family man." Some of the most beloved and iconic images to emerge from any president's time in the White House are those that feature the Kennedy children romping around the Oval Office. Sasha and Malia have certainly taken the world by storm with their adorableness and J.Crew ensembles

Perhaps Paris will soon hear the pitter-patter of little Sarko-Bruni pieds. But whether or not they'll be dancing to the tune of an election victory may rest on more substantial political matters. Or at least we can hope...