The Americans hyperventilating over “America First,” President Trump’s supposedly anti-Semitic slogan spotlighted in his Inauguration can calm down. The phrase’s history has been (deliberately?) distorted. From a broader view the term’s pedigree isn’t hateful at all. If the catchphrase makes Donald Trump an anti-Semite, then fellow presidents Woodrow Wilson, John F. Kennedy, and Gerald Ford are anti-Semites. Please.
David Benkof | All Articles
One rather queer aspect of the Donald Trump phenomenon is that people so expect to be offended by his paroxysms of intolerance that they haven’t noticed there’s one group the president-elect has never scapegoated, attacked, or belittled: LGBT Americans. Trump’s reserve on gay matters, coming from a politician so promiscuous with his vituperation, represents a welcome (albeit curious) watershed in LGBT history. Yet Big Gay is girding for a wave of persecution from the inchoate Trump Administration.
As the Senate prepares for hearings on the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) to be attorney general, liberals are dredging up hoary allegations that he made racist remarks in the early 1980s. The same people who want to reward line-jumping immigrants with equal citizenship still consider 35-year-old hearsay valuable evidence in deciding a Republican public servant’s fitness for office.
A little-noted source of strength in Donald Trump’s presidential victory last month was Americans earning less than $30,000. Fully 41 percent of them voted Republican, the party’s largest share since 1988. Though they haven’t been a particular target group for the GOP, the working poor present serious growth potential for the party, since many of our issues – if presented properly – align with the interests and values of low-income Americans. With some visible outreach to less wealthy citizens, the party can not only win a majority of their votes, but also demolish the party’s reputation for elitism and heartlessness toward the poor.
Even today, as the Electoral College votes, Democrats continue to whine that Russia “hacked the election.” Ignore them. The stolen emails about Hillary Clinton contained no bombshells or smoking guns, and would have been a non-story without publicity by Wikileaks and American news media. And the revelations did nothing more than substantiate what Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump had been saying for months – that Clinton is a phony.
Enough whining about how Hillary’s “victory” in the popular vote reflects the people’s “real” choice for president. As recently as October, Democrats were calling popular vote systems racist; and besides, dumping the Electoral College may not even be constitutionally possible. I voted for Hillary, but liberal contortions to invalidate her loss by rewriting the rules exasperate me. The “popular vote” is a fake construct, a hoax that measures nothing of significance.
Last night, a remarkable new musical opened on Broadway. Dear Evan Hansen’s peppy but soulful score, breakout performance by Ben Platt in the title role, and intimidating set of 21st-century electronica are sure to enthrall audiences. But in the age of Donald Trump, perceptive theatergoers may be alarmed by the show’s take-home message about wall-to-wall, runaway social media – and they should be.
Today’s Trumptrums on Twitter were mild compared to the damage an out-of-control president with direct access to social media could wreak. Demagogue-elect Donald Trump’s doubly unconstitutional call to make flag burners stateless and his assignment of the burden of proof to CNN to debunk his lie that he won the popular vote show the urgency of limiting his access to the 140-character social media behemoth.
A constant drumbeat of sharp headlines has heralded former Breitbart executive Steve Bannon, president-elect Donald Trump’s chief strategist, as an open anti-Semite. The attack is rooted in nothing more credible than an unverified accusation by a crusading left-wing journalist, namely that Bannon had “proudly” told her five weeks earlier, “We’re the platform for the alt-right.” To be fair, though, critics have amply demonstrated that during Bannon’s tenure Breitbart harbored some pretty noxious ideas – reflected in click-bait headlines, inflammatory columns, and virulent comment sections.
“Conservative Judaism” has always been a curious moniker for the “middle movement” in American Jewish life. For more than a century it followed the moderate path of “Tradition and Change” alongside traditionalist Orthodox and progressive Reform. But in recent years the movement has lunged leftward – both religiously and politically – and the name is no longer simply clumsy.
Liberal Jews (mostly American or American-born) have been escalating their protests against Israel’s unequal treatment of non-Orthodox worship at Judaism’s holiest site, the Western Wall in Jerusalem. They want the architecture of the Kotel (the site’s Hebrew name) to greatly expand a marginal section where heterodox, egalitarian worship has been permitted. Israel’s more traditional sector has fiercely defended the holiness of the site from those who want both styles of worship equally validated.
“At least we have checks and balances,” many Americans including conservatives are reassuring themselves these days, despite fear President-elect Donald Trump will enact his agenda freely and perhaps begin to encroach on American liberties, as he hinted during the campaign.
Donald Trump’s trademark allergy to apologies will hamstring America if he can’t learn to at least feign regret when the job requires it. Sometimes, American presidents must apologize on behalf of the nation (to defuse international tensions), the administration (to recover from unpopular policies), and himself (to regain the public’s trust).
Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s “homophobia” is perhaps this election’s most noisome shibboleth. Pence is no defender of LGBT rights, but the evidence Trump’s running mate is America’s nastiest anti-gay politician is surprisingly thin.
Americans who opposed Donald Trump have awoken in a stupor, shocked that his victory was no mere nightmare. For those who cannot envision living under a Trump regime, “I’m moving to Canada” or elsewhere no longer feels like election-year blather.
Yesterday, Donald Trump sent his supporters a fundraising solicitation that trumpeted a record-setting pledge toward his own campaign. “No candidate in presidential history has ever made this type of commitment” -- $10 million.
Anyone who dialogues with abortion rights supporters has heard it many times: “Nobody is pro-abortion. We’re pro-choice.”
Donald Trump’s hesitance to pre-accept the 2016 election results has elicited broad condemnation by the media and members of both parties. They paint him as a petulant child acting like a sore loser before he’s even lost.