At his event with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week, Trump was asked about charges that his administration "is playing with xenophobia and maybe racist tones.” Rather than take the opportunity to at least try to explain (whether accurately or not) why that was not true, he used the question to talk about how he won the election with 306 electoral votes. No, really.
(Note for those keeping scoring: 306 electoral votes is not that many -- especially when you lost the popular vote by almost three million.)
The next day, at his now-infamous out-of-control press conference, Trump was asked a similar question, what he planned to do about the 48 bomb threats in recent weeks against Jewish community centers and do to combat growing anti-Semitism. Rather than answer, or talk about his electoral votes, he actually cut the reporter off, told him to sit down, and instead replied, “See, he said he was going to ask a very simple, easy question, and it’s not.”
First of all -- yes, it IS a simple, easy question. "What are you going to do about growing racism of any sort?" is an incredibly easy question. You start by saying, "I'm against it. " And then, if you want to go on, you then add that there's a reason it's called a "hate crime" because it's hateful. And you denounce it and call on all Americans to denounce it.
You can even stop right there if you want, if you're stumped and can't think of anything else to say. It wouldn't be a great answer, but it would not only be an passing-grade C- answer, but a simple, easy answer.
Instead, Trump continued to avoid the simple, easy question by going on to say, "I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life." Adding that,. "I hate the charge. I find it repulsive.” Okay, never mind that the reporter didn't make "the charge," as true as arguably it might be. And okay, never mind that we have zero evidence that Trump is even remotely not anti-Semitic, let alone "the most anti-Semitic." Actually, given that he's now the most powerful man in the world and yet he is avoiding not only doing anything about growing anti-Semitic hate crimes, but avoiding even answering any questions about them -- which gives aid and comfort and tacit approval to those committing them -- it could be argued that Donald Trump therefore could be the most anti-Semitic person we've ever seen in our entire life.
(For the record, just because he brought it up, I know a whole lot of people who are less anti-Semitic than Trump. I'm guessing everyone reading these words, whatever their politic positions, do, as well. Indeed, I think most people I know are less anti-Semitic than Trump. I've bumped into angry strangers on the street off their meds who I'm sure in their isolated world are less anti-Semitic than the powerful Trump. My childhood friend Jack Moline -- one of our fine board members here at Elisberg Industries -- is a rabbi and president of the Interfaith Alliance. He is monumentally less anti-Semitic than Trump. Every day, he writes and speak about bringing peace and unity among religions. It's his job. And his personal core. So, there, we have at least one person by name to prove Trump wrong. I'm going to guess that Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel who Trump shared the stage with only the day before, is much less anti-Semitic than Trump, as well, so there we have another. I'd keep the list going, but we'd be here for a very long time and never get to "second of all."
Actually, we'll have to still wait and get to "second of all" in a moment.
That's because later in the same press conference, Trump was again asked about the same issue of growing anti-Semitism, and he shunted it aside as fake news created by his political opponents. Note: in real news, only days later, on Monday, there were five more bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers. And that same day, nearly 200 headstones at a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis were discovered vandalized.)
Which finally brings us to second of all.
In what alternative fact universe does Trump think that the president of the United States is only supposed to get "simple, easy questions"???????!!!
President of the United States may be the most difficult job in the world. And the whole point of "most difficult job in the world" is that it's...well, difficult, and so every day there will be a roaring stream of difficult, challenging, pounding questions that require being answered.
And Trump is going to tell reporters to sit down because their questions aren't simple and easy?? Well...that sure isn't going to fly very far. You stop answering challenging questions and leave them open, and not only will they come pouring at you from all directions, but soon the public starts seeing the problems aren't being addressed. And they get really pissed off.
Besides, how hard is it for a high-level politician (or any politician) to dance around a question and obfuscate without actually answering? It's part of the job requirements, it happens regularly throughout every day. Only yesterday, in fact, vice president Mike Pence was asked at a European press conference if people are supposed to believe what he says when it contradicts the president, or believe what the president tweets when it's different from Pence's subsequent correction? Pence waltzed for a few moments without answering and then moved on. (Though believe it or not, he did begin by saying "That's a good question" -- which it is.) When Trump was asked his simple, easy question that he didn't want to answer, he told the reporter to sit down.
It was a simple, easy question. "What are you going to do about growing anti-Semitic hate crimes?" It's a softball question that most politicians should be happy to get. "I'm against hate." How hard is that??! But Trump said absolutely nothing.
In the end, I guess we really did get his answer.