Is 2020 'The Second Coming'?
Never mind the stones cast at him by Jewish Democrats who take offense that he tarred them as dumb or disloyal. Upon hearing himself lionized like a present-day biblical hero by a right-wing radio host, Donald Trump was pleased to spread the word.
"President Trump is the greatest President for Jews and for Israel in the history of the world," Trump tweeted about himself, quoting Wayne Allyn Root. "The Jewish people in Israel love him … like he’s the King of Israel. They love him like he is the second coming of God … But American Jews don’t know him or like him."
Trump warmed to his theme of self-deification while talking with reporters about an entirely different subject, the trade war with China. Blaming past presidents for not pressing the case, Trump said, “Somebody had to do it.” Then he added, looking to the sky with his hands raised, “I am the Chosen One.” (See the video.) Dear Lord.
Trump also clarified by what he meant when he said in the Oval Office a day earlier that Jews who vote for Democrats show "a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty." He explained, "If you want to vote Democrat, you are being very disloyal to Jewish people and Israel." That contradicted the alibi offered Tuesday by the Republican Jewish Coalition that Trump meant being "true to yourself." It also was no comfort to Jews who accused the president of trafficking in the anti-Semitic trope of dual loyalty.
"The charge of disloyalty or dual loyalty has been used against Jews for centuries," said Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. "He is encouraging — wittingly or unwittingly — anti-Semites throughout the country and world," tweeted Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Rep. Lee Zeldin of Shirley, one of only two Jewish Republicans in Congress, is a Trump ally and would not criticize him. He agreed with the president's attacks on pro-Palestinian Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib that characterize the two women as hostile to Israel. But he didn't get on board with Trump's disloyalty charge. “Jewish voters prioritize different issues and support for political parties is not universal," he said.
For more, see Newsday's story by Laura Figueroa Hernandez.
When he's not glorifying Trump, Root hosts shows on radio and TV and promotes conspiracy theories.
Like Trump, he’s one of the original birthers who circulated the debunked story that Barack Obama was not born in the United States, and claimed variously that Obama was Muslim and gay. He also asserted that the Las Vegas shooting massacre was actually orchestrated by ISIS, that the murder of a woman by a neo-Nazi in Charlottesville was a false-flag setup and that special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation was motivated by "penis envy” because “Mueller’s is smaller than Trump’s.”
Root is a sometime speaker at a Trump rallies, and hardly the only evangelical to worship Trump as a divine instrument. Trump's 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale sees his boss similarly: "Only God could deliver such a savior to our nation, and only God could allow me to help.”
Something rotten about Denmark
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen didn't account for Trump's feelings when she spurned his feeler to buy Greenland. And so Trump called off his planned state visit to Denmark.
"I thought that the prime minister's statement — that it was absurd; that it was an absurd idea — it was nasty. I thought it was an inappropriate statement," Trump told reporters. "All she had to do is say, 'No, we wouldn’t be interested.’ ” "Nasty" is a go-to Trump epithet for women who displease him. The club includes Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, Meghan Markle, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren.
Trump insisted he didn't react over the offense to him — "You don’t talk to the United States that way, at least under me." He proceeded to repeat a false story about the Philippines refusing to let Obama's plane land.
Later, Trump tweeted a complaint that Denmark isn't spending enough on its military for NATO. Sounds like an issue he could have raised in Copenhagen had he gone through with the visit.
Trump's 360 on background checks
Trump joked to an AMVETS convention in Kentucky Wednesday that when he wanted to award himself the Medal of Honor, his staff advised against it. While Trump never served in the military, he's well-practiced in the about-face.
Trump on Wednesday insisted he has an “appetite” for pursuing new gun background-check legislation and "we are going to be filling in some of the loopholes," Newsday's Figueroa reports. He dismissed reports that he told the head of the National Rifle Association that universal background-check legislation was “off the table.”
On Tuesday, he said he was wary of changes as a "slippery slope." Two weeks ago, in the aftermath of the El Paso and Dayton mass shootings, he sounded determined to go ahead with them.
Also on Wednesday, Trump said he wasn't looking at tax cuts to shore up the economy. A day earlier, he said he was.
When he first confirmed an interest in buying Greenland, he said, “It’s not No. 1 on the burner, I can tell you that.” On Wednesday, even with the Denmark trip off, he talked up the merits of such a deal. "I think it's a good idea, because Denmark is losing $700 million a year with it. It doesn’t do them any good,” he said.
Getting chilly in the North Atlantic
A day after Trump blew off Denmark, Iceland’s leader has announced that she will skip Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to her Nordic nation, opting instead to keep “prior commitments” by attending a trade union conference in Sweden.
Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir said it was not a snub, but Icelandic historian Thor Whitehead told The Associated Press he was skeptical, saying, “I doubt any other Western leader would decide to address a friendly conference abroad instead of welcoming a major foreign ally.” Activists including members of the prime minister's own Left Green Party have protested Pence’s visit, calling it “disrespectful” to minorities.
Migrants face extended detention
The Trump administration is moving to end a 1997 court settlement limiting how long migrant children can be kept in detention. The new rules would allow the government to hold families in detention much longer than 20 days. A legal challenge is expected to the president's latest effort to curb immigration across the Mexican border.
Trump said Wednesday he also is "seriously" considering an executive order to end birthright citizenship — the process by which babies born in the country automatically become citizens under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. He's been talking about such a move since his 2016 campaign, and the legal hurdles haven't gotten any easier.
NBC News reported the Trump administration is considering a new policy that would allow state and local jurisdictions to deny entry to refugees who have been approved for resettlement in the United States.
What else is happening:
- While Trump is accusing Democrats and the news media of concocting recession fears, his acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney privately told GOP donors that if a recession comes, it would be “moderate and short," Politico reported.
- Trump on Wednesday directed the Education Department to more easily forgive the federal student loans owed by veterans with disabilities. His administration, including Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, had resisted bipartisan appeals to make such a move for months, according to Politico.
- A Trump tweet attacked "politically correct Automobile Companies" who aren't playing along with his efforts to roll back emissions standards and are looking instead for agreements with California and its tougher rules. Honda, Ford, Volkswagen and BMW have already signed on with the Golden State.
- Pete Buttigieg said at an Iowa event that Trump won't go up against the NRA. "Apparently, they have him by the" — (he paused briefly) — "base."
- Joe Biden was asked by a Washington Post reporter if he has considered a pledge to serve only one term, given concern about his age. "No," Biden replied. If elected in 2020 and re-elected in 2024, Biden would finish his second term at age 86.
- Bill de Blasio couldn't make it to an AFL-CIO event in Iowa because his flight got canceled. He spoke via video instead, but that went awry. An audio glitch made the mayor sound like he had inhaled helium. (Enjoy the video.)
- Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who made climate change his top issue, announced he's ending presidential bid.
- Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer is joining the cast of ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" for its next season. Host Tom Bergeron openly lamented the producers' choice, having wished for "a joyful respite from our exhausting political climate." He also cracked that "Sean will be in charge of assessing audience size."