Thursday, June 21, 2018

Trump-haters, Netanyahu-haters: what's going on here?

Look at the madness that swirls around both US President Donald Trump and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Do you see the similarities? 

The Trump situation in the US focuses on Trump's personality, his tweets and public pronouncements. He's considered so outrageous he appears to have accomplished an amazing feat, if you can call it that: he's succeeded in provoking the wrath of the Left, the mainstream media and (at least some) on the Right.

It's a cold day in Hell when you can pull off that trick.

The complaints--and the attacks--against Trump began way before the US election in November 2016. Now, some 19 months later--June, 2018--the complaints and attacks seem only to have increased. 

In Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu has also been attacked by mainstream media and politicians. As with Trump in the US, Netanyahu in Israel has also been attacked by both Left and Right.  

The Left wants him gone because, it says, Netanyahu is too tough against Palestinians.The Right goes after  him because it  says, he's not tough enough against Palestinians. 

This is the first--perhaps least compelling--similarity between them.

In America, the weekly hate-fest against Trump focuses on four complaints: (1) he's a womanizing sexist, a crude male chauvinist pig whose sexual appetite is out of control; (2) he's stupid as a stone, truly capable of accidentally blowing up the US or, alternatively, he's stupid enough to spark some kind of accident that destroys the entire Western world; (3) he's the world's biggest liar, unfit to be President; and (4) he's the most obnoxiously arrogant human, ever. 

Take a recent Trump 'trigger' to anger his haters. Perhaps because the mainstream media in the US has practically guaranteed Trump will be indicted for something, Trump has triggered an outrage with the declaration that, in essence, it doesn't matter if he's indicted. He doesn't care. Why? Because, he says, 'I'm President of the United States...I have the power to pardon myself' (Conor Beck, "Trump: 'I Have the Absolute Right to Pardon Myself’", washingronfreebeacon, June 4, 2018). 

The anti-Trumpers of America have just about become blind with rage over this comment. They can't believe Trump believes he can immunize himself against illegal actions he's been accused of taking.

One way of describing this outrage is to say that his haters are not only left speechless by his effrontery. They're also unable to stop him. And they know it. 

This knowledge drives them deeper into despair--and rage. 

The outrage over this 'I can pardon myself' announcement ran from, 'let me remind you of are not a king' (here) to 'a self-pardon' could be 'outrageously improper' (here). But these were just the more judicious reactions.

The less judicious reactions began with, "The president is considering pardoning himself as a way to avoid a Department of Justice investigation into his electoral campaign? This is theatre of the absurd" (ibid). Then, there's this reaction: "Only if President Trump believes that he may be guilty of a crime would he be interested in pardoning himself. This is not the behavior of an innocent man" (ibid).

Finally, with Trump, the haters always find a conspiracy theory to explain his supposed madness. This outrage is no exception: Trump was talking 'pardon' (some have suggested) to send a message to everyone caught up in the Robert Mueller investigation into allegations that Trump sought help from Russia to win the 2016 election; the message was simple: stay loyal to me and I'll pardon you--or, as one wage put it, Trump was advertising a get-out-of-jail-free-card (Caleb Ecarma, "CNN's New Day says Trump's D'Souza's pardon is signal to Russia Probe targets: 'Get out of jail free card'", mediaite, June 1, 2018).

Unfortunately for Trump-haters, the current legal bottom-line here seems to be that, while many would question a president's ability to self-pardon, this scenario (Trump actually pardoning himself) is nonetheless untested legal waters and--most outrageous of all to those who hate Trump--such a claim would certainly "not get laughed out of court", as some have suggested (here).

Trump-haters want to nail the man to a tree. Trump just laughs. Trump-haters sputter maddeningly.  

What's worse for those haters, is this political anomaly: the crazier Trump appears to get, the more popular he seems to get.

How maddening is that?

In Israel's, Netanyahu-haters are pulling their hair out in clumps. Of  course, no one in Israel says Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is crazy. No one claims he's an idiot. No one claims he appears so incompetent he could blow up Israel.  

The haters here in Israel simply claim he's corrupt. They claim his wife is corrupt. They claim one of his adult children (Yair) is not just corrupt, he's an arrogant racist. One recent Netanyahu-hater went so far as to call Yair 'the family's monkey' ("During lawsuit, Abie Binyamin says, 'Yair Netanyahu is the Netanyahu family's monkey",  arutzshevanewsbrief, June 5, 2018, 1722 pm). Whatever that means.

Those who hate Netanyahu claim he must be indicted. It's the only way they can unseat him. 

He should be indicted for bribery. Or, maybe he should be indicted for corruption. Or, at the very least, he should be indicted for something called, 'breach of trust'. They say he belongs in jail--for something.

These aren't new claims. They've been hitting the news in Israel for some two years--perhaps longer.

And yet, just as with Trump, the longer the accusations against Netanyahu keep getting repeated in the media, the greater his popularity becomes. His growing political strength drives his haters to distraction.

In the US, haters suggest Trump stumbles around the country giving speeches like a drunk with both feet in his mouth. His audiences love it. His haters gnash their their teeth.

Netanyahu isn't Trump. When he travels, it's to go around the world to hit political home-runs with international leaders. His supporters love it. His haters gnash their teeth.

There's yet another similarity. Both men face personal attacks against family members. Trump's wife, Melania, daughter Ivanka and son Donald Jr have been criticized, perhaps at times savaged, by Trump-haters. Netanyahu-haters in Israel, meanwhile, have gone after his wife, Sara and his son Yair. 

In the past, in both countries, when leaders have been heavily investigated, the repeated promise that indictments are imminent have been enough to get a national political figure literally tossed overboard. That hasn't happened (so far) with either Trump or Netanyahu. Why not?

Do you know what's going on here? I certainly don't.

Stay tuned. 

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