At the end of September, Public Discourse published a series of columns about voting for Trump. Or not. Mostly not. Mostly ewww.
Brandon McGinley argues the usual yadda-yadda that Christians have no home in either political party. I don’t know about you, but my home is where my family lives. I don’t look for a home in a political party. But I do know which one is better for the common good, and it’s not even close.
Charlie Camosy proposes that our political home is something called the American Solidarity Party. Keep in mind, Camosy is the guy who says we are required by our faith not to eat tasty, juicy animals. Keep in mind, too, that a vote for the American Solidarity Party is a vote for the Democrats and all that means.
Orthodox. Faithful. Free.
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Hunter Baker says Trump has ruined conservatism, but we should hold our noses and vote for him anyway.
The most robust endorsement of Trump in this package of essays is by Ralph Hancock, who nonetheless describes Trump’s voice as an “irksome sound” and that he is a “vulgar, ill-mannered human specimen.” With endorsements like these, who needs Bill Kristol?
What sophisticates seem not to understand is that the great unwashed—myself among them—actually love him. Have you seen one of his rallies? One of the new chants, along with the old chestnut “lock her up,” is “We-love-you! We-love-you! We-love-you!” We love the big galoot.
Put aside all his outstanding policy accomplishments, both foreign and domestic, we actually love his personality. We love his humor. This will shock the sophistos. I mean, it is the height of sophistication to say, “Trump may have done good things policy-wise but—tut-tut—you have to look past his personality. Have you seen those tweets?”
We thought it was hilarious when he invited the Russians to “find” Hillary’s 30,000 emails. We laughed out loud when he said, “Maybe I will run for a third term.” Or when he looked skyward and suggested he was the “chosen one” to deal with China.
When he talks to 20,000 people, he holds them in the palm of his hand largely through humor—humor that his opponents almost certainly get, but they use against him nonetheless by pretending he was serious. Lesley Stahl did this schtick on the 60 Minutes interview when she asked him about begging suburban women to love him. Lesley, he was doing a bit.
One of my favorites occurred earlier this year at CPAC, the annual jamboree for conservatives held near Washington, D.C. Trump was riffing on the Democrat primary challengers, and he smacked a carom shot off Elizabeth Warren and right into Shorty Mike Bloomberg. Warren walloped Bloomberg in his first debate, something Bloomberg wasn’t exactly used to. Trump laughed. Bloomberg “didn’t know what hit him. He’s going, ‘Oh, get me off this stage’.” And then Trump shrinks. He bends way down, so you only see his head sticking above the podium. Get it? Bloomberg is practically a dwarf. And Trump says in a dying Munchkin voice, “Get me off, get me off this stage…” The CPAC crowd went wild. And what does Trump do? He stood there and milked it. Trump let the laughs roll. He’s a pro.
Trump is a Jewish comedian. You cannot understand his humor without knowing that. New York Jews are tough and hilarious, among the toughest and funniest people on the planet. Trump grew up among them. Like tough Jews everywhere, Trump is a kibitzer. He stands on the street corner cracking wise.
When Trump told the Russians to find Hillary’s emails, he was kibbitzing. When he said cops ought not “to be so nice” when putting MS-13 criminal scum in cop cars, he was kibbitzing. “Maybe I’ll run for a third term?” Kibbitzing. Such kibbitzing drives his enemies wild and makes his fans love him all the more.
We know precisely how to understand Trump. We know what to take seriously, what to brush off, and what deeper messages to take away from his speeches and tweets. His language, syntax, and pronunciation are pure BQE—straight out of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. While he grew up with great wealth, Rabbi Dov Fischer explains that Trump grew up and came of age on construction sites alongside ordinary people. His lexicon and tempo are pure outer borough, a trait Rabbi Fischer says he has in common with Orthodox Jews.
Rabbi Fischer says America’s Orthodox Jewish community is almost unanimous in support of Trump. He says Trump’s support is 70% among Orthodox Jews in Los Angeles and more than 90% around the country. He says it’s more than policy agreement (though it certainly is that). It’s also a common “Borscht Belt” humor. The Borscht Belt was a string of Jewish summer camps in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York—camps like Grossinger’s, the Pioneer, and Kutshers—that spawned comic geniuses like Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, Jackie Mason, Neil and Danny Simon, and many others. See The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime for a perfect evocation of that magical time and place.
So, no, we are not holding our noses and voting for him “despite” his personality. We love his personality. We love his humor. He makes us laugh right out loud. It is merely a bonus that his humor drives our betters a little meshuga.
[Photo credit: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images]