Throughout the ages, our presidents have delivered oratory addresses that have inspired and encouraged us all.
How much of it can be taken at face value?
The media vigorously measures these statements against a triad scale of truth, lies, and hypocrisy. Justifiably so as a politician’s credibility rests upon transparency and verbal prose; rhetoric will never protect discretion. In a true a democracy nothing our elected officials ever say can be taken at face value. History has shown how dangerous blind faith in the words of its leader can be.
The thick skinned can take it while others cannot. At first glance, I think it’s safe to say that out our current president cannot take the heat. It is hard for me to not to hear his speeches and not cringe at the overcompensated impudence behind them. Hillary Clinton’s incisive attack on Trump was that “he is not fit to be president”. His impetuous rhetoric and erratic political moves since assuming office seem to justify this claim.
I have always felt the office of the presidency symbolizes the central hub of democracy. To engineer this powerful position the president must walk in reverence and awe of its motif. His or her’s choice of words must reflect the basic values of the Constitution. In my opinion, Trump does not fit into this mold at all and therefore does not belong to be there.
How can such a precarious personality represent, let alone lead the most powerful country in the world?
To hold its own weight, subjective bias must always acknowledge opposing viewpoints as equally valid. As wrong and unsound it may sound, they are no less correct as our own points of view. Our voice verbalizes ours perceptions. Perception is subjective. Subjectivity is always correct.
So what lies behind the eyes of his supporters?
To counter, the symbolism behind the presidency must be separated from the person behind the desk. Archetypically we use the president's rhetoric as a means to characterize them. We often ascribe a president’s character by their oratory prowess; attributes such as “courage’, “conviction”, “determination” among others have painted a saintlike portrait of their lives.
Our self-made depictions often gloss over and justify lustful, crude, racist and semitic tendencies. Presidents use well-crafted rhetoric to take advantage of the symbolic nature of the presidency to hide their true character. This makes it very hard for the public to assume there is anything else other their public persona. No different than all of us who carry two faces; one for the public and one for the private. The only difference is they have the advantage of emblematic presidential oratory prowess to hide their private faces so well.
This defense skillfully deflects the media’s relentless use of their own litmus test to instigate character assassination. Throughout their terms, every recent president with exception of two has been able to protect themselves from this proverbial assassination. Only after leaving office does the armor begin to crack, affording us the opportunity to glimpse at the real man behind the Presidential Seal.
President Trump’s style is starkly different than all past presidents. Throughout his campaign and a brief time in office he rarely has hidden behind the formidable presidential rhetoric. His swagger has thrown the world into a frenzy. We have never before seen this type of “non-presidential” demeanor. How such a flamboyant character with contentious rhetoric has not only won the presidential election but continues to act the same way as president, has blown away many political minds.
This prey has confounded the media who constantly churn out their razor-sharp fact checking triad of truth, lies, and hypocrisy. Every shot taken only seems to empower him. The media does not seem to realize that the bullets they are shooting are not their own. Trump eagerly provides them the ammunition because he knows the bullets he fashioned will never hurt him.
We have always taken shots at a president who hides behind presidential rhetoric. Never have we envisaged a president who gives us the proverbial gun to shoot him in plain sight. Poetically a casino mogul, Donald Trump knows full well as long as he deals the cards the house will always win. Every time the media double’s down their pockets eventually will be wiped clean.
His unique persona has given him a freedom many presidents did not enjoy. Past presidents who have hidden behind the symbolic veil of the presidency have pigeonholed themselves into a corner. It makes it very difficult to maneuver out of their statements made during the campaign and as sitting presidents, without risking political suicide. Donald Trump’ disposition does not to fit into this rigid presidential cast.
Unprecedented, we now have a president whose public persona gives him considerable flexibility in terms of policy. He is not bound by the shackles of presidential dogma as our past presidents have been. Other presidents have become relatively predictable in order to protect themselves. We have no idea who the real Trump is and what he will do.
Trump is often quoted as saying “we will do great things”. Perhaps this rhetoric can be actually be taken at face value.
In Part 1, I have listed statements about Isreal from every president since Israel’s inception in 1947. Over the past 60 years, our presidents said what had to be said. Our democracy can never publicly shun a country that demonstrates democratic values; to do so destroys the bedrock of our own democracy. Our Constitution obliges our leaders to defend its tenets throughout the globe, regardless of personal sentiment. Take Jimmy Carter for example who has notoriously publicized his anti-Semitic beliefs, but never dared to do so publicly in office.
In spite of the rigidity of the position, many presidents have found rhetorical justifications for their actions. Somehow the “unbreakable bond” was never breached after the Johnson Administration abandoned Israel during the Six-Day War. By some means, this bond never fractured after President Clinton pushed his periphrastic “Land for Peace” two-state agenda during the Oslo Accords and Camp David Summit. True friends do not say one thing than surreptitiously do something else.
President Trump's lavish supportive declaration towards Israel have brewed optimism within the Jewish State. Recently his statements have been marred with uncertainty by backtracking on his promise to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, the Secretary of State referring to Trumps upcoming visit to “Palestine”, A US official telling the Prime Minister’s Office the Western Wall is not in Israel territory, NSA advisor H. R. McAlister describing the status of Jerusalem as a “policy decision”, and Trump allegedly sharing highly classified Israeli intelligence on Islamic State to Russia’s top diplomat.
Next week the President will be visiting Israel two days before the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem. Trump will be the 1st sitting President in history to visit the Western Wall. A symbolic gesture never before seen in the history of the US-Israel relationship. What can make this president different is by proving through action that his brash rhetoric is not empty like the 50 yrs of presidential rhetoric before him.
Presidents Trump’s visit to Israel can redefine my perception of the Office of the President. Will his words sound all too familiar as hollow rhetoric, or is this the real deal? Will his visit begin the first chapter of something historic?
Only time will tell.
Editor of BJR
Open Dialogue does not seek to be right, rather to understand. There is never a right or wrong answer. Please feel free to leave comments & share your opinions and views.
The opinions expressed herein are my own and do not represent the views of the Buffalo Jewish Review.