Read: An American president bends to the demands of terror.
Scaramucci’s advice for the president—though, as he freely admitted, “nobody’s asking me inside the White House”—was to focus on the strong economy. He predicted that a positive approach like Ronald Reagan’s would help Trump break a 50 percent approval rating for the first time.
A Republican senator agreed that while the president’s words are not responsible for the actions of a “deranged” gunman, Trump has not modeled civility. “I think the president needs to be more clear in his rhetoric and doesn’t need to be as caustic in his rhetoric,” James Lankford of Oklahoma said on CBS’s Face the Nation, while pointing out that the alleged Pittsburgh gunman also criticized the president as a globalist. The senator then drew a comparison between Trump’s heated rhetoric and people, presumably on the left, shouting down opponents on college campuses and around the Brett Kavanaugh hearings.
Senator Chris Coons came on the program after Lankford, with whom he leads a weekly bipartisan Senate prayer group that he cited as one way to cool political tempers. The Delaware Democrat lamented that Trump and leaders in both parties “energize folks based on division rather than based on unity.” He specifically called out Democratic Representative Maxine Waters of California, whom Trump frequently belittles at his campaign rallies, for her infamous exhortation to confront administration officials in public places. Coons said leaders need to denounce supporters who commit violence, even if the leaders didn’t cause it, citing Bernie Sanders’s quick renunciation of the former campaign volunteer who attacked a GOP baseball practice.
Read: A prayer for Squirrel Hill—and for American Jewry.
Though no one had accused the president of harboring anti-Semitic views himself, a surrogate on CNN’s panel leaped to his defense. David Urban, a former Trump-campaign strategist, pointed to the president’s support for the state of Israel, while others on the panel tried to separate Israel policy from relations with American Jews.
“You don’t think it matters that he has grandchildren who are Jewish? Or that his Cabinet is half Jewish?” Urban asked. Tapper pointed out that Urban was incorrect in his hyperbolic claim about the Cabinet, which seemed to echo the conspiracy language espoused by the Pittsburgh shooter and centuries of anti-Semitic rhetoric. Urban doubled down: “You have [Steven] Mnuchin, you had [Michael] Cohen, you’ve got other folks there, you have mezuzahs in the White House. You could call him a lot of things, but anti-Semite isn’t one.”
Jonathan Weisman, a deputy Washington editor for The New York Times who wrote a book about American Jews in the Trump era, countered that the president appeals to anti-Semitism even if he doesn’t embrace it. He pointed to the Trump campaign’s final television commercial of the 2016 campaign, which had the candidate read a script about “global special interests” and “a global power structure that’s responsible for the economic decisions,” and displayed the faces of three prominent American Jews: the billionaire philanthropist George Soros, then–Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, and then–Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein. Last week Soros was among those allegedly targeted by Cesar Sayoc, the Trump supporter and pipe-bomb maker.