I’m going to have to disagree with Jonathan Tobin here. Of Donald Trump’s AIPAC appearance last night, Jonathan wrote, “Trump’s speech was sensible and showed a command of the facts that his vague boasts about restoring greatness that we’ve heard from him have lacked. If he carried out the policies he spoke of on Monday night, a President Trump would be a strong ally of Israel and a responsible player in the Middle East.” I think this is grading on a curve, as I think the AIPAC audience was.

He didn’t say anything different from most political speakers at the event; it was only newsworthy because it didn’t include the weird vacillations and going-back-and-forth nonsense in which Trump engages whenever he talks policy off the cuff. It was direct and vulgar in the way he is direct and vulgar, but for once it wasn’t about building a wall Mexico is going to pay for or about how (as he said earlier in the day to the Washington Post in a gobsmacking editorial-board interview that would drive him from the presidential race if this year were anything but psychotic) “we’re not a rich country” when the U.S. has a gross domestic product nearing $18 trillion. That interview, by the way, featured the most isolationist talk Trump has yet engaged in — literally saying he wants to end NATO and leave our bases in South Korea because we don’t have enough money to build schools in Brooklyn. (The annual budget for New York City’s School Construction Authority, which exists to build schools in Brooklyn and elsewhere in the boroughs: $2.75 billion. A year.) The idea that an isolationist president “will have Israel’s back” flies in the face of everything we know about isolationism.

The simple fact was Trump read from a written text — yes, he can read a TelePrompter, since it’s likely many of his lines on “The Apprentice” were on a TelePrompter out of the audience’s sight — that he barely seemed to have glanced through earlier (I say this because of his repeated additions of the phrase “believe me,” which is a speaker’s way of trying after the fact of personalizing an address). That speech was drafted apparently with the supervision of his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who owns the New York Observer, which is edited by the former Giuliani ghostwriter Ken Kurson and for which Rabbi Shmuley Boteach writes. My guess is their fingerprints are all over the speech.

Trump chose to go into an arena with 18,000 people in it and decided not to offend them or risk their boos by going into his usual argle-bargle about how the Israel-Palestinian conflict is a tough real-estate deal that he would just love to solve — because, you know, no one before him has ever attempted to “solve” it, the nearly 50 years of worldwide obsession over the issue being the subject of 100,000 articles and books he’s never read, since we hear he never reads anything. Nothing he said commits him to anything, and as we know, anything he says has a shelf-life of about an hour. The only thing you can be sure of is that he believes he somehow took a great physical risk by agreeing to be the marshal of the Israel Day parade in 2004.

So I’m not inclined to give him credit for what he did last night. He’s still who he is — the least prepared and appropriate serious pursuer of the presidency in the past half century.

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