Much is being made of Donald Trump’s recent dinner at Mar-a-Lago with celebrity antisemite Kanye West (now known as “Ye”) and Ye’s friend Nick Fuentes, who is an outspoken white supremacist, Holocaust denier and neo-Nazi.
Much of the commentary on this incident, however, is wrong. It is too easy and glib to say that it proves Trump is unfit for office because he is a Jew-hater. How does one reconcile that allegation with the fact that his administration was arguably the most pro-Israel in American history? Moreover, the apple of his eye, his daughter Ivanka, is married to Jared Kushner—an Orthodox Jew and Trump’s closest presidential adviser. She even converted to Judaism and is raising Trump’s grandchildren as Jews.
The truth is, Trump would happily host a bar mitzvah at Mar-a-Lago, dance the hora with a minyan of Lubavitch rabbis and lead the Hebrew prayers over the bread and wine while wearing a kippah and tallit.
All that Ye, Fuentes, the rabbis or anyone else would have to do to be embraced by Trump is to agree with his lie that the 2020 election was stolen and tell him he is the greatest thing since the invention of the wheel. If you do that, an open invitation to a buffet dinner (kosher or non-kosher) with music and dancing awaits you at Mar-a-Lago.
Trump, then, is not unfit to be president because he is an antisemite. He is not an antisemite. He is unfit to be president because he puts his ego and self-interest ahead of everything else, including the truth and what is in the best interests of America. He simply does not have the judgment, temperament or perspective to be president.
Egoism and self-interest are not the qualities of a patriot but the qualities of a narcissist. If history has taught us anything about narcissists, it is that, for them, it is only a short step from being a democratically-elected head of state to being a tyrant. In their minds, allegiance to the state requires allegiance to them and vice-versa. As Louis XIV said, “L’etat, c’est moi”—“I am the state.” That is how Donald Trump sees his relationship with America. In Trump’s mind, an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies foreign and domestic is the same as an oath to protect and defend Trump in all things. It is remarkably similar to how Vladimir Putin sees his relationship with Russia.
Consistent with that worldview, it is reasonable to expect that a newly (re)elected President Trump would make his cabinet and judicial appointments not based on their qualifications for any given position, but on the extent to which they are loyal to Trump—the same criterion Vladimir Putin uses when appointing his generals. Those generals’ allegiance is not to Mother Russia, but to Father Putin. Loyalty to Putin is more important than a knowledge of military tactics and strategy or the ability to inspire the troops. This goes a long way towards explaining Russia’s shockingly poor performance in Ukraine.
Just as putting loyalty over competence has not served Russia well, appointing obsequious sycophants to cabinet positions would pose a grave danger to our republic. One can only imagine the damage that Rudy Giuliani as attorney-general or Roger Stone as chief of staff could do in positions of such power. Think of the “legal advice” John Eastman—the “mastermind” behind the idea that Vice-President Mike Pence could overturn the 2020 election—might give if he were White House counsel. What role would Steve Bannon play in a new Trump White House? These people all possess the single most important quality Trump will demand should he ever return to the Oval Office: blind loyalty.
Donald Trump indeed poses a threat to America, but not because he hates Jews. It is because he loves himself more than he loves the United States.
Eric Levine is a founding member of the New York City law firm, Eiseman Levine Lehrhaupt & Kakoyiannis P.C. He is an essayist, political commentator and Republican fundraiser with an emphasis on the United States Senate.