Credit where it’s due: I did not think that any president would move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
Today Trump is, well, sort of doing that: “President Donald Trump will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Wednesday, while also delaying moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city,” officials said.
Back in 1992, Bill Clinton criticized George H. W. Bush for keeping the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv, and pledged to move it. And then he didn’t. Again in 2000, Clinton declared, “I have always wanted to move our Embassy to west Jerusalem. We have a designated site there. I have not done so because I didn’t want to do anything to undermine our ability to help to broker a secure and fair and lasting peace for Israelis and for Palestinians. But in light of what has happened, I’ve taken that decision under review, and I’ll make a decision sometime between now and the end of the year on that.”
His presidency ended without a move.
George W. Bush criticized Clinton for it, declaring before AIPAC in 2000, “as soon as I take office I will begin the process of moving the U.S. ambassador to the city Israel has chosen as its capital.”
. . . and then Bush made the exact same decision that Clinton did, constantly signing six-month waivers and extensions delaying the move.
Even Obama declared on the campaign trail in 2008, “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.” But then once he was asked whether he would move the U.S. embassy to the capital, the way our embassy is in the capital of every other country, he backtracked.
Back in June, Trump signed his first temporary waiver, but the Israeli government seemed confident Trump would come around. In a chat with Ralph Reed at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority Conference in Washington, Israeli ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer joked that he told the president, “you get better real estate prices if you get in early.”
Dermer also appealed to Trump’s desire to have a historic presidency. “King Cyrus, twenty-five-hundred years ago, let the Jews rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. If you’re a president who wants to be remembered for two thousand years, move the embassy to Jerusalem.”
We’re told that moving the embassy would lead to chaos; Turkey’s deputy prime minister declared moving the U.S. embassy would “completely destroy the fragile peace process in the region, and lead to new conflicts, new disputes and new unrest.”
We just witnessed roughly a half million people get killed in the Syrian Civil War. Maybe the region generates its own conflicts, disputes, and unrest on its own, regardless of where our embassy is. Nobody makes any faction in the Middle East pick up weapons and start trying to kill each other. Maybe it’s time all the players in the region stopped using the United States as the scapegoat for their own decisions.
Lena Dunham, Tina Brown: We Warned the Clinton Campaign About Harvey Weinstein
This morning, Time magazine announced that “The Silence Breakers” is the magazine’s selection for Person of the Year. They announced this on NBC’s Today show. No word on whether any of Matt Lauer’s accusers were present for the announcement.
The New York Times’ follow-up investigation into Harvey Weinstein and the small army he used to cover up his crimes and behavior is pretty stunning and gross reading. Here’s what will be most jaw-dropping revelation for those of us who follow politics:
But two prominent women said they warned Mrs. Clinton’s team. In 2016, Lena Dunham, the writer and actress, said she was troubled by the producer’s visible presence during Mrs. Clinton’s presidential run, hosting fund-raisers and appearing at campaign events. She had heard stories, both directly and secondhand from other actresses, about disturbing encounters with him, she said. So in March last year, Ms. Dunham, a vocal Clinton supporter, said she warned the campaign.
“I just want you to let you know that Harvey’s a rapist and this is going to come out at some point,” Ms. Dunham said she told Kristina Schake, the campaign’s deputy communications director. She recalled adding, “I think it’s a really bad idea for him to host fund-raisers and be involved because it’s an open secret in Hollywood that he has a problem with sexual assault.”
Earlier, during the 2008 presidential race, Tina Brown, the magazine editor, said she cautioned a member of Mrs. Clinton’s inner circle about him. “I was hearing that Harvey’s sleaziness with women had escalated since I left Talk in 2002 and she was unwise to be so closely associated with him,” Ms. Brown said in an email.
Ms. Dunham said that Ms. Schake seemed surprised at her warning, and that Ms. Schake said she would tell Robby Mook, the campaign manager, Ms. Dunham recalled in an interview.
With the Democratic National Convention approaching in summer 2016, Ms. Dunham said she also warned Adrienne Elrod, a spokeswoman for Mrs. Clinton who was leading efforts with celebrity campaigners. As far as Ms. Dunham could tell, the campaign had not responded to her concerns about Mr. Weinstein. Weeks before Election Day, the producer helped organize a star-packed fund-raiser: an evening on Broadway with Julia Roberts, Anne Hathaway and others.
Notice the careful wording of this response from the Clinton campaign: “Ms. Elrod and Ms. Schake, through Mrs. Clinton’s communications director, denied that Ms. Dunham mentioned rape, while [Robby] Mook said that no one had ever alerted him about the producer.”
Maybe Dunham and Brown are lying. But it’s more likely that they’re exaggerating the intensity and clarity of their warnings. Maybe they didn’t mention rape. But the campaign’s statement does not deny that Dunham warned them about something about Weinstein — presumably aggressive and inappropriate sexual behavior directed at unwilling women in subordinate positions.
This wasn’t enough to raise red flags on the Clinton campaign. Then again, the candidate was married to Bill Clinton and the candidate’s most trusted aide was married to Anthony Weiner, so maybe there was difficulty establishing a baseline for abnormally “aggressive and inappropriate sexual behavior directed at unwilling women in subordinate positions.”
Don’t Get Too Comfortable in That Senate Seat, Roy Moore
A well-connected Republican former senator explained to me how he thinks Roy Moore’s fate will shape up if he wins the special Senate election in Alabama.
If Moore wins, the Senate Ethics Committee will almost immediately announce an investigation of the allegations against Moore. The committee and its staff will interview all of his accusers, go out and see if they can find any corroborating evidence and then present a conclusion. The panel will either conclude that the accusations are credible or that they aren’t. If the Senate Ethics Committee concludes the accusations are credible, a bipartisan coalition will push for a vote on his expulsion. (Colorado Republican Cory Gardner has already called for Moore’s expulsion if he’s elected.)
Two-thirds of the senators present must vote for expulsion for Moore to go; Republicans who don’t want to defend him but also don’t want to vote to dismiss could simply be elsewhere that day.
For some conservative Republicans, the Alabama Senate race will resolve itself either way: either the Senate Ethics Committee finds the allegations against Moore aren’t credible, or he gets expelled, the Republican governor of Alabama names another GOP replacement, and another special election will be held.
ADDENDA: Gentlemen, you may think you have a good head of hair. But you will never equal radio commentator Larry Elder-in-the-1970s hair.