President Donald Trump, with his usual obliviousness to all sense of hypocrisy, has condemned the repugnant remarks made by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), declaring, “There’s no place for anti-Semitism in the U.S. Congress.”
In Congress, of course not.
But, um, how about the White House?
Omar, one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, quickly offered her “apology” for remarks that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (and others in both parties) called “anti-Semitic tropes” linking Jews and money.
We’re still waiting for Trump’s apologies.
This is the president who found “good people” among the Charlottesville white supremacist marchers chanting, “Jews will not replace us.” He’s the one whose campaign ad depicted Hillary Clinton superimposed on piles of cash, along with a Star of David.
He’s the one whose final campaign TV ads featured three prominent financial figures, all Jews – George Soros, Janet Yellen and Lloyd Blankfein — as Trump warned, “These people … don’t have your good in mind.”
He’s the one who lied about Soros financing caravans of immigrants from Central America.
And he’s the one who responds to every accusation that he’s slandered Jews by hiding behind his daughter Ivanka’s conversion to Judaism when she married Jared Kushner.
So while Rep. Omar has apologized – an apology Trump called “lame, and she didn’t mean a word of it” – we’re still waiting for any kind of apology, lame or not, from this president.
In the meantime, do we accept Omar’s word that she’s been chastened and sees the hurtfulness of her remarks? Who knows? Unlike Trump, who believes he can see into Omar’s heart, the rest of us can only go by what she says.
And by what she says and does in the coming years.
And that’s Omar’s real problem. She can say all the nice things about Jews, and about Israel, that she wants, but for the rest of her career she’ll be remembered for a couple of stupid, malignant tweets, in which she said America’s support for Israel is paid for with money from a pro-Israel lobbying group, and then added, “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby,” meaning $100 bills.
The real pity of all this? In most ways, Omar’s a political progressive. On Capitol Hill, so are most Jewish elected officials.They should be joining hands, putting together coalitions.
And setting aside all poisonous religious remarks, for the good of us all.
A former Baltimore Sun columnist and WJZ-TV commentator, Michael Olesker is the author of six books. His most recent, “Front Stoops in the Fifties: Baltimore Legends Come of Age,” was reissued in paperback by the Johns Hopkins University Press.