Sunday Reads: Trump’s controversial inaugural address, The winners and losers of 2016

January 22, 2017


Michael Gerson writes about Trump’s combative inaugural address, which he calls “the death of Reaganism”:

Trump’s inaugural was instructive in this way: America has chosen a man for whom traditions and norms mean nothing (less than nothing when he finds them constraining). He used the center stage of American public life to belittle nearly everyone seated around him. They have “reaped the rewards of government,” prospered at the expense of the people, celebrated while families struggled, and are “all talk and no action.”

Walter Russell Mead compiles an interesting list of the winners and losers of 2016, and he begins it with Andrew Jackson:

The biggest winner of 2016 has been dead for 171 years. Old Hickory’s legacy of American populism is one of the most powerful forces in national politics. When properly harnessed, it wins wars by facing down America’s enemies with unrelenting ruthlessness. Jacksonian populists are threat-motivated at home too, and in 2016 they Donald Trump to victory on the back of anger about immigration, economic competition with Mexico and China, and Islamism. The establishments of both major political parties were caught completely off-guard.


Yair Rosenberg praises outgoing US Ambassador Dan Shapiro, who had quite a difficult job:

Throughout all this, Shapiro was perhaps the only person who retained the trust of both President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu, an international diplomatic feat in its own right. Even as Israel and the United States butted heads, sometimes explosively, Shapiro managed to safeguard the relationship, put out fires, and keep lines of communication open.

Amos Yadlin believes that Trump is an opportunity for Israel to influence US policy on Iran:

With the arrival of the new administration, Israel has been given a second chance to influence the US policy towards the Iranian nuclear program: an opportunity for joint action against Iran and advancing a parallel agreement, an Israeli-American one, aimed at changing the strategic reality without violating the agreement.

Middle East

According to Mustafa Saadoun, Egypt is considering joining Iran in the axis of resistance in the Middle East:

If Egypt joins the Axis of Resistance, whose stances in the Middle East are well known, it will make the axis stronger, as Egypt will be joining another key Arab state in the alliance — Iraq.

Iran’s influence on Egypt and Iraq will strengthen Iran's position facing Saudi Arabia, which has lost Egypt as an important ally in the region. This might stir new conflicts in some Arab states, specifically Egypt, which is likely to be the new stage of terrorist operations.

David Pollok points out that the US has a real opportunity to improve the situation in Syria next week:

In the week after his inauguration, President Trump will have an unusual opportunity to put his new diplomatic designs to the test in, of all places, Astana, the remote capital of Kazakhstan. If this sounds like a Borat joke, it isn't. Astana is where Russia is convening a deadly serious new round of Syrian peace talks, to which it ostentatiously invited the incoming administration.

Jewish World

Irwin Cotler writes about Raoul Wallenberg, hero of humanity, 42 years after his mysterious disappearance:

Wallenberg was a beacon of light during the darkest days of the Holocaust, and his example remains so today. Prior to his arrival in Budapest in July 1944, some 430,000 Hungarian Jews had been deported to Auschwitz in the space of 10 weeks – the fastest, cruelest and most efficient mass murder of the Nazi genocide. Yet Wallenberg rescued some 100,000 Jews in six months in Hungary in 1944, demonstrating that one person with the courage to care, and the commitment to act, can confront evil and transform history.

J.J. Goldberg found some quiet, elegant Jewish dissent in Chuck Schumer and Marvin Hier’s words at the inaugural:

At times, looking for the Jewish angle in a major public event can feel small, parochial and petty. Not this time. The contrast between the two Jews on the podium, Senator Chuck Schumer and Rabbi Marvin Hier, and everyone else who spoke was quite striking.

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