Last week NJJN moved from the Alex Aidekman Family Jewish Community Campus in Whippany — where it was based for more than 20 years — to an office building a few miles away. The new digs are nice, bright, and spacious, but we miss our friends from Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ who used to come by, even the one who frequently graffitied my office with anti-Boston sports paraphernalia. Anyway, in the process of emptying boxes, I found a few items in the far recesses of my mind that I’d prefer to leave in 2018 to ensure there’s enough space for what promises to be a very busy year ahead:
- Congratulations Sen. Robert Menendez on your narrow re-election, but you shouldn’t be in front of the TV cameras calling out President Donald Trump for his refusal to stand up for American values in his dealings with Vladimir Putin or Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Having been indicted on corruption charges and censured by the Senate Ethics Committee, you have no foothold on the moral high ground.
- It’s moot now that Mick Mulvaney was named White House Chief of Staff (CoS) late last week, but imagine for a moment that the choice had been Trump’s son-in-law and real estate developer Jared Kushner — if reports were accurate, he was a candidate — the Livingston native would have been the third observant Jewish CoS in the last 10 years. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel had the job for two years during President Barack Obama’s first term in office, as did Jack Lew during Obama’s second term (2012-13) before becoming Secretary of the Treasury. So often in the last two years we’ve focused on the alarming levels of anti-Semitism in the U.S., but keep in mind that 50 years ago there’s no way an observant Jew would have even been considered for such a powerful and highly visible position.
- Another apparent candidate for CoS might have been former Gov. Chris Christie. How is it that someone who only rose to prominence eight years ago has already had so many dramatic ups and downs? Just a couple years after Christie took out Jon Corzine in 2010, individuals at town halls were tearfully begging the former federal prosecutor to throw his hat into the ring to spoil Obama’s re-election bid. He said no, was passed over as Mitt Romney’s running mate — apparently related to concerns during the vetting process — and then became persona non grata with the Republican Party because of his literal embrace of Obama in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, just days before the election. After Bridgegate, he ran for president in 2016 but turned out to be more of a punchline than a contender and dropped out, then threw the wobbliest of all Hail Marys by becoming one of the first mainstream Republicans to endorse Trump. He headed Trump’s transition team but soon was relieved of his responsibilities and left out of the administration altogether. Out of nowhere he emerged as a possibility for CoS, effectively the number-two job in the White House, then took himself out of the running. So much ink has been wasted prematurely writing Christie’s political obituary that it seems foolhardy to put our pens down now.
- Based solely on anecdotal evidence, I have concluded that New Jersey is the Northeast capital for large roadkill. I’m from New England and I never saw anything like the carnage I witness every time I drive along a N.J. highway. En route to the office this morning, I saw three deer carcasses on one particularly gruesome 50-yard stretch of I-80. Three!
- New reports of investigations into potential Trump-related malfeasance are popping up nearly every day, setting the stage for yet another unprecedented scenario in American politics. Should Trump lose in 2020, he could be indicted as soon as the inauguration is over and he becomes a private citizen. If he wins (and presumably stays in office past 2022), the statute of limitations on campaign finance charges would expire by the end of his tenure. So consider the stakes: Depending on the outcome of the election, Trump could be a second-term president of the United States, or a potential inmate in a federal prison. Anyone still floating the theory that Trump won’t run again in two years?
- If you’re a fan of Amazon’s endearing TV series, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” be sure to look out for NJJN staff writer/master thespian extra Johanna Ginsberg among the throng of unrepentant worshippers at a Yom Kippur service in the second season’s seventh episode.
- Regardless of what you think of the merits of the Women’s March movement, Tablet’s recent investigation into the blatant anti-Semitism exhibited by at least three of the top leaders of the Women’s March was startling.
- Harold Baines was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame? Besides his longevity — he played in the big leagues for parts of 22 seasons — is there anything else that stands out about this guy, who was primarily a designated hitter because he was so bad in the field? I’m sure he’s a wonderful person, but the real estate value of Cooperstown is going to dip on the day his plaque moves in.
- A far more serious injustice occurred in North Carolina where, it appears Republican congressional candidate Mark Harris’ campaign engaged in dirty tricks by illegally collecting, and discarding, absentee ballots with votes for Dan McCready. But let’s be clear: This is not, as a recent ridiculous article in the National Review claims, a case of voter fraud. It is election fraud, the exact opposite, as the voters are the victims of fraud. The aforementioned article is called “Yes, Voter Fraud Is Real.” My counter: Prove it.
- Lastly, this is how I imagine one-on-one meetings are like between Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:
Trump: Um, have you talked to Abbas recently?
Bibi: Not really. He texted me a few weeks ago to wish me a happy Chanukah, but I forgot to write back. What’s happening with your legal troubles?
Trump: Witch hunt! Yours?
Bibi: Psha. I am the law. Well, besides the chief rabbinate, at least. So…
Bibi: Hey, did you see that photo of Obama windsurfing?
Trump: Yes! Man, that guy thinks he’s God’s gift to the world, but his 11 years in office were a disaster.
Bibi: Agreed. His mishegas makes my skin crawl.
They discuss the faults of Trump’s predecessor all night until their respective aides come and say “Behold! Masters, it is time to tweet in all caps and recite the morning Shema!”