Friedman and Bruni

In “Politicians Seeing Evil, Hearing Evil, Speaking Evil” TMOW says that a new film about Yitzhak Rabin’s 1995 assassination in Israel could serve as a warning about Donald Trump and Ben Carson’s divisive, bigoted campaigns.  Mr. Bruni considers “Scott Walker’s Cocktail of Ignorance” and says too many Republican candidates are too cavalier about the knowledge and preparation that a president should have.  Here’s TMOW:

There is a movie I’m looking forward to seeing when it comes to Washington. It seems quite relevant to America today. It’s about what can happen in a democratic society when politicians go too far, when they not only stand mute when hateful words that cross civilized redlines suddenly become part of the public discourse, but, worse, start to wink at and dabble in this hate speech for their advantage.

Later, they all say that they never heard the words, never saw the signs, or claim that their own words were misunderstood. But they heard and they saw and they meant. Actually, I don’t need to see the movie, because I lived it. And I know how it ends. Somebody gets hurt.

The movie is called “Rabin: The Last Day.” Agence France-Presse said the movie, by the renowned Israeli director Amos Gitai, is about “the incitement campaign before the 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin” and “revisits a form of Jewish radicalism that still poses major risks.” This is the 20th anniversary of Rabin’s assassination by Yigal Amir, a right-wing Jewish radical.

“My goal wasn’t to create a personality cult around Rabin,” Gitai told A.F.P. “My focus was on the incitement campaign that led to his murder.” Sure, the official investigating commission focused on the breakdowns in Rabin’s security detail, but, Gitai added, “They didn’t investigate what were the underlying forces that wanted to kill Rabin. His murder came at the end of a hate campaign led by hallucinating rabbis, settlers who were against the withdrawal from territories and the parliamentary right, led by the Likud (party), already then headed by Benjamin Netanyahu, who wanted to destabilize Rabin’s Labor government.”

The film, A.F.P. said, “relied on documents, photos and videos, particularly from the months before Rabin’s assassination, including those showing speeches from politicians such as Netanyahu at rallies against the Oslo accords, where Rabin was depicted in a Nazi uniform.”

I hope a lot of Americans see this film — for the warning it offers to those who ignore or rationalize the divisive, bigoted campaigns of Donald Trump and Ben Carson and how they’re dragging their whole party across civic redlines, with candidates saying, rationalizing or ignoring more and more crazy, ill-informed stuff each week.

Trump actually launched his campaign on June 16 with a message of polarization, saying: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. … They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

The Washington Post’s Fact Checker column gave him four Pinocchios, its highest rating for not telling the truth, noting: “Trump’s repeated statements about immigrants and crime underscore a common public perception that crime is correlated with immigration, especially illegal immigration. But that is a misperception; no solid data support it, and the data that do exist negate it.”

And then Trump insulted John McCain, saying he was only a war hero because he got captured, adding, “I like people that weren’t captured, O.K.?” McCain spent five and a half years as a P.O.W. in Vietnam and was repeatedly tortured and had his bones broken. As CNN reported, “Trump, meanwhile, received four student deferments and one medical deferment to avoid serving in the Vietnam War.”

What does it mean to impugn a man who has sacrificed so much for his country? It means you can smear anyone.

Last week another redline was crossed. At a Trump town hall event, the first questioner began: “We got a problem in this country. It’s called Muslims. We know our current president is one. We know he’s not even an American. But anyway. We have training camps brewing where they want to kill us. That’s my question. When can we get rid of them?”

Trump responded: “A lot of people are saying that bad things are happening out there. We’re going to be looking into that and plenty of other things.”

Trump could have let the man ask his question and then correct his racist nonsense, without blocking his free speech, which is exactly what McCain did in a similar situation. Instead, he later said it was not his place to defend Obama. As someone who aspires to be president it is his place to defend the truth, but since Trump himself has been the source of so much birther nonsense about Obama, I guess that would be hard. Instead he tweeted: “Christians need support in our country (and around the world), their religious liberty is at stake! Obama has been horrible, I will be great.”

And then, like clockwork, Ben Carson saw Trump blurring another civic redline and leapfrogged him. Carson stated, “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation.”

So a whole faith community gets delegitimized and another opportunity for someone to courageously stand up for what’s decent is squandered. But it will play well with certain voters. And that is all that matters — until something really bad happens. And then, all of it — the words, tweets, signs and boasts — will be footage for another documentary that ends badly.

And now here’s Mr. Bruni:

With the arrival of the pope, our spirits lift.

With the departure of Scott Walker, they plummet.

There’s so much we’ll never know, such as how far he was willing to take his single issue. For Walker it was unions at dawn, unions at dusk, unions in his dreams. Having hobbled them in Wisconsin, he vowed to cripple them nationally, and who’s to say it would have stopped there? I feel certain that he was mere weeks away from a big speech advocating the deployment of ground troops to stamp out collective bargaining among the Sherpas in Nepal.

I feel certain, too, that his best gaffes were still to come, though he gave us several gems. In an era lacking visionary leadership, he envisioned a great wall along our northern border to keep out the tides of Canadians fleeing the tyranny of free health insurance. And we learned that years back, he mangled an intended “mazel tov” in a letter to a Jewish constituent, instead writing: “Thank you again and Molotov.”

I miss him already. And I wonder: Was it his shallowness that undid him? Just how little learning will Republican voters abide in a candidate? Did he test the limit?

One of his former aides, Liz Mair, suggested as much, firing off tweets on Monday about his errors, including “not educating himself fast enough” on national and world affairs.

Walker evaded foreign policy questions, apparently petrified of being tripped up. He bungled domestic policy questions, seemingly unable to cling to a sturdy position.

But whether that doomed him is impossible to say in a Republican primary season with mixed messages about the party’s appetite for ignorance, at once prodigious and inconsistent.

Donald Trump has prospered, and he’s utterly unapologetic about all of the matters that he hasn’t taken the trouble to bone up on and all of the experts whom he hasn’t bothered to consult.

When NBC’s Chuck Todd asked him where he gets his military advice, he said: “I watch the shows.” He presumably meant “Meet the Press” and “Face the Nation,” though I don’t think we can rule out “Survivor” or “Game of Thrones.”

Time and again, Trump pledges to amass the proper information just before he needs it — no point in doing so now, before he finds out if he’s hired — and he predicts that he’ll shame everyone then with his abracadabra erudition. He’s a procrastinating college freshman planning an all-nighter before the final exam.

But here comes Carly Fiorina, and her brand is aced-it-already and know-it-all. I’ve seen this firsthand.

For a magazine story in 2010, I followed her around and interviewed her over several days. Someone would mention a flower; she’d rattle off a factoid about it. I’d ask her about a foreign language that she’d studied; she’d make clear that she’d dabbled in two others as well. Her husband would tell a story; she’d rush to correct him and fill in the details.

Her fresh bounce in the polls reflects a debate performance last week that was all about policy fluency, and Marco Rubio, who flaunted similar chops that night, also seemed to benefit from his show of smarts.

So do Republicans want finesse or fire? A cool intellect or a hothead?

Walker was no doubt as confused about this as he is about so much else, and no wonder. Well beyond the Republican primary and the Republican Party, we’ve exhibited a curious habit in this country of forgiving intellectual blind spots and refashioning a contempt for schooling as an embrace of common sense.

A whole subgenre of nonfiction is devoted to this. Don’t sweat the brain work, because there’s “Emotional Intelligence.” Don’t think, “Blink.” Obtuseness in a leader can be redeemed by “The Wisdom of Crowds.”

I’m being somewhat loose in my description of those books. And I’m not rejecting the importance of instinct.

But I’m weary and wary of politicians whose ambitions precede and eclipse any serious, necessary preparation for the office they seek. Walker is a perfect example.

I kept hearing and reading — after he’d obviously decided to run for president — that he was being briefed by an emergency crew of wonks. Shouldn’t that have happened first? Shouldn’t he have been paying attention all along, out of a genuine interest in this sort of material rather than a pragmatic one?

He wasn’t, and so this candidate — who had begun gaming out his political future all the way back in college, where he gave his classes short shrift — took an international trip during which he refused to discuss international relations, oddly claiming that it wouldn’t be polite.

Etiquette prevailed.

He didn’t.

Molotov, Governor Walker.

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