when Trump was stalking me [in the 2016 televised presidential debates] and leering and, oh, just generally trying to dominate me on this little stage, my mind was like: OK, I practised being calm and composed, you know, because that’s what a president should be. But, boy, would I love to turn around and say: “Back off, you creep.” But I didn’t, because I thought then his side will say: “See, she can’t take it. If she can’t take Donald standing there like the alpha male that he is, then how’s she going to stand up to Putin?” A ridiculous argument, but nevertheless one that might get traction. And, as you say, even your friends are like: “Oh, come on, don’t take the bait. Don’t take the bait.”
.. Being an academic gives you a bit of freedom to play around with things, because in the end what people think about me doesn’t matter all that much. But I remember when I first did telly, a clever, nasty but well-respected TV critic here said, basically: “You look like the back end of a bus. How dare you come into our living room with those teeth? If you’re going to inflict yourself on us, please will you smarten up.” After the first shock, I thought, look, sunshine, if you line up a load of women between 55 and 65, they’ll mostly look like me. So, I wrote a piece pointing out that he was not abusing me only, he was abusing every woman who looked a bit like me.
HC I think you touched a chord when you said: “OK, this is what a woman looks like.” When you run for office, however, what a president looks like is not any kind of woman. So therefore how you feel about this particular woman is influenced by how you feel about women in really powerful positions
.. MB When I looked back to the ancient world about this, Romans in particular were always saying that women, in some way, are fake. The problem about a woman is that she’s always made up, she’s never what she seems.
.. HC Men can get a haircut; it doesn’t change their authenticity. They can grow a beard; they are still who they are. Whereas we are constantly held to that good old double standard, which is so complex and deep and charged with historical and mythological and cultural totems.
.. MB Your book has turned me yet more against presidential debates. I mean, what did I learn from the debates? I learned absolutely nothing that I didn’t think I knew already. I knew that Trump was ghastly. I knew I’d vote for Hillary if I had a vote. So to say: “I don’t think we’ll have a debate this year,” seems antidemocratic. But democracy has to think a bit harder about the dissemination of knowledge.
.. HC Part of the reason I prepared [for them], and part of the reason I had such an extensive, substantive policy portfolio, is that there have been, in the past, moments of reckoning, where a smart moderator will really pin you down: “OK, you say you want to do this on taxes – what will be the impact on economic growth?” I mean, something that’s a little more sophisticated and really does require you to be on your toes. But that didn’t happen this time at all.
.. And the Greeks would have seen this. Democracy requires information. Plato knew that informed decision-making requires knowledge.
.. There is a deliberate, very well‑organised, sophisticated assault on facts and reason and evidence. In our country, it’s driven originally by a cabal of billionaires and religious fundamentalists, and their view is that it doesn’t matter what they say. If they say it often enough and they put enough money behind it, they’ll convince a significant number of people.
.. But you’re in a double bind, as a historian or a politician or any job where expertise is required. You don’t want to say: “Only politicians are allowed to talk about foreign policy.” You want to share and debate with people who’ve got different opinions, of course you do – but actually you sometimes need to have read something about it.
.. HC .. I wanted to ask you about that memorable debate you had with Boris Johnson over Greece versus Rome. He is a reality TV kind of character from my observation, don’t you think?
HC And he knows it and he knows how to play it. It’s very deliberate. The same with Trump. I mean, it’s a persona that they have assumed, which really works for them, even the same kind of hair. The hair is part of the whole deal.
MB And it is so contrived, and it is contrived to look so spontaneous, it makes you sick.
.. HC It’s interesting, because men’s roles in public life are somewhat evolving. It used to be: you go for the sober character on the right or the left, who you think represents your views and whose platform you support. They could come in different sizes and shapes, but there was an assumption they were serious people, even if they had a good sense of humour, right?
Now, because of what I think is the pressure of performance, which is more important than substance by a long shot, it is the performance that matters most. We’re going to see more of this type. And I think then it’s particularly hard to pin down and make the argument about position and facts versus performance and rhetoric.
MB When I debated with Boris about Greece versus Rome, it was a fun charity gig, but it revealed precisely that. Boris is very funny. He can work an audience. I admire it. I knew the only way I was going to have a chance of winning was by being fantastically prepared.
HC That sounds very familiar. [Laughter.]
.. MB It’s back to the old version that was prevalent at university when I was an undergraduate – you know, that it was the women who were in on the Saturday nights doing the work, and they were very diligent, but they didn’t really have that…
HC They didn’t have the creative…
MB The flair. So, they were awfully reliable – and by awfully reliable, you mean very boring. Whereas, somehow, what both Boris and Trump have done is they’ve branded themselves around gaffes, so that it no longer makes a difference. One extra gaffe doesn’t matter, because that’s the brand.
HC Women are going to have to learn how to pull off that trick. I think it’s difficult, but it has to be possible, because there’s no alternative.
For all of Israel’s great achievements in its seven decades of statehood, our country now finds its very future, identity and security severely threatened by the whims and illusions of the ultranationalist government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
.. this government has been irrational, bordering on messianic
.. The government realizes that carrying out its one-state plan must entail steps and practices that necessarily clash with Israeli and international law — which is why it has effectively declared war on
- the Supreme Court of Israel,
- the free press and civil society, as well as
- the Israel Defense Forces’ ethical code.
This disrespect for the rule of law permeates other aspects of the government, too. It helps to shield the prime minister, his family and his aides from corruption investigations. Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud Party recently introduced legislation that would explicitly forbid the police from recommending indictments at the end of high-profile investigations... there is a broad consensus among Israelis that rests on three pillars.
- First and foremost, security comes before everything; every Israeli understands this.
- Second, the unity, solidarity and integrity of the people take priority over the unity of the land — namely, the wish to possess the entirety of our historic homeland.
- Third, the principles of the 1948 Declaration of Independence, which lay out a vision for a democratic Israel based on freedom, justice and peace, are the foundation of our country’s de facto constitution... The entire debate, then, is actually only over the fate of the isolated settlements, fewer than 100 small communities deep in the West Bank, containing around 100,000 settlers. Even if it is not possible to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at this stage — and it probably is not — it is obvious that continued construction in those isolated settlements directly damages Israel’s vital interests... Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition claims to support the three pillars of Israeli consensus but the truth is it is determinedly undermining all three... He prefers a Greater Israel with an Arab majority, violence and division over a united, self-confident Israel with a solid Jewish majority.. He sanctifies the Land of Israel before the People of Israel. And he systematically erodes Israel’s democracy and liberal norms of governance... In the service of this agenda, Mr. Netanyahu elevated fake news, alternative facts and whataboutism into art forms in Hebrew, long before those terms gained any traction in English.
Despite his public acknowledgment of the recording’s authenticity in the final days of the presidential campaign — and his hasty videotaped apology under pressure from his advisers — Mr. Trump as president-elect began raising the prospect with allies that it may not have been him on the tape after all.
.. in January, shortly before his inauguration, Mr. Trump told a Republican senator that he wanted to investigate the recording that had him boasting about grabbing women’s genitals.
“We don’t think that was my voice,” Mr. Trump told the senator, according to a person familiar with the conversation. Since then, Mr. Trump has continued to suggest that the tape that nearly upended his campaign was not actually him, according to three people close to the president.
.. In recent days, he has continued to seed doubt about his appearance on the “Access Hollywood” tape, stunning his advisers.
.. Mr. Trump’s falsehoods about the “Access Hollywood” tape are part of his lifelong habit of attempting to create and sell his own version of reality. Advisers say he continues to privately harbor a handful of conspiracy theories that have no grounding in fact.
.. In recent months, they say, Mr. Trump has used closed-door conversations to question the authenticity of President Barack Obama’s birth certificate.
He has also repeatedly claimed that he lost the popular vote last year because of widespread voter fraud, according to advisers and lawmakers.
.. To the president’s critics, his conspiracy-mongering goes to the heart of why he poses a threat to the country... But the president’s success last year has also left some in his party in awe of his achievement and uneasy about angering his base of supporters... “This guy got $2 billion of earned media in the primary, and he won an election that nobody thought he was going to win,” said Senator David Perdue .. “This is a guy who is doing things that are totally unprecedented.”.. “This guy, I think, is a historic person of destiny at a time and place in America when we’ve got to make a right-hand turn here.”.. Mr. Trump’s friends did not bother denying that the president was creating an alternative version of events. One Republican lawmaker, who asked not to be identified, said that Mr. Trump’s false statements had become familiar to people over time. The president continues to boast of winning districts that he did not in fact win, the lawmaker said, and of receiving 52 percent of the women’s vote, even though exit polls show that 42 percent of women supported him.
electing Mr. Moore would be a sure way to worsen Washington’s problems. His unapologetic extremism would pour gasoline on the already raging fire of partisanship and dysfunction.
.. If you think the Senate has failed to attend to the country’s real problems, just wait until he gets there. Mr. Moore spins up “facts” to serve his worldview, as when he claimed that
- sharia was in force in Illinois or that
- the law required football players to stand for the national anthem.
- He called for a de facto religious test when he argued that Muslims elected to represent their communities should not be seated in Congress.
.. once a federal court had made a decision on the matter, he should have complied. Instead he refused, leading to his removal from the bench. After eventually making his way back into black robes, he was sidelined a second time after again refusing to obey federal court rulings.
.. Mr. Moore’s mockery of his judicial oath is only one indication of questionable moral fitness. Another is how he profited from his charity.